Saturday, February 3, 2018

Subplots and Storylines - January 2018

Welcome to the first Subplots and Storylines post of 2018! How was your January, questers? Mine was rather full, and I'm about ready to take a nap. Or hibernate until spring. Someone build me an igloo and bring me a stack of fuzzy quilts, please.

Life Subplots

So what happened to make January so busy? The third semester of college, that's what. I had five projects on my plate for the majority of month. Now it's down to three. Most of them are/were group work, which is good in the sense that the load is divided among several brains . . . but not so good in the sense that it's harder to juggle everyone's schedules and actually make progress. (Also I am Batman when I get grumpy. I prefer to work alone. Group projects are meant to make me patient, I suppose.)

I shouldn't complain, though! After all, getting into college this year in the first place was an answer to prayer, and this is all part of getting me where I want to go.

Aside from homework and school and my job, there wasn't really much else going on. Three bright spots in the month were moments spent with friends--coffee and a heart-to-heart with one local friend, a long-distance phone call with another friend (whom I didn't get to see over Christmas holidays), and Skype with a pal in Oxford!

Oh, and tell me--was your January as frigid as mine? There were a couple of days in which spring seemed to be whispering in my ear, but the rest of it was blustery and often thirty below with the wind-chill (in Celsius, mind you). Usually I don't want winter to end until I've gone sledding or ice-skating at least once, but this year I haven't done either and yet I'm still ready for spring to arrive.

Screen Storylines

Yes indeed, I kept plugging steadily through my two favorite TV shows--well, the only shows I currently watch, but you know. I rewatched more of Once Upon a Time season 3, started Once Upon a Time season 6 (eeep!), and also continued watching The Flash season 3 (which I really, really, really need to discuss here on the blog someday).

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I saw this way back near the beginning of the month, and although I've forgotten some things already, I did enjoy it! Aside from a few unnecessarily inappropriate jokes and a characteristically rambling plot, it was a fun high-seas adventure. Jack is back, ever his charming, stumbling, selfish self. Henry Turner was a great addition, I thought--and at some angles he almost reminded me of my own character, Prince Hadrian, except with longer hair. Carina was a bit of your stereotypical "I'm a lady intellectual in a sexist world; step aside, please" kind of character, but it was still fun to have a spitfire young woman in the story--especially towards the end. Even if you're wary of watching the latest film in this looooong running franchise . . . do it for the bank robbery scene at the beginning. You can thank me later.

[via Pinterest]

The Bourne Identity

Can you believe this was my first time watching a Bourne movie?! (And can you believe how young Matt Damon looked in 2002?) I'm a sucker for amnesia stories, so a movie about a man waking up with a tracker embedded in his skin and seven different passports bearing his picture, yet no memory of his past at all--that was super intriguing. All the getaways, fistfights, adrenaline, and unspoken character development were awesome! I loved the scene with the sniper in the field, for some reason. Considering the genre, there was less objectionable content than I expected, so yep, I'll be watching the rest of the movies! Probably reading the books too.

Bookish Subplots

I read only two novels this month, but both of them were good, so I'm satisfied.

Raising Dragons // Bryan Davis

One special reading goal I have this year is to reread the twelve Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire/Children of the Bard books, so book one of DIOM was obviously top of the list. I first read Raising Dragons at the age of twelve, and I think this was my fourth time going through it! My favorite scene still is, and always has been, when Billy and Bonnie are taking shelter in the woods for the night in chapter 13. ("Forever and ever, Bonnie. I will always be your friend.")

Rereading this was like returning to old pals. Cozy and familiar. Some scenes I knew nearly by heart, and other details I'd forgotten (such as Professor's crazy driving). And while I had to smile at some minor headhopping and cheesy lines, it was really neat to see just how far Bryan Davis's craft has come since his first novel! Despite the minor flaws, a heart pulsing with dragonfire still shines through this story, and I'm looking forward to picking up The Candlestone this month. 5 stars!

Siren's Fury // Mary Weber

Wow, this one was a few shades darker than the first book! With more of a steampunk flair injected into the fantasy world, most of the story takes place on board an airship or within the metal castle walls of an industrialized city.

Nym undergoes yet another dramatic sweep in her character arc. There were moments I just didn't like her, but I was both fascinated and hopeful enough to wait for redemption. And it was very interesting to see how she reacted to a severe setback (okay, more like a hundred setbacks, poor girl) that affected her on a personal level. I wish I could be more specific, but I don't want to spoil anything!

