Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Weathersbard Decoded: The Cure For All Ills?


Weathersbard. Eleanor and Grant. To Time Captives readers, words synonymous with heartbreak. She's stuck as a twelve-year-old. He has to grow up. It's a would be romance with an unhappy ending...or is it?

I didn't intend for Eleanor to fall in love when I first sent her to sea. However, as soon as Grant tapped her on the shoulder on the wharf, I shipped them. At first, I tried to figure out some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey way for them to be together, but I quickly came to the conclusion that that wasn't how it was meant to be. And so I wrote their story, parting and all, jumping out of order to write their reunion in Crannig Castle over Independence Day in 2014...the reunion that would conclude their story and enable them to finally move on with their lives.

Though when I initially wrote that part of the story it made perfect sense to me, when I edited it in preparation for release, I didn't get it. I didn't get how Eleanor--after spending fifty years miserably pining after Grant--could move on. How she could accept never seeing Grant again. Why wasn't she even more heartbroken? I was, reading it. It hurt. My readers talked about how sad and heartbreaking their story was too, and we all, me included, wished for an AU (alternate universe storyline) in which Grant and Eleanor could be together.

Then Kendra presented me with a happily ever after headcanon, wherein young Grant comes to our world to marry Eleanor, then eventually, after a long life together, returns to Calhortea to live out another life there. It seemed like the perfect ending for their story.

It was a slow day at the library, and I was sitting at the desk cleaning audiobook CDs, dreaming up a Weathersbard reunion scene when suddenly I stopped. Something was wrong. Something about this happy fix-it-all reunion scene was actually ruining their story. Somehow it undermined the ending.

And that was when I realized the theme of Grant and Eleanor's story. See, I don't write with any particular theme in mind (except maybe a general one of faith and freedom), so sometimes the themes hit me out of the blue later. Grant and Eleanor's story isn't so much one of unrequited love as it is one of contentment.

Eleanor spent fifty years of her life pining after the guy she loved. And she was miserable. The whole time, she was thinking that if only she had been able to marry the guy she loved, everything would be perfect. She'd be happy. She'd stop being so agonizingly lonely. Nothing would ever be wrong again. So you'd think that seeing Grant again, seeing that she absolutely can't have him--after all, he's old and she's still a kid--would make it worse. But yet it didn't.

Why? Because when she saw him again, she realized something big.

The key to happiness isn't getting the guy you want. The key to happiness is accepting with contentment the plan God has for your life.

Eleanor accepted that Grant wasn't the cure for all her ills...God was. Getting Grant wouldn't make everything okay...accepting God's plan would. And sure, she probably still had moments where she missed Grant very badly and wished things had turned out differently, but it wasn't debilitating like it was before. She was okay. Because she had finally accepted that God knew what He was doing, and His plan was better than hers.

So if you've ever struggled with contentment, especially in regards to a relationship or lack thereof, remember Eleanor. Remember that getting the guy (or whatever it is you feel will fix everything) won't make it all better. You may or may not get the guy you want, but even if, unlike Eleanor, you do get him, remember that you won't be happy, you won't stop being lonely, everything won't be made better, unless you've already let God do that for you. God is the cure for our ills, not the "perfect" guy, and God knows what He's doing, even if it seems hard at the time. And when God is first, the other blessings He gives you are a wonderful bonus.

But go ahead and have a happily ever after Weathersbard headcanon if you feel like it. ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Don't Forget To Read

Writing has been an increasing struggle for me. It used to be that I was always making up stories, my brain was full of imaginings, and I thought my creativity would never run dry. Yet it's become difficult to write. It's become difficult to imagine. It's been difficult to develop plots. It's been difficult to stay excited about a project for any length of time.

Now, I can identify several factors in my own life related to growing up that are probably affecting this dry spell, but there's just one I'm talking about today...one that I think is a bigger factor than I realized.


