Lifestyle, Writing

A Very Late Nutshell

 

 

Oh my gooooooodness, you guys. This post recapping what happened to me back in April and May is so late. *clutches hair and squeaks with horror*

Okay, excuse time. What can I say? Life is weird for all of us lately and it seems like I CANNOT get a grip on things. Every time I think I’ve got it all under control, something happens to SMASH ALL MY PLANS.

 

I’m basically the Minion in that first gif, distracted and working hard! Between Life happening and not feeling tip-top –

 

 

– and plain old procrastination – THIS POST IS VERY LATE, INDEED.

Yeah, okay, you already figured that out. You’re not here to read about my excuses. You’re here to read about what has been happening to me.

Pretty much the usual, but I’ll do my best to make it exciting for you. Or at least full of gifs.

And now, get comfortable, grab something tasty, and settle down to read this diverting installment.

 

One last thing before we start. To make up for the long delay, this post is extra long and PACKED with gifs.

As in, every few seconds, you get a gif. (someone pointed this out to me so I thought I would just address this now).

I think it’s because I’m spending more of my allotted social media time on Instagram these days, which does NOT allow you to use gifs. *REELS*

You guys know that gif usage is an integral part of my personality so I FEEL THE NEED TO PLASTER MY POSTS WITH THEM TO MAKE UP FOR THIS ENFORCED ABSTINENCE.

 

Okay, that was it. PROCEED.  Enjoy the recap of 2020’s April and May . . . and enjoy the gifs. 🙂

 

WATCHED

 

Return To Treasure Island

 

THIS is what storytelling is supposed to look like.  I’m not exaggerating. If someone asked me to hold up a perfect show as an example of how to write an adventure, I would hold up Return To Treasure Island.  It’s one of the most exciting  plots I’ve ever seen. On top of that, there’s a cast of endlessly intriguing characters, exceptional dialogue, beautiful locations, and probably the most incredible performance from an actor EVER.  If anyone ever deserved a shelf of awards for a single role, it would be Brian Blessed and his indescribable performance as Long John Silver.  He has been, and always will be, MY Long John Silver. And, in my opinion, the ONLY Long John Silver.

Watch it, you’ll love it.

And if you don’t love it, WE CAN’T BE FRIENDS ANYMORE.

 

Okay, okay. You know me well enough now to realize that I’m kidding. But STILL.  It’s the best.

 

Outriders

 

A cute and fun show with an emphasis on friends, family, and, of course, horses. There’s some great characters in the show (and one particularly unique female character named Reggie – who could show writers how to write an aggressive and assertive female without making her a jerk).

If you enjoy shows with a bit of excitement, an emphasis on friendship, cute horses, and awesome Australian accents, this show’s for you!

 

Christy

 

I found myself needing a lot of comfort these days and I binge-watched this show surrounded by as much luxury as I could muster (candles, treats, blankets) behind the sanctity of a locked door. IT WAS JUST ME AND MY FEELINGS.  Which is just as well, because I’m the only extreme Christy fan in my house.

 

 

This series is such a part of my childhood and, as I watched it again, I realized just how much of an influence this show has had on my life and my writing. There are still so many bits of wisdom that have been ingrained in me from Christy.  I still think it’s a wonderful show to this day (okay, it has some flaws, but WE SHALL NOT SPEAK OF THEM HERE).

I mightily enjoyed my little private showing, and was quite crushed when it was over. Not to mention, frustrated all over again by that OPEN ENDING.

 

 

I will never forgive them for not showing us the Christy / Dr. McNeill wedding we deserved. Nossir.  You know I’m not much of a fan of romance so, by George, when I ask for it you KNOW I must want it – BAD.

 

Star Wars: Rebels

 

My Star Wars Buddy (aka, my brother) got me into this show. I had seen this around for quite a while but dismissed it.  I wasn’t particularly interested in the look of the animation and I suppose I thought it would be a kind of corny kid show. The sci-fi equivalent of Spongebob Squarepants.

