a talk over coffee

I really haven’t updated on here very much, have I?

I’m sitting here, coffee in hand (yes, I drink coffee now and I hate myself for it, thanks) while we prepare for a hurricane that may or may not force us to leave. I’ve got a pile of college assignments to keep me occupied, although if the power goes out I’m in trouble, since most of them are submitted through the internet. Basically this means I’ve spent the last five hours doing every assignment I can, just in case. Yet strangely, this is one of the few moments where I find I actually have a couple minutes to spare to write a blog post.

élégance noire

School was rough last month–the entire first week I was shocked at how hard it was to get back into the swing of things. I was depressed, tired, and cranky, and then just as I finally acclimated to the stress of my final fall semester, I came down with a bad cold that’s only now lessening. I’ve also been incredibly slack with my writing: the entire summer was a struggle. I’ve barely written a word since July and felt drained, as if I didn’t have anything to offer. Also, like a lot of us, I struggle with writer’s guilt, that pesky thing that can motivate but more often just nags at me when I spend my leisure time doing anything that isn’t writing. I knew that January Snow, which I had hoped to release in December or January, would definitely not be ready on time. That’s one announcement I have to make–Jan is pretty much going to be put on hold until after I graduate in the spring. Lord willing, it will still be a Dec/Jan release…only in 2019/20 instead of 2018. I apologize for that, but I feel so relieved about it. I’ve got a lot to handle this year (Senior Thesis time!) but for the past few months I’ve also been feeling hopelessly dull about my writing. In fact, Christine’s most recent post encapsulates a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately.

Legit me right now. My characters are fully developed, my world has been built, I have plot... And nothing.

About a month ago, I came up with a story idea that I really, really liked. It was more contemporary, but had lots of elements taken from a bunch of things that I love. The only problem? It seemed better suited for a comic that a novel. Three days ago I decided, “What the heck- I’m going to plan it out anyway.” I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but since it takes place in a fictional city, I’ve been playing around with it. Naming buildings and my characters’ workplaces, fleshing out my heroes’ backstories and just, frankly, having fun. Brainstorming is always one of my absolute favorite parts of the writing process, and I’m running with it. Today, after I read my allotted chapters of Pride and Prejudice (I’m in a Jane Austen class–yes, be jealous!) I’m going to spend some time mapping out this city. Writing mostly historical fiction, I haven’t done this since my long-abandoned fantasy attempt six years ago, and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed it!

☽p i n t e r e s t : kgfamilyg☾

Dealing with disappointment in my writing, I’ve been watching a lot more TV- perhaps a little too much, but some good has come out of it. I’ve recaptured my love of story. In some ways, my recent TV viewing habits have prompted me into writing again by inspiring through a different medium of storytelling. Instead of dreading writing, I’m looking forward to it–because I’m excited again by the stories I have to tell.

Basically, I’m changing the way I write (or rather, the way I go about writing). I have a bunch of short story ideas I’ve never pursued because I always wanted to finish my “big” projects first. Now? I’m going to tackle them. Additionally, I’m taking a break from the publishing/advertising side of the indie author scene. Instead, I’m going to start writing for enjoyment again, and finish a handful of first drafts that I’ve never completed before entering into the publishing world again. It’s a break I need. It’s not that I’m becoming less motivated or slacking off in the self-discipline department; if anything, I’m getting my act together. But right now, that means focusing on school (and later, getting a “regular” job). In the meantime, I’ll be discovering the joy of writing again.

On the go. Write anywhere & everywhere.
Also on the list? Embracing my tendency to write things down quickly–even if it’s only a sentence–whenever I have a burst of inspiration or a spare moment, instead of trying to wait until a block of designated “writing time.” Because right now, designated writing times waiver between “rare” and “never.”

For instance, the project I’m working on now? I don’t have any snippets for you yet (obviously) but I can share the description for it that I have on my secret Pinterest board…

A tale of science-y conspiracies, heists, and superhero shenanigans. Like if you put the x-files, batman, and leverage in a blender…but added cinnamon rolls. Lots and lots of cinnamon rolls.

(Did I basically just combine a bunch of my favorite things? Of course I did! What else is writing for, after all?)

That’s another change I’m making–to be brave enough to tackle the weird projects I have, not just my historical and fairy tale retellings. To, you know, work on that time-travel spy novel, that fantasy trilogy, even that middle grade book that I abandoned after half the story I’d already written got eaten by my computer.

