Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hail the New, Ye Lads and Lasses!

So we're saying goodbye to 2013, aren't we? Goodbye to a year full of firsts and lasts and possibly more heart-ache and heart-balm and heart-lessons than any year I have yet lived. I don't think I wrote quite as much this year as last or even the year before, but I sure as heck lived and living is always the better half of writing. In numbers, I:

Read 44 books
Rode 10 planes
Touched down in 3 foreign countries (France, Hungary, Romania)
Counseled at 2 camps
Led 2 Student Action Teams
Wrote 90 posts here (this makes 90! I love even numbers)
Baked 1 cheesecake 
Listened to 4 seasons of Cabin Pressure
Watched 3 seasons of Downton Abbey
Read 6 Penelope Wilcock books
Went to 1 wedding
Went to 1 funeral

So much life was jammed into this last twelve-month. So many good things among the tough that I can't help but thank God for it and ask for another year of such productive, adventurous, tumultuous soul-growth. Yes, bits were hard but bits were beautiful too and I'm not sure but the beautiful bits far outweighed the rough. There is so much to look forward to in 2014! For one thing, the publication of Fly Away Home! In six weeks (please God) you'll be able to buy a copy of this book...so many of you have been around since I first started writing it; I consider you its dear aunts and uncles and it's been a treasure to have your support.

"Adventura". That was the word for 2013, though I didn't set out to choose a word. I love it when people choose a theme for their year, but I am a sensible soul, all things considered, and I prefer seeing what the year handed me at the end. Adventura = adventure with a lot of soul things attached to it. That's not the literal translation but that's what it means to me and my friends and family. I am excited to live 2014 and see what I'll be telling you a year hence. What things will have changed? What things will be the same? I don't know. But what I do know is that it is a year planned in the Book of History. A year that has been in God's view since time before time...and I cannot wait to take part in it. :)
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord God has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of our Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all those who mourn, to grant to those in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes." -Isaiah 61:1-3
Have a lovely New Year, darlings.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 in Readables

Per usual, Abigail beat me to the punch with her 2013 Books-Read list, so if it looks like I'm being a copy-cat, fie upon that. This year was actually a rather productive year, reading-wise. I always forget to update my Goodreads page, preferring to keep a hand-written sheet of the titles I've read. There is something so much more satisfying about chalking up another one by hand over just typing in a few more words on my laptop.

Forty-Four, that page says. And forty-four good ones, I think.

Penelope Wilcock's Hawk & Dove trilogy
(I devoted an entire post and a guest-post to these books. Read them.)
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
(I need say very little more except that it is thoroughly underlined by now.)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
(Read it and weep and hurt and love.)

I'm going to categorize the rest of the list. This was a good year, book-wise, and I would recommend pretty much any of the books I read as being clean if not terribly captivating. (Looking at you, Beverly Lewis ;) Of course you must use your own judgement, but as I'm not in the habit of reading Twilight or stupid Harlequin romances (and not much fluffery either) you can be pretty-well sure I'm not going to recommend trash. If you don't have time to read the whole list just pick your favorite category and have a look at the books I read there this year. :)

1066 And All That by RJ Yeatmen, W.C. Sellar
The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.
The Secret Armies by Albert Merrin
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

//Theology & Life//
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Every Living Thing by James Herriot

Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
P.D. James Talking About Detective Fiction

The Final Crumpet by Ron & Janet Benray
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

//Historical Fiction//
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite d'Angeli
The Hawk & the Dove by Penelope Wilcock
God's Wounds by Penelope Wilcock
The Long Fall by Penelope Wilcock
The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock
The Hour Before Dawn by Penelope Wilcock
Remember Me by Penelope Wilcock

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer
The Covenant by Beverly Lewis
The Betrayal by Beverly Lewis
The Sacrifice by Beverly Lewis
Fire by Night by Lynn Austin

The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer
The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

//General Fiction//
Bertie Wooster Sees it Through by P.G. Wodehouse
Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Spring Fever by P.G. Wodehouse
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Manalive by G.K. Chesterton
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

As I look back on this year, the list pleases me. There are so many memories tied into the books themselves or my reading of them, and I am glad to see I have rather a balanced diet of weighty-to-fluff, though I am sad I didn't get to Dickens this year! For Christmas I was given Orthodoxy by Chesterton (at last!) and The Red House Mystery of A.A. Milne (thrilled about this one) along with a gorgeous hardbound, illustrated copy of The Hobbit by Tolkien, and I have promised to read Jill Willliamson's newest novel, Outcasts, by the end of January so my reading will continue! If I finish any others by the end of the December, I shall certainly let you know. :) What do your reading lists look like?

