Saturday, October 22, 2016

A NaNouncement + Beautiful Books

So I have an announcement to make. Or rather, a NaNouncement (ha, I'm so clever. XD)...


I'm pretty sure that's not news to most of you since I've basically told everyone individually in blog comments that I'm doing it. *coughs* #fail

But I decided it was such a momentous decision that it deserved being officially announced on my blog. I'm like 98.93% certain that all my sanity is gone for good. BECAUSE GOSH, MARY, HOW WILL YOU HAVE TIME TO WRITE 50K??? Fall is literally one of the worst times of year for me to commit to doing this. (Because college classes. And the SAT. AND EVERYTHING BASICALLY.) However, I'm pretty sure that almost everyone who does NaNo doesn't have the time? They're just crazier than other people. :P

Because I still haven't finished my WIP from Camp NaNo, I'm being a rebel and attempting to add 50k to it in November. I'm not sure whether that will officially finish it, but I am hoping to have it completely done by the end of the year. And then...who knows? I miiiiight be letting beta readers at it in spring. *mysteriously waggles eyebrows* (Don't hold me to that, though. I am very apt to change my mind. XP)

Once again, I have no outline. I didn't have the time to construct one before Camp NaNo, so I ended up completely pantsing it. Turns out I actually had a ton of fun doing that, which means I'm going to do the same thing during NaNo. And yes, that makes me even more insane than normal human beans who actually plan out their novels. But hey, I never claimed to be normal. ;D

I've rambled on long enough. You guys are probably curious what I'm actually writing (and if you're not, well, pretend you are) so I will also be introducing you to my novel today.

The wizards Sky and Cait have returned once again with Beautiful Books! Usually, they do Beautiful People (wherein we get to rave about our characters), but whenever NaNo begins to creep out of the shadows, they bring out Beautiful Books. That means that you guys get to hear alllllllll about my WIP. Lucky you.

// Moonlit Mirror //

1.) What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

A little over a year ago, I sat down in my "reading chair" with a journal and began writing a synopsis for a pirate story. I jotted down a few plot points, as well as brief character descriptions, and wrote the first scene in a different journal. 

I had just seen the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie before this so I have a feeling it was originally inspired by that. *coughs* However, my plot has changed drastically in the past four months. I completely scrapped the original plot--only leaving some of the same characters and the pirates--and converted the book into a whimsical fantasy story. Honestly have no clue what inspired my current plot...probably just the pressure to write words during Camp NaNo. XD

So I've had the basic idea for Moonlit Mirror for about a year. ^_^

2.) Describe what your novel is about!

I wrote my first official blurb a couple weeks ago! Here it is:

Charlotte Davidson has spent her whole life wishing to be free of her scheming uncle's clutches. So when she is invited by his Regency Aleck Theodus III to a masquerade ball, she jumps at the chance to make her escape. However, the bizarre Royal City seems to be full of lunatics. The only partially sane person there is the dashing (yet irksome) Alexander Bradshaw, a lieutenant in charge of a mission to reclaim Ile de la Phantome from a group of rogue pirates. As annoying as the Lieutenant is, she begins to think her only chance of freedom is stowing away on his ship. After all, what could be worse: a controlling uncle or deadly pirates?

James Sawyer, the apprentice to an exiled magician, only wishes to be in and out of the Royal City as fast as he can. Unfortunately, his annual trip to the mainland (on official "wizard business") goes every wrong way imaginable. He soon finds himself aboard a ship to Ile de la Phantome...with a man who wants him dead.

(Yes, it is awesome. Thank you for noticing. ;D)

3.) What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

(Thanks, Cait. I just spent like an hour on Pinterest looking for pictures. :P)

If you want more pictures for my WIP, you can check out my Pinterest board.

4.) Introduce us to each of your characters!

I'll just introduce you to a few of them since I don't want to drown you guys in names. XD

Charlotte Davidson // The 18-year-old niece of a power-hungry uncle. She has brown hair and blue eyes and is known to say whatever pops in her head. She's secretive about her past, and because of that, tends to read into things more than necessary. She also has a very logical mind, which makes her reluctant to accept the insanity of the Royal City. (But don't let her logical mind fool you: she's also extremely impulsive. :P)

James Sawyer // The 19-year-old apprentice of an exiled wizard. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and a withdrawn demeanor. He's very protective of his family and sensitive to other people's emotions. However, he can get aggravated when you push the right buttons. Namely, saying anything to offend his loved ones.

