Top Five Favorite Holiday Films // Twelve Days of Christmas Countdown

This is one of those moments where I’m not sure if I’m entirely sane — let’s go with not.

Despite being up to my ears in other Christmas-related stuff (this month is turning out to be one of the busiest in the history of ever, no exaggeration) I’ve decided that I’m going to do something special here on Curious Wren for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Now, technically they start on December 25th and end on January 5th, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I’m planning to post something short and festive every day leading up to Christmas Day.

It’ll be a jolly way to build the anticipation for myself (hopefully, you too) and even though I’m 99% sure I’m biting off more than I can chew — I’m going to give it a whirl anyways. Because why not?

LET’S DO THIS, FELLOW HOLIDAYING HUMANS.

Today I’m sharing with you five of my favorite Christmas movies.

Grab a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket and let’s talk film!

1. It’s a Wonderful Life.

This is probably one of the best-known Christmas movies ever, and with good reason. It used to scare me a bit when I was little, but as I grew up I began to realize the beauty of the story and I fell head-over-heels for it. Humor, poignant moments, festive cheer, thought-provoking themes, good acting…. it has it all.

2. A Christmas Carol.

Nobody in my family considers our holiday season complete unless we’ve watched this version of A Christmas Carol. It’s our traditional viewing on whatever evening we attack a pine tree and make it all pretty and shiny. The first time I saw it I was in awe of the amazing animation — still am — and I love how true it is to the book, not to mention it has some deliciously chilling scenes and some comical ones too. Plus, the entire soundtrack is Christmas music so that’s lovely. ^_^

3. The Nativity Story.

I still remember my surprise the first time viewing The Nativity Story — it tells the story of Christ’s birth so well and with such wonder and love. I especially like that it opens up insights into Mary and Joseph’s life that I’d never thought about before. I’d never paused to think what it was like for Mary being an unwed, pregnant young woman and how people would have treated her, even though she was entirely innocent. And it’s fascinating watching Mary and Joseph’s relationship develop. When we re-watched the movie last night I couldn’t resist turning to my older sister during one of the couple’s particularly sweet scenes and whispering, “I ship it.” XD

Oh, and anyone else absolutely love the three Wise Men? “If I am right, and I usually am… ”


4. Rise of the Guardians.

I admit I was dubious about this one, but since it was a gift from my sister-in-law we tried it out and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it funny, it’s thoroughly heart-warming and Jack Frost is one of my favorite movie characters ever. Commonly we don’t watch films that feature Santa, but I loved the twist in RoTG that each guardian was human before they became immortal. It’s a festive Avenger-esque story for children and, goodness, the character dynamics are so much fun! Also, I will never not cry in Jack’s first scene talking face-to-face with a child who can see him. and, yes, I ship Jack and Elsa. not even sorry. 


5. Arthur Christmas.

Oh, this movie. *happy sigh* It stars James McAvoy who does a brilliant job as Arthur. The Christmas family has been “Santa Claus” for generations with each firstborn son taking on the role when their father relinquishes it. My sister-in-law introduced it to us last Christmas and within the first two minutes of the movie my sisters and I were all, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN OUR ENTIRE LIVES?” I’m sure the film has flaws and plot-holes, but it is just so good. The storyline, the dialogue, the emotions, the humor, the accents… I love it all. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, check it out, alrighty?

Honorable mentions: Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol. Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. Borrowed Hearts.

What are your favorite festive films, lovelies? And am I unhinged to attempt a Curious Wren Christmas Countdown? 

Beautiful Books — Blood Thread // sneak peek into Annie’s editing process

Okay, I’m cheating (a lot) this round of Beautiful Books. Instead of using a completed novel for the questions, I’m answering them with Blood Thread — it’s close to completion, just not quite there. book, I am begging you to hurry and be finished. i need to know what happens.

And I haven’t even started editing it yet. Eeep!

Beautiful Books (part three) — Blood Thread

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On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

As before mentioned, it isn’t quite finished, but right now I’d rate it at an 8 or thereabouts. I’m absolutely loving how the story and characters have turned out. [insert happy flailing]

Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

Oh, help. I haven’t the faintest idea. O.o

The only books I can think of are Golden Daughter (cat who’s actually a faerie and “watches” over a young girl), Rooftoppers (children who spend heaps of time on top of roofs), and Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times (whimsical, magical steampunk).

Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

prefer to write-as-I’m-inspired, but I tend to procrastinate too much, so I set deadlines and goals for myself as much as possible so I actually get stuff done.

I just need a snarky AI to follow me around and remind me to WRITE. THE. WORDS. And to edit my books. And make me food when I forget to eat. And track down literary agents… this should be a thing, folks!

