Meet the Books! ~ Jennifer & Fred

Once upon a time not so very long ago, I told y’all about this story I was working on, ANNA. And how it was my precious child and I loved it. And how I was rewriting part one before moving on to part two and how I would literally die for half of my characters…and so on…

And anyway, I did so under the aegis of Belle Anne’s fabulous Meet the Books! linkup, which she has done again. And because I am actually working on two projects at once (ANNA in a more editorial vein, this one in the mad bloody chaotic rush of first-drafting), I am going to do it again too. I am going to tell you allll about my current project, Jennifer & Fred. Many thanks to Belle Anne for creating this linkup, and many thanks to anyone who wants to stick around and read my blabbering. If you don’t, no hard feelings. Have some cookies anyway.

What is the title?

Why, didn’t you read the title of this post? “Jennifer & Fred” is the title, and a perfectly scrumptious one if I do say so myself.

I’ve also considered titling it “Jennifer & Fred & Baseball & Potlucks & Simon&Garfunkel.” It has a nice ring, but it’s rather long.

What is the genre? Time period?

Historical fiction. Late 1960’s. I think my parents have objected to this and said that you can’t possibly call something historical fiction if they remember it, but whatever. It’s historical fiction. (Though I am curious when exactly the cutoff would occur. We live in a totally different time than the ’90’s, and yet calling that historical fiction just seems wrong.)

How is it written (POV, main character, etc.)?

First person. (It’s my favorite, what can I say?) It’s told by my main character Jennifer, whose narration is liberally peppered with literary references. Which, you know, is fun to write. If also exhausting when I can’t think what Greek myth she’s trying to draw a simile from here.

What is the setting?

A fictional small town in Arkansas, based on the one my mom lived in as a small child.

Who are the characters?

Jennifer – main character, age nineteen, orphan, amateur artist, avid reader. Does church work but isn’t as into it as her cousins. Has quite a talent for sarcasm but filters. Possesses what Frances calls “an unfortunate regard for the truth.” Likes Bach and Mendelssohn.

Frances – Jennifer’s twenty-year-old cousin, also an orphan, flaming redhead with a flaming temper. Flamboyant. A little self-centered but goodhearted. Hates sewing. Loves painting. Also has a talent for sarcasm and sees no need to filter. Likes Beethoven and Liszt.

Cora – Jennifer’s twenty-two-year-old cousin, also an orphan. Excellent cook. Kind to a degree that is probably not possible in one with a talent for sarcasm. Has asthma. Has a secret passion for Saint Bernards. Likes all music but her favorite is probably Vivaldi.

Aunt Mary Jamesina – The cousins’ great-aunt, in whose rambling old-fashioned house they all live and have grown up. A small, white-haired invalid. Reads Dickens aloud to everybody. Is as kind as Cora, but unlike Cora can also understand the baser passions that sometimes afflict Jennifer (like the desire to push Aaron over a cliff).

Aaron – The ten-year-old cousin, also an orphan, who has recently come to live with the girls permanently, although before he only came once a year to afflict them at Christmastide. Cheerful, destructive, loves people, loves baseball. Has no proper respect for the dignity of a cat. Adores Jennifer. Is mildly resentful of Frances.

Fred – The saturnine nephew of a couple at church, visiting from Little Rock. Meets Jennifer at the after-service potluck and is struck not so much by her beauty as by the curious mingling of vinegar and courtesy in her conversation. Just got back from Vietnam and doesn’t have anything to tie him to Little Rock anyway. Yields to his aunt’s urging to prolong his visit. In pursuing Jennifer’s acquaintance, ends up falling in love with her whole family.

The baseball kids – Some of their personalities are still emerging, but I’ve grown very interested in Max, the quiet fifteen-year-old kid with a rotten home life and real pitching talent; Nick, Aaron’s buddy, eternally cheerful in affliction, and not a bad fielder either; and Vernon, Aaron’s tall-tale-telling best friend with a very dignified name that he does not live up to at all. Which is why he goes by Hank (his middle name is Henry) instead.

What does the plot consist of?

Good question. And I’m sure that somewhere in the middle of Jennifer and Fred coaching Aaron’s ragtag baseball team, Aaron and Frances learning to get along, Fred introducing Jennifer to the wonders of 1960’s folk rock, and Jennifer trying to help Max, a plot is hiding. It’s just hiding rather well.

What gave you the idea?

Fair warning: this is kind of a long story.

It begins in November of 2015, when my father had an Idea. Said Idea was that over the month of December, we should all write a story, and we’d read them aloud to each other on Christmas Eve. The story had to be a Christmas story in one way or another, and, just for an extra touch of unity, it had to include a ten-year-old boy named Aaron. For this occasion, I wrote “Of Colored Pencils and Christmas Lights,” in which Aaron spent December with his cousins, many catastrophes occurred, and Jennifer had an epiphany. It was long for a short story, and apparently it was also boring. By the end, only two listeners were still awake, and they only by a great effort of will and eyelids.

Anyway, despite the dismal failure of “Of Colored Pencils and Christmas Lights,” the idea overall was a success. We’ve done it every year since, excepting 2016. And despite the dismal failure of “Of Colored Pencils and Christmas Lights,” I remained rather fond of it.

One day, quite out of the blue – I think I was thinking what an unromantic name Fred would be for the hero of a romance – a character named Fred appeared in my head. Now, I’d always thought I’d like to expand on “Of Colored Pencils and Christmas Lights,” maybe have Aaron come to live with them year-round, but that wasn’t a novel plot on its own. But with a romantic lead named Fred – well!

Well, that wasn’t a novel plot on its own either, it turned out, though it was getting there.

One day when my family was in Arkansas, my mom showed us the town where she’d lived when she was a little girl. Barely changed, she said. She recognized her old house, her friends’ houses, the house of that horrid boy who liked to chase her. The Baptist church, the post office, the great field behind the house where they played – there seemed to be blackberries growing along it, and behind it rose…well, I know they call them mountains in the Ozarks, but my idea of a mountain has a bit more height to it; but to call it a hill doesn’t have enough height. Anyway, it rose behind the field, tree-covered, thoroughly shielding it.

Anyway, very picturesque scene, very pleasant sleepy little town. Jennifer’s story had always been set somewhere in the South, but if I was going to turn it into a novel I needed an actual setting, and this was perfect. It was perfect that it was Arkansas too. Arkansas is Southern, but not quite the same as the rest of the South; maybe it’s too far west for that. Anyway that’s how I wanted the story to be too: Southern but not just absolutely drenched in Southernness.

So I had a setting, but still no story. Somehow I had to get the kids of the town into it. Aaron’s friends? Jennifer volunteers somewhere? Fred…?

This summer, however, thanks to Megan I had an epiphany. Baseball. It would be a baseball story. I’ve always meant to write a baseball story. And so now I am.

Who are the favorite characters so far?

Max and Nick, I think. My poor boys. They don’t have the best time of it, but they’re so good about it all and I love them very much.

(Fred is also fun, of course, all sarcastic and cynical and secretly a starry-eyed idealist who could ask no more of life than to turn some eager uncoordinated kids into a real baseball team.)

What is the favorite scene so far?

I haven’t written many actually good scenes yet, but I do like the one at the church potluck where Jennifer and Fred strike up a friendship over being uncomfortable in crowds, she takes offense to his assumptions about her, and they proceed to have a heated conversation about Great Expectations.

Any drawings?

If Jennifer and Frances were real, there’d be an abundance of them. They are not real, so there is a sad dearth of them.

Any themes of music for the work?

Oh, yes, indeed! Every Simon & Garfunkel song ever, really, although I guess to make it easy the most appropriate ones are Mrs. Robinson (because Joe DiMaggio=baseball, plus disillusionment with the older generation is Fred all over), Why Don’t You Write Me? (I don’t know why particularly, it just fits), and Bridge Over Troubled Water (mostly for Jennifer’s relationship with Aaron and subsequently Max). Technically only Mrs. Robinson would’ve been released at the time the story takes place – in fact, I think it might’ve been released right in the middle of the story? But whatever. I said every Simon & Garfunkel song ever. Go look up, I don’t know, The Sound of Silence and I Am a Rock and April Come She Will if you want to be historically accurate. I mean, they’re good songs too.

Oh, and the Kinks’ The Village Green Preservation Society. Mustn’t forget that one. It’s practically the theme song of Jennifer’s family – or at the very least it’s what Fred thinks their theme song is. And he himself is more in sympathy with it than he supposes.

Any snippets?

Fine, I will share one (1):

“I hope you brought fruit salad,” said Mr. Busse anxiously.

“I’m afraid not this time,” I replied. “But Cora’s potato salad will be making an appearance, so do not despair.”

Strong point in story?

Uh…hopefully it’s funny? I’m not sure that it is, but oh well. What are revisions for, I guess. And if it was funny, that’d be the strong point.

Weak point in story?

That aforementioned absence of plot? Yes. That.

What are your plans for it?

To work on it at my own leisure and hopefully have a working first draft by the time I’m done rewriting ANNA. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen.

Any particular writing habits for it?

Lately, that would be not writing it.

If it were made into a movie, what would be your ideal cast for it?

I feel like this would be fun to come up with, but also I don’t know very many actors and don’t have the energy. So…I have no idea. My ideal cast would have subtle charisma across the board, but none, except Frances’s actress, would be too terribly beautiful.

And that’s the project I’m working on. Or at least ought to be working on. Who should I cast for the movie version? What have y’all been writing? Where do you think something ceases to be contemporary and becomes historical? What one band would you introduce your true love to?

Meet the Books! ~ ANNA

It’s always fun to start new writing projects – or to come back to beloved old ones. Now that I’ve tucked The Dream Peddler out of sight (and hopefully out of mind) for a while, I’ve been able to get back to my very favorite child, ANNA. Never mind that I keep getting distracted by shiny short story ideas or tapped on the shoulder by Jennifer&Fred&Co – my Main Project is ANNA.

Specifically, a rewrite of part one. Parts of which have not been touched since I was fifteen.

Nothing against fifteen-year-old me, but some revisions are definitely in order before I get on with part two.

I’ve mentioned ANNA before, I think, but never given very many details. Thanks to Belle Anne’s lovely Meet the Books! linkup, however, details are exactly what I shall now proceed to get into. More details than you ever wanted to hear, probably. I don’t know. I could talk about this book all day. It’s my baby.

