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bristox17

I am a wannabe young adult fantasy writer with an obsession with tea and good books.

NaNoWriMo is OVER!!!

And I did it!!! And it’s not even midnight yet. I’m so proud of myself (you know, for not writing the 50,000th word at 11:55). I completed 50,264 of The Funeral Ghoul and…well…21,590 of Believing in Magic. So not quite what I wanted to accomplish, but hey, I’ll take it! I’m hoping to complete them both before the end of the year.

I think one big difference this year from last year is that The Funeral Ghoul is actually moving along very well. There aren’t any huge plot changes needed (yet) and I know mostly where it’s headed (and as I warned Mez, it’s going to be heartbreaking) though the details are a little fuzzy. Can’t wait until I get there!

As for Believing in Magic, it’s harder for me simply because it’s not really moving. It will, I think, in a scene or two. The main problem is that I’m trying to convey how hard it would be for someone with social anxiety to be whisked of to a completely new world with new rules and new ways of doing things. Which means that I find myself describing how hard it is for her to find her new classroom by herself and how she hides in her room instead of having to face the horror of the mess hall…and so the story itself creeps by.

So there’s how my NaNoWriMo went! Let me know if you participated and how you did and what your plans are now! Happy December, everyone.

Novel in November Update

It’s November 8th! How are all of you doing on your Novel in November going? On schedule? Is your book a mess or making it’s way in a logical way? Hopefully you aren’t looking at a blank page, but even if you are, don’t give up! Still 22 days left and you can get a lot down in that time. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments!

As for me, I am miraculously on schedule, meeting my personal goal of 2000 words for each of my stories a day. I may have had to have a bit of a marathon writing session yesterday to catch up, but I’m there. That’s 14,000 words each, totaling 28,000 words in 7 days.

What on earth do I usually do with my time??

Seriously, though, I’ve found if things are going well and I really focus, I can write about 3000 words in 90 minutes. But that’s only when things come easily! So it hasn’t been terribly hard to meet my goals.

The hard part is actually switching from story to story. I have two very different character and two very different tones in the story. Cassie is confident, couldn’t care less that the town has ostracized her, and makes fast friends with Billie. On the other hand, I’m channeling every bit of my social anxiety into Anni, poor girl. She’s terrified of strangers and new situations and she’s surrounded by both.

I’ve found what helps the most to make sure I’m writing the right character and tone with the right story is background music. For Cassie, it’s Evanescence while Anni gets Bethany Dillon. Click on the names for youtube vidoes of their music! They go very well with the tones of the stories.

So hopefully I can keep up with the schedule! Stay tuned for Mez’s update next Wednesday and good luck to everyone writing away this month.

Book Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

In Nadia’s world, there is the Forgetting every twelve years. Everyone’s memory in the entire city is wiped out. The only way anyone knows who they are, who they love, and what’s going on is from reading the books tied to their wrists and waists. Everyone has one and it is their lifeline.

Only Nadia is the exception. She remembers her life before the last forgetting and she remembers the horror of the weeks leading up to it. The next Forgetting is approaching and already the city is breaking down. Because if everyone is going to forget, there are no consequences. And if you don’t like who you are, you just have to write a new book.

Nadia is also the only one who slips over the city walls and explore the forest surrounding it.  The city has secrets, and no one notices quiet Nadia. Or do they? One day, as she climbs back over the wall, she is seen by Gray, the glassblower’s son. Now she reluctantly has a partner in crime, just as she begins to discover the secret to the Forgetting and the true evil of the city.

This book was AMAZING! I loved Nadia. She was curious, rebellious without being obvious about it, smart, and had to be reminded to talk. And Gray was a great counterpart and romantic partner for her. He was charismatic, charming, and head over heels for her. Which utterly confused her. So great romance without it being the main point of the book. The rest of the characters were also very realistic and interesting, from her family to Gray’s family to the leaders of the city.

