Saturday, September 30, 2017

Subplots & Storylines - September 2017

And all at once, summer collapsed into fall. -Oscar Wilde

That about sums it up. September was beautiful and crazy and challenging and good. School (and the ensuing homework) has swallowed up much of my time. I'm doing better in my Financial Accounting class than I thought I would, Math is a challenge, and both Business Communication and Intro to Canadian Business are still my favorite classes. Everything else is a bit meh, but I know I'm learning useful skills. Still, I'm glad that after laying a foundation this year, I'll get to choose a more interesting course load next year.

Anyway, many of you are up to your ears in schoolwork as well, and probably don't want to hear any more on that subject! So let's move on.

In between classes, I've been enjoying the beauty of autumn. My cousin got married, my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary, and . . .

I went to a Skillet concert with my brother! (For those who may not know, Skillet is a Christian rock band.) Now, truth be told, I'm not much of a concert-goer. In fact, this was only the second real concert I've ever been to. So I felt like a shocked little old lady when the volume skyrocketed and rattled my eardrums. My ears were still ringing the next day, haha! But once the two opening acts--which involved much more screaming and much less intelligibility than I prefer--were over, I loved seeing Skillet perform. They're kind of amazing. I've had Comatose playing in my head for weeks since then. If you're looking for story inspiration, a ton of their songs are great for that!

Here it is--the blurry, sat-in-the-top-balcony proof that I was there!

Screen Subplots

finished Once Upon a Time Season 2 // started Once Upon a Time season 3

If you guys get tired of seeing OUAT mentioned in every. single. S&S post, I wouldn't blame you! But I'm still watching/re-watching it, so you're going to keep hearing about it. Currently enjoying Neverland and lots of friction between characters!

started The Flash season 3

Oh my gracious goodness, I love this show. I've only seen a couple episodes, but I'm excited to see where it goes! Much heart-wrenching-ness has already happened.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

So this was really wild and fun! Not quite as good as the first one, and it took a while for the plot to get moving, but it was still entertaining. (I could've done without the crude jokes, though.) But BABY GROOT. HE IS THE REASON I WATCHED THIS MOVIE.

The whole crew, really, is awesome together. They fight and call each other names and hold grudges, but in the end, they do love each other and stick up for one another. I loved how they played on the "typical North American family drama" you see in a lot of movies, yet it was in an intergalactic, superhero context.

Other things I liked: Rocket is terrible at winking. Drax is as guileless as ever. Baby Groot is the best thing to grace the silver screen. Yondu is grouchy and awesome. ("I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!") Gamora has sister issues. Star Lord has daddy issues. Okay, pretty much everyone has issues.

How dorky can Peter Parker get, you ask? (I can relate, though, because
I have definitely waved to people who aren't waving to me.)

Spider-Man (2002) (rewatch)

Yes, the old one. Yes, the cringey-but-still-adorkable one. This was the first time all of my siblings have watched a superhero movie together. I remember loving this one years ago, but now I just laugh at all the cheesiness! (Sorry, Maguire, but Garfield and Holland are my favorites.)

Page Subplots

This was the month of Sleeping Beauty retellings! Which sounds like I read a pile of them, but in actuality, it was only two books.

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

I was really looking forward to reading this one, especially because I've got my Spidey sense tuned into the fairy-tale retelling market (wink wink, The Brightest Thread) . . . but sadly, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

One of my main problems with it was small, yet it affected everything: the tense. Spindle Fire was written in third-person present tense. Like this:

Aurora is startled from fitful sleep by a loud rustling of feathers . . . and a voice. "Evening, caged bird," it says.

I don't mind present tense at all--I'll admit that past is my favorite, but I often forget about the tense when the story sweeps me away. Problem is, pretty much all of the present tense books I've read are also first person. Third-person present just felt . . . odd. Lurching. At times, it read more like a long synopsis than the kind of narrative I'm used to. There were a handful of truly beautiful moments and snippets of enchanting prose. But then I would feel jerked out of the story again by the way it was written, or by some out-of-place modernism. Obviously, not everyone will feel that way! It could very well just be me who didn't like that aspect!

