Monday, June 29, 2015

In Which I Write a Lot of Words Rambling About Writing a Lot of Words


“30 days, 30k words. Yeah, I can do this.”
That was my ever optimistic (if not a bit impractical) self at the beginning of June.

“I can’t do thisssss.”
My much more realistic side kicked in come mid-June.

“Maybe I can do this?”
Nearing the end of June. Hopeful? Wishful thinking? Anyone’s guess.

“Nope, not gonna make— Wait. Did I just hit my word goal?”
Last days of June. Too exhausted to even realize that I HIT 30K WORDS.

Ahem. So yes. June has been a bit of a hectic whirlwind of words and life and other stuff I probably don’t even remember at this point because it all went swhoosh and left me dizzy, and now it’s almost July.

You see, at the very end of May I up and decided I would do a little JuNoWriMo thingamajig and set a goal of 30k words for June. I had been somewhat steadily working on Burning Thorns but it wasn’t coming along as fast as I had hoped. I needed a push, so setting a goal and announcing it and having people keeping me accountable would be that perfect push. I’m a bit (okay, maybe more than a bit) OCD when it comes to goals. Once I make it “official” I HAVE to achieve that goal. Even if I die because of it, it’s worth it. I’m an all or nothing sorta person. Literally. If I don’t think I can make a goal, I just won’t even set it in the first place. But once it’s there it’s set in stone and a stampede of rabid dinosaurs cannot drag me away and make me quit. I’ve yet to decide if this is a good or bad thing.

That being said, this JuNo challenge I set for myself was supposedly not going to be a big deal. I do a double NaNo every November after all. Psh, I can do this. Besides, summer is a hot, lazy time where I just want to hide under the air conditioner with my laptop anyway. It’ll be fun!

Yeeeah, that was my thought process at the beginning of the month.

By halfway I’m pretty sure that dinosaur stampede had run me through half a dozen times over.

Dinosaur attack gif


Why was it crazy? That’s the problem. I don’t even knoooow. It just WAS. A huge chunk of the first half was spent cleaning because we had some family we never get to see come over one weekend. Then there was a family reunion the next weekend. And most importantly a whole lot of watching of the ABC show Once Upon a Time had to be done ‘cause we’re all rewatching it right now. What do you mean that’s not important? Of course it is. *cough, cough, cough*

Anyways. Something happened this month because it all turned into a hectic blur and I could hardly keep my head above water. Or above stampeding dinosaurs, whatever the case may be. My inbox exploded, I struggled to keep up with all meh favorite blogging buddies and delightful blog posts, June just collapsed into a pile of STUFF that I couldn’t seem to climb out of.

Oh yeah, and I was also writing, wasn’t I?

The no-big-deal challenge turned into a goal of stress I barely could keep up with. It was a struggle to even write 1k words a day. Let’s just say there were a lot of late nights of writing and catching up on things. Sleep is overrated anyway, right? . . .Right? Honestly, for a bit there I wondered if I would make my 30k goal. But I was calm and collected. I told myself that the point in the challenge was not a certain number of words written, but merely to write. And I was writing every chance I got, so I already won.

HAHAHAHA! Just kidding. Okay, okay. Part of me did know that. After all, the goal was to get myself writing and it was working. But the much bigger voice in my head kept drowning out the reasonable one with its screams of, “IF YOU DON’T MAKE THIS GOAL YOU’RE A FAILURE.” Why must the reasonable voices be so quiet?

Needless to say, despite the frantic rush of whatever busyness that kept happening this month, I kept writing. And writing.

Then, yesterday, as I was consumed in the story and both laughing and scowling over Larke’s antics (because he seems determined to take over the story), I happened to glance down at my wordcount and, what was this? I HAD MADE MY WORD GOAL. 30k words for the month had been written!

*cue the flailing and celebrating and huge ol’ sigh of relief*

Princess and the Frog gif

I MADE IT!!!! Now I can relax and breathe a little and just be lazy for July and—

You know, I’m not too terribly far from the end of this story.