Thanks to the cliffhanger ending of the first book--and what that ending entailed for the second book--there was less of the sappy romance. Not nearly as much emphasis on the love interest smelling like "pine and honey and sunshine" and having "jagged bangs" and muscles and being the idealistic YA fiction boyfriend. (I realize this is part and parcel of most YA fantasy romance plots, but I seem to be less patient with that sort of thing the older I get.) Anyway! There was less of that, and a bit more of a focus on the actual relationship . . . well, as much focus as there could be, given the circumstances. I'd better stop talking or I'll give stuff away.

A couple of other things I enjoyed: Princess Rasha gets much more developed, and I discovered I liked having her around. Myles is still despicable, but he also got a lot more page time. Again, I found that more fascinating than annoying (because don't we love having characters to hate?).

Also, can somebody please kill the villain soon. Yesterday would've been good.

I was thinking of giving the book 4 stars, but that deep ending bumped it up to 5 stars!

[via Pinterest]

Digital Pulse // Josiah Dyck @ The Steadfast Pen

Yes, I said I read two books this month. And yes, I do know how to count. This was kind of an unofficial read since a) I don't really include beta reading in my totals because it usually sits on the fence between editing and pleasure reading, and b) this is a novella.

It's my brother's entry for Rooglewood Press's Five Poisoned Apples contest, actually, and I think it might be one of his strongest stories to date! A futuristic superhero spin on Snow White was a lot of fun. If you like brooding heroes, cyborgs, and bubbly AI units, you'd better hope this one wins a spot in the anthology!

Written Storylines

. . .

. . .

Nothing to report here.


As I mentioned in this post, I've given myself the freedom during the remainder of this semester to not rabidly pursue any writing goals. Yes, I already miss the flow of words, but I'm also relieved--because January held approximately zero minutes to give to any of my WIPs. So I'm on a semi-hiatus right now. But hopefully homework will slow down enough that I can organize the beta feedback on The Brightest Thread soon. (I recently received some unexpected critiques on the first few chapters, which is going to be so helpful when I finally get to edit this book in summer! You know who you are--thank you!)

It's not precisely writing-related, but my brother did read my Snow White novella, Mirrors Never Lie, this month. And surprise! He put together a playlist for me! He's the soundtrack aficionado in our house, and his superpower is matching songs to stories that he (and others) write. I was delighted! This playlist includes mostly instrumental pieces, but also two lyrical songs that fit my main characters quite well: Face It by NF, and I Won't Let You Go by Switchfoot. If you want a glimpse of the themes of Mirrors Never Lie--or just want to hear two really stirring songs--give these a listen!

Onwards to February . . .

I'm glad January is over. Not that it was a bad month, but I'm ready to keep moving forward. Midterm exams start at the end of February, so I foresee some studying in the future, but hopefully there will be time for books, editing prep, and good memories in between!

So tell me a few things! How was the beginning of this new year for you? Do you like making playlists for things? Have you read/watched any of the books/movies I mentioned? Are you freezing cold like I am?! Grab one of the fuzzy quilts to stay warm, and let's chat!


  1. It was definitely a cold January! Then again...what I'm calling cold would probably be pretty warm for you. XD And, honestly, I'M NOT READY FOR WINTER TO GO! D': It's my favorite season, and in my neck of the woods it...doesn't last long. So I'm clinging to it for dear life. (Eheh. Sowwy.)

    I've never really had to participate in a group project, buuuut I'm a bit of a control freak and like doing things on my own time and my own schedule, sooo I can imagine it'd make me grumpy too. XD So I sympathize with you!

    I have yet to see Dead Men Tell No Tales, but I want to! I kiiinda wish they just stopped at the first movie though. These movies are getting a little out of hand. XD But still. I've come this far with them, might as well watch this one too! And I've never seen any Bourne movies! I have heard they're quite good though, so I need to give 'em a try!

    That's SO fun you're rereading the DioM books! I've been wanting to go through all of them again myself's quite a task and I have so many NEW books to read, I just keep not getting to it. But one day!

    Oh boy, it looks like Siren's Fury has a lot of feels. o.o I'm looking forward to reading those books, but at the same time I'm nervous! Lol.