But on to the story itself. This is a Sleeping Beauty retelling in which Aurora has a half sister, and both of them are missing senses that were tithed to fairies. Aurora is mute and has no sense of touch; Isabel is blind. So alternating between their viewpoints was very intriguing! And reading about a strong sister relationship is so, so refreshing in YA.

The romantic relationships were pretty good. I kind of feel like Isbe (a.k.a. Isabel) got over something a tad too quickly, but I love a certain prince that gets involved later. And Heath and Aurora were sweet together.

Oh, that brings me to another thing! Aurora winds up in a dream realm . . . except I couldn't quite figure out if it was a dream realm? It seemed more like a real kingdom trapped by an enchanted wall, and it was even on the map at the front of the book. I'm a little fuzzy on those details. Despite my confusion, it was a chilling setting with some lovely little illogical things you'd expect from a dream.

I will credit the author for making the world feel incredibly real! Despite experiencing half of the book through a blind girl, I do feel like I was right there on the wintry seacoast of Deluce and the green meadows of Aubin. Loved that.

This is turning into a long ramble of random things I liked and didn't like, but here's one more: the fairies were quite interesting. It's hard to like any of them, since most fall somewhere between selfish and downright evil. But they were quite fascinating. (Caution: one fairy, who takes people's sense of touch, lives a very loose lifestyle. Her flagrant ways are referenced several times, and a scene or two takes place in her brothel-like house, thankfully from blind Isbe's point of view.)

Anyway, I should wrap this up. Books that give me conflicted feelings are the hardest to review! Three stars.

Five Magic Spindles by Rachel Kovaciny, Kathryn McConaughy, Grace Mullins, Michelle Pennington, and Ashley Stangl

I plan to post a full review on this in the near future, so I won't say anything now except that this was a positively delightful collection! Five stars.

Writing Subplots

Wonder of wonders, I actually managed to write during the college life! Here's a peek into what happened on my side of the computer screen:

  • I brainstormed my Snow White novella for Rooglewood's Five Poisoned Apples contest.*
  • I plotted Snow White. Briefly. There are holes. But there's also a basic framework in place, so hooray, I know what I'm doing. (Not really.)
  • And I wrote close to 8,000 words of Snow White! Almost halfway!
*The deadline is December 31st, 2017. All you incredible writers out there who are even considering entering: there's still time! For one of these contests, I wrote my entry in a month. Not advisable, but still possible.

The novella still has no title, and the plot is a skeleton I'm joining together bone by bone. But I can tell you that it's a Nordic-inspired fantasy setting, it may or may not take place in the same world as The Brightest Thread, and winter is coming. There's creepy mirror magic, hunting, and BFFs that won't admit they love each other. Oh yes, and everything you know about Snow White actually happened in the past.

On another note, beta feedback on The Brightest Thread is trickling in (you readers are amazing!), and I'm excited to see where the novel is working and where it needs some tune-ups. Getting fresh eyes on a story is so helpful, guys. I polished that novel as best as I knew how, but now I'm starting to know more--so there's additional work to be done. And that's exciting, because it means TBT will improve!

I suppose it's almost worth mentioning school papers I've been writing in the meantime. Besides practicing writing memos, business emails, and informational reports, I actually got to write a letter from the perspective of a young Titanic survivor. That exercise nearly brought tears to my eyes.


Onward to October

Life moves in seasons, much like the earth spins, and I'm learning to be content where I am. This month was harder in that regard, as school pulled me away from so many of the things I love. (And many of my monthly goals for September remain unfinished.) But I have to remember that I'm in college to equip myself to do the things I love better. And I'm thankful for family and friends and God who all love me through my frazzled moments and remind me that seasons do change.

What sort of adventures have YOU been on this autumn? Are you back in school? Writing something new? And obviously the most pressing question: what are your thoughts on third-person present tense?!


  1. Wow! So much stuff this month! I'm in awe at your ability to still be able to do so much amidst school!

    THAT IS SO COOL YOU WENT TO A SKILLET CONCERT!!! I LOVE SKILLET. AND I LOVE CONCERTS. Though I've never been to a Skillet concert. Lol. But ANYWAYS. That's so fun you got to go!

    GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2!!!!!!!!!!!!! *SCREAMS* I LOVED THAT MOVE SO MUUUUCH. I actually liked it JUST as much as the first movie, which is saying something! It's just so hilarious AND epic AND emotional all at the same time--the perfect mix of everything! Plus one of my favorite things in fiction is a motley group coming together and forming a (somewhat dysfunctional) family, and those movies take that to a whole new level. GAH. I love them so much! And the quotes! "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!" I will never, ever get over that one! XDDDD PLUS BABY GROOT. 'Nough said.

    Oh my word, the Maguire Spider-man movies. XD I was actually OBSESSED with those movies back in the day when they were...ya know, new and not really cheesy. They did...not stand the test of time. Lol. But I'm still very fond of them. They got me into superhero movies, so I owe them that.

    That's a shame Spindle Fire was a mixed bag, because I've been wanting to read that one. But third-person present tense??? Erm...huh. I'm with you, that seems a little jolting. It would be nice for like a dream sequence or small little section or something, just to add some poetic flavor to a book, but the WHOLE book? Ehhh. It DOES sound like a pretty interesting story still though (I love the idea of one being mute and the other blind!) so I may still pick it up sometime.
    So you enjoyed Five Magic Spindles??? EEEEEEE!!! I NEED TO READ IT. Can't wait for your review! :D

    Ooooh my goodness, you're already 8k words into your Snow White retelling? THAT IS SO EXCITING. YOU GO, TRACEY. Now I'm sooo curious to hear more about it! It already sounds amazing. Creepy mirror magic? YES PLEASE. And BFFs who secretly love each other? THAT'S MY FAVE. EEP. I'm excited about this!

    "I'm in college to equip myself to do the things I love better." <-- Wow, that is a BEAUTIFUL mentality, Tracey! I know I don't go to college, but sometimes I do get frustrated over how little time I have to do things. But usually it's because I'm WORKING TOWARD the things I love and want to do with my life. So I needed that reminder! You're always such a blessing. *hugs*

    I hope you have the most amazing October! <333

    1. Awww, you're sweet!

      Somehow I didn't even realize you loved Skillet! How is that possible? XD But yes, it was amazing and super fun!

      Good point--it DID have a fantastic mix of epicness, emotion, and humor! :D And yesssss, motley crews are the best thing ever. I think that's one of the biggest reasons the Guardians movies are so fun. And the Avengers. And basically any movie with more than one superhero in it. XD (I will never be over baby Groot OR the Mary Poppins comment either, lol.)

      The Maguire trilogy got me into superhero movies too, actually! I absolutely loved them at the time, but...after watching lots of other superhero flicks...well... *cough* Now that I'm thinking back, I think I moved from Spider-Man to the Batman trilogy? (The ones by Christopher Nolan.) That's quite the jump in tone. o.o

      Yeah, I could see that working for a dream sequence quite well! It just felt a bit strange for the entire novel, especially since past events were referred to in past tense (duh), and dialogue sounded "normal" (because dialogue's mostly present tense)...and then all the narrative bits in between were 3rd-person present, and it just felt like minor whiplash at times. :P But I would say still give it a try! Even if you read a few chapters just to see if the tense is a deal breaker for you.
      FMS was amaziiiiinnnngggg! :D

      Thanks, girl! It's full of holes right now--seriously, it's about 75% muddled inner journey of protagonist and 25% weak plot--but I hope editing will cure those ailments. I'll have to share more with you once I figure out what exactly is going on! XD

      It's something I have to keep convincing myself of, believe me! But I'm glad it could encourage you on YOUR journey too! *hugs back*

      Same to you! <333 *twirls in autumn leaves*

  2. I loved Season 3 of The Flash and Guardians was hilarious. I agree it wasn't as good as the first.

    I'm so excited that you started your Snow White story. It sounds amazing. I just got to 8,000 words. I better start writing faster!

    1. You finished season 3 of the Flash!!! :O It looks so good. And yes, the Guardians are always hilarious.

      Thanks so much, Skye! We got this! *sends word-inducing cookies*

  3. Man, I'm jealous. I've wanted to see Skillet in concert for years. :p

    1. Aww, I wish you could've been there! Hopefully one of their tours takes them close to you!

  4. Hi Tracey. :) I'm not sure I've commented on your blog before except maybe once, but I've been reading along for about a month now. I enjoy your posts!

