I have always passionately loved Octobers. Fall is my favorite season, and October is the month where here in South Carolina the heat starts to FINALLY drop (our highs are supposed to be in the 70s and 80s this week, yay). It’s also when I love to light some candles and hunker down with some good mysteries and spooky (but not scary) stories.
I’m tidying up January Snow right now, and next month I’m hoping to give you all a cover reveal! I’ll be making an official announcement a bit closer to reveal time if you’d like to participate, but for now rest assured I’m working on it 😀
Her stockings were soaked to the knees. Strangely enough, after all she had been through, that was the uppermost thought in her mind. Not the running, not Chase’s desperate actions as he pushed her out of the crossfire. It wasn’t even the repercussions of her actions that plagued her. It was those darned stockings, wet and clinging to her legs.
I’m also prepping for NaNoWriMo! I was wavering between working on my “Little Mermaid” retelling or my time travel story; the time travel story won out in the end. (the TLM story is going to be a novella, and it’s already halfway written, so it probably wasn’t the most fitting choice). It’s been years since I’ve attempted NaNo, so I’m hoping I can pull myself together and write 50,000 words in a month!
Also, later this month I’m planning on sharing some excerpts from January Snow (as well as the book’s Spotify playlist) so stay tuned 😀
So July turned out to be an incredibility busy month punctuated by a specific period of absolute inactivity.
That month I started a wonderful freelance job that I’ve been driving to once a week. I’ve been interviewing and listening to the grandparents of some friends in order to write their biography, and though we’ve only had a handful of sessions, it’s been incredibly rewarding. Of course, it helps that they are genuinely wonderful people with great stories, and I love getting to spend time with them!
As I already mentioned, I started writing for Fairy Tale Central. Since I’ve been doing origins posts, it means that I get to research a new fairy tale every month, and I looove doing that. Research for fun is something I don’t want to give up now that I’m now longer in school.
Speaking of fairy tales, I’ve been troubleshooting a lot of scenes in January Snow. There are a handful of “necessary” scenes that are just plain uninteresting + boring, so I’ve been analyzing why that is and then rewriting them. I’ve also been working on upping the suspense in it, so we shall see how that turns out.
Additionally, I went to my first con a little over a week ago. One of my local libraries had its own convention with local artists & vendors, and it had a good turnout, even though it’s only the second year that they’ve done it. I got to sell and sign some books, and I look forward to doing it again next year. I’ve never had an author table/booksigning before, and it was really a great experience!
HOWEVER (dun dun DUN)
The week of the con, I’d been having really bad headaches concentrated behind my right eye. When I looked up my symptoms, it seemed that I had a pretty classic case of cluster headaches. Except then the severity of the headaches went away…and the pain in my eye did not. After five days of redness, sensitivity to light, and soreness around my eyebrow and eye that felt a lot worse than it looked, I went to the eye doctor and found out that I had, not a headache problem, but anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris & middle of the eye). I spent the first week basically spending my days with sunglasses on in a dark corner of the room, avoiding monitors and trying not to use my eyes. Thankfully, my eyes feel much better and the light doesn’t hurt anymore, but treatment lasts awhile. Currently, I’m still on eye drops two times a day. (I started out with eye drops six times that first day, then four the first week, three the second, and so on, so going down to two is kind of a relief)
ANYWAY…July wasn’t bad, but I am ready for the fresh start of a new month. That being said, I’m already itching for August and September to be over so we can get to MY FAVE TRIO.
(October, November, and December are the best months and no, this will not be up for debate at this time)
…I say obviously because I have some exciting news for you guys: I’ve joined the Fairy Tale Central team! Starting this month, I’ll be doing some guest posting. If you’ve hung around this blog (or any of my previous blogs) for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve probably noticed how dear to my heart fairy tales and their history are to me.
Speaking of history…my first post tackles the origins of this month’s featured fairy tale, “Snow White and Rose Red!” This story stands out from the other Grimm’s fairy tales for a very specific reason, so it was a lot of fun to delve into its history a little more.
This story is one I find that people are either very familiar with, or haven’t heard of at all. Though it’s a “newer” tale, it incorporates a lot of classic and traditional fairy tale motifs and elements. But of course, I won’t go too much into that here 🙂 You can find my post up now on the Fairy Tale Central blog.
Last month my family had the opportunity to go on our FIRST EVER family vacation. (I mean, we’ve done some camping and once we went to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. But generally, we’ve never done a big family vacation in my life). Since my sister, brother, and I all graduated this year, my parents thought it would be a good excuse to go to Disney World.
