Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 31

Today's nutcracker is a stocking holder. He has a broken base, however, so he doesn't work for his intended job. (Which is why my two stockings are on the wall using push pins, rather than suspended from him.)

Included in this picture is a selection of my nutcracker video collection. Missing is a Nutcracker on Ice (skated with an Olympic Gold Medalist as Clara ... can't think of her name of the top of my head at the moment, however), possibly another NoI, and Barbie's Nutcracker. There are possibly more, but I can't think of them at the moment.

The one at the bottom of the stack under my nutcracker is, quite possibly, the most book-accurate ballet out there, and it's high in my favorites. I have certainly seen it more often than any other version.

And today is the last day of the year. I was considering showing you the last five nutcrackers of my collection (I have two that I forgot to take pictures of when I did the picture shoot, and then three that I got for Christmas this year), but I might not. We'll see another day.

A popular thing to do on the last day of the year is to look back at that year and see how you did.

Personally, I don't think I did half bad.

In January, I started babysitting my four cousins for my aunt. I also started writing the second draft of The Ankulen out by hand, and worked on typing up Do You Take This Quest? 

In February, I turned eighteen, realized that I now needed to discover my identity, lost the use of my library card, had a wonderful blog party and got kidnapped by a king. I don't think I've been rescued yet. They were trying to solve Kendra's Clues ...

In March ... I frankly don't remember March. It marched right past me. Was that the month that I sewed buttons on dresses for orphans in Africa? I'm going to pretend it is. (I can't keep up with a sewing machine, so I wasn't fast enough to sew the dresses, but I was quite good at adding those little finishing touches.

In April, I released the Kindle version of Do You Take This Quest? It was interesting. My sister fainted and could no longer volunteer at the horse place until she gets an okay from a doctor. (She still hasn't gotten it, by the way ... for complicated reasons akin the the reason that I still don't have a working library card.)

In May I purchased a new computer (my old one had died in December of '12) and I promptly vlogged for the first time.

In June, I released the paperback version of Take, had a party, and did a few critique swaps ... although I didn't do very good at holding up my end ... I gave a valiant effort however!

In July, my sister turned sixteen and got a job so she could earn some money to get herself back to the horse place, and she started to have something called a reliable income .... which is something I didn't have much of .... I participated in Actually Finishing Something in July, though I didn't really finish anything. I did paint a bracelet, though.

In August, I talked about world building as marketing buildup for The Ankulen.

In September, I released The Ankulen and started pestering my sister to bring me home an application so I could start getting a reliable income too.

In October, I read a bunch of Science Fiction as research for NaNo.

In November, I won NaNo, and was hired by the place my sister works.

In December, I talked about Nutcrackers. A lot. And I made a lot of progress on My Kingdom for a Quest. My sister has also quit her job, though I'm still there, since they were giving her more hours than she wanted, and she was not getting enough sleep, falling behind on her school work, and was on the verge of an asthma attack. I'm still doing fine, however, though my fingers are a bit sore from the touchscreen and my feet are killing me. Oh, and I've finally, finally have learned Punch embroidery, which has been my New Year's resolution since I was ten or so.

I'll talk about my plans for 2014 tomorrow, though as heads up, I would like to publish at least my next short story collection and Kingdom. Oh, and I get to see Hobbit 2 tomorrow! (At least, I think that's the plan). I'm so excited!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 30

Today's nutcracker is on a towel. Holding a tray of desserts. Yummy.

It was a Christmas present from my adopted uncle and aunt.

Don't panic.

I can't think of anything more to say about it.

So I'm going to talk about a new blogging scheme of mine that I'm going to begin next month. Over the last few years, I've slowly become aware of "fans" that aren't used for artificial cooling, but instead are people who really like things. In particular, a lot of people are fans of movies or books. This doesn't mean that they cool the movies or books down, just that the really like them. Enough that they draw fan art, write fan fiction, devote blogs to the books and other such strange things.

And you know something? As an author, I think it'd be really cool if I could have a few of these fans for my own books. Wouldn't it be cool to see fan art of Robin and Robert and other such interesting things?

And this lead me to the thought that maybe some other authors might enjoy having a fan or two themselves.

So starting January, I'm going to choose an author, series, or book and become its fan. It will be a book or series that I have already read and loved, and possibly reviewed over at O.Scarlett. It will not be a popular book, and will probably be indie-published, like my books, and it will definitely not have a huge existing fan base.

Because, after all, feels aren't just for popular books.

As the fan of this book, I will:
Read or reread the book/series/everything the author wrote.
Draw some fan art. (Won't promise it'll be good, but I'll make a valiant attempt)
Do at least one Character Analysis.
Do some Quote thingies ... (Uh ... what are they called? Pictures that have quotes from the books on them, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.)
Post reviews over at O.Scarlett (Unless the reviews are already written. In that case I'll just point you to them)
Buy the books. Probably kindle versions, though since I now have a job, I may feel generous and buy paperbacks. If I already own the book/series/everything the author wrote, I will purchase the Kindle version as a giveaway for one of my readers.
Possibly write Fan fiction. This'll depend on how bold I am.
Contact the author and ask for an interview. And hope that they won't mind a short notice ...
Anything else I can think of or someone else might suggest.

As you can tell, this is a brilliant idea, and I'm quite willing to let any of you join me and become fans with me. You can do the same book/series/author I'm doing, or you can chose your own - as long as there isn't an existing fan base. The point of this is to make unknown authors feel famous. Because its something every author deserves, isn't it? Perhaps later I'll have the brainpower to put together a button that you guys can steal ...

