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, June 26, 2015

Literary Couples

Something terrible has been happening, readers.

My icy cold unromantic heart is melting!

Growing up, I never had any patience for romance.  I was the stoniest little ice maiden to ever be unimpressed by suave words.  I tested myself against all the major poets and authors, and none could break my impenetrable, unromantic shield.

Jane Austen: You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope...I have loved none but you.

10-year-old Allison: BORing!

Charles Dickens: And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire.

13-year-old Allison: Hon, she is so not worth it.

Shakespeare: Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.

16-year-old Allison: Points for trying.  But only because you’re Shakespeare.

 But 17-year-old Allison has undergone some frightening emotional changes that leave her younger selves shaking their heads with disgust.

 Dorothy L. Sayers: Placet. 

17-year-old Allison: WAAAAAAH!!!!  Oh, that is so beautiful!  *sniffs*
16-year-old Allison: Are you kidding me?

 (If you wish to understand this rather ambiguous Dorothy L. Sayers quote, you’ll need to read her Lord Peter Wimsey series, beginning with Whose Body?)

It’s happened, everyone.  The thing my friends have been threatening me with every time I scoff during a romantic comedy.

 I’ve developed a romantic soul.

And that means… I’m writing a post on my favorite literary couples!  (By all rights, I should do this in February.  But there are much more important things to celebrate in February.  Such as my birthday.)

While attempting to write the list, however, I realized that definitely selecting my favorites is incredibly difficult.  So instead I have pinpointed the three traits that I value in literary couples, with examples.

1.      Adorableness

This, readers, is vitally important.  There must be a squee-factor at some point in the proceedings, or the romance isn’t worth reading at all!  The most adorable couple of all time is, I believe, Eugenides and his lady from Megan Whalen Turner’s the Queen’s Thief series (ha! you thought I would give away her name… never!).  They are, against all odds, sweet and loving, even when they must hide their love in the face of adversity.  I especially love how they retain their individual agendas and personalities and still disagree, often violently.  It’s much more realistic that way.  (Runner up: Sophie and her significant other from Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle.)


2.      Thoughtfulness

I love when books raise deep questions on relationships.  And when it comes to questioning their relationship, Lord Peter Wimsey and the mysterious Lady X take the cake!  (From the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, by Dorothy L. Sayers).  At least four books are devoted to Lady X as she rejects Lord Peter’s affections.  Characters who are clearly meant for each other having angst-ridden relationship issues normally drive me insane.  But in these books, the characters actually think about their relationship.  They question their compatibility.  And they raise haunting, thought-provoking questions.  (Runner up: Polly and her beau from Diana Wynne Jones’s Fire and Hemlock.  Sorry, Mrs. Jones!  You’re constantly the runner up!)


3.      Faithfulness

This trait, I feel, is often glossed over in literature.  Sure they can have passionate, love-struck soliloquies… but can they also love and defend and put up with each other for the rest of their lives?  Andromache and Hector, from Homer’s The Illiad, absolutely can.  Like all Greek heroes, they’re dramatic, adventurous, and exciting—but they’re also devoted to each other.  She spins him a cloak and gives him military advice.  He adores their son (one of the many traits that earned him a spot in my Favorite Heroes post).  Sure, their relationship has its rough spots—like the Siege of Troy.  But their endless patience will keep their love strong.  (Only not really, because like all Greek heroes, they have a tragic ending.)  (Runner up: Moist von Lipwig and his lady from Going Postal, by Sir Terry Pratchett.)

 So there you are, readers: my favorite literary couples and why.  Have you read of any of these?  Did I miss any great ones?
Reminder: I'll be out of town a lot this summer, so I may be slow responding to comments.  It doesn't mean I don't love you!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thoughts on Storytelling

As you can tell, I’m pretty nuts about storytelling.  I even named my blog after it!  It’s one of the central themes of my life, my one true love.

Am I smitten with it?  Absolutely.

… Do I tire of it sometimes?

Well.  Tire isn’t the best word.  Rather, I become familiar with it.  Mind-numbingly, inevitably familiar.

Allow me to set the stage for an example.

Me in my room, lounging with a library book.  The cover is somewhat typical for a young adult novel.

Narrator: A dark-haired man comes into the room and says to the orphan boy—

Me: The man is the boy’s father, although neither realize it yet.  The grand reveal will come in the fourth to last sentence, and the author will postpone the reunion until the third book of the trilogy.