Lieutenant Alexander Bradshaw // A 20-something lieutenant in charge of a mission to reclaim an island from rogue pirates. He has tawny hair and penetrating grey eyes. He thinks a little too much of himself and has the innate ability to aggravate Charlotte. (I mean, James kind of does, too. But Lieutenant Bradshaw does it on purpose. XD) His moral compass doesn't exactly work very well, but he does have a shred of decency...somewhere. *coughs*

Tom (ha, no last name) // The 18-year-old son of the aforementioned wizard. He has curly red hair and blue eyes. He's annoyingly happy and basically lives for food. He's James's close friend and is very people-oriented...which is tricky because he lives in exile on an island. Eheh. >.>

5.) How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Um...well, I don't. XD Unless you count stressing over the fact that I haven't prepared. ;)

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm pantsing this novel, which also happens to be my first "official" novel. That means I haven't prepared much at all. I did write up character profiles for a couple characters a while back, and I have an idea of the basic plot, but that's about it.

6.) What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Probably all the glitter. *nods seriously* Really though, the amount of glitter in this book is mind-blowing. (Oh, and also, there's a scene that takes place in a cake shop. So that's fun. :D)

I'm also really looking forward to writing about the pirates. I haven't gotten to that part of the story yet, but I think it will be a blast. ^_^

7.) List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Well, the Royal City is where the beginning of the book takes place. It's the capital of the fantasy world and home to his Regency (who's basically mad, by the by). The whole city is so bizarre and fun, and I'm honestly so pumped to write more about it.

I don't have the whole world planned out (I'm a pantser, remember?), but there is an island that disappears, a city paved with glitter roads, and a squirrel village somewhere in the mix.

8.) What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Charlotte's main goal (in the beginning) is to attain freedom from her uncle. She's been tied to him for as long as she can remember, and all she wishes to do is escape his control. The main thing standing in her way is James Sawyer, who just so happened to fill in the last spot on the ship she wanted to board.

James desperately wishes to free his younger sister, who was captured by a band of pirates years ago. His primary obstacle is his employer's lack of expertise in magic. James's father sent him to work for the wizard so he could learn spells to be used against the pirates, but the old magician seems to have lost his knowledge over the years.

Their goals will probably change as the characters themselves change, but that's what I have at the moment.

9.) How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

I haven't exactly figured that out yet. #oops One of the joys of being a pantser. -_-

(But even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you. A writer's gotta keep her secrets, you know. *cackles evilly*)

10.) What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

As you've probably gathered, my book isn't exactly a deep, inspirational read. But I would like to communicate themes of hope, determination, and friendship. Also, letting go of the past is one theme I want to weave into my story.


Before you guys scramble down to the comments section, I wanted to let you know about something my friend Abi is doing. She's holding an event called 5k1day, which is essentially just writing 5k of your WIP in...well, one day. Pretty straightforward. You can join the Facebook event or the Google Hangout. (If you want to join the hangout, just let me know in the comments.) Either way, you'll be surrounded with like-minded, crazy people who are endeavoring to write 5,000 words on November 1st. And nope, you don't have to be doing NaNo to participate.

Well then. Did you enjoy "meeting" my book? AND ARE YOU AS TERRIFIED AS I AM OF THE FACT THAT NANO IS ALMOST 10 DAYS AWAY??? I'm obviously completely prepared. *cough, cough* 

P.S. You can stalk my NaNo profile right here. ;) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Eye of the Storm

Hurricane Matthew

For those of you who aren't already aware, I just survived a hurricane.

Hurricane Matthew, which at one point was a Category 5, has already claimed over a thousand lives, most of them in the impoverished nation of Haiti. It was a powerhouse of wind and waves, with winds gusting up to 160 miles per hour at one point.

And it was headed right toward us.

In all honesty, I was terrified. Although I craved an element of excitement in my life, the idea of a monster of a storm hitting us frightened me. All the models started pointing it right in our direction, predicting that it would make landfall almost right where I lived.

As the models grew more and more certain, we packed our bags and stuffed our minivan full of stuff. I boxed up my books and stored away as many of them in my closet as possible. A part of me wondered whether or not I would ever see my home again. Sure, our home was supposed to be extremely sturdy; but fear claimed a part of my heart and made me doubt.

Yet something happened. Something that could only be called a miracle.

The storm shifted.

Instead of making landfall, the hurricane veered 20 miles off course. Those 20 miles made all the difference. There was only minimal damage, with some trees, signs, and fences down. A few shingles were blown off some houses. The gate to our fence blew off its hinges. But we were miraculously saved.

Someone intervened. Someone who has power over the wind and the waves. Someone who holds the seas in the palm of His hand.

Someone who calms.

In all this turmoil, God whispered something to my disquieted soul: Be still.

I tried to combat this with my anxious thoughts. I have too much to prepare. There's no time for relaxing.

Yet He persisted. Be still.

My restless heart could still not be persuaded. But what if it hits? What if we lose everything?

He whispered, Be still and know that I am God.

I continued to ignore His voice. Deep inside, I knew who was really in control. But I wasn't sure if He could really do it. After all, how could the hurricane miraculously shift when all the models seemed to say otherwise?

But I had forgotten something: there is calm in the storm.

