Saturday, December 30, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - December 2017 // Year-End Recap

Hello, my friends! December is winding to a close and 2018 is nearly upon us. It has certainly been quite the year, and there's much to talk about today. I'll try to keep the December subplots relatively short in order to save room for a look back on the year as a whole! (Does anybody else feel ridiculously self-centered when dedicating an entire post to themselves and their own life? No? Just me? Okay. Moving on.)

Storylines of Life

It was a simple equation this month. Exams + Christmas = December. But I'll give you a bit more detail than that! My brother, Josiah (who also blogs!), had a birthday. And then I had a week of final exams, during which I buried myself in textbooks and sighed wistfully for Christmas and at last passed first term with very satisfying grades. That means I'm a quarter of the way to graduating, woohoo! I've been on break since then, but between work and family gatherings and a baby shower, it's been a full month. Only in the last few days have I finally slowed down.

Christmas itself was wonderful. I had four days off in a row to spend with family. We went to our church service on Christmas Eve and then opened stockings and swapped ticket gifts. My middle sister Chloe (who is also a fellow blogger!) gave each of us a piece of original artwork. What she drew for me was Hadrian and Luci, the two main characters of my novel The Brightest Thread. I've never received fanart before, so this made my day!

Aren't they the cutest?! (Sorry about the bothersome watermark--I just wanted
to keep her artwork protected.)

On Christmas Day, I slept in and then we gathered around for homemade apple scones and a reading of the Christmas story, followed by our leisurely way of unwrapping gifts--one at a time, captured on video. It was slow and relaxing and so much fun.

Aaaand like the good little bookdragon I am, I'm sharing my bookhaul! My brother gave me The Tournament at Gorlan (hooray for Ranger's Apprentice prequels!). My parents gave me the first three Lunar Chronicles books (been eyeing them at the bookstore for months), Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World (not pictured because it's still in the mail--phooey on Amazon), and Steal Like an Artist (which looks utterly inspiring and is sure to kickstart my new year of writing). I also threw my new Leuchtturm into the picture because it's going to be my 2018 bullet journal! And my first two Funko Pops ever: Frodo Baggins and Captain America. Oh, and one other nerdy gift I received that is also not pictured was a S.T.A.R. Labs sweatshirt--I now feel like I'm part of Team Flash, and that's awesome.

Subplots on the Screen

As far as TV shows go, I picked up Avatar: The Last Airbender with my sisters again and watched two more episodes. I also saw more of season 3 of The Flash (it's getting extremely feelsy, you guys, and I might not survive). I rewatched more of Once Upon a Time season 3 and started season 6 at last!

Wonder Woman

A rewatch with a friend from school, because we needed to give our exam-addled brains a break. Just as amazing as the first time!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Lo and behold, this PotC movie miiiight be my new favorite! I found the plots of the first three excessively complicated in some regards--maybe I just need to rewatch them--but this one was more straightforward. No less chaotic, however; it's Jack Sparrow, after all! I really liked the new character Philip (which has nothing to do with Finnick from the Hunger Games, nope, not at all . . .) even if he was a bit sappy in regards to Syrena. It seems rare for a missionary character like Philip to be painted in a positive light, so I appreciated that!

Cars 3

The Cars franchise has had some ups and downs lately, but I found this one to be a truly solid sequel! It had just the right balance of nostalgic nods to the first movie and new direction to breathe some fresh air into the story. Cruze was a cute addition, and I quite liked the mentor relationship between her and Lightning. One scene in the middle, which I won't spoil for you, had me laughing out loud like a kid.

Storylines on the Page

Hollow City // Ransom Riggs

I read the first book almost exactly a year ago, so I was a bit fuzzy on things going into this sequel. Thankfully there was a character guide at the front, or else it would've taken me even longer to get the eight main peculiar children straight in my head! Once I did, however, the book was pretty interesting.

I liked the new flavor of this one, with a much broader setting, and a very clear and definite goal for the characters. What can I say? Quests are one of my favorite things! Each of the children got to have an important moment in which they helped the group in some way with their abilities, which helped keep this large cast necessary and active. (Ahem, my writer side is showing.) Time loops, gypsies, bombed London, wights, trains, chase scenes . . . it was certainly a unique read, and I look forward to the finale! 4 stars.