I went to Disney World once. In 1997. So, suffice to say, it’s been awhile.
The first park we went to was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was probably my least favorite day, not really because of the park but because I realized that I pretty much can’t get on a single moving ride without getting motion sickness, yay. The Slinky Dog ride will haunt me for a while. “But it’s a baby roller coaster, Hayden!” you say. Well, you may not be aware of this but I am, in fact, a baby.
The best part was all of the Star Wars! The Star Wars section of the park still isn’t open yet, but there was plenty of themed stuff around the park, including shows throughout the day. We also watched the Indiana Jones stunt show, which was fun and not what I was expecting at all! My favorite ride in Hollywood Studios was actually Toy Story Mania, which is like a moving video game. (which I did not get sick on). My favorite part of the day was the nighttime show, though. It was on the water and there were floats and Disney princesses and villains and they projected scenes from Disney movies on the water and it was just really cool. Look at me, I’m even breaking out the italics.
EPCOT was the second day. I manged to go on a few rides that didn’t bother me, like Mission: Earth and Soar (that last one which was AMAZING and which I highly recommend). My mom and I skipped out on Mission: Mars, which turned out to be a good choice because it made the rest of my family get motion sickness. (haha, now you guys know how it feels) We all split up for lunch at the World Showcase, so my mom and I headed to Norway for sandwiches and pastries at the bakery there. Norway was definitely one of my favorite countries at the park! They had a gods of the vikings museum which I really enjoyed looking at, and I FINALLY got to try cloudberry jam, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Later we ate dinner in France, and got to spend some time looking around England, Japan, and Morocco. Sadly, we didn’t have time to linger in a lot of the other countries, since it was really hot that day and we waited until it got a little darker to wander around the showcase. But hey, there’s always next time, right?
Magic Kingdom might possibly be my favorite park. There’s just so much to do and it had a lot of my favorite rides! I LOVED the Haunted Mansion and while I was really nervous to go on Splash Mountain (I did not want to get sick again) it ended up being really fun. This was probably our fullest day as far as the number of rides we managed to go on. We didn’t get a lot of pictures with characters (those that we did get were all in Hollywood Studios), but I did see a lot of them throughout the park! I also loved it because I could remember little bits and pieces of the park from the last time I was at Disney- like the It’s a Small World ride (my brothers hated that ride. It scarred them for life, I think). However, the highlight of the day was the Happily Ever After nighttime show where they lit up the castle. It was so magical I cried, guys. It was quite possibly my favorite event of our entire vacation.
Also, the biggest surprise of the Magic Kingdom was when my parents and I went to the Laugh Floor, an “interactive comedy” experience. It didn’t sound like something I’d be really interested in, but I’ll try anything Monsters Inc. themed (what can I say? It’s my favorite Pixar movie). It. Was. A. HOOT. The show was made even better by the fact that we had a really great audience in there with us, since a lot of the humor depends on audience participation and reaction. Anyway, if you have a chance to go down there, try it!
By the time we went to Animal Kingdom on Thursday, my feet. were. so. done. Each day we stayed at the park from at least 9 to 9 (and we were at Magic Kingdom until at least 11:30 on Wednesday) so I was pretty beat and got to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore. My dad and brothers were troopers, though, and managed to push my mom and I around in wheelchairs throughout the day. (And that was a whole other experience. Y’all who have to use wheelchairs every day amaze me). Animal Kingdom had some of my favorite experiences, though! The safari was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been on- the giraffes walked right next to us, and it was incredible! The rapids ride was also outrageously fun, especially because we were able to go on it twice. The first time I got splashed just a little. The second time I got soaked. I also loved the Dinosaur ride, and walking through the Pandora area of the park at night was gorgeous because everything lights up!
Throughout our time in the park, I thought it would be fun to keep track of the accents and languages I heard. Not counting the World Showcase (since the people who work in each country are actually from that country) I heard English, Scottish, Irish, French Canadian, Australian, Indian, and Chinese accents. As far as languages go, there was predictably a lot of Spanish, but also a lot of Portuguese! I heard some Italian, German, French, Mandarin, and one Indian language that was possibly Hindi. I probably could have heard more had I devoted a little more time to my side quest, but I was pretty busy otherwise enjoying myself 🙂
Though our trip was absolutely exhausting, it was fun and exciting and, uh…maybe we can go again sometime, Mom and Dad?