Okay, okay. Back up. So I stressed myself out ALL of June but dealt with it because I knew once July came I could BREATHE. I just had toBreathe Doctor Who gif make it to July. And now I’m considering keeping this up until I get to the end of the book?

Sure! Why not?

Yes, I’m crazy and quite possibly will be dead by the time I finish this novel, BUT, I do have good reasons for continuing this mad dash of writing. For one, well, I’m really not too far from the end. Just ten chapters left to go I believe. I think I can manage that. Also, I’m kind of in the habit of writing every day now, it’s become routine, so why not keep it up? And I LOVE writing endings, they’re my favorite, and this ending I’m particularly looking forward to so I don’t think it’ll be grueling work.

But my main push to reach that ending is because I have another writing project in mind. I seem incapable of working on two writing projects at once. I don’t know why, but whenever I try I end up abandoning one to completely focus on the other. Since I’m so close to the end of Burning Thorns it’d be kind of silly to drop it now for something else. Buuuut there’s that tantalizing Rooglewood Press Sleeping Beauty Novella contest (wow, that was a mouthful) going on and it keeps nudging my brain whispering, “Do me, do me, do meee!” So I thought to myself, if I finish up Burning Thorns pretty soon I would totally have time to work on a Sleeping Beauty novella. That’s reasonable, right? I may end up overwhelming myself and decide to just take a break and not worry about joining in on the Rooglewood contest. But as of right now I’m much more leaning toward attempting it.

So, instead of the totally lazy July I probably should give myself, it’ll most likely be another explosion of words. Though I’m expecting (okay, maybe ‘hoping’ would be a better word) that July won’t be the erupting volcano of activity that was June and allow for more writing time. Though writing won’t be the only thing I’ll be doing. I’m still buried under a mound of stuff that sneakily piled up while I was distracted this June and is now crushing me. It is my hope I can spend the next couple of weeks sweeping it all away. I mean, you should see my inbox. Actually, you probably don’t want to. It’s as messy as a toddler given free, unsupervised reign over a whole chocolate cake. Yeah, I should probably do something about that.

One of the things I do hope I can find time for this next month is READ. Do you know I didn’t really even read half a book in all of June? THE HORROR!!! I have like over 50 books just BEGGING me to gobble up, and instead I hardly touched one. I miss reading. I NEED to read.

So many books, so little time

And, ya know, if I ever end this seemingly never ending rambling blog post I might actually have TIME to go do all these things that need doing. If you actually read all that, bless you. Have some cake, because I know you want some now. *passes around cake*

Long story short: I wrote words, dinosaurs tried to crush me but I came out TRIUMPHANT, and July will probably be a month spent playing the catch-up game (which, incidentally, has nothing to do with ketchup).

The real question is: Do I regret doing JuNo? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Due to the insanity of this month I think I would have hardly gotten a single word written normally. But because of that push, I made time for writing anyway. Sure, there were many days I really, really wished I didn’t have to write. But I did, and while before this goal I was still near the beginning of the novel, I’m now approaching the end. I call that a success!

Good gravy, enough of the rambly Christine-ness. I want to hear about YOUR June. What’ve you been up to? Any writing projects going? Anybody already working on their Sleeping Beauty novella? And what are your July plans? Oh, can we also talk about the fact that WE’RE HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR???

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Greatest of These


Not too long ago I was doing my Bible reading and going through the book of Romans when a particular passage jumped out and halted my progress.

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Romans 13:10

I’ve passed by this verse many times over, seen it numerous times. It’s a rather popular verse after all, obviously not a new concept, but on this day it grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.

In chapter 22 of Matthew, Jesus said the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind.” He then goes on to say that the second most important commandment follows the first: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

But why love? Why not doing good deeds? Serving selflessly? Or maybe worship? There are hundreds of other important things. What makes love triumph over everything else?

When I saw that passage in Romans, it hit me. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Love LEADS to everything else.

