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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Shameless Christmas Tag

Which I shamelessly post on Christmas, because I haven't posted in forever because of the Blogger Awards, and I'm raring and ready to go.

Merry Christmas, readers!

It is a balmy 78 degrees here.

Ten days ago, my only sibling moved three thousand miles away.

Needless to say, I need a little Christmas!  (*cue Christmas carol*)  And I'm soooo grateful that Sarah from Dreams and Dragons tagged me in this lovely Christmas post.

What is your favorite Christmas treat?

It wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas cookies.  (Which I haven't made yet.  Christmas has really snuck up on me this year.)  I've already made gingerbread, but I still want to make shortbread, my personal favorite.

Are there any special traditions that your family has to celebrate Christmas?

In years past, we've always had Sloppy Joes for Christmas dinner.  I do not care for Sloppy Joes.  Now that a Certain Family Member has moved three thousand miles away, I get to pick Christmas dinner for a change, and I'm making enchiladas and guacamole.  Which I really should be cooking, instead of writing this blog post.  But hey.

How do you normally celebrate Christmas?

We begin with Christmas Mass, when the approximately four Church-attending Catholics in the south are joined by twenty-three squillion other Catholics, who pop out of the woodwork at Christmas and Easter to talk loudly during Mass, get in line too early for communion, and take all the seats, not that I'm bitter.

Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family? Do you buy your gifts or go the homemade route?

I love presents a ridiculous amount.  It's not the actual object wrapped in paper; usually, I am (ahem) indifferent to that.  But the anticipation is so delicious, as is the fact that it could be anything, wrapped in pretty paper!

Is it cold where you live? Have you ever had a white Christmas?

We normally have cold winters, although they're hardly ever snowy before January.  I have never experienced a white Christmas.  This year is a sort of opposite-white-Christmas: it's dangerously close to eighty degrees, pouring, and humid.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Well.  Um.  Because my sister moved earlier this month, we had an early Christmas, so we've already unwrapped our gifts.  But the Christmas tree looked so lonely and sad that I made a great sacrifice and ordered myself some Christmas presents, which I personally wrapped.  So even though I have a few presents still to open, some of the suspense has, how do you say, flown?

But I still have four beautifully wrapped presents from my Ratty and Mole Secret Santa that I can't wait to open!

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

I'm so glad you asked!  My all-time favorite is Good King Wenceslas, especially if it has a baritone and boy-soprano soloist like the video, singing the roles of Wenceslas and the page.  Runners-up include God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and In the Bleak Midwinter.  I pretty much love any old, Anglican song.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

I love the few minutes between dinner and opening presents from family, when everyone polishes off their food and becomes excited for presents.

What does your Christmas Tree look like?

I don't have a photo of it on my computer, and I really do need to start making enchiladas soon, so I'll give you a hint.  It's somewhere between this:

And this:

What are you reading in December? (Anything festive?)

I am currently rereading the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers to celebrate Christmas.  They have nothing to do with Christmas, except that they celebrate the majesty of a higher power, in this case Dorothy L. Sayers.  Can you tell I love her?

Are you an organised little elf or are you still shopping/preparing on Christmas Eve?

I am an organized little elf.  Even if I haven't gotten around to recording any of tracks for the Christmas CD for my parents, I know what songs they will be... when I get around to recording it.

(At this point, the author went to make enchiladas.)

How early do you start to get into the Christmas spirit?

(Oh, my gosh, the enchiladas were good.  The secret is cream cheese, readers.)

The holiday season begins late October, when my family visits for Halloween.  It continues through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, my birthday, then Easter.  Then there's a long, bleak summer until Halloween again.

Do you make any Christmas crafts? Decorations? Send physical Christmas cards?

I am not artistically inclined.  I will spend any amount of money to not have to make crafts.

What’s the menu for Christmas Day?!

We are serving Turkey Divan with rice, one of my favorites.  My mom is an excellent cook.

What makes it FEEL like Christmas for you? (Weather, specific tradition, food, smell, person, etc.?)

Family makes it feel like Christmas.  Whining together about all the people at Christmas Mass, sitting around the table for dinner, digging under the tree for presents.

Do you have relatives coming? Excited? Nervous?

None, alack.

What famous Christmas character do you most identify with? (Scrooge, Elf, Tiny Tim, the Grinch, Santa, etc.)

