Thursday, December 12, 2013

End Of Year Book And Writing Insanity!

Mime and Cait (Notebook Sisters) are hosting a swell End of the Year Book & Writing Insanity Link-Up! Be sure to stop by their blog to check out all the bookish and writing fun (as well as the rules for the giveaway and whatnot)! And as part of the festivities, they've asked that we fill out a small tag... or two. The first is for bookworms, and the second one is for writers. Which to choose? Well, technically, I'm both, so I'm doing both. 

Well, that was easy enough to say. Let's see how actually filling out the tags go...

For the bookworms...
1. What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.) I will pick just one!! Wow.... is this hard. Um... why don't we go with Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens? Although it's quite a lengthy read, it was well-worth all the effort put into reading it. The story was amazing, I loved the characters, and so far this is my favorite Dickens ever. Notice the so far. I haven't read all of Dickens's tales, and I'm currently in the middle of Little Dorrit, so I can't claim OMF as the absolute favorite. Just the current absolute favorite. Bleak House held that title until I read OMF, and before that, it was Nicholas Nickleby.

2. Favourite debut(s)? (Author must have been first published in 2013.) That's a toughie... but I'll have to say The Princess and the Sage by Anneliese Blakeney. I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoyed it, and then after finishing it, I immediately shoved to my sisters, two of which read it and loved it as much as I. And yes, we laugh about pickles, lemonade stands, and sage in general now. I shall never think of plot bunnies in the same way again. If you haven't read this book, you must. There are a few small grammatical errors, but considering this is a debut novel, that's easily overlooked in the epic awesomeness of the book.

3. Which books did you reread this year? I thought I reread a bunch of books, but looking back through my list, I discovered I only reread four! Oh, well, they're all good books. Regina Silsby's Secret War and Regina Silsby's Phantom Militia (Revolutionary War series by Thomas J. Brodeur; mystery, adventure, and suspense, what more could you ask for? Highly recommend); and then Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom (some of Louisa May Alcott's best).

4. Favourite cover(s) this year! Ummm... The World Above, Only a Novel, Annabeth's War, Regina Silsby's Secret War (above), and The Princess and the Sage (above) among many others. 


5. Worst cover(s)? I've seen poorly designed covers (I love to read, but I am very picky about picking favorite books/covers/etc.), but out of the books that I read this year, probably the following three: Every Tear, The Romance of the Forest, and Saffron's Big Plan. While I enjoyed each story, the covers themselves were kind of blah for me. For ET (by Molly Evangeline), I liked how the picture captured the tear in motion on the girl's face, but to have the whole cover be the face was a bit much. RotF is a classic by Ann Radcliffe, and I really enjoyed reading it, but it unfortunately it fell to the easy classic cover, and while the picture of the forest is pretty, it's a blah cover for me; it says absolutely nothing about the story. And then finally, SBP by Kendra E. Ardnek; another good (short) story, but the cover... eh. 


6. What self-published books did you read this year? Let's see... Annabeth's War, Saffron's Big Plan, Only a Novel, Do You Take This Quest, The Pirate Daughter's Promise, Every Tear, Christmas at the Tittletons, and The Princess and the Sage.

7. Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover? Believe it or not, probably Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I've known the classic story of Peter Pan for years, but it wasn't until this last August that I actually read the book. I loved every bit of it, and then I was so disappointed when it was over, because it was waaaaaaay too short. The night I finished it, and the nights following consecutively afterward, I went to sleep telling myself prequels and sequels to Peter Pan. What? Don't normal people tell themselves stories when they go to bed at night? Oh... well, I do. Maybe I shouldn't have broadcasted that. But I had way too much fun thinking up more adventures in Neverland.

8. Best standalone you read? Christmas at the Tittletons!! Based on a play that my CBC wrote for a murder mystery dinner that our families did (and loved!), this is an epic Christmas mystery that everyone needs to read. And yes, that means you! Judith Tittleton is a superb character, and no, I'm not biased because that was my part in the play. *cough* Why would you even suggest that? 

