Thursday, September 14, 2017

What Summer Reading List?


I need to stop making summer reading lists. Every year, I have such good intentions... and every year, I end up reading entirely different books than the ones that I picked out.
This year, for example, I wanted to read a mix of Shakespeare, nonfiction, and the rest of the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.
What did I read instead? ALL Young Adult/Middle Grade books (with one or two nonfiction books for research). On one hand, I feel ashamed. On the other hand, I feel accomplished because I read a lot of books.

From May through August, I read twenty books, and here they are:

May: 

The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The second of the Chrestomanci books. This one followed Christopher as a child, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The third of the Chrestomanci books. This one was one of my favorites because it had cats and a nice protagonist and Punch and Judy.

June:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – 5 stars. This is a book that I've loved for many a year. Highly recommended if you like journeys, rivers, and seas. Also if you like stories about orphans relocating to far away relatives, interesting characters, and boys named Finn who are hiding from the law. This book is great for kids 8+.

Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones – 4 stars. The fourth of the Chrestomanci books. This one was my least favorite, but it was still nice. I enjoyed the ending a lot, but the setup was a little slow.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. Oh, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I have many mixed feelings about this series. I have plans to re-read it over Christmas break so that I can write a full review on the books. 
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 

Rosie the Riveter by Penny Colman – 3 stars. This is a nonfiction book about women in World War II. I read it for research for my future book She's Leaving Home. 

July:

The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 stars. A steampunkish book set in a future where cities move. It was okay, but I didn't enjoy it enough to finish the series. Peter Jackson is turning it into a movie, which I am excited about! 

Slacks and Calluses by Constance Bowman and C.M. Reid – 4 stars. This is another nonfiction book about World War II. This one is about the authors' experiences working in a bomber factory. I enjoyed it a lot! Highly recommended. 

Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The fifth of the Chrestomanci books. Along with The Magicians of Caprona, this one was my favorite. It had a crazy, moving house, fun characters, and shenanigans.

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones – 3 stars. The final of the Chrestomanci books. I didn't like this one as much as the others. I thought it was too long and meander-y; however, I would recommend the entire series for people who are looking for an easy, whimsical read. 

August:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – 4 stars. This is a book about a circus and a romance. I loved the circus, but I didn't enjoy the romance. Recommended for people who like magical realism, monochrome colors, and slow-moving stories. 

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – 3 stars. I enjoyed the realism in this book, but mostly felt meh about it. Recommended for those who like history with a splash of magic and stories where a girl pretends to be a boy. 

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. A Sleeping Beauty retelling with a twist. I've discovered this summer that I love Neil Gaiman's ideas, but not necessarily how he executes them. I suppose it's a difference in style. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 3 stars. A sad book about dealing with grief. I enjoyed it, but, at the same time, I felt like the book's message was just beyond my grasp. Maybe I need to read it again to fully understand everything. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. This book is about a boy whose parent's are murdered, so he is adopted by some ghosts. I enjoyed the setting of this book and I enjoyed exploring the graveyard with the main character, but, again, Mr. Gaiman's writing style doesn't match my reading style. All of his books get points for having great illustrations in them, though.

I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell (audiobook) – 5 stars. This one is a childhood favorite. My mom and I listened to it on the car trip back to the Midwest for school. Recommended for people who like accurate historical fiction, good storytelling, and orphans going to live with distant relatives. This is another book that is great for kids age 8+.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook) – 5 stars. This is my favorite Penderwicks book. Again, my mom and I listened to this on the way to school. Recommended for people who like the ocean, family stories, and friendship stories (though please please read the first two books in the series first! They are worth it).

What did YOU read this summer? Have you read any of the books on my list? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Editing and Publishing, Oh My!


Two weeks ago, I announced that I'm going to publish my Unnamed Novel (maybe I should just call it that?) next summer.

How did that come about? you may wonder. 
I'm wondering that, too, if I'm honest, because at the beginning of the summer, I had no intention of publishing this book (at least, not for a long, long time).
I've known since the beginning of the year that I wanted to finish this book by the end of 2017. As I've said before, I have been working on this book for nearly three years, and I am ready to move on to other stories.
Perhaps knowing this is what made me decide to publish. I mean, once you finish a story, you have only two options: publish it or leave it in your documents folder for all of eternity (I mean, I guess you could also print it out and have it buried with you so that in one-hundred years, when the aliens dig you up, they can have something nice to read, but what's the probability of aliens knowing English anyway??).
I don't want my book to stay in my documents folder for all of eternity, so publishing is my only other option (if we throw out the aliens).

