Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Writing

     Though my reading life hasn’t suffered as much during the school year as I thought it would, my writing life certainly has. (I think it’s because I’m already doing so much writing for class that when I come home I just want to do something that doesn’t involve thinking. So I basically just watch TV or find a fluffy novel.)

     BUT…I did accomplish some things!

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     Most majorly, I wrote and published With Blossoms Gold. I had written the first 3 ½ chapters about four five years ago, but other than that I pretty much started from scratch with it this year. (And I ended up extensively revising those chapters—I think only two scenes really got salvaged and used in the final copy.) At any rate, I’m planning to publish this one as a stand-alone in paperback form this spring. And of course, you can buy it right now as part of the Once e-book box set here.

     I didn’t finish January Snow, but I’m hoping to get to it this spring. I have been having a lot of trouble with that one and some frustrating character issues, plus I’ve also been getting a bit discouraged with it because my take on the Snow White story might not be quite as original as I thought it was when I began (sometimes browsing on Goodreads can be a curse. Sigh.) However, I think I’m starting to get a hold of just who these characters are, and that’s helping a lot.  

     Most recently, I just started a Little Mermaid retelling that I’m excited about. I’m already about 1/3 of the way through with the first draft. If I thought With Blossoms Gold stretched me out of my comfort zone, then this one is taking that to the next level.  Even though this one is booking along a lot faster than January Snow ever has, I still want to finish and publish that first, which means it may be a while before I tell you guys more about this one. BUT I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.

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     I’ve also been working on a couple more short stories/novelettes, and wrote one or two poems that will never see the light of day.

     So I finished one thing, let two major projects languish in a closet, started one new major thing and wrote a few scribbles on the side. Not my most productive year, but I certainly wasn’t a total failure.

Fellow writers, was this year a productive one for you?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 in Books

     At the beginning of the year, I vowed to read less. I can’t say I’m a reading glutton, as I’m not constantly with my face in a book. But I also tend to read far too much, simply because I’m a fast reader. In 2015 I read 180 books, so I decided to read less in 2016, and attempt to make at least 50% of my reading centered on the classics.

     Well….I read about 137 books. So I did read less, but even counting the cookbooks, coloring books, and novellas that contribute to that number, it was FAR more than I thought I read this year in my attempt to choose quality over quantity.  Also, though I did read many classic books (including finishing my goal of re-reading the entire Sherlock Holmes canon) my list didn’t quite make the cut of making 50%. Also, I did re-read my Bible. It’s been a couple years since I tried doing the whole thing in a year, and this time I actually finished a month early! I think in 2017 I’ll try reading it backward, Revelation to Genesis.

Some reading highlights of 2016 include:

  • C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy—I FINALLY read these after borrowing them from a friend. At times obscure and at other times with no trace of subtlety whatsoever, if you want a book to chew and think on in addition to enjoying, this series is just the ticket.

  • Diving into some early classics I’d been avoiding—A.K.A Greek drama which I’m currently in the middle of and have found depressing but much more enjoyable and understandable than I was expecting. (In other words, nothing to dread). I also made my way through Augustine’s Confessions, Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Sometimes a girl has to widen her horizons beyond the Victorian era, however much she balks.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events— I got halfway through these last year during my first semester at college and finished them the next semester. I do have some mixed feelings about them, but overall they are some of the most thought-provoking “kids’ books” that I’ve ever come across. I may get Netflix for the sole purpose of watching their adaptation on there. (Who am I kidding? Unless one of my friends is totally willing to let me come over and binge watch the whole series, I’m definitely getting it)

  • Good YA fiction—I actually found some YA that I truly liked! The odd but strangely endearing My Lady Jane for one, and the Jackaby series for another.

  • Five Magic Spindles—Rooglewood’s collections keep getting better and better! This one was truly worth picking up, and there wasn’t a single story in it that I didn’t like. I’m really looking forward to their next collection, whichever fairy tale it might be.

  • Discovering Kindle freebies—Because I’m not much of a e-reader, I hadn’t really explored these options. But I do like reading shorter works and taking advantage of kindle’s free promotions, I discovered some new indie authors, especially those who write fairy tale retellings…which I obviously have a weakness for.

  • The Sherlock Holmes stories—as I mentioned, I reread these this year. I know I like these books, but for some reason I always forget just how much I really do love them. And how funny they can be.
     Some of my other personal favorites of the year were A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dracula by Bram Stoker, A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Pendragon’s Heir by Suzannah Rowntree, and (with some disclaimers) A Passage to Shambhala by Jon Baird.

     My reading goals for 2017 do go a bit along the same lines as those in 2016: read less, don’t waste my time with mediocre books, read more classics, read more non-fiction. For Christmas I got a collection of classic adventure stories, which will probably contribute to a large portion of my literature menu for this year. I’m also planning on finishing the complete plays of Sophocles and reading Homer’s Odyssey. I’m incredibly excited about taking a British novels class this coming semester and while I’ve read most of the assigned books already (it focuses mainly on Victorian literature, which you all know is a major interest of mine!) I’ll be rereading several books I haven’t picked up in years (including my much-adored Emma and a chance to try out my now-much-better-French-skills on Charlotte Brontë’s Villette). Hopefully, if I can get my hands on them, I’d like to try more books by Rafael Sabatini and buy some novels from my favorite indie authors.

