My Favourite Reads of 2017 (aka, Your Favourite Reads of 2018??)

I read thirteen books in 2017.  Those of you who don't have children, physical ailments, & don't get drowsy by reading, you can just siddown.  Thirteen is a book per month + one, which is pretty good for me right now, ehwot.  

four books stood out to me, & i want to share them!

THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES by lee hyeon-seo
With the growing interest in South Korea blossoming in the west, a voyeuristic view of North Korea is also opening up.  North Korea is basically the Silent Planet of countries, & the world is fascinated by this terrible little backwards oppressed nation & the fate of its people.   Oppression and exploitation are everywhere, but perhaps the isolationist mentality of North Korea + its juxtaposition to its insanely-first-world neighbour South Korea, makes this story so much more enthralling as a train-wreck debacle.  To whet your appetite for this book, you can also watch Ms. Lee's TEDTalk on Youtube.  

Yass, household name Marie Kondo has a manga + I devoured it.  Such a great little visual refresher for the Konmari enthusiast! (e.g. moi)

HALLUCINATIONS by oliver sacks
Big name, though I'd never heard of him; this psychiatric doctor takes you through many different kinds of "sane" hallucinations.   I get the impression that insanity-based hallucinations may not be as common as hallucinations produced by other factors, such as sensory deprivation.  Really fascinating read!

PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM by shin kyung-sook
Probably my favourite book of the year, this moving, heart-stopping, at times chilling novel helped me appreciate my own mother even more, & reminded me not to take for granted the sheer amount of love + effort our mothers pour into our lives.

When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?

Told through the piercing voices and urgent perspectives of a daughter, son, husband, and mother,
PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM is at once an authentic picture of contemporary life in Korea and a universal story of family love.

I'm closing out the year with a few books pending; I'll finish them in January, hopefully...  If you haven't hear of these four books + they sound interesting to you, consider this your formal introduction!  Books are best buddies.

until next time!
(weak laughter)
xoxo, jenny


if you are not a writer...i'm not sure why you'd be reading this except maybe as a social study. X_x

If you are a writer, you're probably acquainted with the almost crippling fear of what people will think of your writing + how it will be received.  People are fickle + picky + weird + seem like they think they would have written your book better than you did (rude??).  It's scary.  Halloween ain't got nothing on the horror of an angry readership.

The creative writing career is chockastumblingblock full of advice + rules + opinions + "keys" to success.  It's confusing + paralyzing.  Basically I always come away thinking I'm doing it totally wrong, & I'm sure I'm not the only one with this feeling.

you can't just make up your own rules
but at the same time
you kind of can

for every "rule" that i'm confronted with, i find an excellent exception:

a:: the author that "head hops" + yet does so seamlessly
b:: the author who invents words + yet makes complete sense
c:: the author who takes a long time to build up the plot + yet retains your interest with fascination

Rules are training wheels.  Rules are for beginners, just finding their balance, just learning what writing is all about.  But then, you hit your stride, + you can take off the training wheels + be yourself.  BUT RULES NEVER MAKE A GOOD STORY; THE WRITER MAKES IT A GOOD STORY.

two tips for being great

Don't have a fatalistic attitude.  |  If you think the story is going to be lame, then yes it's going to be lame.  If you don't love it, you can't make it live.  You fundamentally have to believe in the story's right to exist + be good for it to have any vitality. Clap! clap for your story!


Determine to be excellent.  |  Not to name any names, but the people groups of the English-speaking world who are notoriously self-effacing, "modest," + don't believe they'll amount to much, don't amount to much as a society.  The same goes for any venture, whether in business, school, or creativity.  Set excellence as the goal & work toward it; you can't reach a destination if you don't steer yourself that way!

"you did it. you've hit the stride and the soul of the story and it's TRULY MAGNIFICENT. i was entirely caught up in its spell, enthralled, needing the next word, the next sentence, needing to know what was happening."

This is one of the most encouraging reviews I've received for my work-in-progress.  In the midst of all the worries + the blind writing + vaguely trying to determine the structure of the plot, the feedback I got restored my self-belief + the knowledge that I am aiming in the right direction.  I'm doing it.  It's not easy, but I'm pulling it off.

be the excellent exception

love you all, my peepitipeeps!
xoxo, jenny

Adamantine Update + Some Snippets!

I still remember getting majorly stuck right at the initial critical moment in AdamantineUGH.  What a nightmare, leaving that cliffhanger just...hanging there, feeling like I'd shot off a dud firework & I was still waiting for it to burst. 

I'LL GET STUCK AGAIN, DON'T WORRY.  But thankfully, Zenwriter has been a big help keeping me going + not being catatonic while I stare at my screen.*

*writers relate

30,610 words in, the plot is shaping & I think I like the developments.  My biggest hurdle is that the main character can't speak the language yet, so {W O W} have you ever tried to write an engaging plot with no verbal dialogue?  Relying on alternative cues to communicate is like engaging in writing yoga.  FUN.