Monday, December 23, 2013

I have something to announce:

I have hinted around for some time about changes that are going on, exciting projects I am in the midst of, news about my books, and several other things. Some have said that if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck. (unless it is a goose, in which case I think you're being over-particular.) In the same vein but in an altogether more refined way, you have probably put two and two together:

This winter I am striking off on my own as an Independent Publisher/Author. What this means is that I am starting my own imprint for my books and will be going through a printing/publishing company to bring my novels to your hands. This step was one I deliberated for quite some time. After prayer, long discussions with my writer-counselor-friends and family members, many mornings of thinking it through while washing dishes, and my general good sense, I have chosen Indie publishing as my route.
At first, I feared I was giving up - not pressing through to wait till a publisher accepted me. But my reasons for independent publishing were not that I was impatient and tired of working and waiting. I looked at my talents, my vision, my dreams, my style, and realized that I am never going to be one of those people whom an editor can tack down as their next what-have-you. I don't like being nailed to one genre. I write what I want to read, and if other people like it then hip-hip-hurrah. I love my little public but it has never been my vision to be world-famous author. I only seek to be well-loved, not famous. To write my books and bring my stories forward without someone else's opinion on "what's trendy" is my dream. Actually, I'm reminded of the character that inspired Mr. Barnett from my short-story, "How About Coffee?":
"I never asked for fame and fortune--I never sought it," he said. "I am a mere whim of these people: here today, gone tomorrow." He moved his fingers as if sprinkling chaff to the wind, then smiled. "Why should I care for the opinion of Society when society chose me itself? Let it raise me and lower me as it will. I am the same man it found me at the first."
That is the whole of my sentiments regarding why I am choosing independent publishing, and proud of it! For me and my books, I am confident this is the best method. That being stated, I am pleased to announce that Fly Away Home will be released Winter 2014 with a projected debut-date of Valentine's Day! Perfect release date for a romance, right? I have been working with cover-designer Rachel Rossano and we have been concocting something beautiful. Well, she has been concocting it. ;) I cannot wait to show you!

Over the next month or two this blog will be a mad hattery of celebration, updates, trivia, announcements, and generally wonderful things! February 2014 - mark that on your calendars and stay tuned for more information on the release of Fly Away Home!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Adventus Poetry

And sometimes you sit down to write a blog post and end up with a shard of real-homesickness that takes the form of this:


Pregnant, weighted.
Breath is baited
Hope has faded
With the night
Silent, holy,
Wanting solely
To be healed from
stabbing fright.
What if all this--
love and peace-kiss--
falls in dust
of crumbled prayers;
Nothing left but
hearts that slam shut,
hands that claw
and empty stares?
Lord, deliver!
Rend the shiver
As our swollen
bodies lie
In the dark net
of the "not yet"
where we, wandering,
fear to die.
Filling tombs
And swelling wombs
And still we wait
and watch in vain;
Has Heaven, blank night,
Turned from the sight
Of our wounds
And formless pain?
Silence deepens,
Hillside steepens,
Voices roughen
Like a blow
Question pours out
stubborn, draws doubt:
Poisoned arrow
On a bow.
Waiting, clinging,
Sighing, singing
In our half-lit
Lord, deliver!
Rend the shiver
Bring forth joy
From barren wombs.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Order to Know Fewer

"We read a good novel not in order to know more people, but in order to know fewer. Instead of the humming swarm of human beings, relatives, customers, servants, postmen, afternoon callers, tradesmen, strangers who tell us the time, strangers who remark on the weather, beggars, waiters, and telegraph-boys--instead of this bewildering human swarm which passes us every day, fiction asks us to follow one figure (say the postman) consistently through his ecstasies and agonies. That is what makes one impatient with that type of pessimistic rebel who is always complaining of the narrowness of his life and demanding a larger sphere. Life is too large for us as it is: we have all too many things to attend to. All true romance is an attempt to simplify it, to cut it down to plainer and more pictorial proportions. What dullness there is in our life arises mostly from its rapidity; people pass us too quickly to show us their interesting side. By the end of the week we have talked to a hundred bores; whereas, if we had stuck to one of them, we might have found ourselves talking to a new friend, or a humorist, or a murderer, or a man who had seen a ghost."

