February stuff

In which I freak out about books because BOOKS

Books:

Mistborn and The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. I had just not finished Mistborn on the first read because even though I heard it was good I got stuck in the first 150 pages because I wasn’t really excited by the characters and the world was interesting but not super immersive for me right then. I picked it up this year because my friend was encouraging me to read Brandon Sanderson and I Fell Head Over Heels especially for Elend “THAT IS MY WIFE” Venture. Also Vin. She’s literally a cat embodied in a human being and is physically incapable of sitting down she “perches” everywhere. And there’s canonical snuggling. This is a very bad summary of the book. The plot (if you’re actually here for plots and not just here to watch me meme and flail) goes thus: The world has been conquered for a thousand years by the Final Empire, the result of the evil overlord conquering the world. The skaa or common people are treated as absolutely worthless and are killed by their masters, the nobility, pretty much at will. No one has been able to successfully rebel against the Final Empire. But a ragtag band of criminals don’t care about your ideas about what will and won’t fly and Kelsier, Vin, Dox, Ham, Breeze, Spook, Sazed and Clubs are going to ruin the Lord Ruler’s day if it kills them and it probably will. That’s the first book. It’s got it all, espionage, super powers, dramatic fight scenes, damaged kids learning to trust again, and true love which actually has nothing to do with saving the day.

The second book continues where the first left off and there’s hugs and canonical snuggling and can you tell I’m sold?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. (Are you noticing a pattern? You’re so clever.) Joel wants to draw with chalk but the other kids and adults won’t let him because he can’t make the chalk come alive and attack people but when murders happen he gets involved anyway. Melody proves that no matter how long you have struggled with school good teaching can always help you succeed, and Joel learns to be less of a jerk and to accept his situation. Melody and Joel do teamwork, their professor proves to be awesome, and they just generally get to be sass-balls and do espionage. Sanderson likes espionage. Joel gets to do the “money what’s that thing” and Melody gets to go “you are such a weird boy.” It’s a good time and I can’t believe that the next book isn’t out because it’s been nine years since the first one was published.

I’m working on War breaker. More on that later. It’s just taking a while.

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal where Nasir finally gets over himself and Zafira has to deal with a murder book wanting to murder book it’s way through an entire country and Altair gets to be reminded that he and Nasir are brothers and though Nasir will not share a single corn chip with his brother he absolutely will wreck anyone who tries to touch Altair and Kifah gets to remind everyone she’s ace and that’s ok and stuff goes down and Zafira, Nasir, Altair and Kifah wreck stuff and people and it’s just really good. I enjoyed the sequel way more than the first book? It was really lush and well developed and the characters being besties was everything and Altair being clever was everything and it was just amazing AND we got Zafira’s lil baby sister in on the action and her little sister is just like “oooooooooooooooooh you have a boyfriend” and Zafira’s just like “NO” and her little sister is like “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! ^-^” so yes it was thoroughly delightful.

And then I read some G.A. Henty because the title involved Glendower and I was like GLENDOWER and then it wasn’t really what I was looking for but still ok but G.A. Henty invented formulaic writing I swear. But it’s ok? But you don’t have to rescue a girl and have a personal assistant and a bosom enemy in every story ok Henty?

Movies and TV:

White Collar with the dad and small kid.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood which has gotten me to revisit enjoying anime because almost no fan service, great story lines and amazing music. It is somewhat gory. It’s really pretty. The characters are amazingly fleshed out and Royai is canon rejoice all ye who enter here.

I discovered The Cottage Fairy which is the dearest Youtube channel and these are videos you should put on if you can’t sleep because she makes tea and frolics about outside and she’s a early childhood teacher and she literally owns a cottage and she’s adorable go watch her stuff. She also does beautiful adorable art. She inspired me to take up watercolors again.

I wanted to share some funny out of context stuff I’ve said over the past month as well because I really think that portrays the kind of person I am more than anything else. So.

One friend group. One person I text about the books I read. Ready. Set. Go.