What compels us to good deeds? Love. What causes us to serve others? Love. We choose to worship and serve and live our lives for our God because we LOVE Him. If not for love, what would drive us to live for anyone but ourselves? I think that’s what Jesus was saying when He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Because, really, if we had our will our lives would be centered totally and completely on US. It’s such an easy trap to serve self. To ignore life and responsibilities in exchange for an entire day on the couch marathoning your favorite TV show. (*guilty*) But we are not meant to live our lives selfishly, to spend day after day thinking about me, me, me. “Love thy neighbour.” If we put as much effort into serving others as we do ourselves, what a beautiful world that would be. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour.” When we love someone, really truly love them, we never want to cause them harm. We desire to lift them up, to help them, make them smile.

What if we spent day after day loving our God with all our heart, soul, and mind? To put our all in all in Him? If we pour our hearts into loving our Lord and Savior then all those other things will fall into place. Love guides us to our God, drives us to live selflessly, to serve others, to worship Him.

Love is the greatest commandment because it leads us to obey all other commandment. Without love we’d be nothing but empty, selfish, meaningless shells.

After all, it was love that put Jesus on the Cross and paved the way into His waiting, open arms. All we have to do is LOVE.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)

Monday, June 15, 2015

That Time Christine’s Brain Went Missing and Other Odd Tales

This morning I woke up to a note on my pillow—

Gone to Hawaii for the week. Have fun without me.

                                                                         Your Brain

It could have given me a week’s notice or something. Sheesh. So here I am, brainless, trying to write a blog post. It’s obviously not going well.

Or I may have contracted a minor cold and am a little out of it today, but I still think my brain went off on vacation without me. Do you know how trying it is for a writer to be left brainless? I have all these character running willy-nilly in my head and now that I don’t have my own thoughts they’re taking over the place and making a horrid mess. I can’t even keep up.

Peppermint Patty Peanuts Comic

My calendar tells me we’re halfway through June. Um, excuse me, Calendar, but I did not give you permission to jump that far ahead. But since it’s so insistent on being on that little halfway marker, I suppose I could recap what June has looked like so far.

Hot for one. And stormy, I hear thunder out my window this moment even though the sun in shining. I’m pretty sure the weather has been as confused as I have lately. We’ll step out, everything all bright and sunshiny, and the whoosh! Rain! Thunder! Lightning! “I’m going to kill you allll!” the weather crackles menacingly. “Nah, changed my mind.” Sunshiiiine. Uh, what? Literally moments ago it was raining and THERE WERE NO CLOUDS. Doesn’t that defy the laws of. . .stuff? I don’t even know anymore.

Because the weather is apparently on an emotional rollercoaster, I’ve done my best to avoid it as I do most summers. This involves taking safety precautions by staying safely inside away from the glaring, ominous, deadly ball of light in the sky that laughs maniacally every time it looks upon my pale skin. Then of course I use a protection spell called A/C and crank it up to its ultimate power. Take that ridiculously high temperatures! (I just really hate hot weather, okay? Reeeeally hate.)

But summer has not been so bad thus far. Honestly, I rather like summer as long as sunscreen, A/C, and my laptop are always at hand.

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I’m doing a JuNoWriMo goal of 30k words this month. I hit 15k words yesterday, so I’m keeping to par. Life keeps laughing at my goal and insisting I fall behind, but I’ve stayed on top. . .for the most part. And writing in general has been going quite well. This week I experienced writing through the point-of-view of a particularly bratty character named Marigold for the first time and giggled to myself through almost the whole chapter. Turns out being inside the head of a brat isn’t as terrible as it sounds. It’s quite entertaining, honestly. And then you thrust one brat with my impish character Larke and. . .well. . .

"That? That's our destination?” Marigold said. “The thing looks like it'll collapse if I breathe on it!"

"So don't breathe, then."

Larke gifDon’t give me that sassy face, Larke.

Yeah, it’s been interesting.

