Monthly Recap — May // in which I roadtripped and read a deliciously high (deliciously good) tower of books

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Wrenlings!

let us pretend this recap is not scandalously late, m’kay?

A lot happened last month — which was glorious. I basically turned into a wandering Wren (which was also glorious), and I read stacks and stacks of splendid books, and made new friends and had good times. It was a curious jumble of busy-but-still-restful-and-fun. Love it when that happens.

Curious Wren bloggy Things

— I introduced you all to two characters who are polar opposites from my sci-fi/steampunk series Mingled (said series is currently On Hold). These darling charries give me warm fuzzies.

— of stardust and sea-spray  gave you all a “currently” glimpse of some of life’s happenings as I traveled with the family to our usual holiday spot. I quite love this post.

— I hosted an interview and giveaway with Suzannah Rowntree, the author of Pendragon’s Heir. I’m still head-over-heels with delight for getting to have her here on Curious Wren! Suzannah is just so sweet and talented and I feel honored much. ^_^

— Schuyler guest posts about How To Write Lovable Protagonists. Read it, Writer Humans. So good. 

all things bookish

Ever since I a) started my part-time job in March, and b) started taking writing lessons (more on that later) my TBR stack has been sadly neglected. Hence why nine books read in May feels like a tower to me. Probably the fact that I read 7 of them in a single week also has something to do with it–holidays are wonderful for reading non-stop. Highly recommended, bookworms. *wink*

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(ignore Steal Like An Artist — it’s barging in where it doesn’t belong)

Loved it: JACKABY. It absolutely deserves the all-caps. I want to sleep with this book under my pillow, I love it that much (a book under a pillow, tho? Pain, methinks?). Paper Crowns = every bit as delicious and fairytale-esque as I imagined. I want a blue cat. Also, paper-bending powers. Isle of Swords satisfied my secretly pirate-loving  heart and wouldn’t let me put it down for the entire day. That book owes me hours of my life, people. And I laughed over The Luck of the Bodkins until I couldn’t breathe. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT read this book whilst a small human is napping/whilst you are eating. The result won’t be pretty.

Deserves a mention: Murder is Easy. Cleverly clever cleverness. I now know how to murder people. (I KID. I KID. I KID.)

May-Drop-Tome-Off-A-High-Cliff: Elephants Can Remember. Disturbingly disturbing disturbingness.

Gorgeous Cover(s): JACKABY. Paper Crowns. Jeeves in the Offing.

Favorite Charrie(s): JACKABY. All the main peeps in Paper Crowns–having officially fallen for Azrael, I am more than ready for Paper Hearts to be published. *starts hoarding pennies ahead of time*

Currently reading: while on holiday I started Dreamtreaders (be pleased, Youngest Sister!) and Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl (this book. so good. O.O) and Dracula (never read this in the dark if you value your sleep and/or peace of mind) and Inkheart (*hugs Dustfinger and Meggie*).

Also, I accumulated a surprisingly large stack of books in one month so I do believe a photo-heavy Book Haul post is due, yes?

“The books in Mo and Meggie’s house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There where books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you fall over them.”

— Inkheart

all things writish

Remember I mentioned that I was taking writing classes? My darling Mum and Dad signed me up for the six-week Writing With Grace course taught by Ann Swindell. Ann is an wise, amazing woman and I’ve learned so much from her–about our stewardship as writers, about voice and edits and dialogue, about owning our call as writers. Some of the lessons cracked me wide open and I sat at my laptop and cried. Every lesson was an encouragement. Now that the course is finished I’m re-watching the recordings and taking more detailed notes, etc. Most of my May writing was for that, and I’ve done some journal writing and vignette writing on the side.

But now that June’s begun I’m going to get back in the swing of things with editing I am Juliette. *is torn between cheering and screeching*

life glimpses

May in a nutshell: crammed with travels, books, people-time, and good things.

Older Sister and I roadtripped for a week and it. was. incredible. Traveling never grows old. Instead the more I do it, the more I want to do it and I feel like this is a vicious cycle, but I LOVE IT anyways. #worldtravelerhere

We stayed at Bed & Breakfasts and made good friends with the sweetest, dearest German couple (I fully intend to visit them someday) and with three lovely women (all related) that we chatted with about books and painting and other nice things (ladies, if you’re reading this, Older Sister and I chat about you often with fondness!).

The roadtrip also included: exploring many bookshops, coffee shops, yarn shops, and an antique store; tramping about quaint side-streets, chatting about everything under the sun, eating far too much Chick-Fil-A, singing along to musical scores, making new friends, falling more in love with the South and the slower pace of life, sitting by a bonfire and listening to our adopted uncle’s childhood stories, laughing uproariously with our adopted aunt and nearly choking on chocolate-covered strawberries, and so much more… I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was. Give me roadtrips always and forever, amen.