“Idc if I am the main character or not I am well content to be the side encouraging character or the mentor figure or the chaos raccoon that sprints past carrying 15 oranges and being chased by an orangutan and is never spoken of again XD”

“kay kay but I raise you the aesthetic of dying flashing a peace sign at the mc and yelling “AVENGE ME” like bro you’re not even shaken you were expecting to be part of what motivates someone to murder the alien species trying to exterminate the human race”

“I was looking for a violent descriptor but those make me UNCOMFORTABLE so yeah I’d kick a turkey”

(about books)

“Elend is honestly just like ‘you’re reading books and taking notes this is So Attractive'”

“How can she be so insufferable it must take so much energy”

“Kelsier looking at dying and surviving and being a mistborn and goes ‘you could make a religion out of this’ while Vin slaps him like ‘no'”

“Vin is like ‘religion? And you? That’s disgusting never speak to me again”

“Lightsong’s mild mannered disgust with people trying to seduce him is hilarious

and by people I mean Blushweaver and by disgust I mean DisGust”

“‘It’s my gentlemanly duty to tell you you’re gorgeous’ HONEY WHEN DID YOU GET SO SMOOTH

When did he have the time??”

“I’m reading the well of ascension and Vin is literally a cat like

Oh a rug

Would be so tragic if someone just

Went to sleep on it”
“Ah yes, thought Vivenna as she entered a city, these people are heretics and all of them should probably have their minds bleached for their own good”

“Melody going ‘Your immortal soul is in jeopardy’ ‘I have the sources to prove it’ Move aside ladies she has staked her claim to him”

MOVING ON

School Stuff:

I’m learning about how to incorporate reading and writing into teaching at the levels I’m supposed to be teaching and it’s really cool and really fun and I’m really enjoying it. I’m also taking my class on special education and I have my midterm next week…. ehheheh. I’m learning about the history of math and it’s so dramatic. Literally you could make a sitcom with endless drama about these dudes AND these occasional ladies. I’m also doing a math art class which is fairly fun but so easy that I don’t need to work that hard? And the teacher of this class knows that. And then I’m taking American history.

Life stuff:

I’ve been working some and I’m working a lot this week and I have spring break coming up and SNOW IS MELTING it was under 0 for weeks there and finally we’ve hit the 40s and 50s and that naturally means I need to start making shorts. So I’m making shorts. My little sister had her birthday and Lent started. That’s about it for now! Until next time!

Rocket

Obsessions with space were common. Lee’s older sister had been obsessed with space. With going. Rockets and planets and moons and stars. More expensive than traveling on planet, of course, but it was something you could do. Being obsessed with space was a token phase for everybody. Maybe you even went on a few casual trips over the summer. But going to the rim was different.

Lee grabbed Vivian by the waist as they danced, but Vivian was distracted. Viv was always distracted now. If they were kissing she wasn’t paying attention, not really. If they were eating dinner Viv was looking out the window. Lee was carefully not asking what Vivian was thinking about. Vivian was carefully not answering.

Lee didn’t want to leave her, but he’d always known being in love with a girl on another planet wouldn’t work. He just hadn’t guessed how much that would hurt. He hadn’t guessed how much it would hurt, too, to know that Vivian had been in love with someone else before him. Maybe was still in love with him. There was a letter–about once a month. Long, rather plain handwriting, no return address. Lee never saw the name of the boy who sent her the letters. He didn’t know if she sent letters back to the boy.

“Are we going to talk?” Vivian asked, “Or are you going to keep glaring everywhere? You knew you were leaving.”

“I thought,” Lee said haltingly, “that you would come with me.”

Vivian turned, so suddenly his head almost banged into hers and he reared back to keep that from happening. “Woah there,” he said, grabbing her arms. Her eyes were cold.

“Lee, why do you really want me to come back with you?”

“I love you, Viv–“

“You really don’t.”

“Vivian–” hurt.

“Lee,” calmly.

“Vivian?” A boy, rather tall, slender, military uniform. Of course he was in the military. Long fingers, artist’s fingers. Of course he was an artist. The boy looked between Lee and Vivian but apparently decided whatever he needed to talk to Viv about was more important than letting them converse in private.

Lee felt anger rising in him. What right did this boy have to Vivian?

Vivian removed herself from Lee’s grip. “August.”

August.

They shook hands like strangers.