I've been bemoaning the lack of reading time for awhile now, and also bemoaning the limited quantity of books that excite me. It's a rough place for a reader to be. And while I had an inkling for awhile that there was probably some correlation between my reading habits and my writing struggles, it didn't really hit me until recently, didn't fully hit me until I put together the stats.

2014 was a pretty good year for reading and writing. Sure, I still read some junk books, but the ratio of good books to poor ones was pretty encouraging. Only about a tenth of my total fiction intake was junk. I read a lot of Margaret Peterson Haddix--well-written, creative books that excite me--and several classics. I wrote approximately 3 1/2 books, some of it a rewrite, but quite a bit of it all new. Not only that, but I was finishing school and constantly doing volunteer work for a congressional campaign, with migraine problems. Yet, with so much busyness, a good fiction intake resulted in a good fiction output.

The ratio of junk to quality was higher in 2015. Not horrendously so, but definitely higher--especially since I read less books overall. I still read a good number of classics, but even among the quality literature, I still read a good bit of fluff. Like Winnie-the-Pooh and Beverly Cleary. Sure, they're children's classics, but they're not super inspiring and they don't make my imagination take off. The junk was balanced with some good fiction, but not enough. The quality didn't drown out the junk as well as it did in 2014, and my writing quantity was starting to suffer. I still managed to finish my major work on Time Captives, write the first (rather bland) draft of the Cassie Story, and write a novella, but all that work pretty much drained me. And I couldn't manage to recharge. Yes, I had a lot of stress going on in my personal life to make things difficult (moving, basement building, etc.), but it shouldn't have been too much worse than graduating and campaigning if my reading habits had kept up the way they had been.

2016, let me just say it, was bad. I only read 63 total books, and about half of the fiction I read was junk. It's no wonder I only managed to write one story, a rewrite, and it was a struggle at that. I read a few classics, like Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights, plus some good new stuff like Ilyon, Rizkaland, and Blades of Acktar, but when my main reading intake is Percy Jackson and Jedi Quest, well, there's not much Jane Austen can do to help. Yes, I got a job and had a very full year, but if my reading choices had been better, there's a good chance writing would have gone better as well.

My point in sharing this story is this: Do not forget to read quality literatureYes, if you're a writer, you should write, but reading is extremely important too. The quantity is important, but even more important is the quality. You can't write good books if you don't read them, so take in a steady diet of quality literature.
Make time to read, and make careful reading choices. It's more important than you know.


107 Total Books Read

Most Read Fiction Authors:
Margaret Peterson Haddix: 17 books
Katie Lynn Daniels: 7 books
Donita K. Paul: 5 books
Evan Angler: 4 books
Kendra E. Ardnek: 4 books
Lois Lowry: 4 books
Jaye L. Knight/Molly Evangeline: 3 books
Alexander Key: 2 books
Frank Peretti: 2 books
Lois Gladys Leppard: 2 books
Suzanne Collins: 2 books

Fiction Classics Read:
Silas Marner by George Eliot
The Honorable Peter Stirling by Paul Leicester Ford
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Other Noted Reads (the good and the not as good):
Becoming Nikki by Ashley Elliott
McKenna (American Girl "Girl of the Year") by Mary Casonova
Only a Novel by Amy Dashwood
Hunt for Jade Dragon (Michael Vey #4) by Richard Paul Evans
Red Rain by Aubrey Hansen
Adventures and Adversities by Sarah Holman
Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson
Holes by Louis Sachar
Movie Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Reckoning (Last of the Jedi #10) by Jude Watson

Writing Output:
Creighton Hill (1st computer draft--complete rewrite)
The Crossways (1st computer draft--almost complete rewrite)
Espionage (rough draft)
Crannig Castle (1st half of rough draft)