{eh, snippets, anyone?}

I broke the stillness with a fumbling step; the fairy, having recollected himself, stood aside for me to duck through the doorway. He then led the way, the two of us limping--I quite badly, he but slightly--along a way which I dimly recollected to be a retracing of our steps of the day before. I had my wits, such as they were, better about me, and I was mesmerized by his wings. I thought that heretofore they had been yet one more surreal aspect to an alien backdrop; now they sharpened into focus, composed of velvet cerulean hues, swathes of ombre black into grey, anchoured into his back betwixt his shoulders, and trailing dormant behind him as he walked, the tips dragging upon the corridor. I noticed, too, with a cold shiver, that the membranes near the wings' extremities were ragged and scarred, as I had seen of a butterfly which has escaped the beak of a hunting bird, though not without personal loss.

I went after him out the doorway as best I could with my vision disrupted by blazing miniature suns superimposed over everything I saw. It was nearly a minute before I could see my surroundings for what they were.
They ripped my breath away. Conscious of my injured leg and imbalance, my mind panicked, throwing up red flags of vertigo so that I was reaching for the fairy's shoulder' with my free hand before I was aware of what I was about.
We were standing at the extreme edge of what looked, from what little I could see or comprehend, to be a massive, sudden, high outcropping amongst a tangled landscape of crags and verdant valleys, off which the morning mist was burning in long, torn banners of blue and gold. A stiff wind added to the alarmingly beautiful pastiche around me, and my mind--I feared it was becoming truly unhinged--was hurled back to the seasides of the Cyclades; it was that sort of wind.

"You - reindeer," I repeated wearily, and sat down on a stone from which I could see the herd.
He gave that same sharp huff of humour, unexpectedly jerking out his thumb, pointing skyward. "Bona mew-mew," he chuckled; and with a quick swing-about, he left me, going down the path until the wind and the rock had closed him off from sight and hearing.

My arm, which the Emerald Jewel had never let go, began to tremble with excruciating electricity. The hairs on my skin, the hairs on my catskins, all stood on end and pulsed with a greenish, wretched light that cracked and popped and made my heart misfire as it attempted to regain its natural rhythm. The wings of the Emerald Jewel were flooded in a mesmerizing luminescence, in a pattern that had been invisible in the light. Although the pattern was such as I had never seen before, something primal in me knew that hieroglyph as a labyrinth that led to death.

The Haloed Swan lost patience. She suddenly snapped round, wrenched a knife off her table, and shot her arm forward through the broken field of sparks. I felt her fingers snag my hair. In the vertigo dark, as I was hauled down onto my face, I heard my own voice screaming, felt the reverberations in my own chest, while, above it all, my mind was scrambling to get away, to leave my temporal half behind.
Knife blade pressed cold, hard, into the skin above my right ear. I felt the pain like a shard of ice being driven through my skull. My eyes gulped up a vision of sparks and intricately woven, colourful carpet, soft as moss, complex as the night sky, not inches from my left cheek. My mind saw the Haloed Swan twist my hair into a tangled braid, saw her wrist angle for the slashing cut; my body felt like it was being lifted as a plant from its roots; any moment now, my skin would rip loose - 

I hope you enjoyed them!  I have a hesitant confidence in their being rather good, I like where this path is taking me.  Not only is it a challenge to write a novel, it's an even BIGGER challenge to write one whose setup is almost totally devoid of intelligible dialogue.  HERE'S TO ME + my ability to pull this off. X_x

until next time,
xoxo, jenny

WINNER REVEAL | How Well Do You Know My Novel


I gave you a selection of six animals that might conceivably show up in my stories, & asked you to pick which one you thought would be showcased in my semi-current-work-in-progress Adamantine.  First person to guess correctly wins a peek at the first ten pages of my manuscript.

& the answer is...


Yes, that's right; reindeer.  Don't ask me why because I don't know, it just is.  Reindeer et al are such fascinating creatures; they're like horse-cattle-camels with oh-no handles* on their heads.  There are still (dwindling) groups of semi-nomadic peoples who keep reindeer, & while the lifestyle is a dying one, it's still fascinating.  Reindeer don't get enough press, I think.

so (what you really want to know) the winner is
(who sounds like maybe her folk raise reindeer themselves??)

hip! hip! hurrah!  you are the lucky (good luck? bad luck??) recipient of the first ten pages of adamantine! please email me at + i will get that to you directly!

* you know, those little handles inside cars that you grab hold of when the driver is going around a sharp bend.  oh-no handles.

Thank you all for participating!  I don't know, should I cook up some more guessing games for you? Let me know in the comments!

until next time
xoxo, jenny

Box of Animal Crackers | How Well Do You Know My Novel


i'm watching you

Since I'm working on the beginning of my Adamantine rewrite* & not Ethandune, & you guys probably know more about it than I do, I wanted to test your knowledge.