He is the eye of the storm. As paradoxical as it may seem, when we are at our lowest point, when a hurricane of troubles seems to be pounding us mercilessly, we can find rest in the middle of it all. There is a calm that can be found in the very core of our troubles when we look to the right source. Just like the eye of the storm, God is a steady source of peace. In His presence, we can find rest. Though the strongest gales may assail us just outside the eye, we can be still and know that He is God. 

He is the author of the wind and waves.

He is the lighthouse in the swirling fog.

He is the calm in the storm.

The world may seem to be crashing down on us, like breakers on the ocean, but we need to remember why we're in the storm. Through the turbulence of life's sorrows and heartbreaks, worries and fears, we can find our greatest joy and peace if we only learn to be still.

Remember who spoke the world into existence. And find peace in the knowledge that He is holding our hand. He will not let our hand slip out of His grasp. His love is holding us.

It can be difficult to rest when everything seems to be going awry, but true peace can only come when we cast our cares upon the Creator. Letting go of our deepest fears and allowing Him to heal the scars is such a cleansing feeling. Only when we pass through the waves can we be broken enough to find peace. God puts us through the storm so that we can find the calm. He wants to ease our burdened hearts...if only we have the courage to be still.


Here are some songs that have been ministering to me lately:

I've been meaning to write another devotional post for a long time, but no inspiration had really settled in until now. Leave it to God to work the worst things into beautiful revelations!

"Be still and know that I am God."
// Psalm 46:10 //

Friday, October 7, 2016

Why I Love Fall // Guest Post by Morgan

I'm beyond thrilled to announce that my darling pen pal and blogging friend Morgan is guest posting today! AND SHE'S POSTING ABOUT FALL. Eep! This makes me all kinds of delighted because autumn is my second favorite season. I loooove it!

ALSO. We swapped posts so there's a post up on her blog by yours truly...and it just might have something to do with dragons. Just sayin'. ;) GO RAID HER BLOG BECAUSE IT'S AH-MAY-ZING.

Please welcome Morgan as she tells you some of the reasons that fall is fabulous!


Hello, everybody!  I'm Morgan from The Day the Lord has Made.  I would first like to thank Mary for letting me post on her lovely blog today.  I'm going to be sharing with you all some reasons why autumn is the best of all the seasons (in my humble opinion). 

These are in no particular order, by the way.

1.  Cooler weather. 

After a long hot summer, I am so ready for crisp cool days, aren't you?  I love getting up when it's foggy, misty, or raining and it feels like it's time to bundle up with a nice hot drink and a good book. Which brings me to my second point.

2. Hot drinks.

Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, whichever you fancy, you got to admit they taste a whole lot better when its cold out.  Though you might drink hot drinks in the summer, I think they are even better in the fall and winter.  I for one drink more hot drinks in the fall/winter months myself.  Who's with me?

3.  Sweater weather.

In the summer it's so hot out all you end up wearing are shorts and a tee shirt, am I right?  But the fall is when you can bundle up in a sweater and sweat pants...and maybe a blanket.  And just be all cozy!  It's so lovely to snuggle all up like a big marshmallow.

4.  It's apple picking time!

I love apples!  Apple cider, apple crisp, apple donuts (they are SO good!), and apples in general.  They taste the best during this time of the year as well.  We live close to this place called Apple Hill and we go up there and get our apples and the apple donuts.  It's a lot of fun.  We bring home a couple boxes of delicious apples to munch on and bake with.

5.  Fires going in the fireplace.

I LOVE having a fire going in the fireplace.  At my house, we have one of those fireplaces that you just flip the switch and voila, fire is going in the fire place.  It lets off a lot of heat and is really nice.  But I also love having one going in the fire pit outside.  And of course when you are camping a fire going is always a must.  The heat, smell, cackle, and just looking at the dancing flames is wonderful.

6.  Trees changing color.

I love seeing the trees turning into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. And then falling to the ground gracefully.  It's such a lovely time, the trees and the weather altogether changing.

There are more things that I love about fall, but these are the basic ones. God has blessed us with some awesome seasons, but fall is my favorite.  Coming out of the heat into the refreshing coolness and loveliness we call autumn and fall is my favorite.  I'm ready for it to be nice and cool all day long.  Hopefully soon! :)

I hope you all enjoyed this little post.  Thank you again, Mary!  Blessings to all of you!  ~Morgan


Thanks so much for that beautiful post, Morgan! It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Now I can't wait for autumn to arrive where I live. ^_^

WELL. Have you guys checked out my guest post yet? Because I'm so nice, I'll graciously leave the link here again. SO THERE. You have no excuse. ;)

What's YOUR favorite season? And do you say fall or autumn? (I usually say fall, but autumn is so much more melodic.) What's your favorite thing about fall?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Q&A Post

Well...that only took me a month. :P

Yup, that's right. I'm answering all your questions from my birthday post a month later.  But hey, on the plus side, at least I didn't wait until October. (I mean, it's technically only two days before October but hush, details.)

