Monday, February 29, 2016

Subplots and Storylines - February 2016

This month was a whirlwind from start to finish! I hardly know where to begin.

Life happenings

Well, for starters, I have an absolutely wonderful family . . . a family that takes every opportunity to celebrate each other and enjoy holidays together. So Valentine's Day is actually a thing in our house.

We all make or buy cards for each other, my mom does her magic in the kitchen, and we enjoy said magic by candle-light. This year, dessert was candle-lit rather than supper, simply because the supper table was so full of food that attempting to eat in semi-darkness would've been unwise. We had one of my grandmas over for the special dinner, and afterwards we exchanged cards.

Okay, I don't normally do this, but I feel inclined to give you a peek into the Valentine's evening at the Dyck household:
[from Mom to me] . . . God rejoices over you with singing! He carries you close to His heart! He has a picture of you tattooed on the palm of His hand. You are not forgotten!
[from Dad to me] . . . Look back to see how far you have come. Now look forward to see how far you will go. Now look at the present and see who walks with you. He has always been with you, He will always be with you, and He is with you.
[my brother Josiah is not into crafts--nevertheless, he made one card to give to all of us. sweet guy.] 
[from Miss C to me] . . . You have a great writing voice; you are caring and helpful; you still know how to have fun even if you're an adult . . .
[from Miss K to me] . . . Thanks for hanging out with me. I love how goofy and sweet you are.
And then a few words between other family members:
[from Miss C to Dad] . . . Some of the things I love about you are . . . your warm chuckles . . . your wisdom; your courage; and your wonderfully safe hugs . . .
[from Miss K to Dad] . . . Thanks for being there for me and being my hero. You are awesome!
[from Miss C to Mom] . . . Here's a few things I love about you . . . your wonderful little quirks; your gentle touch; your caring personality; your encouraging words; and your prayers . . .
[from Miss K to Mom] . . . You always have a hug for me, right words for me, and you always are ready to help me . . . You are the GREATEST mom ever!! 
[from me to Mom and Dad] . . . Thank you for living out the meaning of love, for treating it as a verb and not just a noun . . . Home is still--and will always be--a safe harbor. Thank you for teaching me both how to trim the sails and venture forth, and how to sail home again . . .
[from Dad to Josiah] . . . You remind me of a superhero, an all-around nice guy who comes to the defense of those who can't defend themselves, who does good to others even when he isn't noticed . . .
[from Miss K to Josiah] . . . I love hanging out with you and laughing with you. Thanks for playing Wii with me, which is very fun! 
[from Mom to Miss C] . . . You are such a beautiful young lady--inside and out! You have eyes that shine with the love of Jesus! God has great plans for you and your future . . . Thanks for adding such sweetness to my life!
[from me to Miss C] . . . Keep discovering the immeasurable height, depth, and width of God's love for you! It will blow your mind.
[from Miss C to Miss K] . . . I love the way you smile and laugh; your beautiful big brown eyes . . . the way you encourage me with kind words and hugs when I'm sad . . .
 [from Dad to Miss K] . . . When God made the world, He knew that one thing was missing--joy and laughter. It took Him many years to perfect it, and when He did, He made you!
See what I mean? Families like this are rare, and I absolutely don't say that in any haughty way. But I am proud of these special people and the bonds we've forged. We're not perfect. Far from it. I hope I don't present us in a cleaned-up light, because the truth of the matter is, we're messy humans who sometimes snap at each other or say unkind things. But we love each other fiercely.

My sisters went all out this Valentine's--they spent hours holed up in their room, making art for all of us. On a whim, I decided to present my siblings with sketches too.
Miss K's drawings--aren't they completely adorable? The otter on the left was for me.

Miss C's drawings, which are so very lovely. Especially *cough* the Captain America she drew for me.

I drew pop star Ross Lynch for Miss K.

And Once Upon a Time's Peter Pan for Miss C.
(Though the more I look at it, the less convinced I am that
he turned out right.)

And lastly, I drew Ultron for my brother.

A bridal shower!

A very dear friend of mine is getting married next month, and I'm one of her bridesmaids, which is incredibly exciting! So for about two weeks this month, my brain has been in bridal shower mode, with little room for anything else. From invitations to food, activities, decor, and supplies, the four of us bridesmaids brainstormed and made it all happen on a short deadline. It turned out beautifully, and I couldn't be happier for my friend.

Miscellaneous life stuff:

  • The long weekend (February 15) was a welcome breather in the middle of the month. We went sledding with friends and had a lovely day.
  • My mom slipped on the ice while running errands, but thankfully she's fine now!
  • Inventory happened at the store. Lots of work involved. And counting. So much counting . . .
  • There have been some health issues with a relative, but she seems to be doing better. We continue to pray for her.

On a lighter note, I fell into the behavior of the stereotypical, clueless-about-cars kind of girl. I've had my license for over two years now, okay, and I've been a working woman for about a year. And yet until recently, I'd never filled up with gas by myself. So I pull up to the pump and ask the guy to fill it with mid-grade. "Can you open your gas cap, please?" he asks.

I freeze. Because oh my goodness, where is the switch for that?! I shoot my sister a panicky look. She smirks. (Thank you, C.) I flutter my hands over the dashboard and steering wheel area. I pop the trunk. Then the hood. Finally I call out, "Um, this is embarrassing, but I'm having a blonde moment and forget where the switch for that is." The guy didn't know, either. Or wouldn't tell me. I asked him to hold on, then called my dad.

"Tracey, we've been over this," he says.

"I know!" I wail. "But I forgot!"

So he tells me where it is--it's a silly little switch down on the floor, on the left side; and I'll probably never forget that again. When I climbed out to go pay, I apologized again to the guy, who said, "No problem. Happens all the time . . ." Except his voice trailed off uncertainly, telling me that no, it doesn't actually happen all the time, I'm just trying to make you feel better.

Screen happenings

  • Finished Once Upon a Time Season 2 and started Season 3. My sisters and I adore Peter Pan, in case you didn't catch that with my portrait. All this Neverland stuff is quite fun, and I am ever so conflicted over certain things!
  • I SAW THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. Oh stars, it was amazing. I can't believe I went this long without watching it! Being the extended edition, my brother and I watched it in three sittings over the long weekend (in between family activities, you understand). We were blown away. It was perfect. Soon after the final credits, I was ready to watch the movie all over again. I went from feeling cozy and comfortable to laughing uproariously at the four hobbits, to feeling chilled (Black Riders!!), to being gripped with the excitement of the quest, to-- Oh, I don't even know. It's glorious. That's all I can say. (Also, Aragorn.) And the Shire musical theme makes me stop and smile wistfully into the distance every single time I hear it.