9. Biggest book(s) you've read this year? Bleak House by Charles Dickens at a whopping 866 pages!

10. Book(s) you followed the hype for and then loved! I'm really not one to follow book-hypes, because I like to form my own opinions about books, but I think I really did follow all the hype for Amy Dashwood's Only a Novel (pictured above). And then when I finally got to read it, I loved it. I've made two sisters and two cousins read it so far, and I'm still recommending it to people, even though I read it back in February.

11. Most disappointing book(s) you read this year? Probably Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton. I got it out of the library thinking it would be a cool fantasy, dragon story something similar to a Bryan Davis or a Donita K. Paul book, and it was nothing like that at all. I really don't know how I'd describe it; I almost didn't even finish it. The magic aspect in the book was unexpected and dark, and the characters did not leave an positive impression in my mind. Overall, I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone, even though the cover is pretty cool.

12. Favourite leading-female character? Bella Wilfur (Our Mutual Friend)

13. Favourite leading-male character? Ooh..... either Peter Pan (Peter Pan) or The Sage (The Princess and the Sage)

14. Best romance(s)? Most definitely Elizabeth and Rodney (Only Novel).

15. What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish.) I think I finished all the books I started this year. Thinking back over all the books I've cracked open, I can think of one I didn't finish. So.... none.

16. What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone? I read a couple that I wouldn't normally read, among them Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall. As a general rule, I don't like romance books, and Christian romance books like Janette Oke and Grace Livingstone Hill and all the Love Inspired books I make an effort to stay away from, so it's a shock to even me that I read this one at all. However, I found it free on the Kindle and then I was sick in bed with a fever, all by myself (a rare occurrence for a family of six children), so I read it to pass the time. I actually liked it (with the exception of the romance in the book, which I thought was overplayed), and the storyline of Confederate citizens fleeing the South after the Civil War to make a new life in Brazil was extremely intriguing. 

17. Which author did you read the most from? Quick tally! 4 Dickens (possibly 5 if I can finish Little Dorrit before New Years) and uh... 6 from Shannon Hale, so there you have it. Shannon Hale. Interesting story that. Even though I read 6 of her books, I would not call her a favorite author. A few of her books I would actually put on the disappointing list.

18. Top 5 books you'd recommend from all the books you've read this year? Nooooo! I have to pick just five?!? Here are the top 5 that everyone is rightly suspecting me to recommend that I pretty much want everyone to read:
Our Mutual Friend
Great Expectations
Only a Novel
The Princess and the Sage
Christmas at the Tittletons


And here are the 5 that I really enjoyed that no one would expect me to recommend (don't look at me like that; I'm keeping the number five alive here):
Cheaper By the Dozen (by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey; there are a few unprintable words in the book, but it's a hilarious biography of a family of twelve children)
The New Treasure Seekers (I absobloominglutely love E. Nesbit's stories!)
Peter Pan (Well, that probably should have been on the first list)
The 101 Dalmatians (by Dodie Smith; the original tale {or is it tail?} that Walt Disney adapted into the popular animated film; it's loads of fun, and actually a lot different than the movie)
Westmark (by Lloyd Alexander; again, I do believe this also has an unprintable word or two, but the story itself reminded me of a cross between LOTR and Les Mis... if you can imagine that; I was impressed)

19. How many books did you read this year all up? 58 so far, but the year's not over yet!!

20. What's a book you're hugely excited for coming out in 2014?! Give me a moment to think... uh... I had started out a list of books I'm excited to read, but now I think I've accomplished forgetting that entire list. No, wait... I think I may have some titles for you... Cloak of Light by Chuck Black, The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson, and about a dozen or so self-published books that all of my blogging friends that I am regrettably too tired to think of the names right at this moment. 

Wow, that took longer than I anticipated. Now on to the second tag!