I'm honestly floored by how many questions I received. You guys are curious little dragons, aren't you? I figured it would take me 2,147 years to answer them all so I'm just doing one to three questions from each of you. ^_^

// Rebekah //

Do you like roller coasters? (And if so, which ones, the smaller ones or the bigger ones? The mix-your-stomach-up-so-it-can't-tell-north-from-south or the Up-and-down ones?)

In case the blog picture at the top of my post wasn't an indication, YES, I LOVE ROLLER COASTERS. Generally, I like the bigger ones the best. The taller, the better. ;D (And also more terrifying but that's what makes it fun, right?) I like the loopy ones a lot, but my favorite kinds are the up-and-down ones. I love going over all those hills and feeling my stomach drop all the time. XD

Favorite character (of yours)? (this question was also asked by Savannah)

WHAT A QUESTION. Seriously though. *is indignant* A few of my favorites (notice I said a few; I cannot simply pick one favorite) are Tom and James from Moonlit Mirror (title under construction). Tom's so hilarious and full-of-himself...also full of food. :P James is reserved, loyal, and kindhearted. However, he does have a bit of a temper if you get him riled up. He's also an INFJ so...y'know. He's awesome.


If you were allowed to bring three things to a deserted island for twenty years (excluding water, food, and clothes) what items would you bring? (sorry, no internet ;)

Darn it! No internet. *sighs*

I'd probably bring allllll my books (this includes notebooks), pencils, and my camera. That way I could spend the time reading, writing, and doing photography. That doesn't sound all that bad. ;)

// Emily //

Why did you start a blog?

Mainly because I wanted to improve my writing, develop lasting friendships, and have fun. I had been haunting the blogosphere for about a year or so before I started a blog. I honestly still don't know what direction my blog is headed, but I'm loving the journey. And I think I'm still holding true to my original purpose of having fun. ^_^

// Hann //

What was the earliest story you remember, about?

Probably Bible stories that my parents would always read to me. I also particularly remember "Go, Dog. Go!" by P.D. Eastman. :)

// Savannah //

What are the three prettiest books you own?

ARGH. Such a hard question. O_o

Um...we'll go with my special copy of Peter Pan, illustrated copy of Alice in Wonderland, and hardcover Illusionarium.

Peter Pan

Alice in Wonderland

Illusionarium. I still haven't gotten around
to photographing it. *facepalm*

Which book are you reading right now?

The Fellowship of the Ring! I started it during the summer but got distracted. :P BUT NOW I'M READING IT OFFICIALLY, I PROMISE. So far, it's marvelous.

// Morgan //

What is a food you cannot like, despite everyone else's good opinions of it?

Nutella. I know, everyone likes Nutella. Well, WRONG. Because eheh...nope.  I guess I just think the Hazelnut flavor is weird.

I also don't like watermelon. *cough* YES, I'M A REBEL. It makes a great photography subject and looks super cute as a design print, but I'd prefer it outside of my mouth, please and thank you.

If you could have any animal as a miniature pet, what would you have? (similar question asked by Christine)

A DRAGON, FOR SURE. I want a little baby dragon like this one.

Oh, it can only be a real animal, you say? Well, dragons are real so HA.

If you could bring one fictional character to life for 24 hours, who would you choose?

Man, these questions are good. My favorite character of all time is Legolas so...*grins* yeah, him.

I wouldn't complain, though, if Halcyon from Paper Crowns came to life. ;)

// Ariel //

Favorite ice cream flavor? (I'm guessing you'll go with strawberry again ;))

Actually, my favorite flavor isn't strawberry. *cue chorus of astonished gasps* My top three favorite flavors are chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, and cotton candy. Proooobably in that order.

Do you have any pets?

I own one adorable Manx cat named Patches. Though she would argue that she really owns me. 

Do you have a hobby other than writing?

Lots of them! I love photography (as you can see), sketching, painting, playing violin, and reading. It's also fun to bake and knit, though I haven't done the latter in far too long.

// Victoria //

Do you like cookies or donuts more?

COOKIES. Cookies are one of my very favorite foods. THEY'RE SOOO GOOD. (And in case you didn't know, gingerbread is my favorite kind of cookie.) 

Still. Donuts are delish. *is now hungry*

Tea or coffee?

Eheh...neither? I've tried both of them but...I just don't like them. *hides* Coffee is too bitter, and tea just tastes really earthy to me. XD 

However, I'll gladly drink hot chocolate or hot apple cider.

Do you play any musical instruments?

Yes, I do! I've been playing the violin for about 4 years now. I want to learn to play the piano someday as well.

Who are 3 of your favorite fictional characters and why?

I'm going to go with characters from books I've read recently. Otherwise, I would never be able to pick just three.

BUT STILL. I AM ALL THE FLUSTERED. Only three favorites??? 

Well...I'm sure these aren't my top characters of all time, but a few I've been loving recently are Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle, Halcyon from Paper Crowns, and Lord Bradford from Entwined. 