What is the title?

Oh, titles! I’ve only been working on this project since I was fourteen, and I for one don’t believe in rushing things. It hasn’t got such a thing as a title yet.

What is the genre? Time period?

Fantasy! Epic fantasy, I think. You know, magic and made-up worlds and politics and wars and sarcastic princes and The Sea?

Time period, hmm. A bit of a mish-mash of different elements from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe and the U.S., I guess. Dueling pistols, spectacles, watches, the occasional representative government. Helpful inventions, but no factories. It’s been six hundred to a thousand years (timeline is still a work in progress) since a big ol’ war that destroyed almost all records, technology, and cities. It’s far enough in the past now, though, that that doesn’t visibly affect the present.

How is it written (POV, main character, etc)?

From the point of view of an eight-year-old in part one; from the point of view of that same eight-year-old, only she’s now seventeen, in part two. Except I don’t think she stays seventeen. I don’t know. I haven’t got to the end of part two yet.

What is the setting?

There are several. We have the wintry forests (at least, they’re wintry in the winter) of The Forest and Arda.

We have Dofhren, the Rangers’ Forest, which is a very hilly forest full of nomads. It borders the ocean on the west.

And we have Elinisra, a large land with varying togography. Most of the action takes place in the hills that aren’t plains because they’re hills, but they don’t grow trees either – they’re sort of like the Flint Hills in Kansas? (Those do have some trees, but…the parts without the trees.) Elinisra has a relatively young central government and some very very old cities run by lords of very very ancient and noble lineage (but they still copy Odhori fashions) and a nice little capitol city called Noddin and a whole lot of farmers.

Whole lot of farmers.

They also have a resident wizard, partly because copying Odhor is the fashion, partly because he is useful. He may or may not be up to no good.

Who are the characters?

Anna, the main character, is a stubborn eight-year-old who, like most eight-year-olds, asks a lot of questions. Practical. Intelligent. Not very tidy. Surprisingly really fun to write, though I can’t be as flowery as I might wish.

Etan is an ordinary kid in a Forest village who helps Anna. Being fond of adventure, the thorn in his happy existence is that he’s never had a real one. Helping a random girl escape in the middle of the night from vague but sufficiently sinister villains is, I imagine, the high point of his existence.

Jem is just your regular woodsman, out in the forest on his way to visit his sister, who had to go and marry someone from Arda. Being the father of two, he adroitly handles a chance meeting with a little girl who seems to have fallen upon peculiarly terrible circumstances. He doesn’t talk much (you don’t need to when you can shoot as well as Jem) but is nice to have around if you need a friend, protector, uncle, or brother. Competent, reserved, kind.

Dom is Jem’s obnoxious nephew. #Domisthebomb is a thing and I really don’t know why.

Uls and Liska are a teenage brother-sister pair in the Ardan town of Innscarn who have differing views on whether betrayal of innocents is an acceptable way to earn your living. Liska is beautiful. Uls never stands up straight.

Finn is the nineteen-year-old daughter of Jem’s old friend Cormic. Brave, redhead, could maybe dial down the bitterness a notch or ten, really really really good with her knives.

Narril lives all by himself in Dofhren, hoping his former compatriots don’t think he’s important enough to hunt down. Which, so far, they haven’t. He grew up in a big Odhori city, liked gardening and hero legends, wanted to be Grand and Important, and dropped out of university when he got involved with some very bad people. Has a very, very, very low opinion of himself. Is very, very, very fond of Anna. Would murder people to protect her. (Does, in fact, murder people to protect her.) Considers cooking, history, extensive knowledge of poisons, archery, and cleaning up after yourself you impossible child the essentials of a young girl’s education.

Danel, also known as Dan, is a Ranger lad who wants to kill a bear. It’s hard being the son of a woman who’s famous for killing a bear with nothing but her knife (thus saving her future husband’s life), okay? It’s a lot to live up to. Maybe he’d live up to it better if he spent less time running wild in the woods with Sal (his cousin) and Anna (his best friend). I don’t know. He’s pretty chill. Not really the bear-killing type.

Dan’s grandfather is a fortune-teller. (A type of magic that you’re either born with or without. An inordinate number of Rangers are born with it; it’s speculated that this is because they live so close to The Sea.)

Minna is a nice, old Ranger lady and the only person Narril trusts. A notable seamstress. Lives at Cafh Tul (one of the Rangers’ few permanent settlements) year-round.

The tall man is a somewhat pathetic bad guy who wants to take Anna to his boss, for reasons.

The unflickering-eyes man is the other bad guy who thinks the tall man is an idiot and wants to just kill Anna here and now. He was blinded in his youth and later healed – but not quite all the way – and that, if you were wondering, is what’s up with his eyes. He’s probably the only person in the world Anna is really scared of. She’s a feisty little thing.

Thus the important characters for part one. In part two, we add Aidi (a lonely teenage prince), Mistress Ryeira (a kindhearted innkeeper who likes country dancing and wasn’t born yesterday), Misherel (Aidi’s grouchy guardian), Gerodh (the ailing king), Ilirai (Elinisra’s dubious court wizard), the cart driver (bad dude, stay away from him), Adrin (soldier who’s never actually been in a war, his cynicism is part of his charm in the ladies’ eyes), Emli (farm boy turned soldier), Tyn (the king’s official messenger, takes her job very seriously, almost as seriously as her clothes), Derin (Aidi’s cousin and best friend who has been missing for years now), and probably some other people too. Like I said, I haven’t finished part two yet.

What does the plot consist of?


Okay. I’ll give this a shot.

Eight-year-old Anna wakes up one morning to find her parents gone. They’ve left only a note that warns her to leave and tell no one her true name. Pursued by men who want to kill her, helped by the kindness of some, betrayed by the avarice of others, she flees to Dofhren, the land where the Rangers live beside the sea. But the man she meets there isn’t a Ranger; he used to be one of the ones hunting her. Can she trust him, or will old temptations prove too strong? And if he can redeem himself, what will it cost? More than Anna’s life is at stake: her home, her friends, and the world built out of the ashes of a long-ago war are once more imperiled by an ambition as hungry as the sea…and not nearly so forgiving.

I wrote that off the top of my head and I’m not going to revise it at all, because then when it was still horrible I wouldn’t have the excuse that I wrote it off the top of my head. Also, it’s better than most things I write off the top of my head. It even sort of tells you what it’s about.

On a less official note, I’d say the plot consists of: people going to extreme lengths to protect the people they love, redemption arcs, playing around with the Chosen One trope, going-off-to-seek-your-fortune, fantasy roadtrips (a trope I…actually kind of love), girls in disguise, war.

What gave you the idea?

Funny thing, I have two sisters who are both talented artists. Guess somebody mailed my share of the artistic ability to the wrong sister’s address. Twice.

Other funny thing, I still haven’t written this scene.

Who are the favorite characters so far?

Narril is several people’s favorite. My mom and sister, in particular, have strong opinions about what should happen to him – opinions that I do not share, and that they are somewhat wrathful with me for not sharing.

Aidi is well-beloved by my sisters and I, as is Jem (I love Jem), and of course my one sister is devoted to Etan and the other one is devoted to Dan. And we all adore Adrin, if only because he’s funny.

My favorite, though, is Anna. I love how quiet, yet sassy, yet polite, yet obstinate she is. She’s realistic almost to the point of pessimism, while the best word to sum up her attitude has to be “cheerful.” And that’s after some of the awful things that have happened to her. I would like to be friends with her, if only she were real.

It strikes me, I confess, that it is conceited to be so delighted by my own creation – but she doesn’t feel like my own creation? I mean, I know she is. I’m not crazy or anything. (Not that crazy.) But she feels real.

Maybe that’s just what happens when you spend so much time creating and thinking about a character.

She’s the real reason this book is my favorite child, anyway. I like the world and the scope of the plot and the general aesthetic, but I care about Anna slightly more than is probably sane. If I could only ever write one story, I’d write Anna’s. And of course it would matter, because there are other stories I want to write, but it also wouldn’t matter. Because hers is the story I want to write. If that makes sense.

What is the favorite scene so far?

Aw, gee, I don’t know. I’ve written a lot of scenes.

I do really like Jem Whacks the Bad Guys, as well as Anna Makes a Heroic Offer and Anna Definitely Doesn’t Cry. I’m also fond of Etan Aids and Abets Horse Thievery.

Any drawings?

I have several drawings of Anna and one of Dom. They’re all super cute, but they’re by friends and sisters and I don’t want to plaster them up on the Internet without asking if it’s okay first, which I am currently feeling too lazy to do. However, I did in my own person and drawing upon my own ability concoct a map years ago. I’m not an artist (see three questions back), and it’s not one hundred percent accurate anymore (I guess I should draw a new one), but here it is:

Green is farmland, orange forest, blue hills, red mountains, purple plains, brown uninhabitable desert. The spots that look like melty M&Ms sat on them for too long don’t mean anything other than that melty M&Ms sat on them for too long.

Any themes of music for this work?

Actually, yes! This is fun because usually the answer would be no, but if you play a twenty one pilots song, there’s a 50/50 chance it’ll make me think of Adrin. “Fix You” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” are exceedingly appropriate for Dan, and I cannot hear “The Preacher and the Bear” (great song) without thinking of him. Select folk songs are very Elinisran, as Renaissance polyphony is Odhori. The Rangers would be fond of Aaron Copland. And this song makes me think so much of Narril:

And for…not really the work, more the world, the official theme song is Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.” Which fits so well, although I can’t explain why, because of spoilers and because part of it is just the Feel Of The Thing.

Isn’t it a beautiful song, though? Isn’t it just…something else? The instrumentation and the layering of the Canticle in with the old English folk song and the strangely perfect harmonies? Not even my favorite Simon & Garfunkel song, but wow.

Any snippets?

I guess I can pluck up a few from the smoking, cratered wilderness of the rewrite.

A page from the aforementioned rewrite

The next evening I read Mother’s letter again. I was supposed to go to Noeran, whoever she was. Probably she was one of Mother’s sewing ladies. I scowled. I didn’t like any of them very much. They tittered and pinched my cheeks and said wasn’t I a pretty little thing (which I wasn’t) and then ignored me the rest of the time.

