Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Taking Stock: December





Savoring: The last few weeks of Christmas break; my new lemon-tea-scented candle.
Waiting: For snow.
Thinking: About fixing myself a cup of hot cocoa.
Reading: Li’l Gotham, volumes 1 & 2 (these stories are hilarious and adorable and BEAUTIFULLY illustrated—I can’t get enough of them); The Magician King (even better than The Magicians); Every Word (perfection).
Worrying: About 2016. Lots of things will be changing for me, and I’m both super excited and super stressed.
Binge-watching: The X-Files on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Writing: Very little this month. I’m not sure if it’s writer’s block or good old-fashioned laziness, but lately putting words on paper has felt like filtering Jell-O through a sieve (or some other equally bad metaphor).
Deciding: To make some New Year’s resolutions this time around. They might not stick, but it’s worth a shot.
Eating: Christmas leftovers.
Wishing: You all a happy New Year and a (belated) merry Christmas! Blogging has been such a wonderful experience, and I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to read my posts. You guys are beyond lovely. 

All pictures via Pinterest.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Unofficial Best Book Award

   Thanks to Olivia from the cwtch for tagging me!


Steal the tag.
Fill in the tag.
Tag people to steal the tag.
Be happy and have fun!

Best Male Character
   Today I’m rounding up three of my favorites: Ged from the Earthsea Cycle, Commander Vimes from the Discworld series, and Dr. Pellinore Warthrop from The Monstrumlogist. Ged is kind and wise, Commander Vimes is funny and wise, and Dr. Warthrop is also kind and wise (in his own eccentric, Sherlock-esque way).

Best Female Character
   This is even harder. I love Sissy from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Rachel Watts from Every Breath, Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest, Wendy from Peter Pan…At the moment, though, I guess my favorite might be Harley Quinn from the Batman comics. She somehow manages to be (almost) completely unhinged, yet still a joy to be around (assuming she’s not trying to kill you).

Best Protagonist (good guy/main character)
   Gen from The Queen’s Thief series. One of the things I find really interesting is that he’s always the main character, but not necessarily the viewpoint character, of every book he’s in. The guy doesn’t even have to be telling the story for it to end up revolving around him. If that’s not charisma, I don’t know what is.

Best Antagonist (bad guy/opposing party to main character)
   Long Lankin from Long Lankin. I can’t remember him without shivering.

Best Plot Development or Twist
   A Pack of Lies has a pretty fantastic twist at the end.

Book You Threw Across the Room the Hardest (in either a bad or good way)
   That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton. It’s a good book, but majorly depressing.

Best Romance
   I actually prefer friendship- and family-centered books to romance, but the three romantic subplots in Entwined are all wonderful. (And funny. I don’t think they’re nearly enough funny romances.)

Best Action:
   The Sisters Grimm books are packed with the wackiest action imaginable.

Best Other Book
   In the Heart of the Sea in a genre I don’t usually read (nonfiction), but I loved it.

Best Book That Made You Change the Way You Think
   The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I hadn’t thought much about poverty and class issues before reading it.

Best Inspiring Book
   Big Magic inspires me to create more.

Best Book That Made You Learn Something New
   Wallace: The Biography. Braveheart is a wonderful movie, but it'll never win four stars in the historical accuracy department.

Best Sad Book
   I cried every day while I was reading Betwixt and Between.

Best Funny Book
   I’ve been reading a lot of Batman comics recently, and Li’l Gotham is both adorable and funny.

+ Whoever wants to join in

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bookish Collages: The Tales of Beatrix Potter

   Since I apparently have nothing better to do, I spent the better part of this week making book-themed collages. These three are Beatrix Potter-themed, mostly because Christmas is coming and nothing puts me in a Christmassy mood like The Tailor of Gloucester.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were—
and Peter.

The Tale of Mr. Tod
I have made many books about well-behaved people. Now, for a change, I am going to make a story about two disagreeable people, called Tommy Brock and Mr. Tod.