86 Total Books Read

Most Read Fiction Authors:
Kendra E. Ardnek: 7 books
Edgar Rice Burroughs: 5 books
Marissa Meyer: 4 books
Sarah Holman: 4 books
Margaret Peterson Haddix: 3 books
A. A. Milne: 2 books
Beverly Cleary: 2 books
Charles Dickens: 2 books
Claire M. Banschbach: 2 books
Baroness Emmuska Orczy: 2 books
Jaye L. Knight: 2 books
Katie Lynn Daniels: 2 books

Fiction Classics Read:
Tarzan Books 1-5 by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Other Noted Reads (the good and the not as good):
Amazing Grace by Faith Blum
Caddie Woodlawn's Family by Carol Ryrie Brink
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Meet Caroline by Kathleen Ernst
Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans
Counted Worthy by Leah Good
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Disney at Dawn by Ridley Pearson
Implant by J. Grace Pennington
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Doctor Who: The Glamour Chase by Gary Russell
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Writing Output:
Crannig Castle (2nd half of rough draft)
The Crossways (rewrite of Time Captives storyline--roughly 1/3 of book)
The Cassie Story (rough draft)
Twisted Dreams (rough draft)


63 Total Books Read

Most Read Fiction Authors:
Rick Riordan: 10 books
Jude Watson: 10 books
Tanith Lee: 4 books
Shannon Hale: 3 books
Tricia Mingerink: 3 books
Chris Colfer: 2 books
C. S. Lewis: 2 books
Trenton Lee Stewart: 2

Fiction Classics Read:
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Pilgrim's Regress by C. S. Lewis
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

Other Noted Reads (the good and the not as good):
Rainland by Sarah Allerding
Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E. Ardnek
This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof
The Solid Rock by Faith Blum
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg
Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Firmament: Reversal Zone by J. Grace Pennington
Far To Go by Noel Streatfeild
Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island by Mike Tucker

Writing Output:
The Cassie Story (1st computer draft--complete rewrite)

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 in Review

I said last year that I felt like this year was a blank. I had no idea what would happen. And looking back on this year, I don't see how I could possibly have predicted it. It's been QUITE the year. To begin with...

I got a job at the library! I wasn't looking for it or anything--I did that the summer before and it didn't work. This time, I was stopping by the library to pick up a Jedi Quest book I had on hold and saw an advertisement for an opening on the door. Now, my branch pretty much only has openings when people retire, so this was big. I applied, didn't think I'd get an interview, got one, and was hired just a few hours after my interview ended. I love it when things happen like that. It just shows me that God was the one Who did it, and it had nothing to do with me. I've loved working there (best branch in the system :D ), and I've met so many people in town. It's been great.

Not the greatest picture, but this was me
when I found out I got the job.

We had Narnia happen in the backyard. ;) Okay, it snowed.

We had an uber creepy salamander in the basement. I ran. Very fast. And then watched Studio C to calm down and was getting light-headed. Not even joking.

My mom to my dad

I started rewriting the Cassie story from scratch. Some days were fantastic, some days....not so much. But I got to the climax in April, and then got seriously stuck. July NaNo completed that draft, which was so much better than the previous one, but, well, it still needs a lot of work and Cassie and Luke stopped talking to me. So.

One of the not-so-good days.
But I've got characters by the side to keep me company.

It was campaign season again! And even though my job prevented me from doing quite as much for Team Loudermilk as I normally do, I still managed to get in several Saturdays and weeknights of door to door (including yet another dog attack...thankfully not as bad as the one in 2014), and do things like handing out stickers at the county convention and sign waving before a debate and on election day. Team Loudermilk is the best. :)

Please ignore the fact that I'm starting to
look short next to my sister. ;)

I played in another orchestra concert, turned 20, got welcomed to getting old, and then went crazy. Because deciding last minute to go forward with the idea you decided against because it was more work than you wanted to do is just the way to go, right?