So, how are you going to publish your book? might be your next question.
I'm going to self-publish it. I've worked so long and hard on this story that I don't want to change plot points or character arcs to fit with what's trending right now/what a publisher thinks will sell. Also, I want this book to be finished. I want it out of my hands and into the hands of the public As Soon As Possible. If I were to find an agent, query my book, and get it published the traditional way, it would be years and years before I got it published. I'd rather finish it and publish it myself.

Which website are you going to use? may be your next, logical, question. 
You may not know this about me, but I self-published a book four years ago called After the Twelfth Night (a Tintin-esque adventure based on two Shakespeare plays. It's not at all historically or Shakespeare-ically accurate in any way and very much a first novel. This next novel is much better). I used Lulu.com and had a pleasant experience; however, I think I will publish my next book through Amazon's service, Createspace. I have heard good things about Createspace from people I trust, and it's easy to connect it to Kindle eBooks. I've never made an eBook before, so the easier, the better!

What's your next step? can be your final question
Finish the book, of course!
...Oh, you wanted a more specific answer? All right.
I'm back at school now, but I'm planning on reading the last round of comments on my novel and applying them to draft four before Christmas. Then, over Christmas break, I'd like to go over it again. Hopefully, it will be as near to "finished" as I can make it, though I'll probably go over it another time or two before next summer. Sometime between now and Christmas, I need to cut out some words. The novel is about 147,000 words right now, and, according to my research, that's too long. I'd agree.
In addition to the continued editing process, I'd like to come up with a title. That's kind of important.
My dad did the cover for After the Twelfth Night, and it was beautiful, so I asked him to do the cover for this book as well. He agreed! We've already been discussing what it will look like.

On the blog, you can look forward to The Long and Winding Editing Road updates, a title reveal, a cover reveal, and more over the next twelve months!

Tell me your what you've been working on—writing or otherwise—in the comments!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kendra E. Ardnek's Cover Overhaul!

Fellow blogger, author Kendra E. Ardnek, is re-releasing all of her novels with new covers! I've read several of Kendra's books, and they are great, so check them out! 

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.



The Bookania Quests:


Aren't these covers gorgeous??? I can't decide which one I like the best! I love that they look like water color paintings and I love the color scheme. 

Sew, It’s a Quest:
Tagline: Two twins in a fairy tale world must find their Fairy Godmother before their eighteenth birthday, lest they forever be stuck with the other’s gift.

Do You Take This Quest?:
Tagline: A prince’s quest for allies against his misery uncle and a madcap race to get home for a wedding
Revision notes: This book has one added chapter, a few (potentially) added scenes, and a severe edit. Again, focus is going to Robin’s character development. I hadn’t the maturity to completely handle her emotional situation when I wrote this book, and now I intend to fix that.

My Kingdom for a Quest:
Tagline: Prince Arthur’s quest to take back his kingdom, and Casperl’s quest to find out how, exactly, he’s a prince.
Revision notes: This book was mostly clean … but it’s getting a part two. AKA, book 3.5, The Quest for a Quince, AKA, Casperl’s story. There will be a edit to part one, though.

The Ankulen:


Tagline: Jen knows she had an imagination once – how far will she go to get it back?
Revision notes: Mostly just a thorough edit. I don’t foresee any great changes.

The Rizkaland Legends:



Water Princess, Fire Prince:
Tagline: When two teens are pulled into another world, fire and water must work together to defeat a dragon.
Revision notes: Again, mostly a thorough edit, but there will be a few continuity fixes, and I’ll be adding a bonus scene to the extra stuff at the end.

Lady Dragon, Tela Du:
Tagline: Only the Tela Du stands in Amber’s way for ruling Rizkaland forever. Petra would much rather find her long-lost sisters than fight a Lady Dragon.
Revision notes: Edits mostly.

Kendra is giving away a full, signed collection of her books, so check out that information here:

List of participating blogs:

Comments on my blog and on everyone else's blog count as points toward the giveaway, so comment and let Kendra know how amazing her new book covers are! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Successful Summer

Summer is over, and I am back at school. I had a lot of goals for myself this summer, and I completed a lot of them! Today, I thought I'd share them with you.



WORKING
Regrettably, several black holes have obscured part of this picture. 