(all the photos except for the bookish ones are courtesy of darling Older sister)

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Family holiday: basically lots of reading + beach bonfires + rock-climbing + rock-hunting + hot chocolate drinking + memories + soaking in the beauty around me.

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(when you have allll the siblings and nieces, etc on a holiday together things can get delightfully crazy and chaotic.)

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all things bright

//clothes that smell of smoke from late-night bonfire-side chats… snuggling my nephew while he sleeps… books that keep you captivated by their pages for hours on end… laughter and singing and long, long games of Guess-What-I’m-Thinking-Of… the 2003 Peter Pan soundtrack… the peace and tranquility of being off-the-grid… red lipstick and frosted lemonade… hummingbirds and how you can watch them for ages without growing bored… Southern folks and southern parties and breakfasts and hospitality and charm… sweet, encouraging words about being a writer… adopted family that threatens to keep you forever… intellectual talks… coworkers who water your plants and miss you whilst you’re gone… the exhilaration of climbing breaker rocks… realizing that you, in fact, have seen very, very little of the world… reality checks and remembering that i am tiny and my tininess in this vast universe is still special and vital, and i laugh in the face of the wind and rain… hot grapefruit… lacy skirts… watching a storm come in… sister heart-to-hearts… inside jokes… the always-when-I-need-it reminder that my Savior never leaves me… stars on a clear, spring night… ice-cream in zoos and becoming friends with a giraffe… when a day is so perfect it makes you cry//

all things fandom

(as always, unabashed fangirling ahead)

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I finally,  finally, watched James Bond!

I’ve been longing to for the last several years, but since there’s just so much to fast-forward (womanizing spy much?) we’ve been putting it off. Well, the last evening of our roadtrip Older sister and I were staying at a B & B that actually had a TV (the others didn’t. which we loved) and she introduced me to Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Skyfall.

EXCUSE ME WHILST I HYPERVENTILATE AND RUN IN EXCITED CIRCLES.

Somehow I had no idea that these were British spies and so the instant I realized–which took awhile because I hear British accents so often–it just got that much more epic. I was taken aback in the best way possible by the depth of the story and the character arcs. James Bond is not just an action film by any means, folks. It makes you think, it makes you question, and it makes you appreciate the importance and value of life even more than you did before. I’ve since seen Spectre and I thought that the love story was beautifully done — so much so that I’m pondering a brief article on it. Maybe.

Also the antagonist in Skyfall  is easily the creepiest and most heartbreaking character I’ve encountered in awhile. I don’t know how I managed to escape having nightmares. 0.0

Oh, and I have a new favorite character. *flails*

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I will probably never stop squealing with excitement every time Q appears on scene. He’s the most precious gingersnap of brilliance and nerdiness.

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And does anyone else think he would make a stellar Doctor in Doctor Who?!!! O.O I want this to happen. Somone say something to somebody.

*aggressively listens to James Bond theme*

around cyberspace

— Paper Fury turns 5 years old which is, obviously, a Very Exciting Thing (EEEEP. CONGRATS CAIT. GO BUY PLUTO WHILE I TAKE OVER JUPITER). Also, Cait ever so graciously explains to non-bookworms (poor souls) how to translate the gibberish we bookworms say. It’s hilarious and spot-on.

— (For the female readers of Curious Wren) Carmel talks 4 Ways To Feel Like A New Woman.

— Here’s a thought-provoking article about why she doesn’t want a female James Bond by Mirriam Neal (I don’t want a female Bond either, please and thank you). Also by Mirri: a chat about psychopathy and spiritual enlightenment. You know. Writer stuff. + Should Christians Write Horror, Part 1 and Part 2.

— please, by all means, check out this site. I don’t agree with everything she says and am quite unthrilled whenever a swear word pops up, but despite all that there is much gold. And her articles are deliciously bite-sized.

looking ahead

— lots of editing this month. I shall start hoarding chocolate at once.

— my 20-something-ish birthday (Woot!)

— I have several blog articles planned I’m excited about! Specifically one talking about villains, and another discussing the importance of friendships in literature. I can’t wait to share them! Also, there might be another giveaway + interview, peeps!

— remember my post about Dead Shot and Laser? I had such, such fun with it, and even though I’m not planning to write Mingled for several years I really want to do the same questions with the rest of the cast. What do you all think?

— lots more reading. So, so many BOOKS. OH YES AND HURRAH. I have Inkspell and Storming and Red Rising and The Crown’s Game and much Wodehouse and Agatha Christie on my TBR tower. It’ll be great.

