Saturday, June 2, 2018

Subplots and Storylines - May 2018

Happy Saturday, everyone! By the time this post goes up, it'll be almost Sunday. Oops. It actually feels like I just wrote my last S&S post a week ago, but May is over already. Who on earth gave it permission to go so fast? It's been a really good month. For one thing, it was unseasonably warm, and the days were full of gardening, ice cream, and peppermint tans.*

*This is when a bookworm sits out in the sun to read and ends up with limbs that are pink on top and still winter-white on the bottom.

For another, May was also full of friend-stuff. Confession: although I love all my friends dearly, I am also an introvert who guards her alone time and likes her social life to have . . . gaps in between. But this month I decided that my introversion, while valid, does not have to mean I'm stingy with my time! So I ended up face-timing a writer friend, shopping with a college friend, inviting another friend over for dinner, and then taking a six-hour road trip to another pal's place for a weekend. (All of you extroverts may take this moment to laugh at me making a big deal over only four social events.)

Anyway, 'twas all very fun! I'd never road-tripped anywhere by myself before, so it was like a mini-vacation. The friend I visited (whom I haven't seen in a year) lives on a farm with horses and bees and the most affectionate, slobbery, big dogs I've ever met.

And now on to the story-related happenings of May: the ones I watched, read, and wrote.

Screen Subplots

Justice League

Recommendation: do not watch this half a week after seeing Infinity War, because it will pale in comparison. It seems like Justice League was trying to be a DC version of Avengers and it just . . . didn't work for me at all. The plot wasn't cohesive, none of the major characters had any personal stakes in their cause, the villain was a negative number on the Scariness Scale, and Clark Kent's face was botched by poor CGI. The best part of the movie was the presence of Wonder Woman and the introduction of the Flash. (Except Grant Gustin brought the character to life so, so much better in the TV show than Ezra Miller does in this flick.)

My brother reviewed the movie over on The Steadfast Pen a while back, and he went into more detail about some of the things that didn't quite work.

Spider-Man 2

Watched this with my siblings and ahhh, the cringe! The nostalgia! Sadly, it was far less cool this time around than it was the first time I saw it. But it's one of those movies that's still fun to see, if only for the fact that my siblings and I had way too much fun joking about it.

The Death Cure

Still every bit as good as when I saw it in theaters! I might even go so far as to say it was the strongest movie in the trilogy. More thoughts were shared in February's Subplots and Storylines post!

Emma (BBC 2009 version)

I LOVED IT SO MUCH. This is only the second Jane Austen movie I've seen--the first being Pride and Prejudice, the one with Kiera Knightley--and I thoroughly enjoyed all four hours of it. So much that I want to go buy it right now.

Emma is the sort of person who believes she is always right, and it was rewarding to see the crumbling of her matchmaking plans force her to grow in humility. And Mr. Knightley . . . I didn't think anyone could top Mr. Darcy, but Knightley might have just done it for me. He and Emma have the sort of bantering/bickering sort of friendship that grows between two stubborn people who aren't afraid to speak their minds. His loyalty and honesty was fantastic.

There was a plethora of other vibrant characters gracing the screen too: the worrisome Mr. Woodhouse ("They might do something reprehensible--like open the windows!"), kind governess Anne Taylor, empty-headed Harriet Smith, snobbish Mr. Elton, charismatic Frank Churchill, incessantly talkative Mrs. Bates, and reserved Jane Fairfax. Speaking of Mrs. Bates, I found the picnic scene surprisingly convicting--if you've watched it, you might know why.

But seriously. Mr. Knightley. Excellent character right there. I must read the book.

Period Drama Confessions! gif

Page Storylines

Eye of the Oracle // Bryan Davis

Well, I've finished rereading the Dragons in Our Midst series this year, so it was time to kick off the Oracles of Fire series! Returning to this huge story was really enjoyable. I'm in awe of Bryan Davis's ability to weave a single story through millennia--literally, because the book starts just before the Great Flood and ends in the modern day.