I love Calcifer because...well, how does one describe him. He's very grumpy and tends to complain a lot about things, but hidden behind that rough exterior, you know he cares a little bit about Howl and Sophie. He also has some of the best lines and is overall hilarious. XD 

Halcyon is extremely snarky. And just so you know, snarky characters are my FAVORITE. I LOVE THEM. Not only is Halcyon snarky, but he's a cat. A talking cat. If that doesn't convince you that he's awesome, I don't know what will. 

I also love Lord Bradford. He's so adorable and can be kind of awkward. In a way, he reminds me a lot of my character James. I just love his sweet relationship with Azalea. <3

And that's just the tip of the iceberg there. I have so. many. favorites. O_O

Who are your top 3 favorite authors?


My three favorite authors who aren't still alive are Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. My three favorite living authors are Heather Dixon, Sharon Cameron, and Wayne Thomas Batson...I think. :P

We're just ignoring the fact that I gave you six authors. And I still feel guilty for not listing other ones that I love. >.>

// Meredith //

If you were banned from either reading or writing for the rest of your life, which would you choose? (horrid question, I know)

You guys clearly take pleasure in my pain. XP 

I guess I would choose to be banned from writing. I love both reading and writing on almost an equal level, but I feel like I would wither away and die if I could never read a book ever again. I mean, the same thing would probably happen if I could never write again so...


Are there any bizarre instruments you've always wanted to play?

Yes, actually. I want to able to play the hardanger fiddle, which is a Norwegian fiddle with eight or nine strings. Four of the strings are played like a regular violin's, while the others are called "understrings," which resonate as the others are played. 

Another one I wish I could play is the nyckelharpa. It's a Swedish stringed instrument that also has keys. You use your bow to play the strings with one hand and press the keys with the other. 

Both are really cool. LOOK THEM UP.

What's your second favorite Studio C video? (I think you've told me your first favorite.) + Who's your favorite Studio C cast member?

(Counting these as one because they're related. ;D)

I actually ranked all my favorites about four or five months ago. I think my favorites have changed since then, but this one was listed as my second favorite.

I also love this one and this one.

As far as my favorite cast member is concerned...I'd have to say Matt. They're all fabulous (and I feel kinda bad for picking just one of them), but he's probably my favorite. ^_^

// Miss Evie //

Can you start a bookstagram cause your photography is awesome?

D'awww, that's so sweet. <3 Thank you! I probably won't be starting an Instagram account anytime soon just because I already have a lot of things on my plate. It looks like fun, but it's hard enough for me to balance the social media platforms I already have. 

However, if I do ever start one, you guys will be some of the first to know!

If you could marry any of Jane's male characters who and why?

MR. DARCY FOR SURE. He's just so much like me, really. An introvert who doesn't have the gift of conversing with people easily. I completely understand him. Once you get to know him, he's actually very "amiable." Hidden beneath that introvert skin, he's a loyal friend and kind individual.

Also, he's awkward. I love awkward characters.

Would you be interested in a guest post from me?

Um...YES. Evie, I would LOVE to have you guest post!

// Abi //

If you knew you had only more day to live, how would you spend it? 

I would find a portal to Middle-earth and spend the day with all the hobbits and Gandalf in the Shire. I could read, explore the rolling green hills, and talk with all my favorite characters. If I could convince Gandalf, I would take an Eagle over to Rivendell and visit the Elves.

Then, you know, once my time was up, I could die an epic death by dragon fire. XD


That's a wrap! Thanks so much for the questions, everyone! It was a blast to answer some of them. :D My only qualm is that I couldn't answer them all. 

If there's a question you wanted me to answer that I didn't in this post, leave them in the comments. I'll try to answer them if I can. And let me know if you want me to do this again sometime. It was sooo much fun, and I definitely wouldn't mind giving it another go. Maybe for part of my blogoversary? ;)

So tell me. What's YOUR favorite ice cream flavor? Do you have any pets? And what fictional character would you want to bring alive?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Hobbit Day! (The Tolkien Tag 2016)

Would you look at that? I'm actually posting two days in a row. Because...

Today is Bilbo and Frodo's birthday!!!


In fact, the entire week is special because it's Tolkien Week! The lovely Hamlette has been hosting a blog party to celebrate. Of course, I had to join. How could I not?

So in honor of the most famousest of hobbits, I'm doing the Tolkien Tag! Stay tuned till the end for some extra LotR goodies. ;) (And spoilers will be rampant bunnies, just so you know.)

1.  How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read? I've only read one. *hides in disgrace* Ack, I feel like such a terrible person. D: The only book I've read so far is The Hobbit. But don't worry, I started on The Fellowship of the Ring and hope to finish it by the end of the month. *cough* maybe *cough, cough*

*crawls out of hiding place and moves on to the next question*

2.  Have you seen any movies based on them? 

Yes indeedy! I've seen all three of The Lord of the Rings movies and all three of The Hobbit films by Peter Jackson. I've seen all of LotR six times (minus The Return of the King; I didn't get the chance to rewatch that this summer) and The Hobbit four times? I'm not even sure. I watch LotR twice a year, but The Hobbit movies I kind of just...pick up. XD

3.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you cry?