It’s all got me rather excited XD

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me. And now? Well, now I’ve got a hurricane to protest–er, prepare for.

 

 

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Sunshine Blogger Tag

A couple weeks ago, Christine Eyre at Overflowing Mind & Pen tagged me! I’m a bit of a slowpoke, so I’m only now getting around to filling it out. I’ve been incredibly busy this week so I didn’t tag anyone myself, for which I hope you’ll all forgive me.

What’s something simple and mundane that you get excited about? Fire and thunderstorms. I really like any excuse to light candles. Also– wind. I get really, really excited about wind.

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What’s your newest favorite song? I think my sister is getting annoyed at all the ABBA I’m listening to right now.
Favorite cake flavor? I don’t know if I really have a favorite! Sometimes I’m in the mood for a chocolate-y cake, and sometimes something buttery and vanilla-y. I’m usually up for trying any type of fancy flavored Pinterest-esque cake, so long as it’s not too fruity. (I don’t like fruit.)

Homemade 6 inch funfetti layer cake is filled with sprinkles and decorated with vanilla buttercream flowers! Find the easy recipe and cake decorating video on sallysbakingaddiction.com
What inspired your blog name? (Borrowing this one from Chelsea because it’s a good question!)  Originally this blog was going to be called “Only a Novelist” (inspired by the Jane Austen “only a novel” quote) but I wasn’t sure if it sounded down-to-earth and cozy enough. Then, I was admiring my bookshelf (which I do from time to time 🙂 ) and figuring out which Barnes and Noble Leatherbound classic I wanted to get next. And that’s when it hit me…Leatherbound. Bookish but cozy. And there you go.
What blogger has inspired you the most? (Also borrowing from Chelsea.) A friend recommended K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors blog a few years ago, and it’s been one of the most helpful blogs I’ve ever followed.
Favorite Middle-Earth race? (Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Men, Ents, etc.) I may have to go with hobbits on this one. There are aspects that I like about all the races of Middle Earth, but ultimately, Hobbiton would be my happy place.
What is an art medium or hobby you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t yet? I’ve always wanted to try kickboxing. My college has kickboxing classes, so I’m hoping that when school starts again I can work up the motivation to attend.
What’s an aesthetic that really moves your heart? (E.g. starry skies, or a stack of books with a cup of tea, or a lamppost in a wood. 🙂 ) It depends on my mood, but I’ve actually created a pinterest board literally labeled “aesthetically me” so I think I might be able to show you this one better in pictures than words (although, I do also love stars and outer space, which doesn’t really fit as well on this board? I should make a space aesthetic board. That’s what I should do.)

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Favorite color combination? hmmm….I like mossy greens and soft purples, but I also like warm burgundy and gold….and dusty rose with pretty much anything.
What’s an obscure topic you know a lot about? Well, I’m not sure if the topic is obscure, but I probably know more than the average person about Batman. I also keep a mental list of odd history facts to access during awkward silences. (The difficult thing about awkward silences, of course, is that what makes them awkward is that you forget all those facts and just sit there…awkwardly.)
Do you have any relics from your childhood that you’re never throw out? (E.g. plastic horses, an old Winnie-the-Pooh bear, or your first pair of glasses [and yes, these are items I’ve hung on to through the years. 🙂 ) Yes! I have a lot, actually. But the first that comes to mind is my dolls- I still have a bin of all my Barbie dolls, and of course, my American Girl and A Life of Faith Dolls.

In Which I Take a DNA Test

I know that when I first started this blog I mentioned that I wanted to post occasionally about my genealogy research. Which, of course, I haven’t done. A part of this is due to privacy- I mean, do I really want strangers to know all about my family history? Also, would you even care?

And then I go and read other people’s genealogy blog posts which proves that there is at least (1) weirdo who likes prying into other people’s family history. (Seriously, most people who know me understand that once we get to level 2 friendship, the first thing I’m probably going to ask is, “Hey? So where does your family come from? Do you know?”)

Anyway, I’ve been contemplating doing one of those ancestry DNA tests for years. I haven’t before this because 1) they are expensive and 2) do I really want my DNA stuck in a database somewhere? I mean, if I was an evil super-villain, I would attack an ancestry DNA database to get DNA to build clones who could do crimes for me. Wouldn’t you? Image result for young frankenstein gif

But then Ancestry had a sale. I like sales. I like genealogy research. Therefore, my qualms did not stop me from spitting into a vial so a mysterious entity could examine it for profit.