I’d have to go, of course. But not yet.

“Not yet,” I explained to the cows with their accusing eyes. “Because Mother and Father just took longer than they thought they would, maybe, and it wouldn’t be good if they came back and found me gone. Would it?” I crossed my arms, dangling the bucket. “No, it wouldn’t. So not yet.”

I was all by myself in the darkness. Just like the stars, I thought. Far away from everyone else. And if the unflickering-eyes man came to get them, nobody would even know; they would just be gone, forever.

I yawned before I took another bite of eggs. Jem’s sister looked at me, and then she lifted her eyebrows at Jem. “I told you it was too early for her.”

Jem looked at me. “Is it too early for you, kid?”

“No, sir,” I said, but then I thought maybe that was contradicting Jem’s sister, which wasn’t polite, so I added, “I mean, I don’t mind.” Then I yawned again and put another bite in my mouth.

Jem’s sister’s lips tightened like she wanted to smile.

Jem said, “This way we’ll be gone before anyone is awake. No one will know where we went, and we won’t have to endure Dom’s emotional farewell.”

I raised my eyebrows at my food, but I didn’t say anything.

Jem’s sister smiled at me. “Jem doesn’t always mean what he says, dear.”

I regarded her. “You mean Dom wouldn’t have an emotional farewell?”

Angst and people who like each other being mildly confused by each other. All in all, a pretty accurate summation of my writing.

Strong point in story?

Judging empirically, the characters. One is the subject of a hashtag and at least two have occasioned threats against the author lest she (I) disregard their well-being. Not to mention I have grown fond enough of a few of them myself to occasion doubts of my sanity.

But I personally think the strong point is the dialogue. Which flows out of character, I guess. I like writing dialogue, and I’m usually pleased with how it turns out

Weak point in story?

Well, this is how I write action:

He punched the other guy. “Ow!” said the other guy. He punched the other guy again. They fought some more. Eventually, one of them won.

You can see how that might be considered not the strongest point of the story.

(Not an actual quote, by the way. I could furnish you with an actual quote, but you’ll just have to trust me that it’s as bad as I say. My sister read a tense and exciting scene over my shoulder once, which was very rude of her, and had the audacity to laugh…then to groan…then to say, “Man, you’re bad at writing action. Like really bad.”)

And the plot….

I have great hopes for the plot. Hopes that it will straighten itself out, stop following rabbit trails all the time, and eventually maybe even look handsome and alluring and mysterious. Right now in my hoping I feel a great kinship with the mother of a ten-year-old boy who she hopes will grow up to be a successful young man but whom she has just caught sneaking in through his bedroom window, his best trousers ripped and his person smeared with mud. He stole a cherry pie earlier in the week and cannot remember his Sunday School lesson.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s a weak point or not, but writing from an eight-year-old’s perspective, while fun, is hard sometimes. Like, how much is too much, you know? Is this what an authentic eight-year-old would say, or is it just dumb?

What are your plans for it?

I mean, finishing would be nice.

Any particular writing habits for it?

No-o, but I’ve discovered that chickens make wonderful Muses! Cats do not.

If it were made into a movie, what would be your ideal cast for it?

I don’t know enough actors to answer this properly, but I do think the actress who plays Kate in Lost (Evangeline Lilly?) would make a good Anna. Not that Anna’s anything like Kate, but she has the right look.

I also think a young Henry Fonda would make a grand Jem. Tom Hiddleston would be perfect for Narril, except he has the wrong skin tone. But I feel like he’d act him well. Jimmy Stewart (quiet, steady goodness) and Vivien Leigh (bright, vivacious beauty) as Dugo and Arenedha (Anna’s parents), respectively, would be great, although, again, Jimmy Stewart has the wrong skin tone. The Odhori are much darker than Emraeins and Elinisrans and Rangers.

Oh, and the kid who plays Mordred in Merlin? He’d be a great Dan. Little Mordred would be a great Little Dan too.

That is that; ANNA‘s official debut into Polite Society. I still feel like y’all know nothing about her, though. The story is so complicated. Hard for me to explain. I really enjoyed writing this post, though, and thanks again to Belle Anne for creating such a fun linkup! What writing projects are you guys working on? How are they faring? Do you pick favorites among your characters?

The Mystery Blogger Award (because it never hurts to do good things again. and twice.)

The lovely Maya Joelle and the lovely C.M. have both tagged me for the Mystery Blogger Award. (C.M. tagged me first, to be quite frank, but the sentence sounded better in the order I wrote it.)

I thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

(That sounded super sarcastic, but it…wasn’t. I’m sorry, guys.  I’m a little tired. I really liked your questions, though, and enjoyed writing this post up.)


the rules:

Put the award logo/image on your blog.

Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well (this award was created by Okoto Enigmas).

Answer the five questions you were asked.

Nominate ten – twenty people.

Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs linking to their most recent posts.

Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice with one weird or funny question.

Share a link to your best post(s).

c.m.’s questions:

What is one vice you must fight against the most often?


Well, there’s a bit near the end of Mere Christianity where C. S. Lewis talks about pride. First he talks about vanity, but then he talks about how people can be proud without being at all vain, and they and other people may never even realize they’re proud. So, I’m really not vain, and I often feel like pride isn’t one of the sins I struggle with…and then I remember this and I’m like, whoa. Nope. I definitely have a problem with pride.

I think pride is the vice a lot of people struggle with the most, actually, only so many people don’t even know it.  It’s so insidious.  And there’s such a fine line between “I don’t care what other people think of me because it’s who I am that matters in God’s sight and should matter in mine, not how I appear,” and “I don’t care what other people think of me because what value do the opinions of that rabble have anyway?”

You know what I’m saying? We shouldn’t care what others think of us, it’s true (except maybe as an indicator, if they’re people we trust, that we’re doing something we shouldn’t), and yet…we can so easily get ourselves not to care by just devaluing them. Which is even worse.

As a pretty independent-minded person, yeah, I think this kind of pride is the vice I struggle the most with.

…And maybe, because of that, my social anxiety is in a way a blessing? Because I often obsess at three a.m. over, was I rude?, and yes, it’s annoying and awful, but maybe without it I’d remember less often that other people matter too.

Man, I’ve never in my life seen my shyness as any sort of blessing in any way, and now I’m thinking maybe it is.  I love how deep this question was.

Which fictional character can you relate to the most and why?

Eowyn, from The Lord of the Rings.

That’s why.

Pick three historical figures you would wish to meet and have tea/coffee with. What would you discuss with them?

I kind of hate this question. I’ve never dwelt on the question, “What if I could meet historical people I admire?” because it’s so painful knowing I can’t. But now I’m being forced to dwell on it. Thanks, C.M. *glares*

Okay. Alfred the Great of Wessex – I’d want to talk about faith, and what it’s like to almost lose your kingdom, and Latin, and what historical people did he look up to, and…so many things. I’d probably forget half of them if I actually met him.

Jeb Stuart – you know that would be entertaining. I’d ask him to tell me war stories. This would have to be before he was killed, though, so…I’m not sure when we’d get the opportunity? (I’d also like to know his opinions on the general politics of the war, if he had any. And any horsemanship tips.)

I really want to say Tolkien or Chesterton, but I’m going to say Thomas Jefferson instead – he was rather fond of giving young people advice, but I need it enough that I’d love it.  I’d ask him for reading recommendations, and we’d discuss geology and agriculture and politics and the French Revolution and the importance of stories in developing the moral imagination and SO MUCH STUFF. I feel like I could talk to Thomas Jefferson for hours. He was so smart and, I suspect, so kind, and he was interested in everything. Oh, and I’d ask him about the early days of the American Revolution. And did he approve of Madison’s actions regarding the War of 1812? What did he really think of slavery and should he have dealt with that better in his own personal life? (I probably wouldn’t ask that, actually, because I don’t want to be rude, but I’d wonder.) OH, and I’d ask him about the violin; what were his favorite pieces, what did he think of Vivaldi, what were his musical opinions in general? I WANT THIS CONVERSATION TO HAPPEN SO MUCH.

What story world would you choose to live in until your dying breath? (Yep, there’s no goin’ back.)

Middle-earth. That’s not even hard. I’d spend my days in Rohan, go on some adventures to the Misty Mountains and the Western Wilds (Fangorn is practically my backyard; I could go there on weekend trips), get Gimli to show me around Moria, vacation in Rivendell (considering I probably couldn’t vacation in Lothlorien), and maybe even sail those southern seas to see the other lands in Middle-earth that we hear so little of.  Then, in my ripe old age, I’d retire to the Shire and open an orphanage.

What is one movie you wish more people would watch? (Or a book if you’re really not into films.)

The Perfect Game. So few people have heard of it, it’s sad.

When I first watched it, I thought, wow, what an amazing story. Even kind of believable although it would never actually happen in real life. And then it turned out it was based on a true story, SO. “Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction,” says the ever-wise Chesterton, “for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.”

Anyway it’s about a group of Mexican kids who learn to play baseball and compete in the Little League World Series of 1957. It is so sweet (without being sappy) and so funny and so good.  A movie worthy of the sport it is centered around – and believe me, I do not say that lightly. 😛

maya’s questions:

What is your favorite mystery book?

This question could’ve been so hard.  Whose Body? would’ve won out over The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, its less-brilliant twist made up for by the fact that Peter Wimsey > Hercule Poirot, and that detective-assisted suicide is Not Cool, Fam.  But the conflict would have been bloody.

Fortunately, all that is averted, because I recently read The Daughter of Time and GOODNESS ME, IS THIS LOVE? IS THIS WHAT MAKES LIFE DIVINE? The secret to writing the best mystery novel ever, it turns out, is solving a mystery that the reader already cares about before she even starts your book…Alas, that fact is not much use in general, but do bear it in mind, mystery writers.

What is your favorite mystery movie?

The Big Sleep. With Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall? If you haven’t seen it, you really ought to.

And then you should watch it again so you can pick up on all the clues you missed the first time around.

What is the most mysterious thing about you?

My perfect contentment with being single, apparently. It has engendered even more astonishment and mystification than my dislike of coffee and cake.

*shrugs* I don’t get it, either. Being single is great. Much better than coffee. Or cake. (But not coffee cake. That is better than being single, I have to say.)

