Sunday, July 1, 2018

Subplots and Storylines - June 2018

Hello, hello, everyone! I'm back! Thanks for all the great vlog questions you left me. I hope to film a coherent video answering them all very soon. In the meantime, how was your month? Sit down and grab a cup of lemonade (because coffee is much too hot for this weather) and let's chat!

My June was about as full as all my months seem to be, and yet it was a lot more relaxing because . . . I took a holiday! More on that in a minute. This could become a long post, so I'll try to keep each section of the recap brief and under control. (Yeah, right.)

A few notable life happenings:

  • I took my sisters to a Maze Runner-themed escape room! Kind of a homemade one put on by their youth group, but it was super well done. (And I got to sneak in and go through it too, even though I'm too old. Ha.)
  • A couple more friend get-togethers
  • My sister, Chloe @ Faeries and Folklore, graduated high school and we threw a party!
  • One of my best friends had a baby shower
  • Aaaaand holidays!

It was wonderful to spend a week at a cabin with my family, doing absolutely nothing. I devoured five books, watched a bunch of movies, ate delicious food, swam in the river, and played an ongoing game of Phase 10.

We also went to see the ruins of the old Pinawa Dam. I'm a sucker for ruins of any kind, but to find some in my home province of Manitoba was super cool! Can't you just see this old wall being used as the setting for a dystopian story? Or even a fantasy?

Screen Subplots

Once Upon a Time season 6
I only watched two more episodes this month, but the season is still making a slow upward climb, so that's good.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Just one episode this month. Still a fun show!

Spider-Man 3
At last my siblings and I are finished the Tobey Maguire trilogy! I'm sorry to insult a classic, but these movies just didn't hold up like I'd hoped. (I did love them years ago.) At least Harry Osborne was better in this one.

The Greatest Showman
This has got to be the most hyped-up movie I've seen in a long time. I was rather worried it wouldn't live up to my expectations, and while pretty much the whole plot came as no surprise at this point, I LOVED IT. I loved the music, the visuals, the characters, the charm of it all. I loved the emphasis on family. It was beautiful. Truly. And if you'll pardon me a moment, I'm going to go buy the soundtrack!

Captain America: The First Avenger
My siblings and have started rewatching the Marvel movies (it's our youngest sister's first time!), and we skipped the Iron Man movies to watch this one. It gets me every time. I love Cap. And Bucky. And everything.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Another rewatch. So heartrending, I cried again.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Look at that, I'm really jumping on the HP bandwagon now! But this movie was so enjoyable. Faithful to the book, with an adorable young cast, it brought Hogwarts to life in such a charming way.

This one was better than I expected! If you don't mind the Day of the Dead stuff, it's a cute little film about family and remembering those who have passed away. The visuals are brilliant, and I didn't see one of the twists coming.

Page Storylines

Guys. I read nine books this month. NINE. I can't remember the last time that happened! (Thank you, vacation, for all the reading time.)

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff // Chip Gaines

I've never watched Fixer Upper or read Chip and Joanna's previous book, but I still enjoyed getting to know them through this quick nonfiction read. They seem down-to-earth and have an approach to business I could get behind. Lots of anecdotes here, with some good advice for living fearlessly, taking risks, and prioritizing family. The book did feel a bit scattered, but that could be my own expectations interfering. 4 stars.

Steal Like an Artist // Austin Kleon

This little book is a pithy pep talk. Inspiring, quotable, whittled down to a few quick scrawls and snippets to catapult your own thoughts. It's a starting point, and I like where it leads. The biggest thing I took away is that our work is a sum of our influences--and that's okay. For any creative worried about originality or feeling short on ideas, this is a great pick-me-up. 5 stars!

Enoch's Ghost // Bryan Davis

(Continuing my reread of Dragons in Our Midst / Oracles of Fire / Children of the Bard series) Oh goodness, I'd forgotten how much I love this one. Themes of sacrifice run like a scarlet thread through the narrative, characters grow and develop through excruciating circumstances, and the threat facing our heroes is cataclysmic.

Ashley, struggling to relinquish control, has never been more relatable to me than right now. And I love her relationship with Walter! I'm also a huge fan of Second Eden, the infinite staircase, Dikaios, Elam, and Timothy. (That Timothy . . . he breaks my heart.) Everything wrapped up so incredibly well, with just enough hope amidst the disaster to last me until the next book! 5 stars!