I’m starting to think I would not last long in a sci-fi novel.

A lot of people question the accuracy of these tests, but since I already had a pretty good idea of what my ethnicity is (or should be, according to my research) I thought it would be interesting to see how it would match up. All of my mother’s ancestors came to America no earlier than 1910, and while my dad’s family has been in the U.S. longer, I’ve gone back pretty far on that side of the family, enough to know that he should be about 50% German and 50% Irish/English. So based on that, I was judging that my results would roughly come out around these percentages:

25% Eastern European (Polish)

25% Scandinavian (Danish)

25% Western European (German)

12.5 % Irish

12.5% British

Now, while we get 50% of our DNA from each parent, I know that what we get is shuffled around and not evenly divided (for instance, Mom might give me more Polish DNA than Danish, while Dad might give me more German than Irish. Since I think I look more German and Polish than anything else, that’s what I would have expected.) I also have one ancestor on my paternal grandmother’s side who was possibly Native American (Wampanoag, to be exact); however, short of time travel, there’s not really any way of knowing. Being my 9th great-grandmother, it would be doubtful that I would even share any of her DNA, so while I had a slim hope that something might come up to tell me one way or the other, I wasn’t really counting on it.

And….I got my results back. I AM SO GERMAN. Everything except 2 of my “low confidence” regions were the ethnicities I was expecting, but the percentages –except for the Eastern European, which at 23% is almost on-the-money accurate– was way off. Also, I would need to get my mother tested, because unless she has some western European in her, there’s no way I can really be more than 50% “Europe West.” (as Denmark borders Germany, I’m thinking that some ethnic mixing might possibly be why that category is so high in my DNA- the areas even overlap on ancestry’s map. Meanwhile, since my great-great grandmother on my Danish side was actually Swedish, that may be where the stronger Scandinavian DNA is coming from.)

dna1

But where is the British and Irish in me? Where? Poor Nanny. I did not inherit much from her, I’m afraid. Except for the >1% Finnish/Northwest Russia (which was a surprise, and something I assume comes from the Scandinavian side) I think everything in the low confidence region is coming from her. Including the biggest surprise: 2% Iberian Peninsula.

dna3

The Iberian Peninsula was even more befuddling that the <1% South Asia! I’ve heard before that sometimes trace amounts of Native American DNA can come up as Asian (though usually East Asian), and more research has also suggested that it might also be evidence of a Romani connection, both of which seem more likely than an ancestor from India, especially because, with my other grandparents’ DNA generally accounted for, my paternal grandmother seems the most likely source. I have her English side going back to early colonial America (early as in the ship they came over from in the 1600s) but the Irish side of the family is the one that’s the most mysterious. I know my great-great grandparents were born in Ireland and came to America sometime around the 1870s. But before that, I have no earthly idea. I don’t even know where in Ireland they were from- I just know they were Quinns and O’Briens.  Apparently, from what I’ve learned after much googling (not always the most reliable method of information gathering, but a very convenient one) there is a genetic connection between Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula and so that’s the only guess I have as to where that ethnicity is coming from.

Additionally, the percentages themselves are a little shaky, as even ancestry admits. All together, each percentage only adds up to 97-98%. When I click for more information, each ethnicity gives me a range. On all the portions of my DNA tested (40 of them in total) I got different percentages. The range is between the lowest and highest percentages they got; the ultimate percentage they give me is the average. For instance, on one portion of DNA, my European West heritage was as low as 34%, on another, as high as 88%.

dna2

You can read more about Ancestry’s method of testing here. Some of the ranges for me were quite large; Scandinavia was between 0% and 25%; Europe East between 12% and 33%. In the low confidence regions, Great Britain got up to 7%, while the Iberian Peninsula and Ireland/Scotland/Wales got to 5% and 4% respectively. The two lowest, Asia South and Finland/Northwest Russia, both started at 0% and got as high as 2% and 3%.

Ultimately, I found the whole thing fascinating, but it’s also made me want to get my parents and grandparents tested so I can narrow these ethnicities down a little more. Though I doubt I’ll ever pinpoint which ancestor it’s from, the Finnish/Russian connection was interesting! And it’s made me even more eager to uncover more from my ever-elusive Irish side.

So, if you’ve read through all of this, I think that makes us level 2 friends? Which means I get to ask: what countries are your family from? Have you ever taken a DNA test like this? What did you find out?