I love Ralph from A Christmas Story.  He's so realistically self-centered and lovable.

If you were to start a new Christmas tradition, what would it be?

I wish I decorated more.  I tend to be lazy about Christmas lights and tinsel.

What Christmas movies do you like to watch this time of year or what’s your favorite?

We love A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Toy Who Saved Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Home Alone.

What’s your favorite Christmasy book or book with a favorite Christmasy part?

I am not *hides face* particularly attached to any Christmas books.

If you've made it this far, dear reader, you have the patience of a saint.  Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Concluding the 2015 Blogger Awards: Best Author!

In October, 2014, I wanted some way to draw our blogging community together for the holiday season.  With the help of Hannah Williams, Ghost Ryter, and Clara Diane Thompson, the original judges, my dream became a reality: the 2014 Blogger Awards.

The Awards have come a long way in a year.  We said goodbye to some judges and hello to others.  I am so proud of the amazing judges this year.  Thank you so much, Hannah, Ghosty, Sarah, Annie, and Schuyler.  We couldn't have the Awards without you.

Thank you, also, to the authors and artists who created these amazing books: Kristy Cambron, Suzannah Rowntree, Nicole Sager, Julia Popova, Michael O, Rachel Rossano, Ashlee Willis, Shannon Messenger, Rae Carson, Hayden Wand, Jaye L. Knight, and Brandon Sanderson.  Again, the Awards would not exist without you.

Without further ado, I am pleased to present the nominees for Best Author!

Suzannah Rowntree

I read The Prince of Fishes, and I.  Was.  Floored.  The history was gorgeous.  The detail was beautiful.  The theology was through-provoking.  But what made this novella for me was the relationship of and power-struggle between Michael and his wife, Eudokia.  Each was a great character in their own right, but I came to love their feuding, their debates, their dreams, and their romance.

Kristy Cambron

I read A Sparrow in Terezin and sobbed.  I enjoyed Sera's modern-day storyline.  But easily my favorite part was Kaja's storyline in World War II.  It was breathtaking.  It was tragic.  And it was so romantic.  I had no idea if there would be a happy ending, and it kept me on my seat the entire novel.  I did not want it to end.

Nicole Sager

I read Burdney by Nicole Sager and loved it.  Most fantasy novels these day involve a quest, and I think people tend to underestimate the power of a story set at home.  Not Nicole Sager.  She did a terrific job drawing the action around a central location, pulling characters from all locales into one setting.  It was lovely.

All three are great authors.  But only one can win.  And she is:

Suzannah Rowntree!

I loved all three authors.  But while reading Suzannah Rowntree's book, I laughed.  I sobbed.  I fell in love a little.

Ultimately, what impressed me the most was the ever-shifting struggle for power between Michael and Eudokia.  Neither dominated the relationship; each had different strengths and, most noticeably, different weakness that Ms. Rowntree drew to the audience's attention.  They are not perfect.  They are not always likable.  But they are, throughout the novella, lovable.  And that is why Suzannah Rowntree is the 2015 Blogger Award's Best Author.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the 2015 Blogger Awards.  We hope you thoroughly enjoyed them!  If you are interested in judging the awards next year, please e-mail me at  On behalf of myself and the judges, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blogger Awards in Three Days!

Be sure to check out the first category, Best Cover, at Schuyler's blog this Saturday!

Saturday, December 19- Best Cover, hosted by Schuyler
Sunday, December 20- Best Title, hosted by Hannah
Monday, December 21- Best Short Fiction, hosted by Ghosty
Tuesday, December 22- Best Character, hosted by Annie
Wednesday, December 23- Best Book, hosted by Sarah
Thursday, December 24- Best Author, hosted by Allison (me!)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Desert Island Book Tag, subtitled How to Build an Inexpensive Hut

I stole this unabashedly from My Lady Bibliophile.  Thanks, Schuyler!  Here are the eight books I would bring with me on a desert island.

The desert island
1. The Bible

I've got to finish it sometime, y'all.  As it is, I'm still stuck in Maccabees 1.  Don't even get me started on the Wisdom of Solomon!  I figure I would have plenty of spare time to finish it while stranded.

2. The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare

Yes, this is one book.  Rereading all thirty-eight would keep me plenty occupied, and I could use it to kill small mammals for food.  You really can't go wrong with Shakespeare.

3. Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones

Every time I read this book, I catch a new theme, a new reference, or a new take on a familiar character.  Some of my other reading is pretty dense, so this would be the perfect book for relaxing and unwinding on a tropical, albeit desert, beach.

4. Chime, by Franny Billingsley

I would bring this for the same reasons as Fire and Hemlock.  It is deceptively light and masks a great deal of subtle artistry, whose surface I have only begin to scratch.

5. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L. Sayers

Because it is perfect.  There need be no other reason.

6. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen

Yes, I know I'm grievously cheating and lumping multiple volumes into one.  But I have seen it done before!  I would bring Jane Austen for her civility and sharp wit.  Besides, if you set it next to the Shakespeare and lay the Bible on top, it would make a decent hut.

7. The Iliad and the Odyssey, by Homer

Now my hut has a wall, and I can enjoy the adventure, warfare, and romance of the ancient Greeks.

And finally, 8. Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

I could spend happy hours reading about Kaladin, nobility, courage, Kaladin, honor, war, Kaladin, extraordinary worlds, and Kaladin.  What's not to love?  And besides, now my hut has a door.

I challenge you, readers!  Which volumes would you bring with you on a desert island, and how would you assemble them into a storm-proof shelter?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Is Coming!

... and I am nowhere near ready for it!

"But Allison," you say, "there are fifteen days until Christmas.  You have plenty of time."

Ha.  Ha ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

What if I told you there were only five?

My older sister leaves for college in a week.  Her orientation is a few days before Christmas.  So at my house, we're celebrating Christmas on December 15th.

(And then we're going to do it again on the 25th.  My sister doesn't need to know about that.)

*cue mass panic*

And that is why it has been a quiet on the blog.  Because here is my to-do list before the 15th:

1. Finish rewrites for my Five Magic Spindles entry.  In terms of mechanics, this is more technical and complex than anything I have written before, but it's shaping up nicely.  Rain or shine, I'm sending it off to my awesome beta reader on the 15th, after which I'll post a snippet and tell you about it.

2. Write my senior portfolio for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.  It's due the 17th.  I haven't written it yet.  Yeah...

3. And I guess my family would like it if I got them Christmas gifts...

Actually, compared to last year, I have oodles and oodles of time.  I finished my last final exam yesterday (it. took. three. hours.) and only have a few assignments before the semester ends.  So expect more blog posts!  Right...


Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Book Sale


 It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you. From Nov 27 (that’s today!) through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.> What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November Nightstand Books and Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, readers!  I hope you are having a lovely Thanksgiving thus far.  I am celebrating with jogging, Pilates, and yoga: my favorite holiday traditions.

I am pleased to present this month's addition of Nightstand Books, inspired by Jenelle Schmidt and D J Edwardson.

This is possibly the fuzziest picture to ever be posted to this blog.
There are fewer books this time because it's so late in the month.

First is A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray.  So far, I've read the prologue and half of the first chapter, so I don't have any strong opinions on it.  But I'll let you know when I do!

Next comes Rise of the Evening Star, by Brandon Mull.  I read the Fablehaven series when I was younger, positively adored it, and then forgot it existed.  So as a present to myself for finishing NaNoWriMo, I bought the series.  And it is.  So good.

Then we have To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis.  This is one of my favorite books, and I'm reading it to my mom.

I'm reading Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace, for school.  Again, I've barely made it through the first chapter.  But so far it's great!

And my Bible.  I just finished Tobit today and started Judith, not to mention some rereads of Esther, one of my favorite books in the Bible.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, readers!

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaNoWriMo- Victory!

I did it, readers!!

And now I have the number of functioning brain cells once associates with, I don't know, a brownie or something.

I wrote a grand total of 50,039 words in one month for my latest project, The Winter Court.  In late October, I wasn't completely sure this was going to happen.  I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have done it!

I discovered three key things while on the voyage known as novel-writing.

1. I can consistently write 2,000 words in a little less than an hour.  If I really buckle down, that means I can finish projects much more quickly than I have in the past.

1A (because I have to have three points in true literary fashion, which means I have to get creative). I cannot write 3,000 words every day.  It takes exponentially longer, and by the time I finish, I can't do anything but watch TV all day.  HOWEVER, writing 3,000 words a day for the first week made writing 2,000 words more efficient than it has ever been.

1B. I need weekends.  Weekends are perfect.  Weekends are lovely.