Book happenings

The Invaders by John Flanagan

I love the Ranger's Apprentice series, so of course I'm reading his newer series, Brotherband Chronicles. In this second Brotherband book, I found myself enjoying all the usual Flanagan trademarks: smart protagonist, clever battle/weaponry tactics, and wry humor. Plus lots of sailing stuff. A good read, for sure.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

If you've been reading Adventure Awaits for a while now, you might remember way back in summer when my siblings and I picked out library books for each other to read. It gets us out of our usual ruts and gives us something new to try. We just did it again this month, and A Snicker of Magic was Miss K's pick for me. And this book is now one of my all-time favorite middle-grade novels! Seriously, Natalie Lloyd's voice is just crackling with magic. The story has a Southern, small town, whimsical, hilarious, heartwarming, spindiddly flavor to it. Felicity, the protagonist, catches the words she sees hovering over people and places. Along with her mom and little sister, she arrives in the little mysterious town of Midnight Gulch. What ensues are new friendships, old legends about the Brothers Threadbare, an upcoming talent show that scares Felicity right out of her word-covered sneakers, and buckets of ice cream. The supporting cast is delightfully quirky, and my heart ached for poor Felicity as her mom longs to uproot and move the family for the hundred-millionth time.

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

Miss C picked this middle-grade book for me. It took me a little while to get into it, but I soon realized how great the author is at setting the mood. The book starts off feeling kind of hollow and gloomy as the main character (another Felicity) leaves England at the beginning of WWII to stay with her relatives in Maine. Without her parents, so far from home, the poor girl is without an anchor. Her uncle receives strange letters written in code from her parents, and refuses to let Felicity read them. But things begin to look up when she meets Derek, a boy with a paralyzed arm. Together they strive to crack the code, and in the process, begin infusing the gloomy old house with a little bit of life.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Josiah's pick. It's a very unusual sort of book, I must say. Artemis himself is a veritable villain, so you're left to cheer for a handful of exceedingly strange fairy creatures. There's Holly Short, a rebellious LEP-Recon officer (haha, get it?) . . . Captain Root, her boss, a guy with anger issues . . . Foaly, a technologically brilliant centaur who's paranoid that the humans (disdainfully referred to as Mud People) can read his mind, and thus wears a tinfoil hat at all times . . . and Mulch, a dwarf who, ah . . . Well. Let's just say that these dwarves can unhinge their jaws and chew through dirt at a rapid pace. And their metabolism is extremely fast. Hence, their digging pants are equipped with a back flap. Yeah. You see where this is going. This book is written with young guys in mind, but nevertheless, I found much to snicker at, and I give Mr. Colfer points for the unusual fairy elements. I'll likely keep going with this series.

You Have a Brain: A Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Ben Carson, MD

The first half of the book tells how Dr. Carson was born into poverty, and through his mother's guidance, God's help, and his desire to learn, became a neurosurgeon. There are some amazing anecdotes from his career, such as the time he removed half of a little girl's brain in order to stop the hundreds of seizures she was having every day. And she survived. And went on to graduate from college and live a fulfilling life.

The second half goes over some principles for thinking big, specifically in regards to the future. He covers Talent, Honesty, Insight, Niceness, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth Learning, and God (T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.).

Blog Happenings

On a whim, I started a month-long linkup called Lovely Books, in which we discussed:
I have had such a great time celebrating books and characters with all of you! Many thanks to all who have participated--you've made my first linkup a success. And it's been so fun to hear about your favorite bookish things! There's still time to join, if you so desire. You have until March 5th.

Oh, and you may have noticed my embarrassing mistake . . . Whilst drafting the quotes post in the middle of last week, I accidentally hit publish. I noticed it less than half an hour later, and hurried to revert the post to draft form before anybody could read my half-formed jumble of words. To my dismay, however, the post remained on my dashboard--and the dashboards of everyone else who follow me. Clicking the link led to nowhere, of course, but still! It looked as if I had posted it half a week early. Of all the times to do such a thing, it had to be for something I'd hoped to keep secret until Saturday! And then when I did publish the post, it didn't appear at the top of the dashboard like normal new posts--it remained waaaaay down with the other 'four days ago' posts on my feed.

Ah, well. Lesson learned. Keep the cursor far, far away from the publish button until ready.

Anyway, thanks again, all you lovely bookworms! We'll have to do something like this again someday.

Written Happenings

I made a game plan for my 2016 writing goals, if you'll remember from January's Beautiful People post. I planned for February to be my research month, so it's harder to gauge whether I reached those goals.

I started out by taking a deep breath and diving into the murky waters of . . . gasp . . . querying agents. No, I haven't actually sent out any queries yet. But I did begin researching, looking online for agents who represent my kind of work, reading some articles on how to query and what agents look for, etc. The amount of information, ambiguity, and general unknown-ness of it all is daunting, but I'm excited to rise to the challenge.

After reading Jenelle Schmidt's comment on Christine's BP post, I spontaneously chose to purchase a book Jenelle recommended: Guide to Literary Agents 2016! The things I've learned from even just the beginning articles are so, so helpful. I haven't yet delved into the listings of a thousand agents, but I know it will be an invaluable tool in the coming months. Thanks, Jenelle!

I did a little bit of research on different locations featured in my fantasy book 2, which I plan to start redrafting next month. This is where I didn't get far at all, so I foresee much more Googling and librarying in the future. I want to look into British Columbia, Ireland, Greenland or Iceland, Russia, and Australia. Yes indeed, this book includes a fair bit of globe trotting on our world, followed by daring escapades in the other world!

And I felt rather officially author-ish this month, questers, because I actually interviewed someone for book research. A certain character in book 2 gets diagnosed with a mental illness--which is a complete error, because the wild tales he tells are 100% true--so I needed to know how this process would work. What would he be labelled as? What would treatment look like? How would others respond? How would the family be advised to act around him? Would he be medicated, counselled, taken out of school?

All these questions and more were answered by a fellow my dad knows through work. As a Christian working in the field of mental health, and as someone with a big enough imagination to accommodate my fictional situation, he was the perfect person to talk to. So we chatted over coffee one Saturday, and I scribbled three pages of notes and wound up borrowing four books from his office. Armed with all this information to make my character's life miserable (and believable), I am most excited to start writing next month.

And that, my friends, was February.

Like I said, it was a whirlwind! There was so much happening, at least in my brain, that I found myself identifying with this amazing song:

March looks like it will be full speed ahead as well, but I hope to catch up on your Lovely Books posts--and blogging in general.

So many things to look forward to in the next thirty-one days! My friend's wedding, delving into book 2, more agent research, and who knows what else? Actually, there is one thing pressing rather insistently at my mind tonight, and that is . . .