 

Top 5 Favorite Marvel Films

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In honor of Infinity War (which I’ve seen twice, help) I thought I could come back to blogging for a bit to give you all a list of my personal favorite Marvel films. Mainstream it may be now, but I am a huge Marvel fan and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I’m not ranking all of the movies, because the ratings get a bit fuzzy the farther down you go. I definitely have them divided into categories- my very favorites, the pretty good ones, and the ones I don’t particularly like- but the ranking within those categories is never really settled. But my top five? I think I can do that much, at least.

1.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

This movie, in my opinion, is as close to perfect as a Marvel film will ever get. It’s one of only four movies I’ve ever seen in the theater twice, and the tone of the film is so different (less flashy and “superhero-y”) than any of the previous films that it really stands out to me. It’s got a rock-solid theme and message, and I’ve never loved Captain America more than in this movie. The action is intense and flawless. There’s friendship of all kinds. There’s betrayal and corruption. It’s a superhero movie that even people who don’t like superhero movies can enjoy.

2. The Avengers

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Today’s confession is that, as much as I love Marvel Studios, I wasn’t with them on the journey since day one. I “met” them a lot longer down the line, not with Iron Man, but with The Avengers. Maybe that’s backwards, but it was enough to get me hooked. I was floored by how much I loved it. By the the time Thor: The Dark World came out, I and my family had caught up on every Marvel film leading up to The Avengers. We’ve kept up with every subsequent movie since.

I love so many things about this film. While there’s something fun and satisfying just about the mere fact that all of these superheroes and cross-movie characters get to meet each other, the way it’s done is what makes it work. They all come together in a believable way, and if there’s one movie trope I never tire of, it’s when a group of dissimilar and bickering individuals have to learn to work together for a common goal.

3. Thor/ Thor Ragnarok

Image result for thor 2011

Perhaps combining these two is cheating, but there are elements about both that I absolutely love, and elements about both that I…don’t. Thor is great for a variety of reasons: it has a heavy helping of Shakespearean-like drama, a lesson of humility and what makes true leadership, and it introduced one of the best villains Marvel’s ever had. At the same time, the earth characters simply aren’t as interesting (although Darcy amuses me greatly). Still, I’m always surprised by how few people count this as one of the “good” Marvel movies when it checks so many of my own personal boxes.

Image result for thor ragnarok

Meanwhile, no movie divides my family like Ragnarok. The Wand household is split into two camps: those who love the movie, and those who think it is the stupidest film to exist in the Marvel universe (obviously I’m in the first camp since it’s #3 on my list). Sure, it has its faults. A part of me can’t help but want a tragic epic of the fall of Asgard, not a comedy, and certain characters deserve a much better death than what they got. But the humor, while a bit too heavy in places, never fails to make me laugh. It’s satisfying to see Loki and Thor’s relationship develop into the direction that it does (to see them fighting together instead of against each other!) and one-eyed Thor coming down with all his lightning while Immigrant Song is blaring in the background is one of my hands-down favorite Marvel scenes ever, thanks.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Image result for spider-man homecoming

So The Avengers might have been my first introduction to Marvel Studios film…but my first introduction to Marvel movies was the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. I give those movies (especially Spider-Man 2) a lot of credit in fueling my penchant for superheroes, but I’ve got to admit that Tom Holland is my favorite Spider-Man. He acts like a real teenager (and looks like one too…) but he’s a likeable teen, the kind you’d want for a friend. And I’m not a fan of the Iron Man films, but I always love Tony in all the other Avengers movies…and  Spider-Man: Homecoming is no exception. I love that the conflict is smaller-scale in size, and I’d argue that Vulture, along with Loki and Killmonger, form the trio of “best Marvel Villains” in the pre-Infinity War set.

5. Black Panther

Image result for black panther

I love this one for a lot of the same reasons I love The Winter Soldier: because it’s different. I was a little tentative to put this one on the list because, unlike all of the others, I’ve only seen it once. But there’s enough to love about it that I had to put it in my top 5.

Aside from the film being a visual stunner (the Wakanda love is real, people), I love the way African culture informs so much of the movie. And my weakness for royal family drama (as in Thor) is fulfilled here, too. Walking out of the theater I thought, Yep. This makes the top 5. I just feel like I need to watch it again to be able to fully articulate why I liked it.