Siren's Song // Mary Weber

Whew, this was quite the trilogy! There were a few things overall that I wasn't too keen on, but my love for Nym's journey and the powerful themes eclipse those minor annoyances. In this book, it's evident that Nym has come so far since the beginning. There were many characters to love, and even the dastardly Myles garnered my approval. (It helped that he reminded me of Loki.) The pace left my heart pounding, and the ending was thematically magnificent. 5 stars!

Unblemished // Sara Ella

I was a bit worried it wouldn't live up to the hype, but it was surprisingly good! It had some Once Upon a Time vibes, which made me happy. At first, the mysteries were easy to see through, and the beginnings of a love triangle seemed predictable. But then the plot twists started happening, and I actually grew to like the love triangle. (Gasp!) Life-or-death stakes have a way of breathing fresh life on that old trope. And in case you're wondering, I'm Team Ky. 4.5 stars.

The Minish Cap // Akira Himekawa

I don't read many graphic novels, just as I don't play many Legend of Zelda games, but this was a fun, quick read with an adorable drawing style. Link, Zelda, and the Picori were super cute. It was rather fast-paced--just the nature of graphic novels, I guess--but the ending was satisfying. 4 stars.

Paper and Fire // Rachel Caine

I read the first book on vacation last year, so it seemed fitting to continue while on another holiday! This one consisted of an intense rescue plot, an alternate-universe Rome, creepy automatons, much sneaking around, brilliant details, forbidden books, and serious squad goals. These crusty munchkins are becoming a family and I love it. The only things I didn't love? The continuation of a romance that goes against my beliefs, a small smattering of language, and the fact the main love interest seemed to be the only person lacking personality. But overall, I adore this series and can't wait to get my hands on the third book! 4.5 stars.

All the Crooked Saints // Maggie Stiefvater

With the lyricism of The Raven Cycle and none of its objectionable content, THIS was the kind of Stiefvater book I've been looking for! It was lovely, atmospheric, and somehow managed to be a feel-good story without the inherent cheesiness. The omniscient point-of-view worked beautifully, the very setting seemed alive, and the lovable cast was quirky as all get-out. What really got me is the message of hope: healing is found through opening yourself up to help others, and this eclectic crew of pilgrims on a Colorado ranch in the 1960s proved that better than anyone. 5 stars!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets // J.K. Rowling

More rollicking adventures in Hogwarts! The plot felt at times like a replica of the first book (until the plot twist happened), but I was having too much fun to care. A few things you must know: a) I am going to visit the Weasely's Burrow if it's the last thing I do, b) Mandrakes are hilarious, c) the duel scene was the best, d) Lockhart is annoying 95% of the time, e) Draco--just Draco, and f) somebody get me book 3 pronto. 5 stars!

Subplots of My Own Making

Not a ton to report on the writing front this month, unfortunately. Going away for a week may have had something to do with that. But! I did accomplish a few things.

I listened to episode 13 of The Creative Way, a writing course by Ted Dekker that has been taking me forever to finish. (But it's still excellent.)

I did a short critique for a critique partner. Her story is awesome.

I wrote a 300 word flash fiction and submitted it to Splickety.

I rewrote chapters one and two of The Brightest Thread AGAIN and finally moved into chapter 3. I hope I've stopped spinning my wheels on this opening, because I'd really like to make some progress before Realm Makers (which is two and a half weeks away!!!). It may be too soon to say, but I think, perhaps, maybe, this new opening is "The One." It stays true to the original version more than my other rewriting attempts, but I think it's mechanically stronger.

Whew! If you made it this far, here's a refill on that lemonade. What were your June highlights? Have you read/watched anything mentioned here? What's your ideal holiday? I hope you have a fantastic July! And to my Canadian friends--happy Canada Day!


  1. I'm so glad you liked The Greatest Showman, I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype either. Glad it did! Happy to hear that The Brightest Thread is humming along. Beginnings are so hard. I'm excited that you might have written 'the one'.

    1. I'm glad you liked it too! Are you still working on that Greatest Showman painting you've been sharing on Instagram? <3

      Beginnings are tricksy little creatures, I agree. Thanks so much, Skye!

  2. Whoa, that old dam would be a great story setting, yes! :O So glad you had an awesome vacation and got to read a lot! ^_^

    BUCKYYY. <3

    Aaand another friend bites the dust and becomes a Greatest Showman addict. XD (Haven't seen. But so much hype, my word.)