I was wrong.

This is a really, really well-made series with awesome story lines and heartfelt characters.  I was almost instantly won over and I am a committed fan now.

 

I love the focus on “found family” and the close relationships the characters have with one another. The theme of family coupled with high adventure is my favorite combination . . . and Rebels packs a whole lot of adventure into twenty minute episodes.

I definitely think Disney needs to stick with making shows like this. Let’s admit it, it’s way better than most of their – *cough* – recent offerings.

 

It’s just so much fun. It’s heartfelt, exciting, full of emotion and humor, and it has that crazy originality that used to define Star Wars.  I’m so glad I didn’t continue to pass Rebels by and dove headfirst into it.

I will admit, though, I am NOT pleased with the ending, so I simply didn’t watch those episodes. (I read spoilers for the finale right off, per usual, so I knew what to dislike ahead of time).

If I don’t watch it – it didn’t happen. In my mind, this crew are all still alive and still together (and still fully-seeing) and fighting the Empire. Nobody can tell me otherwise!

 

 

 

The Rise of Skywalker

 

Wow . . .  *struggles to produce a short and diplomatic summary*

 

 

Okay, so I actually sort of enjoyed this one.  Perhaps it’s because the new trilogy has passed so blissfully into total farce, it makes it much easier to swallow this final installment.

For whatever reason, I did find this movie the most enjoyable one of the trilogy. Admittedly, that’s not saying much, but still – as an energetic and mindless sci-fi flick, I enjoyed it.  It probably helped that I was watching it in the middle of the night and was ready to be entertained by just about anything, but STILL . . .

This is me being generous here, appreciate my largess.

It was definitely fun to see the Three Amigos (Rey, Poe, and Finn) together, and I felt that we finally got to see Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver act for the first time. (although the characters are like completely new reincarnations, as they were in the two previous espiodes)

Finn was, sadly, just as forgettable as he was in The Last Jedi, despite making a painful attempt to be cool.

Um, I did like the culmination of the Reylo relationship (also, just want to say, CALLED IT FROM THE MOMENT I FIRST SAW THE FORCE AWAKENS).  People said I was crazy, BUT WAS I RIGHT, OR WAS I RIGHT? Stick with me, kiddos – I can read Hollywood’s mind.

Aside from being a fun(ish) film, this film was also a great case study on internet culture. The same people who screamed “abusive relationship” will come stampeding over to back that relationship after only the smallest course correction from said ship. It was interesting to watch. 😉

 

Reylo Haters Before TROS

 

Reylo Haters After Watching TROS

 

Anyway, let’s just say the film was “sort of okay” (in my personal opinion) and leave it at that before I really tell you what I thought.

 

 

– READ –

 

I read twenty books in the months of April and May.

 

 

Usually, I read that much in one month, but I am in the middle of a horrific reading slump.  If you have any tips or hints at all on how to get over a reading slump PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS.

 

 

Actually, now that I think about it, I have been reading a bit more than this, because I’ve been reading some of my sister’s work (not published yet) and doing a lot of proof reading for her and myself.

Nevertheless, I am still in the middle of a reading slump.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read any four or five star books; I’m picky, but I’m not that picky. I NEED SOME GOOD BOOKS. These have been a few very lackluster weeks for a bibliophile.

 

– LIFE –

 

APRIL + MAY

 

Had a virtual Paint and Sip with a lovely friend.  I had so much fun video calling Joellen and making art and beautiful conversation with her.  (she’s an amazing blogger, by the way, and you need to follow her. 💖)

 

Got to video chat with two other dear friends – you know who you are!

 

Released the next book in my Tales of Ambia series, Poppy’s Peril.

 

That story was a long time in coming and I am so thrilled to finally have that next installment released!

Unfortunately, due to Recent Events, the paperback edition has been delayed and I have no idea how long it will be until I get that released.

 

 

But, apparently, a lot of authors are having trouble getting proof copies, so at least it’s not just me.

I can’t control the situation, so I’m just waiting patiently until it’s finally resolved.