Nah, not really. I make sure to use my feels-proof helmet every time I watch them so I never cry.


Hehe. NOT.

Basically, I sob during all of the movies. Multiple times. :P DO NOT ASK ME TO NAME SPECIFIC SCENES ELSE I WILL COMMENCE CRYING. 

Totally not crying over here.

Since you're asking for specifics, though, I guess I'll be nice and share some.

~ ALL THE DEATHS (especially Boromir's and Thorin's D':)

~ Alllll of these scenes.

~ This one, oddly enough. (And no, it's not because Smaug dies. ;D)


There, that should give you a small taste of how emotional these movies make me. XD

4.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you laugh? 

Oh man, there are lots of those, too. I'm an emotional pendulum during these movies, I tell you.

A few I can think of off the top of my head are the po-ta-toes scene (I quote this whenever we eat potatoes--every. single. time.), the scene where Legolas takes down the Oliphaunt (HE'S THE BEST, I TELL YOU), the "don't tell the elf" scene, and the scene where Bilbo forgets his handkerchief.

Also any scene with Legolas and Gimli. They're the best. XD

5.  Have you ever chosen a Middle Earth name for yourself?  

Nope, but now I want to. *is curious* 

6.  Who would you want to party with/marry/fight to the death? (pick three characters) 

Lemme see here...I would probably party with Merry and Pippin, marry Legolas (obviously), and fight Saruman to the death. I honestly wouldn't stand a chance against any of the villains but...y'know, it would be pretty epic to battle a wizard. ^_^

Yes, this was necessary. XD

7.  When was the last time you visited Middle Earth, via books or movies? 

Either when I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring back in July (which I'm starting again this month) or when I saw The Two Towers, also in July.

8.  Do you consider Gollum to be a villain?  Why or why not? 

Very tricksy question, precious. He's a hard character to classify. Smeagol isn't evil at heart--there's still some good in him--but he ultimately does become consumed by his desire for the Ring. So like Hamlette said, I guess I consider him as more of an antagonist with a tragic fate. You feel sorry for Smeagol, but in the end, he chooses darkness instead of light. By creating the character of Gollum, Tolkien really shows his penetrating knowledge of human nature.

So yeah. I don't consider him a villain, per se. More of a tragic character.

9.  How would you sum up what Tolkien's stories mean to you in one word? 

Probably home. It feels like my heart belongs in Middle Earth. <3

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

YES. Pull up a chair, people. XD 

I'll be copying Meredith and only doing quotes from the movies because I haven't read the LotR books yet.

(In no particular order. I tried to pick mostly different ones than what Meredith put just for the sake of variety.)

 "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." 


 "Some believe it is only great power that can keep evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."


 "I would rather share one lifetime with you than spend all the ages of this world alone."


 "Anyway, you need people of intelligence of this sort of"


"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."


 "You look terrible."


 "Go back to your books, your fireplace. Plant your trees, watch them grow. If more of us valued home above gold, it would be a merrier world."


 "A wizard is never late, Frodo. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to." 


 "Not all those who wander are lost."


 "You left out one of the chief characters--Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam."

"Now, Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was being serious."

"So was I."


You don't even know how hard it was to limit myself to just ten quotes. I wanted to list sooo many others, but I feared you guys might come at me with pitchforks if I did more than that. XD

This was so much fun, Hamlette! Thanks so much for hosting this grand celebration! ^_^ If you guys are big LotR fans, then you'll want to check out her blog party. There are giveaways and trivia games and tags and just general awesomeness. GO. NOW. Before I have to make the Eagles fly you over there. ;)


Now...onto the goodies I promised.

While I was *ahem* wasting time doing research for this post, I stumbled across a few fun LotR things which I wanted to share.

First off, there's this hilarious video about the Ringwraiths.

Then, because I love behind the scenes things, here's this.

Lastly, I found this "Let It Go" parody involving Lord of the Rings. I personally still love Frozen so when I saw this video that combined it with LotR, I about died of happiness. 

Happy birthday, Frodo and Bilbo!

Okay, my fellow hobbits and elves. What are some of YOUR favorite quotes? Who would you marry? (Sorry, I've already claimed Legolas. ;D) And which is your favorite movie from LotR? I know, I'm so evil.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: A Time to Die {Nadine Brandes}

We are gathered here today to announce the startling fact that Mary Horton hasn't done a book review in five months. *cue strangled gasps*

YES, IT'S TRUE. It's been an embarrassing amount of time since I last reviewed a book. *hides in shame* I know you guys all love when I review books, right? (Hint: the answer is "absolutely yes, master bookdragon.") Well, thankfully, I'm a benevolent ruler and will bestow another one upon my subjects.  ;D

Here's the summary so you actually know what I'm going to be reviewing.


How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. 

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. 