January's series will be the Makilien Trilogy by Molly Evangeline, since I just got around to reviewing its last book and it's fresh on my mind. Since I have all three in kindle version, this means that I'll probably be hosting a giveaway.

Looking forward to 2014! (Though it's scary how quickly it approacheth ... and I'm still far from finished with any of my books that I want to publish next month ... I'd better get busy.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 29

Today's nutcracker is a snowman. I got him from Christmas last year from my mom and dad. I saw him at Target, noticed that he was cheap, and talked my parents into getting him for me.

I didn't have a snowman nutcracker yet, you see. He'd be a perfect addition to my collection. And since at that time, I wasn't aware of any other nutcrackers that would become mine that Christmas (though I later got the sworded one), I really wanted him.

And yes, I have a larger font size and picture for this post. I want it to look longer without having it really be longer. I'm tired.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 28

Today's nutcracker is a mug. I have several mugs that I'm the only one that's allowed to use them. Most of them are giraffe-themed, one has a K on it, and one is a nutcracker.

I don't remember who got me this mug. I don't use it as often as my giraffe or K mugs, but not because I don't love it. The others are larger and therefore last longer, that's all.

On another note ... we swung by my public library to drop off books yesterday on the way to our grandparents for Christmas round two (still have two or three rounds to go, but we're getting there!) and THEY FINALLY HAVE MY BOOKS!!!!!! At the moment it's only Sew and Ankulen, but I suspect that at least Take is purchased but isn't yet through the system. Yeah, I know that in my first CE with Robin last October I implied that they already had it, but they didn't yet. I was indulging in fantasy. But now they actually have it! They're both in the YA department, and while I would have preferred the Bookanias in JF, I don't mind.

So, for all of my local readers - you can now get my books at the library!

I almost didn't recognize Sew, though, since it's the new cover, and believe it or not, I've only seen the new cover in physical form only once before and that was only for a few minutes a few weeks ago when I signed some personal copies for one of the librarians. (And no, these aren't the same books on the shelf, since they aren't signed.)

Yes, this is very exciting for me. Also, I've ordered a huge box of my books for personal reasons (and this includes your book, Tom!), so I'm really excited there, too. Ah, the freedom that having a real job affords one.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 27

I have two stockings that stay up all year round in a corner of my room that's not easy to see. One of them is the one my mother made me with Blue the Puppy sledding down a hill, the other ....

Yeah, you guessed it, has nutcrackers on it. You're really smart. (No brain, there's no need to start singing the "We just figured out blues clues" song. Even if you are half-asleep.)

I think my Grammy gave me this stocking.

I can't think of anything else to say, except for the fact that I'm about to drive myself crazy with this punch embroidery business. I've been wanting to learn since I was eight or nine, and now I'm finally getting around to it ... and it's not as easy as I always thought it'd be.

I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

Oh, and the fact that a song appeared in my head on Sunday (completely original song, mind you, not something I've heard before) and I now have a brand new plot idea. I've even given it a board on Pinterest. It's a very interesting plot idea, and I'm having fun watching it grow and form. I have a villain and hero picked out, and my villain is wonderfully three dimisional already. The hero still has some growing to do, and I can't, for the life of me, remember what I've named him ... it started with an "I" however ... Ishboseth? No, that wasn't it ...

Anyways, I'll be back tomorrow with a new nutcracker and possibly a sensible brain.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 26

Okay, so Christmas is technically over ... but I haven't opened presents with all of my family, and I have, by no means, exhausted my store of nutcrackers. So guess what? More Nutcracker Advent!

Today's nutcracker is a paint-it-yourself that you can sometimes find in craft stores. He was a present from my adopted aunt and uncle (she adopted my Grammy shortly after her second daughter was born), and I've never bothered to paint him.

I don't think I shall. I like the natural, all-wood look. Makes him unique.

Oh, and a thank you to everyone who downloaded my books yesterday. Sew and Derao are still free, so if you missed yesterday, you can still get those to.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 25

Thank you for coming. Have a Merry Christmas!

Oh, wait, I'm off work today. I don't have to thank you for coming and ordering food from me ... Not that I'm not grateful that you're here (instead of, say, enjoying Christmas with your family), but you're not ordering food from me.

On that note, Thank you for coming.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Today's nutcracker is only a year old, since I got him for Christmas from my Gma and Gpa last year. I had asked for a sword, but they couldn't find one, so they got me a nutcracker with a sword instead. It worked.

He's currently tied for favorite with the nutcracker I featured yesterday. Yesterday's rates slightly higher, but not by much.

Oh, and since I'm unable to send all of you, my lovely readers, physical copies of your books this Christmas (I may have a job now, but I don't make THAT much), I have set every single one of my long books for free today, and the Derao, because the Derao is my favorite of the short stories and I wrote it at Christmas time.

And once more, before I go, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 24

Today's Nutcracker is currently tied for favorite. Until last Christmas, he was, hands down, my favorite, but I got a Nutcracker last year that was equally awesome, so I'm now officially torn between the two.

There really isn't much to say about this one, other than the fact that he's the only Nutcracker in my possession with brown eyes and brown hair. And I like brown-eyed men for some odd reason. And he's covered in jewels, that mean's he's rich - right?

So he's my first pick when it comes to them coming to life and marrying me. I'm sure he's got a great personality - that comes with being a nutcracker, right?