~G.K. Chesterton: 'The Inside of Life.'
 Just thought you might be able to use a little Chesterton in your lives today. This week I've had the privilege to put my writing skills to good use up at my brother's organization. I've had honest-to-goodness real writing jobs to do. Not that I'm getting paid for it, but it is excellent practice and was actually assigned by the director of the organization who told the fellow in charge of the project, "She's a writer. A good one."  Not to put any pressure on me or anything. ;) Anyway, my words have been full of North Korea, South Korea, and Japan (not in Mirriam Neal's way ;) and I've been having fun. We took off after work last night and went into DC which never fails to inspire and delight. I wrote a little something this morning that may end up here after a little polishing. If you remember "Small Sight," that short-story I wrote last year, that was inspired by DC as well. 

On another note, my eye is twitching which feels awful.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December's Chatterbox and I Survived The Silence-Month

I am almost done with this blogging break. I shall be back round here for good starting Friday. In some ways a month seems too short--I had not realized how stressed I was until I actually took a load of things out of my life (Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest). My goal this month was to get back in touch with real life enough that my first impulse upon experiencing a thing wasn't: "This will make a great blog post!" or "Let me Instagram this!" Ridiculous as it sounds, I had been living life with an unconsciously materialistic viewpoint so that each little bit of life only served to be ground into flour with which to make my writing pancakes. I started the month with an eye to get a lot of writing done in the interim. What happened instead is that I lived a creative month, but from the writing standpoint, it was unproductive. And you know what? I am okay with that. I had sapped so much creativity for so long without putting anything back into the fund that my well was running dry.

I took a rest month and I'm sure my brain is the better for it.

What did that month look like? Well, in pictures, it went something like this:

Filling a quote-book with favorites

Experiments in cookery: pomegranate-orange cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, anyone?

Making jewelry. You can buy this neat poetry-ring in The Warren!

breaking my brain over geometry to enlarge by hand a 5x5 photo of Audrey onto four different 12x12 canvases

Having fun with celery as a stamp. :)

A sweet friend gifted me with an UNDERWOOD TYPEWRITER. Guys. This is the brand Callie uses. I may or may not have legitimately freaked out and bounced up and down and made excited noises and yelled when the "ding" went off.

started over with my 1000 Gifts list

Made a batch of cuties. <3
So yeah. My life has been touched by a bit of drama. I have led a quiet, peaceable, gentle life this month and I feel refreshed, relaxed, and loved. God is good, whether or not I am on a brilliant roll with my writing. That being said, I have been hard at work this month applying the final edits I made a couple months back for Fly Away Home and I will have some exciting news forthcoming about that novel. Secondly, I feel like I know Vivi and Farnham pretty well at this point which comes from just thinking about these characters for a month, reading up on Northamptonshire, and a goodly dose of James Herriot. I look forward to digging into the story with a concentrated effort soon. And speaking of The Warren, if you are looking for Christmas gifts for any of your writing/reading/word-smashing friends, check out the 20% off sale! Everything in The Warren is 20% off until Christmas and I will be continuing to add new products all month so stay tuned. :)

The main purpose of this post, though, was to announce December's Chatterbox! You know the ropes, and if you somehow missed what this Chatterbox thing is about, just click on the label below and read all about it. It's a barrel of fun. This month's topic?
I can't wait to read all your posts on this topic! Mythology in any society is an interesting thing. I want to see your characters talking about it! Maybe some of them swear by the myths of their world, maybe others are skeptical, maybe others are creators or participators in those myths. Whatever the case may be, I want to hear about it! Sorry this challenge is late this month! I have (obviously) been away. I have missed all of you and look forward to catching up about the things I have missed this month.