I’d probably get more written if not for the call of the TV. We’ve been rewatching ABC’s Once Upon a Time (and yes, I used a character from that show as Larke’s face character, do not judge) and enjoying it just as much as the first time through. But I’m totally calling it writing research because if I could weave a tale as well as those writers, book contracts would be exploding through my windows. Yep, definitely writing research. *nods* (Or more like Christine sobbing over all the ridiculously good writing, but research sounds better.)

I’ve also been running on Hobbit feels. For the past couple of weekends my sister and I have rewatched the first two Hobbit movies. And by watching I mostly mean me providing a very lively commentary about allll the things that should or should not have happened. Said informative commentaries involve going as far as pausing the movie to supply very detailed Middle Earth history with the occasional threat to throw rocks at Tauriel’s head.

Funny Hobbit MemeThank you, Legolas.

Ahem. Yeeeah, I may not be the most fun person to watch the Hobbit movies with. But my ever patient sister assures me I’m quite entertaining. She agrees with me on my theory that they should have tried petting Smaug before provoking him. A good rub on the tummy may have been all the poor dragon needed. *I* certainly would have tried. Petting a dragon is on my bucket list after all.

Dragon's are a Girl's Best Friend

Yesterday we watched the last Hobbit movie. It was my first time to see it since theaters, and my sister’s fist time period, so (other than making many gagging sounds during Tauriel/Kili moments *chokes*) I kept quiet and behaved myself. I was very proud. Besides, it’s a bit difficult providing a commentary while gasping back sobs because of certain deaths. But I digress! (Whoa, I almost rhymed.)

The Hobbit movies are fabulous, I simply hold a loyalty as fierce as a dwarf’s to the book.

Bilbo gifYes, your wonderful book that certain movie makers ruined.

IT’S RAINING WITH THE SUN OUT AGAIN, GUYS. So beautiful, but so strange.

Where was I? It’s so hard to know without a brain. June! Right. I believe that covers the highlights. Missing brains, emotionally compromised teenage girl-type weather, lots of writing, long exposure to unfairly good TV, Hobbit feels—yep, it’s been a good month thus far. *nods, nods* Hopefully the second half of June shall bring many more words and adventures Bilbo-style. (Because I really want to find a dragon and pet it, okay??)

And that, children, is why I should never attempt writing a blog post with a cold. I better post it now before my brain comes back and scolds me for even thinking about posting this. (And if you see a lone brain vacationing somewhere could you send it back my way? Thanks.)

What has the first half of June looked like for YOU? Come across any dragons to pet? I firmly believe they’re grumpy all the time because everyone is poking them with sharp objects instead of showing them affection. Don’t you?

Smauglock gif

I really should delete this.
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . .

Monday, June 8, 2015

Beautiful People - Anya {June 2015}

No, this post is not an illusion. I’m actually doing BP early in the month, like, the day after it was posted! This has to be a first. I’m so proud of myself. AND it’s BP’s one year anniversary of returning to the blogging world! *throws cake and devours confetti* Or. . .something like that. A very happy anniversary to my favorite blog linkup!!!

This month our ever clever hosts Sky and Cait have worked up a special theme centered all on our characters’ relationships with their. . .PARENTS. Brilliant, right? I think we writers tend to forget those amazing people who, you know, RAISED our beloved characters before we took them under our wing and torture them. Parents are awesome and should never be forgotten. Now, a lot of us have orphaned charries (you are not alone, I’m guilty, so very guilty) but you can use a mentor, grandparent, guardian, just whoever parents your character! Obviously you want to show appreciation to these people. So head on over to THIS POST or THIS ONE, snag the questions, and show those parental people we do actually acknowledge them. Because if they did not have parental figures our characters would be off robbing candy stores and staying up way past their bedtimes, right? We like the parental units.

Beautiful People Button

Now, as I said, I’m extremely guilty of having a loooot of orphaned characters. What is with us writers? I don’t even know. BUT I am getting better and have been proud at how many parents have been cropping up in my stories. Woot, woot!