And 2. I did not finish my novel.  With my roughest estimation, it will be around 90,000 words long.  Could I write that in a month?  Probably.  Would it hurt?  Yeah.  You bet.

And finally, 3. I need some time away from my novel.  I love the characters, I love the story so far, but I've reached the point where I realize I have absolutely no idea where I'm going with this.  I don't know how the novel ends.  I mean, I know how it sort of ends-- the hero wins, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after-- but I don't know the particulars.  Any of them.  And I would like to have these firmly in hand before I return to the manuscript.

And return I shall!  This is only a passing break, albeit much-needed.  I can figure out where my novel is going.  And in the meantime, I can work on my other, poor-little-abandoned-projects that, you know, have due dates that are sort of creeping up on me.

But as for today, I'm taking time off.  I think I've earned it.  : )

Writers, keep writing!

Friday, November 20, 2015

NaNoWriMo Day 20

I am unabashedly stealing/lovingly borrowing this post idea from Sarah at Dreams and Dragons (love you, Sarah!  Please don't sue me for plagiarism!) because it is past my bed time, I realized I haven't posted in forever, and I have approximately four brain cells currently operational.

Remember how I said I was doing NaNoWriMo?  I was not at all convinced that I would finish.  But right now, three weeks in, I am at a grand total of...

45,209 words!

I know I'm not at the finish line yet.  But if stay on schedule like I have for the past three weeks, I should finish on Monday.  As in, three days.

I should say witty things about the writing process and NaNoWriMo.  But to be honest, I've been writing two thousand words a day for the past twenty days.  I have approximately four brain cells that aren't fried, and for all that I'm ahead on NaNo, I'm woefully behind on rewriting my poor little Five Magic Spindles project.  So I'll conclude by promising you two posts in the near future: one on the aforementioned Five Magic Spindles project, and the other on my woefully neglected November Nightstand Books.

Writers, keep writing!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nanowrimo Begins....

Happy National Novel Writing Month, dear readers!  May your word count surpass your wildest dreams!

I have, in my life, written three novels: one mediocre, one awful, and one considerably better than anyone, least of all myself, expected.  That's not counting five novellas and innumerable short stories.  So I'm working on my fourth novel, but it's the first I've done for Nanowrimo (the past three novels have taken me, at minimum, a year each).

It's been three years since I've written a novel.  Until I typed that last sentence, I hadn't really processed that.  I've been working on novellas because they're so much quicker, and I can hone my craft without dedicating a large portion of my life to it.  But I'm so, so glad and excited to be back writing a novel.

I have a few goals for this novel:

  • I want to enjoy writing it.  This is the highest priority for me.  I always love writing, but sometimes it's in the awful, why-is-this-so-much-work sort of way.  I understand that what I'm doing is hard, but I want to have fun while I do it.

  • I want it to (and I expect that it will) be of a higher quality than my previous first drafts.  I have a lot, lot more experience as a writer than I did when I wrote my last novel.  (Bless you, little novellas!)  I know some tricks that make the writing process easier for me, and I'm employing all of them.

  • I want to exceed fifty thousand words.  There.  I said it.
Three goals!  We'll see if I reach them.  Please note that one of my goals is not finishing the novel itself.  It's been a long time since I've written a novel, and this one is, so far, significantly chewier than I expected, with more characters, subplots, and unexpected (to me, at any rate) twists.  I honestly have no idea how long it's going to be.  I guess I'll find out by the end of November.

I know I've briefly mentioned my work-in-progress.  It has the working title The Winter Court, and it is heavily influenced by Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Macbeth (I'll give you a hint: one of these is not like the others...), as well as the innumerable fantasy novels I've read growing up that roughly seem to follow the same outline.  I'm trying to take all the tropes and stereotypes that I love so dearly and, with some grace and luck, perhaps show a new side of them to the audience...

At least, that's the plan.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm trying to be flexible this year.

And to reward you for having so patiently waded through this post, I present a snippet from The Winter Court.  It's about my two main characters, Valerian and Yarrow.  (Everyone in this culture is named after herbs.)

