In the mood for Gothic! Nostalgic! Whimsical! Magical! Mystery! Cozy Reads! // #AutumnTBRTower

  

Autumn. The nip of chilly air. Trees blushing rosy red. Dead leaves rustling like paper in the wind. The scent of bonfires and ripe, sweet apples. Something about the Fall season always makes my bones tingle with the longing to read, read, read….

— Me from this post last year.

I adore fall. Everything about it. The crisp air that makes you snuggle deeper into your flannel and pull out your wool socks and mitts and cozy things. Brilliant tones of scarlet, gold and orange painted across the landscape by a generous hand. Hayrides and pumpkin pie and cider so hot it feels like it burns your bones, art exhibitions and mission conferences and cute, heeled boots and geese flying off into the horizon.

I could go on for ages, but I shall refrain because a) you might fall asleep over the laptop and that would be all the sads + highly uncomfortable + Not Recommended, or b) we would never get to the truly important part of this post which, obvs, involves BOOKS and LISTS and (you guessed it) BOOKS.

Since after all, what is fall without a delightful, pretty stack of books that you probably won’t even read half of, but just looking at the stack and your list of said stack gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling right down to your toes?

#AutumnTBRTower

(aka. all the excite + hyperventilating because FALL and GLORIOUS BOOKS TO BE HAPPY WITH)

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Jane Eyre — ugh, excited to re-read this, Booklings. So very excited. The atmosphere is perfect for autumn, all deliciously mysterious and creepy and simply overflowing with old English castles and foggy days and dark secrets and brooding masters-of-the-house. Jane is a heroine dear to my heart and her story is beautiful. #allthelove

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Dracula — I blame the Oldest Sister for this. She read Dracula this January and proceeded to rave all over the house about it like a cute, but hyperbolic maniac, and then bought me a copy for Valentine’s Day (we buy books for each other on this holiday. it’s great). Clearly I must read it for the sake of my safety from sisterly terrorizing, at least. she is the most lovable human, tho, really. i promise.  To be strictly honest–always a good thing–I started reading it during our recent holiday trip, but then I decided to wait until fall because for certain books ambiance is key. Actually, I am thoroughly looking forward to digging into it because the instant October arrived I’ve been in the mood for melodramatic, Gothic books and I want to read them allllll. The good ones, obviously.

Also, I have an allegorical vampire high fantasy in the planning stages which means research needs to happen. SO RIDICULOUSLY THRILLED ABOUT THIS STORY/PLOTSY THING. It’s been in percolations for a while + I want to smash all the sparkly vampire cliches to dust and show vampires for the dark, twisted, unlovely creatures they were. Not something to glamorize and swoon over, y’all. *gently nudges soapbox away from Self*

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Rebecca — speaking of Gothic literature, I have heard lots of good things about this from several friends and it sounds just like my cup of tea.

Jane of Lantern Hill — This was on last year’s list too… well, then, apparently I like re-reading favorite books in the fall. Nostalgic, cozy reads are in high demand currently, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to snuggle up with this book and immerse myself in the wonderful world of Jane and Dad and the ice-queen Grandmother, and cats with special names, and food descriptions that make me hungry every time I read them. I love this book so much it hurts.

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The Sherlock Holmes stories — for obvious reasons.

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The James Herriot books — I’ve known about this WWII era Yorkshire veterinarian all my life, we grew up on his books for children, and just recently my entire family fell in love with the BBC TV show (disclaimer: it has a goodish amount of swearing and some inappropriate moments, but other than that it’s wonderful). My Older Sister has read the All Creatures Great and Small series and I decided it’s high time I do too. They sound full of all manner of hilarity and good-old British culture and loveliness, and if they’re anything like the TV show I’ll not regret I picked them up.

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A Time to Die — How! Have! I! Not! Read! This! Yet?!! *crawls away in abject shame*

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Inkspell — I need more Dustfinger and Meggie and Mo and deliciously magical book quotes in my life.

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Scythe — I want this book for three reasons. 1) I love Neal Shusterman’s writing. He knows how to use the little details, how to grab a person’s attention and make them think. 2) have you even read that premise? NEED. BOOK. NOW. and 3) the cover is pretty. so pretty.