Why do you think this tag is called “the mystery blogger award”?

‘Cuz it was created by Okoto Enigmas. (Key word: enigmas.) That’s my very boring theory, anyway.

this question is a mystery. react to its mysteriousness.

My dear Watson, it’s not a mystery at all. I know exactly what this sentence is hiding.

[Watson: You do? What’s it hiding?]

Pish-tosh, it’s quite obvious! Don’t tell me you don’t see it, my good fellow!

[Watson: I’m afraid, Holmes, that I don’t.]

Well, I shall give you time to think about it. You’ll certainly perceive the solution in a moment.

[Watson: I shall?]

Of course you shall. Now goodbye, old chap, I’m off to play my violin in an opium den whilst running the results of a recent chemical test I performed on the blood of a murder victim through my head. I need to relax, don’t you know.

[Watson: ……… ]

my best post:

I’ve actually changed my mind from last time. I think it’s this one (’cause I feel strongly about this, I guess), although this one (in which, by much racking my memory and occasional cheating, I managed to come up with fourteen whole romances that have proceeded from my pen) also brings me a rather inordinate amount of joy.

concluding paraphernalia:

I shall not tag anybody this time, but some questions have sprung to mind, to which I’d love to see your answers in the comments (or in a post, if you want to consider yourself tagged): What is the best fictional friendship of all time? Can someone be interesting if nothing about them is a mystery? What is Hercule Poirot’s issue? Do you think (assuming you’re not one now) if you’d grown up among pacifists, you’d be a pacifist now? (And vice versa if you are a pacifist. And if you grew up one or the other and are now the opposite of the one you grew up as, what made you change your mind?) If the moon really was made of green cheese, would you eat it?

The Weapons Tag (in which I fling references about willy-nilly while knowing very little about weapons)

Good old tag backlog. When I can’t adequately marshal my words to craft an original blog post (or answer comments, or comment on other people’s fabulous posts – I’m sorry, guys, my brain Just Ain’t Having It, and hopefully it will start Having It again with dispatch), you are always to be depended upon.

Many moons ago, Megan tagged me for the Weapons Tag, created by the Doorman, and I was very excited about it, because even though I know precious little about weapons, have tried and failed epically at knife-throwing, and never seem to get any better at archery despite the many hours I’ve devoted to it over the course of my childhood, they fascinate me. So, many thanks to Megan, and many thanks to the Doorman for creating such an excellent tag.

Because seriously, I’m excited about this tag.

That’s why I put off doing it for months on end.

It makes sense.

Sword image

When it comes to weapons, of course, you should always be safe and law-abiding, so let us list the rules.  These are not to be skipped and not to be disregarded, lest you sink to disgrace, dishonor, and bullet holes where you’d really rather there weren’t bullet holes. (Does anyone else always skip reading the rules when reading tag posts? Well, shame on you.  And shame on me, because same.)


1. Use the above picture or a similar picture of a sword.
2. Thank the person who tagged you and provide a link to their post.
3. Answer the 7 questions as best you can.
4. Tag 3 other bloggers if possible.
5. Close out the post making some statement or other to glorify the King of Kings.


If you had to choose any one medieval weapon for combat, what would it be and why?

I suppose it would be a longbow.  My bow is a recurve, but stepping from that to the longbow shouldn’t be too hard (or at any rate I don’t remember Ranger’s Apprentice making a big deal about it, and considering Ranger’s Apprentice’s propensity for making big deals about things, that probably means it isn’t too hard – they’re both bows, after all, and I imagine the distribution of tension in the draw is roughly the same, not like those dreadful ugly compound bows) as long as I learn to tie the knots right.  Also, I really enjoy archery even though I’m terrible at it.  And…surely, eventually, all the practice would pay off? Surely?

I’ve made my left forearm black and blue, created bloody lumps on my right index finger (it is now slightly deformed and shows no signs of ever going back to normal), frozen my fingers off, searched endlessly for lost arrows, and almost shot the cat. I refuse to believe it wouldn’t eventually bear fruit in my becoming a second Robin Hood.

OH, YES. ROBIN HOOD.  Yes, I would definitely choose the longbow.  Because Robin Hood.

(Also, it’s a long-distance weapon, which means I am less likely to be crushed by others’ superior strength in the course of the fight.)

If you had to choose any one post-medieval weapon for combat, what would it be and why?

One of those old gangster automatic gun things. I could carry it around in my violin case, and every time people joked about it (because this happens like every time you carry your violin into a public place), I would be quietly warmed inside by the delicious irony.

I’d start smoking cigars too, so as to be Hannibal.

(Although the A-Team and gangsters of the sort who carried machine guns, being from totally different eras, don’t have the same guns. But they both fire rapidly and shake a lot, so I really perceive no difference.)

If you had to choose to die from a blow/shot from some weapon or other, what would it be and why?

Dear me, what a morbid question.  A rather interesting one, though. There is such romance in perishing on the end of a sword…but then, getting shot by a bunch of orc-arrows while protecting hobbits is a great way to die too.

Although both those sound rather painful, not to mention hobbits are in short supply in my corner of the world.  I think I will be practical and go with a rifle-shot to the heart region. Then I could squeak, “Oh! He got me!” like Roquefort the Mouse before summarily expiring.

It would be a fitting end. They would engrave on my tombstone: “Ridiculous in Death as in Life; with Doubtful Taste in Literature, and No Conception of When Matters Are Too Serious for Joking.”

If you could design your own personal weapon (whether logical or not), what would it be like and how would it work? What would you call it?

I’d build a chariot, acquire a team of pegasi to draw it, paint the wheels with poppies, and conceal a secret substance within them. The rotation of the wheels would, by a mechanical contrivance, cause the secret substance to spew out upon my enemies.  It would be some sort of drug that makes you sleep, and thus all my enemies would drop in their tracks at my passing. Which is a great aesthetic, and also great for not having to kill your enemies to defeat them.  Ain’t nobody wants to kill nobody ’round here.

I would also make sure the secret substance smelled like poppies, for aesthetics.

And I’d call it the Chariot of Morpheus.

If you were in a battle, what era of weapons would you desire most to be fighting with and why?

The era (ancient China??) where everybody is an expert kung fu staff fighter. Because that’s just cool. (Not to mention I stand a much better chance with weapons where skill matters far more than brute strength, and I do at least know some basic blocks and stuff from my martial-arts-obsessed little sister. My special move, if you want to know, is Stumbling Over My Own Feet, and I’m really really good at it.)

If you were to lead a charge, what would your battle cry be?

I would steal from the Smiths, shouting, “Sic semper draconis!” at my enemies as I thwacked them.

With pillows.

Because a pillow fight is the only conceivable situation in which I would lead a charge, and while sic semper draconis is rather an insulting thing to shout at pillow-fight enemies (which is just another word for friends), it’s also too good of a battle cry not to use, some way or another. And pillow-fight enemies are the sort of friends who understand such things.

Is your preferred style of combat physical, conversational, or mental?  Are you more prone to do one as to the other despite your preferences?

Conversational is the only one I really do?  And I do it rather a lot.  “Why don’t you go be a lawyer and get paid for arguing, since you like it so much?” is a question commonly cast my way by weary, disgusted family members.

Conversational combat is quite exhilarating, really. You have to be on your toes.  You’re always one failure to think of a witty retort away from defeat.

So, although I’d probably enjoy mental combat (and probably die if thrown into physical combat), I think conversational combat might well prove to be my favorite.


I hereby tag Eden, Elisha, and the Story Sponge, if they want to do it. If not, that’s okay too, I can always find somebody else to force a gunfight o – that is to say, that’s okay.

The twenty-fourth psalm has been going through my head a lot lately, and it fits really well with this topic and the final injunction of THE RULES, so how about we end with a short passage from it?

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

The Liebster Award (zweimal!)

Heartwarming things happen quite unexpectedly.  Like when I discovered that both Kenzie and Becky consider me among their dearest friends.  Or maybe it means that the award itself is what’s dearest to you?  In that case, it’s misnamed, for although I like this tag, I can’t say being tagged for it is my dearest or proudest or even most memorable accomplishment…

But it’s a dear tag, if not the dearest of all tags (for I would never play favorites like that), made dearer by its marking a new epoch in the life of Sixty-Something Trees: the one where Sarah actually tries to keep up with her tags. (I haven’t got there yet, but I’m trying.)



Acknowledge the blogger(s) who nominated you.

Answer the 11 questions you’ve been asked.

Give 11 random facts about yourself.

Nominate 11 bloggers and notify them that they’ve been nominated.

Give your nominees 11 questions to answer.


– KENZIE’S QUESTIONS (thanks so much, Kenzie!)

What’s your favorite read of 2019?

*surreptitiously checks Goodreads*

Not counting rereads, my favorite fictional read of 2019 I think must be Kim.  And on the nonfiction side of things, definitely Orthodoxy.

Kim is about the orphaned son of an Irish soldier who’s grown up in India, who gets involved in the British Empire’s “Great Game” of espionage and such, and who also befriends an elderly Tibetan lama searching for a River. It’s an utterly gorgeous story, and you should all go read it now.

Orthodoxy is Chesterton’s explanation of how he came to believe that Christianity is true. And it too is gorgeous.

Dogs, cats, or birds?

Cats. I adore the uncanny little beasties.  But dogs and birds are both dear, too.

If you lived in the world of Harry Potter, what memory would you think of to summon a Patronus charm?

*has never read HP*

*hurriedly googles Patronus charms*

I…I honestly have no idea?  I don’t think I can answer this question properly.

What would your Patronus be? (it doesn’t have to be whatever you were given by Pottermore!)

Maybe it would be a cat?  They’re very reserved animals but also they’re not afraid to tell you their opinion.

What’s a book that you believe literally EVERYONE should read?

Just So Stories. There’s no better, more factually accurate way to teach a kid natural history.  Or to brush up on it as an adult.

What’s the oddest fear you’ve ever had?

I like biking, and a thing about biking is that if you stop halfway up a steep hill, you are DONE FOR. You’ve got to make it all the way up and then rest.

This knowledge began to be ingrained in my subconscious when I, as a wee child, started taking bike rides with my aunt, and the passing years have only etched it deeper.