Sapphira and Elam remain some of my favorite characters; so do Makaidos* and Thigocia! It was neat to refresh my memory on all the connections between the dragons and other important characters--both heroes and villains--throughout history. But lest you think this tome is boring, oh no! Battles with demonic Watchers, the toils of underground slaves, portal jumping, the growth of a Nephilim army, and so much more jumps off the page.

*Makaidos is probably one of my favorite dragons ever.

Plus the foreshadowing is spectacular. New readers could pick this up without much trouble, but readers of Dragons in Our Midst will catch dozens of hints.

5 stars!

The Sea of Monsters // Rick Riordan

I read primarily YA, so whenever I dip my toes in MG (middle grade), I'm fascinated and amused by the different approach. But before I go all writer nerd on you, here's what I noticed as a reader.

I loved the humor, the taxi of death, Tyson, Percy's water navigation skills, the sirens, the man-eating sheep, and the shouted conversation about Nobody.* The villain's plan, although revealed a little late, was great too. On the negative side, the plot matched that of the first book almost beat for beat, and there could have been some more introspection at certain moments that needed a reaction.


Thankfully, Percy didn't suffer the fate of the unchanged-protagonist-who-learned-nothing-in-the-previous-book. He was stronger, braver, and more at ease with his gifts, even if he was simultaneously more upset with his father. I'm looking forward to finally continuing the Percy Jackson series.

4.5 stars!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone // J.K. Rowling

Hello, my name is Tracey Dyck, I'm 22 years old, and this was my first foray into the world of Harry Potter.

Yes. You may all gasp.

But guess what? I'm utterly enchanted! This made me laugh out loud multiple times, and made me want to visit Hogwarts for myself. Harry is a wonderful hero--sympathetic, clever, relatable, and unexpectedly brave. Ron and Hermione make for brilliant friends. The whole cast of characters, in fact, was distinct and charming.

I did have some quibbles. There were times when the lying and sneaking around actually weren't necessary--and it did seem that Harry and his pals could have faced more consequences for their frequent breaches. Hagrid, though I love him, was revealed to be a bit less worthy of respect than I thought, which was too bad. And I still can't figure out how Harry and Ron chucked pipes and bathroom taps at the troll--did they rip them right out of the wall or what? (Seriously, someone please enlighten me.)

But the deft writing style, magical wonder, and pop-off-the-page characters make this a book I'll probably buy. It may have taken me two decades to get to Hogwarts, but I'll be visiting again real soon.

4.5 stars!

Gravestone (audiobook) // Travis Thrasher

What better way to make a road trip pass by quickly than to listen to an audiobook? Although I did briefly question the wisdom of listening to a creepy story whilst driving through remote countryside. Heh.

This sequel to Solitary is a dark and winding road, much like the mountain path leading up to the Crag's Inn where Chris works. It's gloomy. It's sad at times, intense in others, but just like the inn, there are rays of light beginning to penetrate Chris's messed-up world.

The plot kept me on my toes as I tried to figure out who to trust. Even though I've read this book before, that was five years ago, and I forgot some of the twists. There were genuinely creepy moments standing in stark contrast to several sweet interactions and thought-provoking conversations. Chris's emotions are very real--the grief, the anger, the confusion, the weariness, the fear.

Looking forward to revisiting the rest of the series. 5 stars!

Written Subplots

Despite the fact that I am so behind on my writing goals, this was actually a pretty productive month. (More on those goals in an upcoming post, I think.)

During the first half of May, I finished compiling beta reader feedback on The Brightest Thread. This covered chapters 20 through 31. I also reviewed the feedback forms I had sent them, which resulted in a document almost fifty pages long.

Because my head was swirling with all the helpful reactions and advice from about a dozen different people, I cracked open a fresh, new notebook to scribble in while I edit. This will be the place I nail down the biggest issues to fix in each chapter and brainstorm how to patch them up.

And then . . . in the second half of May, I dove into ACTUAL EDITING. I love this stage of the writing process! But it's also challenging right now. In the past couple of weeks, I've rewritten my opening several times (bringing me up to about six different versions of chapter one, including one that was split into two chapters because it got so long). Just when I thought I might be on the right track, some sage feedback from a mentor opened my eyes to several blunders I'd made while trying to correct the original chapter's mistakes. Sometimes you have to make a mess in order to clean up, you know?