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How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

I take care of the big stuff first: plot holes, out-of-character interactions, shaky dialogue, choppy pacing, research, left-out descrip. etc. When I’ve tidied it up and the idea of other people reading it doesn’t make me cringe, I send it to my beta-readers. This makes for a happy interlude where I try to forget the story exists. Said Story comes back sadly mangled whereupon I weep, vent, then take a deep breath and go at it again.

Music (both lyrical and instrumental) is my lifesaver when editing. Unlike when I write, I edit at any time of the day — sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, and sometimes not. I actually prefer to be around other humans while editing so I can rant and gripe and brainstorm Not By Myself.

What aspect of your story needs the most work?

Right now it’s the description. The steampunk aspect of it is still shaky in my mind. And there are some plot holes that I’m pretending do not exist.

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What aspect of your story did you love the most?

The characters. They make or break a story for me and I love each and every one of them so much. Confused, stand-offish Tarquin, sweet Prism, impish Imo, the Boys, manipulative Persephone, the gruff granny…

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Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?

Tarquin is by far the most messed-up main character I’ve actually written (as opposed to Plot Bunny charries). His good points are few, but they do exist and he is really such a lovable, transparent darling. He has a High Impression of himself and he tends to be condescending and sometimes cruel in how he treats people. But despite that he is actually very vulnerable and much of his disdainful, standoffish attitude is a mask for his true feelings.

Seeing his character grew and change over the book has been one of the best parts of writing it. I don’t foresee I’ll have to do much adjustment with his character over edits — other than making him more catlike, perhaps?

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

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Share a favourite snippet!

Sneaking four moist, custard-filled teacakes into a crinkly paper bag was childishly simple. Sneaking out of the shoppe with said bag promised to be much less so.
Tarquin hid under a bread rack with the corner of the bag clutched firmly between his teeth and watched the door. A women with a voluminous, grey skirt that blocked his view stepped in front of the rack. Tarquin eyed her pointy, muddy shoes, and resisted the urge to claw her ankles.

— Blood Thread

What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

I’m saving this for a separate post. Mwahaha. Patience, lovelies.

Until then have some piping-hot scones, enjoy the festive spirit abounding… and don’t forget to enter the SEA Scribblers short story contest! Time’s running out. 

 So tell me! What are your thoughts on editing? And are you the teensiest bit curious about Blood Thread? Can you divulge YOUR writerly/bookworm plans for 2016? 

Ten Authors I first Encountered in 2015 // also, last week to enter the SS contest!

Before we get started I would like to remind you all that the deadline for the SEA Scribblers short story contest is December the 12th. If you haven’t entered yet then what are you waiting for?! Amazing prizes, epic photo prompts, a smallish word-count — what’s not to love? *bribes all the talented Writer Humans with chocolate chips* Oh! And you should totes remind/tell all your friends about it too. Go forth and write!

Actually read the post first. Then go forth and conquer the blank page.

The theme for this Tuesday is Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I read for the First Time in 2015.

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1. Kate DiCamillo.

I was first introduced to the magical writing of DiCamillo by my friend Amanda. She read Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures and squealed over it and begged me to get it out of the library and read it. I devoured that book in a few hours. It was sweet, unexpectedly moving, and had a refreshing, childlike uniqueness about it. Plus, some of the scenes are done in adorable comics and interspersed throughout the book. And seriously, how could you go wrong with a squirrel who types poetry and flies at impromptu moments? Not to mention the children. THE CHILDREN. Ack. I love them so much.

I also did a read-along with Amanda of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It was beautiful.

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2. Suzannah Rowntree.

Right now, I’m reading Pendragon’s Heir and delighting in Rowntree’s writing all over again, but the first book of hers that I read was The Rakshasa’s Bride, which is a novella re-telling of Beauty and the Beast set in ancient India (the book is actually available for free when you sign up for her newsletter.) You all know how much I adore Beauty and the Beast and I fell head-over-heels for the richness and beauty of Suzannah Rowntree’s writing. I like pretty wordage (who doesn’t?) and I especially love how she weaves in the description and character emotions and interactions, and historical detail so effortlessly — the talent, people! O.O Her books are like cake to me, but better because I never feel like I’ve devoured too much. tho if you think about it, who feels like that about actual cake anyways.

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3. Ashlee Willis.

I’ll be honest, I did not expect to love this lady’s writing as much as I do now. I hadn’t heard much about her around the blog-sphere or Goodreads, but I was curious when I learned she was publishing a darker re-telling of Cinderella. It sounded like one of those stories that lingers long in a reader’s mind once you’ve finished it — the kind you mull over several cups of coffee with. And those are my favorite sorts of books.