“You’re right,” Valerian repeated.  He ran a hand through his dark hair, dragging it out of order.  “You’re right, and I’m sorry.  My only explanation, feeble as it may be, is that I have something important to tell you, and I’m nervous.”
            “Apology accepted,” Yarrow managed to say, as her heart beat quicker.  A moment before she had been unbearably tired, like she hadn’t slept for a week.  Now her pulse raced, her veins felt like they flowed with champagne, and she felt dizzy, intoxicated.  Don’t smile, she ordered herself.  Don’t act like you have the faintest idea what’s coming.  You need to look surprised when he says it.
            “Yarrow,” Valerian began.  He bit his lip.  “You know you’re my best friend, right?  And that you always will be?”
            “Yes.”  Don’t smile, don’t smile…
            “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.  It’s—well, it’s something I should have told you a long time ago.  A really long time ago.  And—I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
            Her heart stopped beating.   Smile, smile! her subconscious screamed at her.  Act natural!
            “Yarrow,” he said, glancing over her shoulder, the reflection of another form glimmering in his eyes, “I want you to meet someone…”
            Yarrow turned around.  She saw the elf.
            She fainted.

I hope you enjoy, dear readers!  I wrote that portion just today, which means, although I'm fond of it today, I may bitterly rue sharing it tomorrow... but that's the risk of writing, and it's one I'm prepared to take.

My Nano username is ARuvidich.  Visit my page and add me as a buddy!

Happy writing, dear friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

2015 Blogger Awards Finalists: Best Author

Hello, dear readers!  Welcome back to the 2015 Blogger Awards!

I am pleased to announce the finalists for Best Author.  Drum roll, please!


Congratulations, finalists!  And thank you, everyone, for your nominations!  Be sure to view the other judges' finalists and come back in December to see who will win the award.

Saturday, December 19- Best Cover, hosted by Schuyler
Sunday, December 20- Best Title, hosted by Hannah
Monday, December 21- Best Short Fiction, hosted by Ghosty
Tuesday, December 22- Best Character, hosted by Annie
Wednesday, December 23- Best Book, hosted by Sarah
Thursday, December 24- Best Author, hosted by Allison (me!)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Blogger Awards!

That's right, it's happening again!  I am pleased to present to you the second annual Blogger Awards, your friendly award ceremony honoring the books and authors of 2015.

Widget designed by Hannah Williams

This year, we will be awarding six categories:

Saturday, December 19- Best Cover, hosted by Schuyler
Sunday, December 20- Best Title, hosted by Hannah
Monday, December 21- Best Short Fiction, hosted by Ghosty
Tuesday, December 22- Best Character, hosted by Annie
Wednesday, December 23- Best Book, hosted by Sarah
Thursday, December 24- Best Author, hosted by Allison (me!)

I can't tell you how excited I am this year, readers.  Coordinating this event has been a dream thanks to the lovely hosts.  In fact, there's only one thing missing.  We have hosts, categories, and a schedule-- but we don't have the books yet!

We need nominations, and that's where you come in.  Comment on this post and tell me which author who has published a book in 2015 deserves the Blogger Award.  Then go to the other blogs and tell them your nominations for their categories, too!  Nominations are open until November 1.  With your help, this will be the best Blogger Awards yet!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sweater Weather Tag

It's the season of blog tags, and I have one today from Grace at Fictionally!

Favorite Candle Scent?

Bath and Body Works has a candle called Eucalyptus Mint.  It smells heavenly and can clear your sinuses from across the room.  I also adore their Heirloom Pear scent.

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

Tea all the way!  This season I'm drinking Tevana's Samurai Chai Mate.  It's spicy in the traditional sense of the word (not spicy-hot, that is), and it tastes like fall.  I love it.

What's your best fall memory?

Every fall, my family visits.  They're a hoot!  They single-handedly finance the Trader Joe's wine and cheese departments for the weekend.  Each year we have a Halloween costume theme.  We've been nuns, superheroes, and doctors.  Two years ago we were cat burgers.  (It started as cat burglars but changed due to an unfortunate e-mail typo....)  Last year we were vikings, and this year we're opera characters.

Best fragrance for fall?

The scent of chili always brings me back to fall.  That's my favorite fall scent-- unless you mean fragrance like perfume?  I like chili, but I don't want to smell like it.

Favorite Thanksgiving food?

Hands down, my mom's green bean casserole.  It has French onions and cream sauce, and it's soooo good!

Most worn sweater?

My great aunt knit me a fluffy, white sweater.  It's soft and cozy, and it reminds me of her.

Football games or jumping in leaf piles?

