Showing posts from 2016

Monday Musings: Quiet Joy and New Year's (Reading) Resolutions

... being a post in two parts Part 1: Quiet Joy Last week I wrote  about my surprising disconnect from the Christmas season this year. Turns out I just had to wait a bit longer. The joy came — unexpectedly —in a quiet way. First, my friend Stephen shared his article from last January where he quoted from C.S. Lewis' chapter in Mere Christianity  on Christian marriage: This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. At the time, I only took this passage to mind in the way Stephen originally used it —in regard to fandoms and not killing the joy of partaking in stories by always demanding the first and strongest thrill f

Monday Musings: Confessions of a (Surprise) Christmas Curmudgeon

Before you start telling me about how wonderful the Christmas season is, believe me – I know. It's my favorite holiday season, just as autumn is my favorite season of the year. But this year, it seems a bit more distant than usual. Autumn felt the same. My two favorite times of the year seemed to take forever to arrive this year, yet they have come and (in the case of Christmas, nearly) gone without much more than a whisper of my usual joy. In autumn's case, the dissonance between this year and previous autumns lies in the delayed cooling of the weather (and our cold snap coming before Halloween). I also didn't have as much of a boost in my creative drive as I usually do. I made one cross stitch sampler and a pair of fingerless gloves this year (the former for Samwise's room, the latter out of necessity).  Normally, I'm bouncing from project to project in the fall, both craft and writing. This year, not so much. Part of that probably come

The End of One Year, The Beginning of Another

It's been a crazy couple of months since I last posted. Our little Samwise joined us, and our lives haven't been the same since. I haven't been idle with my writing in those two months, though I'm still learning the balance of having a writing life with an infant in the house. I've been making a lot of progress with Albion Academy 's publication. We have a cover, which I'll officially reveal in an upcoming post, and I'm a few chapters away from the end of the galley proofing, which means the official manuscript will be finished before long! Some of you may remember the Almost an Inkling flash fiction contest I participated in last September and October. The winning entries in that contest have finally been released in an ebook from Oloris Publishing. You can pick that up in EPUB or MOBI format here . In anticipation of Albion Academy's forthcoming publication, I'm going to be overhauling Inexhaustible Inspiration. This change will come in t

The Elements of Me

Mirriam wrote about the little things from childhood that made her who she is this morning, and it was a fun and fascinating read. I usually feel like I should write something after reading Mir's blog posts, but this time she even said "Go for it!" in the post, so I am. The following is a rambling (big surprise) list-ish thing of various influences from my childhood and growing up that have made me who I am today, with an emphasis on the things that make people say, "That explains a lot." * My dad's humor: Dad has a strange mix of dry British wit and American slapstick. He introduced me to the Three Stooges and Mel Brooks and plenty of so-called "dad jokes" (which I honestly have never seen as being particular to fathers; they're just good humor). Despite that, it took me a long time to appreciate a good pun, but now that I do, I can joke with the best of them (aka Dad). * The Smoky Mountains: This was our family's favorite vacation

Carrying Peace

I've been trying to write this post for the better part of two months. But I never quite bring myself to sit down and type. This year started out with an exhausted and creatively weary me. I'd just come off of NaNo and the Christmas season in which I'd been in two separate church dramas with three total performances. I needed a break. And then the break became more of a hiatus. I did some revision work on Albion Academy , and I toyed with finishing There's No Place like Home? , but really I just took a break from everything. Then the Year of Major Life Events TM started rolling. We learned we were going to be parents, we started looking for a house. We had weddings and birthdays, anniversaries and funerals. My brother's wedding date was moved, and we were now both in the wedding. We found a house. I was elected as a deacon at our church. I signed a contract to have Albion Academy published. Oh yeah. That was the original reason for this two-months-in-the-m

The VIC (Very Important Characters) List

A friend of mine recently did a list of characters that she had obsessed/was obsessing over and I thought I'd do a similar list. These are in no particular order and the list is not exhaustive (by a long shot). 1.       Olorin/Gandalf from LotR 2.       Galadriel from LotR 3.       Glorfindel from LotR 4.       Hazel-rah from Watership Down 5.       Fiver from Watership Down 6.       Samwise Gamgee from LotR 7.       Aslan from Narnia 8.       Reepicheep from Narnia 9.       Edmund from Narnia 10.   Shasta from Narnia 11.   Puddleglum from Narnia 12.   Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist 13.   Greed/Greedling from Fullmetal Alchemist 14.   Pinako Rockbell from Fullmetal Alchemist 15.   Hoenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist 16.   Winry Rockbell from Fullmetal Alchemist 17.   Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time 18.   Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time 19.   Charlotte A Cavatica from Charlotte’s Web 20.   Jonathan Strange from Jonathan Strang