I have officially made the transition from “student” to “unemployed.”
In all honesty, though, it feels SO GOOD to finally be done with college. Graduation went well (I think? There were a lot of names to sit through. I may have zoned out a couple several times) and now I have an official-looking diploma as physical proof that I have paid enough dues in papers and exams to be considered Educated™. Of course, this also means…
I also saw Endgame, which I thought about reviewing, but decided not to, less because of spoilers and more because of the fact that I just have too many feelings and thoughts. I really don’t think my review would be completely coherent–especially because SO MUCH happened in the movie that I would just get frustrated if I tried to cover everything. Long story short: all things considered, I thought it was both good and satisfying. There are genius throwbacks to the previous movies, fabulous instances of poetic justice, and some truly cheer-worthy scenes. Though Marvel won’t stop making movies (of course) it really does feel like “The End.” The non-spoilery spoiler is that I only felt myself getting emotional at one point– during a specific portion of the end credits (and no, there’s no end credits scene. I mean the actual credits). I guess it was then that it hit me that this really was the last Avengers film and…those stories have come to mean a lot to me over the years.
Speaking of stories, I’m trying to read for fun again. and…it’s hard ??? I’ve always been the type of reader who could fly through books in less than a day (sometimes, within an hour or two) but ever since I’ve been in school, my reading life has slowly been deteriorating. Last month I read a total of 5 books, which doesn’t seem too bad until you realize two were for school and two were comic books.
As far as comics go, I went to my first comic book store on Free Comic Book Day! It was a lot of fun and I really loved it. I normally get my comics through Hoopla Digital, but it is really nice to get paper copies rather than digital ones. I’m still a pretty new comic reader, but they’ve been my main source of fiction this past year or so of school. And a word of advice to anyone contemplating getting into comic books for the first time: literally the only way to enjoy them is to ignore 90% of comic canon at large and what an utter mess it is, and focus on the 10% that’s really, really good.
This is a lesson better learned earlier than later.
In other news…Christine at Fairy Tale Central gave a lovely review of With Blossoms Gold as part of this month’s fairy tale theme of “Rapunzel” AND my interview with FTC is up today! You can check it out here.
Also, my family is gearing up to embark on our FIRST EVER FAMILY VACATION. I’m not going to be posting much on that until after we get back for safety reasons, but rest assured I am beyond excited.
Until I come back with a summer tan & vacation stories,
Guys, I’m so excited to share a project some very lovely people have been working on! So, without further ado…
Once Upon a Time two girls had a dream. A dream of a fairy tale site, an internet library, if you will, for all the fairy tale lovers of the land to gather and converse. To learn, to read, to fangirl/boy, to bask in the goodness that is fairy tales.
As this dream blossomed, the two girls recruited a third. Because, after all, all good fairy tales come in themes of three.
With the third member in place, the girls got to work. The dream began to take shape, until it was no longer just a dream. But something real.
This newly launched site run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith is your source for all things fairy tales.
Every month a single fairy tale will be featured, and posts will include:
Reviews for retellings/shows/movies/etc.
Essay, origin, and discussion posts on the featured fairy tale
Interviews with fairy tale retelling authors
Galleries featuring fairy tale artists and artisans
And a whole lot more!
The FTC’s goal is to unlock the magic that is fairy tales and build a community of fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. Arielle, Faith, and Christine are thrilled to share this new fairy tale centric space and connect with all you epic fairy tale fans!
You can CLICK HERE to find the site and join the Fairy Ring! (Don’t worry, you won’t be enchanted or cursed.) And, if you want to connect even more, you can find the FTC on:
(If you’re inclined to share about the FTC in those places too, you may or may not be blessed by a fairy godmother. *smile, smile*)
Do tell a friend, or a dragon, or the fairy living in the hollow tree behind your house. All humans and mythological creatures alike are welcome!
Doesn’t it all sound fabulous? And the new website is GORGEOUS! This month’s fairy tale focus is on Rumplestiltskin -one of the most well-known of the obscure fairy tales- which, I think, makes it a perfect one to start with! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into all the magical goodness FTC has to offer.
All right, despite being in the “writing community” for years, for some reason I didn’t know about YALLFest until LAST YEAR. I suppose I’ve always assumed that major writing events like this just don’t happen in my area. But boy, was I wrong. THIS IS A MAJOR THING THAT HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR LIKE THIRTY MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE.