The Tailor of Gloucester
But it is in the old story that all the beasts can talk, in the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the morning (though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say). 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Taking Stock: November

Hello November:

Tea & Toast:

Looking forward to: Christmas!
Eating: Thanksgiving leftovers. There’s no such thing as too much mashed potatoes.
Watching: Jessica Jones.
Reading: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Brooklyn, Winter’s Bone, After the Golden Age, Jim Henson: The Biography.
Listening: To the Sussex Carol.
Burning: Honeysuckle-scented candles. I love having one close to my desk when I’m writing.
Waiting: For snow.
Craving: A cup of tea and a window seat to sip it on.
Wishing: I had more time (and more motivation) to do the things I want to do.
Seeing: Mockingjay Part 2 at the theater. 
Finishing: “A Forest of Bones”, my short story retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. You can read it here

All pictures via Pinterest.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

WIP Tag: A Forest of Bones

    Hey guys! I swiped this tag from Joni and modified it to fit one of my current WIPs, a short story retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I’ve been thinking of posting it on Figment once it’s done, but for now I thought it would be cool to share a few bits of the process.

How many words are you up to so far? How long is your story going to be?
The first draft is 3,024 words long. It’ll probably get a little longer once I flesh things out in the second draft.

What (if any) are some images you’re drawing inspiration from for your story?
I love the whole rococo/baroque type look, plus traditional fairy tale illustrations:
   Rococo  Versailles Door Paris Photograph by EyePoetryPhotography, etsy:   Baroque http://baroque-ladies.tumblr.com/:
            :  Kay Nielsen - from Twelve Dancing Princesses:

Not usually for short stories.

Do you have any other writing rituals/inspirations for this project?
Well, I wrote all but the first paragraph and the last two pages of the first draft in one day. I wrote the first paragraph at something like 12:30 the night before.
I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time—almost a year, I think. Very early on I knew the title and the last sentence, but it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that the plot finally started to come together. So you could say that the idea of finally being able to day, “I did it!” was a big motivator for me.

Pantsing or planning? 

Share one prop from your draft:
A turnip-headed doll.

One character name:

And lastly, share one sentence from your rough draft:

When he asks where they've been going, Noble says, “Under the floor.”

All pictures via Pinterest

Monday, November 16, 2015

Inspirations: Cartoons

I love books. I really do. But I’d be lying if I said that they’re the only things that inspire my stories. I’ve always been really visual, and in some ways I think movies and TV have inspired my own personal projects MORE than books—at least in terms of the feel and aesthetic. Plus, there’s a certain wackiness to some cartoons that doesn’t often show up in books, but is always fantastic when it does.

Let’s start with the wackiest of the bunch: Catscratch is a Nicktoon about three brothers, who happen to be cats, who live in a mansion with their butler, Hovis. When their owner, the insanely rich Ms. Cramdilly, died, she willed her entire estate to them. Surprisingly (not) this show only lasted for one season.
I only saw two episodes of Catscratch when I was younger: The Ghost of Cramdilly and Zombie Party A-Go-Go! But, for some reason, those two episodes influenced me in a big way, and I’ve always remembered them. Crazy plot? Check? Crazier characters? Check. An uptight deadpan snarker (Hovis) and the lovable wackos who torment him? Check!

Hercules: The Animated Series
I love the movie, but the cartoon show is pure gold. It’s basically Percy Jackson before Percy Jackson, with Hercules attending Prometheus Academy and trying to avoid Hades along the way (he doesn’t succeed, obviously). It’s also very funny and insanely clever, but the thing I love most, next to the humor, is the setting. It’s a very modern sort of “Ancient” Greece, where they take their driving tests in chariots and get summer jobs at Gyro World. Watching in it, I can’t help but think about ideas for my own eventual mythic retelling.

Treasure Planet
Anybody who thinks that cartoons are nothing but time-wasting fluff should watch Treasure Planet. Actually, everyone should watch Treasure Planet. The idea of a scifi retelling of Treasure Island isn’t especially original in itself (believe it or not), but it’s SO wonderfully executed that I still choke up watching it. Or even thinking about it.
All right, I’m a sap, but Treasure Planet taught me that a story can be set in a world that's weird and unfamiliar, but still have a very deep and truthful emotional core. And that’s one of the most important things to remember when you’re writing fantasy.