The plot was also engaging and had plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. I think the author, Sharon Cameron, really thought through all the ramifications of a whole city that forgets. About what happens to people with no books, about how the truth can be manipulated, and about what a terrible power remembering when everyone else forgets can be. It’s fascinating how people have adapted to what is to them a natural part of life. And everything gets explained with very good explanations.

Basically, read this book if you like awesome characters, a fascinating story, and a good romance. Seriously, read it.

Recommended Tea: Chocolate Pu-erh

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance

 

 

Book Review: Dreamwood by Heather Mackey

Lucy Darrington loves helping her father in his work as a ghost clearer, traveling across America investigating supernatural phenomenon—and then he suddenly leaves her alone at Miss Bentley’s School for Young Ladies. There she is forced to stay while he travels to Saarthe, a logging town where the trees are dying from a mysterious blight. Stifled by the strict rules of the school and feeling a bit betrayed by her beloved father, Lucy takes matters into her own hands and runs away, determined to meet her father in Saarthe But when she arrives, she learns her father is missing after traveling to the Devil’s Thumb in search of Dreamwood, a potential cure for the blight. And no one comes back from the Devil’s Thumb.

Confident her father is alive and she can reach him, Lucy sets out for the Devil’s Thumb with the frustrating Pete Knightley, whose family stands to lose everything because of the blight. And all that stands in their way are sea serpents, the Lupine people, starvation, and a forest that causes horrific nightmares. As they travel, Lucy’s confidence begins to fade. Even if she survives the Devils Thumb and finds the Dreamwood, will she find her father?

Despite my less than stellar review (this book is incredibly full of plot, hard to pick what needs to be in the summary), this book was pretty good. It took me a while to get into it, simply because Lucy annoyed me with her overconfidence, bordering on snobbery at some points. She acts uppity even while she is (and I am) disgusted with herself for acting that way. Fortunately, this is actually a main point of the book, Lucy learning she doesn’t know everything. It just takes her a very long time to learn it, and it frustrated me. A lot.

The plot is fast paced and full of fantastical creatures and magic. While it starts out light-hearted, the book turns very dark by the end (think the beginning of the Harry Potter series compared to the end of the series). However, I think the second half is much better than the first. Overall, a good book if you can get past Lucy’s annoying personality. This is one of the very few times I have found the plot of a book to make up for an annoying character.

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Tea: Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea

Summer Reading

Hi guys! Long time no blog! So sorry 😦 Apparently when Mez and I are in the same country, we get nothing done online. But we did read over each other’s manuscripts, and that was fun!

Can you believe summer is ending this Friday? At least here in the Northern Hemisphere. We had some cool temps two weeks ago, but we are back into the summer heat. I love the heat, but I’m a ready for fall with its cooler weather (the better to drink tea with!), the changing of the leaves, and of course, the holidays.

But before all of that, I wanted to share my summer reading. My awesome grandparents took all of us (as in their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, 40 in total) on a cruise. It was a ton of fun, but me being me, I had to escape into a book from all the people. I read 7 books over the 5 day cruise. Best vacation!

I’ll review all the books in separate blog posts, but for now, here they are!

If you are looking for a new book to read, I highly recommend any of these (ok, I don’t highly recommend Juliet Immortal. It was interesting, but I didn’t really like it). Except for Dreamwood, which is Middle Grade, they are all Young Adult and range from a science fiction to fantasy to a very strange psychological ghost story.  Stay tuned for a summary and review of each, and let me know what you read over the summer!

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Summer in Georgia, USA, is hot, humid, and awesome. Home grown tomatoes, fast storms, and baby critters abound. Though it can be miserably hot, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. So I just wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken this summer and remind everyone what an amazing world we live in!

While summer storms usually only last an hour or so, they can be very fierce, to the point I can get a little nervous, despite the fact I love storms. But when they are over, the sky is incredibly beautiful. And what is more beautiful than a full moon on a summer night? I wish my camera cooperated on that one…

And here on the twin fawns who have made our farm their home! I see them almost everyday, sitting together as they wait for their mom to return to them. So cute!!

