My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes

"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Ingrid, by Lynnette Kraft

First of all, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  May your cooking go smoothly and your kitchen clean themself!

I saw this lovely volume floating around Goodreads for some time before I actually read it.  Even then, the elegant title and the enigmatic expression in the heroine's eyes might not have fully tempted me if I hadn't learned some background information on the book.  Ingrid, by Lynnette Kraft, features the artwork of her daughter, Abigail Kraft, and music by her son, Jared Kraft.

(Unfortunately, since it seems right up my alley, I can't review the music because my Kindle wouldn't download it.  So I'll just go ahead and say it was lovely.)

In the village of Scot, two children are born on the same day: rich, healthy Adair, son of the most hated man in town, and poor, mute Ingrid of the happy Harrison family.  Despite their different backgrounds, the two grow to young adulthood as best friends.  But railroads and industry are changing the world, and Scot must change with it.  When two strangers come to town, Ingrid must embark alone for a chance to understand herself, uncover the truth, and find her own voice.

I wish, wish, wish that I had read Ingrid years ago.  It is bursting with heart, lively characters, and adventure, but some treacherous grown-up part of me kept observing, "The fantastical element isn't well-integrated into the story.  Kraft doesn't establish the setting.  Could she have introduced the railroad earlier?"

But alas, all of these things are true.  Although I wished I could be friends with the majority of the characters in Ingrid, I couldn't suspend my disbelief on the two magical strangers who were introduced a little too late into a story that felt a little too normal for fantasy.  And despite the presence of a railroad and terms like French doors and newspapers, Kraft never specified where and when Ingrid takes place.

But as surely as those flaws are true, I must confess that I neglected calculus for a deplorable length of time in order to finish Ingrid.  I recommend it highly to those in need of a literary pick-me-up.  It is light, enchanting, and welcomingly reminiscent of the books of my childhood.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Oh say, can you see...

I sing the National Anthem for sporting events.  This is less cool than it sounds for a variety of reasons:

1. In the past, I've only sung for NCAA Division II, which means I sing for teams whose mascot is something like the Flying Squirrels.  (I'm kidding; I actually sang for the Argonauts.  Not like the Greek adventurers; like the sea shell.)  (I had to have this explained to me, too.)

2. For reasons that are still unclear to me, when the NCAA decides who will play where, the general rule of thumb is that the teams must go as far away as possible.  So in one instance, I sang for Sonoma Valley (California) and University of West Florida (... from Florida) in the same championships.  Which means that the only people who actually come across the country are the parents of the players, and all they want is for me to sing really quickly so they can see their sons play.

3.  The gods of sports have decreed that it must either be ninety degrees or thirty-five.  There is no in-between.  Here, for example, is a picture of me at the last game:

I'm the girl with the turquoise scarf and the grey coat looking cold and pathetic.

And 4. The only time I sing at a game big enough to make it on ESPN, they replace me with a Ford commercial!  A commercial!  For Ford!  As in-- trucks!  Instead of the National Anthem!

Not that I let it bother me.  Not.  At.  All.

I don't mean to sound so cynical about it.  I really love singing the National Anthem for these games, especially since, until recently, I've only sung at baseball games.  My mom's family comes from Cardinals-territory, which means my sister and I played baseball growing up.  Such happy times!  We would hit the ball, then Mom would go run and get it.... Then we'd hit it again, and she'd run get it again...

We really liked baseball.

But recently, I had two opportunities to sing for soccer games for the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA Division I.  (Division I!!)  There are approximately five to sixty times as many people at these games compared to baseball games.  It is so lucrative, in fact, that I am only going to whine about two things.  First, the sound system in the soccer stadium has a terrible echo but otherwise good acoustics, so when I sing, you can faintly hear my voice, then you hear the blaring shriek of the microphone a few seconds after.

Also, I don't know anything about soccer.  The first game I sang Sunday before last (Clemson versus Louisville) was, quite literally, the first soccer game I had seen in my life.

It was very confusing.  So confusing, in fact, that I've decided to compile a list of Soccer Rules according to Allison for your reading convenience and enjoyment.  (Also, in addition to graphs, I really like lists.)

They are as follows:

1. It must be either boiling hot or cold and raining heavily.  (This seems to apply to most outdoor sports.)

1a. In the aforementioned freezing cold rain, you must have a paperback with you that you will vainly try to protect beneath your coat.

2. The teams playing must have similar colors so you're never entirely sure who is winning or who you're rooting for.  This will annoy the die-hard fans next to you.

3. Between the two halves, when we baseball fans start to inquire about the seventh-inning stretch, the goalies will switch sides.  For the next few minutes, you'll vainly protest that everyone is running the wrong way and kicking the ball into their own goal before someone explains it to you. 

