Thursday, July 27, 2017

Camp NaNo July '17 // W E E K 4 Update + 10 Truths and 2 Lies Results

(Prefacing this by saying I'm at Realm Makers now. *glitter explosion* I'm very excited but very busy...thus the reason for this update post. XD)

Look at me, I'm actually doing a Camp NaNo update. *gasps*

To be perfectly honest? There still isn't much to update. This has been one of the busiest months I've ever had--rivaling even the crazy whirlwind that was February. Almost half of the month has/will be spent traveling. We had family visit. I've had some get-togethers with my friend. There was lots of packing. Fourth of July fun.

In other words, God has had different plans for me this month...and they did not involve writing.

My goal for the month was 20,000 words. And THAT felt low to me before. I've always done crazy NaNos--90k in November, 50k in April. I thought I could handle it. I thought I had it "covered."

WELLLL...I didn't.

My current wordcount: 9,312. 

Even looking at those numbers now, I can't help but feel insufficient. I know it's not true, that I just couldn't write a lot, but a part of me feels like I failed. And that's just...something I continually struggle with.

I officially lowered my goal to 11,000 words, almost halving it. Pressing that "submit" button after I changed the word goal was really difficult, honestly.

I'm an overachiever. I take on waaaaaay more things than I could possibly accomplish, and when I inevitably don't get everything done, I get so frustrated with myself. In fact, I devoted an entire post to this on my other blog. It's a real struggle, guys.

This July has been a m a z i n g. But on the flip side, it's also been h a r d. I want to write. I feel like I need to write. But the reality is that I CAN'T. I just can't. Life is too crazy and exciting right now, and that's okay. I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that it's impossible for me to reach my 20k goal, but I do know that God has other plans for me. AND THEY ARE SO MUCH HIGHER THAN MY OWN.

That aside, I do have a bit of an update. Remember how I mentioned switching projects in my last post? My Snow White retelling was just not. working. out. I love the plot, and I know for sure that I'll be picking up the story again. It's just not time to work on it right now. Instead, I started writing a new steampunk short story called Along the Lines of Legerdemain. (Notice the matching titles? ;D) I'm going to be hopefully doing an entire collection of the adventures of Fiona and Steel. THEY ARE JUST TOO FUN.

This story is going muuuuch better than Behind the Velvet Curtain, despite the fact that I haven't gotten the chance to write much of it. I LOVE MAH CHARACTERS SO MUCH. 

And with all my talking out of the way, I present to you some snippets! :)

/ / /

(I may be a little proud of these first lines. Just sayin'. ;P)

It is never very pleasant to wake up to a gun in your face.

Fear pulsed through my veins as I stared down the shiny barrel of a pistol. I was completely vulnerable, an easy target for my potential assassin.

And whoever was holding the gun had a very good grasp of that concept.

/ / /

“Border patrol guards,” I muttered.

“That’s no problem,” Aerick said. “We’ve gone through the inspections easily in the past. They’ll only arrest you if you’re carrying smuggled cargo.”

“Then I think now would be a perfect time to worry.”

Aerick paused. His mouth opened, then closed as a light turned on in his eyes. “Fiona, you don’t happen to have any smuggled goods . . . do you?”

I coughed and focused on the approaching airships. “Well, it might be a possibility.”

/ / /
He shrugged and quirked one side of his lip upward. “How fast do you want it to go? This ship happens to be one of the finest of its kind.”

“Which means it’s a piece of junk.”

He gave me the I-will-kill-you-if-you-say-that-again look. “Technically speaking, you’re just an annoying little girl that’s bothered me 363 days of the year for seventeen years, but we’re not being technical, are we?”

“You really know how to win a girl’s heart.” I slid into a seat beside him and sneaked a look at the speedometer, its red dial slowly ticking up to fifteen. Fifteen kilometers per hour isn’t going to cut it. I tried to ignore the nagging feeling in my gut. But something told me that the sleeker, newer zeppelins ahead of us could easily outrun us.

I raised my eyebrows. “Well, you’re going to have to make our baby run faster than it’s ever run before.”