I’m learning to deal with the fact that I’m never going to be one of those On-Top-Of-It Authors.  I have no clue how some of these other awesome Indie Authors hustle the way they do. I definitely missed that superhero gene, but, whatchya gonna do?

 

 

Worked more on formatting. After Poppy’s Peril was formatted, I decided to fix some problems with the formatting for The Reluctant Godfather and A Royal Masquerade.

There are no words to describe how absolutely, positively, mind-numbing this project was. BUT, HOTDOG, HALLELUJAH, A THOUSAND AMENS, IT’S FINALLY OVER.  I did not think I would survive the ordeal.

 

 

The Ring has been thrown into the fires of Mordor and I am lying on my face in the ashes.  I’m pretty sure I have all my books memorized now (like I didn’t before, eh?) BUT – they look so much better. Sure, they were tiny changes, BUT I KNEW THE FLAWS WERE THERE AND I NEEDED THEM FIXED, for my own sanity.

I’m just glad it’s all over. I can now actually move forward instead of having all of those Necessary Tweaks hanging over my head.

 

 

SO – The Reluctant Godfather and A Royal Masquerade files are now officially updated. Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything massive, I didn’t release second editions. It was just a bunch of teensy formatting things that I wanted adjusted.

Had numerous family celebrations that involved CAKE.

 

 

I needed that cake after all that formatting, let me tell you.

 

I released the paperback edition of my short story, The Key To The Chains!

I first published this baby in May of 2017 and, for numerous reasons that I won’t go into right now, it’s taken me this long to get the paperback out in the world.

 

 

BUT – let’s not talk about that. What we SHALL talk about is how BEAUTIFUL this little booklet is.

My designer did such an amazing job.  This edition was a long time in coming but, OOO, it’s so pretty and shiny now and I am very happy with it.

 

I hosted an Instagram challenge and giveaway.  Making my own Instagram challenges has become downright addicting, and I was already addicting to giving things away.  Fellow instagrammers, I foresee much fun in your future. *winks*

 

My family and I did a few unusual things during the extended quarantine. My sister bought a small nylon tent and it is SO MUCH FUN.  For several nights in a row (while the weather was still nice and we could go outside and still breath normally) we crouched in the tent and talked and played Twenty Questions.  I took a thermos of hot chocolate and went out to sit in it in the dark in my jammies. One Sunday, we even dragged our laptops outside and had our weekly writer’s club meeting in the tent.

YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW, it’s a little silly. But I never used a tent as a kid so I had some time missed opportunities to catch up on. 

Played croquet with my brother and sister.  I deeply regret that I didn’t get to play this in an immense hat with flowers while mincing about in a long white dress but, ah well, no one said life is perfect.

 

Watched the live SpaceX launch that sent two American astronauts to the International Space Station.

We spent most of May 27th watching the launch preparations and then the mission was scrubbed at the last moment, which was disappointing. We waited until the following Saturday for the next launch window, hoping it would all work out.

It did, and it was beautiful.

 

Two American astronauts (as well as a stuffed and sparkly Apatosaurus named Tremor) were launched into space – to the stars, and to new opportunities: a shining example of what the USA can achieve.

The following Sunday we got up to watch the capsule dock with the International Space Station (also an amazing thing to witness). Throughout the space flight (and later on aboard the ISS), there were video calls and interviews going on between the astronauts and Space X Ground Crew and Houston Control.

Do you realize how crazy that is??? That’s never been done before.

I am so excited to see the Space Program back on track under our current administration. We are one step closer to planting that American flag on Mars, people!

That Sunday evening, my family and I rushed outside to watch the ISS pass overhead like a shooting star, and we waved to Bob, Doug, and Chris (not to mention Tremor the dinosaur).

Looking up at that tiny, flashing light, it was strange to think of where two of those men had been only the day before and where they are now. They look so close and yet are so far away.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now.  This is very emotional for me, guys.  Anything about America doing great things excites me, though.