No, I don't remember where I got him from, though if my mom would like to refresh my memory, she's welcome to do so.

And on another note, two of my books are free today - "The Derao" and Sew, It's a Quest. If you haven't read them, head over to Amazon and get your kindle copies now. And as a heads up, both Take and The Ankulen will be free tomorrow ONLY. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 23

After showing you my tiniest nutcracker yesterday, I'm now going to show you the biggest one. That isn't a plastic wall hanger.

Actually, she isn't a nutcracker, she's Marie (which is her name in the book, and I like to differentiate her from the others), and while that cloth part on her chest does open and close, it doesn't have the same effect as the manly ones.

That aside, she's a lovely lady, and she does carry a real nutcracker, and she will probably make her a part of The Nutcracker's Son, if I ever get around to writing that interesting story.

I got Marie for my thirteenth birthday, which is something I remember quite clearly. I had a surprise party, you see ... and I had no idea about it until about five seconds after they yelled surprise. Best birthday ever. (And do not get me started, because I can talk about this party all day long)

She was a gift from my Gma and Gpa, and I distinctly remember wondering what that huge tube on the table might be. It looked too short to be golf clubs again ...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 22

The Ken Nutcracker is not the only Nutcracker that I received from Micky D's. Several years before, they had a 101 Dalmatians theme, and one of them was a spinning top which had a nutcracker in his mouth. Or, at least, I like to believe that it's a Nutcracker. I may be wrong and it's just a toy soldier ...

I don't know that I personally received him from McDonalds, it may have come from a friend or a garage sale. It's hard to tell with these things.

On the note of 101 Dalmations, I've seen the animated movie, read the book and read the book sequel. Personally, the book is best and the sequel is even better. My humble opinion, you know.

And on the note of books, as a heads up, I will have one short story and all three of my long works free at various times this week as a Christmas present to all of you. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 21

I was asked early this month if I had any big nutcrackers. Frankly, I believe that huge is a relative term. Is big anything over a foot tall, or does it have to be as tall as I am?

That philosophical debate aside, I'd like to introduce you to my biggest nutcracker. Although, technically if I scrunch him down into a ball, he's not that big ... but that's beside the point. He's my biggest nutcracker

I acquired him at the annual garage sale hosted by our local Pro-Life organization. At one time I had him on a door in my bedroom, but when I moved to my current room, I no longer had as many doors.

So currently, he's a scrunched up ball on my floor, unscrunched only long enough to take this picture.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 20

While I was never able to acquire the official Nutcracker/Prince Eric Ken, I did manage to get the McDonald's version in my Happy Meal. I also managed to collect the Clara ... but I couldn't find her for the purpose of this picture, so we'll have to do without. You saw the real deal yesterday, and she's much prettier.

And for people's information, Prince Eric of Winthrop's name did not come from the Barbie-ized version of Nutcracker. Nor did it come from the Little Mermaid (though I must admit that they look similar enough to be cousins ...) It actually came from my mom's attempt to give him a manly name ... and she came up with Arraclee (You know, think Hercules). Later when I brought up his name in a conversation, she declared it dumb and morphed it into Eric Lee. My mom does that sort of thing a lot.

And there's only five days until Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where did the year go? Honestly, I haven't made a single Christmas present (other than the fact that I'm going to have several free books, just a heads-up), nor have I been able to put up a tree other than the tiny one in these pictures. I went on a tree hunt yesterday, and couldn't find the nice big one that we used to have. I wasn't very happy. I need my tree fix.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 19

When Barbie Nutcracker came out, I was very excited. I wasn't big into barbies, but they weren't bad. And anything Nutcracker had to be good, right?

Unfortunately, they made far too many liberties with the plot, and didn't make a single reference to the book, so I was disappointed. Besides, being their first movie, the animation was clunky.

Honestly, the Sugar Plum Princess??????? She's a FAIRY!!!!!!!!! AND SHE'S NOT CLARA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However, that didn't keep me from putting a Clara and Nutcracker Barbie and Ken on the top of my wishlist. And I got the Clara (complete with book version of the movie, which I actually don't mind reading), after sighting her on sale at a Mall toy store. Unfortunately, once prices were reasonable, I couldn't find a single Nutcracker (Unless he was dark-skinned, and while I have nothing against dark-skinned people, I wanted the pair to match). So Clara's had to live only and lonely (well, except for Tabitha, her best friend and my other barbie, but we're not going to get into that right now).

I have a lot of fun stories concerning her, for despite not liking the movie as an adaptation of my beloved ballet, I can appreciate it on its level ... and have even plotted out a sequel ... with Tabitha the Ice Princess. And, Tabitha and Jess, my American Girl Doll inspired my story idea Jessica's Summer. Clara is Spring, by the way. She just strikes me as a Springy person.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 18

 Today's nutcracker held the position of my favorite for a very long time. Any time I needed a random nutcracker for pictures or cake or anything. He was the one I grabbed. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the picture of me dressed up as Clara dancing around with him, but I did find the cake.

Yes, I said cake. You see, when I turned nine, I wanted a nutcracker birthday party. And my Grammy was amazing with cakes. So she asked for a representative from my collection. I provided this one. And she make a cake.

Amazing, isn't it? And that's not even the best picture taken - just the only one my mom could find.

And no, I do not know who gave him to me, though I'm pretty sure I didn't buy him for myself. Yes, he's a bit plain as far as my nutcrackers go, but he's got a lot of memories (edible and otherwise) that I'd never be able to let him go. Besides, he's got a nice sword. Perfect for killing annoying mice.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 17

Remember the nutcracker with the cracked face? Well, it was only a few years after I received him that another broken nutcracker appeared on my Grammy's shelf. This one was missing his feet.