Batman: The Animated Series
I’m just starting to get into this one, and it’s already influencing me. It’s a kid’s show, but the atmosphere is grim and brooding, and the plots are usually pretty dark. But it doesn’t skimp on quirkiness, and every character is a joy to watch.
My favorite part of this show is probably Harley Quinn. She might be insane and have terrible taste when it comes to men, but she’s also sweet, funny, and surprisingly warm and loving. And yes, she does try to kill Batman. But you never get the sense that she hates him the way the Joker does—sometimes they even act like friends. And Harley always has fun. More than anything, I think that she’s showing me that even villains can be lovable.

That’s all for now, folks! What are some of your favorite cartoons?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Away From My Desk

   I’ll admit it: even though I’m not officially doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve been using it as an excuse to take a break from blogging, and I’m not ashamed. Not even a little bit. But I thought that, since there’s such a huge focus on writing this month, now might be the right time to take a break and post about some of the non-writing-related things I’ve been doing.

   I’m a slow knitter. And by that, I mean I’m a lazy knitter: I started a scarf back in October (or maybe in September) and it’s not even half-done yet. I love doing something that’s craftier and more outside my head, though, and it’s been wonderful to have a hobby that’s not related to writing in some way. What’s even more wonderful is watching season 11 of Supernatural while knitting a Harry Potter-themed scarf. (Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, so obviously my scarf is red and gold.)

Becoming Art  yarns Theia Fingering. A hand-dyed yarn made of superwash merino, cashmere and silk. yum.:
Watching sitcoms:
   One of my greatest ambitions in life is to write a book that’s as much like a sitcom as possible. For now, I just binge watch my favorites. At the moment they’re Malcolm in the Middle and Grounded for Life. I also adore Parks and Rec.

Discovering new artists:
   On Pinterest and Tumblr, as usual. I’ll have to cook up some new Artist Spotlight posts soon; there’s almost too much great work to share. Behold:
Watched the spiders on the wall by Alice B. Preston “Seven Peas in the Pod” by Margery Bailey. Illustrated by Alice Bolam Preston. Little, Brown, and Co, 1919. gpoy in my house (my god, there are so many spiders here!):
Alice B. Preston

John Austen

Discovering a new kind of lemonade:
    Rose lemonade! The brand I tried wasn’t very sweet at all, but still fizzy and delicious. Pair that with a strawberries n’ cream cupcake and I was set for the rest of the afternoon.


Browsing bookstores:
   I have a confession to make—I’m one of those horrible people who will choose Amazon over my local independent bookstore almost every time. Mostly because I love being able to track down just about any book with a search engine.
   But I also love browsing, and since there’s a bookstore near the college where my younger sister takes a physics class, we decided to check it out. We ended up staying there at least an hour, and I even bought two books—How to Be a Heroine for me, and Jellicoe Road as an early Christmas present for her. The store also had shelves full of gorgeous moleskin notebooks and enough secondhand books to take up the whole upper floor. I’ll definitely be going back—probably to do Christmas shopping.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Taking Stock: October



 Reminds me of Ontario:

The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl, Book 7) by Eoin Colfer,http://www.amazon.com/dp/1423128192/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_cYTztb0MTAJ3GB99


Reading: Lots of comics: Batman: The Long Halloween (good), Batman: Hush (great), All Star Batman and Robin (so bad it’s good); plus Phoebe and Her Unicorn; Jane, the Fox, and Me; and The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, which I wanted to like so badly but just couldn’t get into.
Watching: Season 1 of Gotham, season 11 of Supernatural, some of The X-Files.
Drinking: Sparkling apple cider (it’s delicious).
Also Reading: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex.
Listening: To Nero by Thomas Bergersen.
Journaling: Here and there. One of my goals for next month is to write at least two entries a week.
Planning: Projects for NaNoWriMo. I probably won’t actually be writing a novel in a month, but I’d like to use it as a jumping-off point for being more productive.
Eating: Salt and vinegar potato chips.
Knitting: A red and yellow Gryffindor scarf.
Looking forward to: Halloween! I don’t trick-or-treat anymore, but I love the pumpkins and the costumes and especially the candy.
Publishing: "Morte Mare", a ghost story I wrote a while back. It's quite a bit darker than my usual stuff, but I hope you'll like it! You can read it here.