*i think i'll just call it adamantine from here on out

yay, quiz time
(with a prize)


a:: lion
b:: reindeer
c:: cat
d:: horse
e:: dragon
f:: kirin

the first person to choose correctly will get a preview of THE FIRST 10 PAGES of ADAMANTINE

ready? set? choose!
xoxo, jenny


 you mean
there were other occupations
in medieval history

SHOCK.  This is not the demographic landscape that fantasy/historical fiction has led us to envision!  Next you'll be saying that the blacksmiths weren't always enormous + burly / young, dark, + handsome, & the innkeepers weren't always fat + jovial.  YOU MIGHT EVEN TELL ME THAT PEOPLE ATE SOMETHING BESIDES STEW.

here lies the smoking wreckage of a bizarre utopia, composed of convenient smithies with equally convenient bed + breakfasts where you can engage in a nightly brawl with local drunkards, free of consequence

It doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that any society is composed of a rich tapestry of occupations, all engaging in a push + pull economy, supplying other occupations, vying with other occupations, building up + tearing down.  Someone has to make something, & if you can make it, you can sell it. 

there are too many occupations to enumerate, so i'm going to list 7 of my favourites to get you thinking. 

POST  ||  Guess what!  Letters aren't just conveniently dropped off when it suits your story.  Societies quickly set up regular means of delivering mail, because mail means communication, & communication is essential to economies.  Your characters are likely to send, receive, or be met by the post on the road (mAKE WAY for prince aLI).

INKMAKER  ||    Like beer, manufacturing ink can be a household chore; but if you are particularly apt, & have access to the ingredients necessary, there is always a market for durable ink.   Characters may make + sell, or just have occasion to purchase, ink from a local supplier.  & who knows what might happen in the meantime *plotplot*.

UNGUENTARY / APOTHECARY  ||  WHAT A TERRIBLE WORD & yet so very important for a society because thanks adam + eve we're all subject to aches, pains, sickness, + death (unguentaries may also provide embalming fluids + sweet ointments??).  I can see endless occasions for the use of apothicks et al in novels. XD

FUELLER  ||  People always need a means of baking their meals / warming their homes, but they very likely have busy jobs that prevent them from getting the fuel themselves sO let's have a monthly subscription of ye olde dry tinderwood to be delivered promptlie upon the first of evrie month, by John Woodstock, whose business such is to gather + sell fuel.  BOOM.  Problem solved.

SOAPMAKER  ||   Everything gets dirty, & an effective soap requires a carefully balanced chemistry.  If you can create a good soap that gets the job done, & sell it to your neighbours, I think this is what folks call a "side hustle." 

CHANDLER  ||  Not to be crowded out by the butchers + bakers of the town, the manufacturing of light is a seriously important job, with numerous vocations tied up in it (you have to get the wax/oil from somewhere, your wicks from someone, or make them yourself with outsourced products, etc.).  So long as the sun keeps going down, people will need artificial light.

HAENYEO  ||  I added this one because

a:: i think the ocean is hella terrifying
b:: it's chockablock with food, fuel, + other useful commodities
c:: these women are incredibly strong

Diving has been a lucrative trade in sea-based cultures all over the world; haenyeo, the women-divers of Jeju (Korea), is only one example.  I'd love to work this trade into Ethandune somehow, but yeah nothing's coming to me yet.  XD

These are my 7 various occupations that are important to a society + are NOT blacksmiths or innkeepers.  
Go forth + be not cliche!

have some vocations that are your favourites? please share!
xoxo. jenny

Suspicious Activity + Other Good News


ETHANDUNE  ||  I've taken a break of indeterminate length on this in order to mull + plot.

(also i accidentally lost about 100+ words that i'd written recently, & i haven't recovered emotionally yet so i'm doing the mature thing + hiding from my problems)

ADAMANTINE  ||  So I've picked up this novel.  The rewrite has about 28,700 words, semi-decent prose, + an assortment of ideas strung together like an antique rag rug.  At this (still early) stage, my main character has so many afflictions + trials, I'm in great danger of forgetting some of them. XD

*no, i am NOT enamoured with the notion of torturing characters for the fun of it.  there is no "fun of it." it's just this character's misfortune to be plagued by all these multitudinous tribulations.


It was then, as the food softened and slid down into my stomach, that my surroundings became real. Or perhaps I became real to my surroundings; I felt that, heretofore, I had merely been a ghost, half here and half in a shock world, to whom these strange creatures and rooms were terrifying yet spiritually intangible. Now my body materialized around my soul, wakening as it was worked, and I was suddenly solid amidst my prison. 

"Stop!" I begged pathetically. Though tethered by his grip, I sank down on the pallet. "Stop! Do let me be. Let me die."

The sorrows of death compassed me, the pains of hell gat hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow.
My heart thumped, beat, struggled.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord--O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul!
The last slender line of crocus-flame streaming onto the wall faded, turned to the petals of a poppy, burnt brilliant, and went out.
In that darkness, without gaslight or candle's gleam, that same profound and dimensionless night which had ushered me in to my relatives' home, my soul gaped in terror and screamed. 

// adamantine mood board


BOOKS  ||  "Are you reading that for research, or...?"  Honestly, everything I read could be counted as research for something at some time for some reason.

{recently finished}
the girl with seven names by lee hyeonseo
please look after mom by shin kyung-sook
lee's book, an autobiographical sketch of her defection from north korea, was absolutely riveting + proper messed with my sleep at night
shin's novel was a goodreads recommendation + did NOT disappoint. loved it, even though it was heart-breaking.