The Phantom Tollbooth // Norton Juster (5)

I already gushed over this book in a recent post, but it's officially a 5 star book! Philosophical without being overpowering, equal parts delightful and wise, and simply a joy read. This is a new favorite!

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King // William Joyce

I loved the movie Rise of the Guardians, and have been wanting to try the Middle-Grade book series for quite some time, so Christmas seemed like the ideal season to start. This book is wildly imaginative, and I do mean wild! There's a lot going on. Ancient spaceships, wizards, the magical haven of Santoff Klaussen, Pitch's nightmare creatures, a robotic djinni, Russian bandits, Santa's origin story, Yetis . . . But that's precisely what would've captured my attention as a kid!

What I loved now as an adult were the fun characters, especially North himself and dear little Katherine. The two make an unlikely and adorable pair. 4 stars.

The Maze Runner // James Dashner

My youngest sister (yes, she ALSO is a blogger--I'm just linking to all my sibs today!) was very eager for me to read this book. I'm actually in the middle of it right now, but I aim to finish it before New Year's! At first, I didn't fully connect with the writing style, but now things are getting exciting, so I'm able to look past it. And I want more Newt, please! Also Minho! (I'm estimating that this will be a 4 star read for me--we'll see!)

Subplots on My Writing Desk

I edited Mirrors Never Lie through two or three drafts this month, and submitted it to Rooglewood Press at last! Hooray! That moment before hitting send is always a little nerve-wracking. I know the story is not 100% perfect . . . but I also know that I did the best I could given the time constraints.

Now that it's officially off my plate, I am free of writing deadlines for a little while! More on that in a future post, probably. I have some thoughts percolating in regards to 2018 and goals and writing and whatnot.

That was December! It was a good month, especially the second half. So much for keeping this post short, though, because here comes the recap . . .

Later on I'll be dedicating a whole post to the books I read in 2017, so for now we'll chat just about the highlights of life and writing and such.

life in 2017

I could look back on 2017 and consider it to have been a busy year, and that would be true. But I kind of hate that word--so instead I choose to see it as a full year. 365 days of adventure, in every risky, messy, exciting, monotonous, challenging, stretching sense of the word. Here's the highlight reel.

I ran a spring break day camp with my classmates at leadership college. That experience was the most stressful and the most rewarding part of college, and it taught me countless lessons about being a leader. Stuff comes out of you under pressure--some of it good, some of it surprising. After three months of preparation, we threw ourselves into that week, and made lasting memories with the kids.

I went to Calgary and Banff, also with my classmates. Beautiful places, fond memories, good food, and a breath of fresh air for my soul.

I graduated leadership college and said goodbye to nine incredible months.

I went to the Realm Makers conference in Reno, Nevada. So many firsts! First time flying, first time traveling internationally by myself, first writing conference, first time meeting some lovely internet friends, first time pitching to agents . . .

I took a vacation with my fam jam at a cozy cabin in the northern U.S. After a whirlwind of activity, that was a much-needed time of relaxation and fun.

I saw the band Skillet in concert. And my ears were ringing for the next twenty-four hours, but it was worth it.

I turned 22.

I completed my first term of business classes at college. I learned some really practical things--and some things I'll never use again--but it will be a steppingstone toward what I want for the future.

writing in 2017

I wrote 17,000 words in a rewrite of The Prophet's Key, book 2 in my multi-world fantasy series. That was all in January, before I put it aside to focus on another project.

I expanded the novella of The Brightest Thread, my reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, into a novel of almost 70,000 words. I edited it a couple of times, pitched it at Realm Makers, and when I came home I sent it out to a group of AMAZING beta readers.

I wrote and edited Mirrors Never Lie for Rooglewood Press's Five Poisoned Apples contest. (Final wordcount was 19,962 for anyone who cares about such stats.) This novella is a loose retelling of Snow White, involving a Nordic fantasy setting, seven huntsmen, and a mirror laced with unkindly magic.

I also wrote two poems--maybe three if you count the post hey dreamer. Definitely didn't do as many writing prompts or poems as last year, due to an intense focus on TBT.