So as June unfolds, I'll keep hammering away at chapter one. It's a tricky beast, for some reason, but I just know there's a smashing good opening to be found somewhere!

By the by, once editing is really in full swing this summer, I plan to put together a walk-through post of my editing process, since some of you writerly types have shown interest.

On another writing note, Realm Makers is less than 50 days away now! Say what?! This month I scheduled my mentor appointment and two agent appointments, which makes the conference feel incredibly real and incredibly close. I also submitted the first ten pages of The Brightest Thread for a paid critique appointment . . . which now feels a bit silly, since I'm reworking those pages entirely anyway. But perhaps I'll still glean something valuable from the feedback?

Yet another writing thingamajig that went down this May was a brainstorming/planning session for a Very Secret Project. I shall not breathe a word of it yet, but it's coming along. Simmering busily in the back of my mind while I go about my work and editing and other such things. I have tentatively planned to reveal this project sometime this summer, so keep your eyes peeled!*

*Is this not just the weirdest phrase? The thought of putting a potato peeler anywhere near my eyeballs is horrendous.

So yes! That was May!

I hung out with actual people, went on a road trip, got a peppermint tan, hopped back on the Percy Jackson train, and at very long last caught the Harry Potter train too. (Speaking of trains, I'm so happy to finally understand what platform nine and three-quarters means.) I've not had this much writing news to share in a long time, and it feels good. Also I seem to be footnote-happy today. So there you have it. My summer break is off to a lovely start.

Now tell me, how are you? Do you like road trips? Harry Potter: yay or nay? Any guesses as to the nature of the Very Secret Project? What are your summer plans, folks?


  1. I love your posts, Tracey!
    Your May sounds wonderful. Good for you for adventuring for a getaway weekend.
    I have no doubt that you will come up with a beautiful, compelling first chapter for The Brightest Thread.
    Have a wonderful time at Realm Makers!

    1. Thank you so much! <3

      It WAS a great month. Adventures make everything 10 times better.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Mrs. D! I'm already brainstorming a new opening and getting excited about it.

      I shall! And one of these days I'll have to fly a little further south and visit you. ;)

  2. I'm pretty sure I'm in denial that it's June. I...I don't understand how this happened. o.o

    It looks like you had a wonderful May! How fun you went on a little weekend getaway. Sounds lovely and refreshing!

    I've yet to see the Justice League movie (then again, I never saw Batman vs. Superman either so... *sheepish grin*). But I can imagine watching it after Infinity War does not bode well for its entertainment value. Though I'd watch it for Wonder Woman regardless. (Did I ever tell you I finally saw that movie? I LOVED IT.)

    Is that the Tobey Maguire Spider-man? Because yeeeeah, they do not hold up well. XD It's so funny, because back in the day they were some of my favorite movies!

    OH MY GOODNESS. THE 2009 EMMA SERIES. YESSSSSSSH. It's my faaaavorite. I like it even a smidge more than Pride and Prejudice, which is saying something. BUT IT'S SO GOOD. I loved Emma's character and her growth (that picnic scene yes, wow o.o). And MR. KNIGHTLEY. I'm with you, I thought no one could even come close to Mr. Darcy but but but MR. KNIGHTLEY. <333333

    Oooh, Eye of the Oracle. That is one of my top favorites of them all. It's seriously the most epic, sweeping tale I've ever read. I mean, it starts at nearly the beginning of time so yeah. o.o You seriously feel like you lived through multiple lifetimes by the end of it and just wow. Bryan Davis is a genius.

    The Sea of Monsters was actually my least favorite of the Percy Jackson books. I think it got MUCH better after that one--much more deep and complex and even a little darker. Though...most of them do all kind of run along the same plotline. But I still adored that series. It's so funny!

    Look at you, Tracey! Joining the Potterheads! One of these days I'm gonna join you myself. I keep meaning to but other books have been clamoring for my attention first. But maybe later in the summer I can jump in the enormous HP bandwagon. That's my hopeful plan!