 

Hosted my first Friday Fairy Tale.  I know I’ve already talked about this before, but allow me to recap.

 

 

I started doing a weekly live stream on Friday’s that are all built around the theme of fairy tales!  I chat to my followers about certain topics relating to fairy tales while working on a fairy tale themed painting or sketch, which I then share with everyone at the end of the video.  It’s a ton of fun.

 

 

You can watch the previous episodes on the IGTV section of my Instagram profile.

I’ve now done it three times. This is definitely a streak for me and I’m hoping to keep it up when I return to social media next month.

 

 

Set off mini fireworks in our driveway for Memorial Day.  They were just those small ones that you can buy at the grocery story, but they still gave off some awfully nice bangs and an abundance of pretty explosions and that wonderful gunpowder stench. Sure, they were small, but it made our little pyro hearts happy.

 

 

I sent out an author newsletter!  For the first time since February – wahoo!

 

 

And, on the subject of writerly things . . .

 

– WRITING –

APRIL

 

I participated in Camp Nano this past April and hosted my own cabin again.

I keep renaming my Cabin from one event to another, but this April I wanted to have the themes of Bards, Scops, and Scalds with a Viking / Anglo Saxon flavor!  So I named my cabin THE SKALD HALL.

 

 

THE HALL’S SLOGAN:  

 

Come, ye scops and skalds! – let us unlock our word-hoards,

that we may sing and tell a tale to the company of the Hall!

Wandering like this,

driven by chance,

minstrels travel through many lands, to do great things,

until everything passes, light and life together.

This thing of beauty cannot be attributed to me.  I took a bit of old Anglo Saxon poetry by a bard named Widsith and I just cut it down and arranged it a smidge.

 

And now that we’ve gotten some of those initial details out of the way, let’s talk about CAMP ACTIVITIES. All those fun and harmless activities that we nutters – uh, I mean, campers – get up to.

 

 

I’ve been slogging away for so long on my next fairy tale retelling (that dratted Little Red Riding Hood) that I decided a break was in order. I allowed myself to play in the month of April.

Consequently, I picked three projects to work on throughout Camp Nano, and worked on a different project every week!  How difficult could that be, right?

 

 

Actually, it was quite refreshing to let myself switch from project to project. It really helped my brain get into fun mode.  

For my first week of Nano, I was working on a new(ish) story idea . . .  That, er, sci fi romance that I’ve told you guys about last December.  Which is still . . . very strange to me.

 

This story is definitely new territory for me, because I usually DO NOT write stories that are strictly romance. Romantic COMEDIES, yes. Adventures with a dash of romance on the SIDE, yes – but not straight up romances.

Of course, true to form, I can’t bring myself to write JUST about “true love” – this story also contains social and political commentary, as well as some adventure!  And some dragons. 

Even though it’s new-ish territory, I’m excited about this novella, and it was such a treat to write on something I’m actually inspired to work on.

Plus I really, REALLY like this couple . . . a lot 

 


I look forward to the day when I can finally focus on this project and finish it. When or if that day will come, who knows? But it’s a fun project to dabble on whenever I get the chance.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a mood board with you all. What do you think? Does this story catch your interest?

 

 

And, as a special-behind-the-scenes tidbit, my Project Candle for this story was a You’ll Be In My Heart Tarzan candle – it smells of rain forests and name perfectly fits the feeling of soft (and potentially heartbreaking) relationships.

 

Anyway, that was the project for the FIRST week of Nano.

 

*singing to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas* AND ON THE SECOND WEEK OF NANO, ALLI WROTE ON THEE –

 

So, you guys know one of my short stories is being published this year, right?

Last October, I submitted a pirate story to an anthology seeking submissions and my story was accepted. When the editor sent me back my final notes he included this message: “I sincerely hope there’s a novel of Moon Boy’s adventures in the works!”

I was pleased to be able to tell him that Moon Boy’s adventures are continuing – not in a novel, but in a serial of twelve episodes that is temporarily called THE MOON BOY CHRONICLES.