Coming up with #4 and #5 were difficult! Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy were vying for those spots too, but were bogged down by the mediocrity of their villains and my dislike of some of their crude humor. And even some of the films that are near rock bottom of the list have their redeeming qualities, so that makes ranking hard, too. (Age of Ultron introduced Scarlet Witch and Vision, after all. And while I’m not a huge fan of the Iron Man movies, where would the franchise be without them?)

Of course, we all know the best superhero movie of all time isn’t even a Marvel one. Of course not.

It’s that

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master work

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of cinematic genius

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Sky High

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(if you didn’t get that, it was a joke)

 

Introducing January Snow

This is how I see January. Accessories shot
pic via pinterest

Ah. January Snow. The story that started on a car ride six years ago during an animated family discussion on our favorite Disney princesses. That story idea went through multiple revisions and complete plot overhauls, and was inches away from being abandoned all together. But January Snow managed, much like its eponymous heroine, to escape death once again.

So here it is, January Snow: Snow White. 1920s. New York. Mobsters, mediums, and miners. Sin and vice and sacrifice and redemption. And even an action scene or two. Here’s the official blurb:

January Snow has blood on her hands.

Never the obedient daughter of her father’s expectations, she nevertheless thinks she’s finally found a way to earn his respect. But when her plan to take down her father’s rival ends in disaster, her stepmother is convinced that the tragedy that ensues is January’s fault- and she might not be wrong. Maria d’Angelo has spent her life communicating with the spirits, and now she’s certain they’re telling her one thing: January needs to die.

David Brendan has been searching for his brother’s killer, but the only witness to Jon’s death is the runaway daughter of one of the city’s most notorious crime bosses. Suddenly thrust from his high society world into one of mob violence, shadowy spiritualism, and political conspiracy, he realizes that he’s not the only one looking for January Snow- and if he doesn’t find her first, she won’t be the only one who ends up dead.

Coming Winter 2018

add on Goodreads

 

 

Another Period Drama Tag

another period drama tag

About a million years ago (okay, okay- it was like, five years, tops) I did a tag rather similar to this one. So when I saw this one making the rounds I though, well, why not? I mean, other than the fact that no one actually tagged me (I don’t think? My poor blogging friends have probably finally given up on tagging me because I never fill them out. My blogging has been sporadic since I decided to attend college. But I’ve only got 2 1/2 more semesters to go and then I’m freeeeee)

1. What was the most recent period drama you watched? Share what you thought of it.

Love...I want *this* copy.

I actually wanted to do this tag because after a drought of not watching any period dramas, I finished one yesterday! I just finished reading North and South (for the second time) because I’m writing a research paper on it for my Victorian Literature class, so it seemed like an opportune time to watch the film. It’s not my favorite period drama, but I hadn’t seen it for a few years, and it’s been lovely revisiting it after so long. It was actually better than I remembered (My favorite part will forever be in the last episode when Thornton and Higgins begin to become friends).

2. Do you generally prefer period dramas in the form of a movie or a TV series/mini-series? Why?

I don’t mind movies, but if the period drama is based on a book, then I generally prefer a miniseries- you can just pack so much more into it than a movie.

3. What is your favorite musical period drama?

My Fair Lady. Eliza Doolittle. Henry Higgins. Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison

This is hard because most of my favorite musicals are historical. My Fair Lady, Singin’ in the Rain, and now The Greatest Showman are definitely at the top.

4. Read the book first or watch the movie first?

I generally prefer to read the book  first, but sometimes watching the movie is useful; when I was first getting into Charles Dickens’s works, for example, there were so many characters that it was helpful to have a face to go with the names (I’m looking at you, Bleak House). Now I’ve gotten used to Dickens enough where that’s not so much an issue, but if my interest in a story is only so-so, I tend to be more willing to watch the movie, since it’s less time consuming.

Bleak House: A dark but humorous Dicken's tale. The best and worst of humanity are featured along with the truly absurd that only Dicken's could depict with such life.

5. What is a valuable life lesson you learned from a period drama?

Don’t try cleaning lace in buttermilk if you have a cat around.

Cranford. Imelda Staunton "there is lace at stake!"

6. Which period drama hero would you be likely to fall in love with in real life?

I DON’T KNOW.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Professor Bhaer, though? (plus I’m pretty much Jo. In so many ways…)

I've always found Gabriel Byrne oddly hot.  And now I kind of find Professor Bhaer to be oddly hot.

