July hummed and whirred with activity, a month sandwiched between the freshness of June and the heat of August. This midsummer season was brimming with all things alive . . . Watching Canda Day fireworks while slapping mosquitos, savoring the sweetness of just-picked raspberries, shelling peas until my fingers turn green, turning off the lights to better see the lightning forking across the sky, biking to the gas station where my brother works and getting blueberry swirl ice cream. This is full-blown summer, you guys.
Some notable threads weaving throughout July . . .
My sisters did two weeks of dog-sitting again, and I joined them a few times to play with little Mocha, a Pomeranian-Yorkie mix who's always beside herself with excitement every time we show up.
My mom and sisters and I spent a day shopping in the city, during which time I let myself splurge a little on some clearance sweaters (fall is coming, unfortunately, and I won't say no to new college clothes), a Ranger's Apprentice book, some odds and ends, and two soundtracks (How to Train Your Dragon and
Work was full, and I opened and closed by myself several times. Opening is my favorite.
Our family garden's pea season began late, and the bean season started early, so the two collided and we had to pick both on the same day several times. The beans have been especially prolific this summer.
I got to spend a great day with a friend who'll be leaving soon for her second year of university several provinces away.
An aunt and uncle visited from the States, which was quite fun.
Last weekend, I felt a bit like a kid again. A watergun fight with the siblings, ridiculous jokes, parks, bike rides, and a library trip will do that to ya!
Raising Dragons Graphic Novel by James Art Ville and Bryan DavisAfter the monstrous length of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I needed something breezy. This seemed like a great choice. Being one of the Kickstarter supporters back when they were raising funds for this project, it was super cool and nostalgic to see the fruit of Mr. Ville's labor. He did a great job reimagining Raising Dragons! I'm especially pleased with how Bonnie turned out. The story felt abbreviated, of course, because a 300+ page book needed to be shrunk down to 150 pages of pictures and dialogue bubbles, but it retained much of the heart of this beloved story. (And now I want James Ville to illustrate the rest of the books!)
The Shadow Lamp by Stephen R. LawheadOH MY TEA. THIS BOOK. I've been loving the Bright Empires series, and this, the fourth instalment, really really really raised the stakes. I'm talking "the universe will be in big, bad trouble if you don't do something" stakes. As one of the characters said, "Cataclysm does not seem a large enough word to describe it."
The book started a little slow, with quite a bit of recapping--which wasn't all bad, since it's been about a year since I read book 3--but once the crew gets together . . . things happen. Chapter 19 in particular marked the place where the plot started blowing my mind. One thing I love about this series is how Lawhead takes things from real life--science, theories, ancient history, geographical landmarks, etc.--and blends it almost seamlessly with the story. You're not always sure where fact ends and fiction begins, and I love that.
Also I'm very much shipping two particular characters.
And I need book 5, The Fatal Tree, right this minute.
Scarlet by Marissa MeyerJust like Cinder, I often caught myself composing a list of fangirly comments in my head the way I do when I beta read my friends' stories . . . and then remembering, "Oh wait, this is published and I don't actually know the author." There must be something about the hilarious and feelsy character interactions that reminds me of my writer friends.
Anyway, I liked the first book more, and prefer Cinder and Kai's romance over Scarlet and Wolf's. I'm just not an insta-love sort of person. Scarlet goes from pointing a gun at his head with the purpose to kill, to kissing him and trusting him with everything--in one day. Just one day. She is hotheaded and brash, I get that, but come on. This guy should not be trusted so quickly. That being said, Wolf has some adorable ticks like scratching behind his ear, and his fascination with tomatoes is also cute.
I guess I just identify more with Cinder, who's more practical and logical. (I do feel deeply, but I have more restraint than Scarlet, and almost never throw myself headfirst into something without thinking it through first.) So I loved the parts with her and Thorne (THORNNNNE!). And Kai just needs a hug right now.