In other words, I published Espionage. And drew 9 pictures in 2 1/2 days. With a part time job. Let's just say that when I finished, I never wanted to draw again. But I can't regret it because I love the way the chapter headers turned out. And I love that book. It's one of my favorites that I've written, but I shouldn't pick an absolute favorite because they're all my babies. ;)

All the pictures

Shortly thereafter, we went to Indiana for the Indy 500 (well, my dad and sister went to the 500), and went to Connor Prairie, then stopped by the Creation Museum on the way home. It was fantastic.

My sister and I had a booth at a local festival shortly before Independence Day.

And then I risked looking like a phone-addicted millennial in order to keep up with NaNo while at another Independence Day event. Have I mentioned how excited I was to discover I could use italics on the Notes app? Yeah, I'm a total nerd.

In August, I helped teach Foundations of Freedom: Generation, a class about America's founding documents. I'd taken the class once and been a sort of behind-the-scenes volunteer another time, so I was already quite familiar with the course, but having a teaching role was a bit nerve-wracking. I shouldn't have been so worried, though--it went great and I really enjoyed it. After all, I love to teach and I know this material ridiculously well thanks to the Loudermilk family. Can't wait to do it again, because people need to know this stuff! And it's part of building my wall, anyway.

The teachers of FFG, August 2016

We went camping with some friends over Labor Day weekend, which was so much fun. You can read more about it in my summer recap post. Then we went to Charleston, which was also fantastic. And also has an entire post dedicated to the trip.

A bear walked through our yard...

...and I published Crannig Castle. It's kinda sad to come to the end of Time Captives, but exciting too. Time Captives has been a big part of my life for four years now, and it's a bit weird not to have any of it to work on. I guess I need to write some shorts and that Espionage sequel I want so badly...plots, come to me!

And I had another instance of God doing something unexpected: He gave me music students! I'd taught a few kids before I moved, and I had done a little advertising after we finished the basement in our current house, but I hadn't tried very hard to find students after I got a job at the library. I didn't expect it to happen, and then it did. I love it when God does things like that. And I love teaching. And my students are talented musicians and great kids besides. :) By the way, if you're in my area and need a piano or violin teacher, or know someone who does, I have openings. More info here.

We had Thanksgiving with some friends, went to a Christmas dance, I was in a Christmas parade for the library and played the conductor for a Polar Express program, and got ready for Christmas.

Me as the conductor.
Now I want to do storytime.

We had a great Christmas at home and it was 70 degrees outside. I love living in Georgia. Then the day after Christmas, we had some family spend the night on the way to Florida and some more family that live nearby came for dinner. I played Pit with the older cousins (so much fun, even if we did sound like the seagulls from Finding Nemo), and then because I was too tired to play more games, I holed up in the library with my seven-year-old cousin and my phone and we watched Studio C. It was a great evening.

And that about sums up my year. 2016 has had its ups and downs, but overall, it's been a pretty good year. Crazy and busy, but isn't every year? I think I have a little more of an idea of things that could be coming up next than I did a year ago...things that make life crazy and interesting. Life is quite the adventure, isn't it?

How was your 2016? Anything you're looking forward to in 2017?

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Reason For the Season

I feel like that phrase has become cliche. We say it to remind ourselves that Christmas isn't just about presents and Santa and lights and Christmas trees and cookies and parties and special movies...but how much do we think about what Christmas is really about?

Christmas is about Jesus' birth. That is what we're celebrating. We think of a cozy stable and sweet-smelling hay and angels singing and adoring shepherds, and we get the warm fuzzies over this classic, Jesus-centered Christmas scene. But I still think we're missing the point. (Though as a side note, go read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. It'll give you a new perspective on that picturesque little scene we're all so familiar with.)

It kind of bugs me that we make such a big to do over Christmas, but not over Easter. Don't get me wrong, I have zero problem with making a big deal about Christmas--I love all the celebration and traditions and everything--it's the contrast in culture that bothers me. Christmas is this whole season that everyone's a part of, and unless you do Lent, Easter is confined to one little weekend. Like we're saying the Christmas story is the one that matters most.

