Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Improvement Of Her Mind

" extensive reading." Tradition has it that we do this thing around this time of year. We look back on the books we read in the past twelve months, and feel very good about ourselves. At least, I do. The list usually ends up being longer than I had hoped and it always makes one feel cultured to see a piece of paper with The Weight of Glory and Psmith, Journalist chivvying for mention. So without further commentary, my list:

Tramp For The Lord by Corrie Ten Boom
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (reread)
Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Notes From The Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson
Psmith, Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse
Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers
Mr. Popper's Penguins by the Atwaters (reread)
Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace (reread)
Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (rearead)
Stuart Little (by “Whatshisface” is what I had written on my list) (reread)
True Men And Traitors by David W. Doyle
Schindler's List by Thomas Kenealy
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson
Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse
Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks
Dearie: The Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer

My list rounds out with The Whimsical Christian by Dorothy Sayers, which I will finish shortly after the new year. I love how, with my governess-ing job picking up this year, I got to include re-reads of some of my childhood favorites with the girls! I hope to include a lot more this coming year. I am also happy with the balance of ten non-fiction titles out of twenty-four. That's nearly a fifty-percent non-fiction ratio, which is the highest I think it has ever been, and the strength of my brain feels it. Hurray for challenges accepted and completed! I can't wait to see what titles will make it onto my list for 2016! And now I want to know: what was your favorite book read this year? For me, I would choose Always Pack A Party Dress, which was basically The Devil Wears Prada incarnate. Just a fascinating read for anyone interested in the wide, intricate world of designer fashion.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Yuletide News

I do sometimes pop back out of the woodwork to say my piece. Not frequently, but frequently enough to hope some of you remember me, Rachel Heffington, the Inkpen Authoress. I bought a new laptop on Cyber Monday and it should be coming soon, which I find thrilling. New things are obviously not the reason for productivity, but they certainly help one feel like sitting down with the laptop for the old writing sesh. I sent "The Spindle and The Queen" out to several beta readers and have pretty roundly decided I will not be sending it into Rooglewood's contest. Instead, I intend to brush it up, expand it here and there, and publish it myself as an e-book sometime mid-winter. The story, word-count, and ending all suggested I go my own route, so as much as I wish all of you luck in the contest, my Sleeping Beauty retelling will not be making an appearance in Five Magic Spindles. I know many of you will understand. To rest, best of luck! I had the chance to peep at the story of one contestant and I'm quite excited to see who makes the cut and which stories are chosen!

In the realm of "consumed literature," I've been reading gobs. Both of actress Mindy Kaling's books were gobbled down between a total sum of three days (not constant reading, either). I'm most of the way through a massive biography on Julia Child, which has been so very eye-opening! I'm threading down the path of Charles Dickens's Dombey & Sons when I think of it, and working on a Civil War romance lent to me by author Meghan Gorecki. The only reason I haven't finished that novel yet is because Mindy Kaling happened. Excuses.

I hope/plan to write another Christmas story this year. In fact, I know I will because I've yet to pass a year when the need to Write Something hasn't seized me by the throat halfway through December. If you're new to the blog, or just want a healthy dose of the feel-goods, might I point you in the way of last year's story, "John Out-the-Window" - it's guaranteed to make you smile. The first part (and all the parts following) can be found by following this link. Gosh, I loved that story.

The most fantastic piece of information I have to announce, though, is the fact that I recently returned from a visit to my fellow "slipper sister," Clara Diane Thompson. We connected quite well over a group video-chat hosted by author Shonna Slayton , kept up afterward, and have continued to grow a wonderful friendship. Clara is just as amazing in person as she seemed to be over FaceTime and emails, and I treasured our five days together. When not writing, Clara works full-time as the sort of events/volunteer coordinator for a sprawling retirement center, which meant that I got to tail her at work one day and give makeovers to all of the precious old ladies. I also got to run their book club for the afternoon! Clara asked me to read one of my short stories and I'm telling you, it's harder than you'd think to find a short enough piece of fiction that is also complete/cheerful enough to read to residents at a nursing home! I enjoyed myself so much, though, and talk of my stories soon became talk of which authors and books were special to the residents. They fished around for memory of Pride & Prejudice's plot and reminisced about waiting for each Nancy Drew mystery to come out. What fun times we had...though one of the ladies sagely suggested I might record myself reading aloud sometime and listen to it to see places I could improve my enunciation and slow my speed so that someone nearly deaf would have an easier time following along. I laughed. And agreed. I cannot wait to see Clara again sometime! She really is darling.

I want to know about you now! How did NaNoWriMo treat all of you? And what is your favorite Christmas story? I foresee my annual re-read of The Christmas Carol in the near future!