For the writers...
1. How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!) I've worked on five different books this year, one editing (Children of a Legend), four writing (Rebirth of a Legend, The Twelfth Kingdom, Kianna, and Secret of the Hazel Tree), and I finished none of the projects I started. Not yet. Word count? Uh... somewhere between 100K-120K. It wasn't an especially big year, but I had fun with it.

2. Which was your favourite to write? No! You cannot ask this of me! But you did... and now I am compelled to answer. So.... Kianna. It's a fresh idea, and I don't know how it ends yet for certain, so writing even just the first chapter was so much fun.

3. Which was the hardest to write? Probably The Twelfth Kingdom. I've been working on TK for over a year now, and it's only at about 21,000 words. The reason why it's so difficult to work on is because I know the whole story. Sure, it's exciting and I can't wait to write certain chapters, but since my mind knows what to expect, it doesn't want to work on that story right now. And it doesn't help that the current chapter I'm working on is a one between big plot points, and I'm finding it less than intriguing to write that go-between. 

4. Tell us about you favourite Male Character you wrote this year! Waaay too many favorites. I love them all! But for the sake of the question, I'll say Grant from The Dragon Tamer trilogy. Rambunctious, fun, but mysterious, he's never a bore to write about, and I love following all of his adventures. 

5. And how about your favourite Female Character? Absolute favorite female character (although not a main-main character) is Ahna from Secret of the Hazel Tree. Her scenes are incredibly hilarious, and she keeps me on my toes because I never really know what she's going to do next.

6. Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)? I'd say those would have to be Brice and Denstan. If you're at all familiar with my blog, you've heard a lot about Brice (The Dragon Tamer trilogy, individual books being CoaL and RoaL), so I probably don't need to expound on that. Denstan is a new character from my NaNo novel, Secret of the Hazel Tree, and he came up quite unexpectedly. I didn't plan for him at all, he just stepped onto the scene, and when he did, I thought he was going to be a complete bore, and I was predisposed to dislike him. However, he proved me wrong, and wow, am I glad he did! 

7. Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn't go together as expected? I don't like books that focus on the worldly romances that are all fluff and nonsense. If there has to be romance at all in books, I like old fashioned stuff such as Dickens and Austen would write, or in the manner of C.S. Lewis, "[T]hey were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently." However, I have long known that I am not the master of my characters. I am merely their writer because their handwritings are illegible. While I don't approve generally of romance, I can't stop my characters from falling in love, and most of the romances (if it can be called that because I refuse to pen fluff) pop up on me unawares. Secret of the Hazel Tree is a Cinderella retelling, so naturally, one has to expect some attraction between Cinderella and the prince, however, I had expected them to first meet and fall in love at the famous ball, yet my prince surprised me by showing up at my Cinderella's door ten years before the ball. First impressions were fun to write, although I have no idea how the ball meeting ten years later is going to work out because I have yet to write that scene, and my prince has a stubborn mind of his own. If I don't throw something in his path, he's well on his way to ignoring Cinderella entirely at the ball. 

8. What's your favourite Pinterest Board for one of your books? Can we see some pics for the book they inspire? This is another hard question, but I think I can honestly say my favorite is The Twelfth Kingdom storyboard.



9. What challenges did you compete in this year? (NaNos? Personal goals? Challenges run by other blogs?) And how did you go? I accomplished NaNo this year with 72K words, and I did try to do the same challenge during June, but I only managed to get in 20K rather than the desired 50K.

10. Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books. Okay, here are the twelve princesses of Findenland from my story The Twelfth Kingdom.

11. Epic quote(s) you wrote? Uh... define "epic." There's too many things that I think epic, so let's just go with the first one I can find.

Grant looked sullenly down at his steaming piece of venison. “I'd never thought I'd say this, but I really miss lettuce.”
“Lettuce?” Lyndee made a face that brought laughter to all those of the company. “Why? I don't like lettuce!”
Jimena poked the little girl. “Ya should. It's good fer ya.”
“Well, I don't. It ain't good ta taste!” Lyndee flashed her sister a triumphant look that clearly stated she considered the argument closed. “An' Grant shouldn't miss it 'cause it's bad.”