{currently reading}
hallucinations by oliver sacks
the book is by oliver sacks, not the hallucinations. but it is also downright fascinating. i never knew there were so many "sane" types of hallucinations.

WATCHABLES  ||  This category is remarkable, because I simply rarely have time to watch anything.

i like kdramas.  for some reason, i like horror movies.  i learned that koreans also make horror films.  i was positively giddy.

 a massive, gorgeous dramatization of the only female emperor of china, starring impossibly beautiful fan bingbing?? uh, yes please!  
(i'm watching on youtube. one of my sources recommended kissasian, but kissasian looked like it was going to steal my social security number + my kidneys, so i'm still using youtube like a dinosaur.)

*yes, these are overwhelmingly asian.  i don't know why.  that's just the way it is.

// i mean really

that's me, folks. thanks for reading!
xoxo, jenny

This Writing Program Cured My Writer's Block

Honesty is great, except when you're trying to look professional / like you're in control of what you're doing - then you really need to act like your ducks are in a row even if they've completely flown the coop.

that's me

I loathe opening my Word document.  Oh, I love writing - when writing comes easily + isn't a chore.  I've never enjoyed the struggle; that's why it's a struggle, otherwise it'd be called fun.  & for honest reals, this is the major reason I've made so little progress on Ethandune in the past six months.  My brain has been too tired to want to engage in the struggle.

The internet is deucedly clever at figuring out which ads will lure me in.  They know, you know.  The all-seeing eye...sees all...?  I saw a random graphic about a writing program that I semi-reluctantly bit.  You have to understand, this is me while looking at most everything online:


I can't find the graphic again, which is really annoying, so I'll just have to pitch this as well as the graphic pitched to me. 


When you're in the program, your document is literally all that you see.  No options, no tool bar: just your text.  If you move your mouse, it will show options (written pretty small + unobtrusive) to the far side of the screen, but otherwise it's just you + your writing.

// text with options // when you're writing, the options disappear //

I FIND THIS SO HELPFUL, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.  I never realized the extra "chatter" of the screen was so distracting, but it is!  With this full-screen option, it's like reading a book while you're writing it.  So cool!

If you look at my screenshot, you can see a "music" option.  I think you can upload your own music to the program, but the preset options are soothing instrumentals, which is kind of the idea.  It's perfect for creating that little bubble of sound that I need to hone in on my writing.

like, if enya was a novelist, she'd probably use this, i'm guessing

I think you can upload your own images, too, but I really like the preset images ZenWriter offers.  You have choices between
  • a beach (currently using, as Ethandune is by the sea)
  • a forest
  • clouds
  • several winter scenes
  • two lakes
They all appear with a muted overtone (see screenshot), & you can even switch between "day" (white-muted image with black text) + "night" (black-muted image with white text).  How cool is that, you guys?? HOW. COOL.

Last but NOT least.  Let me refer back to my previous confession of hating to open my Word document.  Like, I think it gives me acne just thinking about it.  Well.  WELL.  When I casually transferred my document to ZenWriter + got to looking at it...I couldn't stop writing.  (tim had to throw me to the ground + stand on me, while filigree ran over + unplugged the laptop)*  It was seriously addictive!  & this is coming from a brain-dead maman of two little ones.  I meant to just close the program + go lie down for awhile to rest, but noooo, the next thing I knew, I was writing.  The nerve!

* abigail, this reference is for you. if anyone else has seen "picture perfect" (1995), congratulations, you have witnessed the world's best film ever

So tHERE YOU HAVE IT.  My new favourite writing-related thingummy ever.  I went ahead + bought the full version (only $17.50), so it's aLL MINE.

** this is not a sponsored post. i don't get paid for any of the malarkey i put on here, sadly. **

check out zenwriter here if you're interested! 

thanks so much for reading, guys!
xoxo, jenny

10 Character Aspects You've Never Used Before

OF ALL THE CHARACTER ASPECTS OUT THERE, you've probably not considered the following.  I've curated some realistically awkward realistic gems for your literary jewel-boxes.  


HICCUPS  ||  SO. ANNOYING.  Hiccups never respect what you're trying to say; they just barge in + ruin everything.  Even worse: people think it's hilarious that you poor schmuck are being sabotaged by your own diaphragm.  Oh yeah, real funny.  Life: 1. Character: 0.


FORGET THE WORD THEY WANT  ||  For some reason, people think I've got an excellent handle on the English language just because I'm a writer.  This is very much not true.  I'm (exceptionally?) bad at losing words, bad at integrating new words, + in general just a terrible orator due to a:: lack of practice & b:: a deep + abiding embarrassment of my own voice.  Again, I can't be alone in this, right??

WHAT WHAT WHAT  ||  Someone says something to you.  You weren't paying attention.  "What?"  They say it again.  Still garbledeegook.  "Excuse me - what?"  They repeat themselves again.  Good Lord have mercy, you still have no idea what they're on about so just NOD + AGREE.  NOD + AGREE.

& hope you didn't commit to anything serious

FORGET WHY THEY WALKED INTO A ROOM  ||  or really how they got into a room in the first place, am I right?