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Does that look like a puddle of muddy water? Well, it is! But you see those little black dots? Tadpoles!! I’ve been keeping an eye on them and refilling their puddle when necessary. I’ll keep everyone updated on their journey from tadpoles to frogs! As long as they don’t wash away, which, unfortunately, is definitely a possibility.

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And, of course, we can’t forget the tomatoes! This is from one picking…after they were picked the day before. My mother is about to go on strike. But we love our home grown tomatoes! I’ll be super sad when the season is over!

What is summer like where you are? Doing anything special? Let us know in the comments!

In The Beginning There Was A Goat Named Blue

Isn’t Blue adorable? She had two little girls this year, Cocoa and Zanzi. I’m naming all the goats born this year after bugs. If you can guess where I got those two names, I will know we are destined to be friends! Anyway, this is a post I wrote a while ago about how I get my story ideas; Blue was the inspiration for a 90K manuscript I hope to be worthy of submitting to agents by the end of this year. If it gets published, I might have to give her a commission.

I love it when Mez’s posts segue perfectly into what I’ve been thinking about! I would say great minds think alike, but I think it’s more like crazed, fantasy writing obsessed minds think alike, and that doesn’t sound quite as flattering. Oh well, at least it’s honest!

Mez posted some great tips on getting your creativity going, and I’m going to go from there. So let’s start from the very beginning…your very basic story idea. This is where observation and the ‘What if’ question comes in. We all get our ideas from different places since we are all different, so I’m just going to tell you where I got some of my ideas, and maybe that will give you some inspiration where to find yours!

If you read the About Us page, you know I raise dairy goats. Here’s how to get a fantasy story from goats! I have a cute little goat named Shining Bluestar. I just call her Blue. That’s her pictured above. Forgive the bad photo; she doesn’t stand still for more than a nanosecond! So Blue and I were going through our nightly routine, which goes something like this:

Me: Come on, Blue, time to get off the milk stand!

Blue: But I’m still hungry!

Me: Blue, there is water outside for you to drink. Come on.

Blue: But I want THIS water!

Me: BLUE! Come ON! Your sisters are already outside. LET’S GO!!

Blue: Hey, what’s that??

You get the idea. Since this is a nightly routine, my mind was wandering (a great thing for a mind to do!) and I got to thinking about Blue’s name. I’ve heard of lots of animals named Blue, but I would never name a goat Yellow or Orange, and I was wondering why that was. Then I backed up and wondered what a human named Blue would be like. The idea intrigued me, so while I milked my next group, I imagined a girl named Blue. Like my goat, she would be small but a force to be reckoned with. Like me, she would like fantasy animals, so I decided she wanted to be a cryptozoologist. A quick check on that told me it wasn’t what I thought it was (Big Foot and Nessie, not fairies and unicorns) but I liked the idea so much, I kept it.

By 2:00 AM (NOT a good idea, by the way) I had a pretty good idea who Blue was: a 17 year old blonde with blue eyes, not even five feet tall, who wants to be a cryptozoologist when she graduates, despite the fact her teachers discourage her. I knew her backstory and the guy she is going to fall in love with. What’s going to happen in Blue’s story? I HAVE NO IDEA!! But I have a character ready to go on an adventure because I asked “What if” in a completely random way.

Here’s a little exercise for you using “What if.” Open a document on your computer or turn to a blank page in your journal, and get ready. Imagine you’re sitting somewhere, maybe in a doctor’s office or a coffee shop, and you look over to see a small girl talking to her stuffed bear. Not just talking to it, you realize, but having a full on conversation with it.

So here’s your “What if.” What if the teddy bear is actually talking to her? What if she isn’t pretending, but having an actual conversation? How is this possible? Write down the first idea you think of.

Got it? Good! Now write down nine more. Go now, fast! Be creative, silly, scary, random, not even possible, just get down nine more ideas as fast as you can. If you have to, set a timer for 2 minutes and get those ideas down in that time. If you get stuck, look around. I find looking away from my screen or page helps!

If you are like me, the first five are easy. The next two are harder. The last ones get weird. But the very last one I came up with is the most interesting. I could definitely make a story out of it. I’ll post mine in the comments, feel free to post yours to!