4. Every few minutes, a player will fall down and writhe, sometimes screaming in pain.  The audience will shout abuse at him until, as memorably happened once in the game, he pulls up his shorts to reveal a foot-long gash on his thigh, gushing blood.  The crowd will grudgingly admit that it is a quality fake.

5. The crowd will not limit their abuse to the other team.  From their cozy seats beneath umbrellas, hand warmers pressed into their gloves, they will shout constructive criticism at their own players, particularly if they fall/are trampled/appear to be in pain/aren't running quickly enough

6. If it is cold and raining (see Rule 1), the game will go into double overtime.  (This happened.)

Did I still love the game?

You bet.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Best Blogging Buddy Award!

Ghosty nominated me for the Best Blogging Buddy Award!  Isn't she a sweetheart?

The Blogging Buddy Owl, christened Dave
Here are the rules:

You must post to show the award on your main blog.
You must tag the person who nominated you in your post.
You must tag all of your best buddies, and those whom you want to become buddies with, who, to your knowledge, have not been nominated for this award. You must ask your buddies at least fifteen questions on your post.  You must answer all of the questions your buddies ask you on your post.

And here are her questions for me!

1. What is you favorite aspect of blogging?

My favorite aspect is definitely the people!  I am blessed to be part of a wonderfully supportive blogging community that provides ample opportunity for the Blogging Buddy Owl.  : )

2. Your least favorite?
It is a ton of work, and when I say a ton, I mean you can't comprehend how much if you don't have a blog.  I have stayed up far past my bedtime, madly dashing out a promised post or frantically e-mailing someone about a deadline, crossing my fingers that it won't be too late...

3. What's one of the best books you've read this year?
I read Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin Hobb, last month.  I have heard absolutely glorious things about her, but I was still floored.  She wrote using much more summary than you see in the market these days, but she managed to convey alacrity in a far-spanning story and complex characters.  She also doesn't pull her punches, which I love in an author.

4. Describe yourself in five words.
I read while practicing music.

5. If you were supreme ruler of the world, what would be the first thing you'd do?
I would grant myself early access to my library's book sale.  I am not kidding.

6. What Disney character do you relate to most? (Yes, I did just ask that.)
I'm so glad you ask!  My favorite character, and the one I relate to most, is easily Mulan.  Hers is a movie I watched when I was very young, then forgot about.  Watching it afresh as a teenager inspired me.  How many of us have looked to the arrow at the top of the post?  How many have been clever and determined enough to reach it?  (Also, I love Lea Salonga.)

7. Do you have many siblings?

Technically, I have one older, professional-musician sister.  In my heart, I have numerous siblings.  This works out well because it means I don't have to share a bedroom.

8. Think of a book, any book at all. Now, what's one thing you would change about that book?
The first book I thought of was Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn.  Without giving any spoilers, I would've changed the end of Schmendrick's storyline.  Although it's possible there is imagery I'm missing, and I reserve the right to change my mind, my first impression was that the opposite ending would've been more profound.

9. Who is one of your biggest role models? (Besides the obvious answer.)
I'm inspired a lot by my cousins.  They're all older than I am (the youngest is around twenty-one), so I've had an opportunity to watch them chase their dreams and catch them.  They feature a comedian, a music teacher, a bed-and-breakfast owner, a clothes-designer, a pastry chef, someone who writes commercials, a lawyer, and a professional dancer who tours Europe.
10. Autumn or spring?
Autumn, please!  I am both a competitive singer and terribly allergic to pollen.  I lose about half an octave off the top of my range each spring, and my tone suffers.  Also, it's hot, and I can't abide the heat.

11. What's a yet-unreleased book or movie you are really excited about?
Obviously, Stengl's Poison Crown and Draven's Light are high on my list, but I'm also eager to see Ricker's The Battle of Castle Nebula and the remaining books of Turner's the Queen's Thief series.  Also: Rooglewood Press's Five Enchanted Roses.

12. Realistic fiction, or speculative? Why?
Speculative fiction all the way!  For as long as I've been reading, I've loved the fantastical.  I haven't yet identified what draws me toward it.  When I read fairytales, it's as though a far-off voice calls me, and I long to follow it.

13. What is one of your favorite non-fiction books?
Priscilla Galloway wrote a wonderful book called Archers, Alchemists, and 98 Other Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed.  It teaches a wonderful dose of history and humanities while being vastly entertaining as well.  I'll read virtually any book on history. 

14. What's something happening this month that you are really excited about?
Thanksgiving, of course!  I've been working quite busily lately, and I'm read for a break.  Plus, I get to spend time with my family, which I always love.  And I get a break.  Did I mention that?  I plan on getting a serious amount of reading done.