Anyway, this was my first year attending YALLFest, and it was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I really enjoyed it! For those of you who don’t know, YALLFest is a young adult book festival held every year in Charleston (South Carolina) where there are tons of book signings, author panels, and giveaways. This year I wasn’t familiar with a whole lot of the authors, but I still had a lot of fun (I wasn’t able to attend last year, which I’m still super bummed about because Marissa Meyer, Jennifer Nielsen, and Maggie Stiefvater and several other authors were all there and I WASN’T #stilldevastated)
I went with a couple friends, and pretty much right off the bat we picked up a free book! We got ARCs of Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury (which sounds like it’s basically an Anastasia retelling set in space??? Plus I have read a couple of Jessica Khoury’s books before and enjoyed them) so that was a pretty excellent way to start the day. Then I headed off to the first panel I wanted to hear: “Palaces From Paragraphs, Worldbuilding Done Right.” It was such a fun panel, and all of the authors sounded like they’d created such interesting books that it gave me more to put on my to-read list.
(a terrible photo of (L to R) Adrienne Young, Veronica Roth, Lisa Maxwell, Dhonielle Clayton, and Stephanie Garber. I was one of the last people in the room, so I had a seat on the back row)
I checked out the “Rebellions & Reconciliations” panel next, and then there was a panel/waffle giveaway and it was honestly my favorite part of the whole day because those waffles were amazing. Apparently they came from Sweet Belgium which is where I will be spending all of my money from now on.
Then, my friends were gracious and followed me as I took a detour to fulfill a geology extra credit assignment that involved tracking down specific buildings downtown and identifying the types of stones they were made from. It was a bit more difficult than anticipated, but I got some lovely (and unexpected) help from the folks at the Francis Marion Hotel when I went inside to ask them what stone their floors are made of (It’s marble, btw).
Then it was off to lunch at Panera, and then back to the ARC tent where we got two more free books, a free tote, and free candy, pins, and lip balm. (yeah…after that first free book it took us like 3 hours to figure out how to get another one)
(“Rebellions and Reconciliations” panel with (L to R) Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard, Danielle Page, Destiny Soria, and Adrienne Young)
(I apologize for another terrible photo! “Myth Making” with (L to R) Jimmy Cajoleas, Alex London, Stephanie Garber, Roshani Chokshi, and Renée Ahdieh)
I didn’t attend any of the signings, since the lines were crazy long and I hadn’t actually read many of the books by these authors. We did attend a couple more panels, though: “Myth Making” and “And We’ll Never Be Royals,” both of which were a lot of fun. Also, it was a little odd but fantastic to just…see the authors walking around? At one point I almost walked into Ally Condie.
(“We’ll Never Be Royals” panel with (L to R) Renée Ahdieh, Danielle Page, Emiko Jean, Robin LaFevers, and Laura Sebastian)
Afterwords, one of the English professors from school invited us over to her house for dinner, which was so kind and lovely and then I went home and probably should have gone to bed, but instead I stayed up and wrote this, except it took me another two days to get around to adding the photos to it so I could post it.
Overall, the day was exhausting, but fun. Even though YA is a genre that can be pretty hit-and-miss with me, I really enjoyed hearing all of the authors speak, and any event that has a chance for free books is good with me. I definitely plan on going next year…but hopefully I’ll be a little more savvy at getting those free books.
…another year not doing NaNo. Guys, I so miss NaNoWriMo so much! I tried doing it my first year of college…and the next…but I had to let it go. I told myself that of course I could carve the time to write everyday. But the thing is, it turns out time isn’t the issue.
It’s my brain.
Because of my chosen area of study, I have a lot of writing I have to do. And after spending hours and hours a day studying, writing and looking at words…when I get a spare moment to rest…my brain just won’t word anymore.
For my own mental sanity and health, trying to fit in nearly 2,000 words of extra writing a day just wasn’t going to work. It took me two years to come to terms with this, but I am okay now.
But I am happy this year! Because this is my last NaNo in college, and then I’ll be DONE WITH SCHOOL and can focus on writing!! (and, you know, getting a job, but that’s less exciting)
(Also, I finished writing my Research Prospectus today, so that’s good! I mean, anytime you finish a ten-page paper about what you’re going to write a paper about, that’s cause for celebration right there)
Anyway, even though I’m not NaNo-ing, I love reading about everyone else’s projects! So, if you’re participating, what are you working on? (and if you’re blogging about it, I’d love to check it out!)
Good luck to all of you NaNo-ers, off to create fantabulous stories. May inspiration be plentiful and your goals within reach.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.