Also Mr. Knightley. I could definitely fall for Mr. Knightley. Or Henry Tilney.

7. Do you ever like to binge-watch a period drama series?

Yes in theory, no in practice. I’m not the best binge watcher (which is probably a good thing) because anything more than 4 hours gives me a headache and I just feel ick. So if something is more than four or five episodes, I generally won’t watch it all at once.

8. What things go best with watching a period drama?

Something hot to drink, a blanket, and snacks (usually something chocolate).

9. Which period drama do you think you would fit into best?

I was made for that Cranford life.  I mean, can’t you just see me with a pajama-wearing cow?

Cranford ~ If I had a cow I would dress her in pajamas too. ~Julia McKenzie as Mrs. Forrester~

No? You think I’d find it too boring? Well, I’d take a jaunt to 1920s Egypt in The Mummy, then. (These movies totally count as period dramas! As does Indiana Jones. Feel free to fight me on it.)

The Mummy Returns, 2001

10. If you could have any period drama character for a best friend, who would it be? And why?

David Suchet. I have such a hard time separating him from Poirot. I see this photo and think, it's so sad Suchet died. But he didn't. !!

I just want to be Poirot’s friend. He might let me come along with him and solve mysteries, and I feel like he’d give good advice, too. (I’d love to be Miss Lemon, honestly. And her outfits are delightful, as well.)

11. Show us a picture of a period drama costume you wish you could wear in real life.

You can call me Agent. (Really, though, all of Peggy’s outfits are fabulous- plus, I totally would wear them in real life.)

Partager Tweeter Épingler E-mail Quelle classe ! Voici les portraits promotionnels de la saison 2 d’Agent Carter : Hayley Atwell est Peggy Carter ; ...

 

Agent Carter

12. Are there any period dramas you like to watch during a particular season or holiday?

I sometimes wish AG had jointed limbs. I would love to recreate this scene with my dolls.

I know everyone says Little Women at Christmas, but there is something so cozy and Christmas-y about it.

13. Which period drama has your favorite soundtrack?

I love the soundtrack of North and South. Sadly, it’s not available for purchase. Of course, you can always buy yourself a violin and teach yourself how to play for the sole purpose of learning the North and South main theme. Not, of course, that that is anything I would ever do. *nervous laughter*

(In my defense, this was years before I had Spotify, so…)

14. Dream cast your favorite actor and actress in a period drama of your choosing; tell which parts they would play and why.

Natalie mentioned in her answers to this tag that Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (who are married in real life) would make an excellent Barney and Valancy in The Blue Castle….and I can’t stop thinking about how perfect that would be.

15. Are there any period dramas you like more than one version of?

I liked both versions of Sense and Sensibility. Also, though I hated it at first, the newer version of Emma is one that has definitely grown on me and now I like it almost as much as the 1996 one.

Emma in the rain, Romola Garai, 2009'It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!' ~Emma.

16. What are the top three period dramas that you haven’t seen on your to-watch list?

Well, I have seen most of the period dramas that I’m interested in. There are a few that I’ve meaning meaning to watch, though some of them have content issues which is why I’ve been putting them off.

  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Far From the Madding Crowd
  3. The new Little Women  (except I’ve heard some things that make me fear I’ll hate it?) and the newest season of Victoria

17. Show a picture of your favorite period drama hairstyle.

Downton Abbey has the best hairstyles. (I love all the flapper ‘dos later in the series, too)

Sybil Crawley my favorite :,,(

18. What was your favorite wedding in a period drama?

Victoria and Albert’s wedding is just so pretty!

A woman in a world built for men

19. What is your favorite biographical period drama?

Y’all…biographical movies are hard! I always get caught up in whether or not they are accurate (well, except in the case of The Greatest Showman…) Honestly, I don’t know. I did like Belle, but that one was more inspired by a true story than strictly biographical.

Actress Gugu in the movie Belle

(although the previous question reminded me of Victoria, so I suppose that one counts? I also like the movie The Young Victoria. And now I’m remembering Amazing Grace. Okay, maybe there are good biographical period dramas out there.)

20. Which historical novel will you forever recommend to anyone and everyone?

I don’t really recommend a single novel to everyone, because everyone has different tastes! BUT I’ll go with something by Rafael Sabatini- either Scaramouche or Captain Blood. They’re just fun. They’ve got adventure and romance and duels and shenanigans.

Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland - Capt. Peter Blood and Arabella Bishop in Captain Blood (1935)

Feel free to take on this tag if you so feel like it!

The Day For Lovers and Plague Victims

historyfact

For a single gal, I’m pretty fond of Valentine’s Day.

This is not quite as odd as it seems when you have parents like I do, the kind who tend to show affection through food. For as long as I can remember, waking up on Valentine’s Day meant scrambling downstairs to find small boxes of chocolates, one for each child in the family. Additionally, my parents would often buy us a small gift to share, like a movie. So, overall, when your mental affiliation with Valentine’s Day is chocolate, lots of hearts and flowers, and pink (not tears, depression, or mourning a lack of a significant other) then you count it as a pretty fun holiday. I’ve always liked it and –in fact– never really connected it much with personal romantic love so much as a celebration of  love itself, which can manifest in a variety of ways–not just between two people romantically.

BUT WHERE DID VALENTINE’S DAY COME FROM?

St. Valentine himself is a tricky man to pin down; very little is known about his life, although there are various legends about him. The one I heard was always about how he illegally performed marriage ceremonies during wartime in Rome, when the Emperor had outlawed all marriages (cause, you know, newlyweds are too distracted, I guess). While in jail, the jailer asked him to speak with his daughter, who was blind (from what I’ve read, a lot of his legends- which can vary drastically from one another and may not even be about the same person- usually involve a jailer and his blind daughter). Before Valentine was executed, he left her behind a note signed, Your Valentine.

It’s a nice story, but almost certainly not true.

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Believe it or not, most of the legends about St. Valentine popped up during the 14th century, and the emergence of the holiday as we know it today is largely blamed on none other than Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales. His book Parlement of Foules is the first documented source in which St. Valentine’s day is first referenced as a day for lovers. Later, in England in the 1700s, it transitioned into more of the way we think of it today with the exchange of Valentine cards and treats, and writing of (often bad, but entertaining) poetry.

The picture doesn't even have a caption but we KNOW

Of course, if you are like me and Romance isn’t really your thing, you can always remember that St. Valentine is not only the patron saint of love, affianced couples, and happy marriages, but also of beekeepers, the plague, epilepsy, and not fainting.

If you so wish, you can also find the (supposed) skull of Valentine in the church of Santa Maria in Rome. And yes, I got this picture from Wikipedia. Don’t judge.

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Also, if you’d like a laugh this Valentine’s Day, enjoy this Studio C video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3T_o4WM-n8

 

On Wonder In Film

When I was a kid, wonder was everywhere.

We often talk about the curiosity of children, as if its something we grow out of. But is that a strictly natural progression? Or is it something that’s also trained out of us? We learn to laugh at naivete, to play it cool and find it unfashionable to show genuine amazement at things that are new to us or that we don’t yet understand. Maybe because wonder is connected in our minds with ignorance: the ancient man who stands amazed at the eruption of the volcano, so awed by its power and destruction that he names it after his god of fire, must not know that it is simply a naturally-occurring rupture of the earth from its movement of tectonic plates, in which hot lava is able to escape from its magma chamber below the surface.

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Which is ridiculous, because that “natural process” is in itself, amazing.Image result for wonder definitionIn the Christian life, I think we should feel wonder. Looking around at this world that God has created: it is good. For all its problems, it’s an incredible place with creatures like the mantis shrimp which, among it’s other fascinating features, can move so quickly that the water around it boils. But are lightning bugs, with their ability to emit light, any less amazing? Yet we’re so used to them–or the idea of them–that they fade into the everyday mundaneness of everything else.  It’s not amazing: it’s just science. As knowing how something works makes the fact that it does work any less incredible! And too often we embrace that sort of cynicism in all aspects of our lives, even down to the type of entertainment we consume, and especially how we view humans and humanity themselves.

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But often, the media that surrounds tricks us into thinking that innocence and joy are things that we grow out of too, things that are immature and cheesy. We have to have violence and swearing and sex in our fiction and films, because without it they are unrealistic and–what I’ve even heard it said–shallow. But is it really realistic to show only the darker, dirtier sides of life? Even shows and movies that are relatively tame in regards to content often lack the enthusiastic optimism that a person like myself needs sometimes. I know that when it comes to television and movies, I’m usually in the sci-fi and thriller camp. I like things that make me think, that twist my mind and maybe even creep me out a little bit. That’s not cynicism- after all, it takes a specific kind of lack of it to accept some of the more imaginative science fiction out there- but generally I like more “serious” movies, ones with murder and mayhem and political conspiracy. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that…so long as it’s not all the art intake that I consume.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of being a dull, pessimistic person. I’ve been reviewing books since I was about sixteen years old, and as time has passed, it’s become increasingly difficult for me to turn off my “critic” brain. I think we should think about what we watch and read, but sometimes we can go too far, picking to pieces every little thing about every little thing. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being that five year old who liked watching The Swan Princess over and over again simply because I liked it, without analyzing every moment.

