I'm pretty sure I just wrote one of these S&S posts last week, yet here I am writing another one. I'm really not sure where June went. Presumably to that land shrouded in mist and starlight, that land to which all days and weeks and months must travel eventually . . . a land from which there is no return. The Land of Yesterdays.
*cue eerie music*
But before June slipped away to that scary place, it offered a joyful fruit salad of summer happiness. (Fruit salad? I have no idea what I'm talking about. I shouldn't write things when I'm overtired.)
June was a month of little family get-togethers, ice cream, barbecues, bike rides, and sun tanning. Rain made a regular appearance in between warm, muggy afternoons. One day we went to the local fair type thing . . . I went on only two rides: one I loved and one which my stomach regretted afterwards.
A bit of romance appeared in the form of a cousin's bridal shower and a friend's wedding (the friend for whom I helped fold origami flowers, if you recall).
I helped chaperone my siblings' youth event, an Amazing Race-style game across town. It made me feel old, I tell ya, having all these kiddos yammering in the backseat of my vehicle. The event was pretty fun, though, and I was sorely tempted to compete with the youth in our last stop, the shoot-three-balloons-with-a-pellet-gun stage.
I took a first aid class (required for my new position at work). I hope I never have to use these skills, but it's good to know them just in case.
My brother graduated high school, so of course we threw a party for him. He MC'd it himself--needless to say, I laughed till I cried. He's now working at his first job, and I'm so proud of him.
Earlier in the month--I know I'm all over the place here, but bear with me--he and I had our college interviews . . . and we both got accepted! I don't think I've mentioned much about my fall plans, have I? Here's the scoop. We'll be taking a leadership/Bible program together. It offers a really practical, hands-on approach with lots of getting involved in church ministries. The Bible school aspect of it goes side by side with learning leadership: people skills, management, personal growth, building and leading a team, working on projects, etc. I'm going to have a very busy schedule during those nine months, especially since I plan to keep a couple shifts a week at my job, but I have a feeling it will fly by. And honestly, I'm so excited for it!
|You can see the paint can picture behind us. :)|
Movies & TVMy sisters and I began Once Upon a Time season 4--we've seen the first five episodes so far. I wasn't too sure about the Frozen elements at first, but I'm getting used to it, and there are plenty of other awesome (or terrible, depending on how you look at it) things happening too. And a certain new character's charm/lack of manners/apparent lack of intelligence is providing amusement.
Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz // Book 3 in the Alex Rider series.
Even Alex admits in this book that he's like a fourteen-year-old James Bond, and that's a pretty accurate description of this series so far. (I haven't watched James Bond, but hush.) MI6 keeps forcing Alex into dangerous missions, he gets a new set of gadgets with each book (like chewing gum that expands so you can use it to bust a lock, or a GameBoy that's really a bomb), and he performs outlandish stunts at every turn. It's like one of those summer flicks that you just watch for fun, not expecting much depth or realism. That being said, this book was a definite improvement over the first two, and seemed to break away a bit from the previous plot formulas.
|Fresh strawberries and ice cream paired with the final chapters of a|
beloved book. ALL THE HAPPY.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke // an amazing book of epic, 1,006-page proportions.
This took me three weeks to read, and I finished last night, reading the final chapters as fast as I could to see how it would all end. It's obviously a very long book, but like one of the reviews printed at the beginning of it said, it doesn't feel long. Somehow, almost every scene manages to be interesting and engaging. The character development is seriously top-notch, and I looked up halfway through the book to realize that I love a number of characters, but all of them are very flawed and not immediately likable. Norrell and Strange are both arrogant, but Norrell is fearful while Strange is reckless. I'd list some secondary characters too, but it's best you discover them for yourselves.
The novel takes place in 1800's England, during the Napoleonic Wars. Magic is long dead, reduced to the arguments of theoretical magicians who do nothing but study magical texts. And then Mr. Norrell comes along with ambitions of reviving true, practical English magic. Throw in some advisors who are about as useful as a broken foot, a new pupil in the form of Mr. Strange, and the story is well on its merry way.
Things take a much darker turn around part two as Faerie elements weave their way in. Let me tell you, the villain is someone you will desperately want to throttle. And magic, as the magicians discover, is far more dangerous than they ever knew.
That's all I shall say on the plot front, folks. Can't have any spoilers! I still don't know how I feel about the ending, though . . . It was good. It was bittersweet. It was probably the best ending JS&MN could've had, and it fit the overall tone of the book. (I sound like I don't like it, which is untrue. I'm just processing everything. When it takes you this long to recover from a book, you know it left an impact.)
Oh, before I move on: CHILDERMASS IS AWESOME. If you've read the book, you probably know why I like him.