For all of you who entered along with me, I hope your hearts are prepared for whatever the results may be. Know that you accomplished something crazy awesome with your novella(s). You crafted a story, a living, breathing tale of wonder. You finished it; you got all the way to the end and most probably edited it many times over. And no words written are ever a waste. You learned something with this novella. Maybe how to retell a fairytale, or how to write a better plot twist, or how to be concise (looking at myself over here!). Maybe you refined your dialogue skills, or fell in love with a genre you've never written before. Maybe you discovered the camaraderie of fellow writers through this contest. Maybe you conquered the fear of letting others see your work. Well done, I say! Well done!

How were your February quests? Was your month a hurricane too, or more like a quiet breeze? What do you think of the Lord of the Rings movies? Have you ever sought people out for research purposes? And do you think you'll survive till tomorrow morning?!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lovely Books // quotes

Welcome back, my bookish adventurers, to the fourth and final round of Lovely Books! We started with our first impressions of novels--covers and titles, which we can all agree are very important. But once readers get past the front of a book, they find out very quickly what the story is made of. So we chatted about favorite couples and villains, because characters are often a deal breaker. Well-crafted ones latch onto our hearts and never let go, but shallow or inconsistent characters fall flat and leave us with a stale taste in our mouths.

So. Great covers, check. Great characters, check. But what about the writing? The actual words on a page? The cover can be gorgeous, the characters can be engaging, but if the sentences clunk along, we start losing interest.

I've been looking forward to this edition the most, to be honest. Because nothing makes my heart swell with happiness as much as beautiful passages, profound scenes, laugh-till-your-sides-ache dialogue, clever narrative, or scrumptious description. This is the real meat of a story.

Prepare for a deluge!

"I had forgotten that," said Eomer. "It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."
-The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien

"Wait a minute!" cried Gimli. "There is another thing that I should like to know first. Was it you, Gandalf, or Saruman that we saw last night?"

"You certainly did not see me," answered Gandalf, "therefore I must guess that you saw Saruman. Evidently we look so much alike that your desire to make an incurable dent in my hat must be excused."
-The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien

It seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly but far off, voices out of the past:

What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had the chance!

Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.

I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.

Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.
-The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien

"You know," he said as he dabbed her eyes. "I don't believe we've been introduced. I'm Fenworth, bog wizard of Amara. This is my esteemed librarian, Trevithick Librettowit. He's been known to be in a better mood from time to time, but we must make allowances. He prefers a good book, a comfy chair, a plate of daggarts, tea, and a fire in the fireplace. Unfortunately, we are often called to adventure. Slaying damsels, rescuing dragons in distress, collapsing kingdoms, thwarting evil, purging plagues, that sort of thing."
-Dragons of the Valley, Donita K. Paul

[Fenworth] "Logic. Logic is a funny thing. Works when things are progressing logically and is totally undependable when variances poke their long noses into the regular way of things."

Librettowit spoke around a mouthful of gooey pie. "Don't think you can say that variances possess noses with which they poke."

"Ah!" Fenworth looked fondly at his librarian, then winked at Bealomondore. "I've missed him, you know. Did you note how he did not end the sentence with a preposition? It's a good trait in a learned man, the ability to speak a sentence properly arranged. But the variance with a nose is a figure of speech, not meant to be taken literally."
-Dragons of the Valley, Donita K. Paul

[Gandalf] "…And so a great evil of this world will be removed. Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule."
-The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien

Warney made after his friend, gnawing on questions that Krawg's campfire tale about Tammos Raak and the starcrown trees had inspired. "Why'd they call them starcrowns?"

"The way they caught stars in their branches."

"And Mawrnash, where they grew . . . How'd it get a name like that?"

"Why, for the Mawrn, of course." Krawg climbed over a fallen tree and staggered down a steep riverbank, his feet punching up gobs of mud with each step. "You hear me comin', fish? Comin' to getcha!"

"Mawrn, Mawrn. That does me no good if'n I don't know what a Mawrn is, Krawg."
-Raven's Ladder, Jeffrey Overstreet

"Tell the Keeper," [Cal-raven] whispered, "that I don't know where to go from here . . . When I was a child, I'd have called out myself. It was easier then to believe."
-Raven's Ladder, Jeffrey Overstreet

Mr. Gilmer asked him one more question. "About your writing with your left hand, are you ambidextrous, Mr. Ewell?"

"I most positively am not, I can use one hand good as the other. One hand good as the other," he added, glaring at the defense table.
-To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

"They almost sold us once, Mummy and Pa." Wynn confessed this quietly, perhaps to Cortie, perhaps to the ale boy. Perhaps to himself. "They were gonna trade us to Bel Amican Seers. But then they didn't. They packed up their things, real fastlike. We rode away. We were hungry. But we were together." He embraced Cortie tight.

The ale boy felt his resistance failing. Emotion swelled in his throat, even though he could not fathom what the boy was feeling.

"Can I cry now?" Wynn whispered.

The ale boy patted him on the shoulder. "Of course," he said, choking. "I'll cry with you."
-Cyndere's Midnight, Jeffrey Overstreet

An elderly lady stood in the doorway--she was plump the way grannies sometimes are, pillowy and huggable-looking. She kept her white hair tied back behind her head in a poufy bun. She grinned at us and clapped her hands and ran down the ramp, squealing.

"Should I be afraid?" I asked.

"Charlie Sue Hancock is Oliver's assistant. She gets excited over company."

Charlie Sue ran at us full speed, both arms straight out like she might take off and fly.

"Should I duck?"

But I didn't have time to duck. Instead I OOFED! as Charlie Sue swooped in and flung her arms around me and Jonah both. She smelled like coffee and expensive perfume.

"Welcome to Midnight Gulch, Felicity Pickle!" she hollered, pushing me back to take a good look at me.
-A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd

"Felicity darlin'," she drawled, "you know what helped me figure out how to put my words together? Music. Music gets my words where they need to go. So you keep catching them words, you hear? Pluck them out of the wind. String them together like the finest set of pearls. Line them up on paper. And if it hurts too much to say them, then you sing them, or whisper them, or write them into a story. But don't waste them. Your words matter more than you know. You hear?"
-A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd

"I don't like how stories always end with folks riding into a sunset," Mama said. "I've never cared for that. I'd rather ride all the way to the end and see that there's a sunrise still waiting for me. Morning in my eyes, stars at my back."
-A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd

It would be nice, and fairly true, to say that "from that time forth Eustace was a different boy." To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

"You are too old, children," said Aslan, "and you must begin to come close to your own world now."

"It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"

"But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan.

"Are--are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.