    I can't wait to read Digital Pulse! It's sitting in my inbox waiting on me, I just haven't had the time. But it sounds so unique and awesome! :D And huzzah on Josiah for making you a playlist. He is the master at that!

    I'm proud of you for giving yourself permission to focus on school and life and not write. Sometimes those seasons happen, and I know they're hard, but it's very admirable how you're prioritizing. ^_^

    I do hope February will be a wonderful month for you. I know you're gonna rock it! *fistpump*

    1. Haha, you're proooobably right! XD AND YOU CAN GLADLY TAKE MY WINTER. It was ridiculously cold again this weekend. But I can understand you appreciating what little cold weather you get.

      LOL, luckily my partners have been good to work with, but I still prefer managing things myself. So...I suppose it's good for my character development to be forced to collaborate. XD

      At this point, I just go into the PotC movies with no expectations for a mindbending plot or heartwrenching emotions--they're just fun (usually shallow) action flicks for me. But yessss, watch Bourne! I really enjoyed the first one! :D

      I can't wait to read the rest of them! I'm the same, though--I always have a huge stack of new books I want to read that I hardly ever get around to rereading. It's almost a running joke in my house, how many books and movies I mention I should reread/rewatch. The list is long. XD

      Yup, feels aplenty! I'm curious to see what you think of them eventually.

      Oh that's right, I'd forgotten he sent it to you! Hope you enjoy it! ^_^ And yes, he's definitely the soundtrack master. Maybe I'll have to share the full playlist here on the blog sometime.

      Thank you, Christine! *hugs* Your reprioritizing last year was an inspiration--just one more example proving to me that it can be a very GOOD thing to put something aside for a time.

      Same to you, friend! *thumbs up*

  2. I don't like group work either. It always seems like there's one person who takes charge and does everything while everyone else sits around talking about volleyball (*cough cough* definitely NOT something that has happened to me...).
    Your mini-review of Dead Men Tell No Tales has made me interested in watching it! I enjoyed the previous four movies, but haven't heard much about this one. I'll have to give it a go in the near future.
    Have fun with your reading in February. I've never read any Bryan Davis, but I remember his covers always intrigued me when I was in the Christian Bookstore as a child.

    1. That's happened to me too--well, not the volleyball part, but the unequal cooperation part. XD This time around has been pretty good that way, thankfully! It's just coordinating everything and not being able to blaze through a project over a weekend just to finish it that has been the tricky part.

      Yes, do! Like I mentioned to Christine in the above comment, I wouldn't expect anything deep or meaningful out of it, but it's just a lot of fun. ^_^

      He's one of my favorite fantasy authors! I highly recommend picking up one of his books next time you're in the bookstore (or library, for that matter). ;)

      Have a great February!

  3. I love the Bourne movies, I'm a sucker for a good action movie. Matt Damon is great.

    1. I love action flicks too, and Matt Damon did such a great job in this one. ^_^ Do you have a favorite Bourne movie?

  4. It was cold here, as well... though that's no surprise. January is pretty frigid. We had one warm day where it got up to 45, and we all went out and played. Now it's back down below zero... so we're a bit more home-bound due to the baby...

    I really liked Pirates 5, and Bourne Identity is one of my favorites. The plots sort of increasingly deteriorate into an exercise in answering the question, "How fast can Matt Damon run?" as the movies progress... but the first couple are pretty good.

    I'm Batman about group projects, as well. And I laughed at that analogy! :)

    EEEEP! I really want to read both your and your brother's Snow White retellings!!!!!! They sound really fun.

    I am no good at making play-lists. If I write to music, I generally either throw in Christmas music or shuffle together epic soundtracks I like... or throw on 8 hours of celtic music from youtube... depending on what I'm in the mood for. :) I'm always amazed by people who can go, "Oh, and here is a song for every scene in my book...." It's not a talent I have, but I stand in awe.

    1. Hooray for at least one play-outside-able day! ^_^ It feels good to get that fresh air... but not good enough if it means freezing my face off. XD

      I've heard the Bourne movies go a bit downhill, yes. "How fast can Matt Damon run?" Haha, what a great way to put it! I'm still looking forward to watching them all, though!

      Batmans unite! ...Or maybe not. You stick to your Gotham, I'll stick to mine.

      Maybe one day!!! And thanks!