    I've never seen Fixer Upper either but I live right near where it's from. XD

    I'm going to steal your recommendation of Steal Like an Artist. *scribbles down to find this*

    I should've read Storm Siren and co. and now I'm out of time. XD I did randomly find The Evaporation of Sofi Snow--an ARC--at a thriftstore for less than a dollar this week though?? LIKE. O_O

    I still need to read a Stiefvater.

    Wait till you read HP3. It's the best. (And I've only gotten that far. :P)

    WRITIIIING. I juuust wrote a 300 word flash fiction for that. Hoping to send that in soon. YAY FOR THE BRIGHTEST THREAD CHAPTERSSS. :D I hope it's "The One" for you! ^_^

    *sips lemonade* Thank you, my dear; it's over 100 degrees around here so I appreciate it. XD

    Love seeing what's been up with you. Can't wait to meet you at RM in a couple of weeks! EEEE!!! :D

    1. And now that I've BEEN there, I feel like I have even more reason to use it somewhere. :D Thanks, girlie! It was lovely.

      YES, BUCKYYY. <3

      I laughed way too hard at that. And at the thought of the hype-monster turning you into a hype-monster-fighting-rebel. XD ;)

      Oh, neat! Waco, Texas, right?

      I think you'd like it. I really appreciated how the author did say at the end that "your mileage may vary" and that not all of the advice will apply to every person. But most of the tips were at least partially pertinent to me, and it was just all-around inspiring. ^_^

      And now you're "Out of Time" (by Nadine Brandes *cough* yes I just did that *cough*). XD Whoa, an ARC for less than a dollar?? :O Your thrift store sounds AWESOME. I am so looking forward to reading The Evaporation of Sofi Snow sometime soon! Probably after Realm Makers...

      Yes, you do. ;)

      For some reason, I didn't realize you were reading Harry Potter for the first time too! Now I can't wait to read the third one. :D

      I LOVED that particular flash fiction--I must say it again. <3 I really hope this opening is the right one too!

      Glad to provide virtual refreshment. *bows*


  3. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. <3 It makes me so sad whenever anyone doesn't like that movie. Like, how could you NOT LOVE IT?? =(

    Guardians is the only Marvel movie I've seen (*hides face from indignant fangirls*), but I'm hoping to watch Captain America soon with a friend.
    Also, I just took a minute to appreciate his costume in that picture. It actually looks practical, for once! His helmet is obviously made to STAY ON, unlike most movie helmets that are APPARENTLY made to fall off as soon as possible so you can see the emotion on the hero's face throughout the fight scenes. *cough cough* (Pet peeve, can you tell? =) )

    You've written your first chapters three times? Kudos for dedication!! I've kinda' stopped writing my beginnings, until the rest of the story is done. My stories just CHANGE too much while I'm writing, unruly things. =)

    NINE BOOKS? I average about two, haha. And yes, bookworm-vacations are the best!! =)


    1. I guess musicals aren't everyone's cup of tea. But I really, really loved it! I've been listening to the soundtrack rather often lately. XD

      Did you enjoy Guardians? It's very different from the usual Marvel fare. Oooh, you must tell me what you think of Captain America when you watch it! (He's only my favorite Marvel hero ever.)
      Good point about his costume! I hadn't thought of his helmet that way before, but you're right. It looks like fully functional army gear. :D

      Give or take a few. XD That's a good idea, leaving the beginning for last! I don't think I've ever rewritten a beginning this many times--no. Wait. I have. My first novel, The Prophet's Quest, was entirely rewritten (front to back) several times. XD

      THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR ME, OKAY. I average three or four, generally! And honestly, reading speed has nothing to do with how much of a bookworm someone is. So there's nothing wrong with two a month. :)

    2. Update: I have now seen Captain America: The First Avenger AND the first Avengers movie. (I watched them back to back because the ending of The First Avenger is JUST NOT OKAY.) And oh my word. . . <3 I don't know what to do with myself!!

      Whoa, a whole novel? Nice! I've always said I was going to rewrite things, but never really done it. Yet. =)


    3. AHHH YOU SAW AVENGERS AND THE FIRST AVENGER!!! <3 I am excited, if you can't tell. XD There's no turning back now!

      It was an amazing learning experience! Difficult, to be sure, but I learned more about the craft by rewriting that novel than I learned by writing the first draft. ^_^ Good luck on your first rewrite one day!

  4. I'm so glad you had a lovely holiday! And oh my goodness, I LOVE ruins, too! They're so fascinating and story-inspiring. That wall DOES look like the perfect story setting. EEP. How cool!