"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

Do right. Fear nothing.
-Crazy Dangerous, Andrew Klavan

"Tu-whoo! Ahem! Lord Regent," said the Owl, stooping down a little and holding its beak near the Dwarf's ear.

"Heh? What's that?" said the Dwarf.

"Two strangers, my lord," said the Owl.

"Rangers! What d'ye mean?" said the Dwarf. "I see two uncommonly grubby man-cubs. What do they want?"

"My name's Jill," said Jill, pressing forward. She was very eager to explain the important business on which they had come.

"The girl's called Jill," said the Owl, as loud as it could.

"What's that?" said the Dwarf. "The girls are all killed! I don't believe a word of it. What girls? Who killed 'em?"
-The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

"Don't you lose heart, Pole," said Puddleglum. "I'm coming, sure and certain. I'm not going to lose an opportunity like this. It will do me good. They all say--I mean, the other wiggles all say--that I'm too flighty; don't take life seriously enough. If they've said it once, they've said it a thousand times. 'Puddleglum,' they've said, 'you're altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You've got to learn that life isn't all fricasseed frogs and eel pie. You want something to sober you down a bit. We're only saying it for your own good, Puddleglum.' That's what they say. Now a job like this--a journey up north just as winter's beginning, looking for a prince who probably isn't there, by way of a ruined city that no one has ever seen--will be just the thing. If that doesn't steady a chap, I don't know what will."
-The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

Dive deep. Drown willingly.
-White, Ted Dekker

"What love can you possible need from the world if you are full of His? None."
-Outlaw, Ted Dekker

"There are no longer any problems to solve. If there are no longer any problems to solve, there’s no longer any need for correction. If there’s no need for correction, then there’s no need for law. Live in the grace of that which is now perfect, as it is. Be perfect, don’t try to become perfect. You already are, you just don’t know it yet. Be still and know."
-Eyes Wide Open, Ted Dekker

"The heart is a peculiar thing. It sees and interprets details long before the brain has started to think there might be something worth noticing. The brain resents this skill, however, and will often spitefully do all it can to repress what the heart might be whispering."
-Shadow Hand, Anne Elisabeth Stengl

"Do you understand, mortal?" Eanrin said. "We Faerie know it's the spirit that counts, and all else is malleable. Beauty or ugliness; brawn or frailty; height or lack thereof--these appearances can be exchanged with scarcely a thought! But the truth . . . now, that's another issue. The truth of the thing, the person behind what you perceive with any of your paltry five senses . . . Creature of dust, it's the truth that counts! And you'll rarely find more truth than in Faerie tales."

With those words, the golden man dwindled into the golden cat, and try as he might, the Chronicler could perceive him as nothing else. But he was still Eanrin, and he smiled, pleased with himself. "That wasn't a half-bad monologue. Do you find yourself inspired to new heights of ambition?”
-Dragonwitch, Anne Elisabeth Stengl

"What can I say?" Cosimo bowed in deference to his friend's wishes. "We accept your hospitality."

"Splendid! I do hope you are hungry, good sirs."

"Ravenous!" roared Cosimo--so loudly that Kit gave a start. But no one else seemed to pay the least attention. "But, might we first pass by Pudding Lane? I have that errand we discussed."
-The Skin Map, Stephen R. Lawhead

Taggle was absorbed in the meat pie. "It's covered in bread," he huffed. "What fool has covered meat with bread?"
-Plain Kate, Erin Bow

Perhaps it was time to stop choosing small spaces.
-Plain Kate, Erin Bow

"Hope never stands alone," he said in a dry, husky voice. "It is born of valor and perseverance. It rides the back of courage."
-The Book of Names, D. Barkley Briggs

A mouse slid out from under his hat and scrambled down his sleeve, across his lap, and down to the floor. "Nothing," said Fenworth, "should distract from a wizard's dignity."
-DragonQuest, Donita K. Paul

"Not all tongues that wag cohabit with a brain."
-DragonFire, Donita K. Paul

"I'm sorry, Mother. It's just that five days of flying with these characters has made me crawl right over the edge of sanity."

"I fell over the edge," Karen said.

"I jumped," Walter added. "And I can't seem to climb back up."
-Enoch's Ghost, Bryan Davis
(At least I think it was that one . . . Goodreads didn't say, and at this point I haven't the time to look it up. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Halt waited a minute or two but there was no sound except for the jingling of harness and the creaking of leather from their saddles. Finally, the former Ranger could bear it no longer.


The question seemed to explode out of him, with a greater degree of violence than he had intended. Taken by surprise, Horace’s bay shied in fright and danced several paces away.

Horace turned an aggrieved look on his mentor as he calmed the horse and brought it back under control.

"What?" he asked Halt, and the smaller man made a gesture of exasperation.

"That’s what I want to know," he said irritably. "What?"

Horace peered at him. The look was too obviously the sort of look that you give someone who seems to have taken leave of his senses. It did little to improve Halt’s rapidly growing temper.

"What?" said Horace, now totally puzzled.

"Don’t keep parroting at me!" Halt fumed. "Stop repeating what I say! I asked you 'what,' so don’t ask me 'what' back, understand?"

Horace considered the question for a second or two, then, in his deliberate way, he replied: "No."

Halt took a deep breath, his eyebrows contracted into a deep V, and beneath them his eyes sparked with anger. But before he could speak, Horace forestalled him.

"What 'what' are you asking me?" he said. Then, thinking how to make the question clearer, he added, "Or to put it another way, why are you asking 'what?'"

Controlling himself with enormous restraint, and making no secret of the fact, Halt said, very precisely: "You were about to ask me a question."

Horace frowned. "I was?"

Halt nodded. "You were. I saw you take a breath to ask it."

"I see," Horace said. "And what was it about?"

For just a second or two, Halt was speechless. He opened his mouth, closed it again, then finally found the strength to speak.

"That is what I was asking you," he said. "When I said 'what,' I was asking you what you were about to ask me."

"I wasn’t about to ask you 'what,'" Horace replied, and Halt glared at him suspiciously. It occurred to him that Horace could be indulging himself in a gigantic leg pull, that he was secretly laughing at Halt. This, Halt could have told him, was not a good career move. Rangers were not people who took kindly to being laughed at. He studied the boy’s open face and guileless blue eyes and decided that his suspicion was ill-founded.

"Then what, if I may use that word once more, were you about to ask me?"

Horace drew a breath once more, then hesitated. "I forget," he said. "What were we talking about?"
-The Battle for Skandia, John Flanagan

"To listen to a poet arguing with himself--for she could scarcely have been said to have borne any part in the discussion--on the merits of blank verse as a dramatic medium was naturally a privilege of which any young lady must be proud, but there could be no denying that to talk for half an hour to a man who listened with interest to anything she said was, if not precisely a relief, certainly a welcome variation in her life."
-The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! --When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."
-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.
-Allegiant, Veronica Roth

Una closed her eyes and wished that the ground would open and swallow her up. The nature of the universe seemed to be against her, however, and no sudden chasm rifted the turf beneath her feet. Instead she had to listen to her father ask in a stern voice, "And who might you be, sir?"