There are things happening all around you that can inspire a story as long as you are looking for them and willing to ask “What if.” And to think way, way out of the box!

I also look to other books and movies for inspiration. Note, I am not talking about using other people’s ideas. But sometimes there is just a certain aspect of a book that resonates with you. I read a book years ago, and I found I really liked the idea of a werewolf guiding a girl through a forest. Random, right? But that idea led to another story I am working on now. It looks nothing like the book I read. (If anyone knows what book I am talking about, please tell me, I can’t remember! It’s got two simultaneous stories going on, one in our world, one in a fantasy realm. The real world story has a girl looking for her brother and the fantasy has a girl looking for a kidnapped dragon baby with the werewolf helping. I read it almost 10 years ago and really liked it!)

Anyways, back on track, while that book inspired me, I made sure my story was mine, not a variation of the book I read. I love rewriting books and movies in my head, and sometimes I realize what is in my head is no longer anything like how it started.

So here’s another exercise! Pick a movie or a book. What would you change about it? I usually start by making sure the main character is a girl, but that’s just me! Was there a certain scene in the book you absolutely loved…if only the author had done this instead? Write it the way you would have done it. You may not be able to use any of this, but follow the rabbit trail. If you change that scene, what else changes? Keep going and you may eventually find you’ve created a whole new story. I want to reiterate, plagiarism is bad! But take inspiration where you can get it.

One last one! Sometimes all it takes is a phrase or a sentence. Something you just like the sound of. I read a book about a girl trying to save her family home, a crumbling castle. I finished the book, opened a word document, and wrote this sentence:

I live in a castle.

Simple, right?

For some reason, I tend to start writing in first person, present tense, and end up writing in third person past tense. I’m weird. Anyway, I had the mysterious ‘I’ describe the castle a bit. Then tried to figure out who ‘I’ was. The princess? Nah, not feeling it. A servant? Cliché. So my next sentence was written.

I’m not the princess or a servant. No, I’m the castle…

In an effort to figure it out, I started listing everyone who might be in a castle. Guess what I went with! The castle cat. Yep, ‘I’ was a cat. And from that first short sentence, a trilogy was born. Crazy!

So keep an ear out. Sometimes you hear or think of something that would make a wonderful first sentence. I didn’t keep any of the stuff I wrote at first, but doesn’t matter, I had the idea. And make sure you write it down. It is beyond frustrating to come up with a sentence perfectly phrased, then realize you can’t remember the exact wording!

So there you go, some weird ways I came up with story ideas! Stay tuned for my next few posts. I’ll write about some ways to start your stories, end them, and maybe even how you can get through the hardest part, the middle of a story.

Write on!

Check This Out!!

So Mez discovered a new blog/ website and shared it with me, and I am in love. It’s called Prolifiko and it’s a site dedicated to helping writers meet their goals and finish projects.

FINISH PROJECTS!!

That is where I have a hard time. Come up with a story idea? I got dozens. Starting the draft? No problem, my fingers itch to type/write it down. Plotting it out and fashioning characters? Love it. Actually finishing? Yeah…my current project is eight years old.

EIGHT YEARS.

What is wrong with me?!

But this cool new blog has tips to help writers be more productive and to develop regular writing habits. They also have a five day writing challenge and I’ve signed up for it as of today. I’m telling all of you so I’m more accountable. My goal: finish rough editing the 45,000 words I wrote last year of my manuscript Fey.  So, um, this is the story I was supposed to finish last October. I’m hanging my head in shame. But I’m once again attempting to finish!

So check out Prolifiko here and let us know what you think of it!

The Mystery Blogger Award

So co-writing a blog from two continents can be a little tough sometimes, so it took us a little while to respond to Nandini’s tag, but here it is! And we sincerely thank you for such an awesome tag.

Thank you, Nandini!

If you haven’t already, check out her blog here. It’s one of my absolute favorites!

And just what is The Mystery Blogger Award? Well, here it is in the creator’s own words:

“The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.” 