I don't understand football.  At all.  Why are they running in different directions?  Who am I rooting for?  It's a mystery.  I like the concept of leaf piles but not the execution (raking = work).  I'll propose a third option: the baseball World Series is in the fall!  GO CARDS!!

Skinny jeans or leggings?

I wear both.  I like skinny jeans for their style and practicality, but leggings are much comfier.  It really depends on the length of the shirt I'm wearing.

Combat boots or Uggs?

Neither.  I have an awesome ankle-length pair of boots that I wear on all my adventures.

Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?

I'm ashamed to say this.

I... I haven't tried pumpkin spice.

I know!  I'm sorry!  But I'm not crazy about pumpkin flavors in general, so I haven't been leaping to order it.

Favorite fall movie?

Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's odd and quite scary, but the music is wonderful.

What do you want to be for Halloween?

Like I said, we're all dressing up as opera characters this year.  I haven't picked one yet, although my grandmother will be Pagliacci.  I could be Olympia:

She always scared me a little.
I could be Lucia Di Lammermoor:

They'd probably think I was a ghost.
I could be Sieglinde:

I think this is Sieglinde?
This makes me realize I've never done an opera post...

Hats or scarves?

Well... usually neither.  I don't get cold very easily, and I have a large head and lots of hair, so hats don't fit.

What's your #1 favorite thing about fall?

The holidays.  I love Halloween and Thanksgiving, and after that, Christmas and New Years are right around the corner!  It's also the first half of the school year, so I feel more energized and enthusiastic.

I tag Ghosty @ Anything, Everything; Candice @ O Ye Scribes; Clara @ To Find a Castle; Sarah @ Dreams and Dragons; Emma @ Peppermint and Prose; and Jemma @ Sherwood Storyteller.  (I know it isn't fall for you, Jemma, but you're still invited!)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

Candice from O Ye Scribes tagged me for this about a million years ago.  It was June 1.

(Sorry, Candice.)

But better late than never, right?  Right....  Here are the rules:

-List you 10 favorite screen characters (from TV shows or movies)
-Tag 10 other bloggers

In no particular order, I present my top ten favorite screen characters:

Miranda Otto as Eowyn

She's tough, she's kind, she has awesome taste in men (let's be real here), and she wears the most beautiful dresses.  I adore Eowyn in both her book and movie forms.

Danny Kaye as Hubert Hawkins

The Court Jester is my favorite movie of all time, and no one has ever seen it!  It's hysterically funny, clever, and sweet.  Danny Kaye is probably my favorite actor.

Lea Salonga as the voice of Mulan
It's no secret that I adore Mulan.  She can fight Huns, spill tea, and save the day, all in the same movie.

Matthew McConaughey as Palmer Joss
Contact is a beautiful, soul-crushing, awe-inspiring movie about the struggle between religion and science.  It's absolutely gorgeous.  He's absolutely gorgeous.  I love that movie.  I saw it for the first time this summer, sobbed through the entire movie, and punched my suite-mate in the shoulder at a really good part.  (Sorry, girl!)

Chaim Topol as Tevye
I adore the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  It's funny, clever, and achingly sad.  And Topol plays the perfect Tevye: an honest man in an impossibly dark time.

Toothless the dragon as himself

That sassy face.  Honestly, Toothless carries the movie How to Train Your Dragon.  His depth of expression is astounding and striking.  And he's super adorable!

Harriet Walter and Edward Petherbridge
Yes, now I'm cheating and doing couples so I can count them as two.  But I really do love these two!  They play Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey, from Dorothy L Sayers' wonderful books, and are among my favorite characters in literature.  (They're pretty neat onscreen, too.)

And finally, my very favorite screen characters!

Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Harris
King Arthur and Guinevere.  Yes, I know their story is sad-- but in the 1967 version of Camelot, they are also two of the most stunningly complex, well-crafted characters I have ever seen/read/experienced.  They're gorgeous.  Legend dictates that they make improbably choices, and T. H. White (whose book inspired the musical) formed the perfect personalities to make these choices seem logical.

(Sadly, the third member of their emotional triangle, Sir Lancelot, is fairly one-dimensional.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Three characters of that caliber in one production probably would've blown my head clean off my shoulders!) 

(I should also mention that I haven't finished this movie yet.  But the first three quarters are stunning...)

(Sorry for all the notes in parentheses, but while doing research for this post, I learned that the actress of Guinevere is married in real life to the actor of Lancelot!  !!!!)