FORGET PEOPLE'S NAMES  ||  You know that thing, when you're introduced to someone, & you 100% don't remember the person's name within 0.05 seconds of being told?  Yeah...

EYELASH IN THE EYE  ||  I wear contacts, which means my eyes are used to being bludgeoned by my fingers twice a day.  ALL THE SAME, getting an eyelash in them is NO. JOKE.  EXCUSE ME.  I NEED TO BORROW A SERVICE DOG TO GET ME TO THE BATHROOM.

"does anyone have any saline??"

SOME RANDOM BODY PART FALLS OFF  ||  Anyone out of their teens has probably experienced the unpremeditated betrayal of some limb/core body part that just randomly chooses to throw itself excruciatingly out of whack at the worst. possible. moment.

GETTING DROP-DEAD SICK AFTER INTENSE STRESS  ||  I think Tolkien is the only writer I've seen to get this right: you don't travel all the way to Mount Doom & then frolic off for a round of drinks with the guys to celebrate.  No.  You're bloody well laid up for an eon because your body is dead.

EVERYONE YAWNS  ||   People in books yawn.  That's realistic.  What I find completely unbelievable is that no one else yawns afterward.

Here are your 10 neatly curated aspects of being a people that you've probably not considered including in your novel.  Go forth + be a great writer!

thanks for reading, peeps!
xoxo, jenny

Cake Book Tag || What's My Dessert?

allergy bulletin: the following baked goods are certified gluten-free but they have most definitely been written + processed with nuts

It is an undeniable fact* that books are delicious, so what better waste of your time thing to do than to assign types of cake to books you've read? Answer: THERE ISN'T A BETTER. 

*citation what citation i don't need a citation


Yup yup.  I grew up on the Warner Bros. film (also a fav), so when I was old enough strong enough to lift the book, I devoured it.  You could try seeing how long you can coherently mumble "fluffy bunnies" while you shovel in mouthfuls of this book, but that would be an inaccurate description of the novel.  Not fluffy.  Not bunnies.  Awesome book.

* but i'm super annoyed because bigwig never finishes the story of el-ahrairah + the black rabbit of inle, & i know it's supposed to reflect on his impending infiltration of efrafa, but i'm too stupid to get it

jenny :: recommends



I don't even know how many times I've reread this book, it's just such a brilliant, whimsical, witty, excruciating, delightful book.  Thank the Lord for Jane Austen. <3

jenny :: highly recommends


I can't think of any way this book could have ended otherwise; its plot necessitated an unsatisfactory ending (**spoiler**).  It was a good book, I really enjoyed it, but my morals & the protagonist's were often at variance.  

(I always think red velvet cake is going to taste like a fancy gala on my tastebuds, but then it just turns out to be...cake.  Not bad cake, but it looked like it was promising a whole lot more.)

 jenny :: recommends


ANNE BRONTE (bless her heart) DOES NOT GET NEARLY ENOUGH LOVE.  This novel is vivid, captivating, gritty - if you took the wise eyes of Charlotte combined with the passion of Emily, that's Anne + this book.

jenny :: highly recommends


It's dumb, I know, but I have an allergic reaction to big books??  The writing in this novel is lovely, it's so intensely-researched that you can tell Umberto Eco simply breathes this time (I also hate Umberto Eco because he comes up with things like "The Island of the Day Before" & isn't that just a perfect turn of phrase? BAH).  And yet I haven't finished the book.  Double bah.

jenny :: recommends you not follow her dumb example


Such a hilarious foodie book.  It's like a wine that goes down so smooth, you don't realize how much you've actually imbibed.  I went on to read Encore Provence as well.

jenny :: recommends, but don't read on an empty stomach / tight grocery budget


Dur.  It was this series that really got me going on writing in the first place.

the eagle of the ninth (love)
the silver branch (very much love)
frontier wolf (embarrassed to not remember)
the lantern bearers (not a fav)
dawn wind (enjoyed, but don't really remember??)
the shield ring (totes cool

jenny :: i like them but i guess they're not for everyone??


I loved this book but I was NOT expecting it to be the traumatic emotional roller-coaster that it turned out to be for me. (i also turned out to like fruitcake, which prolly explains a lot about me) NO SPOILERS HERE but personally I was reading it in early marriage / I think I was pregnant with my first child + subsequently a little crazy, so I was NOT EMOTIONALLY STABLE ha ha Lord help us.

jenny :: recommends this book it is amazing but feel free to take your xanax first

* you see what i did there


So it's a really, really heavy shortcake...  I honestly haven't read a lot of American writers, but this one...takes...the...


OKAY.  For plot, pacing, descriptive narrative, character development - basically all the marks of a good novel, this novel has them.  Literature classes should just study Lew Wallace, basically.

jenny :: highly recommends eVEN THOUGH IT'S A BIG BOOK

I saw this tag on Elijah David's blog Inexhaustible Inspiration, so feel free to

a :: check out his blog
b :: fill out this tag!