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Maybe that’s why I loved The Greatest Showman so much. For the duration of the movie, my critic brain was dormant. For the first time in a long time, I simply enjoyed a movie, without finding plot holes or assessing if the character development was realistic. While I was watching, it didn’t even cross my mind to think about those things, because I was simply there.

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While there have been many complaints about the historical accuracy of the film, for me it’s almost a non-sequiter: everything about the movie screams fantasy, not historical fiction. And for a story following a man who sells the “fake” to create a spectacle for other’s enjoyment, it’s strangely fitting. As we watch the movie, just like Barnum’s audience, we’re lost in the wonder and amazement of the strange and the beautiful, the two often being one and the same. The movie is unabashedly enthusiastic- something I don’t see often on the big screen. Films have a way to amaze us visually that is almost impossible to re-create in any other format. Filmmakers have the ability to dazzle us with color, music, dancing, and cinematic magic tricks and when they do it right, the result is mesmerizing.

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The last movie that made me feel this way was Cinderella (2015). Cinderella was beautiful. There was a sweetness and a purity of character in that movie that drained all the cynicism I was holding inside right out. Were parts of it a bit cheesy, maybe even too syrupy sweet? Perhaps. But I didn’t care, because I was that little girl again. It was refreshing to watch a movie about two good-hearted people who gain happiness and extend forgiveness, even if it meant defying our own culture’s expectation of what it is to be “strong.” And while this isn’t a post to convince you that these movies are flawless pieces of art (because they do have their flaws, indeed) it is a post celebrating those pieces of art, literature, and film that recapture a sense of childlike wonder in us. The movies that act like Giselle pulling Robert into a full-on musical number in the middle of New York. The movies that celebrate the best in us, the created-in-the-image-of-God part of us that is capable of courage and kindness, of a joy that makes us dance in the streets, and of a love that brings us back to our family.

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The Giselles of the world need the Roberts to keep them grounded, but that doesn’t mean the Roberts don’t need the Giselles, either.

If we are created in the image of God, and God has created such wonderful things, isn’t there something inside of us that yearns to create beauty–to see beauty–as well? Sometimes we need a little bit of that wonderment in our lives, and I’m thankful for the people who manage to bring it to us in little ways. That’s just a bit of my rambling and realizing that, however much I may love a meaty, philosophically-driven film, sometimes, I just want to see something beautiful, with loads of heart and goodness.

What are some of your favorite wonder-filled films?

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Winners!

Annotated by the author giveaway

Congrats to the winners, and a thank you to all who entered! The winners are:

Kendra L. – Cloaked

Faith B. – October

LaNique D. – Before It’s Love

Mikayla H. – With Blossoms Gold

The winners have all been contacted, and you should be receiving your prizes soon! Happy Reading!

Annotated-By-The-Author Giveaway!

Annotated by the author giveaway

 

Have you ever wondered what an author was thinking as she wrote her book? I’ve always loved reading author blog posts that give behind-the-scenes looks at how a novel was created. You know what I also love? Free stuff. So here’s your chance to get both!

Three other authors and I have come together to organize a giveaway for four lucky winners for each annotated novel. Yes, annotated! I’ve gotten out my post-its and written notes to stick in between the pages to give you a behind-the-scenes look with some trivia about With Blossoms Gold.  If you’d like to see the small nods to the Italian version of Rapunzel I included in the story, or if you wondered where I snagged the names for characters, or if you wondered where I got Nella’s beauty recipes from- then enter the giveaway and I promise to tell all. 🙂 PLUS each author is also including some little surprise gifts in their package as well!

The books available to win are as follows:

Cloaked by Rachel Kovaciny

October by J. Grace Pennington

Before It’s Love by Michelle Pennington

With Blossoms Gold by me (Hayden Wand)

I’m having a bit of trouble with the rafflecopter link, but you can enter on Rachel Kovaciny’s blog post here.