And the Christmas story does matter. It matters very much. But I think we tend to forget that Christmas is just the beginning of the story. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary in the fulfillment of countless prophecies, angels and people worshiped him as an infant, wise men followed His star from the East to give him gifts.

And then.

Jesus grew. He taught the people. Performed miracles. Made the Jews angry enough to put Him to death. And in doing so, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and paid the price for them all. He died so that we might live. He suffered the unspeakable consequences that we deserve for our sins so that if we repent and believe, we will be redeemed--freed from all the consequences of our sin. And He rose from the grave because death isn't the end of the story. He rose and went to live with the Father in Heaven, just as we will someday live with God forever.

So this Christmas season--when you remember the reason for the season--don't stop at the wise men. Follow the story through to the conclusion. Because Christmas is only the beginning of the greatest story there ever was.

The story of how God so loves us that He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that we might someday have eternal life.

P.S. This will be my last post of the year. I'll be back after New Year's with a recap of my 2016. See you then and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Top Ten Books of 2016

This has been a somewhat interesting year for reading. Interesting as in I read quite a few books I enjoyed, but not very many that kept me up late or got me telling all my friends they HAD to read it. I guess I mostly just ended up reading a lot of mediocre books. That being said, there were some really good ones...some of them just may be unpublished and/or unfinished (you know I'm looking at you, author person whose name starts with a K). 

No, the Jedi Quest series is not going to end up on my top 10 list, and neither are the Monk and Doctor Who books, but I'll definitely tell you about the really good books I read this year. And these will all be books that I've finished and are published--I'm really enjoying The Mysterious Benedict Society (and don't know how I missed it), but I can't pass final judgement until I'm finished. And it wouldn't be fair to tell you about books that it may not be public knowledge I've read.

Pictures link to my Goodreads review.

10. Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

I'd been following the Girl Defined blog for awhile and learning a lot, so it was an easy decision to preorder their book with a Christmas gift card--the first paperback I've ever preordered. The things they talked about weren't, for the most part, things I've struggled with, but I still learned a lot about what the Bible says about being a woman, and got a lot of value out of it. I also appreciate how their philosophy on Christian non-fiction (they discussed it in this video) isn't just to accept something that sounds good. They want you to evaluate it all--even their book--by the Bible.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1729313354?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=19. This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

It's rare that I download a book and read it right away, but I'd been slogging through a lot of longer books that weren't necessarily page turners and friends' books that I had to edit, so when Amanda recommended it to me, I went for it. It's a super sad, sweet, historical romance that's a sort of prequel to a series I haven't actually read. But while there were a few more modern words that jolted me out of the time period, it was still sweet and heartbreaking and very enjoyable. Not to mention already edited and not very long.

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I'd expected to be confused...and I really wasn't. I'm not quite sure why everyone says it's so hard to follow, but maybe I just feel that way because I've listened to several Dickens books and he is hard to follow at times. Anyway, I found myself in the peculiar position of disliking basically all the characters and yet enjoying the book immensely. It's so mysterious and intriguing and fascinating. Sure, it's dark, sure there weren't any characters I could relate to, but there's something compelling about it. Something about it that made it endure. After all, it's a classic.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/17634775377. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

So I very much did not expect to like this book. I never used to be a big fan of Jane Austen, but I decided to give her another try when I was looking for an audiobook on Overdrive to listen to while sewing. And boy am I glad I did! I relate so much to Elinor, and to tell the truth, I feel like I've discovered a new author. I suppose I just wasn't old enough before. But there's something about it I really loved. Plus it was great to listen to in the car and read on the beach.

6. Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

After intending to read the Princess Academy books for, oh, nearly a year, I finally started them during my lunch break and rather fell in love with the series. Fact is, they're very deep. And as I'd read/was trying to read some rather shallow children's books at around the same time, it was very refreshing to read something like Princess Academy--specifically Palace of Stone. There's a LOT of politics in it, and if you know me at all, you know that will definitely intrigue me. There are also a lot of questions about how you know what's the right thing to do when faced with a difficult decision. Even the romance made me think. And making me think is one of the things that gets a book to stick with me.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/822930319?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=15. Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally

I finally managed to read it. I'd wanted to since I was probably about fifteen or sixteen, and while I kinda wish I'd read it then, I'm glad I read it when I did. It really helped solidify my philosophy on purity and relationships. It did teach me things, though I already knew most of it, but mostly it helped me understand the why. Because it's not enough to know what you believe, you have to know why you believe what you believe. On this one, I wrote a pretty long, detailed review, so I won't say more here. If you missed it when it went up and are curious, just click on the cover photo.

4. The Blades of Acktar by Tricia Mingerink

So I'd been meaning to read these books for a year and a half before I finally did. And then I read all three books that are out in a little over a week and was very glad I'd waited until Defy was out. Because let's just say it was a really good thing my sister (whose room is directly above mine) was not yet asleep when I finished Deny. And also that she'd read the books and knew what my problem was. I wasn't totally without complaint, but really, my only one was about worldbuilding. Essentially, Acktar has to be a fictional country in our world because otherwise they couldn't have the Bible. And much of the story is dependent on Old Testament Bible stories (primarily Daniel). Once I made that a headcanon of mine, it stopped bothering me that they had our history, but even so, it's hard to place it in earth's timeline because of the lack of firearms and presence of "pocket Bibles." That aside, these books are FANTASTIC and I TOTALLY see why everyone loves them.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1775989505?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=13. Firmament: Reversal Zone by J. Grace Pennington

Of course Grace's book is going to be on my list! I've been a fan of Grace's since I read Firmament: Radialloy back in 2013, and I've dragged several family members along with me. Because while Reversal Zone isn't my favorite of the series, it's still absolutely fantastic. I loved getting to spend more time with Andi...and she was the only one I really got to spend time with because everyone else was so messed up. And That. Ending. I really can't wait to find out what happens next. This one also has a detailed review.

2. Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E. Ardnek

You had to know I'd put this book on here. I didn't think I'd like it. I thought it would just be a book I had to get through while waiting for Kendra to give me more Clarand in Love and Memory.  And. Then. Petra and Reuben showed up and shoved Clara and Andrew to second place in the Kendra's Couples Ranking (yes, I totally just made that up). Seriously, though, this book has so much good about it besides just cute couples. So much about redemption and love and forgiveness and mercy and family and I can't recommend it enough. Also a detailed review when you click on the picture.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1211324143?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=11. Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight

And surprised is no one. Am I right? Because as much as I may talk about Rizkaland these days, Ilyon is so super special to me and always will be. Those books are highly treasured. They are to me as a young adult what Narnia was to me as a kid. And that really means something. Jace's struggles in this book are so intense. It's so difficult to read, and yet it means so much more when it's over. Not that his struggles are over--far from it--but this book contains a much longed for break-through. So many questions are answered, Jayrin is finally a thing, and it's just so powerful. I just keep thinking of how wowed I was the first time I read it. It's amazing. Full review when you click on the cover photo. ;)

And I'll go ahead and give honorable mentions to the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and Stars Above by Marissa Meyer because I did really enjoy them, despite some worldview differences that keep them off my top ten list.

Please take a moment to help me refine my blog!

What are your favorite books that you've read this year? Have you read any of the same ones I have?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Plans

♫Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.♫

It always strikes me funny how melancholy the tune sounds even with lyrics like that.


The Christmas season is fun and busy and awesome...and usually each one is different. After all, "Things never happen the same way twice." But that's what makes it exciting.