(a dark book you loved)
(a light read)
(mixed emotions)
(recommend to anyone)
(started but never finished)
(left you wanting more)
(4+ book series)
(not what you expected)
(fav american novel)

thanks for reading! bet you're hungry.
xoxo, jenny

{images via pinterest, graphics made by moi}

Via PaperFury || 4 Writer Struggles We All Have (But Don't Admit)

 disclaimer: all four points are literally just yoinked off of cait drews // paperfury, but i had to share because they are #legit. enjoy.

We all have massive struggles with the writing gig.  It's hard.  Face it.  We love it, but yeah, it can be grueling to drag decent prose, stimulating plots, + great characters out of our heads.  Yet FOR ALL THAT, there are some aspects of writing that we all share & yet don't get talked about but NEVER FEAR, Cait Drews did & I'm following suit.  Because.  It's real.


Thankfully, yeah, I have basically a whole lifetime's worth of work ahead of me, but it wasn't always this way & I am NO stranger to this colossal fear.  You finally slog through your magnum opus.  Boom.  Last page.  The end.  Phew. what.

NOW WHAT.  This was your LIFE.  You live + breathe your writing.  & it's DONE.  WAH.  Stages of grief one two three go! What do you do with yourself?  Will you ever write again?? Are you left to stumble about in a battered daze of literary Stockholm syndrome??
HELLO, YOU OLD FRIEND OF A MIDNIGHT TERROR, YOU.  What if, years from now, people look back over my stories & say, "Eeyep, she was a hack.  Same ol' characters with different names.  Same ol' stories.  Her tone never changes.  Never shifts to accommodate the new plot.  She's a one-trick pony, that's for sure."

i don't wanna be a one-trick pony-y-y-y-y-y!  

I really, really, really, REALLY hate this, you guys.  R E A L L Y.  Let me just go on record + say

i read almost NO contemporary fiction, okay??

so how am I supposed to know what's trending these days??  Spoiler: I DON'T.  So it's a real suckerpunch in the chatterbox when I've been doolallying along for awhile with a story, only to discover that someone has ALREADY PUBLISHED A NOVEL WITH A MARKED ASPECT JUST LIKE MINE.


Yes, okay, there are lots of cool things that we can all share (dragons, sarcasm, archaic description), sure.  But this kind of thing makes it look like I'm a hack (see note above) & that I stole another author's idea, which is a thing that happens but I DON'T DO IT.  IT'S NOT OKAY.*


wait that's also a book

*this post doesn't count because i tell you who came up with the idea, right...?

I think I must be living proof that you can write outside your experience & possibly should write outside your experience, because I have tried writing contemporary fiction & it sTINKS.  So in light of that fact, I really do have to write stuff I've never experienced.

especially since i'm not a reenactor + i really love modern amenities

  • wearing armour // using weapons (which are heavy + require a lot of strength to use)
  • loss of loved ones (waaaah)
  • england (i've only been to scotland)
  • the medieval era (my time-travel machine is broken)
  • magic (still can't do this for some reason??)
  • coffee (i've never been to central/south america + coffee makes me bloat)
  • crinoline (i have petticoats! does that count??)
  • strategy in warfare (use dynamite. saves time.)
  • being tall (>_<)
  • humour (#dadjokes)

There you have it: four basic software worries that come complementary with the whole writer package.  Did you get anything else with your order?  Please share! 

special thanks to cait, who has no idea i've yoinked her post but i'm telling you so it's not stealing XD

thanks for reading! until next time!
xoxo, jenny

Beautiful People || Writing Process Edition

Beautiful People is technically about characters, but if ever there was a character in my would be me.  

This month's Beautiful People installment is all about the author + the individual writing process.  "Process."  It's such a cute notion.

how do you decide which project to work on?
I consult my horoscope, the collective horoscopes of my favourite authors, divide the equation by 12 (props if 12 is the only number in the formula), ruminate feverishly on my churning plots, ignore all responsibilities to other stories, & begin writing.

how long does it usually take you to finish a project?
It takes me a third as much time to write a project as it does to finish it, so whatever that number is (maybe 12?? no units mentioned), add it twice more & then ignore that number completely.  Et voila!
do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
I use the time-honoured process of tapping summer sunsets & processing the hues + atmospheres, mixed to perfection with the sounds of cicadas, the scent of mown grass, the cool buttery feel of a breeze, + an unspecified amount of cumulus clouds, english breakfast tea, warm bricks, candles, minimalism, + solitude.

at what time of day do you write best?
I do my best writing around 10:30-11:00 at night, when I'm nearly asleep & my brain is spinning the most wonderful pieces of prose...that I will forget completely.

are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
There is an amateur author that published a gob-stoppingly enormous work about three years ago; I've read over her work extensively & it bears some resemblance to mine.  I like my writing better, though.

why did you start writing, & why do you keep writing?
It's been too long since I started for me to know why I began.  For all I know, I was born writing.  Probably I looked at a bunch of blurry lens flares (my birth was a michael bay movie??), & my mother's face, & some truly pompous baby-babble prose began forming in my head.  I'm afraid it's a hopeless case; I doubt I'll stop now.  It's just me.