And here on Adventure Awaits, I published 56 posts. One blogging highlight was co-hosting the second annual Silmarillion Awards, which was just as epic as the previous year's. As a whole, I feel like I haven't been able to give you, my followers, the dedication I wanted to this year, but I thank you for understanding the fullness of my season of life. Stick around--there are fun things in store!

(If you made it to the end of this monstrously long post, good on ya, mate.)

2017, you were a year that pushed me past my limits. You were groundbreaking--not in the sensational sense of the word, but in the sense of calloused hands tilling the earth. Breaking new ground. Every time I reached the end of myself and thought I surely couldn't go further, God proved me wrong and provided the strength for just one more step.

A chance to attend Realm Makers was an answer to prayer; so was getting into college this fall, after being told they had no room for me. Sometimes in the daily grind, it's easy to feel like dreams aren't anywhere close to being fulfilled . . . but when I look back, I can see there was never anything to fear.

2018, let's see what you have in store! Dear readers, how was your year?


  1. It definitely does sound like you had a full year! Very impressive too.

    Did you enjoy Realm Makers? I'm trying to get some conferences in mind for the future and that one is a potential option.

    1. It was full and it was good! I don't know about impressive--between the highlights, there are always average days. ;)

      Oh, I LOVED Realm Makers! I learned so much and met all kinds of amazing people. Being around 200+ likeminded writers, who all loved speculative fiction of some kind, was the best. I hope you find a conference, RM or otherwise, that works well for you, Sarah! They can be invaluable.

    2. P.S. If you're curious, I shared my Realm Makers experience last summer in this post:

  2. Wow, you had a full year! Congrats on getting into college--that's huge! And I hope you do really well in the Rooglewood contest!

    Yay for Realm Makers! It was super awesome meeting you there :D

    My year was most definitely an insane roller coaster ride. And I think it's about to begin again in January. I guess I'm looking forward to it xD

    I hope you have an amazing new year!

    1. I'm a little breathless! XD Thanks so much, Audrey. I'm grateful to be in college and I can't wait to find out the Rooglewood results!

      Yes! It was so fun meeting you too! <3 I miss RM and definitely hope to go again this summer. Are you thinking of attending again?

      I can definitely relate to the roller coasters. XD What can you do except embrace it, though, right?

      You as well!!!

  3. This was so fun getting a full scope of your year! And my goodness, what a year you've had!

    I'm so happy to hear you had a good, relaxing Christmas time. I know it was much needed. And EEEEEE! DAT TBT PIC YOUR SIS DREW. IT'S SO PRESH. <33333 And it looks like you got a lovely book haul. YAAAAAY for Lunar Chronicles books. They're seriously the prettiest books ever. And your Funko Pops are adorbz! (FRODO! <333)

    Wait, wait, wait. Rise of the Guardians was based off kids books??? HOW DID I MISS THIS? That sounds delightful! I WANT TO READ THESE. I honestly had NO clue. o.o And I'm curious to hear your full thoughts on The Maze Runner! Since it wasn't my favorite book, I'm always wondering what others thought. Hehe. (Though I did totally love Newt.)

    That's sooo exciting you got Mirrors Never Lie sent off. It IS nerve-wracking but also very exciting and relieving! And you worked so, so hard on that thing. I'm just in awe!

    " instead I choose to see it as a full year. 365 days of adventure, in every risky, messy, exciting, monotonous, challenging, stretching sense of the word." <--I LOVE THIS. Absolutely love how you said it! That's such a wonderful perspective. ^_^ To embrace the busyness instead of seeing being busy as a BAD thing, you know?

    But wow yeah. You did so much this year! All the new experiences you jumped into and the way you stretched yourself and worked so hard toward your life goals was inspiring. And you STILL made time for soooo many writing accomplishments. GIRL, YOU'RE JUST AMAZING. You seriously inspire me every single day.

    I cannot wait to see all of what 2018 has in store. I know God has some beautiful plans for you. HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY DEAR TRACEY! <3333

    1. Thank you, Christine! I can't believe all that's happened, either. Whew!

      Yessss, it was HEAVENLY to have some time to relax at home! I AM STILL FANGIRLING OVER HER ARTWORK TOOOOOO. <333 So much love for the Lunar Chronicles and new Funkos as well! I can't remember, do you own TLC?