Vivian looked back at Lee, her eyes warmer again, but quiet and withdrawn. Like Vivian always was. Or maybe he just didn’t know her that well. Not well at all.

Lee glared at Vivian. “I thought we were friends.”

Vivian raised her eyebrows. “Friends don’t kiss each other.”

“What are we, then, Vivian? What have I been wasting my time on all this summer when dad wanted me to be doing something else? Why are you worth my time?”

And Lee knew he was an idiot. Vivian’s face became calmer the longer he spoke and the look in her face fractured down two lines and he knew that whatever they’d had was over. Maybe it was even his fault.

Vivian turned and walked away from him. “You should figure that out yourself next time before you ask someone to marry you.”

August stayed behind and looked Lee in the eyes, kind of guarded. “Hard luck,” August said, rather gently, like he knew what Lee felt like.

“She was never going to marry me, was she?”

August shook his head slowly. “When you’re in love with the stars,” he said quietly, “Loving anything else isn’t realistic.” He turned and walked away. “Better run if you’re going to make your flight.”

Lee, throat burning, turned back to the rocket, and then he was gone.

Vian watched the boy leave, like she had watched a thousand other people leave, and August wondered which was worse; knowing that she would never have loved that boy as much as he wanted her to, or knowing that she would never love him as much as he wanted either.

~~

Characters you aren’t sure whether even you as the author can like or sympathize with are interesting to write

Adventures in text book writing

What do you do when you’re working on an assignment for this really cool class and you don’t have a textbook that you can use for a really cool assignment? You decide you can write a textbook for the unit!

…Yay you.

Things to keep in mind:

Reading level.

You’re aiming for 6th grade. That’s a Lexile level of 830L to 1010L. Try to make your text stay consistently at this level. That means write fairly long sentences with fairly complex vocabulary but also make them actually discernable for 6th graders. Add examples and remind your readers why this is useful frequently so they actually retain what you’re doing.

Content.

You need to introduce things like quantitative and qualitative (that’s numerical and categorical) data. You need to introduce things like quartiles to talk about box plots and you need to find simple terminology to explain very complicated concepts. Also you need to keep it short, snappy and engaging. Your students don’t have all day!

Real world applications.

Data is a very useful tool that we use all the time. Have you ever looked at how many stars a book has on goodreads and read the one star reviews before buying it? You’re using data you smart shopper you. You need to bring up these real world applications but you also can’t assume too much background knowledge because c.f. they’re sixth graders. They don’t have three PHDs.

You’re supposed to be finding like 12 other books besides the textbook that you’re writing for your students to read.

…Yay?

So you probably should finish that textbook quickly but revise it and make sure it actually makes sense.

…Woo hoo.

You’ve already spent two hours writing your textbook.

… Woo.

But you’ve gotten almost 2/3 of a unit textbook written in under a day.

… Impressive.

Don’t make this a career choice I beg of you.

Chosen One (Take Two)

A good many years ago I chose to write a poem about a chosen one that was particularly overdramatic, and I wondered what would happen if a different person lived the same story. A wiser one, a calmer one, a more reserved and distant one. So this is her story. If you’re curious about the older one, here’s that post: https://tworoadsdivergedinyellowwood.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/chosen-one/.

They tell her she is the Chosen One

Apart the words make so much sense

Chosen (if you are chosen you are selected; picked; decided upon;)

One (an individual, a unit, a single thing separated from other things)

But together

Together with her

She’s not certain they make sense at all

Chosen One

(Chosen, special, important, savior)

And if she is, what does it mean that they chose her

When she’s never saved anyone?

She picks up the sword because they need someone

(The key here is, could anyone have done it? If she could have, anyone could have.

But she’s not sure she wants them to need to.)

She tries to be patient when people reason by fear

By emotion

When people tremble in terror

And thrust others in the mouth of the beast

In the frail, arrogant, cruel hope

That they will not be next.

She tries to have strength

When they put her friend in the ground

When all she wants to do is ask

(Why not me instead)

(Why let her die)

(When you already picked me to do it)

Will I see her again?
When she cannot help seeing the cruelty of her own actions

When she cannot save anyone

When she knows that she isn’t the hero of this story

(She was the villain, always, forever)

When she sees no path towards light

Only fingers dragging her towards darkness

When she makes her choice again

(Because fate is only fate if you choose to let your actions be dictated by a story

Someone else told you).