I fully intend to pre-order it at some point, but right now… *gestures at tweet*

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What is on your autumn reading list, Wrenlings?

 

Beautiful People — Valentine’s Edition // Quinn and Keelyne

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Today I am linking up with Beautiful People to chat about a couple I’ve never mentioned on Curious Wren before. Quinn and Keelyne are from my high fantasy The Runner Chronicles which is all about prejudice and war and love and family. Their relationship is unique because:

a) they’re the only two pure-blooded young people left of their race, and so it’s been pretty much a given since they were born that they would end up in an arranged marriage (right now they’re engaged). 

b) they both have special gifts. Quinn can manipulate gravity and Keelyne is a fire-bender. 

I love these two precious bunnies so much, humans. 

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Q1. How did they first meet?

Quinn was seven and Keelyne was five. It was at a Feast of the New Moon, and both children were trying to escape their respective nursemaids. Needless to say, they accidentally sabotaged each other’s escape plans and neither was thrilled with the other.

Q2. What were their first impressions of each other?

Kee made a flame-imp to terrorize Quinn and he retaliated by tripping her up throughout the rest of the evening with his gravity-bending gift.

That answer that question sufficiently?

Q3. How long have they been a couple?

Their parents arranged a betrothal agreement for them when Keelyne was ten and Quinn was twelve. The engagement became official in a public ceremony six years later, and the couple exchanged rings per tradition. The actual wedding will take place a year later and both of them dread the day.

Q4: How committed/loyal are they to each other? Would they break up over a secret or disagreement? Could stress drive them apart? Would they die for each other?

Ohhhh, boy. I’ll try to answer this without spilling too many spoilers.

Since Quinn has a strong code of honor he would never betray Kee, even though being betrothed to her is not his favorite thing ever. Kee on the other hand? You can never be sure exactly how loyal she is to her reluctant fiancée.

Because they’re a couple out of necessity and obligation (pure bloodline and all that) it’d have to be a really terrible secret to get them to actually break their engagement—basically destroying a hierarchy of a thousand years. It could happen though.

Being with each other tends to stress them out so they avoid private confrontations. Formal and distant is their motto. Which is adorable, because their younger siblings ship them and are always trying to “accidentally” trick them into meeting.

They would die for each other without hesitation.

Figure out that conundrum. O.o

Q5. List 5 “food quirks” (feel free to mention non-food quirks).

— Keelyne adores pomegranates.

— Quinn firmly maintains he is allergic to them—how much truth is in that statement is anyone’s guess.

— Quinn hates eating at feasts, he prefers being all by his lonesome or just with a few friends.

— Kee sometimes eats off a flaming plate just to freak people out.

— They both love rich, hot tea.

Q6. Is there anyone who disapproves of their relationship?

Themselves? 90% of the time?

Q7. What would be an ideal date?

Dancing together in the moonlight. Alone, because their first dance at the betrothal ceremony with everyone watching was the most awkward thing ever.

Q8. What are their personality dynamics? Similar? Contrasting? Do they fight a lot or mesh perfectly?

Keelyne = spitfire with a dash of Ice Queen.

Quinn = gentleman with a strong streak of introvert.

When they’re together sparks fly. Sometimes they have calm, agreeable conversations, but the general state of affairs is all tension and unspoken feelings and turbulence and an acute awareness of each other.

Nobody makes Quinn slip from his customary politeness faster than Kee. On the flip-side nobody can get Keelyne’s attention as quickly as Quinn can.

Q9. What have been their best and worst moments together as a couple?

Best?

As children they practiced controlling their respective gifts all the time together, so now that they’re older and engaged the moments when they are most comfortable are whenever they train. It’s easiest to forgot about their future then and just be friendly. It says a lot about their relationship that while they are the most encouraging to each other in maintaining the stability of their fire/gravity abilities they also struggle to control their gifts the most when they’re together.

One of my favorite scenes between them is when one of their siblings gets hurt, and they sit together for hours in silent sympathy while they wait for a verdict from the healers.

As for the worst?

Spoilers, sweetie. So, so many spoilers. *bribes self with peppermint patties not to say anything*

Q10. Where do they see themselves and their relationship in the next few years?

Both of them are terrified to get married, but for very different reasons. I would explain more, but, again, SPOILERS.