      *gasp* You didn't know??? That's okay, I didn't either until a few years ago when my sisters started the series. XD The first one is so cute! I think you'd like it! LOL, yes, I still need to post a Goodreads review on that, and I'll probably share a few thoughts in the next S&S post, just because I wasn't able to here. I DID keep remembering your long-ago review on it while I read! XD

      It's such a relief! Thank you so very much for your support and encouragement! *hugs*

      It's true, I could really see the busyness either way--so why get grouchy about it? (*laughs because I do that way too often*) But so much of what I was busy with were really good things, so it was a rewarding year.

      Awwww, YOU inspire ME! But it makes me so happy to hear that I can do the same. ^___^

      2018 is sure to be a crazy wonderful adventure for you too! I can't wait to see what's in store either! *raises writer's pen and bellows battle cry*

  4. I love your sisters art, it's so cute! I need to get going on mine.

    Sounds like you had a great year, I hope this year is even better!

    1. I do too! ^_^ Eeek, I can't wait to see yours as well! Although there's no rush, okay?

      I hope the same for you, Skye! Have an awesome 2018. :D

  5. That's awesome how your sister made fan art of your story for a Christmas gift!
    Congratulations on editing and submitting Mirrors Never Lie! I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it.
    I like what you said about tilling the earth and being given the strength to take one more step. In certain ways, that's what 2017 was for me as well.

    1. I thought it was really sweet! I still need to find a spot to hang it on my wall...

      Awww, thanks, Blue! <3 Whatever happens, writing it was a good experience. And I maaaay be casually considering expanding it like I did The Brightest Thread. We'll see.

      I'm glad 2017 was one of growth and progress for you too--and I hope 2018 proves to be even better! *hugs*

  6. Looks like you had a great year! My Writing for Digital Media class used the Steal Like An Artist Journal for blog post prompts when I had it about a year ago. That was fun. I can't really complain much about my 2017. I'm a bit disappointed in the amount of work that I got done, but I'm content with the quality of my work.

    1. I did, thanks! That's cool your class used the book; it's one I'm looking forward to reading. Hey, quality over quantity, right? I hope your 2018 is a great year!

  7. A cabin for Christmas? Sounds rather perfect.

    My 2017 was a mixed year. There was a lot of hard stuff and not as much lasting growth as I'd have liked. I always suppose that as long as you've had personal growth, nothing was wasted.

    I hope your new year is marvelously wonderful!

    1. Oh, the cabin was actually for summer vacation, but it WOULD have been a lovely Christmas getaway too. ;)

      *hugs* Aw, Meaghan, I'm sorry this year was a bit rough. I've had seasons like that, but always when I gain enough distance, I can see the good that came out of it. I hope 2018 is a year of much goodness for you! <3

  8. I'm so glad you had a great year! It was awesome getting to meet you in Reno this year! Yay for Hollow City and Maze Runner! I love those books. ^ ^ I hope 2018 is just as awesome for you!

    1. Thanks! It was so much fun meeting you too! Getting to see blogging buddies in person was definitely a highlight. Are you planning to go again this summer?

      They were both fun, though in very different ways. I'm looking forward to finishing both trilogies. ^_^

      You have an awesome 2018 too, Tori!

  9. My, you DID have a full year! It seems as though it was full of good/learning times, though. :) Happy New Year, Tracey! (Also, your Christmas gifts are lovely. Books as presents=the best.)

    1. You bet! It was packed, but I learned sooo much, which makes it all worth it. I hope your year was a good one too, and that the next will be even better! (Book presents are my favorite, naturally!)

  10. Cars 3 was super cute!! :D

    Ugh, I want to go to Realm Makers SO BAD THIS YEAR. O_O

    I'm so glad I got to be a part of the TBT beta group!! It was such a great experience and I would absolutely love to read your work again, if you should ever need beta readers! ^_^

    I hope you have a lovely new year, Tracey!! <333

    1. You saw it too! :D It managed to echo much of the heartwarming-ness of the first one.

      OHMYWORDYESYESYES. I'm really hoping to go again this year, and it would be amazing to meet you!