Is this what makes her the Chosen One?
The careful battle with herself more than any other monster?
The evil inside her that outweighs all the other evils she sees?
Self-pity, arrogance, pride, not good enough, never good enough, you left them to die alone

But when he finally kills her

(That is far too much blood to lose and live)

She will

(Not)

Be remembered

And that is very good.

Instead she leaves them

(Staring at the blood on their hands, horrified by the guilt on their hearts)

Without a trace of remembrance

And in this alone

She is the Chosen One

(Because sacrifice is only sacrifice when you do it

With no expectation of return).

Fallen

Liquid hearts,

Titanic bones,

People said we were made to fall.

Crumbling souls,

Frenetic blood,

We were bound to break, one and all.

Shattered dreams,

Ripping seams,

Is it possible to know?

Darkest nights,

Imperious frights,

Was this how it was meant to go?

Repellant hearts,

Cutting words,

It’s easier to believe

Exuberant sin,

All dark within,

That we were made to grieve.

Liquid hearts,

Titanic bones,

But when the world was made,

Crumbling souls,

Frenetic blood,

God’s enemies were afraid.

Shattered dreams,

Ripping seams,

They laughed when mortals fell.

Darkest nights,

Imperious frights,

But He made all things well.

Repellent hearts,
Cutting words,

He knew it all along,

Exuberant sin,

All dark within,

The final victory song.

Liquid hearts,

Snowy souls,

Made purer than before.

For nothing yet is broken
He cannot better yet restore.

January 2021 stuff (and the Winner’s Trilogy is on thin ice)

Books:

The Portal and the Veil and The Starlit Loom by Ted Sanders which you’ve already heard me rant about how excited I was to read. The ending destroyed me, bloodied my nose, ripped out my heart, gave me a handkerchief and cardiovascular surgery and I don’t want it to be different but it’s so hard to deal. I just… Chloe. Horace. I love them and their story so much. They mean more to me than I was aware that they could. I’m overwhelmed. I want to read their whole story again. If you haven’t read these books read them. They’re so good and beautiful and strong.

I’m still rereading Chronicles of Pridain and my feelings remain the same. It’s good. Excellent. Life changing. Read it.

I read Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi, which was really, really good. I think that I would make the argument that other people would think Furthermore is better. Definitely start with that one, and if you don’t read Whichwood I think you’re okay because they’re very different stories. However, the character arcs that got completed were majestic. It was guttier and grittier and meaner and colder than Furthermore. But it was also the same beautiful writing style and strangeness and gentle criticism of how people behave when they are careless of others. I really enjoyed it and I can’t judge it as better or worse than Furthermore.

The Winner’s Curse Series by Marie Rutkoski. It’s a Roman empire sort of story basically, about a empire controlling and seizing lots of colonies, struggling to hold them and whether it’s just that empires just keep taking and whether they have any right to what they do. It was better than I was expecting, frankly. The world building was very solid. The plot was not glaringly bad. BUT. It featured miscommunication. BUT. It featured a cannon explanation of why? It was like… you might actually get killed or get someone killed if you share this information. So valid argument I suppose? And there were so many consequences to miscommunication or lack of communication other than just romance drama. Kestrel and Arin are both actually super sweet characters have good friendships lives outside each other convincing story arcs and both are so incredibly smart and stupid at the same time it’s a wonder they’re alive. Also I’m salty about Jess. And Kestrel’s dad. And Kestrel has abandonment issues SO BAD. And Arin carries so much guilt about things no child is remotely responsible for. So yeah I enjoyed it even though there were moments when I was like “what the heck no I can’t do this” and stopped reading for a moment. So it’s on thin ice and the YAest thing I’ve read so far this year but… it gets a pass. It’s actually an okay solid series.

Closer to Nowhere which is about a kiddo with PTSD, his cousin, and how they have to shift and adjust to living together. It’s sad and sweet and you get mad at both the characters but you also grow to like them. It’s told in verse.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds which is also told in verse. It’s about a boy who wants to avenge his brother’s death. You are left with so many questions but at the same time it’s really well written and it makes you so sympathetic to the lives and experiences of others.