The stranger bowed. "Forgive me. I am Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore."

Prince Felix muttered, "Aethelbald? I don't think we can forgive that."
-Heartless, Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
-The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Warm sun and robin's-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one's uncle to a lunatic asylum.
-The Dark Unwinding, Sharon Cameron

"Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
-The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.
-The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.

"Pooh!" he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
-Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne

And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth ahs read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
-The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis

And now we come to the end . . .

That was a frightfully long post, and yet it was only but a small sample of the glorious wordsmithing I love. I did have full intentions of including more narrative bits and descriptions and whatnot--and of delving into a greater variety of books as well--but it seems I leaned more toward humor and dialogue and wise sayings. Maybe they're easier to find . . .

Anyway, before I wrap this up, I must say I'm quite sorry for not having read/commented on some of the more recent linked up posts. I greatly appreciate your participation, truly! This week has just rip-roared right by me. Once the craziness blows over (read: after this weekend), I plan to crash all your parties (I mean, read your blogs) and leave fangirly comments.

Enormous thanks, questers!

Thank you for joining me so enthusiastically! It's hard to believe this month is almost over, and that the first Lovely Books post went up four whole weeks ago. I've really enjoyed all the bookish discussions happening here and elsewhere, and I hope you have too.

It's not too late to join up on any of the themes yet--you have until March 5th. So if you're about to burst with book quotes of your own collection (or any of the other things mentioned: covers/titles, couples, villains), have at it!

Once more, here's the link-up form and the brief instructions. Thanks again, y'all!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lovely Books // villains

Well, well, well. What do we have here?

A clich├ęd villain line used as a blog post opener? Surely you wouldn't stoop so low. Delete those words now, and no one gets hurt. Delete them or else. Delete them or your loved ones pay the ultimate price. Delete them or I will tell the whole world your Deepest, Darkest Secret. Mwahaha.

. . .

What, none of that fazes you? You refuse to comply? Very well. You'll pay for this, Tracey.

Um. Apparently I was just having a villainous conversation with myself. I promise you I'm a completely sane, law-abiding citizen, and that whatever crazy I do have is confined to words on a page. (Usually.)

All that nonsense aside, welcome to the third round of Lovely Books! Here's a rundown in case you missed it:

First, we grew infatuated with some beautiful novels bearing attractive names. Then we got to know them a little better as we discussed their romantic sides. Now the book-love is put to the test as we delve into the dark corners of our favorite stories. It's getting real here, people--no more surface fluff between us and the books. Now it's down to the genuine, nitty-gritty relationship. (Okay. That analogy is already crumbling to pieces in my mind, so let's not dwell on that.)

What I'm trying to say is that Round 3 is all about villains. Some we love, and others we love to hate. If you want to join in the discussion, there's a linkup form at the bottom of this post, along with the very few rules involved. (Basically: steal the Lovely Books picture, write up a villainous post, and add your link to the form. Bam. That's all there is to it. Oh, and if you feel like combining editions, go for it.)

Those lovely antagonists . . .

Bartholomew Thorne
(Isle of Swords duology by Wayne Thomas Batson)
He's a pirate! (Cue this music.) A fiendishly awesome pirate who wields a spiked staff, his 'bleeding stick.' He kills and pillages and burns, much as you'd expect from his ilk.

"Much more than that," said Thorne with an ominous, gravelly laugh. "That flask was filled with a potent mixture of the strongest rum and ground-up bog myrtle roots. It enflames their blood lust until is nigh unquenchable and deadens the pain that they feel. When the Berserkers reach the field of battle, it will be with such blunt violence . . . such a bloody frenzy, that few--if any--who come in contact with them will withstand it. My advice to you, Mister Teach: stay out of their way."
-Isle of Fire

Pastor Jeremiah Marsh
(Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher)
This guy is a major creep. He's the pastor of a church in the small town of Solitary, but God is strangely absent from his sermons. He's got skeletons in the closet (literally). His deranged wife never leaves the house. He starts out trying to pass as a nice guy, even buying the main character Chris a gift, but from the start you can tell something is more than a little off with this man. I can't say too much else without spoiling things.

[He's speaking of God here.] Marsh pauses, his eyes narrowing, his face growing dim. "Nobody's on the other line, Chris. He left a long time ago."

(Echoes from the Edge trilogy by Bryan Davis)
If Jeremiah Marsh is a creep, Mictar is a psycho. If I remember him clearly enough, he's tall, gaunt, and pale--a walking corpse fresh from the graveyard, as Nathan describes him. His modus operandi involves sucking the life out of his victims by taking out their eyeballs. I have vivid memories of those scenes . . . eyes sitting in the palm of his hand, with the veins still attached and bleggghhh . . . That dude is just evil.

"Anything I want?" Mictar covered Dr. Simon's eyes with his dark hand and spoke softly. "I want you to die."
Dr. Simon's body stiffened, his mouth locked open in a voiceless scream. As Mictar kept his hand over his victim's eyes, sparks flew around his fingers, and the two men seemed to hover a few inches off the floor. Simon quaked violently, while Mictar's body gradually regained its light.
-Beyond the Reflection's Edge
The White Witch
(The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)
A classic villainess! As the proud Queen Jadis in The Magician's Nephew, she prompted me to mentally shout "No! No, stop it, you evil creature!" many a time. (Why, oh why, did Digory have to strike that bell?) And then as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she is perfectly malevolent. And yet the reader is ever aware that she is not the most powerful being in Narnia. When Aslan roars at her, isn't that such a satisfying feeling?

"I had forgotten that you are only a common boy. How should you understand reasons of State? You must learn, child, that what would be wrong for you or for any of the common people is not wrong in a great Queen such as I. The weight of the world is on our shoulders. We must be freed from all rules. Ours is a high and lonely destiny."
-The Magician's Nephew
Marsuvees Black
(Paradise Trilogy by Ted Dekker)
Going back to pyschos, apparently. Saying Marsuvees is messed up would be an understatement. His catchphrase, "Wanna trip, baby?" makes him sound like a druggie, which he isn't. But he does swagger around town in his trench coat and wide-brimmed hat, convincing people to stake each other in the heart and lovely things like that. And I seem to remember him being involved with those big slimy worms and those really important books . . . ? And I think he does something with eyeballs too. I'd say he ranks among the weirder villains Dekker has written. But then again, that's a fairly long list.