Narrator (stammering): H-how do you know?

Me (á la Sherlock Holmes): Quite simple, really.  You specifically said that both the orphan and the man have dark hair.  You didn’t include many other details, so I know these ones are significant.  It’s a typical coming-of-age story, so I know he’ll be the father, not an uncle or cousin.

Narrator: Ah.  I see.


Narrator: He said to the boy—

After so many years of love, storytelling can become set in its ways.  This is frustrating, especially because it could so easily be prevented!  If the boy’s father hadn’t been the dark-haired man he admired—if it had been the mousy, uncertain man whom the boy had mocked—I would’ve fallen out of my chair.  I would’ve loved the book.

Some authors are experts at turning my preconceptions on their heads.  Megan Whalen Turner does it.  Franny Billingsley does it.  But so many others don’t, and this frustrates me.

Honestly, most of this problem is probably my own fault.  I’m becoming cynical in my old age.  I expect a certain element from books, and when I don’t get it, I’m disappointed.

What I need is a storytelling palate cleanser.

And I am fortunate enough that my good friend, Ghost Ryter, provided me with that very thing.

Until quite recently, I would’ve sworn that I dislike comics and graphic novels.  “Comics,” I would’ve sniffed, in my endearing Diane Chambers-esque way, “are fah inferior to novels.”

Then Ghost Ryter introduced me to The Silver Eye, a webcomic by Laura Hollingsworth.

And reader, it is beautiful.

I won’t go into much detail over the plot, because I want to review it someday soon.  Suffice it to say that it is an enchanting maze of details and memories, time twisting in on itself as the story unfolds in dazzling, multi-faceted images.  The artwork is stunning.  The writing is stunning.  And the characters—O! reader, there is not one character who is poorly portrayed.  I love all of them.

And the best part, reader?  I have no idea where it is going.

Yes, I value—not originality, per se.  I like classic themes.  But I like it best when an author is able to work beyond clichés, or better, turn clichés into something originally profound.  What about you, readers?  Where have you encountered this before?

Reminder: I'll be gone for a decent chunk of the summer, so I may be slow at responding to comments.  Rest assured, I still value your input!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nighstand Books- June

Hello, readers!  Today I am pleased to present another episode in the blog series by Jenelle Schmidt and D J Edwardson.  This one is especially important because it allows me to show off the books that are coming with me to summer camp!

Because I'm off to a whole new place, I'm bringing along some whole new books.  I went through my Goodreads to-read list, picked the most intriguing looking ones, and requested them from my library.
I'll introduce the first two out of order, because they have a humorous backstory, complete with a tale of heroic bravery.  I've been swamped the past few days getting everything ready for camp, in addition to preparing for my sister's graduation party, so I wasn't able to get to the library before today.  I was irked to realize that two of my holds had expired: Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge, and The Moorchild, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.  I was even more irked because they were both still in the library, which meant instead of writing them off as lost, I was obliged to search for them.
The library catalog assured me that Crimson Bound was on the shelf.  It was not.  So I stumped up to the library help desk, which, as an unsocialized homeschooler, I generally avoid doing.
Librarian: How can I--
Me: Your catalog lied.
Librarian: Ah, what--
Me: Crimson Bound.  Rosamund Hodge.  Find it.
(For the record, yes, there is a lot of artistic license in this dramatic retelling.  I would never actually talk to someone like that.  At least, not for Crimson Bound.)
But even worse, The Moorchild had been safely returned to its home in the most frightening, most dangerous section of the library.
Children's fiction.
Don't get me wrong; I was a massive reader as a youngster, and I haunted those bitty little shelves.  But now I am five years older and six inches taller, and I cannot go anywhere near that section without feeling like everyone in the building is judging my taste in books.  Especially those kid readers hanging around.  I swear, when I was their age, I did not have such judgy eyes.
Reader, I almost renewed my request on the book.  But at the last possible moment, I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders-- and made a cowardly dash through children's fiction.
And that is how I ended up with Crimson Bound, by Rosemond Hodge, and The Moorchild, by Eloise McGraw.  Here's hoping they're worth it.
The rest of the list is less adventurous.  We have The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg, which I had to get because of the silhouette on the cover.  I expected it to be longer.  We'll see how this goes.
Next is The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, which Ghost Ryter recommended to me.  I swore up and down that I had never read Sutcliff before-- until I remember that I had and hadn't loved it.  Still, I'm sure this one will be great.
Then comes Illusionarium, by Heather Dixon.  I adored her retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Entwined, and thus wanted to read this, but reviewers pretty unanimously agree that it's not as good.  I'm taking that with a grain of salt.
The massive brick at the bottom is The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Hannah William's awesome artwork (which I encourage you to view here) finally inspired me to tackle this.
And my Bible, which is making the journey to camp with me both for moral support and so I can truck on with my reading of it.  I'm stuck in the Wisdom of Solomon, which is endlessly beautiful and wise and interesting but sooo long, and the end is nowhere in sight.  I never thought the Book of Sirach would look so attractive.
So there you have it, my readers!  The seven books accompanying me to camp.  I barely read anything at camp last year, but I did finish the first draft of Hespera there, so I'm hoping to be productive in both reading and writing this year.  And who knows?  Perhaps I'll post a snippet of my work-in-progress... which involves fairies, danger, and sheep.  So many sheep.
I've scheduled blog posts for June 19 and 26, then July 3, 10, and 17, and I hope-- hope being the key word here-- that I'll have time to post about my various adventures.  Rest assured that I'll be thinking of you.  I'll likely be slow to respond to comments, so I conclude this post with both a request for patience and a request for prayers while I'm away.
Blessings, dear readers!  I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Updates!