      Josiah is way better at playlists than I am. He seems to store dozens (if not hundreds) of instrumental songs in his head, and he can whip out just the right one to fit the mood of a scene. Whereas I have to go listen very hard to several soundtracks to pick something remotely workable. XD I find it easier to find lyrical songs, as the words stick in my memory better than the tunes.
      But Celtic playlists and the like are often just what one needs to get into the right frame of mind!

  5. Bleh, group work. I had a couple/three group projects in college and generally disliked them. I shouldn't complain either because at least it was online and I didn't have to meet up with the people or anything, but I ended up being leader by default each time. I seriously didn't want or ask for the role, I was just the one who happened to have the ideas and the time (Being the youngest member still living at home and with time on my hands while all the others were always over 30 and balancing their own families and work with school.) and the other members of the groups (different ones each time!) were like, "hey, you seem to have it together. Want to be the leader?" Me in my head: "Um, no, but since the rest of you apparently don't want to do it and this is part of my grade..." :p Guess I did okay since I never got a bad grade on those groups.

    It's been very cold, with some warm days in between, here too. And occasional snow. I. Want. Spring. I'm okay with winter until about mid Januarary and then I'm just done. Nature doesn't seem to care about my feelings though.

    I have never seen any of those movies or read any of those books. *blush* I did write a 6k short story though, and my first beta reeeeaaaally liked it. Now I'm working on the feedback she have me to make it even better.

    I am so jealous of the ability to match music with stories. I'd LOVE to do that and make a playlist for my own stuff, but it just hasn't happened. *le sigh*

    I hope you have a good February!

    1. Having to be the leader every time gets old after a while! And I totally understand stepping up because your own grade depends on it. Thankfully, my group projects have been pretty good in that regard--but I still seem to prefer having full control of my efforts (and therefore grades). :P Sounds like you managed to survive!

      I want spring tooooo! I sound like an old woman complaining about the cold, but I really am ready for above-freezing temps and the smell of melting snow. Oh well--spring must arrive eventually! We can make it!

      That's okay! They're not all super well-known anyway. Awesome writing progress! Getting positive beta feedback is a fantastic feeling.

      I'm not remarkable at it, either! Sometimes when I'm listening to a song, instrumental or lyrical, it will remind me of one of my WIPs, so I jot it down. But it's hard for me to actively collect a bunch of matching songs into a playlist. XD

      Same to you, E! :D

  6. My January wasn't cold. The days averaged in the 30s-40s (not celcius...not even sure how to spell that). Spring has come, but technically not. I am still a bird held captive.

    I watched that Pirate movie in the theater when it came out, but before I'd only watched the first one so I think I missed some things.

    I love making soundtracks for books or characters. It's a lot of fun.

    Hope your February is lovely and you don't get swallowed with studying too much!

    1. That would be about 0-4 degrees Celsius (I'm not that genius--I had to look up the conversion on Google!), which sounds heavenly right about now. Oooh, that awkward phase between not-really-winter but not-yet-spring is not the most fun. :P

      That's possible. I think there were some important plot points in the middle movies--in between Jack's shenanigans, that is. ;)

      It is! I usually solicit my brother's help for the instrumentals, but I find it easier to think up lyrical songs that fit certain characters.

      Thanks, Meaghan! I'm feeling rather swallowed right now, haha, but tomorrow I won't do ANY homework--a much needed break. I hope your February is going well too!

  7. I just recently watched Jason Bourne for the first time too! I told my friend I had never seen them, and she immediately decided to remedy that. XD I really like them! (And yes, Matt Damon looks like a child in 2002... XD) I love amnesia stories too. :)

    I LOVE making character playlists! But I tend to...get a bit carried away, and sometimes kinda forget to actually write the book, you know...? XD

    1. Haha, it seems to be one of those movies that friends say, "What are you doing with your life?!" if you haven't seen it! XD (He's so young! It's crazy!) Same, girl. It's fascinating to think of who a person is without their memories...

      Kinda like Pinterest boards, right? They're so much fun, they can take away from actual writing time! But I think it's good to indulge ourselves now and then anyway. ;)

  8. I'm sorry January was really crammed for you! Hopefully February is treating you better! It's grossly warm and rainy here in the south and I hate it. XD I want the cold crisp sunny weather again!

    1. Thanks, Tori! February IS going better so far, and I've got reading week coming up in college--yay! Haha, I would love some of that warmth. But too much rain isn't fun. I'd send you some of the cold from up north, but today it was actually above freezing for once. XD