    Aaaahhh! You have joined The Greatest Showman bandwagon. Welcome aboard. XD I was like you and worried. I couldn't imagine it being as good as people said, and I figured I especially wouldn't like it because I'm not big on musicals. Buuut...yep. It sucked me in and now I'm obsessed. It seems to do that to everyone. XD

    I've been trying to decide if to watch the Harry Potter movies as I read each book or read all the books than watch all the movies. I'm leeeaning toward the latter, but I can't decide!

    Oh my goodness, I literally watched Coco for the first time just a couple of nights ago! TWINS. I wasn't sure I was gonna like it, but it was ADORABLE. Can't believe I hadn't watched it until now.

    That is THE BEST that you got to read so much!!! And it looks like you read some epic stories! I've never read any of the Gaines' books, but I watch Fixer Upper all the time. Lol. It's fun to watch! You finished the Storm Siren trilogy! So cool! Wasn't it surprising to find Myles actually sorta kinda likable? I was NOT expecting to like him in the end we are. But WHEW was that trilogy a wild ride. o.o I am so, SO pleased to hear All the Crooked Saints was cleaner than any other Stiefvater book. FINALLY a Stiefvater novel I feel comfortable reading. I MUST GET MY HANDS ON IT! I NEED more time to read the Harry Potter books. I'm only a few chapters into the 2nd one and already obsessed. Maybe after all the Realm Makers craziness calms down I'll do a marathon reading!

    You submitted another story to Splickety? AAAHHHH!!!! SO EXCITING. I hope it goes well! :D And how exciting you're still making progress on TBT. I really admire you for working so hard on those first chapters. They're crucial after all! There is NOTHING wrong with putting extra work into them. I think it's wonderful and probably should have done the same. Eheh.

    Looks like you had a pretty great June! I do hope July will be even more amazing. CAN'T WAIT TO GIVE YOU A BIG HUG IN JUST A LITTLE OVER TWO WEEKS. *SHRIEKS*

    1. I get such a shot of inspiration from ruins too! Yet another reason I want to travel Europe, because those countries are at least old enough to HAVE lots of ruins. Specifically castle ruins. *heart eyes*

      Ahhh, you're a fan too? :D It's just so magical and the songs are really catchy! I was starting to tear up at the opening song. THE FIRST SONG. WHY. XD And now I'm listening to the soundtrack on repeat.

      Reading all the books first and watching the movies sounds like a good idea! I was actually going to do it that way myself, but my sisters desperately wanted to start the movies right away. XD

      Really? TWINS AGAIN. It was super cute! Miguel is adorable. ^_^

      I NEEDED ALL THAT READING. My heart feels full! Fixer Upper does sound like a fun show. I was surprised that my feelings on Myles changed too! (But isn't he quite a bit like Loki? The layered personality, the snark, the darkness, the images he casts...? I don't know, maybe it's just me. XD) YES, YOU MUST READ ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS! I was actually thinking of you as I read it, going, "Yes! A Stiefvater book I can recommend to Christine!" XD Oh my word, a Harry Potter marathon sounds so funnn!

      Thank you, Christine! I hope so too! But if not, writing it was still a good experience. :) Thanks for the encouragement--it's been a tricky editing project so far, but I think the road will smooth out a bit once I get into the middle portion of the novel. ^_^ And I'm sure your opening is marvelous! I mean, the version I read was already beautiful, and now you've EDITED it! <3


  5. I really enjoy your posts, Tracey. I wish I could come see you at Realm Makers, but our daughter from Uzbekistan and her two sons will be visiting that weekend. Keep the posts coming!

    1. That's great to hear--thank you! <3 I wish you could be there too, but what a precious thing to see your daughter and her family! That's a long way to travel.

  6. WOW! This was a cool wrap-up post! (Sorry, I’m new here. #novice)

    I’ve been hearing a lot about All the Crooked Saints, but wasn’t sure if I should read it or not. Now, however . . . *adds to TBR*

    And DID SOMEONE MENTION AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER??? Haha, sorry about that. But that show is amazing......

    Anyways, can’t wait to see you around more this month!

    1. Awww, thank you so much! I absolutely LOVE seeing new faces! Thank you for being brave enough to comment. :D

      It's a beautifully written book! So many great characters and gorgeous descriptions. I hope you enjoy it.

      Yay, an Avatar fan! I'm barely halfway through the first season (or book, or whatever they call it), but it's really quirky and fun. My sisters have watched farther than me, and they say it keeps getting better.

      Thanks again, Rachael, and thanks for the follow! Hope to see you around more too!