15. Alright then; the last question. You have just had a mysterious ring of great power that can turn the wearer invisible entrusted into your care, and told that it must--must--be destroyed at all costs. What are you going to do?
I'd get myself fitted for Eowyn's white dress from The Lord of the Rings movies.  No, I'm kidding; that would be the second step.  First, I would probably post a Craigslist add: Grim-faced adventurer wanted.  Preferably long-lived; must have an absent love interest.  Apply to the local Holiday Inn.
I tag Grace at Fictionally, Laura at Crafty Booksheeps (I love that name!), Joy at Fullness of Joy, and Rachel at the Inkpen Authoress.  Here, if you choose to accept, are your questions:
1. What is the last book you read?
2. Do you have any pets?
3. If you were a super hero, what would your super hero outfit look like?
4. What is your dream review of your book (future or present), and who would ideally give it?
5. What quirky traditions does your family have?
6. What book are you reading now?
7. How many cousins do you have?
8. What is the most exciting e-mail/letter you ever received?
9. What languages do you speak?  (Music is a language.)
10. What songs play in your head?
11. What's the last book you bought?
12. If you could have any signed, first-edition book from any point of time, including the future, what book would it be?
13. What color is your bedroom?
14. Who is your literary or cinematic twin?
15. What do you daydream about?
I hope you enjoyed!  I'll give you a hint about my next post.  It's about a sport that involves running, more running, injuries both feigned and real, then more running.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finalists for the 2014 Blogger Awards!

Hello, readers!  We've experienced such a huge outpouring of nominations for the awards, and I couldn't be more pleased!  Although we faced difficult decisions, our panel has reviewed the nominations, and we present to you three finalists.
Finalists for Best Heroine:

Margaret Coventry, from "Plenilune," by Jennifer Freitag
Finalists for Best Book:
So now you can sit back and get on with your holiday season while our panel reviews these books, but be sure to check out the finalists Hannah, Ghosty, and Clara chose, and tune back in for the final awards in December!
Best Book Design: Thursday, December 18 (Ghosty)
Best Cover: Friday, December 19 (Hannah)
Best Title: Saturday, December 20 (Clara)
Best Heroine: Sunday, December 21 (me)
Best Hero: Monday, December 22 (Hannah)
Best Author: Tuesday, December 23 (Ghosty)
Best Book: Wednesday, December 24 (me)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guest Post-- Fan Fiction, by Ghost Ryter

Hello, Ghosty!  Thanks for dropping by the Art of Storytelling.  Tell me about yourself.  Do you have any hobbies?  What's the last book you read?     

Let's see ... I just finished "House of Stairs" by William Slater, which was amazing. (If you want a dystopian novel WITHOUT a love-triangle,  and one that DOESN'T tell you humans are little more than animals, then this is your book.) For hobbies, I enjoy playing music (ukele, guitar, mandolin...), crocheting, and growing roses (which is actually more a form of self-torture than anything else, what with how I stab myself with thorns left and right). And of course,  I love to read.  
I'm sure you get this a lot, but... how did you choose the penname Ghost Ryter? 

Well, as most people can probably tell, it's a play on 'ghost writer'. But the unusual spelling comes from a book I first read whe I was eleven, "The Last Book in the Universe". It was a huge influence for me, and still is, especially the character named---you guessed it---Ryter. 

What book has most influenced you?

Hmm... tough question. If you mean fiction, I'd have to say I've been most influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia (not one book, I know). Those were some of the first fantasy books I ever read, and they showed me there was more to Christian fiction than Elsie Dinsmore (*gag gag*).

At what point did you become a writer?  Have you always been a writer, or was there a specific point when you began?

The earliest that I can remember writing down the stories I came up with is eleven. But it wasn't until I was thirteen that I took writing seriously. I looked at wg at I was doing, and said to myself, "Okay, you've got something here, but it needs work." So I work. 

One last question... can you tell us anything about your work-in-progress or past works?