what’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
My Social Security number; I can never remember it & I'm always terrified that I've left it somewhere & it isn't on hand so I'll be forced to turn in incomplete paperwork for some doctor or some such.  #adultlife

I can't tell you which work has been the hardest for me.  They're all the hardest for me while I'm writing them.   Nobody knows how to write; it's just that some of us are in the habit of thinking stories, & some of us are more practiced at wrestling the idea into a story-format.  But it's always hard, ya know??

is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
let's see :: ethandune, lamblight, maresgate, cruxgang, ampersand, adamantine...

what writing goals did you make for 2017 & how are they going?
I have stayed on track with my determination to continue working on Ethandune & have not sidetracked to another novel, which I think takes a lot of maturity.

describe your writing process in three words 

"my process is thinking, thinking, + thinking - thinking about my stories for a long time"
hayao miyazaki

That's my writing process in all it's systematic glory. #relatable  Is there anyone else as dysfunctional about their writing as I am?? I can't be alone in a:: really, really loving to write, & b:: having a totally slapdash approach to the whole thing.

how do you decide which project to work on?
how long does it usually take you to finish a project?
do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
what time of day do you write best?
are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
why did you start writing, & why do you keep writing?
what’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
what writing goals did you make for 2017 & how are they going?
describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

as always, thanks for reading! cheerio!
xoxo. jenny

How to Avoid Melodrama (& Have Fun Doing So)

I've been gone a long time, I know!  I have almost no creative juice for my blog at present, simply because life is so draining.  Ethandune is being difficult - or I'm being difficult with Ethandune, which is probably more accurate to say.  WELL.  But here I am; & I've got something fun for you.

Ye olde Pinterest is chockablock with images of medieval import, & given that I also fall thoughtlessly under that cadre of writers who delve into medieval-themed worlds, I see a lot of those images.  The majority of them aren't to my picky taste, but some of them are truly a barrel of laughs just because of the melodramatic captions that pinners have given them.  What makes them doubly hilarious is that the pinners are dead serious

Rather than pass them by this time, I rounded up a few to share so that you can laugh + avoid them +/or fix your prose if you accidentally fell into a melodrama.  (Bee tee dubs, I am extremely melodramatic.  Not, like, Sir Walter Scott melodramatic, but shoo-ee, surely I've pitched headlong into every melodramatic trap there is.)

All of these captions are completely anonymous.  I have no idea who wrote them, nor do I wish to pin the tail on the donkey.  Read, laugh, learn.  En avant!

the only kind of dancing or needlework they could get her to do was the kind involving bruises + steel.

I completely understand that being in a society that "confines" women to almost no profitable pursuits is a real drag.  Being allowed only to dance, sew, become fluent in all the romantic languages + German, it gets pretty tedious - especially if your natural inclination is to do something else.  HOWEVER.  I am very. very. tired. of the tomboy trope, the denigration of "gentle" activities, & the worship of anything painful/violent that I'm finding in most amateur fiction today.  Wanting to hurt people is not cool, you guys.  It doesn't make you an awesome role model.  

Props: I have to own that this line has decent cadence.

dame sylris valen riding her white steed, asfaloth, in the highlands.

 & I quote from my text to Abigail about this, "Dame Trying-too-hard riding her cliche horse Tolkien-knockoff, in a foggy place we know nothing about but we think is romantic because of 'Outlander.' "  I don't know why the pinner bothered to caption such an image, as he/she was not even putting in the effort to construct an original idea.

Props: none.

first thing i did, steal a horse & ride away as fast as i could.

Because stealing a horse is so easy + not punishable by serious seriousness / possibly even death. 

Fun fact #1: horses are really big animals & they have enormous nails on the ends of their legs called hooves where are hard + make lots of noise on the ground.

Fun fact #2: tack is constructed of squeaky leather + metal rings/buckles that make melodious noise to anyone who loves horses / isn't committing a crime.

Fun fact #3: horses are expensive, & are used by a:: wealthy folk who have people to look after them / keep tabs on them, & b:: people who use them for their livelihood.  Either way, the horses would be missed.  You can't just yoink a horse & gallop off into the wild blue yonder.

Props: you don't get any props. You're stupid + you're going to get caught.

medirval warrioress, armour princess

I just had to share this one because of the derp factor.  

as gawain spoke, annwyn caught a flash of something out of the corner of her eye. a young man, dark + brilliant green eyes met her gaze & raised an eyebrow at her. annwyn's heart skipped in her chest. she'd seen him before, she was sure of it.

Ah, swooon.  Sorry, Gawain, we have 100% zero memory of what you just said because Mr. Myserious just walked by.  My only question is, how are his eyes both dark + brilliant?? But other than that, this is totally reflective of the proper interactions between men + women of the post- archaic western world / sixth century Europe, yeah.

Wait, second question: what flashed?? Because human eyes don't have tapetum lucidium behind them so they're not going to glow at you.

his knuckles had that weird webbing of scars that can only be gotten from hitting them against other people over + over until they bled.

Double swoon!  How brave + strong + masculine of this person!  Never mind that fist abrasions produce bruises & would look more like he caught his hand on the back of a big cheese grater before healing (probably without noticeable scarring), rather than "webs" of scars.