So I naturally started hinting that I'd like him. I didn't have a nutcracker that didn't have feet at that time you see. And I wanted him.

As with the one with the cracked face, Grammy tried to talk me out of it, even hinted that it had been bought for someone else (much to my horror) but when Christmas came around and I opened my package from her, there he was, and he's been mine ever since. I can't admit that he's my favorite nutcracker. Save for his feet, there's nothing particularly unique about him. But he's survived through a few purges, and he I do pity his handicap.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nutcracker Day 16

I have no idea where I got today's nutcracker, and neither does anyone I've talked to. Mother thought I got him with the German and clown nutcrackers, but I know for a fact that he came later. Not only did I only have money for only two nutcrackers, I didn't have him during the Great War. (And thus he doesn't have a weapon. Sorry.)

However part of me wants to say that I got Patrick here from my Gpa. Just a random guess.

And yes, he has a name. What else would I name an Irish nutcracker covered with shamrocks? He be a lucky fellow, ye know?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 15

Today's nutcracker was also a gift from my Grammy, though if I remember right, there was far less persuasion involved in the acquisition as yesterday's required.

He is a "Wise Man," and my only dark-skinned nutcracker. He's also one of the few with a name. Balthazar, based on the name given to the dark-skinned wise man according to legend.

On whim, I decided to add a book to this picture. And since there was a wise man, I decided to have a book that had a wise man ...

And the natural answer was Ben-Hur. I've read most of the book, but I'm not quite finished with it yet. Same with the movie which I also own. (There's an interesting story there. Ask me to tell it to you some time!) I really need to finish both ... despite some theological errors, it's a very good book. (And a really great movie, though liberties were taken). And I have it on book on tape on my MP3 player, so I really don't have any accuse.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 14

 Several years ago, as it was nearing Christmas time, I walked into my Grammy and Papa's bedroom and saw, on a shelf, the handsomest nutcracker I had ever seen. Sure, there was a huge crack across his face, but that only added to his charm (and upped his chances of coming to life).

Immediately I began suggesting that I would like to add it to my collection. Perhaps these suggestions bordered into the realm of begging, but I'd like to think that I was, at all times, completely civil about the whole affair.

But no matter how hard I persuaded, Grammy seemed adamant that I would never come to own that beautiful, beautiful nutcracker.

Imagine my joy and delight when, come Christmas, I opened one of Grammy's presents to find him inside! My persuasion had worked!

Though in hindsight, I suspect that it had been bought for me to begin with. Grammy was just trying to lead me astray.

I think he came after the great battle, though if he didn't, his huge candy cane was probably his weapon.

And he's one of my few nutcrackers who has a lady-love that's neither me nor an official Clara. Hanging on his arm at all times is my china doll, Ulrica. (Who is, by the way, the Queen of Germany, but that's a story for another day.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kendra the Author

And now for part two of Cait and Mime's linkup!

1. How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!)
I only wrote one full book this year, The Ankulen's second draft, and it ended up at 70,000+ words. But I also worked on most of my other books.

Just Another Sci-Fi Novel 50,000
The New Division 16,000
Half-Hidden 10,000
Behind the Rainbow 2,000
Water Princess, Fire Prince 50 notebook pages, which turns into 12,500 words at my average squish (how many words I can fit onto one page, my record's nearly 350 words, but it's usually closer to 250)
My Kingdom for a Quest 45 notebook pages, 11,000 words
Worth of a King 3 chapters at 1,400 words, 1,200 words, and 1,600 words.
And I've worked on some short stories which rack up another 3,000, 2,500, 1,500, and 1,400 words.

Which all together is over 184,000 words, since I was rounding down, which is pretty epic all things considered. I think I shall attempt to double that for next year ... 

2. Which was your favourite to write?
Shish-kabobs. Quaggleshump. Jump-rope. Popcorn.

You're making me CHOOSE!

Well, if I have to make this difficult decision, I think I shall have to go with Water Princess, Fire Prince, simply because I've been working on it the longest, and because I love its plot and characters.

3. Which was the hardest to write?
My Kingdom for a Quest. Ugh. That book is constantly getting itself stuck. I'm breezing through it fine right now, however!

4. Tell us about you favourite Male Character you wrote this year!
Derek from The Ankulen. Having grown up with very few peers of the opposite gender, I often struggle with writing them as characters. But both my Grandma and Aunt Viv (who both grew up as only daughters with two brothers, and Grandma raised three boys) say that I pulled Derek off pretty well.

Derek had a very bad childhood, including, but not limited to, his parents divorcing and his mother adamantly not wanting him. He wants a family, but has been burned so badly, he's wary of anyone who tries to get close to him. In the first draft of the book, he was a complete jerk, but in the second draft ... eep. He's a great guy, despite how annoying he can be, and he makes a great big brother.

5. And how about your favourite Female Character?
This one's even worse, because I love all of my gals. But since I have to choose, I'll go with Analyssa Stardrana from Half-Hidden, the titular half-hidden. She's one of my rebellious princesses, but she's not in-your-face about it. Her mother's people hunt wyrmen and ride dragons, so she spends much of her time doing that. But when she's at home with her father's people, she's as proper a princess as you could ask for ... though she can be quite haughty when in the presence of a potential suitor.

6. Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?
Tisha and Chris from The Ankulen, and the short story "The Adventure of the Sun Jewel" where they are even more sidekicky than in the main novel (despite the fact that Jenny declares it Chris's adventure).

They are figments of Jen's imagination, but because she has an Ankulen, she was able to bring them to life as a child. Sir Chrisofer is her personal protector, and Fair Maiden Letitia is her best friend. At least, they were until they managed to get out of her imaginary world and install themselves as Jen's brother and sister ... a stunt that Jen was not impressed with.

7. Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn't go together as expected?
Plenty of romances. A and M in Just Another SciFi; Clara and Andrew, the titular Water Princess and Fire Prince; Obsidia and Delaney in Worth of a King; Jyson and Stardrana in Half-Hidden. A romance between two side characters in The Ankulen. Oh, and everyone in My Kingdom for a Quest. That's complicated.

But as for anyone not coming together as expected, that didn't happen, unless you count the fact that Clara has finally decided that Andrew isn't half-bad after all much sooner than I had initially intended. I realized that I needed to have them working together before the climatic battle, you see.

8. What's your favourite Pinterest Board for one of your books? Can we see some pics for the book they inspire?
I think that would be the board for the Rizkaland Legends, to which Water Princess, Fire Prince belongs.

And sure, I'll show you some pics!
Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest 
Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

9. What challenges did you compete in this year? (NaNos? Personal goals? Challenges run by other blogs?) And how did you go?

I did and won NaNo. I attempted and gave up on July's NaNo (Where I got most of Half-Hidden's word count), I did and completed the first 100-for-100 over at Go Teen Writers, and I attempted the second, but realized that it was intruding on projects that were much more important. I did Actually Finishing Something In July hosted by Whisperings of the Pen, though I didn't do as good as I wanted to.

As for personal goals, I published The Ankulen and Do You Take This Quest. The latter was supposed to be out last December, but ... anyways. Ankulen got out on the day I intended!

10. Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.
Most of my books have these epicly huge casts that I can barely keep up with (but have tons of fun doing so), and if I were to do any of them, we'd be here all day. But The Ankulen actually had a pretty small, self contained cast, and I've hunted down pictures of almost everyone, so I'll do it.

Via Pinterest
Jen, the main character, narrator, and possessor of the ultimate case of writer's block. This girl actually needs more freckles, but everything else about her is pretty good.

Via Pinterest
Jen as a child ... back when she was called Jenny, and right after she developed her Writer's Block. And there is an important plot reason for her being in black and white.

Via Pinterest
Fair Maiden Letitia. Jen's former best friend, now here resented adopted sister. She's in black and white for a similar reason.

Via Pinterest
Sir Christofer, Jen's valiant protector. He was trapped in Jen's imagination after she discovered the whole getting out and becoming a sibling mess, so he's still a kid. Which was pretty interesting.

Via Pinterest
Megan, the girl Jen's parents were supposed to adopt. She's so sweet and innocent, despite being fifteen. She provided such a nice balance for the grudge-holding Jen once she entered the story.

Via Pinterest
Derek, the boy Jen's parents were supposed to adopt, and Megan's complete opposite. He was so cynical and jaded ... but I've talked about him earlier, so I won't say anything more.

11. Epic quote(s) you wrote?

Arthur carefully selected an arrow and fitted it to his bowstring. He drew back, carefully aimed, then let it fly.
It missed the target by a good three feet.
"You're improving!"
Arthur turned to see his cousin, Robert, who was endevoring to teach him archery. "I was closer the last time."
"Yes, but your form is better this time." Robert claimed the bow from Arthur, selected an arrow from his quiver, fitted it to the string, and fired. The arrow flew straight to the target and sank soundly in the bull's eye. "No one masters archery in a day. You've only been at it two weeks. Give it time."
"How long did it take you?"
Robert slid the bow onto his back and gathered up the arrows and trust them into the quiver. "A week and a half."
- My Kingdom for a Quest

 “What dost thou plan to do?”
“Oh, read Fibonacci’s Rabbits for the one thousand and fiftieth time, discover the one hundredth twenty-third place in pi, roam the garter, talk with my birds, and, if I can squeeze it in, boredly watch as quinces try to rescue me.”
“Ah, thou dost have a busy day ahead of thee! I hope that thou mayest get it all done!”
Doranna sighed. “Well, if I get started at once, I just might!” She glanced at the mirror for a moment, trying to perfect her expression of complete and utter boredom, but instead burst into laughter. Maria soon joined her, shaking her head in amusement.
“Any other princess,” said Maria, as their mirth died down, “wouldst be in tears after spending … how long has it been? Fifty? Sixty? Seventy years trapped in a castle caught in time. But thou, Princess Doranna, thou art a wonder.”
“Seventy-seven years and three hundred and three days,” said Doranna, automatically. She sighed. “Verily, it hast been far too long. I tire of my confidence, yet my only other opinion is unsinkable.”
- "Woodcutter Quince"

 “Hey, Jy,” continued Samul. “Do you think there's any chance we might see a dragon on our way there? Because that would be seriously cool.”
It would only be seriously cool if it stays well away from us. Those beasts breath fire, if you'll remember. That's seriously hot.”
What's this!” exclaimed Samul in an incredulous voice. “Jyson cracking a joke? The world must be coming to an end!”
- Half-Hidden

I glanced around myself and feigned a sigh of disappointment. “You’re right. We landed high and dry. Oh, I hope this isn’t a desert! What if there’s no water at all! We’ll die of thirst!”
V was now on the ground and glaring up at me. “Cut. It. Out.”
“Fine, Vienna Sausages,” I said, rumpling her hair, causing her to squeak. “Let’s just see if we can find that rainbow. You know what they say, where there’s a rainbow, there’s bound to be water!”