All pictures via Pinterest 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pen & Paper

you can almost always feel more wonderful when writing if you use a quill pen and ink well:

    A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I do all of my story writing on my laptop. I typed faster than I wrote; it was easier to change things in Word, which helped me loosen up and get into the flow; it was just more convenient…blah, blah, blah. All that is still mostly true. Typing is faster and definitely more environmentally friendly when you have handwriting like a gigantic chicken’s (4 handwritten pages = about 2 typed pages for me). Instead of ripping out entire pages and starting over, you hit the backspace key. In short: I thought I was done with handwritten first drafts.

   I’m not. Here’s what changed my mind.

   A couple weeks ago I started a new project. It was going to be about girl power and superheroes and steampunk, and I was incredibly excited to start writing it. So, I began typing it into Google Docs…and tanked after just one chapter.

   About a week later I started another project that I was also incredibly excited about (my ideas tend to come in batches). This one was about girl power and zombies. I began typing it into Google docs and—same story—burned out near the middle of the second chapter.

   A week after that I was working on developing another idea I had; one I’d had for ages and really, really wanted to do right. And I began to think of all the false starts I’ve had over the past couple of years, and how they all turned out basically the same—after only a few pages I lost confidence in the idea and just couldn’t think of any way to improve it.

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.When Mr. Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech ...:

   Around the same time I was also rereading Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (if you haven’t already read this book, you need to) and I got to chapter four. Chapter four is all about using your hands, and in it Austin Kleon recommends doing your first drafts on paper— “The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us”.

   I don’t think that my uptight perfectionist really needs any help being brought out, but after reading that chapter I remembered how much fun I used to have handwriting my first drafts. Sure, they were all crap, but everything I wrote back then was crap and at least I had fun. So I decided that for my newest project, I’d try to go back to using a pen and a legal pad, and see what happened.

   I’m not far in enough yet to tell if it will stick—and if I won’t end up abandoning this one, too—but I am having a TON more fun scribbling on wide-ruled paper than I ever did typing into Google Docs, at least recently. My writing is flowing, not dribbling out in bits and pieces like it usually does on the computer. And at the end of a session, when I sit back and look at the hunk of paper sitting on my desk, I feel like I’ve actually created something.

   I’m not saying that all my first drafts will be handwritten from now on (but who knows?) or that the computer is some kind of demon instrument. It’s just that different writers find different methods that work for them, and I’m still very much in the process of finding one that works for me. Something about seeing my terrible handwriting on paper makes it easier for me to accept the imperfections in the first draft, and once I can do that, actually finishing it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. And that’s a wonderful feeling.

Make a pencil set to give as a gift. Cut paper that is 1" by the length of the pencil. Modgepodge the underside of the paper and wrap. Once it is dry, sharpen.:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkins & Candy Apples: The Sweater Weather Tag

   Autumn is my favorite season and October is my favorite month, so I couldn’t be happier that Kelsey nominated me for the Sweater Weather Tag. Thanks a lot! (And before you read any further, go check out her blog; she’s a lovely person and a talented artist to boot.)

Favorite candle scent:
Green tea nectarine. Also, anything to do with food (pumpkin pie, hazelnut) or flowers (primrose).

Coffee, Tea, or Hot Chocolate?
Depends on my mood. If I want to feel cozy and/or artistic, I’ll go for tea. If I’m barely awake or need something icy and covered in whipped cream, it’s coffee (Frappuccinos are the best). When it’s snowing, my first choice is always hot chocolate.