Props: okay, I like the word "webbing."  Points for that.

"fight me." "but you're a girl." "i know, it's unfair of me to outmatch you, but i really need the practice."

Oh puh-LEEZ.  For once, can I have a story with a physically-capable female character whom the men respect & who respects the men in turn??  Is that too much to ask??  

"surely, i could tell you," he smiled roguishly, with his playful eyebrows raised, "but would you really believe me, lass?"

Gaaag.  Any female who falls for this is either desperate or stupid.  Or both.  This fellow sounds like a grade A s.o.b., & the inclusion of "lass" (is this what "Outlander" has done?? i don't know, i don't watch it) is not doing anything for you.

Props: "for to everyone who has, more shall be given, & he will have abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what little he has shall be taken away." your moves. you have none, & what you do have needs to be surgically removed at once.

"i knew it. you're the thief." the man spoke harshy as he lifted the hood. maria glared but said nothing. the man grinned. "now would you kindly restore what you stole?" maria also smiled & simply said, "no."

I always suspected her appearance of goodness.  We've got some great bad-boy vibe going on here: note the "harshly" + the "grinned."  Obviously this dude has the rough edge + the swoon-worthy charisma that young females are susceptible to - but WAIT. our heroine is (melo)dramatically holding out!  So self-possessed.  So brave.  So much in need of an editor because her reply is clunky.  Also she probably needs a good slap on the face.

Props: pare this down & then we'll talk about giving you props.

but on her, he liked the fangs. on her, they were sexy.

Except when you get cold sores inside your lips, you know?  Then the fangs catch on them & it's so annoying.  But yeah, if you compare Jane Doe with fangs to her Aunt Agatha with fangs, I would call that sexy.  Not gonna deny that.

Props: the construction of the sentences is decent.

her ring glimmered in the moonlight. what was that symbol? it looked like the one he had seen on the evil lord mac de diube's ring... could it be? could she really be a boarlonian? "azara, you wouldn't know anyone by the name of mac de diube, would you?" her face registered surprise + then sadness. "how do you know of him?" "then you do? azara, i'm shocked." "so am i." "he is my greatest enemy." " must go. i didn't tell you cause i thought you didn't know anything about him..."

w  o  w.  We've got some major stuff going on here.  First of all, it must be a beautiful night with a massive full moon & no light pollution for him to be able to make out the insignia of this girl's bling.  Don't get me wrong, a full moon on a clear night in a pre-electric world is a pretty spectacular thing.  But they also didn't have super effective ocular aid & eyes weren't so good either.  Remember that.

The evil Lord Mac de Diube.  Use of bland villainy gets 0 props.  Don't tell me he's evil; show me that he's trying to force his only daughter to marry a disreputable person merely in order to form an alliance, or some such.  & maybe don't name him something that I'm going to mentally translate as "Mac de Dweeb."

i also read "boarlonian" as "baloneyian."  truth.

This guy is definitely not smooth, so casually asking Azara (why does she have a Persian name when this feels Scottish at best?) if she happens to know the man who shares her household symbol.  Nice going, there. I want to know why "Derik" has to go now.  Are we leaving Azara all by herself?  Is she a dead albatross or something?  What's with the melodrama??

Props: her face registering surprise + sadness isn't bad.  

The last excerpt has enough to go on, I'm going to rewrite it real quick to give you an idea of what I might do instead.  This is just me, though; there are probably a billion + one different ways to write this better.

The firelight created a halo around Azara's head as she bent to her embroidery.  In the long, unlit hall, the little pool of crocus-glow around the fireplace seemed to stand out in relief.  As her hands drew + tugged at the threads, Derik noted a flick-flick-flick of flamelight refecting back off her needle, & a second little glimmer blinking off a heavy band on her signet-finger.  She was leaning too far forward to notice him watching in wrapt suspension.  On one side of his face, the fire warmed to a prickling heat; on the other, a cold dread blanched the blood out of his veins.

"A heavy piece for you, that ring - don't you think?"  He reached for his mead-cup as if it were an idle thing.

Azara's hands hesitated, trembling, before performing two more uneven stitches.  The hand with the signet-ring slipped out of sight under the fabric.  "It is...not my favourite piece."  Her voice was strained.

A dozen red warnings flashed through his mind.  She had got him wrapped around her finger like that hideous ring, and he was afraid she had done it of a purpose, afraid that it was now too late.  He got stiffly to his feet.  There seemed to be no warmth at all in his body now.  "I will bid you good-night."

She looked up quickly, biting her lip as if to hold back something desperate.  He had a horror of whatever it might be, of confession or regret, so he turned away at once before she could speak.  He heard her silence reaching after him as he walked from the circle of firelight into the lonesome dark; in his mind's eye he was haunted by the vision of her gaunt, frightened face and the tiny depression on her signet ring of a boar and a broken crown.

There, I'm biased but I like that a sight better - though they do need different names. Now you can

a:: tear apart my writing
b:: tell me what you think about all the excerpts
c:  make your own rewrites

thank you for reading!
xoxo, jenny