So, once, I was biking up this hill on our road and my asthma was acting up. I knew the feeling: it was the feeling I had gotten recently, before I briefly stopped being able to breathe. So I was worried.

Was I worried my lungs would close? Was I worried I’d run out of oxygen, four miles from home, in no condition to walk, with no humans nearby to help me?

No.  I was deathly afraid I wouldn’t get to the top of the hill.

Which strikes me, in retrospect, as odd.

Besides writing and reading, what do you like doing in your spare time?

Music…and climbing trees…and walking. Also burning things.

What’s your favorite color?

Blue. It has no ugly shade.

What’s your favorite flower? (and do you know the meaning behind it?)

I can’t choose between the two, but either crocuses or columbines.

I do, in fact, know the meanings behind them.  Crocuses mean, “Spring is coming, go buy sweet pea seed packets, but for heaven’s sake don’t go outside in short sleeves yet it’s not that warm you idiot.”  Columbines mean, “These flowers are V., V., V., V. STRANGE and Sarah’s sisters don’t understand why Sarah likes them, but that is why. Sarah too is V., V., V., V. STRANGE and relates to them. Also, they have an odd sort of beauty that satisfies a certain offbeat corner of Sarah’s soul.”

According to Google, crocuses symbolize youthfulness and cheerfulness, which is fitting.  And columbines symbolize either foolishness or innocence.

What is one thing you’ve ALWAYS wanted to do, but haven’t yet done?

Sail on the ocean!

Write a haiku about the weirdest memory you’ve ever had! (this isn’t a question. just go with it.)

Hover near blue tiles

Flapping at bumblebee speed

Blah, blah, blah – MOM, LOOK!


– BECKY’S QUESTIONS (thank you very much as well, Becky! :P)

What is your favorite Greek tragedy/Ancient literature/really old book? (Okay, fine, any book older than the 19th century.)

Does The Song of Roland count? I mean, it’s pretty old, although medieval rather than ancient.  And it’s the epitome of epic, in my opinion. Straightforward, stirring poetry; great feats on the battlefield; fierce ideological conflict; treachery and pride and tragedy.  It’s gorgeous.

Who is your fictional role model?

Rab Silsbee.  I feel like that’s kind of an odd answer, but it’s true.

What is one story (or multiple stories!) that you want to write but probably never will?

I want to write this fairy tale where the prince wakes the enchanted girl with true love’s kiss…except he just did it because he felt sorry for her and the dwarves, and the dwarves insisted it would work, so for their sake he tried it. And to his surprise, it did work.

Which is because the whole thing was a plan arranged by the evil queen, who once heard a prophecy foretelling that this prince and his true love (if he found her) would overthrow her. So she found a girl who was completely temperamentally opposed to the prince, went through a whole rigmarole and cursed her so only his kiss would wake her, and set her in his path. (So that, basically, he’d think he’d found his true love when he hadn’t.)

The girl is then dependent on the prince, who’s a most kind and honorable fellow and would never leave her to fend for herself. But also they’re temperamentally opposed and come into conflict a LOT (and…there might be other problems too) and he is thus quite hindered from foiling the evil queen’s evil plans.

But of course in the end she is his true love, and they manage to work together, despite their differences, to overthrow the evil queen.

It sounds ridiculous written out. I guess it is ridiculous, but in my head it has this northern, Snow White, vintage fairy-tale vibe and I quite want to write it. Only it’s at the bottom of the list, and the list ain’t short, so I probably never will.

Who is your very favorite character you’ve ever written/read (and if you can’t choose that, then who’s the character who’s most like you?)

Oddly enough, the answer to both those questions is the same?  I think? (Not in a conceited way though. 😂 At least I hope not. More like, you can admire someone without understanding them. But when you understand someone, then you can REALLY admire them. Insofar as they’re admirable, that is.)

Anyway, the answer is Éowyn.

What is one book everyone else loves but you hate?

The Maze Runner is one…although I do have a friend who hates it even more passionately than I do. But most people love it.

What’s the saddest book/legend/fairy tale/whatever that you’ve ever read?

The death of Balder was practically the death of small Sarah. Augghh. *clutches heart* Not even Orpheus and Eurydice -not even Cuchulainn killing his friend – compares to the dreadful, hope-destroying, soul-crushing, pointless tragedy of it.

How could Loki?

Favorite character from the Arthurian legends, if any? (Yes, I’m talking about this again)(I’m sorry, I’m running out of questions okay)

Haha.  I think it would be disappointing if you didn’t talk about Arthurian legend. “Is this actually Becky?”

Anyway.  My Arthuriana knowledge is limited, but I’m pretty sure that’d have to be Gawain.  He’s so kind and so energetic. It’s just endearing.

Hogwarts house? (Yes I’m REALLY running out of questions)

I gave this question way too much thought, and I still don’t know. It’s a toss-up between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, I think. Maybe. Why so many Harry Potter questions??? Don’t the askers of these questions know I know nothing about it???

What are the things you do to procrastinate, besides surfing the internet?

Ha. Weed my garden (it always needs it). Make cookies (even though I dislike baking). Read.

I honestly don’t procrastinate all that much, which is probably why my garden always needs to be weeded.

What’s your most annoying fear? The one that gets in the way of things the most?

I love this question.  Because the fear that plagues one the most is rarely one’s greatest, deepest fear. It’s that stupid one that makes no sense but is always tripping you up in real life.

For me, I guess it’s the fear of doing or saying something that’ll haunt me at three a.m. for the rest of my life. Which prevents me from doing a lot of things I want to do and also, quite often, is the cause of me doing something stupid that haunts me at three a.m. for the rest of my life.

What’s the oldest book you’ve ever read?

In its entirety and original form (so discounting like Roland, Beowulf, and the Bible and stuff)? Probably A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Which is actually a play?



– 11 Random Facts About Myself (a.k.a. my least favorite part of these things) –

1. I hate honey locust trees with a burning passion. (That hole in my foot might have something to do with it.)

2. I recently named a chicken Hildegard, after Hildegard of Bingen.

3. On that note, I never thought myself the sort to go goopy over animals, particularly not chickens, but we just got chicks and gahh the cute fluffy little babiiiessss *devolves into ecstatic cooing and chirping* (That’s not really a fact about me, is it? Oh well.)

4. There’s basically no type of land I don’t like.  It’s all beautiful.

5. I don’t think it’s all that important whether the earth was created in six days or a billion years (*gasps of “heresy!”*), but I think I lean towards suspecting it was in a billion years (*louder gasps of “heresy!”*).

6. Sometimes I just have an existential crisis about how much there is to know and how little of it I know.

7. My hair is stick-straight, but it holds curl really well. *shrugs*

8. I went on a date once and didn’t realize till afterwards that it was a date. Because I am awkwardly oblivious like that.

9. I think The Princess Bride, the movie, is better than The Princess Bride, the book.  Minority opinion, I know.

10. I’m extremely conflict-avoidant but also extremely stubborn. Which can be quite an inconvenient combination at times.

11. I’m a phlegmatic-melancholic ISTJ (often perceived by others as INTJ though, not really sure why) 1w2 who is SO DONE WITH ALL THESE PERSONALITY ANALYSIS THINGS and just…COULDN’T CARE LESS.



1. What is your dearest possession?

2. What is a book (that you’ve read all the way through) that you consider simply Not Worth Reading?

3. What is a book you adore that you also realize is Not For Most?

4. Would you prefer the earth to be flat?

5. Do you prefer pencil or pen for writing?

6. What’s an out-of-your-comfort-zone book that you unexpectedly loved?

7. If you could live in any time period in any country (by which I do mean you’d be stuck there), which?

8. What historical character do you want to see in a novel, that you haven’t?

9. WWI or WWII?

10. If you were a pirate captain, what would you name your ship?

11. What’s the first fictional character you remember relating to as a child?


I tag anyone who:

1. Speaks German

2. Wants to speak German

3. Used to think “Liebchen” was a, like, name

4. Has mixed feelings on the practice of capitalizing every noun (on the one hand, it simplifies matters when you’re not sure whether to write “the president” or “the President,” but on the other hand…I used to think “Liebchen” was a name)

5. Has ever listened to a Falco song

6. Is a fan of “99 Luftballoons”

7. Has German ancestry

8. Likes sauerkraut

9. Watches “Hogan’s Heroes”

10. Commonly refers to their maternal parent as “Mother dearest”

11. Has a birthday in November or on the eleventh of any month


And that, my friends, concludes the Liebster Award. What are y’all’s favorite flowers? Do you know their meaning? What annoying fear gets in your way the most? (All these questions were so excellent and I kind of want to know people’s answers for all of them, tbh.)

The Get-to-Know-Me Tag (Writer’s Edition)

Recently, I was tagged.

Not for the Get-to-Know-Me Tag. No, that would be too obvious.  For a different tag.

But it brought tags to the forefront of my mind. For, many moons ago – or I think it was many moons ago; I’m not sure precisely what a moon is, but I always supposed it was roughly equivalent to a month – I was tagged for the Get-to-Know-Me Tag. (Many thanks to Blue for this great honor, and to Savannah for creating this lovely tag.)

I don’t know what about me you don’t know after over a year now of blogging (goodness, this little place is getting old!), but perhaps some of this will be new info? I don’t know. I like answering questions about myself too much not to do it, regardless.

(At least, I like answering questions about myself if I have plenty of time to think about the answers and am not made to feel that my answers are insufficient by the puzzled stares of the asker. So I don’t really like answering them in person.  But that is the beauty of blog posts.)

~The Get-to-Know-Me Tag (Writer’s Edition)~

get to know me graphic


name: Sarah Seele (like y’all didn’t know :P)

nickname: Princess (plus a bunch of weird shortenings of my name, courtesy of sisters)

birthday: Many years ago.

hair color/length: Blonde. Very much so. Although a friend did once try to convince me that I’m brunette? A group of us were telling blonde jokes (I was just standing there, appreciating), and she suddenly realized I was the only blonde. The lack of sensitivity displayed by the topic of conversation distressed her, so she tried to play it off by explaining how I wasn’t really blonde…while everyone stared at her like she was crazy.  Because I am definitely blonde.

