Your lupines, please

Hey, everyone. I went outside at work this morning to get some shots of the library’s lupines, which are beautiful. Here are a few of those shots. Hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

 

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Branching out

Hey, everyone! I have exciting news! The first piece I ever queried was published today! It’s a nonfiction/inspirational piece written for a website for young, Catholic women. If you’d like to take a look, click here. It’s also already linked under my writing tab here on the blog. I hope you all enjoy it!

Four sentence book reviews #3

Hello, everyone, and happy Star Wars Day! I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and I want to discuss some of the books I’ve read. It’s been nearly a year since my last one of these, so let’s do it!

Ink, Iron, & Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
Elsa’s mother, a renown scriptologist who can literally edit and write worlds into existence, has been kidnapped. Elsa, a budding scriptologist herself, sets off to find her with the help of an old family friend and a gang of other magically gifted teenagers who are beginning to realize just how much of their world is a lie. This book is truly excellent in terms of its characters, setting, magic system, and world building. It balances all of these elements well to create a believable, multi-layered universe and with lovable characters, and incredible tension.

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Photo attributed to Goodreads.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Tess, who has a painful past, has never had much support from her family, except from her sister, who is about to get married. Even though Tess helped bring the match about for the advantage of their family, she is not happy about it. An accident prompts her to flee her family and set off on her own road, to find her own adventures. Set in the same world as her previous books, Seraphina and Shadow Scale, Hartman makes a remarkable, poignant, and timely return to her world of dragons, people, and how the two get along.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Jude and her two sisters were taken away from the human world when they were little to live in the High Court of Faerie, where their humanity is something they constantly struggle with, especially since everyone holds it against them, from the faeries they live with to the prince himself. This was my first experience with Holly Black’s writing and I can’t say it was quite a favorable one. I was frustrated with the characters due to their lackluster personalities and since they all wanted to change things but they didn’t really get around to doing so until the last fifty or so pages. I doubt I’ll continue with this series in the future.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Artemisia lost her mother when she was twelve and she has grown up fulfilling her father’s artistic contracts. When a man who has been helping her with her art rapes her, it is up to her to find her voice, both tell the truth to her father, to herself, and to the Italian society that disbelieves her. I truly appreciated the timeliness of this story and the fact that it was told in verse, but I found the characters and setting lacking. I wish McCullough would have invested more in them, made them more complex and wide-ranging, since that would have made the story richer.

 

That’s all for now, everyone. I’ll definitely be writing more of these over the coming months, especially since there are some books coming out and on my to-be-read list that I’m excited about. On the writing front, I have six chapters to go and I’m already planning to start on my next book project after I’m finished with this draft.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Soon…soon

The title of this post pretty much is my mantra in regard to my second draft right now. I’m nearing the finishing line with it and while I’m excited, I’m also getting doubtful and tired. People always compare pursuing any creative work to giving birth, so in terms of that analogy, I guess I’m at the part where you’re exhausted and breathless but you’ve got to keep pushing because there is no stopping now. Never having given birth, I don’t know how accurate this analogy is, but it does seem apt.

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The picture is of my current page count. Subtract 275 from that number and you’ll get how long this new draft is. I didn’t mean to hand write the whole thing, but that’s just how it turned out.

Like I mentioned before, the doubts are starting to speak louder than they have at any other point during this process. They keep telling me that no one will want to read or publish this and that these characters are too broken and unlovable for people to root for. The important thing is that I loved and believed in this story first and if I do my job right, then others will care and want to read it. I’m not there yet, but this draft is so much more book-shaped than my first one and I already have so many ideas for how to move forward. I’ll get there and if you’re struggling with your own things, know that you’ll get there, too. Soon…soon.

 

 

P.S. To all of you who have just subscribed via email, welcome. ❤

Some drawings

Hey, everyone! A few days ago, I was given a white Chanel box by someone close to me who wears their perfume. It’s now my new pen box. I decided to draw on the box and I wanted to share some pictures with you. I draw quite a bit though I don’t normally show my drawings to people. I’m trying to change that. Hope you’re all doing well. 20180316_202555

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Yes, the wheel is purposefully lopsided.