On the second week of Camp Nano, I worked on episode two of the Moon Boy Chronicles: Dead Men Tell No Tales

This serial is set in a steampunk world where mythological creatures collide on a daily basis with technology. There are very heavy Native American influences to this piratical world, and I’m really excited to explore more indigenous lore and reimagine it in fantastical ways!

As for my main character, Moon Boy . . . well, if you thought Burndee was snarky, you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet.

 

 

Project Candle:  The same candle I burned while writing the first story (Seafaring Pirate) and also another candle called The Jolly Roger. These candles smell like coconut and sea salt and mystery – which is a perfect scent for The Moon Boy Chronicles.

 

ON THE THIRD WEEK OF NANO, ALLI SWITCHED TO THEE –

 

I can’t stand to be away from Ambia for long, and so I began working on a short story featuring Burndee and the gang. The premise?

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF BURNDEE WAS QUARANTINED WITH WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE IN A SMALL HOUSE?

Nothing good, believe me.

 

Project Candle: Leaf and Lore’s Fireside Tales. The combination of wood smoke and chocolate smells warm and cozy – as if I’m sitting in a kitchen while Burndee is baking something scrumptious. Plus, the name made me think of someone telling a fairy tale to a captive audience.

 

This “short story” is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, and I had a blast writing it and can’t wait to release it to the world (SOONER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK).

I wrote far more in the third week of Camp then I did in the previous two weeks . . . probably because I was back home in Ambia. I ended up continuing with this project into the fourth week of Nano and actually finishing the first draft.

I can’t remember the last time I finished something this long so quickly! ONE LONG ARGUMENT IS JUST SO EASY TO WRITE, I GUESS. Burndee is not the only one freaking out in this story – EVERYBODY gets to lose their marbles, and it’s just plain fun.

 

 

All told, I wrote about 27,221 for Camp Nano.

 

 

 

 – MAY –

 

In May I wrote approximately 25,151 words.

 

 

Most of it was, I THINK, on my Little Red Riding Hood retelling (I keep such good records, guys) but I also worked on the Sci Fi Romance a bit more, two new short stories for submission, and material for non-fictional articles and my upcoming Patreon launch.

 

 

ANOTHER OF MY SHORT STORIES GOT ACCEPTED BY AN ANTHOLOGY!

 

 

I’ve been submitting off and on since my last acceptances back in September and October of 2019 and, wow, God timed this acceptance at a moment when I really needed the encouragement!

I was watching Christy and trying to de-stress beneath a blanket when I checked my Gmail and saw that magic email. Needless to say – I was over the moon. Even more so because of WHO accepted it.

Back in November of 2019, I wrote a story based on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea called Fools Rush In. I submitted the story in January of 2020 to an anthology seeking submissions.

And now my tribute to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea has been accepted by an anthology honoring the one and only Jules Verne himself!  *cue squealing*

Take a look at this awesome cover! And there’s my name, third from the bottom!

 

I have a very long and personal history with Jules Verne. My Mom read several of his books out loud to my siblings and I when we were little and I grew up watching Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Jules Verne has always been special to us and a sort of symbol in our family for good writing and epic adventures.

To be published in anything is always exciting, but to be published in an anthology dedicated to honoring the memory of such a magnificent writer that meant so much to me personally was absolutely mind-blowing.

 

 

I FINALLY GOT PAID FOR A STORY THAT WAS ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION BACK IN OCTOBER.  *JUBILATION*

 

 

Thank goodness I’m not living off of any of the money I make writing – otherwise I would have starved to death by now.

 

I went back and forth with the editors for two different anthology stories, proofing ebook copies and rewriting plot holes in Fools Rush In that were only caught in the eleventh hour.  Fortunately, I finally finished all of those tiny little details and all three anthologies that I am going to be featured in are on track to be published very soon!

 

According to my not-very-good records, I didn’t submit to any publications in April, which I consider highly remiss of me. To make up for this oversight, I upped my game again in May.