“That's my name – don't wear it out!”
- Behind the Rainbow

And I think that's all I'll share for now.

12. Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

The Ankulen: note
Just Another Sci-Fi Novel: Door
The New Division: Grandmother
Half-Hidden: gone
Behind the Rainbow: already
Water Princess, Fire Prince: day
My Kingdom for a Quest: honeymoon
Worth of a King: anxious
"Woodcutter Quince": guess
"Gift Exchange": think
"CinderEddy": was
"The Sun Jewel Adventure": asked

That's quite an interesting collection...

13. First sentences from your manuscript(s)!

The Ankulen: I have no imagination
Just Another Sci-Fi Novel: In our day and age, competition among authors has grown fierce.
The New Division: During the Great Depression, it was not an unusual thing for a small baby to be left on the doorstep of an orphanage by parents unable to provide for the tiny life.
Half-Hidden: In his dreams, Jyson could always fly.
Behind the RainbowI hear that my sister is being all dramatic and all that up there, with the present tense and stuff like that. (This is actually the first sentence of the second chapter, by my sister wrote the first chapter)
Water Princess, Fire Prince: Clara sat at the top of a big slide with three of her friends. (Actually, that line's around five years old. I've been working on this story that long!)
My Kingdom for a Quest: Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, two servants were locked in a dungeon for the mere crime of not knowing where their prince was.
Worth of a King“Milady, please, put down the book, I need to do your hair.”
"Woodcutter Quince": Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a woodcutter and his wife in the middle of a large and fearsome wood called Black Forest.
"Gift Exchange": Once upon a time in a land called Bookania, a small party was camped beside the main road, but was in no hurry to continue their journey, at least not that day, for it was a very special day.
"CinderEddy": Once upon a time there was a valiant knight whose kindness and bravery were known throughout the land.
"The Sun Jewel Adventure": Jenny Brown was eight years old.

14. Show us your favourite funny scene!

Ooh. This one's tough, partly because I have a lot of funny scenes (many of the punny variety,) and partly because most of those funny scenes are only funny in context. But I'll look ...

Without thinking, I began slowly walking in the direction I was being pulled. I heard Tisha and Chris fall into step behind me, but I kept my eyes shut. We walked like this for some time, but then I ran into a tree.
Yes, you read that right. I ran into a tree.
Well, actually, I walked into that tree, but, still. The tree and my face had a collision.
Instantly, my eyes flew open and I jumped backwards. As I pulled off my glasses to make sure they were still intact, I heard giggling behind me, so I threw a glare over my shoulder. “Yes?”
Were – were you walking with your eyes closed?” questioned Tisha, who was, to her credit, trying not to laugh.

What does it matter if I was?” I answered, turning my attention back to my glasses. Well, at least they didn't seem to be harmed. With grudging satisfaction, I slid them back onto my nose and turned to face the pair.
- The Ankulen

15. Show us a snippet of dialogue you're proud of.

Again, difficult. I'm a dialogue-driven author (in case you haven't noticed from the above snippets), so to single out one snippet (that, again, makes sense out of context) is tricky. But I'll look!

Robert sighed and shook his head. "Well, I'm her brother, and I say she can't sleep in any longer." With that, he stood up and marched over to the girl's tent and pulled back the flap. "Robin! If you sleep any longer, you'll miss the party."
No response.
"Robin!" he said, louder. "Wake up. It is morning."
"Go away," Robin growled. "I'm asleep."
"Fine then. You'll miss the party." Robert turned to go, intending to get some pine cones or something that he could throw at his sister to wake her up.
"What party?"
Robert turned to see that Robin had actually opened her eyes and propped herself up on one elbow. He grinned. "Well, Eric's here, so it must be a party."
"Go away."
- "Gift Exchange"

16. Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you've had this year!
Um, during NaNo I wrote that that the ceilings in engineering were taller than in other humans ... instead of other rooms. Also writing the words "The flippant" turned into "Theippant" somehow.

17. What has writing taught you about yourself this year?
Patience. You have to be very patient when it comes to writing. Very, very patient.

18. Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?
Don't insist that the first draft be perfect. I didn't used to, and then I did, and now I don't anymore. I love rough drafting, but actually, my favorite part of writing is rewriting.

19. Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?
I hope to publish a short story collection and at least one more installment of the Bookania Quests. I

20. Tell us a bit about a book you're super excited to write in 2014!
Hopefully I will (finally!) finish with Water Princess, Fire Prince's first draft, and I'm looking forward to tearing it apart and rebuilding it. Maybe I'll have it out by June 2015! (I can dream, right?) I'm also looking forward to writing book two of the Rizkaland Legends. This is one of my oldest stories, and it'll be its fifth draft. Very fun!

A bit about the two? Well, the series is inspired by Narnia, and as a result, it involves a lot of world traveling. Book one (WP,FP) is about two teens, Clara and Andrew, who become a Water Princess and Fire Prince and are forced to work together and save the island of Klarand. And that sounds really cheesy, doesn't it?

(And the reason I didn't share any snippets from that book was the fact that I'm so close to finished, almost everything would spoil the plot)

Nutcracker Advent Day 13

Today's nutcracker has no nose, no feet, and an interesting story.