A silly meet-cute

I haven’t told a story from work in a while. But I have one for you today. And, for those of you who don’t know, a meet-cute is the point in a movie where two characters, generally love interests, meet.

I was back at the reference desk one morning about two weeks ago and a man came up to ask about our mobile printing services. I helped him out as much as I was able. He hung around the desk then went to go back to his seat. A woman came up from the computer lab with a lot of papers to print off. I helped her out then went to go get the stapler she would need to staple all of those pages together. The man came back and started to talk to me about books. I checked the stapler to see if it needed to be refilled and it did, so I was trying to refill the stapler while talking to this guy. He was a nice guy and was interested in donating to the library and we were talking about horror stories and just having a nice time. He then politely introduced himself and stuck his hand out for a handshake.

While all of this was going on, I was fiddling with the stapler, which had jammed, and decided to test it. I didn’t realize my finger was in the way. A staple sunk one of its prongs in my finger, just as he offered me his hand. So our introduction went something like this:

“Oh, I’m sorry, I should have introduced myself earlier. My name is Brad.” *Cue extended hand* (His name wasn’t really Brad, I would feel awful if I put his real name here.)

*Me, stapling myself, trying not to cry out in pain while trying to yank the staple out of my hand for an absurdly long time. Finally get it out after about three yanks* “I’m…bleeding. I mean, my name is Elizabeth and it’s nice to meet you!”

I shook his hand then, the hand that didn’t have a  bleeding finger. He was a good sport about my little mishap, made sure I was alright, finished what he needed to do, and left shortly afterward.

I couldn’t help but laugh about that little incident for most of the rest of the day, equal turns amused and embarrassed by my little meet-cute.

My social graces know no bounds, apparently. Bye for now, everyone.

It’s Lent

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…”-Joel 2:12.

Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons for many reasons. One of them is how honest Christians are about how sinful we are and how vast and overwhelming God’s mercy is. Being honest about that stuff is difficult but at least during this one point in the year, we are honest with ourselves, with each other, and with God. We are so honest about this sinfulness that we begin this season by literally smearing it across our foreheads. It’s humbling and shows that we all have room to grow. But the best thing about having room to grow is that you can still grow.

I have a really good feeling that though this Lent is going to be challenging, it will be so rewarding and healing. Please, God, make it so.

Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone.

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A patron left us Mardi Gras beads at the library last night, so I’ve been wearing them most of the day. It occurs to me that my face looks really puffy in this photo. I had gum in my mouth when I took this, so that’s why.

Check in #3

I wasn’t sure what kind of post to start 2018 with, and after much dilly-dallying with different ideas, I just decided to make this a check in, which will cover some really random stuff. Hi there. I hope the not-so-new year has been kind to you all. It’s been an interesting one so far.

  • The most interesting thing that’s happened so far is that I’ve learned more about what makes me who I am. Literally. I bought my mom a DNA test for Christmas last year and we finally got it ready to go at the beginning of December. We used the 23 and Me test, for those of you who care about that kind of thing and both my mom and I are so pleased with their service and how they present their findings. I bought the test because she’s always been curious if she had Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and the test confirmed her hunch. We were also staggered to discover that a small portion of our DNA comes from Scandinavia (it looks like Finland, specifically) and Northern Russia. The test also showed that, though my mother’s DNA is predominantly European, way far back, we come from the Middle East and Africa. It’s been really interesting to learn more about DNA and the tools and information that are available to help people learn about where they come from. If you’re looking for a DNA test, I highly recommend 23 and Me.
  • I’ve started tracking my daily writing progress, which I’ve never done before. My best friend and former roommate gave me a special calendar for Christmas and out of the blue, I decided to use it to track my writing progress, not only for the novel I’m working on, but also for short stories, articles, and other writing projects. So far it’s been helpful in making sure I get stuff done and also helping me prove to myself that I do more work than I think I do. I don’t know why, but it’s astonishingly easy for me to make myself think that I don’t work as much as I should. Having this calendar has helped me to realize just how much I do and to be more conscious of the time it takes me to do it in.
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    This is what this month’s page looks like so far. Please excuse my bad handwriting. If I decide to continue this in the future, I definitely need to learn to write smaller or to get a calendar with bigger boxes. 