Grant chuckled. “Dee, I only meant that I miss it because it was something other than meat and this everlasting winter.”
~ Rebirth of a Legend

And why not a second, while we're at it?

 “There, boy! Now come on back!”
Julien held out his arm, and with a flutter of brown feathers, the sparrowhawk descended and landed lightly on the proffered perch. In his curved beak, he held a small scrap of cloth, and Julien couldn't help but grin as he carefully relieved the bird of the scrap.
“I told you he could do it.”
The man beside him gave a low bow, his royal blue musketeer tunic perfect as always. “I never fully doubted you, Your Highness. Tít Ami is inarguably smart, though sometimes I wonder if he may be the most astute of all gathered here.”

Julien cocked an eyebrow at Denstan and gave a quick glance around the quiet training yard. “We're the only two out here.”
~ Secret of the Hazel Tree

12. Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go! 
CoaL - Dead 
RoaL - Concern
TK - Them
K - Reception
SotHT - Road

13. First sentences from your manuscript(s)!
CoaL - If Davin had known the reason for his father's apprehension, if he had interpreted his hesitation differently, if he had only a small glimpse of reality and what lay before them, he would have wished the road to town to continue endlessly without ever reaching a destination.

RoaL - Lord Vernd Brisé was at his strongest.
TK - J clutched B's hand tighter and pushed roughly through the thickening crowds.
K - If Kianna had had the ability to disappear, she would have without a moment's delay.

SotHT - Many men and women claim that happily ever afters are bestowed to those who so richly deserve them; others say such an ending can only be granted to those with title and royal blood, and the majority of tales seem to favor the latter opinion.

14. Show us your favourite funny scene! I love writing comedy, so I have a bunch of favorites from which to pick for this question! But this is one of my newest favorites, so I'll give you this one, where Ahna and Celesta (from SotHT) pay a visit to the local priest, his wife, and their brand-new baby:

 “An' I plumb fergot this, too.” Ahna gestured to the basket she had brought with her but had left neglected by the door in the haste to thaw Celesta out. “I put together a few things so ya wouldn't 'ave ta worry 'bout meals. Knowing ya, Brother, the way I do, I ain't leavin' ya ta yer own devices ta let yer wife starve jest after she done given ya a new son!”
Leign crossed his arms, and the side of his mouth went up. “Now when would I be as ungracious as to let my family starve?”
“It ain't denying 'em food that'll do it, it'll be givin' 'em stuff they couldn't stomach!” Ahna retorted. “I've seen an' tasted 'ow ya cook.” She patted the basket. “This 'ere's dried meat, a loaf of bread, some beans, a pie 'o sorts, an' some other little trifles I fergot. Can ya make that last fer two days er so?”
“I will do my best.”

Ahna graced him with the most skeptical of all her looks, but the new father only smiled and held out his arms for the basket. 
~ Secret of the Hazel Tree

15. Show us a snippet of dialogue you're proud of. This is more of a scene than just a snippet of dialogue, but I am rather proud of how it all went together.

Jod turned begging eyes to the man. “Can you tell me what all this means? This is my farm, and...”
“It is your farm no longer, Jod Mirtruse.” The man returned coldly. “The land of a traitor, barren though it be, reverts fully to the possession of the ruling lord.”
“Lord Vernd? Why does he want my farm?” Jod hated the way the man said his name. It was like he was being read a death sentence.
“The great Lord Vernd wants only justice and punishment upon those who dare to insult and disobey the laws of the land.”
“But we have done nothing!” Tetha cried, her face ashen.
The man's head rotated precisely enough to stare at her, but no further to in any way suggest interest in her or her cry. “Such is the protest of every traitor.”
Jod flung himself forward, stopped only by the hands of the soldiers beside him. “Please explain yourself, sir! Who are you and what is the meaning of all this?”
“My name is General Glace of the supreme Lord Vernd Brisé's private brigade. It is my duty to bring to justice those who deserve the brunt of the law.”
“We are law-abiding citizens! There is no cause for this!” Jod protested.
“Is it not cause enough that Lord Vernd commanded it, Jod Mirtruse?” The general never moved as he spoke, only his mouth, dark from the wicked stain of his master. “The ruling lord has long tolerated the disobedience flung against him, and now he can no longer allow the contrary to stay to hurt and pollute the minds and lives of the loyal.”
“The government cannot do this!” Jod wasn't certain how the oral blusters spewed out of his mouth when his mind was racing, yet he knew the idea of them had long lain dormant in his heart.
“It is not your place, Jod Mirtruse, to question the actions of your authority. The government can do and will do as it sees fit, and wise action will not be stopped by senseless words.”
“General! At least tell me our crime!”
~ Rebirth of a Legend

16. Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you've had this year! I make a million and one typos while I'm typing because I type too quickly for my brain to keep up with my fingers. Yet, I don't think I've had any funny bloopers. What my siblings find hilarious is when they hang over my shoulder while I'm writing, driving me nuts because I have the hardest time writing while someone is watching. So, instead of writing the actual story while they're watching or asking my siblings to leave, I'll type out things that aren't in the story at all. For instance, I'll kill my main character off a half a dozen ways, have a bomb explode, stick Peter Pan in a scene, send someone to the hospital, etc. Sooner or later, my siblings get the hint and leave, and then I have to erase all the nonsense I just typed.

17. What has writing taught you about yourself this year? I can't control things and have everything end up the way I originally want it to. Never expect to tell your characters what to do. Even though you're the writer, you can't command most of your story.

18. Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year? A first draft is just that... a first draft. There's always time for editing. You don't have to get it right the first time around. That's been a hard lesson for me.

19. Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit? Hoping to self-publish Children of a Legend sometime next year! Not sure when that's going to happen, as there's still a bunch of editing stuff I have to do, but I'm really hoping to have that out before next Christmas!

20. Tell us a bit about a book you're super excited to write in 2014! I'm pretty much working on the same stories I worked on this year, only hopefully, actually finishing them this time! I want to finish Rebirth of a Legend as that is the second book in The Dragon Tamer trilogy, and I also want to wrap up Secret of the Hazel Tree because I only hit the halfway point during NaNo. RoaL has tons of thousands of words left to write, yet SotHT only needs about another 60K or so. I'm really excited about both of these stories, and I can't wait to see how they're going to end up! 

Whew! Hopefully you all made it all the way through this post! I know I almost didn't! Thanks, Mime and Cait, for hosting such a fun tag!

God bless!
P.S. Just thought I'd let you all know that I guest posted today for Eowyn's and Miss Jane's LOTR blog party! If you want to check it out, you can find the post here or here, and do read the rest of the scrumptious party. There's definitely a grand array of LOTR excitement going on over there!


  1. Yay such great answers! I really enjoyed reading it. :) I knooow it's impossible to choose ONE favourite book. (I did it purely to be mean, right? XD) I've heard a bit about The Princess and the Sage, I should check it out (and the cover is adorable). You've written a lot of books this year! Congrats! That's an impressive all-up word count. :)
    Thanks for linking up with us!

  2. Oh my goodness! I tell myself stories in bed at night too!!! :D

  3. Oooh! Fun, fun tags! :D I loved reading all your answers.

    You're definitely not the only one that tells yourself stories while trying to fall asleep. I always do that. Sometimes I get one of my own story characters to tell me a story as well. It's fun and is an awesome way to get to know them better. Win-win!

    I was disappointing by Swords of the Six as well! It looked like a really epic book and that cover is probably one of my most favorite books covers, but the actually story...meh. It was pretty disappointing. The characters weren't that great either. I think there was potential there for an interesting story, it just needed a lot more work.

    Anyways, enjoyed this post! Anything involving books and writing always excites me. ;D

  4. Thanks for linking up! You have impeccable taste in pins, I might add. ;)