Movies and stuff:

Watched White Collar with Dad and little sis and I’m enjoying it. Neal’s such a little sneak and whoever writes the script is hilarious.

Some Adventure Time with the kids I work with and can I say that show is WEIRD. very weird. Anyway.

The Aeronauts which I buddywatched with my friend Ace. Very fun. 10/10 would watch balloon related shenanagins again.

My Spy which I watched with another friend and I was disappointed? Didn’t like the romance that apparently needed to happen between the kid’s mom and the spy. I would have preferred it without. Dating the person you’re spying on? call the ethics committee I’m out.

Have I talked about watching Dead poet’s society yet? It broke me. I didn’t expect it to hurt that much. It was So. Good. Yes.

Music: I’ve been going through another Audiomachine phase sorry. Other than that it’s primarily been songs I’ve shared about on here before.

Painting and crafts and such:

I thought I would actually share with you some of the fan art and stuff I created. I did a lot of journaling also (and if you would like I can share my journal pages that I make when I make ones without any identifying stuff). But here is some of the watercolor I made for Chronicles of Pridain. (First fanart I’ve made that I ever really liked).

The semi-responsible adult somewhat (very somewhat) in charge of the children, holding his harp.
Princess of Llyr, daughter of Angharad, probably “not speaking” to Taran at this moment in time, holding her bauble.

Both of them turned out about 5 years younger than I imagine them by the last book. Eilonwy looks about 12 and Fflewder doesn’t look older than 25 but I imagine him as a man well into his 30s–maybe going a bit gray around the edges. By the end of the books Eilonwy’s probably 18 or so and Fflewder might actually be 40.

Recentish Aesthetics:

For my new story idea War Fountain
My baby boy Coal who has to confront whether it’s his fault that all the things were done in his name were done.

That’s about it.

Life stuff:

Worked very close to full time at the beginning of this month. School started and all my courses thus far are quite enjoyable and many are surprisingly easy. I just do the work and I pass apparently. No one except me is surprised. Went hiking in the very snowy weather and that was delightful. Got together with my friend before she went back to college, and I’m hoping I might get to go and spend Spring break with her. So yes. That’s it.

I’m actually enjoying reading again

So you might have noticed that in my wrapups I haven’t been talking about new books or getting super excited about books, and I think that’s because there hasn’t been a book for a while that I just… didn’t want to put down. I love books but it’s been a little more of a chore to pick up a book than actually something I wanted to do recently. But right now, I’m reading the rest of The Keepers series by Ted Sanders. I started the third book on Friday, and I’m reading the fourth book right now. Wow. I’ve forgotten how much I love the story and the characters and the wisdom and poignancy of these books.

And they’re getting me excited about writing again, too! All good things.

The world is constantly expanding and so rich and beautiful and every book builds on the last in a way that makes so much sense. I’m not let down by any of the books in the series and do you know what I want to do when I’m done? I want to read it again. That’s the sign of a really good book, in my opinion. You can’t wait to read it, and you can’t wait to read it again.

So if you haven’t picked these books up, please do. They’re delightful. They’re original. The friendships and relationships are wonderful. There is no needless angst. There is no needless love triangling.

Chloe and Horace are each vibrant people, very different, very fierce, and very good friends, and I love every second I spend in their heads. I love every time Chloe bumps Horace’s foot with hers, and every time Horace blushes because of her, and every time they work together with such splendid determination and trust. The adults are not incompetent! Horace’s mom is my favorite book adult (TM) probably of all time. They’re clean and crisp and a breath of fresh air and there is nothing quite like them that I’ve ever read.

