August passed along much like the rest of this summer: ebbing and flowing with garden work/housework/real work and periods of rest . . . of ice cream and thunderstorms and hanging out doing nothing. I had almost a week off at the beginning of the month, which was great for catching up on things that had piled up (like my inbox. which is piling up again. such is life.) and enjoying a more relaxed pace of life.
My sisters and I had a "sleepover" together like we used to do, squeezing an extra mattress onto the floor, spending exclusive time together, giggling, and watching YouTube videos.
I went swimming twice (summer goals!) and came home the first time with a brilliant red sunburn. It took a week for the sting to fade, after which time I peeled like a banana. Ick. But worth it!
I filmed my first vlog and had a blast doing it. Once the technical difficulties were dealt with, I mean. You got to hear my Canadian accent (apparently I say 'tag' differently?), and we all got to feel like we were having a lovely conversation.
My cousin got married at an outdoor wedding with the most perfect weather.
I've been missing my car half this month, because it's in the shop getting a rusty fender replaced. So it's been back to the old vehicle shuffle lately, in order to get four people to work with one less car.
My sisters went to camp for a week and had a blast, thank you for asking, though the house was so quiet in their absence. To fill the time, we powered through a ton of gardening tasks. Apples. Salsa sauce. Beans. Corn.
There was also some spontaneous friend things--long walks and tea and playing Carcassone for the first time (which I lost). I discovered the yumminess that is Spice Dragon Red Chai. It has a cinnamon-y flavor and an awesome name, so it's a win-win.
I watched more of The Flash (season 1) and Once Upon a Time (season 4). Both are excellent, and both have had very exciting developments lately.
Mockingjay Part 2 - I watched it twice, first with my dad and later with my brother. So good! It's not a happy movie at all, but it provided a satisfying conclusion to the series, and it ripped my heart out once or twice along the way. If you've watched it, you'll know exactly which scenes I'm talking about! Also, I'm continually impressed with how Jennifer Lawrence brings Katniss to the screen. She manages to convey so much depth and inner conflict and pain. The first time I watched this final movie, the pacing of the ending felt a bit off to me. But the second go-round, it was perfect.
Kung Fu Panda 3 - Probably the best of the three so far. I was tired when I watched it, so in a way it was still kind of "meh," but the music was great and I do have to admit the movie improved over its predecessors. There were some funny moments too. (But seriously, how epic is THIS theme?)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Okay, confession: this was my very first Star Wars film. Ever. My brother had to pause it several times to explain things to me. I do know some Star Wars background--it's kind of hard not to pick up on a few things--but stuff about the different sides and who was fighting for whom took a little brain work. All that aside, I quite enjoyed it! Han Solo and Chewie are hilarious together, and I loved Rey and Finn. Rey in particular manages to pull off that overly-hyped "strong female protagonist" thing while still retaining a feminine side.
34 beta chapters - I finished Christine Smith's Burning Thorns (ahhhh, so gorgeous and heartrending!) and reached the halfway point of Emily's The City and the Trees (poetic writing and a main character who shares part of a brain with me!).
I was excited to read this because a) I own the sequel and it looks good, and b) the author is Stephen R. Lawhead's son. Unfortunately, the book didn't deliver quite what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, the concept was awesome--two young adults who discovered an underground kingdom as children, and are now dealing with life, either fighting monsters or trying to forget that ever happened. I just struggled to connect to the story on an emotional level, which kind of detracted from the plot.
There are two main storylines going on: Daniel and Freya as children in the underground city called Nidergeard, and Daniel and Freya as adults. A subplot deals with a mysterious guy tracking monsters and such in rural Scotland. I liked the grown up side (some elements reminded me of my own WIP), but then Freya's parts grew dry and confusing. It was for a good reason, I found out later on, but while it was happening I skimmed a bit. Daniel's parts were cool as he fell into Elfland and learned the peculiar rules of a magical forest . . . but then he randomly spends days and days with this coal-maker and not much happens until Daniel makes another move toward his goal of getting back home.
I expected to love the childhood half of the story because, come on, discovering another world beneath our own? Monsters? A quest? Unfortunately, I felt somewhat distanced from the characters, so it fell a little flat and seemed to wander.
The Scotland subplot was great, and I think it'll feature more in book 2. The appearance of a dragon made me happy!
The Runaway King // Jennifer A. Nielsen
It's been a year since I read the first book, so it took me several chapters to remember things and get re-immersed in the events of the story, but once I did, this was a really fun book. Not quite as unpredictable as the first book (which was one of The False Prince's greatest strengths), but still twisty and cool. I really can't say much about the plot because that would spoil the first novel, but there are pirates involved. And moral dilemmas. And cleverness. By the end, I was very much rooting for the main character! Five stars.
Peter Pan // J.M. Barrie
I did session 10 of The Creative Way. This one was on device, which covered setting, storyworld, and genre all at once, describing it as the candy of the story. Very entertaining and informative. I also re-listened to session 1 with my mom and brother whilst cutting up peppers for salsa. It was cool to hear the intro again now that I'm partway through the course.
As for actual writing, my word count was down a bit this month: 8,025 words added to The Prophet's Key. The end of the 100 for 100 challenge looms near, and I'm feeling a tad burnt out, to be honest. The last full week of August was my lowest weekly word count yet for this summer. I'm not too worried about that. Once the challenge is over and I'm in college, I'll be writing less, which may mean that when I do write, I'll be more inspired. Hopefully. Whatever the case, a break will be good. And sometimes you just have to keep marching on even when the words are bland. (Which is crazy because I'm currently writing an epic chase scene.)
Random writing observation . . . I think I've fooled myself about my writing style. In The Brightest Thread, I let myself be lyrical and imaginative--very fairytale-esque. But when I returned to my Journeys books, I felt that the style of that series was less pretty, more functional. And so as I've been drafting TPK, I haven't done much in the way of imaginative description, and I think that may be one reason I've been having a harder time with this draft. I've been restricting myself.
Looking back on book 1, The Prophet's Quest, I recently realized that I actually did write it with color and verve. Not in the same way as TBT, and not to the same extent, but it was still there. So perhaps I need to unlock that side of myself next time I sit down to work on TPK.
*random rabbit trail is over*
Oh yes, and I did some serious thinking over the last month or so in regards to publishing plans!
Farewell to August, bring on September!
It's funny to think of August as the calm before the storm of college, because it certainly was busy in its own right. But September promises to be a whole new flavor of busy. I'm looking forward to the change of pace, to the beginning of a year of personal growth and new opportunities. Next time you hear from me, I'll have three college days under my belt! I may re-evaluate my blogging schedule this month, depending on how it goes, but I do hope to keep posting here every week.
How was your August? Isn't it sad that summer is coming to a close? Are you headed back to school of some sort? Any 100-for-100 writers out there--how goes the war? Pull up a log and sit 'round the fire, folks. Pass around the hot dogs and roasting sticks. (Having a bonfire seems like an end-of-summer thing to do, right? Now I'm making myself hungry . . .)