     

  • At last, I heard back from some editors that I sent different pieces to, so be on the lookout for more things being added to my writing page. I’m really excited about these two pieces, since they’re different from what I’ve had published so far. That’s all I’m going to say for now. 🙂
  • I finally saw Star Wars VIII. I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t like it, but I did! It was different than I thought it would be, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s too much to go into here, but suffice it to say that I think this installment in the trilogy is not just a good addition to an already amazing canon of films but it provides a good springboard into episode IX. We’ll see where they decide to take the story next.
  • Charles Dickens has been hard core stalking me from beyond the grave. Ha, in rereading that sentence, it sounds like he is the Marley to my Scrooge. No, I don’t mean that kind of haunting. I just mean that he’s showing up a lot in my life. It started when I started watching the TV show “Dickensian” last month (trailer is linked here.) It’s a fantastic show, which I want to watch again and again. The one bad thing about that show is that it’s made me realize just how ignorant of Dickens I am. I’ve only read Great Expectations and have seen “Bleak House”, “Little Dorrit”, and “Oliver Twist”. I’d really like to get more into his work. I think I’m going to start with Hard Times, simply because it’s one of his slimmer works. Plus the opening paragraph is amazing in terms of establishing character. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions as to which of his works I should read.
  • Should I get an Instagram? I’ve been thinking about that question off an on since I got my phone last year. I’m really on the fence about it. On the one hand, I think it would be quite fun, especially to tie it in with this blog. On the other, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be too good at keeping up with it. If you have any ideas, let me know.

That’s about it for now. Sorry it’s been so long and for the rambling nature of this post. There will be lots more to come soon, you can be sure. Bye for now, everyone!

P.S. I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a lot more email subscribers in the past few weeks. Thank you for signing up! Welcome!

2017 Reading Round-Up

Hello, one and all, all and one. It’s time for my 2017 reading round-up. It’s been a great year for me, reading-wise. I managed to read a total of 62 books, more than I’ve ever read in a single year. Those 62 break down to 31 graphic novels, 12 fantasy stories, 9 contemporary/literary fiction books, 3 historical fiction novels, 3 pieces of nonfiction, and 2 mysteries. Gosh, you can tell I work at a library for breaking them all down like that, can’t you?

If you remember last year’s post, I answered five questions about my reading. I’m doing the same this year, but one of the questions is different. Without further ado, let’s get going.

1.What book was your biggest disappointment?
I feel kinda bad to say it was this one, especially since I liked the first book quite a bit, but it has to be One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. I was so pumped for this release, to the point where I would check our new YA shelf at work every day to see if it was there. But I was disappointed. The story seemed to meander almost as much as the characters did. In certain respects, it was a good book. Blake still retains her knack for vivid description and some of her characters did undergo interesting changes throughout the story (Jules, Katharine). But overall, this book just wasn’t good for me.

2.Which book(s) were your biggest surprise?
Last year I just had one, but this year I have two books that completely surprised me. The first is Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. I’ve never read anything by E. Lockhart before, but I knew of her reputation for creating captivating, mind-blowing stories. I’m not going into too much detail about this book, because if I were to tell you too much about it, it would definitely spoil it. So I’ll just say that the two aforementioned adjectives describe it perfectly: captivating and mind-blowing. Definitely check it out.

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Photo credited to Amazon. 

The second book that was a huge surprise was Warcross by Marie Lu. She’s another one that, despite how popular her work is, I’ve never read anything of. I got really excited when I heard Warcross was a story that takes place mostly during a gaming competition. I grew up as a causal gamer surrounded by much more intense gamers, and I was curious how the story would incorporate an art form that has been so important over the last 30 years. The gaming is interwoven throughout the story in such a clever way that you can tell Lu has lots of firsthand experience with it (and she does). I’ll admit that this book didn’t hook me right away but I persevered and was not disappointed. I think I’ll try to read more of her work in 2018 because Warcross was so wonderful. I also can’t wait for the sequel!