So there you are, readers: my top ten favorite screen characters.  I'm not going to tag anyone in particular (sorry!), but please do play along!

I am also going to take a moment here to wish a happy birthday to my father.  You're the best, Dad!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Nightstand Book: October

Your monthly fuzzy picture of my nightstand, inspired by Jenelle Schmidt and D J Edwardson!

I had planned on doing stuff with my life today.  Useful stuff.  I had to write an e-mail.  I wanted to go jogging.  And there's this new thing called, you know.  School.

But I had books on hold at the library, so I got them first, naturally, because I'm not crazy.  And one of them was Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay.

At two o'clock this afternoon, I thought I would read the first few pages to see if I liked it.  At four o'clock this afternoon, I admitted to myself that I was still reading and put on my jogging clothes as motivation to wrap it up.

It's six o'clock in the evening.  I did not write that e-mail.  I did not go jogging, nor did I change out of my jogging clothes.  I did finish the book, though.  It was just that good.

Curse you, Mrs. Reay!

Ahem.  Sorry.

I'm also reading Le Morte d'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory, and rereading The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien, and The Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling.  And there's a book for my super-secret plans for next spring.  It's titled Ireland for Dummies.  You can probably guess what my super-secret plans are...  Oh, and I have The Oxford Book of Ballads for a project I'm working on, and a new Bible for a pre-confirmation course I'm taking this year.  Yeah...

I realize I sound totally apathetic.  I'm sort of brain-dead right now.  Blame it on Dear Mr. Knightley.  It was just that good.

I guess I'll write that e-mail now....

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: I Will Praise You in the Storm, by Danny L Deaubé

"I Will Praise You in the Storm," by Danny L Deaubé

This book covers a period from 1966 to 2008. It is an account of the lives of Stephen and Holly Deaubé and their family, beginning at birth and ending in glory. Each was born with the same rare but fatal liver disease. Honest and sometimes graphic, it deals with the everyday joys, heartaches, and struggles that accompany children with liver disease. The landscape is constantly changing, covering a large spectrum of emotions. This story describes in detail the trials and struggles as they occurred, with an honest assessment of their thoughts as they responded to pain, suffering, and death. The book chronicles a journey of faith, beginning from infancy to its final conclusion in God's sovereign will.
 Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a sad story.

I know that sounds trite and obvious.  If you’ve read the synopsis, you can see it coming.  But I’ll warn you anyway: this is a sad, sad story.

It is the story of Holly and Stephen Deaubé, who, while very young, were diagnosed with the same fatal liver disease.  I Will Praise You in the Storm follows their lives through diagnosis to their eventual death.

I find that I’m really struggling to review this one.  If I measure its value by the number of tissues I used during it, this one would merit a full five stars.  I would say something to the effect of the quality of the writing, but I actually didn’t notice the writing at all in the course of reading it.

Suffice it to say that this is a book about loss.  And it is, throughout, a book about how we can praise God in the worst times of our lives.

Before I read this, I was fairly certain that I liked sad stories.  After all, I counted Les Miserables and Hamlet among my favorites, and those hardly end well, do they?  These stories all have something in common, though.  They’re fictional.  They’re not, in the traditional sense, real.

Real sad stories are harder.  I’m not sure I like them as much.  But stories about someone who goes through a sad, heart-wrenching time, and comes through, and finds a meaning for that sadness?  Yes.  I like those, too.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Art of Storytelling!

*blows noisemaker*

Happy birthday, little blog!  It has been exactly one year since the first post.  Between then and now, I've learned so much about writing, and also a little about blog design, which is why the Art of Storytelling has a brand new look!  Shout-out to Hannah Williams for artistically critiquing the header.  It looks much better after her advice.

For those of you who are from the year 2035, when I'm a famous author, and are stalking my childhood blog, don't fear.  It always bothers me when a blogger announces that they've changed their look, but you can't remember what their old look was.  Here, for reference, is an old picture:

I think it looks much better now.

My first year of blogging has been made wonderful by so many different people.  I would like to thank Hannah Williams, Ghost Ryter, and Clara Diane Thompson for helping out so much.  And I would like to thank all of you, dear readers!  You are what make writing worthwhile.

And on that topic...

The 2015 Blogger Awards are just around the corner!  I hope to expand the event this year, so we're looking for more judges.  If anyone with a functional blog who can commit to the series wants to participate, please e-mail me at

I think I'll eat cake now to celebrate.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Praying Mantis and the Spider

Look, Mom!  Two posts in one week.