As for length, it is just below my shoulder blades at the moment.  My mom has long had a burning desire to chop some of it off, so I finally let her; last week it was past my waist.

eye color: Blue. With hints of grey and hazel tendencies.

braces/piercings/tattoos: None. Unlike my unfortunate sisters, I’ve always had straight teeth.  And piercings of any sort (including ears) kind of freak me out, to be honest.

right or lefty: I’m right-handed. Although for some reason, I kick better with my left foot?

ethnicity: I think I have a bit of Scots and English from one grandmother, but what I know for sure is:

German. My grandfather was 100% German (my last name is German, but the only person who’s ever realized it was a person from Germany), though he himself was born in Ohio.  I have a lot of German from my other grandfather too.

Irish. My great-grandfather’s first name was Patrick, his last name started with “Mc,” and he had red hair and a temper to match.

Cherokee. From two different great-great grandmothers. I always wonder what they were like.  One had four sons who lived outside a little Arkansas town; whenever unsavory characters appeared there, the townspeople sent for “those Indian boys” to come throw them out.  Also, both were from Oklahoma, and I very much wonder if they knew each other.  And I wonder about the Trail of Tears. Is that part of my family’s history?

(Family history is a fascinating subject.  Some people are descended from Charlemagne, Daniel Boone, and Tecumseh, which just, whoa.  I’ll probably never know those kinds of things, but I do wish I knew more about my family.)



novel written: It wasn’t actually long enough to be a novel, but it was a “chapter book,” so I’m counting it: The Fairy White Girl and the Princess, when I was five.  I believe my mother wrote it out for me, and I illustrated it and presented it to my parents.  The main character, the princess, was always being kidnapped or attacked by wild Indians.  The fairy white girl (who always wore a shimmering white dress, hence the name) was always rushing to rescue her.  I was equally fascinated by fairy-tale whimsy and Westerns from the very beginning, it appears.

novel completed: I’m gonna say this question is asking for my first novel completed that was actually a novel, in the sense that it was over 50k words.  And this, my friends, would be Fire and Roses, when I was thirteen. Elizabeth, a young English orphan, went to live with her distant cousins the Longsteins in the Ohio Territory, about eight years after the American Revolution.  There wasn’t much of a plot.  The best character was Jeremiah, whose two main pastimes were teasing Elizabeth and getting into fights on her behalf (such is the form taken by adopted-brotherly affection). Also, the ending was really, really sad and I wrote an alternate one to make myself feel better about it.

award for writing: Well, for school one year I did the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum, and I entered the Student Contest with my novel, and it was a finalist? The first and only sort of award I have won to date.

first publication:  Being neither a prophet nor the daughter of a prophet, I cannot say.

conference: I went to the One Year Adventure Novel 2016 Summer Workshop, does that count? It was lovely.

query/pitch: None yet, my lads. I’ve a wee smidge of editing yet to do.



novel (that you wrote): The Dream-Peddler, I suppose. Heh.

genre: To read or write?  To write, historical fiction (though I love certain types of fantasy and lowkey want to write a history book or two someday). To read, I don’t know, historical fiction or fantasy?  Or the kind of thing E. B. White and James Herriot and Ralph Moody write?  Or science-explained-for-the-layman type stuff? DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE.

author(s): I have previously answered this with A. A. Milne, and I’m just going to stick with that, because it ignores so many other authors I love and yet it is the only way to stem a veritable flood of names. I don’t really have a favorite author, but if I did it’d be A. A. Milne.

writing music: Writing and listening to music are, for me, mutually exclusive activities.

time to write: Like Blue, either early morning (when I have stuff to get out of the way first) or late at night (when I need to go to bed).

writing snack/drink: Usually nothing, because eating and writing are also kind of mutually exclusive activities for me, unfortunately…. Although I always have my water bottle by me.  And sometimes I drink peppermint tea and nibble on 85% cacao.

movie: Tangled and The Magnificent Seven jointly occupy the top spot. (Close behind are The Big Sleep and The Perfect Game.)

writing memory: Staying up till one a.m. finishing my novel. My dad staying up with me, doing paperwork he could just as well have done the next day.  Me and him going out for ice cream (to celebrate) and driving round the city seeing the darkness and the distant lights while we ate it.

childhood book: For top, top spot, nothing beats The Chronicles of Narnia. Very cliche answer and all that, but seriously, the amount of times I reread them and the extent to which they informed my imagination are probably incalculable.



writing: ANNA! You have no idea how good it feels to say that. Now that I’ve finished The Dream-Peddler, I can get back to my favorite child.

listening to: My mom frying eggs while my sister hums the fragments of a new song she wrote.

watching: The dog’s tail wagging. (The rest of her is invisible beneath the table.)

learning: How to find the Jacobian and change variables to evaluate integrals, how the heck spherical coordinates work, and various things about triple integrals. (My brain is dead.)



want to be published: That is indeed the hope.

traditional or indie: Traditional.

wildest goal: I have a lot of pretty out-there goals, but they’re all kind of personal and not something I feel comfortable sharing.  But…I really, really want to see and spend some time in the Yukon someday. So that’s a thing.


It’s been so long I don’t know who all has done this tag, so I will just tag Becky and Project Pursue Wisdom and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, what was the first novel you wrote? Do you listen to music while writing? Do you have a favorite writing snack? Do you love some of your story children more than others?


Do I Have That Book? (a challenge, in which Sarah is Rather Opinionated About Covers)

I’ve seen this challenge several places here recently, and every time I think, “How fun! I want to do this! I should steal this!”

I have so far refrained from theft, however.

But when the wonderful human (sponge?) known as the Story Sponge did it, ’twas the straw that broke the camel’s back. I have stolen this challenge from her (it? what gender are sponges??). Please don’t turn me in to the authorities.


Do you have a book with deckled edges?

I think? Deckled is the same as uncut, right? My copy of Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie, has uncut edges.

Peter Pan(1)
please pardon the absolutely terrible quality of some of these photos. as well as the excessive darkness.

Peter Pan(2)

See? Uncut edges. They look sort of nice, but they make a book so hard to flip through. Which is unfortunate when it comes to a book like Peter Pan, a much-loved, much-flipped-through favorite of mine.


Do you have a book with three or more people on the cover?

Several. The last one I had out was The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer.

The Unknown Ajax(1)

I disapprove of this cover, incidentally. It’s pretty and all, but who are those six people? There are exactly three female characters in the book, and only one of them is young. And the old guy looks far too benign for Lord Darracott (I suppose it could be Matthew?). And is the guy in the uniform supposed to be Hugo? He fits the description to an extent, but Hugo sold out! And also he just isn’t large enough. Hugo is supposed to be large.


Do you have a book based on another book?

I believe Tennyson’s Idylls of the King is based on Le Morte d’Arthur.

Idylls of the King

Is that Arthur? And is he supposed to look like a sad, hideous orange gorilla-man?


Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens.

Bleak House

Apparently this is my only book with a 10-letter title. I scoured my shelves. This was the fifth-to-last book on them, and I was about to give up hope.


Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter?

Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Anne of Avonlea

Aren’t these covers colorful? I want to reread my Anne books now.


Do you have a mass market paperback?

I think half my books are mass market paperbacks, actually. (Cuz they’re cheap, you see.) But the first one I grabbed was Above Suspicion, by Helen MacInnes.

Above Suspicion

I never noticed the cover of this before! The chess piece, lined up in the sights? That’s cool. You’d think books would do that more often, have covers that actually correspond to their content.


Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?

The Prince and the Pauper, my favorite Mark Twain.

The Prince and the Pauper(1)

The Prince and the Pauper(2)

You know something I’ve always wondered: did people know Mark Twain was a pseudonym at the time he was writing? It’s some sort of river terminology. And in that one Alias Smith and Jones episode where Heyes was reading Life on the Mississippi, Curry was like, “Mark Twain? That’s an alias if ever I’ve heard one. Wonder what he’s wanted for?” But that line was, of course, written with the benefit of hindsight.

But…even today we call him Mark Twain more often than we call him Samuel Clemens. Like Lewis Carroll.

I’m really curious about this.


Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?

Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes.

Johnny Tremain(2)
aww look at the cute little kitten bookmark my friend gave me ❤

Johnny Tremain(1)

I’ve never paid attention to this cover either. Frankly, it leaves something to be desired.

At least the book itself is pretty much perfect? I dearly love Johnny, although he is an idiot. And Rab is the best character in the history of characters. Anyone who doesn’t just want to squeal over them baffles me. (I still love you, Mom. But…..)


Do you have a book with two maps in it?

The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The question did not specify only two maps, so technically, yes.


Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?

All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot.

All Creatures Great and Small

Lucy-the-cat does not appreciate being used as a bookstand. (She’d rather eat it, and you can see that place on the top edge of the cover where she once tried. Our cats are so weird.)


Do you have a book written by someone who was originally famous for something else (celebrity/athlete/politician/TV personality)?

I think the Brian Kilmeade who wrote George Washington’s Secret Six was (is?) on some news channel or other? Not that I’ve ever heard of him.  My grandfather gave me the book a number of years ago.

George Washington's Secret Six

Why do pictures of George Washington look so serious? And why has no one written a story about Agent 355? Someone, please write a story about Agent 355. I’d read it in half a heartbeat.


Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?

I thought for sure I did, but apparently not.


Do you have a book of poetry?

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot.

Old Possum(1)
this one’s dark too. *sigh*

I adore this charmingly silly cover almost as much as the poems inside.


Do you have a book with an award stamp on the cover?

Yes indeedy. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
oh look i forgot to take a picture of this one. here, have an image from Goodreads. same edition as the one i own.

For some reason I don’t usually notice those Newbery things. I knew at once that The Witch of Blackbird Pond had one, but it turns out I have a number of other books that do too. My reading tastes apparently align with those of snooty book-people who think they know better than kids what kids want to read. So that’s cool.

(Kidding, Newbery people. You’re wonderful. It’s just that I have, on occasion, looked at some of your choices and scratched my head.)


Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?

Ah, I love my old Sam Savitt books (that were my mother’s before me). It appears Midnight cost a dollar, as the world will forever know because I cannot get that sticker off, and as for the price of Wild Horse Running, it will remain eternally a mystery.

Sam Savitt

Pretty sure Sam Savitt illustrated these too. I remember them being pretty illustrations. (If only sharing initials with someone also meant you shared their talents.) 