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out. (source)


Intriguing, am I right? O_o I know it sucked me in.

Now...on to the review!


This is a rather tricky book to review. See, I really liked some aspects of the book, but...I didn't totally love it. 

I've come to the conclusion that dystopian is not my genre. It's just not. I've tried several different dystopians, but interestingly enough, they all earn about the same rating. I guess I just can never get into it? Maybe it's too depressing for me, I dunno. :P Though I will say that for a dystopian book, A Time to Die was much less dismal than others. In fact, I would argue that it actually focuses a LOT on hope. Which is awesome! Props to the author for that!

ANYWHOZENS. I'm already rambling. *forces train of thought back onto the tracks*

// Things I Liked //

The premise of this book is extremely inventive. Oh, and it's FULL of all kinds of creative things! I don't want to spoil anything but there's a certain person named Wilbur who makes suits...suffice to say, the suits are pretty awesome, and I need them in my life. There are tightropes and cool futuristic technological things (I'm so descriptive :P) and just LOTS OF CREATIVITY. *thumbs up*

Another thing I liked about this book was the raw emotion. I absolutely love it when the author makes you feel what the characters feel. It's a sign of an amazing writer. Whenever Parvin was struggling emotionally, physically, or spiritually, I ached for her. This book made me feel. (It also crushed my heart like FIFTY GAZILLION TIMES BUT WHO'S COUNTING </3) And on the topic of characters...

I REALLY LIKED THE MAIN CHARACTER. That's always a good thing. Now, she's not my favorite character, per se, but I loved the realism that she has. Honestly, she reminded me a lot of myself in many ways. Physically unable to pull herself up a rope--check. Uses tildes--check. (We're very much alike. XD) 

I loved following along with Parvin's journey. Seeing how she matured in her faith and gained more purpose was so beautiful. Really, the themes of this book are all great. The importance of using our time wisely, surrendering our life to God, and fighting for what we believe really cuts to the heart, challenging each and every reader who picks up this book. It's always refreshing to see books that stimulate our brains and make us think about important truths.

Also...I. NEED. MORE. HAWKE. <3 He is honestly the best. End of story.

Okay, now on to my dislikes. :/

// Things I Didn't Like //

This book was written in first person present tense. This is in NO way the fault of the writer--I'm sure there are lots of people who like present tense. However, I am not one of them. I had no idea it was written in that tense before I picked it up. So that was a bit of a bummer. (Although I will admit that I kind of got used to it after a while. It just wasn't my favorite.) I know this may sound like a shallow reason, but I honestly just can't get into a book as much when it's written in a tense I feel is awkward.

I also never really liked a lot of the characters. YES, I KNOW I JUST SAID I LIKED PARVIN AND HAWKE. But I reallllllllly didn't like a lot of characters in this book. I waver between loathing/loving Jude. He actually made me kind of want to throw my tablet across the room more than once. XD Honestly, the only two characters I liked a lot were Parvin and Hawke. *shrugs*

The action also tended to be...well, nonexistent. They seemed to spend the majority of the book wandering around or arguing. :P I kept waiting for exciting things to happen--and yes, they did sometimes--but I felt like every time the action would get going, it would quickly be squashed by some huge setback. Thankfully, I was invested enough in the plot and main character (and Hawke <3) that I wanted to keep reading. ^_^

There was also a certain romance I DID NOT APPROVE OF AT ALL. Nooo thank you.

Content wise, this book contains a little bit of violence and such. I maaaay have cringed during some of the scenes. ;) There is also some romance, though the author keeps it all clean. So I would probably recommend this to teens around the age of 13, just for some of the violence. 

Overall, I did like this book! There just were quite a few things I didn't care for. :/ Hopefully this didn't come off as too scathing a review at the end...eheh. :P I just wanted to be honest about the book since Miss Brandes herself was generous enough to give me a free review copy! (Thanks loads, Nadine! :D) 

Final Consensus: 3 Stars

So did I enjoy this book? Yes, I did. Will I be picking up the second book? ABSOLUTELY YES. I'm kind of emotionally invested now. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT ELSE HAPPENS. *grabby hands*

// The Author //

I am an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. I never received my Hogwarts letter, but rest assured I’m no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family-size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. I write about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. My dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged me to pursue shalom, which is now my favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When I’m not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, me and my knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

// Linklings //

~ Order book one, two, or pre-order book three (which comes out October 14).

~ Get book swag when you pre-order A Time to Rise! (The swag looks pretty cool, just sayin.')

~ Those of you who have Facebook can party it up with Miss Brandes herself! Woohoo! 

~ Finally, you can catch up with Nadine at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She's an awesome peep. :D

What say you, dragonlings? Have you read this book? Are you interested in reading it? (C'mon, you really should. Everyone and their neighbor loves it so I'm really just the odd cookie here. XD) GIMME ALL YOUR THOUGHTS.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Three Writing Lessons from Lord of the Rings

I am beyond ecstatic right now. OBVIOUSLY. BECAUSE IT'S SAVANNAH. *squeals* Yup, the lovely Savannah Grace has graced us with her presence today. *claps for bad pun* Ahem. 