“She will. Trust me.”

“You know how much I hate you saying those two words.”

Steel managed a wink. “My apologies, Miss McAvay.”

/ / /

Hope you enjoyed reading those as much as I did writing them. I always love writing Fiona and Steel's dialogue. XD

As the second half of the title suggests, I am also presenting the results of the 10 Truths and 2 Lies challenge I had on my blog a couple weeks ago.

And the winner is . . . 

*crickets chirp* 

Um, no one??

YEAH. Evidently I made these questions too hard for everyone again. *cracks up* But don't worry, someone WILL get a prize this time! Once I get back from Realm Makers, I'll do a random drawing of your guys' names from a bowl. Whoever gets picked will be contacted for their mailing address and choice of prize. 

Well, what are the two lies, you ask? They are...

3) I've never been camping (I ACTUALLY HAVE ONCE...that's a story for another day ;D)

11) I've eaten a scorpion lollipop (ewwww no way)

I feel kind of bad that I made it this hard, haha. But have no fear: someone will win something this time. ;)

Well, that's it for my last-minute post. I had to do something relatively quick because of Realm Makers (WHICH I'M SO EXCITED FOR *screams*). Tell me: have you ever been camping? What is the weirdest thing you've eaten?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: High As the Heavens {Kate Breslin}

HELLO, LOVELY PEOPLE! I am back from my road trip with the family! We got back Saturday night. The trip was amazing and I will hopefully be sharing lots of pictures on my other blog (yes, I have another blog, in case you didn't know ;)) this Sunday. I...kind of skipped my post there last week. *coughs*

Anywayyy. I have something very special for this week: a book review!! I know, I promised a Camp NaNo update...but sorry, that's not gonna happen this week. There's not much to update--except for the small fact that I abruptly changed projects in the middle of the month. Ahem. I'm also Very Behind at the moment. *grumbles*

Before I devote an entire post to my rambling, allow me to present the book High As the Heavens by Kate Breslin!

DAT COVER. *drools*

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle's cafĂ©. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She's a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service. 

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

(Buy it on Amazon!)

Before anything else, can we just take a moment to admire that cover? *sighs happily* It's even more beautiful in person!

Now onto my long-awaited review of this lovely book. ;)

(You can also read my review here originally on Goodreads.)

// Lovely Things //

- The plot. It was so unique, as it focused on Belgium during WWI, which is actually the first of its kind that I've seen. The main character Eve works for a Belgian resistance group as a spy, and the romance revolves around a married couple rather than two people falling in love. SO YES. This was a super unique premise! There is a lot of suspense/intrigue throughout the story, and the stakes are set high. Like really high. I was on the edge of my seat at parts. o.o

- The characters. YESSSS. The characters in this story were the best. I loved Eve and Simon, both so very different yet so very perfect for each other. Eve was gentle and compassionate but also independent and spirited. AND YES, I'M ALL FOR THAT. It's so refreshing to find characters who aren't either a) wimps or b) superhumans with no emotions. Ahem. :P And Simon was rather wonderful, too...because hello, he's Scottish. That's enough reason to like him. *winks* I also loved the supporting cast of characters: Maddie, Eve's WONDERFUL friend; Father Francois, the best priest I've ever read about in fiction--he was probably one of my top characters; and Zoe, Eve's younger sister. AND THAT'S JUST THE START. I'm in love with this amazing cast of characters!

- The themes. Family plays a key role in this book. It's clear how much they all love each other, and Eve's devotion to them is really touching. There are also beautiful themes of redemption and forgiveness, as well as conquering the imprisoning power of guilt. GAH. It was all so splendidly done. <3

- The excitement. As I mentioned earlier, Eve is a spy. There are also double-agents, secretive messages, some brilliant spy tactics, and looooots of intrigue. THIS IS MY KIND OF BOOK, PEOPLE. I just loved the mysterious aspect of the plot.

- The writing. Oh my, the writing was lovely. The descriptions were so well-done, and the writing was emotionally raw. And believe me, this is a BIG deal. If I don't have an emotional attachment to the characters, forget it. I'm just not going to properly enjoy the book. Thankfully, High as the Heavens does a marvelous job of pricking my emotions. LIKE CONSTANTLY.