I got out of school in mid-May. Almost immediately, I started searching for a job. I didn't want to work for my previous boss because I needed more hours than he could give me. I also wanted something with more human interaction as picking up trash in industrial parking lots is a solitary job. Well, I traded out a job with no human interaction to a job with constant human interaction. A hardware store hired me as a cashier. 

I enjoyed my summer job a lot! At least, for the most part. This particular hardware store has been in my city for ninety years, which means that it feels like you have just stumbled upon a gathering of your great-uncles who grew up on the farm and, therefore, know everything about nuts, bolts, watering systems, tools, paint, plumbing, and electrical, and don't mind talking about it. 
This kind of "Mom and Pop" atmosphere draws an... interesting crowd to the store. I helped contractors who were only interested in getting the tools for their current job. I helped little old ladies who only wanted to buy plants. I helped Asians intent on making sure each and every price was right. I helped Hispanics who were always ready to smile and talk with me. I helped people who clearly had never been in a hardware store and were only there to buy one thing and then leave as quickly as possible. I helped long term customers who sang the praises of the store. And then I helped people like Dean. Dean—and other old men like him—were always ready to flirt with me and the other young, beautiful cashiers. 

I worked approximately 340 hours this summer (72 of those hours in the last week of work, hence the lack of a blog post a few weeks ago), and I learned a lot about people. I have a deeper well to draw upon when I'm creating characters, that's for sure! 


READING
From my Instagram

From the time school ended to now, I read twenty books. Nearly all of them were middle grade/YA books with a few nonfiction thrown in. I read the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I also read a bunch of standalones. Stay tuned for more on them in my summer reading list wrap-up post! 


WRITING
Caution: Writer At Work

One of my summer goals was to finish the fourth draft of my fantasy-fairytale novel by June 1, which I did. You can read more about that in this post. I'm excited to begin draft five, especially since in my last blog post I announced that I am going to publish this book next summer! But, more on that in my next post.
In addition to completing the fourth draft of my book, I wrote approximately 20,000 new words. This includes five short stories and a blog post nearly every week. I participated in The Silmarillion Awards again this year, which was SO much fun!


OTHER
Into the fog. 

I had a birthday. I'm twenty-one now! Which means that I am legal to do almost anything except run for national government.
I also did a bunch of Fun Things like climbing a mountain (albeit a small mountain, but a mountain nonetheless), canoeing with my dad and uncles and cousin, waking up at 4:00AM to catch a ferry so that I could spend thirty hours with my friends in one of my favorite places on earth, and exploring a stream with one of my best friends.

It's been a good summer! I'm excited to be back at school, though. I've missed learning, and I've missed my friends. I can't wait to see what adventures the next academic year holds.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My Next Book

All summer I've been hinting at a secret writing project that I've been working on, and it's time to reveal all! 
But, first, some backstory to build anticipation. 

At the beginning of the year, my roommates and I were in bed, talking in the glow from our string of Christmas lights. I can't remember exactly what our conversation was, but it involved being old, single ladies traversing the world. Thus, I conceived a Story Child.


I wrote down my Story Child so I wouldn't forget it, and I fell asleep. I figured that maybe someday I'd write this story, but then I kept coming up with more and more ideas for it. I thought of names for the main characters. I bought a book for research.
Then, I came up with a title. 
Now, that is quite a big deal for me. You've probably noticed that I have trouble naming things (*cough cough* that fantasy-fairytale novel with no name, even after three years *cough cough*), so that I actually had a title for this idea is Big News.
I'll spare you more backstory. Here is the title (and, yes, it is taken from a Beatles song):


She's Leaving Home is about three friends. They haven't always lived near each other, but they have remained devoted to one another over many years. And they share the same dream: they want to travel around the United States. Now, though they are old and frail, the three friends decide to make their dream a reality. Japes ensue.

Basically, this story is about three grandmas who take a road trip.

I've done some research for this idea (though I need to do a LOT more), and I've done a lot of thinking about it. I'm not quite ready to start writing it yet, but I do want it to be the next story I write (though with a new semester of college beginning, who knows when that will happen).

So, She's Leaving Home is my latest story idea, but what will my next book be?

Huh? you may be asking yourself. But I thought She's Leaving Home is Abbey's next book?
Well, yes, it is the next book I want to write, but it is not my next book to publish.

*dramatic pause for you to catch on to my meaning* Need a little more help? Let me leave you with this...