    I'm so, so, soooo ecstatic to hear about TBT edits coming along! And wow, your dedication to getting your first chapter right is awe-inspiring. I found it near to perfect the first time around, so I can only imagine how spectacular it's gonna be when you're done! I wish you all the luck in the world. ^_^ Also I'd loooove a post all about your editing process. YES PLEASE!!!

    Very Secret Project, you say??? Well sheesh, Tracey, just tease us why don't you? :P I can't wait to hear all about it!

    I do hope you have the most amazing June, my dear Tracey! <333

    1. SAME. Where have the last five months gone?!

      It *was* lovely and refreshing! ^_^

      Batman v. Superman had some of the same problems, honestly. :P But ahhh, you saw Wonder Woman! Wasn't it amazing??? <333 I'm such a fan.

      Oh, yes! I should've mentioned it was just Spider-Man 2, not The Amazing Spider-Man 2. XD Ugh, I cringed so hard at the train scene with Tobey Maguire... I don't know if you remember it, but he makes the WORST expressions. *hides so I don't have to look* But that trilogy used to be a favorite for me too. My superhero standards must've gone up in the past few years...

      I know! I might like it a teensy tiny bit more than P&P too, which I didn't think possible! KNIGHTLEY IS AMAZING. WHY IS HE NOT A REAL PERSON. D':

      I agree--you get to witness so. stinking. much. in that book. It also gave me a new sense of repulsion AND admiration for Morgan, whose patience lasted for thousands of years. o.O

      I've heard that Sea of Monsters is people's least favorite too, so I'm looking forward to getting to the rest of the series! It wasn't BAD, but it wasn't amazing either. I probably gave it a high rating just for entertainment value. XD (What can I say. My rating system isn't even a system.)

      I knooooow! Took me forever! I think you'd actually enjoy Harry Potter quite a bit. It's so charming and fun, at least this book was. I hear the series gets progressively more intense as Harry grows up.

      Eeeek, thank you, darling! <3 Chapter one has been a doozy, but I'm about to try something rather different, and I'm excited about it! :D Yes ma'am, that editing post is on the schedule--glad you're excited for it!

      Mwahaha! I know EVERYONE talks about secret projects these days, but I truly am thrilled about this one. ;D

      And the same to you, Christine! Counting down the days till I see you at Realm Makers! <333

  3. (speaking of being an introvert, here I am XDD Finally. Commenting.)

    Eye of The Oracle is by far my favorite, unlike a lot of prequels where there are usually some problems between the past and present, I didn't detect any timeline problems!

    Sea of Monesters was awesome XD

    I can't wait till TBT is done :o

    1. (Hi Sarah!!! Oh my goodness, I'm so happy you commented. *introvert fistbump*)

      It's such a good prequel! Probably one of the best I've read, I agree. I honestly don't know how Bryan Davis DIDN'T have a master plan all laid out before writing all of the books, because the consistency is amazing.

      Heehee, yes it was. XD

      Awww, thank you! It's definitely underway! <3

    2. Oh man, I forgot Sapphira. SHE IS THE BEST CHARACTER EVER. Honestlyyy she is amazing, a complete role model to me, the romance between her and Elam was AMAZINGGG I. love. all. the. scenes. where. Sapphira. dances. because. they. are. so. perfect.

    3. SAPPHIRA. <3 I love that girl! And Elam too! They both grew so much throughout the books. :D

  4. So happy that your reading The Solitary Tales! I love those books.

    1. Rereading (re-listening?) has been a lot of fun! You're one of the only people I know who's read them too. XD

  5. What?? You haven't watched Emma before now? I was drowned in Jane Austen movie adaptions growing up so I've seen every version of each story, pretty much. Emma has always been my favorite of the stories, and that version the most accurate (minus the ridiculous waves all the time). And Mr. Knightley definitely beats everyone else.

    1. Crazy, right? And it's only the second Jane Austen movie I've seen! D: (Haha, I noticed a few goofy waves too.) Mr. Knightley is just top notch. Love him so much!