  7. We both saw The Greatest Showman for the first time in June? How cool is that! I LOVED IT TOO! Honest Trailers had gotten in my head and I was really afraid it would be disappointing in spite of how many of my online friends who usually have good taste had raved about it, but it was so good and theme of family was an extremely pleasant surprise. And yes, I immediately bought the soundtrack, too. XD

    All the Crooked Saints got recommended to me by someone else last year. After what you said about it, combined with what she said about it, I might just have to bump it up my list a bit. I'm also adding Steal Like an Artist to my tbr. :)

    The big highlight of my June was completing and subbing a 10k story to an anthology contest after I thought I wouldn't get it done before the deadline much less edited. But I did, with the Lord's help. <3 Fingers crossed it might get accepted!

    Hope you have a good rest of your summer and looking forward to your next post!

    1. You too? *high five* IT WAS SO GOOD, AHHHH, BRB I'M CRYING. <3 I'm so glad it lived up to the hype. (I actually don't bother watching most Honest Trailers videos or other such things, at least not prior to seeing a movie. It's more fun to form my own opinion first. XD)

      Yes, yes, read them both! They were two of my favorite books this month. :D

      That's such an accomplishment! Congrats! Those deadlines can be difficult to meet, but I'm so glad you made it. Keep me posted on the results!

      Have a wonderful summer too! <3

  8. Hello! Long time no see :) I'm so glad that you were able to have a vacation, and nine books in a month is so impressive!
    Goodness, I really want to read the Ink and Bone trilogy. And not just because the covers are gorgeous. (Haha, who am I kidding... it is mostly because the covers are gorgeous.) I'm glad you enjoyed All the Crooked Saints! I thought it was really good, too, with a great message. I love the atmosphere that Maggie Stiefvater creates in her books. It really makes the setting of the story come alive in a way that I haven't seen other authors do before.
    And, oooo! You live in Manitoba?? Part of my Camp NaNoWriMo novel takes place in Manitoba! I might have to email you to ask you about what it actually looks like there, if you wouldn't mind. :D

    1. Hey, Abbey's back! Welcome! :) Nine books in a month is like THREE TIMES my normal average. It's kind of crazy, and not likely to happen again for the rest of the year. XD

      Oh, I LOVE the Great Library series! I think the fourth book just released recently, or is about to, actually! And there might be a fifth yet? Anyway, YES, the covers are beautimous.
      Glad you liked All the Crooked Saints too! I was really hoping to enjoy it, and wasn't disappointed. Stiefvater is a master at atmosphere. I felt like taking notes. XD

      That would be amazing! I don't know if I've ever read a book set in Manitoba, so I'm thrilled to hear you're writing one! Feel free to ask me any question you like--I'd love to help. :D

  9. Bucky is just the best. That is all. *nods*

    I should really jump on the HP bandwagon...I feel like I'm missing out... XD

    1. AGREED.

      It took me forever and a day to start, but now I really love HP. I can see why the fandom is so massive!

  10. Sounds like you had a lovely month! Lots of good reading and watching there :)

    I'm so excited that you have maybe found THE OPENING for TBT!!! :) That's awesome! I am looking forward to reading the finished version someday!

    Can't wait to meet you at RM!!!

    1. It was! Having a month full of stories is the best. :)

      I very much hope that's the case! Thank you so much! Hopefully that day isn't overly long in coming. ;)

      ME TOO!!! <333

  11. Coco looked to weird to my family, so we didn't watch it XD

    Yayy! Enoch's Ghost! (One of my favesss XDD) Does it have the line where Abraham says something about the punishments for lying then Walter replied "You stone liars where you come from? In my world we elect them to public office." ? Or is that Last of the Nephelim (cant spell it, who can?)

    1. That's what I thought at first too. XD

      I don't remember which of those two books the quote comes from! Which is funny, because I'm in the middle of Last of the Nephilim right now. I *think* it would be LotN, because that's when Walter first goes to Second Eden. Such a funny line!

  12. I shall sip basil lemonade in your honor. If you haven’t had it you’re missing out. That dam looks like the walls from the maze runner!!! Greatest Showman for the win! So much yes! I’m so obsessed with that movie. Yes for Harry Potter and Captain America and ATLA too!!! So many good movie and show picks!

    1. I've never had basil lemonade! Sounds good, though! ;) That's what I thought!!! The maze! LOL, I'm obsessed now too. I've joined the masses... Thanks for the comment, Tori! ^_^