"Now, when I say that I've come to bring grace and hope, I may mean something altogether different than what you think. My kind of grace and hope is full of life, my friends. A real trip. Not that you have to agree with my definitions of those two most holy words. I'm not here to ram anything down your throats, no sir. But we're on dangerous ground here, and I strongly suggest you pay attention."

Death-in-Life / Life-in-Death
(Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
This sibling pair is deliciously creepy! Though the Lady of Dreams (Life-in-Death) doesn't appear that often in the series as a whole, she wreaks havoc in the lives of good characters by tempting them with the realization of their dreams, only to leave them hollow and dissatisfied upon the fulfillment of those dreams. And the Dragon (Death-in-Life) is FABULOUS. With paper-white skin stretched over a black skull, and his ability to transform into a monstrous dragon at will, he makes for a formidable foe. Oh yeah, and he's basically the Satan figure of this story world.

"Did you bring the dice?"
He raises a hand. The skin is leprous pale, stretched thin over black bones, and each finger is tipped with a talon. In his palm he holds two dice, their faces marked with strange devices.
"I want her for my child," he repeats, and smoke licks from his forked tongue. "She is beloved of my Enemy."
"Roll the dice," says the Lady, her eyes not breaking gaze with his.
"I want her, sister."
"Roll the dice."
He clatters them together in his hand, then sets them rolling across the mist-churned floor. Her gaze does not move from his face as he follows the progress of the dice. When at last they are still, she sees the flash of triumph pass over him.
"The game is done," her brother says. "I have won."
"She is yours, then," the Lady replies. "Take her. But 'ware, brother! You've not won yet."

Morgan La Faye
(Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire by Bryan Davis)
Remember her from the original King Arthur legends? She sashays her way into the Dragons in Our Midst story world, all crafty and silver-tongued. Sometimes she appears in the form of a raven. Surviving millennia, she manipulates and lures and slays from the dawn of time up until present day. Makes me want to gather all the heroes in my arms and protect them from her witchiness.

Billy took a quick step back, and Morgan folded her hands at her waist, bowing her head. "I am under a curse only you can break, Billy Bannister." She looked up again, her eyes imploring. "Set me free, and I'll help you take the throne of England. Together we'll spread your goodness to all of mankind."
-Circles of Seven

(Dreamhouse Kings by Robert Liparulo)

An assassin with a penchant for dismembering his victims. He keeps a horrible sculpture-thing made of people's fingers and ears and noses all glued together. Pursuing the King family across the ages (it's a time travel series, you see), he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He's just plain malicious. And I don't recall the details (again!), but I believe his evil plans are far-reaching.

"Can't let you do that, Mr. Taksidian," the remaining cop said. "It's not your house, sir."
David expected the man to say Not yet . . . but what he did say was worse.
"But, Officer Benson," Taksidian said, "there's no place they can hide where I can't find them."
(Head Game by Tim Downs)
I would be very surprised if any of you had heard of him. He lost his family, home, and honor because of Cale Caldwell (the protagonist) in the Desert Storm of Iraq. Driven by revenge, he goes after Cale, but not with brute force and sprays of bullets. No, he would rather deal one psychologically crippling blow after the other, so piece by piece, he dismantles Cale's life. Diabolical, isn't he?
Sadly, I have no quotes from him, as I don't own the book and couldn't find anything online.
I needed to mention at least one sympathetic 'villain.' But that's not to say that Gollum is any less deserving of being on this list! Oh no! He's a many-layered character, tragically flawed and, at heart, very human. He made bad choices, and we can see how much he suffers the consequences. Obsessed with the Ring, living a miserable life . . . I mean, just think of how stark the contrast is between his current existence in a cold, damp cave, and the warm, countryside home he surely used to have as a hobbit. When you remember how dearly hobbits love home and food and quiet, Gollum's life seems even more wretched. But even this lurking little antagonist does some good in the end. ;)
"Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy? Is it scrumptiously crunchable?"
-The Hobbit
It appears I enjoy the villains with dark, twisted minds. Also ones with tragic backstories. But mostly the really, deep down evil guys. I don't know, maybe because the blacker the shadows, the brighter the light shines? (I do like the sympathetic villains as well, the ones who are more grey than black, but I couldn't think of many.)

Come to the dark side, readers...


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Beautiful People - Valentine's Edition - Will + Emi

We interrupt the regular broadcast of Lovely Books
with another round of Beautiful People...

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but it's still not too late to join in with this month's edition of Beautiful People! Our wizardly hosts Cait and Sky have mixed up a love potion series of questions aimed at character couples. If you're a writer, and you haven't yet checked out this linkup, dash off and do that now! BP has been such a fun and helpful tool for me, a way to get to know my characters better and give others a chance to meet them.

Sort of how Will looks.
Usually I like to feature characters from whatever I happen to be working on at the moment, but seeing as I'm not actively writing anything this month (it's research and plans and quite a lot of thinking about research and plans right now . . .), I elected to dust off one of my favorite romantic pairs. Today you get to meet Will and Emi!

Long ago, in the distant history of 2014, before Adventure Awaits was born, I wrote a novella-sized retelling of Beauty and the Beast for the Rooglewood Press contest. Blood Rose is the tale of how Emi, a young scientist, finds herself stranded in the countryside, where the only refuge is an ancient manor belonging to the mysterious and charming William Thornburgh. Events conspire to keep her there, but with each passing day, Will's behavior grows stranger. Secrets lurk in the manor's dark corners. In desperate need of Emi's knowledge and skill, Will locks her up. Escape is not an option. Can she fulfill his seemingly impossible demands? And can a broken, beastly man ever be made whole again?

Sort of how Will looks when a particularly beastly
side of him surfaces...

Kind of how I imagine Emi. (There's too many sort
ofs and kind ofs when it comes to character models!)

I had such a blast writing this novella, so I'm excited to give you a glimpse of the protagonists! If I go crazy with snippets, I apologize.

1. How did they first meet?
Emi, recently graduated from university, was driving to her hometown in search of a meaningful job, when her car broke down.
Forty miles from the nearest hint of civilization.
Right in front of a creepy old manor.

That creepy old manor happened to be the home of Will, a reclusive but nonetheless well-mannered young man. (Well, he looks young, anyway.) He offered to give her a place to spend the night, which she warily declined, choosing to sleep in her car rather than in the house of some stranger. But then, you know, the next day she ends up injuring herself. With a twisted ankle and slight concussion, she has no choice but to let Will care for her.
As he stepped through the doorway, Emi turned her head toward him. "Will?"
He looked over his shoulder. "Yes?"
"Why did you run out into the woods?"
Although his gaze never wavered, layers of shadows seemed to shift in his eyes. "Lost something." He gave her a slight smile, clapped a hand against the doorframe, and walked on.
Emi stared at the spot where he'd stood and listened to his footsteps fade down the hall.