Book rant over. Stay tuned for next week when I read Whichwood, which is the companion to Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. And we all know how I feel about Furthermore. (hint if you’re new: I adore it.)

what is peace?

peace is not the bird at rest

that dwells inside a feathered nest

without an enemy to detest

and a friend that calls it dearest, best.

peace is not the child that sleeps

among the mountain blanket heaps

or tranquility that stands, not leaps

and the solace that quiet reaps.

peace is not the end of war

when soldier-boys come home once more

their enemies now to befriend and adore

and become as they were before.

peace can be among the loud,

peace can be stoned by a screaming crowd,

peace can stand with it’s head unbowed,

for peace is a code kept and avowed.

peace is the song of a broken heart

peace is the smile after a false start

peace is laughter at a present torn apart

for peace is a soul that knows God’s art.

peace is love so great and wide

that terrible things can coincide

with the world and peace will still not hide

nor fear for a future held inside.

peace is the promise to a foe and kept

peace is the mother who never slept

peace is the child crying still

peace has not broken and never will

peace is not when all conflict ends,

but when foes can be foes and still be friends

when anger can be fleeting laughter

when pain does not mean a disaster

peace is perspective, first and last,

for all these things, when they are past,

will be at the end no enemy

to triumph, love, and light and glory be,

and death brings no end to peace’s story.

Twelve Days of Christmas Tag

Adria Avalon over at https://adriaavalon.wordpress.com/ has tagged me most graciously with this lovely tag, and so thanks, dear one, and off we go.

Rules:

Link back to the creator of the tag (done!)

Link to the person who tagged you: Thank you again, dear! ^-^

Answer the questions

Tag 1-5 more people (consider yourself tagged, Rosy! https://writefury.com/)

Questions:

  1. What is your favorite Christmas food?

Hm. We make pfeffernusse, (pronounced fefernisa) which is German for Pepper Nuts and they’re spicy little cookies that never go bad because the spices preserve them so well. I think the reason I like it so much is because I remember making the dough with my dad and rolling out long thin ropes of dough like snakes before we cut them with butter knives to make the nuts.

2. Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Singing at Midnight and morning Mass with my dad and sister, who are in our parish choir. I’ll explain Midnight Mass briefly for those who haven’t heard of it. Basically, on Christmas and Easter we start the celebration right as the day begins. Easter Vigil is much longer, starts around 9 p.m. and can last until 2 or 3 a.m. depending on how many ceremonies associated with Vigil they do. Christmas Midnight Mass starts at midnight and lasts until like 1:30 a.m. but we sing carols for an hour first. Then we go home from Midnight Mass and get up on like six hours of sleep to go sing at the 10 a.m. Mass. It’s indescribably beautiful.

3. Did you believe in Santa when you were little?

I found out that Santa wasn’t real when I was quite little but I’ve never been disappointed about that. I’ve always been enchanted instead by the generosity of someone else doing that and the legends associated with St. Nicholas.

4. How do you like to decorate your Christmas tree?

We have an angel and a tree skirt and then lights and cranberry chains with wooden beads not real cranberries, and all the mishmash of ornaments us kids have collected every year since who knows when.

5. Have you ever gone caroling before?

Before this year it was kind of a tradition. I’ve been with two different sets of friends, as well as with a club of friends once, and it’s beautiful. I like it very much, particularly the confusion when someone opens the door and you start singing and you see them go “wait people still do this?”

But apparently my sister and our friends and I have made a few people’s nights after they had a really hard few days or year.

6. What’s your favorite holiday song?

The Angels and The Shepherds, maybe? Once in Royal David’s City? Hark the Herald Angels Sing because I get to sing the descant? Oh Holy Night because that song is impossible to nail but still we nail it? Transeamus which no one but my choir ever seems to sing? All of the Christmas hymns our choir does, really. Oh, listen to Angelus ad Virginem if you haven’t because it’s beautiful.

7. Do you usually put a star or an angel on top of your tree?

Angel.

8. What is your least favorite flavor of candy cane?

Cinnamon.

9. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

I don’t think I have one, actually. There are very few Christmas movies that actually make me genuinely feel that it’s about Christmas in any real sense. I have never encountered a Christmas or holiday movie that makes me the same way I feel when almost every Christmas or Easter morning I run outside in my pajamas to see the sun rise and whisper, “you’re alive!” or “happy birthday!” to someone I can’t see yet.

10. Does your pet have a stocking (if you have a pet)?

As my brother would colloquially say, “natch” to both. (means no).

11. What is your favorite part of Christmas?

Mass, probably. There is no joy quite like knowing that Christ is still with us in a very real way.

After that–maybe just the quiet moments when there’s so much exultation and peace inside me at the same time that I’m likely to burst from the accumulation.