(Incidentally, I can’t even think of an author with the same initials as my real name. Which is funny. It’s not like they’re crazy initials or anything.)


Do you have a book of short stories?

Several. The most aesthetically pleasing is, to my mind, Plain Tales from the Hills, by Rudyard Kipling.

Plain Tales From the Hills(1)

I have a whole set of Kipling books (as you can see in the picture), most of them also short story collections. My sister found them at a thrift store and forthwith bought them for me. (I love her so much.) They make my bookshelf look so pretty and vintage! Haven’t read them yet, but I’m excited to.


Do you have a book that’s 500-510 pages long?

It now bugs me so much that I don’t.

Crime and Punishment would’ve made it if not for the epilogue!


Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.

Ella Enchanted

A terrible movie, but a movie nonetheless.


Do you have a graphic novel?

No, ma’am, I do not. I’m not sure I’ve read one, even, unless Tintin counts?


Do you have a book written by two or more authors?

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. 

Elements of Style

Owning this makes me feel like such an official writer. Even if I only ever refer to it to read that Ecclesiastes passage where Orwell translates it into modern official jargon: “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena…”


So. Have you done this challenge? (If not, feel free to steal!) How many mass market paperbacks do you own? What do you think of the movie of Ella Enchanted?  Do you also get annoyed by covers that don’t match the actual story? Do you ever use your cat as a bookstand???

The Writer’s OTP Challenge (in which there is romance, death, and some rather embarrassing information about old stories)

Okay. So.

I saw Arielle had made this blog tag for, if you’re a writer, romances you’ve written, and so then I wondered, have I even written fourteen whole romantic relationships? Ever?

And that turned into quite a fun jaunt down memory lane, and then I just had to write this post because it was too fun not to. Even though half my answers aren’t even valid.

And even though it’s probably confusing, because I am just now realizing that I have multiple characters named Jennifer, Lucy, and Anna. Why on earth did I do that? How did I not notice?

But anyway, it doesn’t matter.  I discovered I have actually written a couple relationships I like, and it was fun.

So. I hope it’s fun to someone else too.

kissy couple

 one: first otp you wrote

……I’m trying to remember if the princess from The Fairy White Girl and the Princess had a love interest. Since I don’t think she did, I guess this would be…Sean and Anne? I’m pretty sure I wrote that they liked each other…

Sean and Anne hail from the thrilling epic Escape From the Castle, wherein ponies and kittens facilitate magnificent rescues, people with names like Ahpienboltec (no, I am not kidding) kidnap children for no reason whatsoever, and people randomly speak French for also no reason whatsoever. That story was…something. And I loved it very much.

The main characters were actually Sean and Lucy, but I didn’t couple them up because…well, I was an unromantic ten-year-old, and I wanted them to be best friends forever and ever. I don’t think coupling them up crossed my mind.

But Anne, the side character who could randomly speak French, was pretty. Ergo, Sean liked her.

two: cliché otp from an early work you still love

I don’t know about still loving them, but Jib (from my first Real Novel, a story that centers on the terrible crime of strawberry thievery) totally had unrequited feelings for Jennifer, who, like the most cliché of heroines, thought boys were all the worst and Jib especially the worst because of all those stupid, contrived misunderstandings I threw in their path and who then, after Jib heroically saved her life, realized that maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.

This relationship cracks me up whenever I think about it, actually. I daren’t reread this story for fear I’ll die of mortification, but I remember how hard Jib tried to impress her. And how his brother and all his friends would tease him about it. And how he saved her life and Jennifer was like, “oh! He sAVeD my lIFE! And HURT HIS FEET ON THE ROCKS!! FOR MY SAKE!!! I HAVE MISJUDGED HIM!!!!”

It was very romantic.

three: hate-to-love otp

Once upon a time, in a moderately frequented lane in Victorian London, there stood a wax museum. Within this wax museum stood a young lady named Edith, impersonating a waxwork of a housewife about to box a sleepy, cake-burning King Alfred’s ears, and a young man named Julian impersonating the waxwork of the aforementioned unfortunately circumstanced king.

They were the chief players in a ridiculous story involving houses full of clocks, eventful afternoons at Ascot Races, a trip to India, and far too many Bleak House references.  They were also the chief reason I have written so many random scenes of this silly story, almost all of which feature their scathing verbal fencing matches.

There is also, however, another scene that has been written, in which their clever dialogue is not quite so scathing. It even borders on the lovey-dovey, I am afraid.

two hearts

four: otp with the craziest relationship

The relationship of Jon and Anna (by the way, this Anna is from a fairy tale I wrote for my little sister once and is a completely different character from the Anna in ANNA-the-novel) isn’t itself all that crazy – picnics on the edge of cliffs and griffin-riding are pretty normal ways for couples to spend quality time together, right?

But the preservation of this perfectly nice relationship certainly requires some unusual feats. Bargains with fay-folk and the like. Fights with goblins. Brief stints in lion form. Close encounters with the sun.

And marriage is a whole other problem for my fairy-tale couple, for Anna has, Atalanta-like, sworn to wed none but the man who can beat her in a race. Which is most inconvenient, considering she’s the daughter of the North Wind and no one can beat her in a race unless he’s wearing a certain pair of magical sandals.

How, you ask, shall they ever overcome this insurmountable obstacle?

Easy! Jon wistfully asks if he’d better take off the magical sandals he just so happens to own, Anna says don’t be silly, and everyone lives happily ever after.

five: best dressed otp

Ooh, Melia has beautiful clothes. Think toned-down Georgian styles bought by someone who has all the money in the world and whose primary hobby is fashion.

And think hair fixed by Raen, who is an artist, but a magical one who can create shining nets of flower and raindrop and evening light illusion over it. (I want to hire Raen to do my hair for me.)

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Matthew, because it doesn’t really matter what he’s wearing.  Melia is the sum of this relationship. (Which, on account of its exceeding one-sidedness, probably doesn’t deserve to be called a relationship at all. But then, most of the relationships in this post don’t.)

six: star-crossed (forbidden love otp)

Aunt Louisa and Marty (was his name Marty? I think his name was Marty) are in love. Alas, Aunt Louisa’s guardians are rich and snooty and will not allow her to marry a poor nobody who cannot support her.

Marty, nothing daunted, goes west to make his fortune.

Marty, some years later and slightly daunted, discovers that making his fortune is, well, difficult.  So he turns to a business that, while of dubious legality, at least yields high profits. And in the process makes Elizabeth, the heroine of the tale, very mad.

Aunt Louisa then comes west to tell him he can leave off making his fortune, as her snooty rich guardians have died and she has all the money they need.

But alas! Helped along by Elizabeth, guilt has now blossomed in Marty’s heart. He is a horrible man and can never marry a wonderful woman like Aunt Louisa.  Even if she is willing to forgive him.  She deserves better than a rotten snake like him.

So he leaves her life forever. She is very sad. Elizabeth is very sad to have made her beloved aunt so sad.  It is all very sad, and the narrative positively weeps with the overwhelming knowledge of its own pathos.

(Ah, doomed, forbidden love – what melodramatic small writer has not heard and hearkened to your siren song?)

seven: funniest OTP

Probably Edith and Julian, but for the sake of an original answer I shall say Jennifer and Fred.

This Jennifer is not the same one Jib was trying to impress earlier.  This Jennifer is from a short Christmas story that I’ve always wanted to expand.  And while daydreaming of expanding it, I thought of Fred.

The original purpose of Fred was, to be frank, mostly to get Simon and Garfunkel into the story. Because it takes place in the late 1960’s, and to have lived in the late 1960’s and never gone to a Simon and Garfunkel concert is a tragedy on a scale almost too great for comprehension.

But Jennifer and her cousins and her great-aunt are all so very sheltered and old-fashioned. They cook and draw and paint and sew and read authors like Dickens and Swift and listen to classical music. What would Jennifer know of the likes of Simon and Garfunkel?

Enter Fred, that most moody, worldly, and handsome of young men. With whom Jennifer might, possibly, reluctantly, be rather smitten.

He makes her listen to Simon and Garfunkel. She makes him listen to Mendelssohn.

He takes her dancing, and she shows him how to really have a good time (nothing beats a couple hours spent in a field sketching butterflies).

He pointedly quotes “She Walks in Beauty.”  She says, “Lord Byron didn’t think such a girl actually existed, you know.”  He says, “No, poor Lord Byron, deprived of your acquaintance,” and they’re just very ridiculous, and I have only written a few snippets of them; but I find them so fun, somehow.

eight: otp with the healthiest relationship

Mr. and Mrs. Longstein, despite being in the same story as Aunt Louisa and Marty, have exactly zero drama in their relationship.  This is because they are The Parents.

(I mean, Mr. Longstein did die and all.  But besides that, no drama.)

nine: sweetest, most adorable otp

Eden is a foster kid with a gift for words and for finding hidden doors, who accidentally finds Faërie.

“The boy,” who I think has a name although I’ve forgotten what it is, is a cheerful soul who accidentally finds our world.  When he finds his way back to Faërie, he is sad because the friend who helped him find it didn’t come with him.  Eden is sad because she too left a friend behind.

Understanding each other’s sadnesses is a good way to begin being friends, I think. And, over years and journeys, more than friends.

ten: otp who snuck up on you, the one you didn’t expect to love

I didn’t expect Uncle Wilbur and Aunt Gertrude to be as major characters as they have ended up being in The Fairy Ring. So I have only recently come to realize how nice they are.

Uncle Wilbur lacks the skills that make for easy intercourse with people.  This is why he and Peter get along so well.

Aunt Gertrude doesn’t have any such lack, but she understands people who do. This is why she stops always going, “What your uncle means, Peter, is…” and talks about chickens instead.

With Uncle Wilbur it is not chickens, but things like cows and hay-bales and daughters.

They actually remind me of that poem where Wordsworth is complaining that instead of a merry stream, his girlfriend’s love has now become (horror of horrors) a well. Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Wilbur have that well kind of relationship. Their love is quiet but lasting, which in my opinion beats some noisy stream (that’s forever in danger of drying up) hollow.

Silly Wordsworth.


eleven: moodiest otp

Once upon a time, in a novel that shall not be named, two characters called Brian and Caisida were lifelong best friends. My little sister insisted they were on the verge of becoming lifelong something more.