Before I get booed off the stage, I'll hand you guys over to her. ;)


*straps Mary onto a ferris wheel*

*happily takes over her blog*

WELL now that THAT is out of the way.

Hi guys, I’m Savannah! As you can see, I have taken over Mary’s blog today *cackles*.

Yeah, anyways. You’re probably wanting me to get to the real reason I’m here, so let’s get right to it.

Three writing lessons from Lord Of The Rings.

I’m a Lord Of The Rings geek (not geek enough to thoroughly read the Silmarillion, but still. If you’ve ever done that, I applaud you.). If you haven’t read Lord Of The Rings … you’re insane. If you say that you don’t like Lord Of The Rings … I’ll pretend you never said that.

So for today EVERYONE LOVES LORD OF THE RINGS. (also, don’t read the post if you hate Lord Of The Rings. You’ll probably go mad XD)

We can learn a lot from one of the founders of fantasy, can’t we? J.R.R. Tolkien crafted an incredible world with WONDERFUL characters and an amazing plot. But do you want to know the coolest bit?

Lord Of The Rings survived the test of time.

Now, I’m no expert (HA understatement), but I love thinking about what makes Lord Of The Rings so epic and how I can incorporate all of that into my own writing. And you want to know what I know, don’t you (JUST PRETEND, YOU GUYS)?

1. Worldbuilding

If anyone tells me that J.R.R. Tolkien is terrible at world building, I’ll be pretty sure that said person is going mental. Because REALLY?!

J.R.R. Tolkien is a master when it comes to world building. End of story.

Guys. Have you ever looked at a map of Middle Earth?

Okay, there. Now you’ve seen one. Incredible, no? Not only did he think of names for every. Single. Place (come on you guys, that’s a lot of places), but he fleshed most of them out too. 

If you’re writing epic fantasy (or high fantasy, whatever strikes your fancy), or any story that has a
map, you don’t want all your different places to become one big chunk of land. I’ve read stories where it’s like that – all the places seem … well, just the same. Even if they’re technically supposed to be different.

Lord Of The Rings certainly isn’t like that. Do Mirkwood and the Shire seem alike to you?

… didn’t think so.

2. High Stakes + No Cheating

The whole stinkin’ WORLD was going to fall to bits if the Ring wasn’t destroyed in Mordor.

I would say those are pretty high stakes.

And J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t cheat. He didn’t randomly pop some magical wand into Frodo’s hands during the middle of the story that could make all his troubles go poof! He didn’t give Aragorn invincible powers (well, okay, so Aragorn is ALMOST invincible. But not all the way XD).

He didn’t let the characters have an easy way out.

And we were rooting for the characters every step of the way as they fought their battles. Which actually leads us to the next point …

3. Likeable Characters

Yeah yeah, I know you’re all thinking ‘pfft, duh’, but SERIOUSLY. This is important.

I can’t be the only one who has ever read a story and gone ‘WHY am I even reading this? I WANT TO HIT ALL THE CHARACTERS OVER THE HEAD WITH A FRYING PAN’ (not that I can remember exactly which books were like that, but I know I’ve read books like that).

Who wouldn’t be able to root for Frodo as he climbs Mount Doom, or cheer when Legolas does all his fancy elf-tricks? We like J.R.R. Tolkien's characters, and we want to be right beside them as they fight to save Middle Earth. They’re relatable. They’ve got their flaws, but they fight through them just like we fight through our own. They’re likeable, and guess what? We like them. Which means we like the story they’re in.

You need people to like your characters too. And another thing about characters – don’t make them entirely perfect. IT’S JUST REALLY ANNOYING. Also, don’t make them too flawed to even be realistic. Sure, I like having a tragic character or two in a story, but it sure can be overdone.

Just sayin’.

SO hopefully you learned a thing or three (and if not, hopefully the post was amusing in one form or another).

Now, I must be off to get Mary down, and then it’s back to Middle Earth for this elf.

*takes a bow*


*stumbles off the ferris wheel* Phew, it's good to be back on stable ground again. *stares pointedly at Savannah* Thanks. :P

Wasn't this post great? ACK. Thanks oodles for agreeing to guest post, Savannah! It was even worth being strapped to a ferris wheel. XD Ooh, and now I can actually link to her blog! The fairies who used to protect it have run out of pixie dust. ;D SO GO. CHECK OUT HER BLOG. IT IS AWESOME. (Totally not because it has the word "scribblings" in it...)

HA. Look, another educational post. You got to learn about writing lessons from Lord of the Rings! Count yourself lucky. ;D (And no, my guest posts aren't the only educational ones on my blog. Where would you ever get an idea like that? *cough*) What's YOUR favorite thing about LotR? LET'S FLAIL TOGETHER.