 

 

I sent a pitch to a food magazine for a personal essay.  It was the first time I ever wrote a pitch for a publication, and I guess it wasn’t too good, because I never heard back from them.  *awkward smile*

 

I wrote and submitted a non-fiction article to Focus On The Family (actually, I wrote it twice, because the first draft went sideways) and submitted it to said magazine. I never heard back from them either.

 

 

I also submitted three times to fiction magazines and anthologies in May – although one was the same story that bounced back twice over a short period of time.

*shrugs* Another three rejections to add to my trophy wall of:  I WAS REJECTED AND LIVED!

 

 

Annnnd, aside from a strange resurgence of blogging inspiration and a flurry of social media posts, I think that about wraps up my writing escapades for April and May!

 

 

 

All right, my friend. Now it’s your turn to tell all.

 

Did you do Camp Nano this past April?  If so, how did it go and what did you work on?  Did you do anything special for Memorial Day? What have you been reading lately?

It’s been a while, so let’s do some serious catching up!  *leans forward to read your every word*

 

9 thoughts on “A Very Late Nutshell

  1. April and May seems years ago, did I do anything then? Well, school through all April for much of my spare time. May I must have just done nothing. June and July are whirlwinds as I have school again on top of my full-time job plus all the thing that go with my sister’s wedding after a 2 month engagement (oh, that’s right, that happened in May).

    I’m going to have to try some of the shows and movies you mentioned some time in the future when I get the time, will-power, and attention span to try all the tv and movie recs I’ve been collecting.

  2. I’m in a reading slump as well. Something fried at the beginning of July, and I think I might end up reading only two books this month.
    Anglo-Saxon poetry– and other old things of the like– catches my attention! I remember coming across Widsith in a couple books about Anglo-Saxon/ Viking writings.
    A steam-punk world with indigenous lore? I’m up for that!

    1. ANGLO-SAXON POETRY??? That sounds so intriguing!! I would love to read some!

      AW, THANK YOU. Hopefulllly….I can write more on it soon. 🙂

  3. ALLI!!!! I’ve missed hearing from you; this was a TREAT! And my goodness gracious, girl. You’re always so productive and dedicated to your writing! YOU INSPIRE ME SO MUCH!

    First of all I had to scream because CHRISTY! YES. YES YES YES!!! I adored that series. Christy has always been a special story to my mom (the book and the series) and she and I watched the series together during my preteen years and I have such happy memories of those times. YES. LOVE IT! EXCEPT THAT OPEN ENDING BECAUSE EXCUSE ME THAT’S JUST RUDE. We SO deserved the Christy and Dr. McNeill wedding. Ugh.

    SO SO PROUD of you and all the epic writing things you’ve been doing! Looooved getting some aesthetics and inside looks at your projects! AND YOU’RE GOING TO BE IN ANOTHER ANTHOLOGY AAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! CONGRATS. That is PRECIOUS Jules Verne is so special to you and you get to be in an anthology honoring him. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPYYY.

    Thank you so much for sharing all this goodness with us. I do hope you have an AMAZING rest of July, m’dear! <3

    1. CHRISTINE, MY DEAR!! *HAPPY HUG* AHH, every single one of your comments makes me grin and beam. *laughs* You are the best!

      MAN, I REALLY NEED TO BE MAKING A LIST OF ALL THE OPINIONS AND TASTES WE SHARE, IT’S CRAZY. YES, YES, YES – we DESERVED the Christy and McNeill wedding! *insert angry sobbing here*

      AWWWCK!!! *hides face* YOU ARE JUST TOO SWEET. THANK YOUUUUU. YOU ARE A COMPLETE AND UTTER GIFT.

      GIF

  4. Oh, dear friend, I MISS YOU!! (*falls to the ground, clutching floor, weeping).
    I’m soooooooooo excited hearing about all of these stories and works in progress!! …Moon Boy is more snarky than Burndee? I can’t wait 😁

    I hope you are whole and well, sweet friend!

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