     I’ll have another post up before the new year on what I accomplished with my writing this year (and believe me, it’s a much shorter list!).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In Which I Emerge From My Den And Join the Living (Maybe)

     Note to self: if you take an extra class one semester thinking it's not going to be a big deal or a lot of extra work WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU ARE WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

     Okay, actually, it really wasn't that bad. But it definitely cut out blogging for me, as well as a few other various and sundry fun activities (like pleasure reading) for a while. Also I was trying to publish a book at the same no time for socialization. Well, not time for much socialization.

     So I know that aside from my Once posts, I haven't been doing much in the blogging world. That's totally okay: blogging isn't life and it's something I do for fun, not something that I'm obligated to do. While I'm in college it's taken a backseat, and I'm fine with that. But I do feel a bit guilty about not keeping up with all of you lovely people. I'd like to say that I'm back, at least until January, but the fact is I have no idea. I might end up posting a lot. And I might end up just baking cookies, gorging myself on candy, and trying not to electrocute myself with Christmas lights. I JUST DON'T KNOW.

     But the fact is, I survived Fall 2016. I'M DONE FOR THE SEMESTER! Time for Christmas break!
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Friday, December 2, 2016

ONCE Release + Excerpt!

It's here, my friends! Once is here!

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

     It's been several months of hard work getting to this point, but Once is finally ready to be sent out into the world. Publishing a new work is one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking!) times for a writer, and I'm both exuberant and a little nervous. :) However, I'm glad to be in this together with some truly wonderful ladies that I've gotten to know oh-so-much better through this project. And now, to get you excited, we're all sharing excerpts from our stories!

Here's a passage from With Blossoms Gold, my Rapunzel retelling:

     I wasn’t that Benedict disliked the idea of marriage, exactly. But it had always seemed to him a pleasant but far-off dream for when his days of thrill-seeking and adventure were over. And as every betrothal he’d ever entered into had ended due to circumstances beyond his control, he’d grown used to bachelorhood. But now, after Cécile, his failed romances seemed more like the result of a curse than mere misfortune. At least his other fiancées hadn’t tried to kill him. At best, he wanted to wait. Forty seemed a good age for marriage. He had told his brother that once, and Orlando had nearly given him a black eye.
     “I’m not waiting another twenty years to marry Silvie,” he had said, furious. “So don’t you dare!” 
     Benedict had thought his brother’s reaction was slightly exaggerated; he’d be forty in only thirteen years, not twenty.
     This afternoon, though, Orlando seemed more resigned than angry. He gave a deep sigh.
“Never-mind. Silvana’s already planning to play matchmaker. She has a widowed duchess from the south picked out for you at the moment.”
     “I’m glad to know Silvana has my future planned,” Benedict said, fearing he was sincere in his sentiments. Putting his future in Silvana’s hands might not be a bad thing. She was a sensible one.   “However,” he went on, “for the time being, I have other plans. I heard rumors of a werewolf prowling around the woods of Griffin’s Peak—”
    “Heaven help us all! You’re so anxious for adventure you’re giving credence to the superstitions of fishwives, now. I suppose next you’ll be gallivanting off in search of the beautiful maiden held captive in a tower.”
     “A maiden in a tower?” Benedict asked, interested. He leaned forward. “I haven’t heard that one yet. It sounds promising.”
     “That one’s been around for years, Ben. Some peasants from Ivly swear that an old witch stole a beautiful young girl with golden hair and locked her in a tower.” He laughed and shook his head.
     But Benedict was serious. He leaned back in his chair. “I might look into that one.”
     “Yes. Amusing.”
     “No, in truth.” Benedict sprang up from his chair and grabbed his cloak. “Ivly, you said? I think I’ll go. Much more interesting than a German werewolf. And much closer.”
     “Ben, you cannot be serious! It’s absurd!” He rolled his eyes. “Never-mind. I told you that about the “vampire” of Venice, and you went there anyway.”
     “What you fail to realize, Orlando, is that no matter how seemingly ridiculous a tale is, there is almost always a grain of truth in it. There was no vampire, but there was a sadistic—bloodthirsty, if you will— murderer on the loose. And if I hadn’t brought the man to justice, he might be out there still.” He shrugged into his cloak. “Now, do you care to come?” He said it lightly, but he felt a pounding in his chest, the same urge that always prodded him when the right quest had fallen into his lap. It would take him only moments to prepare, and Ivly was but a day’s ride from the palace.
     “No thank you. But Ben—” Orlando’s voice stopped his brother at the door. “If there really is a maiden, do us all a favor and marry the girl!”
     Ben laughed. “You know how tales get distorted. I’m willing to bet the maiden locked in that tower is bald, losing her teeth, and all of sixty-five. With a wart on her nose for good measure!”
     Orlando’s reluctant laughter followed him down the hall.

Read the rest of With Blossoms Gold in ONCE.

     You can check out excerpts from the other stories on each respective authors' blogs by clicking on the links below. Have fun! :D

and remember to find Once here on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads list! 
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