  6. Whoa, now I have a term for that! Peppermint tans. That's brilliant and so me. XD (Is that a Canadian term, or...?)

    Okay, so you NEED to read the book version of Emma, because I LOVE Mr. Knightley but his movie self honestly just doesn't do justice of him. He has so much PRESENSE in the book and I love him. He's fabulous. (I feel the same about Mr. Darcy -- book version's awesome, but movies just... don't... quiiiite capture him?) Anyway. YAY MR. KNIGHTLEYYY. :D

    Congrats on all the editing and stuffs!! :D *cheers you on* Sometimes it seems like everybody has a very secret project they're writing and I'm just like... wow, the internet is so mysterious these days. XDDD

    1. Haha, no, it's just a thing I came up with! XD

      YES, I MUST READ IT SOON. Ahhhh, if book Mr. Knightley is even better than movie Knightley, I am SO THERE. (I honestly don't know what I think of the movie Darcy... I mostly liked him? But the book had a slightly different quality about him?)

      Thank yooouuu! I know every blogger and their dog has a "secret project" they whisper about conspiratorially, but I couldn't resist mentioning my own. Because... well, it IS a secret, and I AM excited about it. But yeah, everyone's so mysterious! XD

  7. Ahh! Percy Jackson. I love that series! So hilarious and awesome.

    Congrats on compiling and reading through your feedback! I hope that you find the perfect opening and that your edits go smoothly! Here's to an epic June!

    1. They're so fun! I want to read at least one more Percy Jackson book this summer. :D

      Thanks, Sarah! It's definitely a work in progress, but something's going to click eventually. I hope your month has been going wonderfully so far! <3

  8. Well, you're not alone: I'm seventeen, and I've never read Harry Potter. I saw the first movie and I wasn't impressed, but people tell me I should try the books instead?

    Aw, I love Jane Austen movies! *heart eyes* I've seen the BBC Emma, though it's been a while. I prefer the Hollywood version (with Gwyneth Paltrow), but that's probably just because I grew up with it. =) The six-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice though. . . You should totally watch it, if you ever find time! It's probably one of my top favorite movies.

    Ahh, secrets, huh? Don't bloggers love surprises! I can honestly say, I have NO idea what you're planning! I bet it'll be awesome though, because I love Adventure Awaits.


    1. It's not just me! *high fives* I'm going to be seeing the first movie sometime soon, and I'm not sure what to expect. But I really did enjoy the first book! It was quirky and fun, and I loved the writing style.

      Oooh, I should watch the Gwyneth Paltrow version sometime too! Also the six-hour P&P. o.o Because six hours of Lizzie and Darcy would be epic.

      I know, we're all terrible. XD I haven't had time to work on the secret project lately, but it'll happen! Thank you--that means so much!!!

  9. Welcome to the HP bandwagon. It only gets better. (I also enjoy the movies... which do leave things out, as is the nature of movies-from-books, but they're pretty brilliant anyway. And Hagrid will grow on you. He's only ever good-intentioned and gentle... though not always the brightest crayon).

    I have not seen that version of Emma... I shall have to find it. I LOVE the version with Gwyneth Paltrow.

    I actually really love the DC movies. Mostly because I feel like they do a WAY better job with villains (with the exception of Loki and Thanos). Have you seen the extended cut of Batman V Superman? It fills in some holes.

    Huzzah for actual editing! I actually quite enjoy editing. Sometimes it's tedious, but I love the polishing and word-smithing and just rubbing all the dust away and finding the gems beneath.

    I love road trips! (Though my desire to take them has waned a bit since I don't love trying to entertain multiple small children on road trips... but they're starting to get bigger and that is making road trips a bit more fun again).

    I really need to read Dragons in Our Midst. I started reading it a few months back and was instantly hooked... but I didn't take it home from the library because I knew I was in the middle of 12 other books at the time. It's a problem.

    I have no idea what your Very Secret Project is... but my guess is it has something to do with.... *cue Shawn Spencer waving his fingers near his forehead* the fantasy genre! (amiright?)

    1. Good to hear! :D (I'm hoping to watch the first movie this month if I can. And I really DO like Hagrid already, I was just disappointed that he lied and such a few times. LOL, "not always the brightest crayon." The dragon chapter definitely brought that to light, lol!)