Thanks to Sarah for speaking so highly of this book that I picked it up at a secondhand book faire, and to Deborah for flailing with me about it as I read it!
Writing & BloggingIt's been a productive month, thanks to the 100-for-100 challenge held by Go Teen Writers. I'm in such a research-heavy portion of The Prophet's Key that if it weren't for the daily goal of putting in at least 100 words, I would probably have fallen into the quagmire of procrastination and slow progress commonly associated (at least for me!) with research. I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 8 pm every day as a reminder to write those words. Most days I hadn't written anything yet when the alarm went off. Some nights found me in my PJ's, spending five minutes pumping out a couple new paragraphs just to meet the goal before bed. But so far I haven't missed a day (except for a couple of grace days--I'm allowed one per week.)
So. I wrote 12,085 words this month. Yay! On top of that, I researched British Columbia, Beaver planes, transatlantic flights, and Scotland. I'm by no means done with any of those topics, but I've acquired enough knowledge to actually be able to write this part of the first draft and feel like I have a slight inkling of what's going on. Come editing time, I'll be researching all over again to verify facts and flesh things out.
I was able to speak to a pilot friend of ours to get some tips on what could go wrong with a Beaver plane (yayyy for putting obstacles in front of your characters!). And I'm currently going back and forth with the lovely writer/blogger Emily about Scotland. She lives there, and was very willing to help me out with researching her beautiful country. (Thanks again, Em!)
I also made the decision to cut a character. Completely. It was a hard choice, especially since this guy has been around since the original draft from four years ago. But I've been struggling to juggle the larger-than-I'm-used-to cast, and it's just going to get bigger as the story goes on. I realized that my pilot Rex Nelson, whom I have never introduced to you guys, was not truly necessary, so I'll be assimilating the important parts of him into other people. Mr. Hawkins will get a pilot's license and outdoorsman skills. An injury that happens to Mr. Hawkins will now actually happen to Aileen. A potential romantic thread I'd been planning for Rex will be given to a different side character from book 1. Rex's epic character arc will be integrated into that of the aforementioned side character. Etc.
That last bit about the character arc . . . Well, I had finally made up my mind to cut Rex, and then in a flash I remembered what I had planned for him in future books. "Oh no. Now what?? I have all these solid reasons why it's a good idea to get rid of Rex, but there's THAT big, important thing that's supposed to happen to him." After a fevered brainstorming session, I got it sorted out by adjusting another character's development, and voila. Problem solved.
A month or two ago, I also decided to cut out two of Josiah's three siblings. I don't think I've mentioned them much on here either, so this probably isn't a big deal to you, but Tiffany and Zach are being taken out. His littlest sister Karilee is staying. I realized that Tiff and Zach served little to no purpose besides giving Josiah another sister and a brother for him to interact with. And I think I originally wanted to have a family of six to mimic my own family, but that's not a good enough reason to keep extra fluff in a story. Especially when, again, a large cast is becoming a problem. So . . . bye, Tiff. Bye, Zach. I hope you two and Rex will recycle yourselves into some other story one day.
Mind you, all these changes are just in my head. I haven't mapped everything out on paper at this point. And I'm even charging ahead with my current draft without stopping to write Rex, Tiff, and Zach out of the story. I'll fix it in edits. This charge ahead approach is something the old me would definitely not have done.
In the midst of all that, I somehow neglected to do much on my writing course, The Creative Way. I listened to one audio session, but still haven't done all the workbook questions for it. Oops. Thankfully this is something I can take at my own pace; there are no time constraints or deadlines. Still, I'd like to be more involved with it next month.
On the blogging side of things, the biggest thing is the Silmarillion Awards! Nominations are still open today and tomorrow (I told you wrong in my last post when I said that June 30th was the last day--ignore that), and soon afterwards the voting period will begin. So if you haven't yet made the rounds to all ten blogs yet, better hustle before July 1st ends! The best fantasy characters and items need your support to make it to the next round. I myself am planning to make one last pass through all the posts, just in case I've forgotten anything.
And that was my June fruit salad.It was all strawberries of summertime, raspberries of other people's romance, apples of fun events, bananas of books, and orange slices of writing. (. . . don't even ask because I don't even know . . .) Art and magicians and characters getting the axe and anthropomorphic animals and fantasy awards, oh my! Anyway, 'twas a yummy mix, though I'm developing a hankering for a week of holiday-ish nothing so I can relax.
Tell me now, how was your month? And because I seem fixated on fruit today, what's your favorite? Have you ever had to cut characters out of your story? Have you seen Zootopia? Read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell? Been on an amusement park ride that didn't sit well with you? TELL ME ALL.