-Okoto Enigma

Thanks for creating this award and Mez and I are thrilled to be nominated! Here’s a link to Okoto Enigma’s blog.

Here are the rules for this award. Who knew these things have rules?!

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link.
  4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  5. Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  6. Nominate 10-20 bloggers.
  7. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  8. Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  9. Share the link to your best post.

Rules 1-3, done!

So three things about me and Mez…let’s see…

1.  We love Pride and Prejudice, especially the 1995 movie adaptation. I can’t tell you how many times we have watched that 6 hour movie, pausing when Mr. Darcy give Elizabeth the look after the saves Georgiana from embarrassment. Swoon!

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2.  We love to travel. Really, who doesn’t? But traveling together, we’ve gone to France, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and several places throughout England, including Lyme, Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and London of course!

3.  We have a bit of a strange meeting up story. Before we met each other, we both lived in the same tiny town. Mez went to a different school, so we never met up. Then Mez moved and eventually became home-schooled. When she did, I switched to the school she had gone to! After that, at least 2-3 people from my home town asked me if I knew her, and I began to get rather irritated at this girl I didn’t know because no, I didn’t know her, stop asking! But she came back to school and we became friends before I fully usrealized, oh, she’s that girl. And the rest, as they say, is history!

And now, here are our answers to Nandini’s questions:

What is the last book you read that you would recommend to everyone who reads?

Mez: Just finished Lucy Strange’s debut MG novel The Secret of Nightingale Wood and was well impressed. I haven’t reviewed it just yet, but definitely recommend it.

Bri: Mine is a reread, but I just finished for the fifth or sixth time The True Meaning of Smekday. It is such a fun read and Tip is a hilarious, sarcastic, clever narrator.

What song is stuck in your head currently?

Mez: Slightly embarrassing, but my husband and I have been binge watching Flight of the Concords lately, so pretty much any of their songs is game to pop into my head throughout the day.

Bri: Mine is even more embarrassing than Mez’s. This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my favorite movies and favorite soundtracks to listen to while I milk the goats.

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What is your most anticipated movie of 2017?

Mez: It was Beauty and the Beast, but looking ahead, I’m super excited to see the film adaptation of Wonder in November (especially because I’m reading it right now!)

Bri: Same here with Beauty and the Beast! Now it’s A Monster Calls. I actually own it, just haven’t had the right time to watch it.

What game(s) did you love to play as a child?

Mez: Anything involving the outdoors and make-believe. I seem to remember my siblings and I wandering around the woods as orphans a lot of the time.

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Bri: We had a little ‘tree house’ (it wasn’t in a tree but on stilts) with a rope swing hanging from a tree. There we were fairies, princesses, and super heroes. We spent hours out there, imagining stories. Eventually I started writing them down, and that’s where it all started!

 

If you were to be stuck in one city (or town or village) of your choice for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Mez: Golly, that’s a tough one! But I’ve got to go with Oxford, England. Ok, it’s not the most exotic, but it’s nostalgic and magical and it just feels like home.

Bri: Assuming I could speak the language and my family could visit, I would have to say Paris. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I loved it. Absolutely loved it, the architecture, the gardens, the food, and just the overall vibe.

Now for our nominees:

 

– Briana & Krista @ Pages Unbound
– Ami @ Luvtoread
– Loonyloonyvish @ Idlejabber 
– Katie Grace @ A Writer’s Faith
And here are your questions!
  1. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert (or a little of both)?
  2. How do you get through writer’s block?
  3.  Coffee or tea and how do you drink it?
  4. What are your writing goals for this year?
  5. Fun question: If your could have any super power, what would it be? And would you be a hero, villain, or just have some fun?
Finally, a link to our best posts. That’s a tough one… I think I’ll pick Someday and Daily Doses of Magic.
Whew! Just about done. This was a bit exhausting, but a lot of fun! I hope everyone is having a great week. Can you believe we are heading into June, almost half way through the year! And Mez will be stateside soon!! Something to really look forward to. Night (or morning) everyone!

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