2. What were their first impressions of each other?
He scared the living daylights out of her, but after that initial shock, she found him strange. Oddly dressed (old-fashioned breeches and a billowy shirt), for one thing. Rather kind and gentlemanly, for another. All this is shaded by her wariness, of course, because as a lone female miles from civilization, she's in a vulnerable position. But Will's actions seem to indicate he is entirely noble.

Will sees her as a beautiful young lady, deserving of respect, but a certain desperation reminds him that she may be just what he needs. It's not long before he also realizes how smart and kind-hearted she is. There's a lot of conflicting emotions on his part.

3. How long have they been a couple?
I never know how to answer this kind of question. What timeline am I supposed to use? At the beginning of the story, they're not a couple at all. That doesn't happen until the very end of the story. It's hard to see your captor in a romantic light when he's already come close to killing you. (Heh. Spoiler alert.)

4. How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or a disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other?
Loaded question! And very spoilery, too, I might add! Their relationship is rife with secrets, particularly on Will's part. Stress? There's a whole whackload of that too. But commitment and loyalty do slowly grow between them. (I refuse to answer that last question about death. One day you may get a chance to read Blood Rose, and then you can see for yourself.)

5. List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
Will knows that she glows when she's excited. He knows her well enough to realize at a certain point in the story that when she stops wearing the old-fashioned gowns he provided her, and instead wears the jeans and sweater in which she arrived, that she's planning to leave. He's good at reading her emotions and the underlying thoughts behind them. One thing he does not know is that she prefers her fried eggs hard, not runny.

Emi knows that he eats a lot. As she gets to know him better, she starts to read between the lines, picking up on the hurt and the secrets he doesn't express. And as the story progresses, she learns the warning signs--the clues that he's about to turn beastly.

I know that's not five for either of them, but that's all I could recall from their story at this point.

6. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?
There's not really anyone around to disapprove. Emi is very much a loner, with practically no close friends. Her parents died in a fire. Will is a complete hermit, and his parents have passed away as well.

7. What would be an ideal date?
I'll answer this one from the perspective of what happens after The End, because as I said earlier, they're not a couple until then. An ideal date would be a long stroll through the woods, where Emi is far from her books and projects. Afterwards, they'd make a simple meal at home and cuddle by the fireplace.

8. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly?
Both are very intense people, but it manifests in different ways. Will is deeply loyal to those closest to him--though that includes very few. He carries the weight of past mistakes, and it is a heavy burden indeed. Emi is the kind of person who grasps at stars, a person who lives poised on the line between hope and discouragement. She is driven, but kind. She sees beauty where others see only ugly brokenness.

They have a number of fights--some actual, physical fights and some merely verbal--but I have a feeling that further down the road, their relationship will be largely peaceful. They will eventually mesh well, with Emi giving grace to Will, and Will helping Emi to relax and just be.

9. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple?
To answer that definitively would be to spoil the entire story, but I will let these two snippets speak for themselves.

Here's a good moment (not the best, mind you):
Will was grinning at her, shaking his head slowly.
She grinned back uncertainly. "What?"
"Nothing, it's justyou glow when you are excited."
Emi touched her warm cheeks. Drat, I'm blushing.
His smile softened, and he reached over to clasp her wrist. "There is no need to feel embarrassed. I think your ideas are brilliant. You have much to offer the world."
Sitting there in the old kitchen, with crisp autumn air filtering through the barely open window and a low fire crackling at her back, Emi laid aside her doubts for the moment and simply let the next breath be her focus. "Thank you," she said softly.

And a bad moment, though not the very worst:
He cut her off with a sweep of his hand. "Quiet!" he bellowed. "Ever since you arrived, you have defied me and stirred up things of which you have no part."
Emi backed against the wall, putting as much space between her and Will's hulking frame as possible. "You want me to keep my nose out of things? Fine, I'm leaving anyway. See?" She lifted the potato sack. "Now open those doors."
Will's dark eyes pinned her to the wall as effectively as manacles. "You will not leave," he said between tight lips.
She uttered a short, incredulous laugh. "What?"
"You stay here until your purpose is accomplished."
"Purpose? What purpose?" Emi swallowed, more acutely aware of her vulnerability now than she'd been on day one.
Will leaned in until his face was only inches from hers. He opened his mouth to speak, but winced instead as if struck. He clenched his eyes shut. When they opened, his dark brown irises flickered with red light. "You stay," he growled, "as long as I need you."

10. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years?
Will and Emi, as of the time of Blood Rose, wouldn't really have an answer to this question. I would like to see them happily married, working together to advance medical science and heal people. In fact, I wanted to see that so much, that I once wrote a little piece of 'fanfiction' to get a glimpse of their lives a couple years down the road. (Can you write fanfiction of your own stories??)

Thanks for taking the time to meet my beastly Will and beautiful Emi!

What are your thoughts on Beauty and the Beast? Have you entered any of the Rooglewood Press contests? Speaking of which, the announcement of the winners is now two weeks away! *cue inner screaming*

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lovely Books // couples

Welcome to the second edition of Lovely Books! Last week, we gloried in the beauty of cover art and snappy titles. Today, the eve of Valentine's Day, is the perfect time to pull out the warm, fuzzy feelings and discuss lovely bookish couples.

This is a linkup hosted by yours truly. I'd love for you to join in! You can participate in as many or as few of the four editions of Lovely Books as you like, in whatever order you like. (Meaning you could write a post on couples today, and then decide to go back and do covers/titles tomorrow if you so wished. There are practically no rules.) Two more editions of Lovely Books are scheduled to come out on February 20th and 27th.

All I ask is that you use the Lovely Books picture provided in each edition, and then be sure to use the linky thingamabob so that others can find your bookwormy ramblings.

If you have any questions, ask in the comments! And if you don't have a blog, but can't resist participating anyway, feel free to comment with some of your favorite fictional couples.

Onwards! What follows are just ten of the character pairings that make me swoon.

Billy and Bonnie
(the Dragons in Our Midst story world by Bryan Davis)

Yes sirree, we're kicking off the list with my beloved anthrozils! (For those who've never read the books: firstly, anthrozils are half human, half dragon. Secondly, GET THEE TO A BOOKSTORE.) Billy and Bonnie grow so much over the course of the first twelve books. And a bit in the last four as well, though they're not as much in the spotlight. Anyway, their romance is so sweet and chaste and strong . . . I just love them. I love all of Bryan Davis's character couples, come to think of it. Billy and Bonnie are kind of the classic pair, though. They go through terrible circumstances side by side, standing up for each other, forgiving each other, and trusting each other.


Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennett
(Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

Admittedly, my brain latches onto the 2005 movie version of these two, not the book version--but still. They are completely adorable together. Jane is the sweetest thing, so quiet and reserved and eager to believe the absolute best about everyone. And Mr. Bingley gets socially awkward around her, in a very sweet way, just grinning in her presence. (See, I can't even remember how much of that is actually from the novel. Oops.)

The Dragon and Rose
(of Burning Thorns by Christine Smith; unpublished--for now, mwaha)
(click here to meet the cast, and over here to read some snippets)

It's no secret that I love Beauty and the Beast. Christine's retelling, originally a novella penned for the Rooglewood Press contest last year, has since grown into a full out novel (which I have the immense pleasure of reading now), and its protagonists are so. very. shippable. Sweet and sunny Rose comes traipsing into the life of the gruff, tortured soul dubbed 'The Dragon,' and, well . . . you can guess where that goes. A food fight scene from the novella remains one of my favorites of ever. After all the cold standoffishness on the Dragon's part, seeing him drop his guard long enough to get into a food fight is hilarious and heartwarming.

Eanrin and Imraldera
(Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

There's no way on this green earth that this couple wasn't getting a spot on this list. No way. Because theirs is perhaps the most amusing, most lovable, most infuriating relationship I've had the pleasure of reading. Eanrin, a self-absorbed Fae bard who spends much of his time in cat form . . . Imraldera, a--no wait, I shouldn't mention that--or that--ack, spoilers! Suffice it to say, she's a wonderfully deep character. Selfless and brave and somehow gentle and strong all at once. She and Eanrin take just a few days short of forever to even come close to realizing there might be some romantic possibility between them. Anyone who's read Shadow Hand can now join me in howling our fierce fangirly agony at the moon. (Though really, I wouldn't have this subplot any other way. Slow and layered and delightful is just right.)

Jonah and Felicity
(A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd)

I just finished this adorable Middle Grade novel this week. Yes, they're only eleven years old. But give them half a decade or more, and I will smoosh them together with great enthusiasm. Felicity Juniper Pickle is a downright spindiddly character, brimming with imagination and heart. And Jonah Pickett, her new, wheelchair-bound best friend? Well, he's like a spiky-haired bottle of sunshine, he is. He spends his time planning secret good deeds for the townsfolk. He's also an amazing encourager, always telling Felicity exactly what she needs to hear, exactly when she needs to hear it. I'm not ashamed to admit that they elicited more than a few happy squeals from this reader.

Charlie and Beth
(The Homelanders series by Andrew Klavan)

I'm a little fuzzy on the plot these two are involved in, being as I haven't read the books in a while. But I remember them. Charlie is a patriotic, selfless, brave guy; kind of like a young Captain America. Down to earth. Just wants to do the right thing. That kind of person. And Beth is an incredibly kind girl. I distinctly remember that when she talks with anyone, she focuses so intently on what they have to say that they feel like the only other person in the world; they feel like they truly matter. And I remember thinking, "Wow, I wish I was more like her." So. Throw in some amnesia on Charlie's part, and some terrorists out to get him and those he loves, and you're up for a fabulously exciting romantic subplot.

Paul Falcon and Ann Silver
(Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson)

If I remembered more of the O'Malley series, I might have picked one of those couples instead. Maybe? But seeing as this is the latest Dee Henderson books I've read, I'm going with Ann and Paul. They're 30-something, both involved in secret FBI sorts of things. Their romance is mature and level-headed, which is a gulp of fresh air after a smog of insta-love and "oh my goodness, I'm going to run away with that bad boy because he's hot and has anger issues!" (Yes, that's primarily a YA problem, and Full Disclosure is an adult novel, so I'm not really comparing apples to apples. But still.) Anyway. Paul is incredibly thoughtful. And Ann is a really introverted writer. I like 'em both rather a lot.

Luca and Lia
(River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren)

While I love Gabriella and Marcello, the main duo, I really love Luca and Lia. In case you haven't heard of this series, the basic premise is that sisters Gabi and Lia time travel to medieval Italy through a magical Etruscan tomb. Adventure and romance and even some historical/political intrigue ensues. Luca's fabulous personality--all charm and laidback humor--meshes adorably with Lia's feisty-yet-tender soul. Their banter is all kinds of wonderful. Once again, it's been some time since reading it, so I don't remember specifics, but this quote on Goodreads jogged my memory:

Lia aimed, shifted, and waited, watching one man peek out time and time again. She let her arrow fly, anticipating his next peek at us, and it pierced his eye.

“Okay, that’s just going to make ’em mad,” I said.

“Three hundred and ninety-two,” she said to Luca, tossing her braid over her shoulder and taking aim again.

“Saints in heaven,” he said to me, rolling his eyes, “how much deeper in love can I yet fall?”

Told ya.

Cat and Anne Ross

(Isle of Swords duology by Wayne Thomas Batson)


Cat: a young man with amnesia (I seem to fall for the guys who can't remember their past . . .) and a dark history and plenty of internal struggles. Anne Ross: the firebrand daughter of a pirate, a girl who wants nothing more than to captain her own ship someday. (Anytime now, Dad, thank you.) How can I not ship two lovable pirates? Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Cat joins the crew. Anywhozens, these two are another one of those adorable pairs. A certain father does not approve of the relationship, by the way. (Bother. I need to stop picking couples from books I read long ago. I'm questioning every other sentence here. Correct me if I mess up the details!) Much delightfulness here. If any of you read the ending of Isle of Fire, you know how perfect that was!

Cor (a.k.a. Shasta) and Aravis
(The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis)

I wasn't intending to put them on this list. But I wanted an even ten couples, and as I was scanning my shelves in search of another romantic duo, Cor and Aravis came to mind. The main reason is this section of the book's final paragraph:
Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I'm afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently. And after King Lune's death they made a good King and Queen of Archenland, and Ram the Great, the most famous of all the kings of Archenland, was their son.
Not that I think healthy marriages are founded on quarreling (heavens, no!--although disagreements are inevitable and should definitely be worked through), but something about this snippet strikes me as drily charming. And the fact that their relationship is strong enough to weather so many quarrels does speak volumes!


Here's the linkup form, if you care to join me in gushing over make-believe people in make-believe relationships. Feel free to mention only three couples. Or five. Or ten dozen. Whatever floats your boat! As I said, there are practically zero rules for this thing. Just have fun discussing whatever topic we're on! Oh, and if you're participating in more than one edition, please put your link in each time! I don't want to miss anyone's posts.

(Shout-out to Squeaks and Mary Horton for being my first-ever linkers for my first-ever linkup! Woot!)