*gives everyone freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies in apology*

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If I’m ever on an island with only ten books…

Anyone else feeling the cold of winter yet? (except you Aussies and other peeps enjoying summer which we will not discuss the injustice of. Kidding. Ish. *gives you all chocolate chips and laughs maniacally as they melt in the sun*)

I really wouldn’t mind finding a hobbit hole and hibernating with a ginormous stack of books until Spring. Alas, that is not an option for us humans so shall we warm ourselves up with this taggy thing about fresh, sunny breezes and books and fun stuff like that? (thanks, Joy!). and do not remind me that a desert island would likely be sweltering and miserable and Mount Doomlike. we can pretend it’s not, m’kay.

Let’s hope I’m never actually trapped on a desert island with only ten books at my disposal (*gasp*), but if I were… what would I choose? This is an agonizing question, bookworms!

I’m going to assume I don’t need any survival books and all that. This list shall be the books I would want by my side if I could possibly have them — practical or not.

Ten Books I Absolutely Must Have If Trapped On A Desert Island

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1. The Hobbit.

Having my Bible with me is a given so the first book on my list shall be The Hobbit. My love for this book of my childhood knows no bounds. It is the first storybook I remember, and the one that had the most influence on my mind as a young Story Girl. If I’m all alone on an island, I want Gandalf and Bilbo at my side.

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2. Jane of Lantern Hill.

Of all of Montgomery’s books this one is dearest to my heart — it typifies everything that’s charming and beautiful and soul-touching about her stories. Also, the charries in this book might possibly be some of my favorites ever. Jane would make a grand friend, methinks.

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3. Les Miserables.

Because:

a) I need to read this.

b) My Mum sings its praises and begs me periodically to pick it up so I can cry and discuss it with her. I shall read it, Mumsie. Sooooon.

c) It is a Doorstopper of a read. And I love Doorstoppers with all the fierce love of a Bookworm.

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4. To Kill A Mockingbird.

This requires no explanation.

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5. Shadow Hand.

I dithered forever over which of the seven I would take, and I finally narrowed it down to Shadow Hand because it has Eanrin (which is obviously a Must) and one of the most convulted and epic storylines of the series. I suppose, really, it has the best of the Tales of Goldstone Wood world.

“This is a tale of blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.”

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6. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx.

Just thinking about this book makes my heart hurt — in the best way possible. You really can never have too much hardcore science fiction. And I will probably dehydrate myself by crying over the ending.

“Every other Spartan on the field charged as well, hundreds of half-camouflaged armored figures, running and firing at the dazed Jackals, appearing as a wave of ghost warriors, half liquid, half shadow, part mirage, part nightmare.
They screamed a battle cry, momentarily drowning the sound of gunfire and explosion.
Tom yelled with them–for the fallen, for his friends, and for the blood of his enemies.”

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7. A Christmas Carol.

As hard as it would be leaving David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities behind, I choose A Christmas Carol. It’s the happiest of Dickens’ books, but still has all his distinctive motifs. I love it dearly. And it is set in winter with lots of descriptions about frigid snow and wind so maybe it would help me feel cool on a hot, sandy island? I CAN HOPE.

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8. Steal Like An Artist.

It is inspiring, humans. So inspiring.

I WILL WRITE IN THE SAND AND MAKE ART WITH SHELLS AND BRAID SEAWEED INTO BASKETS AND SERENADE SEAGULLS WITH SONGS I CREATED.

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9. The Wind in the Willows.

All the whimsy and charm and humor and descriptions of tasty food and adorableness and ACK. This book is special to me.

“He saw clearly how plain and simple – how narrow, even – it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.”

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10. The Iliad.

Because GREEK LEGENDS.

I’ve never read this — and I hear it’s incredible — so I think that should be amended, yes? After all, between catching fish and snaring seagulls and avoiding the sun and escaping deathly scorpions and generally staying alive, there will be plenty of time to read on this island. Naturally.

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If you’re wondering why there is no Wodehouse on this list that would be because I simply could not choose just one. I tried, lovelies. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Try it yourself and you’ll see.

Cheerio, darlings! I’m off to Panama — if you understood that reference you earn a largish bag of chocolate chips.

(feel free to steal this tag if the spirit so moves you.)

 

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? 