Currently I’m still working tirelessly on Burning Thorns, more than usual actually. On a whim I decided to do a JuNoWriMo and set a goal of writing 30k words for the month. Writing has been going a smidge slower than I’d like so I thought this would give me just the boost I needed. So far it’s going well!

Since I’m so deep in Burning Thorns I knew I wanted to do a character from it, and I’m currently working on a chapter through Anya’s POV who I thought would work very well with these questions. Anya is the oldest sister of Rose (my female protagonist) and is. . .basically the antagonist. She’s not exactly the type of sister who will sit around braiding your hair and telling you funny stories. She’s a spiteful little thing, but she’s a fun villain to hate. Something about exploring the inner workings of antagonists always fascinates me. Maybe I’m weird. *shrugs*Anya

With a shout, she slammed her riding boot into the base of the nearest tree. "Just let me in, you stupid trees!" Her boot found another trunk and her fist a branch. "Let. Me. In." A thwap of her fist emphasized each word.

"You know, they really don't like to be yelled at."

Anya's hand froze midair. With narrowed eyes, she scoured the shadows. "Sneaking up on a lady is uncivilized. Show yourself."

"Oh, so you're a lady now? I was unaware assaulting trees categorized under ladylike behavior."

Her mouth parted, a retort waiting on her tongue, but she snapped her lips back closed and pushed the words, the anger, down. Farther down, farther. She dropped her hand to her side and took a step back, straightening to her full height, though her fingers stayed clutched in a tight ball. The new words on her tongue released calmly. "It would be much easier to converse if I could see whom I'm addressing."

~ Anya ~

1. Do they know both their biological parents? Why/why not?
Yep, yep. She was raised by both of them, but when she was thirteen her mother died. (Now don’t roll your eyes, this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and there’s no mother in the original fairytale either, it had to be done.)

2. Have they inherited any physical resemblances from their parents?
Her father has brown eyes and dark hair, there’s very little resemblance between the two. But she has the same fair hair and blue eyes of her mother. Though, honestly, Marigold (the middle sister) resembles their mother the most out of the three sisters, while Rose inherited a lot of traits from their father. Anya looks the least like either of the parents. She did gain her tall build from her father. The other two sisters are much smaller.

3. What’s their parental figure(s) dress style? Add pictures if you like!
This is a very fairytale, medieval-type setting, so the clothes would match that feel. Her mother liked elegant but simple dresses, airy and soft, like her. She loved light purples and yellows and pinks and greens. While her father prefers more regal outfits. You may find him in things like dark blue doublets, crimson tunics, intricate robes, etc.

4. Do they share any personality traits with their parental figures? And which do they take after most?
Anya absolutely takes mostly after her father. She never took to her mother’s playful, absentminded personality. While Rose and Marigold were chasing butterflies in the gardens with their mother, Anya stayed inside studying politics with her father. Her stern, stately mannerism all came from him. As did her stubbornness. Whatever traits she may have gained from her mother she squelched at a very young age.

5. Do they get on with their parental figure(s) or do they clash?
She and her mother definitely clashed. Anya could never understand why a grown woman acted so childish, and she expressed her opinion often. But her father is her role model. For most of her life she thought he could do no wrong. She spends every single day striving to gain his respect and be more like him.

6. If they had to describe their parental figure(s) in one word, what would it be?
Her mother: Frivolous

Her father: Respectable

7. How has their parental figure(s) helped them most in their life?
Shadowing her father day in and day out fully shaped Anya into who she is. She knows he has stretched her to be the person she wants to be. By watching him she has learned that emotions can’t get in the way of anything, that knowledge is power, that one cannot give up on what they think is right, ever. She lives by these rules every day.

As for her mother, Anya doesn’t believe she aided her in anything. Except maybe as an example of who Anya doesn’t want to become. But Anya turned harder after her mother’s passing. I believe her mother’s soft touch and sweet words left an impression in Anya’s life far more than she would ever admit.