I read A Wish Made of Glass and it hit so much closer to home than I ever imagined it would. Reading it helped heal a part of me I didn’t even realize was aching, and this book is so precious to me now. Also Willis’ style is immersive and quietly beautiful. I’m always recommending her to people. Speaking of which, READ THE BOOK MY FRIENDS. Annie has spoken.

“Her words are fire and I am only a fluttering moth.”

4. Austin Kleon.

Allow me to tell you a thing. I have a particular bookworm quirk: I do not dog-ear. Ever. To me dog-earing a book is akin to tearing a page out. It is simply not done. This is why bookmarks exist, no?

So it might give you a decent idea how much I like Steal Like An Artist when I tell you that there are so many inspiring gems in it I have actually started to dog-ear the book. And not just once, but multiple times. I can not believe I just admitted that. What’s next? Flattening out book spines? *cringes*

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
Austin Kleon

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5. Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Technically I shouldn’t include Stengl since I read the first book in Tales of Goldstone Wood after Christmas last year, but I read the rest of the eight books this year so I’m mentioning her anyways.

This lady is one of the most talented and incredible authors whose work I’ve ever read. And when I say that I mean it wholeheartedly. I love her books to the point where I actually spent all my Christmas money on the first four and bought the next five as soon as I was able to (and I hardly ever buy books for myself.)

If you love fantasy, if you crave rich world-building and lifelike characters, if stories with depth and beauty and emotion and heart-stirring moments call your name, if you like pretty writing, if you want to be swept up into a magical, vivid world and never be able to escape again…

Read Stengl’s books.

Then come and tell me all about it.

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(I’m using one of the author’s graphics because I’m not keen on the book cover.)

6. Mirriam Neal.

I’ve been following this young woman’s blog for years now and she has been one of the most inspiring writers in my life. So I finally bought Monster in September. Sweet T.A.R.D.I.S of Gallifrey, it was every bit as heart-wrenching and beautiful and deep and unforgettable as I expected it to be. Mir broke my heart and I don’t think I’ll ever recover. pretty sure I have no wish to.

Neal is an author to watch out for, humans.

And she just recently landed a publishing contract for her fantasy Paper Crowns so excuse me WHILE I FLAIL AND TOSS GLITTER AND PAPER STARS EVERYWHERE.

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7. Gaston Leroux.

I thought this book would be beautiful and dramatic and mysterious and sad and riveting.

It was.

Go you, Leroux.

*cries over Eric forever*

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8. G.K. Chesterton.

Other than Sherlock Holmes and certain Agatha Christie books, my favorite mysteries are now the Father Brown books. Not every mystery is a murder, they generally have some very simple yet eerie twist, not every mystery is solved, and the villain doesn’t always get caught — it’s like Chesterton read my wishlist. And Father Brown is so adorable. I want to pat him on the head and give him peppermints.

I started The Man Who Knew Too Much and by the end of the book I had (metaphorically) flung it across the room and (literally) cried. In the best way possible, it messed with my brain and emotions and it is a genuine favorite.

Chesterton is very wise with an eccentric way of expressing his thoughts. He also nearly always hits the nail on the head. Also, more pretty writing, y’all.

“The thousand arms of the forest were grey, and its million fingers silver.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
― G.K. Chesterton

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9. Rosemary Sutcliff.

Her characters captured my heart almost at once, but what I really, really love is how sharply gorgeous her writing is — the sort that makes your breath catch from the wonder of it.

I feel as though there is a theme about pretty wordplay in this post….

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10. P.G. Wodehouse.

Ahhhh, Wodehouse. I love thee well. ^_^

I shall just leave you with my mini reviews for Leave It To Psmith and The Code of the Woosters.

Carry on, lovelies!

Book Cover Reveal — Resist // by Emily Ann Putzke

Because I love World War II novels and sibling relationships and Emily Ann Putzke’s writing and revolutionist stories, naturally I am dying with anticipation for Resist. 

And today is its cover reveal birthday!

But first a synopsis:

Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil.

Available in paperback and ebook on February 22nd, 2016.

Pre-order the book on Amazon.
Add it on Goodreads.

And now for the book cover! Drumroll, please.

 
*does a happy dance over the delicious vintage look*

Mark your calendars, bookworms! I have been in love with this story ever since Emily started sharing sneak peeks on-line. Because I adore WWII novels, and brother/sister relationships are my favorite; I’m 99% sure people will die, and it will be heartbreaking and inspiring and I have a feeling (you know how sometimes you just know) that it will be one of those books that leaves an indelible impression on my soul.

And we all know those are the best kind.

 
About The Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books at Taking Dictation and her Facebook page.