What’s the best fall memory you have?
One Halloween, my sisters and I decided to make caramel apples together. It was almost a disaster--the white chocolate refused to melt right and ended up mostly on the floor, and the caramel began to melt off the apples—but everything tasted delicious in the end, which was all we were really hoping for.

Best fragrance for fall:
Whatever’s handy; I’m not picky about perfumes. The best fall smell is burning wood and leaves.


Favorite Thanksgiving food:
Stuffing covered in gravy. Mashed potatoes covered in gravy. Gravy covered in more gravy.

What is autumn weather like where you live?
Anything from very mild to extremely cold, depending on the day. We don’t usually get snow before November, though, and the changing leaves are always gorgeous.


Most worn sweater:
A big blue one with sleeves that I can never keep rolled up.

Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
Jumping in leaf piles.

What makes Fall so much FUN = Jumping into a BIG pile of leaves...:

Skinny jeans or leggings?
Skinny jeans, believe it or not. I think they’re pretty comfortable.

Combat boots or Uggs?
Combat boots. Any kind of boots, really.


Is Pumpkin Spice worth the hype?
I’m not too crazy about pumpkin spice, to be honest. I do love pumpkin pie and pumpkin rolls.

Favorite fall TV show:
Supernatural is perfect any time of the year, but it’s super fun to watch during fall, especially the older, scarier episodes. Any Halloween-themed episode from any Disney Channel TV show.

What song really gets you into the fall spirit?
Anything from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.

What do you want to be for Halloween?
I don’t dress up much anymore, but if I could get all my friends together I’d make sure we all dressed up as either hunters from Supernatural (which is easy—all you really need is a lot of plaid) or characters from Treasure Planet.

can i borrow a shirt?:

Hats or scarves?
Scarves! My hair’s too thick for hats to fit on my head.

What’s your #1 favorite thing about fall?
The chilly, spooky atmosphere. Candy apples. Ghost stories. Pumpkins. I always seem to get a rush of new story ideas in the fall, which is wonderful. My absolute favorite thing, though, would have to be that sweet spot in late September and early October when the weather’s not too hot or too cold. I live for those days.


   If you want to join in, consider yourself tagged! I’ll also nominate Aimee and Jo. Don’t do it if you don’t want to, but I’d love to see your answers!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Mabel Lucie Attwell

In some ways, Mabel Lucie Attwell’s illustrations remind me of Honor C. Appleton’s. Adorable children? Check. Pastel colors? Check. Dripping with nostalgia? Check. Absolutely whimsical and gorgeous? Check!

The Facts:
Born: June 4th, 1879.
Studied: At Heatherley School of Fine Art and Saint Martin’s School of Art, though she left both schools before she completing her courses.
Illustrated: Magazines, postcards, books like Mother Goose and Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, calendars, and even crockery (she created a tea set inspired by her illustrations).
Known for: Cute and whimsical drawings of children and fairies. She was a household name in the 1920s.
Died: November 5th, 1964.

For this post, I want to focus on her illustrations of Peter Pan, which she created for an abridged version of the story published in 1921. There’s a childlike quality to her pictures that works just beautifully. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Taking Stock: September

Looking forward: To October. Autumn is my favorite season, and I can't wait until the leaves start to turn and there's a real chill in the air.
Eating: Popcorn. Extra-extra butter is the only way to go.
Publishing: Another ghost story! Morte Mare will appear in Inkblots & Typing Spots on October 30th. A ghost story published the day before Halloween--how cool is that? I can't wait for you guys to read it!
Reading: Jesse James: The Last Rebel of the Civil War
Hoping: For a productive week. (Haha.)
Watching: (Or Watched, rather) The lunar eclipse on the 27th. I didn't stay outside for the whole thing, because I'm a wimp who bores easily, but I did get a good look at the blood moon.
Drinking: Cherry coke.
Loving: Gel pens, journals, good books, and visits from friends.
Still wishing: For hot cocoa.
Realizing: That the one-year anniversary of this blog is coming up! I started posting here all the way back in November, and I honestly can't believe I made it this far.
All pictures via Tumblr and Pinterest.