You see, several Christmases ago, my aunt and uncle (the ones I now babysit for - though this was before they even had kids) gave everyone a Christmas ornament. My sister and I each got a nutcracker.

Now my sister, unlike me, doesn't love nutcrackers. However, she greatly admired the snowman that our dad had received, so she traded with him.

And then, somehow, the other nutcracker fell into my possession. I guess dad just didn't care for him.

And today's nutcracker is one of those two (which one, I don't remember). However, you won't be seeing the other one, since I couldn't locate him for the purpose of these pictures. He is, however, fairly unique in the fact that he is the only one in my possession with black hair and a spear.

Oh, and his head is broken. As in, it's no longer attached to his body. Not a pretty sight. (And no, he is not Steve the Green Night.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 12

 Today's nutcracker is a Christmas Tree ornament that I got for Christmas several years back, quite likely from my mom and dad because the picture I found showed me opening it at home.

Unfortunately, it no longer functions as an ornament, since I dropped it and the background part no longer stays attached, and that's the part that hangs from the tree.

However, the music part still works, but I'm discouraged from using it. It plays the official Nutcracker march. Loud.
Of course, with the back part broken, that means I can take it off and set it under my tiny Christmas tree and it'll look like the real deal.

Oh, and another fun thing about this nutcracker/Clara/Mouse King set - Nutcracker comes off and I can have him fight Mouse King. It's lots of fun.

Of course, I have to remember to put him away correctly. When I pulled this out to take the picture, I discovered that Nutcracker was in backwards, his back to the Mouse King, pointing his sword in Clara's face. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nutcracker Advent Day 11

I bought today's nutcracker myself along with the clown of yesterday.

This was before I fell in love with Germany (cough, cough) but somehow, the nutcracker I picked up just happened to be the German one. I was very pleased when I looked at my shelf one day and realized that he was German. Very, very pleased.

Of course, since I had him at the same time as the jester with the crazy stick, he's got a weapon too, right?

Promise not to laugh? (Actually, it's okay to laugh if you want to. I'm just saying that to make you laugh)

Well, you see, that jug he's carried sprays poison ... out of the pretzel.

I think his was perhaps the most creative ... or the weirdest. Take your pick.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kendra the Bookworm

Cait and Mime, over at the Notebook Sisters, are hosting a linkup about reading and writing, things that both of them are interested in. And know what? So am I! I'm definitely taking part.

Today, I'm answering the reading questions, since I still need to hunt down some snippets for the writing one. I'll try to have it up within a few days though!

1. What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)
I'm staring at all of the books I gave five stars on goodreads and I have to say that, out of all of them, no, not that one. Eep - that one was good ... oh, that one, too!

Eh, I think I'll go with Everburn. That was a really good book. Started slow, and I took forever to get into it, and there were rough spots, but in the end, it was such a beautiful story, and I loved all of the characters.

2. Favourite debut(s)? (Author must have been first published in 2013.)
The Foundlings, by J. Mark Miller. (I think he had a few short stories before that, but they seem to have disappeared from his amazon list)
The Princess and the Sage, by Anne-Girl.
Can I count Haphazardly Implausible, by Miss Jack and Annabeth's War, by Jessica Greyson? I know they were 2012, but it was November and December, so it was almost 2013.

3. Which books did you reread this year?
I don't reread books. I did pull the Lord of the Rings off my shelf and skim through it a few times, however. Oh, and I just picked up a free kindle version of The Nutcracker, and while I've read it before, I full intend to read it again somewhere over the hecticness of the holidays. It's not an intense book, and I love the story so much. (And I'm planning on writing some form of a sequel to it, so I need to brush up on the plot)

4. Favourite cover(s) this year!
Um ... All of them? Okay, Okay, I'll show you a few.

Delicious looking, aren't they? Actually, I love almost every cover of every book I've read. This is just a few.

5. Worst cover(s)?
As I said above, I've loved almost every cover I've read. But If I have to go with a worst cover, I'll go with The Soldier's Cross by Abigail Hartman. Not that it's a bad cover, but something about it strikes me as unprofessional, and it's a traditional publisher, so I can afford to be a bit less forgiving. (Though maybe if I were to see a physical copy, this opinion might change) This doesn't mean I didn't love the book, though! Once I got into it, I devoured it!

6. What self-published books did you read this year?
Um ... you really want a list? At least half of the books I read are self-published (me being a self-published author myself, I like to support my peers). And frankly, I can't, off the top of my head, say which ones were self-published, and which ones weren't. And just looking at the covers isn't any help. You see the great covers I have above? Eight of them I know for a fact to be self-published.

But since you want me to, I'll make a list ...

Destiny of a Few, and Destiny of a Galaxy, by Sarah Holman
Everburn by Robert Bunch (I think ... it looks and feels like a self published)
Red Rain by Aubrey Hansen
The Heart of Acrea and The Fate of Acrea by Nancy Sager
Duty, Wren, and Exchange by Rachel Rossano (that's three books there)
The Foundlings by J. Mark Miller
Annabeth's War by Jessica Greyson
Haphazardly Implausible, its short story collection and Abolished Impracticality, by Miss Jack Lewis Baillot
The Princess and the Sage by Anneliese Blackeney 
Champion in the Darkness by Tyrean Martinson
Firmament: Radialloy by J. Grace Pennington
Supervillain of the Day by Katie Lynn Daniels
Snow White and Rose Red: The Curse of the Huntsman by Lilly Fang
The Storykeepers by Mir Foote
No Ordinary Hero by Joyce A. Scott
A School for Villians by Ardyth DeBruyn
Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James
Coralina by Anita Valle
King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Shortcuts by Stewart J.W. Reynolds
Living with Ogres by Mitt Ray
Egg Hunt by Pamela Daniels
Isabel by Karen Rosario

A few others are possible self published, but I think that's all of them!

7. Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?
The Foundlings. (See above). I usually recover quickly, even from cliff-hangers, but this one had a cliff that was just plain evil. There was no warning at all, just a character being captured, two secrets being revealed (both of which I had been partially suspecting for a while) and no explanations. And yes, if a sequel is ever published.... I will be reading it. I hate the fact that it didn't have a proper climax, but I do want to know what happens next.

8. Best standalone you read?
Most of the books I read were series, but I really enjoyed What Came from the Stars, by Gary D. Schmidt. It was an interesting blend of Fantasy and Sci-fi, and the writing was almost poetical. I had to refer often to the index at the back at the book, but for the most part, it flowed well.

9. Biggest book(s) you've read this year?
I honestly have no idea. I read mostly on my kindle, so I don't always get a real feel for how long they are. I know Everburn was pretty thick, as was Eye of the Oracle, and I read Dune, by Frank Herbert. 

10. Book(s) you followed the hype for and then loved!
I don't really follow hype, but I did keep half an eye on Mark of Athena, and quite enjoyed it when it got out.

11. Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?
Spirit Fighter, by Jerel Law. I found it on the shelf at the library, and from the description on the back, thought it might be a Christian version of Percy Jackson. And that's basically what it was. But without the snappy writing, great plot, and Percy's amazing voice. And I didn't quite like the theology, so it didn't sit well with me.

12. Favourite leading-female character?
Ela, the titular character from Prophet by R. J. Larson. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I only just finished reading the book, but she was so well done. She was the first woman prophet in her world, but despite breaking gender roles, it didn't come off as feministic. She was so sweet and humble, and a lovely character to spend time with.

13. Favourite leading-male character?
Prince Moss from No Ordinary Hero. Yes, he was a frog, and yes he did more than his fair share of complaining. But he grew up so much, in the figurative sense. And he had an interesting sense of humor.

14. Best romance(s)?
I do not, as a rule like romances in my books, but either I've softened to the genre, or I've been running across some pretty good ones!
For instance, Brielle and Tomas in Duty were amazing. Theirs was a politically arranged marriage, but they made it work, and it was beautiful. I also loved Wren and her love interest (whose name I forgot) in Wren. It wasn't an arranged marriage, but I liked the way it played out.
And I loved Maria and her love interest (who, for spoiler reasons, will remain nameless) in the Destiny Trilogy. Very sweet, and while it may have disappointed a few readers, I was perfectly content with it.
And then there was Annabeth and Ransom in Annabeth's War. Again, very sweet.
Oh, and Renny and the main character (whose name I have also forgotten) in Heart of Acrea. Their "proposal" seen was epic. (Best way to sell me on a romance is to have an epic proposal, preferably in an unexpected setting such as a battle.)
Lord McDougal and Lady Mercy in Loresmen. Very sweet, and definitely not the most important part of the series, but definitely a crowing glory.
Billy and Bonnie, Ashley and Walter, Sapphira and Elam, and several others in Bryan Davis's series.
Oh, and there's a pair that I ship in the Haphazardly Implausible series ... but I'm not quite on speaking terms with them at the moment for ... reasons.
And there are others, but I can't call them off the top of my head.

15. What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish.)
There's quite a list of those ... but with most, I do intend to, at some point, get back to them. They were just too intense for my tired brain at the moment.

16. What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?
I read a whole slew of sci-fi's in October, which, if you had told me that I would be reading them two years ago, I would have asked you to get your head checked. I didn't like it, you see, being a hard-core Fantasy and Historical Fiction fan. But I was introduced to non-alien sci-fi through the Destiny Trilogy and Red Rain. And my sister has become a Trekkie in the last two years, so I've slowly come over. I still love Fantasy more, but I can admit that I like it about as much as HiFi. (And truthfully, I don't mind aliens, since one of my favorite all-time series is Lewis's Space Trilogy)

I've also been slowly reading a Christian Contemporary Ninja novel ... It's an intriguing book, my only complaint is that the characterization and description such is a bit choppy.

17. Which author did you read the most from?
It's a tie between Bryan Davis and Suzanne Collins, from whom I've read five books each. Of these two authors, Bryan Davis is my favorite.

18. Top 5 books you'd recommend from all the books you've read this year?
Can I cheat and do series? Please?
I'm going to pretend that I can.

1. Acrean Conquest by Nicole Sager. I haven't read the last book yet, but the first two are breathtaking.
2. Destiny Trilogy by Sarah Holman. An king story in space.
3. Dragons in our Midst by Bryan Davis. Amazing spin on dragons. Also, it's sequel series, Oracles of Fire.
4. Annabeth's War by Jessica Greyson
5. The Princess and the Sage

19. How many books did you read this year all up?
My Outread Aubrey shelf on Goodreads says 75 books, but I happen to know of two or three more that I couldn't find on goodreads or just didn't want people to know I read. 

20. What's a book you're hugely excited for coming out in 2014?!
Oh ... grr ... what is a book I'm looking forward to ...
How about a sequel to The Foundlings? I don't know that it'd be coming out in 2014, but I'd like it to. I'm dying to know if the girl gets rescued! And how she can possibly be that certain person's granddaughter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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