Monday, June 30, 2014

How I Wish My Desk Looked . . .

How I wish my desk looked:

It's so beautiful it almost makes me okay with wax melting on books.

How my desk actually looks:

Is that last week's popsicle stick?

Reality is such a nasty mundane thing. I much prefer fiction. 

Please continue imagining me in a cave with lots of beautifully dripping candles surrounded by meticulously handwritten work that totally isn't just about to go up in flames.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Still saving words: "Snollygoster"

Save-A-Word Saturday may be living in comfortable retirement, but that doesn't mean we can't save a word now and then!  This one was just too entertaining to pass up...

Snollygoster, noun

A shrewd, unprincipled person, esp. a politician

And now, some sentences...

          "Cure for writer's block!" the man in the fedora shouted.  "Get your cure for writer's block here!"  Standing on a stool in the middle of Oxford's Cornmarket Street, he waved bags of black powder over the pedestrians' heads as they passed. 

          "I think it's just coffee," Tyler-Rose said, eyeing him skeptically. 

          "I think you're right," said Susan.  "I wouldn't buy a thing from that snollygoster.  Shall we go scarf some scones now?" 


What a ridiculous-sounding word.  I intend to try it as an insult on my brother sometime. 

And don't forget, every Saturday is Scarf-a-Scone Saturday! 

Scones and tea with clotted cream and jam served in simple white dishes.
Cream tea in Oxford!  Photo cred: Belle.  :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Susan's TBR List

Maybe she wanted to announce this, but she didn't so I'm going to.

Susan has posted her TBR List!


Unfortunately, she posted it before I could prank her with the help of Katie the Roommate.

I think Susan's might even be more awesome than mine. I kinda want to hijack about half of it because it looks so wonderful and edifying.

Check hers out here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Books Remembered

There are some books that stay with you a long time after you have finished reading them. There are some that work so deep under your skin that you remember the story even when you have forgotten what book it was from or where you first heard it.

I've heard people say this before and always knew it was true, but in the last month before I came home from school I had an experience that made its truth all the more apparent and tangible to me.

There was book my mother loved to read to me when I was a child. I didn't like it, though. Mostly because it made her cry. I didn't like seeing tears on her face. I didn't know what to do with sadness like that. I didn't understand. I didn't think the story was sad. So, I asked her not to read it any more and then promptly forgot about it.

I was too young to understand that one could cry for things other than tragedy. I couldn't grasp that tears are for heroism, and courage, and redemption just as much as they are for sadness.

I'm a senior in college now. It's been at least fifteen years since I thought of that book. But one day, last semester--I don't even clearly recall the context--I remembered the book in bits and snatches and small brilliant images and began to tell someone about it.

The thing I remembered most clearly was the final illustration. The story's tattered young hero stands outside in the snowy night with his back to the viewer. In front of him are two great doors thrown open to welcome him in. Golden light falls brightly out of them and a young woman reaches forward to draw him into the warmth.*

What a glorious image to keep all this time.

In the middle of my plot summary** I suddenly understood why my mother had choked up every time she read the book. I started to cry just summarizing it. I think I quite shocked the poor guy I was talking too.

That evening I called my mom and told her I finally understood why that story (even though I still couldn't remember the title) had made her cry and thanked her for reading it to me even though I hadn't appreciated it at the time. I then asked her if it was possible she remembered what it was called and did we still have it. It turned out that she had gotten rid of it sometime in the last fifteen years because I had always said I didn't like it, but she did remember the title and told it to me.

A lot of the books we read, we read them purely for entertainment. Just for a break from out hectic lives. Those are the ones we give away in enormous boxes to the library rummage sale every year. They are forgettable. The ones that stay with us, though . . . those are the ones that not only entertain and delight, but comfort the soul. They speak to our own deepest most individual and most universal needs. This is what stories were for long before they wrote them down on paper, when we still sang them to each other over feasts of roast meat and mead.

Sometimes we don't even realize how deeply they touch us until suddenly the answers to our questions strike us in bright illustrations from our childhood.

You'll be happy to know that when I got back from school my mom had a new copy of the book waiting for me. In case you were curious, it's The Little Troll by Thomas Berger and Ronald Heuninck.

What books do you remember most vividly? Have you had one return to you suddenly years later?


This post is lovingly dedicated to my mother 
who spent every evening of my childhood filling up my heart 
with bright treasures beyond price.


The final illustration from The Little Troll.

** I am the queen of the plot summary. They practically roll off my tongue fully formed. Just ask Susan. She'll tell you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WUW and Susan is Back on the Blog!

Hosted by the lovely sisters Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme/blog hop in which writer-bloggers take a brief post to share what's going on in their lives, writing-related and otherwise.  Check it out here or here if you want the details! 

The What's Up Wednesday logo is set before a background of a flowering tree.


I've been travelling, so there's been more reading time in my life than usual! 

Recently I finished: 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor --there were one or two things that bugged me, but I LOVED it on many different levels--beautifully written, super-fun atmosphere, would recommend.

Shows the cover of The Daughter of Smoke and bone, which features a blue feathered mask.

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson --a novella, really good, but super-intense world-building and magic-system-building isn't my favorite; hence, Sanderson isn't my favorite; but still really good!

The cover of The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, which features a young woman with a determined look on her face.

And I am partway through: 

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (which I left at home)

Cover of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, which features a blue jewel with a girl's face inside of it.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (which got REALLY good around page 260--so good that I forgive everything that wasn't good before...)
The cover of The Black Prism by Brent Weekswhich features a handsome, imposing man holding a blade.


Still the YA fantasy, of course!  What with travelling all over Turkey on a bus, there hasn't been much opportunity for me to sit down and really write.  I have, however, been using this down-time as an opportunity to think about my story.  I've been having a lot of ideas, and I think I'm doing a decent job of pushing myself to understand what needs to happen when I get home and sit down at my desk. 


So, Belle is generously letting me sleep in her flat in England this week.  (She's doing summer study in Oxford, and she has a week off from tutorials so I get to hang out with her!!!)  One of the other people who also lives here is writing his dissertation and, even though I have heard about how long it takes to get one of those done, seeing his HUMONGOUS pile of books has reminded me of something: 

Some things just take a really long time. 

Especially great things. 

So here's to the dissertation-writers, the novelists, and anyone else involved in a slow, laborious creative process.  It's amazing any of us have the stamina to do these sorts of things.  But we do.  :)


I just spent three weeks touring Turkey!  That's why Tyler-Rose has been blogging on her own for a while.  (Wifi in Turkish hotels was spotty.)  Turkey is a GORGEOUS country.  When I get home I will share more pictures, but to start, here is the view from our hotel in Istanbul: 

Picture of the Golden Horn, a bay in Istanbul, from a hill above, surrounded by the city and lit red and orange by the sunset.

Have a great week, everyone!  Happy writing, reading, and living.