      *tackle hugs* I'm still so grateful for your feedback, girl! You're so sweet--thank yooouuu! <3

      Happy (very late) new year to you as well!

  11. Congratulations to your brother! “throws confetti” And passing your first term with good greats – GO YOU!!!

    A Christmas book haul is always wonderful – I’m so glad you had good Christmas, Tracey!

    I saw Cars 3 in theaters with my twin and loved it. Definitely my favorite of the trilogy. I thought the mentor relationship between her and Lightening was wonderful and not a relationship we see enough of between a guy and girl. The middle scene that made you laugh – could that possibly have something to do with Thunder Hollow? I completely lost it there. :D

    The Phantom Tollbooth is sitting at my library waiting for me to pick it up – I’ve heard a lot about it.

    CONGRATULATIONS ON SUBMITTING TO ROOGLEWOOD. Your story looks amazing. I have so many friends to cheer for in the Rooglewood contest I’m losing my mind. :D

    WOW – what an amazing and full year, Tracey! I’m so excited at the amazing things you were able to do, see, accomplish and achieve last year! “hugs”

    I hope you have a blessed and amazing 2018 full of God’s grace and guidance! <3

    1. Thank you, Alli!

      Let's be honest--the books are usually the most-anticipated gifts under the tree. ;D I hope you had a good Christmas too!

      I keep forgetting you have a twin, LOL. Agreed! There needs to be more guy/girl mentor relationships! You guessed correctly--Thunder Hollow made me completely lose it too. XD

      Ooooh, I hope you like it1

      THANK YOOOUUUU! I know, there seems to be so many entrants that I know/am acquainted with! I would love to see some familiar names on that cover!

      *hugs back* Thank you, friend. It's been a wonderful, full year. Have a blessed and beautiful 2018!

  12. I meant good GRADES. Sheesh. "hides"

  13. Sounds like a great year! Cars 3 was sooo cute and fun. Way better than Cars 2.

    You are the first person I've met who actually liked On Stranger Tides. There were things I liked about it... though I've only seen it once and there's a lot I don't remember.

    I'm so excited about Five Poisoned Apples and everyone who wrote stories for it! Mirrors Never Lie sounds incredibly epic! Can't wait to see what the final collection looks like...!

    I.... think... I may have dropped the ball... because I'm just realizing that you sent out a question about TBT that I may not have answered.... *runs off to check email* Yeah... I'm sorry I haven't replied to that yet! November/December were NUTS with teething and everyone getting sick and traveling. I will look through that and get back to you.

    Happy New Year!

    1. I sure did; thank you! I remember liking Cars 2, actually, just not as much as the first movie. And the third definitely matched the first for me!

      Bwahaha! Really?? I'd have to say the same about the first three POTC movies--I've seen them once each and don't remember everything. Sooo if I rewatched them I may have a different opinion. XD What didn't you like about On Stranger Tides?

      Me too! I know or halfway-know so many writers who are entering this year! My hopes for the contest are to see at least one familiar name on the cover, and to see a male writer finally win a spot! XD (And thank you so much for the encouragement on Mirrors Never Lie!!!)

      No worries, my dear! November and December tend to be nuts for everybody, for various reason (but ugh, I'm sorry y'all got sick). Thanks for the email!

      Happy New Year to you too! <3

    2. I know, right? I really want to see a male author in this collection... but I don't know that very many enter... I'm part of the fb group (which, I realize, isn't the entire list of entrants) but I think there's maaaaybe one guy in the group? I told Kyle he needed to enter... but I don't know if he got around to it.

      On Stranger Tides just didn't feel like it was "part" of the series the way the rest did. The plot was convoluted and various things didn't make sense to me... and it probably had something to do with it being hard to connect with the story since Will and Elizabeth weren't part of the story any more...

    3. Only one? That's too bad. My brother Josiah makes a second, so there's at least two in the mix! It would've been awesome for Kyle to enter. Probably a guaranteed win!

      Mm, I can see that, especially missing Will and Elizabeth. Like I said, I should probably rewatch them all to gain a wider perspective. :)