Alrighty then, Wrenlings! What are you reading currently? Have you any recs for me? GIVE ME THEM ALLLL. Please. And do tell: what are you looking forward to the most this month? And are you editing with me? *scatters chocolate chips to the masses*

(OH. Should I do more Beautiful People questions with the Mingled crew? Yea or nay?)

 

 

 

Beautiful Books — Witchling (part two) // Also, NaNo updates

Time for Part Two of Beautiful Books!

According to the title, I also promised NaNoWriMo updates so let’s chat that first, shall we?

Last week my older sister and I went on a road-trip together. I didn’t get much written (about 1,000 words total) but it was wonderfully inspiring — everyone ought to try to road trip at least once per year. While we drove past rain-wet fields, deeply green pastures, forests of skeleton trees, and under the arc of pearl-grey sky, I spent a lot of time thinking about my books and planning my writing schedule out for the next few months. In a nutshell, with everything happening during the rest of November (helping a sibling move, fall-cleaning, Thanksgiving preparations, etc) realistically it would be well-nigh impossible for me to write 30,000 words on Witchling. Hence, I changed my goal to 10,000 which I reached this past Tuesday (YAY) and I am going to focus on Blood Thread for the rest of the month. I’m hoping to finish it before NaNoWriMo is over (Lordwilling) and I’ll spend the first two weeks of December editing and polishing it. It’ll be about 25,000 words long by the time I’m done and I have big plans for it.

So, there you have it! All the rest of my NaNo word-count will be going towards Blood Thread, and I feel much more at ease about my stress level — which has been higher because I’m sick right now. woe is me 

By the way, I am very curious about how your NaNo battle is progressing, folks! Tell me ALLLL about it in the comments, please and thank you. *gives everyone rejuvenating chocolate* And as for anyone not doing NaNo, I’m still curious about your writing, my precious.

Beautiful Books — Part Two


Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

It’s has been a very obedient child for the most part, but at least three times it has suddenly darted from the beaten path and I’ve had to race after it and drag it kicking and screaming back.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Oh, since you asked so nicely.

“The children are approaching, ma’am.”

(cue the suspenseful music.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I’m a conglomeration of the two (plantser). My method is as follows:

Step One: Do a rough outline of the story with all the major plot points charted out.

Step Two: Trot merrily along from point to point and encounter all sorts of delightful shenanigans along the way.

Step Three: Become stuck with no idea how to get to Point (insert random number).

Step Four: Write a rough scene-by-scene outline.

Step Five: Write industriously with many moments of varied emotions.

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What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Sometimes the warm, fuzzy feeling of having reached said goal is enough. If not, I break out my chocolate stash (it’s very small, but IT IS ALL MINE.) Other rewards include watching a TV episode, reading, sharing snippets with friends, browsing Pinterest…. basically anything I particularly enjoy.

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I like names that have a snap to them. I like to toy with words and turn them into names — such as Prism. Most of my names are gleaned from meeting people, looking at gravestones, checking baby name sites… sometimes I look up names based on the meaning or I take foreign names/Latin words and manipulate them into my own thing. If I hear a name I like there is a 99% chance I’ll incorporate it into a book. And I always have a list of names in the back of my mind just waiting for that perfect character.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Beginnings are wonderful, also scary. But I love the emotions of finishing a book. There’s nothing like it.

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Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THIS I ASK YOU.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

I actually haven’t researched very much. I tend to leave that for the second draft. One thing I did look up was how to make souffles. Needless to say, I’ve been craving them since then.

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Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I write best when I’m completely alone in a room, but word wars are amazing things so I (politely) bribe/beg my friends and younger sisters for them. Sharing snippets of my work with others is terrifying and exciting all at once. I love it.

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What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Sequester myself at my desk, turn epic music on, make sure my glass of water is near by and write like I’m being chased by all nine of the Nazgul. I can’t snack whilst I write because I find it too distracting. I write best in the morning/early afternoon. Rarely ever do I write in the evenings.

(stay tuned for Part Three next month!)

In other news, I voluntarily entered the black hole of k-drama last week (I know, I’m questioning my sanity too). I’ve only seen City Hunter so far, but it was glorious and has so many martial arts scenes and plot twists and it destroyed my feels. I literally sat there and sobbed when a Certain Character died, and I can count the times I’ve done that during a film on one hand. I’ve entered the ranks of k-drama fangirls and I love it. My family thinks I’m mental. I fully intend to drag them down with me. *maniacal laughter* It’ll be epic.

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Alright then, cyberspacelings! Tell me all about your NaNo experience so far. How goes the war? Are your books/characters being good, little creatures? Are you a k-drama fan? If you’ve seen City Hunter, let’s chat!