    Funny you should bring up third-person present tense. I was recently in contact with a fellow writer who beta read a book written that way and she had to tell the author it wasn't working. I've never read a book written that way but it just sounds...odd. Not my cup of tea, as they say. ;)

    Yay, you're writing a Snow White retelling, too! I'm 28,801 words into mine. Seeing how the length limit is 20k I...I think I have a problem. 0_o Good thing it's only the first draft... *sweats thinking about intense edits to (hopefully) happen soon*

    I'm so impressed you're able to write and college at the same time! Best wishes on all your projects and assignments!

    1. Hi E! I feel like you have commented here--maybe for the Silmarillion Awards? Either way, I know I've seen you on Goodreads numerous times. :) Thanks for stopping by!

      Huh, what a coincidence! I agree, it's just kind of strange. I mean, I'm all for experimenting with tense and voice and all sorts of other things, but not when it distracts the reader from the story.

      Go you!!! But oh my goodness, that almost-29k is soooo relatable. For the Five Magic Spindles contest, my story ended up being 29k as well. Cutting it back to 20k was hard work, but it WAS possible! If you need any tips for trimming it down, I wrote a post on exactly that story that included some advice:

      Thanks so much! All the best with your Snow White retelling too! What genre are you writing it in?

    2. Thank you so much for the link, that will be very helpful!

      It's a traditional fantasy retelling, but with a number of twists and added things that I hope freshen it up. :)

    3. I hope so! And you're welcome. :)

      I personally loooove traditional fantasy, so that sounds like it'll be right up my alley!

  5. I've cheated with all my concerts and wore earplugs...

    Oh, hey, I wanted to say thank you for recommending The Lunar Chronicles to me. I'm just about finished with Cinder, and I've enjoyed it :)

    1. Good idea! I'm bringing earplugs next time for sure.

      YOU READ CINDER!!!! That's wonderful! Successful book recommendations make me so happy. Thanks for telling me! ^_^

  6. I don't think I'd be able to handle a concert- too much loud, too much crowd- but I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    As for third person present tense...not my favourite. Present tense in general isn't much my thing.

    1. Lots of loud, lots of crowd, indeed. XD Like Meaghan mentioned above, I'll make sure to wear earplugs next time!

      Yeah, present tense is such a subjective thing. Some readers love it, others hate it, and still others fall in between. (yet it seems like most YA is written in present...) Have you read any books written in third person present before?

  7. Looks like a full month! I honestly am having a hard time even remembering what I did in September....

    I'm so excited to hear that you're working on a submission for Five Poisoned Apples!!! Eeeeep!

    I love the original Spider Man movies with Toby MacGuire... even #3. Probably partially because I really enjoy the redemption aspect of that story with James Franco's character.

    I have only watched the first episode of The Flash... I liked what I saw. Will probably continue it when we finish up the shows we are currently watching... catching up on Hawaii 5-O and need to finish season 5 of Grimm (which I love to bits, but we had to stop watching it when Grayden was born because there's just enough creepiness that it + sleep deprivation was resulting in some pretty terrifying nightmares... so... will return to it when I'm more well-rested) :)

    Your concert experience sounds fun! I am not much of a concert-goer myself, either... unless it's for my sister (who I can trust not to scream into a microphone or blast my eardrums out). I have been to several others I highly enjoyed, but I tend to like things that are a bit on the calmer side of the music spectrum, unless I have direct control over volume knob.

    1. It sure was! LOL, I wouldn't remember a lot of it if it weren't for my trusty bullet journal. (Before that, I kept a day planner where I noted down what I did each day.)

      Awww, thank you! ^_^ I'm excited to see the finished collection!

      There's a part of me that still loves them too! They are kind of endearing. Oooh, that's right--Harry's arc was fantastic. I remember loving that!