3.What’s the book you’re most likely to reread soon?
I’ve been on a Broadway musical kick this whole year and in the middle of October I finally listened to “Dear Evan Hansen” and promptly fell in love while my heart was ripped apart by this musical’s deep and gut-wrenching message. About a week later, I was bored at work and I looked up the CD on Amazon to see how much it would cost and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that they had the script available for sale. When I got home, I immediately reached for my Kindle, bought it, started reading, then had my heart ripped apart again. The musical is about a guy in high school who has extreme social anxiety and he gets caught up in a lie he tells to a grieving family. The music is beautiful but if you don’t know the background of the story, it’s a little difficult to tell what the music is all about. I guess their marketing people realized that and decided they better release the script so people could read it and know what exactly is going on. And as a script, it sets the scenes up so well and it’s just as well-written as the music and lyrics. The entire piece would be absolutely amazing to see on stage and I hope I’ll get to, someday.

4. Who are your favorite characters you encountered this year?
This is the new question! Last year, I listed my most unusual book, but I thought this was an unexpected and different question, especially since reading introduces us to so many new people.

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Photo credited to Amazon. 

Figuring out my favorite male character I read about this year was not difficult at all. It’s Maverick Carter from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give.  Maverick is a shopkeeper and an ex-inmate trying to keep his family together and safe during race riots that erupt after a cop murdered his daughter’s best friend. Maverick was so much fun to read about and such a lovable, honest character. He does his best for his family, no matter what happens to him and does his best to make up for his past mistakes. He’s also hilarious, especially his theory about the Hogwarts houses being gangs. One of many important characters from an incredibly important novel from this year, Maverick is someone I’d love to meet in real life.
My favorite female character is from a manga series I read early this year, Iku Kasahara from Library Wars. This series is about a military force dedicated to protecting people’s right to read in a world where censorship is rampant. Iku is an incredible, zany girl. She has quite a short attention span and a shorter temper that often leads her into some sort of trouble. When she’s in trouble, though, it doesn’t take her long to figure a way out of it. She’s fantastic, just like this entire manga series. If you’re looking for a new manga, definitely check this one out.

5. What are your top three books of 2017?
I read a lot of great books this year, but I decided these answers based on which books have stuck with me the longest throughout the year.

Coming in at number 3 is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. This is one of the works of nonfiction I read this year and in it Gilbert discusses not only her take on creative life and what that means but also tells the story of her creative life. I’ve never read anything by her before but I was intrigued by this book when it came out in 2015. I forgot it even existed until I had to shelve it at work and decided to take it home with me. Gilbert’s writing is incredibly accessible, even though she talks about lofty, complex ideas, you never feel lost or completely out of touch, as she grounds those ideas in practical advice and anecdotes from her life. If you’re a fan of books about creativity, this is one for you.

My second favorite book of the year is Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali. This novel tells the story of Max, a boy born in Hitler’s Lebensborn program, a program which was to effectively engineer the “perfect race”. I will say that, though this story is told from the point of view of a child, I don’t think anyone under fourteen should read this, simply due to its subject matter. That being said, I think everyone over fourteen should read this at some point. I’ve learned quite a bit about the Holocaust and the devastation the Nazi regime caused throughout the world. I never considered how devastating it would be to be a child born as a result of this program. It’s a truly eviscerating but absolutely necessary story.

And my favorite book of 2017 is….Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor!

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Photo credited to Goodreads. 

If you remember the second of my four sentence reviews, I gushed about this book. And I haven’t stopped gushing or thinking about this story since I finished it back at the end of May. It’s the story of an orphan who has longed to journey to a forgotten city ever since he was little and he’s pretty much resigned himself to never having that dream come true. Until a group of strangers come to town and give him the chance to go to that city. This word “epic” gets tossed around when talking about fantasy stories, but this story is truly epic in its scope, world, characters, and everything. This is another book that I almost put down due to the fact that I had trouble focusing, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I would have cheated myself out of a brilliant adventure and heady romance if I had. I hope I can write like this someday.

 

So that’s my reading round-up for 2017! It’s hard to believe that this year is nearly over. Thank you all so much for a great year here on the blog. I hope 2017 was a great year for you and that good things are in store for you in 2018. See you next year!