      I want to watch the Gwyneth Paltrow version sometime as well--but yesss, do watch the BBC one if you can! It was lovely.

      The villains do seem to be DC fans' favorite thing. I mean, baddies like Lex Luthor and the Joker and such are pretty epic! I guess I've just never connected to the heroes as much as I do with Marvel's. (Except Wonder Woman was fantastic! And I did really enjoy Christian Bale's Batman trilogy. And Man of Steel. So I'm not *against* DC.) I haven't seen the extended BvS yet, no! Maybe I'll give it another try if I get my hands on that version.

      I enjoy editing as well! There are the occasional wrenches, like this novel's opening, but for the most part, the polishing process is immensely satisfying.

      Ha, I can imagine carting children along would really change the road trip dynamic!

      YES YES YES. READ THEM. (But 12 books at once? Good gravy, Jenelle, how do you fit that many plotlines in your brain?!)

      Hmm... kind of right? Ish? Very ish? Haha, I'm so vague. XD

    2. Well... with all the reading out loud for homeschooling, we generally have about 3-4 books I'm reading out loud for school, then the kids usually throw in 1-2 that they want me to read for fun, plus I usually have at least 1-2 books I am reading just for myself... more if I decide to take on beta reading or editing for someone. Okay... maybe 12 is a bit of an exaggeration... but it could be as many as 8 or 9. Wow. That's a lot. I thought I was exaggerating more than that.

    3. Ahhhh, that makes more sense if you're including school books and read-to-the-kids books. Still a lot, though! You must be Superwoman. ;)


  10. For Harry Potter I seem to be neither 'yay' nor 'nay', just 'eh'. I've never read it, and I don't feel much incentive to try. *shrugs*
    First chapters are notorious for being hard to tame. I'm glad to see you're keeping up the good, hard work! I really want to re-read the brightest thread, and see how it has matured!
    I'm also eager to see what this Very Secret Project is all about. I have an inkling that it's fantasy- maybe on the more serious side- but it could also be something more unusual, like space opera!

    1. And that's totally okay! For me, it was curiosity that made me pick up the first book.

      They are tricky sometimes! Awww, I hope that rereading day comes soon. <3

      Iiiinteresting theories! It is a more serious thing, I can say that, but nothing else for now. ;)

  11. Ooo, MG. I love MG novels. I just reread the book Flipped, which is honestly one of the best books I've ever read, I think, for shear brilliance in writing, and that's a MG tale I first read in 5th-grade. I love the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, and I loved the Harry Potter books back when I read them. I finished off the series ten days after the final book came out in 2007. One day I'll go back and reread them.

    1. Middle grade is a lot of fun! I've heard a bit about Flipped, but never read it. Wow, you finished HP right when the last book came out? Cool! I'm looking forward to reading the second book soon. :)

  12. Yay for Harry Potter! No shame. I just jumped on the train officially last year but now I’m fully on board. Welcome to the fandom!

    1. Right, you've been reviewing the books on your blog! I'll admit I skimmed them, because I didn't want to know too much before reading them myself. :P Haha, thank you!

  13. I totally thought the same thing about Justice League!! It's definitely not as gripping as Infinity War, that's for sure... XD The plot didn't make sense at all, it felt like a bunch of random events strung together and I didn't connect with ANY of the characters (which is why I watch movies in the first place). It was very disappointing. :(

    Yay for reading Harry Potter! I've yet to dive into that realm, but I think I'd like to, someday. I've heard they're simply amazing... ;) XD

    Sea of Monsters was really good! I'm definitely on the Percy Jackson bandwagon now. They're not very deep (so far as I've read, anyway), but they're fun for an afternoon of reading. :)

    1. Yeah. It was... not the finest superhero movie I've seen. And I didn't really connect to anyone either. :( The sad thing is, the movie COULD have been a lot stronger.

      That's what I hear too, and book 1 was certainly a lot of fun! The books seem to get longer and darker as the characters grow up, so that should be interesting. ;)

      Exactly--they're fun, fluffy books! And kind of perfect for summer reading! :D