Something Wicked This Way Comes: What I'd Want in a Musical Adaptation

I was listening to the soundtrack for Finding Neverland (the musical) today, and when I reached the song "Circus of Your Mind" a thrilling idea occurred to me -- this is the sound I would want in a musical version of Something Wicked This Way Comes  by Ray Bradbury. It's possible that the idea was slightly influenced by my listening to the soundtrack for the Addams Family  musical recently as well. In any event, I started wondering about what else I would like to see in a Something Wicked  musical. The Story For those of you unfamiliar with Something Wicked This Way Comes , it is the story of two friends, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, who were born within minutes of each other on the night before Halloween. Their friendship is tested when a traveling carnival run by the mysterious duo Cooger and Dark comes to town. The carnival (true to its trope) brings the citizens of the town face to face with their deepest desires and fears, usually with messy results (su

Top(-ish) 100 Books

My friend Melissa recently shared an article detailing the author's Top 10 lists of the Top 100 books and asked everyone what their top 100 would look like. I'm not sure this is an iron-clad Top 100 for me, but it's a rough list (in alphabetical order for the sake of clarity). To no one's surprise, it's primarily fantasy books, and there are lots of repeated authors (mainly C.S. Lewis). 1984 by George Orwell A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle Abhorsen by Garth Nix Across the Wall by Garth Nix Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass by Lewis Carroll Beowulf Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams Dracula by Bram Stoker Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint Dune by Frank Herbert Collec

ThrowBook Thursday: Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal

Look at that cover art. Love it. Adore it. Last year, my friend Mirriam passed along a draft of her WIP, Paper Crowns , after I'd expressed an interest in reading some of her writing (specifically one having to do with wyslings). I flew through it, loving every minute. When she announced its imminent publication, I was overjoyed. I knew this was a book to be shared with the world, and now it would be. I've just finished my reading of the final, published version, and I'm pleased to say that I loved it even more the second time through. My initial impression of Paper Crowns , in summary, was "this is a fun, wild romp through Faerie." That impression still holds true. So why  should you read Paper Crowns ? The main characters are vibrant (both in the sense of being three-dimensional, and in the sense of Hal being a blue-furred cat). The secondary characters are worthy of their own books. (At least one gets his own sequel, still in the works.) The

Top 10 Tuesday: Fairy Tales

Beauty and the Beast I'm a sucker for true love conquers all and the transforming power of love. The Disney version of the tale was one of my favorites as a child and I've only grown to love this story's heart even more since then. Till We Have Faces , Lewis' retelling of "Cupid and Psyche" (itself an earlier form of "Beauty and the Beast"), is one of my favorite books of all time. I can't get enough of seeing people learn to love others more than themselves, especially when the other person is unlovable. That's Christ-like love, and it's powerful. The Six Swans/Seven Ravens I first encountered this story in an old VHS of fairy tale retellings (it also had a Robin Hood retelling and others I've forgotten). I remember the love of the heroine for her brothers and her perseverance in fulfilling the prescriptions for breaking the curse drawing me into the story like few I'd heard before. I certainly couldn't have kept

Why You Need to Read Plenilune

When I first started reading Plenilune , I didn't really have any idea what it was about. I knew that I wanted to read it after finishing Mirriam's novel Monster (although I foolishly went on a trip without already having purchased Plenilune , so I had to delay it until I finished the book I started as soon as Monster was over, The Paper Magician ). I knew that I enjoyed reading Jenny's blog posts and that she was good friends with Mirriam. Other than that (and the tantalizing precis on Amazon's item page ), I was going in blind. The Prose But from the opening chapters, I was sucked in. The prose in this book is rich and wonderful. Biblical and Shakespearean references do more than pepper the story -- they flavor it through and through. The characters leap to life like those in Dickens and Austen. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you took Austen's books, melded them a bit with Burrough's planetary fantasy, and added a dash of C. S. Lewis, you

Albion Academy Snippets

Several of my blogging writer friends do what they call "snippet posts" which include short excerpts from whatever they happen to be working on at the moment. In my attempt to get myself more regular in my blogging (and my writing), I decided that sharing some short snatches of Albion Academy, the first in my Albion/Merlin series, would be a good thing to try. Without further ado, here they are, divided by narrator: Mortimer, the Djinni Normally he's a bit more ... bluish. Wishes are curious things, capable of great wonder, yet so easily twisted by those who grant them. "I wish to become human," I said to the Elders, the twelve oldest Djinn who had any desire to rule and weren't in the bottle. They sat, reclined, or floated around the perimeter of the small chamber, encircling me, each close enough to touch. ***** "By the crotchety Elders," Brutus swore. Then he started laughing and I wondered if I'd made a mistake in calling out. I

Myth in Charles de Lint's Riddle of the Wren

I recently picked up Charles de Lint's Riddle of the Wren because I learned that it was part of Mirriam's inspiration for Paper Crowns (that is, she flipped through, saw the word Wysling, and ran with it). I wanted to see what he'd done with the concept, and when I saw that Cernunnos was also included in the glossary, I knew this book would be worth the read. (Mirriam also asked me to see how the two books compared.) From the opening pages, this book feels quintessentially de Lint-ish. It has ordinary people who love stories and wild things and the edges of artistic society. There's lyricism in the prose and a sense of wonder and magic pervading the world. The opening chapters felt like something out of the Newford stories rather than something like Harp of the Grey Rose or Wolf Moon , both of which seem to be related to Riddle of the Wren in the sense of de Lint's working old myths and folktales into new works. RotW works its way into Irish lore about t