Beta ReadingPerhaps one reason my reading levels were down again this month is because I devoted more time to reading and responding to the chapters my friends have sent me. Knowing my inbox is swollen with beta stuff but not knowing exactly how much, I sat down to actually count them at the beginning of the month.
Seventy-plus chapters, guys.
Some are from months and months ago. WHAT. It has been decided that I need to catch up before college, and after that beta reading will be have to be rather infrequent for a while, I'm sad to say.
But! I devoured 22 beta chapters this month, including a novella retelling of Sleeping Beauty (yes, one of the entrants from last year's Rooglewood contest), a couple short stories, miscellaneous bits of novels, and a chunk of another friend's Beauty and the Beast novel. Lots of awesome story-ness all around!
I must have used up all my words in my last post. TRotK was epic in every sense of the word, and seeing everything culminate in that huge, amazing ending was incredible. (With a goodly dose of bittersweetness as well, as the ship leaves for the Undying Lands and takes certain characters with it.) Oh, and Eowyn is now one of my favorite heroines!
Once Upon a Time (part of Season 4)My sisters and I are about halfway through the season now, and we're really enjoying it. I've decided the Frozen elements do integrate well (and Anna is the sweetest person); I strongly dislike the Snow Queen but loved the climax of her part in the story; and the Charming family is my favorite thing ever.
The Flash (first three episodes of Season 1)So I started watching this with my brother, and it's pretty great! I love Barry/Flash--his character is so earnest and warmhearted and down-to-earth. His relationship with his father is so good to see. A number of secondary characters are worming their way into my heart as well, and the motley villains are intriguing. I think this'll be a fun ride.
WroteI finished the workbook stuff from session 8 of The Creative Way (the writing course by Ted Dekker that I'm taking) and also did session 9. Progress is sporadic, obviously, but still happening.
Another sort-of-writing-related thing was the Silmarillion Awards that took place this month! Narnia really stole the show this year, didn't it? I had loads of fun hosting the Riddling and Poetry award, which culminated recently with Bilbo presenting the Silmaril to the Sorting Hat, and later on, me gushing about Tolkien and how much the books mean to me. Many thanks to Jenelle Schmidt and DJ Edwardson for coming up with this marvellous idea, and for inviting me to join them!
What I did on my actual WIP, The Prophet's Key--that willful child made of rough edges and elusive magic, which I'm trying to capture--is write 11,399 words. A great month for me, considering work and whatnot! I finished drafting the Scotland scenes (sniffle . . . goodbye, Highlands--see you in editing. . .) and have just split up the crew, sending one half gallivanting to Australia and the other to Moscow, Russia. Hooray for writing about places I've never been to! And for tiring of research and then proceeding to write without gathering facts first! I will have plenty to shape up during editing, and that's putting it kindly.
But I'm getting a teensy tiny bit better at loosening up and just focusing on getting the story out. Details can be fixed later. That's the beauty of revisions. (#messyfirstdraft) I'm also happily suffering from bouts of wanderlust when I do research places. I honestly thought I'd never want to visit Russia. My mind has changed.
Also on the writing front, I've been reconsidering publishing tactics this month. But until I've sorted it out for myself (aka spent half a dozen pages journaling about it), I won't say much more here. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be cruelly mysterious! Just wanted to record the fact that these thoughts arrived in July 2016. Once they take a firmer shape, I'll explain myself more clearly. Promise.
That was July!Full of green, growing things; a celebration of fantasy and Tolkien; books; and learning to write more freely. And I'm breathing a great sigh of relief, because I'm taking almost a week off now to kick back and unwind! I hope to get in some bigger writing days, catch up on more beta reading, and enjoy a more fluid schedule that allows time for little things like journaling or sketching or coloring or falling into a book for a few hours.
Keep a watchful eye on Adventure Awaits during August, as I have a couple of special things planned! One is something I've never done before, and the other involves another blogger. (Aren't I such a tease?)