In which I present the 2015 Blogger Awards finalists

  
 Well, then, everyone! 

Today we have the three finalists in my category of the 2015 Blogger Awards — Best Character.

The first two were easy to choose since multiple people nominated them, but the third was agony. I haven’t been in such indecision since I can’t remember when. 

Finally I narrowed it down to two names, wrote them on bits of paper, and had my sister jumble them up. Which worked beautifully. 

Without further ado, the finalists of Best Character are….

*music intensifies*

  1. Isidore (A Wish Made of Glass)
  2. Jace (The King’s Scrolls)
  3. Perceval (Pendragon’s Heir)

Thank you all so much for your nominations, cyberspacelings! I couldn’t have done it without you. Now you only have to wait with bated breath for December 22th when I announce the winner. 

In the meantime, stay tuned because on Wednesday I am sharing something delightful that involves spectacular photos and the word sea, plus books — it’ll be epic!
Toodle-oo!

Snazzy Snippets | Blood Thread

I first learned about Snazzy Snippets from my  fantastic friend, Aimee. (check out her awesome blog, minions of mine.)

As the image so concisely sums up, it’s a bimonthly link-up hosted by Alyssa and Emily. They provided prompts which I think is smashing.

I’ll be sharing snippets from Blood Thread which I first mentioned here, and you can find out more about it on my newly updated Books page.

–> your first paragraph or 500 words <–

“I hate thread.”
The cat spat out the words like they tasted of sour milk. His whiskers bristled.

–> a snippet with food <–

He heard a cough behind him and turned to see Finnigan — still in mortal form.

“Would you like some food?” he said to Tarquin.

The cat blinked.

“Food?” he repeated, wondering if he’d heard the fae correctly.

Finnigan nodded.

“Like honey cakes,” he said. “Or sausages. Or muffins. Or hot milk. That sort of food. You could keep me company,” he finished, his voice hopeful.

–> a snippet you’re really proud of <–

(because I have issues containing my excitement, I shall share more than one.)

At two years old Imo took to following Tarquin around like she was his kitten.

“I can’t go anywhere anymore,” he complained to Prism, one day when he escaped to the tower roof. “She trails about behind me like she’s attached by a string.”
“Perhaps she can’t resist your magnetic charm?” suggested Prism.

~~~~~~~~

“Who said anything about love, m’dear?” the cat purred.

“Do you want my advice?” asked Prism, fluttering to his side.
“No, thank you,” said Tarquin, and poised to leap off the roof.
“Figure out who Imo prefers and groom him accordingly.”
Tarquin permitted himself a chuckle this time.
“I’ll remember that.” He jumped down onto the barrel.
“You should,” Prism called after him.
The cat trotted away without answering.
Daft bird.

~~~~~~~~

Imo was jailed for a week for kicking a gentleman because he knocked her into the noisy, chaotic street. Tarquin found the man’s house, and wedged a dead mouse into each of the stove pipes. He also left one inside the man’s bedroom slippers.

~~~~~~~~

He would track the faerie down.

Scratch her beautiful face.

Drop her from a tower.

See how she liked it.

~~~~~~~~

Sweet Ring of Sauron, this book is so much fun to write. ANOTHER. *cough*

“Read that? You must be mad!” // in which I speak of banned books 

  
Last week in the bookish community was something called Banned Books Week

Books are banned for both good reasons (Mein Kampf) and bad reasons (To Kill A Mockingbird), but I’m not writing this to discuss the act of banning, rather I thought it would be fun to share a list of some of the banned books I’ve read. Plus, banned books I would like to read. 

Shall we?

Banned books I have read:

  1. The Bible (King James Version).
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird.
  3. The Lord of the Rings.
  4. The Scarlet Letter.
  5. The Hunger Games.
  6. The Giver.
  7. Green Eggs and Ham

Is anyone else confused over the fact that Green Eggs and Ham was actually banned at one point? *brain inserts sarcastic comments*

Banned books on my TBR:

  1. Alice in Wonderland.
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front.
  3. Animal Farm.
  4. Brave New World.
  5. Frankenstein.
  6. Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  7. A Wrinkle in Time.
  8. Lord of the Flies. 

And, of course, the most ironically banned book of them all: Fahrenheit 451.

What about you? What banned books have you read? And what ones are you curious to read?