      Yes yes yes--keep watching The Flash! It's worth it for the characters alone. <3 I've heard a bit about Grimm, but not much. Obviously, it's about fairy tales. Is it good? Minus the nightmares? ;)

      It was! Very energetic and awesome! Cool, I didn't know your sister was a musician/singer (whichever it may be). :) I saw the Piano Guys in concert last year, and that was wonderful--definitely on the calmer side as well!

    2. Grimm is about a guy named Nick who is a cop in Portland, and then finds out he is a "Grimm" which means that he can see what people really look like if they are actually fairy-tale creatures called "Wesen" (most people can't see them, they look just like normal people, only Grimms have the ability to see them when they don't want to be seen). Some of them are peaceful, others not so much... it's an interesting blend of crime show (which I'm partial to) and fantasy/fairy tales... definitely on the "closer to the original" Grimm-style fairy tales in theme. But I like the main characters a lot, and enjoy that Nick is actually quite good at his job, which makes him good at being a Grimm, and he "breaks the mold" and is a Grimm who cares more about whether or not people are breaking the law as opposed to whether or not they are historically "bad" or "good" creatures. This means that the Wesen are more willing to trust him than be terrified of him (Grimms are the Wesen's "boogeyman").

      Anyway, it's clever. Can be dark and creepy, but also has a lot of humor.

      Yep, my sister is a songwriter/singer - kind of country/folk in style. She's got 2 CDs out and is working on finishing album 3. I get to go see her perform in Nashville next week and I'm SOOOOO excited!

    3. That sounds really good! A fairy tale crime show, huh? I'm going to have to look into that. Thanks for the summary!

      Oh, neat! Good for her!!! I'm not *terribly* into most country, but I like some folk. ;) Have fun at the concert!

  8. I'm reading a 3rd-narrative present-tense novel right now, and the present-tense is very unobtrusive. I think if it were in limited POV it might be harder to palette. The comedic nature of the novel (Snow Crash is the title; it's SF) probably allows for present-tense to work a little better too. I would say that there should be a reason to justify use of present-tense, but it can definitely work.

    1. I guess it all depends on how it's done! But I can see that working better with a comedic story, yes. I wholeheartedly agree that there should be a reason to justify everything about a story--tense, POV, length, vocabulary, theme, all of it!

  9. This was such a nice post to read! It's nice how my life has changed so much, but, in a weird way, the blogosphere always stays the same. I mean, it doesn't -- of course, everyone else's lives are continuing just as mine is. That's not what I mean. It's more just the familiarity of even, like, blog designs, and the fact that the internet is kinda a liminal space so it feels static. Even though the internet is obviously NOT static, no more than our lives are! But I suppose it's comforting for me to pop over here and see that Subplots and Storylines is still ongoing! XD

    Anyway, I already knew most of this, but still sending you all the good vibes! I'll reply to your email right now! <3

    1. Awww, Emily! You're sweet. I know exactly what you mean. Life takes us so many places, but it's nice to know that friends and blogs and familiar things like that are still around. <3

      Thank you! Looking forward to it! ^_^ I hope you've had a good week, you Oxford hero, you.

  10. Hmmm. I've been thinking a lot about tense/person recently and your thoughts on that thirdperson/present tense book REALLY cleared it up for me, so THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts!!! I still think it's kind of cool, but I CAN see where it would read like a dream sequence or cover blurb. Good to know!!!

    1. That's great! I'm glad those ramblings helped. XD It's not that I think third person present CAN'T be done...just that it should be done carefully, and for a compelling reason. You know? I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from experimenting, though! ^_^

      (It kind of reminds me of something Anne Elisabeth Stengl said on her blog ages ago. Something about how omniscient POV--what she writes--is challenging to pull of well, and it takes a certain amount of skill. Maybe third person present is similar in that regard.)

    2. Oh man... I didn't even NOTICE that her books are omniscient?? Just goes to show you that I'm still not very AWARE when I'm reading -- something I should really work on since it could help me a lot as a writer.

    3. It's been a while since I last read a Goldstone novel, but yeah, they are! And building that awareness of the actual WRITING of a book takes conscious practice! Sometimes I wish I could turn that analytical side off and just enjoy a book as a reader, nothing more. But most of the time I love looking for the nuts and bolts. ;)