- The flashbacks. They were so heartbreaking yet so exquisitely managed. MY HEART. <3 I love when books have meaningful flashbacks like that! It's a glimpse at the characters before all the heartbreaking stuff happens and IT'S SO WONDERFULLY DONE.

// Not So Lovely Things //

You might be thinking, "So why four stars? It sounds like you love everything about this book."

Wellll, you're mostly correct. Unfortunately, I did have some issues with the book.

- The content. OKAY. I love Eve and Simon's relationship...BUT I felt uncomfortable at times reading about their romance. It was like spying on a married couple, and frankly, that made me feel Very Awkward. There wasn't anything over-the-top, but there were lots of kisses (some described), a bit of teasing between husband and wife (which is totally okay--I just don't feel comfortable with it seeing as I'm not married), and a couple scenes where they sleep together. They also long for each other at times, wishing they could kiss. Again, I know the characters are married, so there isn't anything wrong with their conduct. I just felt uncomfortable reading about it at times. This IS an adult book, so it's not really intended for younger audiences anyway. And thankfully, the stuff I described isn't dwelt on the entire book. The plot isn't bogged down by the romance, so I was able to keep reading it still.

On another note, there was also one chapter in particular that was EXTREMELY HARD to read. SPOILER [There was an attempted rape and lots of violence when the Germans invaded Belgium. That scene was unnerving and very disturbing. There were lots of dead bodies, violence, and even an unintentional murder by one of the characters. (Which they felt guilty about for years after.) On top of that, one character miscarries their child. VERY INTENSE STUFF. I understand a lot of it is necessary to the plot, but I still was horrified by things that happened in that chapter. It's a brutally honest look at the kinds of things that happened in World War I, which many people are unaware of.] END SPOILER

The content aside, I really loved this book! Due to the things I mentioned, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they're at least 16+.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

4 stars!

There you have it! Another book review by yours truly. *winks* Does this book look interesting to you? What are your thoughts on historical fiction?

(P.S. If you haven't already seen it, I did another 10 Truths & 2 Lies post last week! You have until Wednesday, the 26th, to submit your guesses so you better hurry! ^_^)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

10 Truths and 2 Lies {vol. 2} //

Salutations! *waves* It's been three months since the last time I did 10 Truths and 2 Lies. Since everyone seemed to enjoy it that time, I decided to use this as my post the next time I went on a trip.

Yep, that's right! I'm currently on a road trip with my family, probably in North Carolina when you read this. If you missed my last Truths & Lies post, you can check it out here. Basically, the quick run-down of it is this: I'm posting twelve facts. Ten of them are true and two are not. The person(s) who correctly guess BOTH lies wins a prize. You only have one guess so make it a good one. :) Feel free to consult other people/stalk my blog/use your ninja skills to figure out the answers. You can thank the lovely Nadine for coming up with this idea and allowing people to steal it.

Are you ready?? HAVE AT IT, PEOPLE.

1.) I've touched an alligator.

2.) I don't like sequins.

3.) I've never been camping.

4.) A big pet peeve of mine is biting into popsicles.

5.) I don't like physical contact.

6.) I've been on TV.

7.) I have two siblings.

8.) Hardcovers are my favorite book format.

9.) I went without chewing gum for a year.

10.) I have a pet cat.

11.) I've eaten a scorpion lollipop.

12.) I like pineapple pizza.

If you happen to guess BOTH lies, you have your choice of a copy of my own artwork or a corner bookmark. It could be either a Studio C Funko Pop drawing (of your own choice), a Pascal sketch, or a surprise piece of artwork.

Should you choose a corner bookmark, you have your choice of either a fox, heart, or surprise bookmark.

Choose wisely, my friends, and may you actually get them right this time. ;) *coughs*

(Oh, and in case you're wondering, my Camp project is still being rather elusive...hoping that time away from it will give me better clarity. *glares at story* Full update once I get back from my trip!)