Hello, dear readers!

As I’ve mentioned several (dozen) times, I’ll be spending my summer at North Carolina’s Governor’s School. 

For those of you who don’t know, it’s a summer boarding school.  While there, I’ll study choral music (my principal area), as well as other subjects like philosophy, ethics, and psychology.  After a long and arduous application process (including but not limited to two essays, one audition, and an avalanche of paperwork), I am unbearably excited to attend. 

But it also means a potential six weeks of blogging silence. 

Have no fears, readers!  I will not abandon you! 

But that means, of course, that I have to write six weeks’ worth of blog posts in one week.  I hope to auto-schedule at least one per week, and though I think I have enough material for that, I want to ask you, readers, what you would like to see over the summer.  Would you like me to post more original writing?  Quirky blog challenges?  Scholarly discussions of storytelling?  Do tell!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The 777 Writing Challenge

Hello, readers!  About a million years ago (March), Hannah tagged me in a fun writing challenge.  A while later, though, my childhood laptop gave up the struggle and temporarily trapped all of my files.

I was without Microsoft Word for a month.  It was terrible.

But this latest blog post comes to you from my brand new grown-up laptop, and I'm rearing to get back to blogging and writing!  And so I can finally complete the 777 writing challenge.

The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress

So without further ado, I present seven lines from my current work-in-progress: The Undying... a fairy story told from the perspective of the fairies.  (I've included eight lines to provide context for the section.)

“We’ll have to leave for Titania soon,” Peaseblossom warned her.  “I don’t mean when we feel like it.  I mean—“ she struggled for some concept of measuring time—“the next time we open our eyes, we’ll have to go find Titania.”
“Well, then,” Gloriana said, leaning back.  Her hair cushioned her.  “Let’s sleep for a hundred years.”

And maybe they did.  Fairies do not sleep lightly.  They do not dream the dreams of innocents.

It bothered Peaseblossom sometimes, the memories that returned when she slept.  Little things, like needles poking into her skin.  She never remembered them when she awoke.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tidbit, readers!  I won't tag anyone in particular, but feel free to play along in the comments!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cover Reveal: Five Magic Spindles

Hello, dear readers!  I am pleased to present Rooglewood Press's next fairytale creative writing contest, a collection of Sleeping Beauty stories titled Five Magic Spindles.


Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their third fairy tale novella contest—

Five Magic Spindles

a collection of “Sleeping Beauty” stories
The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Sleeping Beauty,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!
Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Magic Spindles collection, which will be packaged up with the phenomenal cover you see here. Maybe your name will be one of the five listed?
All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.
Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers is available for purchase, and our second collection, Five Enchanted Roses is scheduled to launch on July 27, and is currently available for pre-order. Be certain to get a copy of each and see what previous winners did with their wonderful retellings.
This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website:
I (Allison) am incredibly excited for this contest because, due to personal eccentricities, I own a spinning wheel.
Careful with that spindle!

Um... Rooglewood Press?  My entry may be late...
How about you, readers?  Who plans on entering?  Who entered last year?  Do you have any ideas so far?