8. What was their biggest fight with their parental figure(s)?
As I said before, she and her mother clashed a lot. I’m pretty sure their biggest fights revolved around Anya demanding her mother stop corrupting Marigold and Rose with her childish ways and start being a proper example to them.

She hardly ever went against her father. That is until one day he announced Rose, the youngest sister, would inherit everything instead of Anya with no explanation to speak of. Yeah, you can imagine the yelling that produced. Her father took a step down from the pedestal she put him on after that day.

9. Tracing back the family tree, what nationalities are in their ancestry?
This is a completely made up world and I haven’t actually done a whole lot in the way of world building yet. I plan on exploring that a lot more with the second draft. So. . . *shrugs* They’re from a long line of families raised in the made up kingdom of Cantrelle. That’s all I know right now.

10. What’s their favorite memory with their parental figure(s)?
One time, when she was very, very young and the burdens of life hadn’t yet been hefted on her shoulders, her mother allowed her to try on any one of her gowns and even braided her hair up in an adult fashion. Of course the dress swallowed her, but Anya had never before felt so grown up and beautiful. When she got older she took to wearing much more intricate, fashionable clothes than her mother’s simple tastes, but that moment stuck somewhere deep and sacred in her memories, however much she pretends to ignore it.

With her father she loves any time when it’s just her and him working in silent companionship in his study.

And that’s Anya for ya. She definitely has some problems to work out, but I really enjoy her role in the story, however corrupt and warped her thinking may be.

~ ~ ~

So what do you think of parents (or lack thereof) in fiction? Do you have any interesting parental figures in your own novels? And hey, I’m curious. Do you have a favorite parental unit in a certain book?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Third Rooglewood Press Fairy Tale Contest Reveal

I have been counting down the days for today, and it has finally arrived! Rooglewood Press is announcing which fairy tale has been chosen for their next contest. And, let me tell you, I think you’re going to like it. Are you ready?


 Cover by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.”
You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website:

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.

Don’t forget to snag the lovely blog button with the link below and spread the word!!writing-contest/c22i6


I am absolutely thrilled about this chosen fairy tale. For many, many years, Sleeping Beauty has been a fairy tale I love the idea of but was never quite happy about how it was executed. The plot (or holes thereof) never sat well with me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see redone. So I couldn’t be more excited to see hundreds of retellings cropping up across the globe. I get chills just thinking of all the twists and adventures to be had with this fairy tale!

And that cover, people! Breathtaking is the most accurate word I can think of to describe it, because when I saw it I literally gasped and stared at it breathless. And stared at it. . .and stared at it. . . I didn’t think anything could beat last year’s cover for Five Enchanted Roses, but I think this one took the cake. It just begs for wondrous and captivating tales to paint the pages underneath.

I’ve yet decided if I’m officially entering or not. My own WIP Burning Thorns came from my entry of last year’s Beauty and the Beast contest, and though I didn’t win I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. I enjoyed every minute of it and now am turning that little novella into a novel I’m already in love with. Without last year’s contest, Burning Thorns wouldn’t even exist. I can’t thank Rooglewood Press enough for spurring my creative juices and giving me a chance to create something from my favorite fairy tale.

Because I’m working so heavily on Burning Thorns I’m a little hesitant in entering a contest and taking on another big project. BUT about a year ago a curious plot bunny for a Sleeping Beauty retelling hopped spontaneously into my brain and has set up home there. When I discovered this year’s fairy tale, that idea attacked in full force, nudging and pleading. I think I shall play around with the mischievous bunny, see if something comes of it (and if I can squeeze it into such a short amount of words). So for now let’s just say I’m not officially entering the contest, but the possibility is hovering rather largely and distractedly in the background.

What about YOU? Are you entering? Any Sleeping Beauty ideas swirling through those creative minds yet? Do tell! I cannot WAIT to see who all is entering. Sleeping Beauty is going to be such a fun tale to play with. This third contest may be the best yet!

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