This evening, I was sitting at my desk, working away at my current work-in-progress.  It is my second entry for Rooglewood Press's Five Enchanted Roses, and it is giving me no little grief.  It's about a magic herb that grows in mountain caves and sends people to sleep... except that the herb never quite found its way into the plot, and seeing as it was the key Sleeping Beauty element, my retelling is progressing slowly.  So far I have a castle-full of people exacting halfhearted political revenge and not much else.  So I was reasonably open to the possibility of being completely distracted from it.

My desk, for the record, is planted firmly in front of a window so I can look outside at the twenty-foot myrtle tree in our garden while I work.  But why this exposition is necessary... well, you'll see.

So my heroine had the missing prince locked in her root cellar, and she was trying to explain precisely why her family kidnapped him.  And I was bored.  And as I glanced out the window, I noticed movement in the myrtle tree.  Something large was half-hidden by the last deep-pink blossoms... and for all that I searched, I could not see what it was!

My heroine and the missing prince continued squabbling endearingly, but my attention was caught up in the mysterious movement in the myrtle tree.  As the hero and heroine resolved their argument, something half-fell out of the myrtle tree and writhed, dangling, in its branches.

And I couldn't see what it was, because I was twenty feet away.  So, naturally, I abandoned my heroine and the missing prince to their argument and fetched a pair of binoculars.  I gazed out the window... and it was a praying mantis!

Like such
Unlike this noble specimen, however, this praying mantis was half-tangled in a spider's web.  Suspended over a treacherous twenty-foot gulf, the praying mantis struggled and struggled, but he could not free himself from the web!

It was heartbreaking.  So naturally, I called for my dad to come see it.  What followed were several minutes of him fiddling with the binoculars and me saying, "If you look at the tallest branch and go down a bit, then to the right some, then sort of up, around that one flower, you should be able to see it."  I shan't recount it all here.  Suffice it to say that he couldn't see it.

Dissatisfied, I returned to my work-in-progress and managed a good minute and a half of solid work before my mom came in.  I screeched for her to come see it, and she, mercifully, could interpret my directions and actually saw the the praying mantis's struggle.

"But I don't know how to save it!" I said.  "It's right at the top of the tree."

"Well, we have a wiffle ball in the garage," she said.

"But what if I kill it?"

My sister pragmatically said, "It'll die anyway if you don't."

Well.  We can't have that, now, can we?

Armed with a wiffle ball and a camera, I sallied forth to my side yard in the dying light.  I noticed that the myrtle tree was a lot taller than it was from my window.  Definitely more like thirty feet.

And it was crawling with big, brown, hairy spiders.

The myrtle tree in my side yard
I should mention something at this point.  I'm funny about spiders.  Like-- near phobic funny about spiders.  So I was very unwilling to approach the myrtle tree.

But the praying mantis was in much worse condition than I!  Who knew how long his struggles could last before the spiders feasted upon him?

So I worked up my courage and threw the wiffle ball.

This is a wiffle ball, by the way.
It missed the tree completely.  Dodging spiderwebs, I fetched it back and threw it again.

It missed.  Again.  But-- and this is important!-- it missed on the other side of the tree!  That, dear reader, is progress.

The next attempt wasn't quite so good.  The wiffle ball got stuck in the tree.

The wiffle ball

A close-up of the wiffle ball.  (No, I don't have shaky hands.)
It was getting dark. So I appealed to a higher authority and went to get my mom.

I have an awesome mom.  She came out with the branch cutter.

It's pretty much a machete on a stick.  It does not, to the best of my knowledge, glow blue in the presence of orcs.  But hey, still works.
She reached vainly for the web locking the praying mantis in place.  But alas, my petite mother was too short to reach it.  So she went to get a chair, because she's great that way.

We returned ready to rescue.  But the praying mantis was gone.

I have no idea what happened to it.  I can only assume that our rescue attempts provided so much entertainment for the spiders that it gave the praying mantis time to escape.  I don't know that we can exactly take credit.  We knocked the wiffle ball down and came back inside.

I didn't finish my work-in-progress.  Instead, I wrote this down for you.

 And then I finished my work-in-progress*, because some things you just have to do.

*Not finished-finished.  Just finished the part I was working on today.