Are you up to the challenge? (I'm REALLY hoping I can give someone prizes this time. XD) Bring on all your best guesses and hit me with them!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Camp NaNo July '17 // W E E K 1 Update

(Apparently we're already almost a week into July?? Howwwww.)

HELLO, EVERYONE. It's me again, this time actually posting on the day I'm supposed to. For the sake of picking an easy post idea, I decided to do a Camp NaNo update!

...And quite frankly, there isn't much to see here. *coughs*

My writing goal for the month is 20,000 words. That may seem like a lot, it may not--depends whom you ask. For me, it's a good balance between being challenging and relaxed. I think I can reach it, but still be able to purposefully take time away for my upcoming road trip (NEXT WEEK EEP) and Realm Makers (only three more weeks, holy cow). July is a craaazy month for me so I set it lower than I have in the past.

All that being said, I'm essentially on track right now. I didn't write on Fourth of July or the day before that, but I got caught up last night. I still haven't written today, but I plan on buckling down and writing lots of words this weekend so I'm ahead before our road trip. Hopefully.

I've written 3,343 words so far. I'm trying to take it a bit slower with this story since I want it to be higher quality writing than some of my previous works (like Moonlit Mirror *coughs*). So far, I'm...not totally sold on my story. It doesn't feel quite right yet. I'm still trying to get the feel for the characters/setting/plot. But I'm hopeful that I will really get into it this month and fall in love with my characters all over again. ;)

SO. I'm not exactly sure if we're allowed to share our Snow White retelling entries before we submit them. But oh well, I'm sharing a couple snippets anyway. I don't think it will be a problem?? *crosses fingers* :P

/ / /

(The opening of the story.)

Sometimes the moon stalked her.

Adelia tucked a stray hair behind her ear and used her other gloved hand to reposition the hat on her head. Mist clung to her skin and left damp droplets on her forehead.

The shadows of the London street had lengthened into night, and a sliver of moon grinned down at her from above. She shivered, though not from the chilly winter air.

Someone was following her. And it wasn’t just the moon.

Adelia ran her tongue across her chapped lips, absent of the vibrant crimson hue she usually applied. It was a good thing she had remembered to wipe off the lipstick before she entered town, otherwise she would have created a public upset.

Yet even without her stage makeup, she still managed to attract the attention of someone.

She felt her heart pick up its pace as she caught a glimpse of the figure behind her. He had managed to hide for most of the journey, and she had only spotted him a few minutes ago. Dressed in a black waistcoat and top hat, he was dressed just like all other Londoners. Indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd but startlingly unlike anyone she knew.

/ / /

No. She wanted to scream the word. Slap him with it. Use it to thrust him out of her life.

But she just shivered in silence and let the fearfully grinning moon stalk her down the street.

/ / /

(Ta-da! I promised there would be snark, and I delivered. ;D)

As he strolled away, Adelia turned to head back to her wagon, only pausing when she heard Theodore. “Who was that?”

“Cassius Hathaway, a journalist for the newspaper.” Adelia held her hand over her neck, casually adjusting the collar of her dress to hide the stain.

Theodore nodded, the action seeming a bit forced. “Already on a first name basis, are you?”

“Don’t be an idiot, Theo.” Adelia had to bite her cheek to keep from laughing at the suspicion evident in her friend’s features. “It’s not as if we’re ready to elope or anything.”

“You’ve done stupider things in the past.”

“Name five.”

“I would name five hundred, but then I would have to face the wrath of your half-mad younger sister. I rather value my life.”

Adelia chuckled under her breath. “She’s very skilled at thimble-throwing.”

/ / / 

There you go! These are the very first snippets I've shared for Camp NaNo--I haven't even shown my cabin buddies these. ;) You might be able to tell that this story has a different tone than some of my other works. It's darker, but I'm making sure to inject my signature snark into it anyway. 

I think that's it for this update! I've had a great beginning to July. what with all the fun activities surrounding Fourth of July and the arrival of my ukulele. (IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND I CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW IT TO YOU GUYS.)

How is Camp going? Any plans for July? What did you do for Independence Day?