At the moment I am valiantly fighting against the clock to finish my 5 Enchanted Roses submission 'Of Thorns and Roses'. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast,  woven with the Greek myth of the minotaur.
And here's her post!
It's a tricky business, writing fan-fiction. A good deal of people will tend to look on the stories you produce like the gum stuck to the bottom of literature's shoes, which isn't fun. And, you'll find yourself wondering, what if they're right?
Is fan-fiction weird? Is it a waste of time? Is it wrong??
Short answer: Not always.
People think it's disrespectful? Hardly. Fanficers are showing their deep love, laying their fan-fiction down before the author in homage. Of course, if the authors says they don't want you touching their stuff, than it's common courtesy to respect that.
I don't actually write much fan-fiction when you get down to it. A few things for Tales of Goldstone Wood, and I recently began twiddling around with Queen's Thief and The Lunar Chronicles. But when I was about 13-14 I came up with all sorts of rubbish; mostly for Hunger Games, and then mainly AU stuff where I put Gale through all sorts of agony. Hehe. Anyway, it was rubbish, and I'm very ashamed of it, but the very fact that it was rubbish was endlessly useful. I could pinpoint what had made it so awful and make note of that.
That's how we writers learn and grow, by imitation. Fan-fiction can be a helpful tool, allowing your mind to explore, letting you test out your writing skills. And it's also just absolutely, ridiculously fun to do. . . . (Fess up: You love giggling over an OTP as much as the next person.)
You're practicing with ready-made characters and worlds, building your own skills. Unfortunately, that's what can backfire. You can become too dependent on it, using what's already been accepted and published, afraid to take a step on your own. Because who says people would like it if it's just you?
You have this talent for a reason. Words and ideas that are all yours, which is what makes them so special. As wonderful as fan-fiction is, it has its place. And you have so much more to give the world.
So, is fan-fiction worth it? I say—
Thanks so much, Ghosty!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Snippet

I have been deplorably absent of late.

I have been busy, true.  So busy that I contemplated doing another Deadlines post, but I eventually concluded that two less than a month apart would sour from mildly pretentious to full-on whiney.  So instead, I decided to give you, readers, a snippet of what has been keeping me so busy.

Like the rest of our blogging community, I am entering Rooglewood Press's 5 Enchanted Roses writing contest.  (I'll actually announce a call for beta readers soon, in case anyone is interested.)  I have been diligently plugging away at my two entries since early June, and I am quite pleased with one of them; I think it is the best I have ever written.  And the other is... um.  Yes.  It is, and it will get better, and I will somehow scrape it together in time for the deadline, because I always do.  But now I am tearing my hair out in search of some refinement for my convoluted plot.

But I digress.  The other entry turned out better than I had hoped, and, with parent-like proudness, I have decided to share a snippet with you.


What was Father like?
"He's a scientist," the boy said.  "An astronomer."  He laughed.  "Before we came to this strange land, he used to wake me up at night to see the stars.  I knew all the constellations, from the Phoenix to the Cobra to the Great Polar Bear."  His smile faded.  "But he couldn't see them when we moved to the city.  There were too many lamps.  Once we took a trip to the country to see them properly.  I think he loved them because they were the only thing that stayed the same when we left home to come here."
"But you like the stars?" the princess asked, raising her eyebrows.
 "Yes."  The word slipped from the boy's mouth.  "More than anything.  They're so lonely and-- and beautiful.  Like ice.  And they don't feel anything, so they're sad."  He caught a characteristic gleam in the princess's eye.  "What is it?
"Nothing," she said, smoothing the look away.  "I'll tell you after dinner."
And she refused to say more, although he pestered her all through their evening meal, which was pickled shark with stuffing, and pudding for later.  The princess waited until he finished, then rose and said, "Follow me."
She led him through the cold, dark hallways and up a flight of creaking stairs, the musty carpet releasing the scent of dust beneath their feet.  There she paused for a moment, and he heard the clink of metal on metal before burningly frigid air brushed his face.
"Up here," the princess said.  "Mind the steps."  She turned and helped him rise into darkness, snow squeaking beneath his feet.
He looked over at her.  He could barely see the paleness of her face, but he knew she was smiling.
"Give it a minute," she said.  "Almost there... Now.  Look up."
The boy tilted his head back and gasped.
The silver disc of the moon rose above the trees, and the land flashed silver.  Radiant paleness stretched as far as the wind could breathe and the light could reach, dancing in the shadowed forest.  Overhead the spilled-sugar stars mirrored their movements, spritely spiraling into the dark void of the universe that was a snowy winter's night.
The princess gazed up in contentment.  It had been many months since she had seen the sight and bathed in the gossamer lightness of the moon, and she tilted back her head to take it in.
She heard a soft sound and looked down sharply.  The boy was crying.
"No," she said helplessly.  "Please don't be sad.  Is it the stars?  Do you want to go back inside?"
The boy shook his head, gasping for breath.  It wasn't his father's stars, as ashamed as that made him feel.
"It's the snow," he said, and the word set off his tears again.  "I've never seen anything so beautiful and white.  In the city it's always ugly and black with coal dust."
The princess stared at him.  A few tears, pale and insignificant next to the stars, fell from her lashes.
They sat together on the edge of the roof and watched the stars until the moon faded beneath the trees again.

What about you?  Are you entering?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nominations are closed for the 2014 Blogger Awards

Widgets designed by Hannah Williams
Haven't these weeks flown by?  I am so pleased with the number of nominations you sent in.  We received over a hundred!  Now we're going to retire to our cozy libraries and discuss the nominations.  We'll be back on November 15 to let you know what we decide, and then it's on to the awards in December!