One thing we always do, though, is decorate. Our Christmas tree is ridiculously crowded with ornaments. So many relatives have given us ornaments, and then we tend to buy more whenever we go to Disney World. The tree may be a bit cluttered, but that's what makes it our tree. We have several little churches, a Nutcracker, some snowmen, several music boxes, and a Nativity set. One year we made a stable out of sticks from the backyard, but, while it was really cool, it was insanely difficult to make. Now I fashion the stable out of Lincoln Logs. And we have two advent calendars. One has an appliqued Christmas tree and little embroidered ornaments hanging on it which we put in pouches for each day of advent. The other is a wooden box with a Nativity on the front...and it has a door for each day, behind which is a piece of candy. We also put lights on the front of our house.

Throughout the Christmas season, we watch lots of Christmas movies and specials. We always watch Charlie Brown, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and usually Frosty the Snowman, and we sometimes end up watching random other ones that come on TV. As far as movies go, we always watch Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story. We also fit in Scrooge because my mom and I like that adaptation best, Disney's A Christmas Carol because most of the family likes that version better, The Santa Clause because it's the only Santa Claus movie I've seen that actually attempts to make it all make sense, The Polar Express, Elf because apparently everyone but me enjoys it, and probably something else I'm forgetting. When we're staying home for Christmas, we watch It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and make homemade doughnuts.

We give each other presents on Christmas morning...well, half the time. Sometimes we visit relatives in Indiana for Christmas, so those years we have our own Christmas a few days early. It's somehow just not the same as doing it on actual Christmas morning, but oh well. Somebody, well, most of us get books every year because we love them so much, and if you're the same way, I've still got some sales going on. ;)

What fills in the rest of the time, well, that's where things get different. For several years, it was stress and busyness due to Nativity Ballet rehearsals (and the Christmas season has never felt the same to me since, even though it's been nine years since my last Nativity). Many times, it's been a trip to Disney. This year, we have a number of things going on.

Some of them have to do with the library. Like the Christmas parade my sisters and I were in last Friday. It was fun except for having a cold. And I'll be helping out with my library's Santa and Polar Express programs too. 

My sisters and I went to a Christmas dance last weekend, which was fun in spite of being sick. I got to dance a lot more than I'd expected, and really enjoyed the evening. We also have a church Christmas party to look forward to.

Not sure if we really have any other big plans--my family is 100% introverted, so we tend to be more of the quiet evening at home sort--but it'll be a good Christmas.

What Christmas traditions does your family have? Anything special you're looking forward to this Christmas?

And before I forget, please take a few moments to fill out my blog content survey. I'm trying to adjust my blog to my readers' needs...partially because I'm constantly drawing blanks on blog post topics. ;)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

♫Because It's Christmas♫

*knock, knock, knock*

♫Could that be Santa? Could that be him? Could it be the one who brings presents for a cucumber like me? A good cucumber like meeeeeee?♫

I must be waxing nostalgic for childhood or something. You do know what I'm talking/singing about, don't you? ;)

So. You're a book lover, or you've got book lovers in your life. I'm sure one or both of those is true, or else you wouldn't be reading this blog. And Christmas is coming up fast. It's a time for giving gifts, and if you're anything like me, you consider books to be the very best kind of gift.

Aaaaand....you may have missed some Black Friday deals on books you wanted to give. Never fear! The book fairy is here! Okay, now I'm just being silly. I'll chalk it up to long days, stress in anticipation of busyness, and a cold. Just go with it.

In all seriousness, though, Christmas sales are not yet over. I'm still running deals on paperbacks through my own website. 20% off individual paperbacks, and if you buy the whole Time Captives set, you get 25% off! Kindle books are at an even better discount: 66% off. And yes, it is possible to gift someone an ebooks. Plus, I'm keeping them all on sale through New Year's, so when you've got Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket, you can still get discounts. Just visit the "My Books" page up there at the top.


Give someone the gift of a grand adventure this Christmas. Because as Emily Dickinson once said, "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away."

And I just HAVE to finish with this:

"I'm from the IRS. And I've come to tax your--"

*door slam*