Too bad I killed Brian in the first chapter.

twelve: class-crossed otp

The fact that Princess Ethel Bagwater was, as her title implies, a princess, while Rupert was but a simple farmer’s son, might have presented a problem if not for Albert’s ingenuity.  But in the service of getting his cave all to himself again, Albert is a dragon of inexhaustible ingenuity.

princess shutterstock (2)
thirteen: otp most people don’t ship

My sister ships Anna with Dan.

My other sister ships her with Etan.

My friend ships her with Dom.

They’re all wrong, because if Anna is going to end up with anyone (which is doubtful), it should be Aidi.

fourteen: very favorite otp you’ll love for the rest of your days

The one romance I’ve ever written that I actually, actually ship, in which I am invested and about which I occasionally experience small emotions, is one that I have not, in fact, written.

This is because the characters are, once again, The Parents. And in this particular story (because I’m original), The Parents are gone/dead.

(We are not at liberty to disclose which, because that is a spoiler.  I may have spoiled a bunch of my other stories in this post, but I am not going to spoil this one.)

These characters only show up in the main character’s memories.

Despite that, they have a long and detailed backstory, of which I have devotedly crafted every detail.  It’s most affecting.  There are brothers sworn to protect their sister, conspiracy theorists who take their theories a little too far, and sheep that unwittingly save people’s lives. And at the heart of the story there is Dugo, a sheep-farmer’s son who one day fell unexpectedly in love with the blue-eyed genius girl from the woods.

The girl was Arenedha, and she fell in love back.

They were Anna’s parents.

And I love them very, very much.

The Most Interesting and Highly Democratic VOTED MOST LIKELY Tag

It’s been a while since I rambled about my characters.

It’s been a while since I rambled about my characters. It’s also been a while since I was tagged by Belle Anne for the Voted Most Likely tag, yet still no “Voted Most Likely Tag” post have I seen roundabout here.

Today I propose to remedy both evils by doing the tag, wherein one places an original character of one’s own into each of the given categories. With presumably some explanation. I don’t know. I could just write “[character’s name]” and nothing more under each one, but I can’t help feeling that would be somewhat unsatisfactory.

(Also, some of the scenes these questions called up in my mind made me long to illustrate them. But alas, I am no artist.)

Thanks awfully for the tag, Belle Anne! And shoutout to Phoebe, who created it here:

Also, for my own peace of mind I have color-coded my answers according to which novel the character under discussion is from, so here, if you want it, is the code:


The Dream-Peddler

The Fairy Ring

Stars in the Streets (more commonly referred to as “TERESA”)


The (unwritten) one commonly referred to as “my Harvey/Smith of Wootton Major story”

And now the questions:

Most likely to be a poet

Ha. Narril. He acts all tough and disillusioned, but he’s got a secret soft spot for both beauty and literature, which makes him the perfect candidate, seeing as how poetry is kind of like the marrying of the two – the raw essence of the one composed within the framework of the other for comprehension.

Most likely to dance in the rain

Rose. She pretty much goes through life dancing in the rain, figuratively and literally, and has no qualms about enacting the literal side of it even at school, if a sufficiently inviting rainstorm blesses lunch hour. Much to Peter’s embarrassment.

Most likely to look good in a kilt

Adrin would look good in anything. Also, he’d wear the kilt with dignity and, while his fellow soldiers were snickering behind their hands, give a stirring speech about how it’s the attire of his ancestors (even though it’s…not. I mean, I guess originally Elinisrans and Emraeins were the same group of people, and ancient Emraeins might very well have worn kilts – in fact, I bet redneck Emraeins wear them to this day – but I don’t know. And if I don’t know, Adrin certainly doesn’t). Certain ladies would be swooning, and certain others (like Brynn and Anna) would be rolling their eyes.

Most likely to get punched in the face

I’d say Misherel, only no one would dare punch her in the face, no matter how much they might want to.

So how about Dom, Jem’s obnoxious little nephew? I’m sure he’s been punched in the face many a time. (Telling girls they have too many freckles and ask too many questions is not how you get them to like you, buddy.)

Most likely to drop everything and become a sheep-herder

This is difficult, ’cause I have a number of characters (not even all from the same story) who did drop everything. Everything being sheep-herding. So it doesn’t make any sense to use one of them, even though they’re the ones who, I think, have the temperament.

Honestly, more than anyone, I see myself in this role. Under the right circumstances, I would totally drop everything and become a sheep-herder.

But I can’t answer this question with myself, because I am not (so far as I know?) a fictional character. So…

Wait, no, I’ve got it! Jimmy-Stewart-but-not-Jimmy-Stewart’s invisible friend from Faerie. He’s very chill and seems like the sheep-herding type to me. I see it.

Most likely to be found in the library

Sarah. That girl’s best friends are books. (In fact, her only friends are books…which is slightly worrying.)

Most likely to sleep through an earthquake

Mr. Connelly. At least if the earthquake didn’t happen on a Sunday.

Most likely to steal food from other people’s plates

Bjorn. That dog is about as well trained as mine. Which is to say, not trained at all.

Most likely to cheat on a test

Jimmy (Bobby? Names in this story are a work in progress), my precious skeptical little Cockney son. Without a second thought. The kid’s whole philosophy in life is, “Cheat the other fellow before he can cheat you.”

Most likely to say “Oops” after setting something on fire

Oh, this is so Cathan. I can see him doing it. Casually setting fire to Eima’s belongings before Afton and Caisida realise what he’s doing (because Eima’s annoying, and also Cathan doesn’t need things spelled out for him to have a pretty fair idea where Caisida acquired certain bruises, and nobody hurts Cathan’s friends and gets away with it), then grinning cheekily over at them. “Oops.”

Most likely to open an orphanage

(Ironically, Suora Netta, although she works in an orphanage, does not strike me as the opening-an-orphanage type.)

I think if Miss Ryeira was rich, opening an orphanage is exactly what she’d do. Her inn is basically an orphanage for adult orphans, like eccentric artists who have to be reminded to eat and what day of the week it is, and lonely foreign boys who are clearly hiding something and to whom she can teach all her favorite Elinisran country dances.

Most likely to run off with the circus

I think Teresa, though she’s not in the least athletic, would do this for a lark. (And to spite Suora Netta.) And she’d run right home again at her first taste of the high wire.

Most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse

Jem Macneil, hands down. Keeping yourself and a small child safe from a dozen trained Ansar men for at least a month is not easy, but he did it. Plus, he’s an expert at surviving alone in the woods. Plus, sick archery skills. If anyone has the levelheadedness and skillset to outlast the zombies, my money’s on Jem.

(Gosh, I love Jem.)

Most likely to fake their own death

Ha! I have a character (Dugo, Anna’s father) who actually did this, and it’s the most uncharacteristic thing ever, but yeah, he did it. As for why he did it, when it’s so out of character, he and I must plead extenuating circumstances. (Very extenuating.)

Most likely to die and haunt their friends

The unflickering-eyes man. Definitely the unflickering-eyes man.

For my requisite five people, I tag:

1. Anyone who proudly wore that “I voted today” sticker as a child (even though it was actually your parent who voted so like ???)

2. Anyone who’s ever held elected office (be it even President of the Sisters’ Society for Procuring a Gift for Dad)

3. Anyone with a story set in a democracy (there are strangely few of these, I’ve noticed)

4. Anyone who shops at Aldi (they have that “voted best value” or something plastered up everywhere, right?)

5. Everyone whose blog I read who hasn’t done it already, because I WANT TO SEE YOUR ANSWERS (please)

The Mystery Blogger Award

While I have never been big on New Year’s resolutions and goals, I suppose if it happens to be a new year and you happen to be needing to turn over a new leaf, you might as well do it. Hopefully I’m going to turn over a new leaf when it comes to blogging. And more especially, hopefully I’m going to turn over a new leaf when it comes to doing tags.

Tags are fun and I like them (although it is stressful to tag people at the end…), so I should really not procrastinate them like they’re physics homework or something.

Anyway, the Mystery Blogger Award. A strange but intriguing name. And a tag I am now going to proceed to do.


(I’m so good at this intro thing, y’all.)



  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog. (Done. And is it not a pretty one?)
  2. List the rules. (For whatever reason, this rule cracks me up. Like, it says in the rules to list the rules, and then…you list the rule that just told you to list the rules. Idk, man. I find it funny.)
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog. (Thank you, Becky!)
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. (The link takes you to a page that says the blog has been suspended, so.)
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  6. You have to nominate 10-20 people. (I think I can do this if I cheat.)
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog. (I refuse.)
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  9. Share a link to your best post(s). (Oh dear, how shall I ever pick?)

(Shouldn’t there be a rule saying I have to answer Becky’s questions? To all people I hypothetically tag: YOU MUST ANSWER MY QUESTIONS.)


~In Which Questions Are Answered~

Is there a fairy tale or myth you think should be retold more?

Ooh. There’s a French fairy tale, The White Cat, that I always adored as a kid. I think a quirky, whimsical retelling of that (because it is such a quirky, whimsical tale itself) would be so much fun to read.

(I also want retellings of Tamlane, Rumpelstiltskin, the death of Balder…actually, could we retell all of Norse mythology, please? And also Orpheus and Eurydice but with a happy ending, so no small hearts are broken like the small heart of ten-year-old Sarah. But I love how music is a part of that myth. Also there’s a story I read once about these children who had to fly across this ocean for however many years as swans because of something their father did? I think? [I think it’s Irish. I think it’s part of a larger cycle of tales. Finn or somebody.] Somebody should put that in a story. And someone should retell that Hans Christian Andersen one about the girl whose seven brothers got turned into swans and she had to sew them coats to turn them back and almost got burned at the stake before she managed to.)

(This is a really long answer oops. But there are so many underrated retellable stories!)

Coffee or tea?

Tea! I don’t like the taste of coffee. I’m not the biggest fan of straight-up Lipton either, and do not give me stuff with eucalyptus in it, but lots of herbal teas and black teas are wonderful drinks for a winter’s afternoon or a late-night writing spree. Peppermint is my favorite.

(weird question) What’s your favorite out of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Hmm. The most poetically satisfying is the last one. The pale horse whose rider is named Death, and Hades follows him. But that also makes him the most terrifying?

I don’t like any of them. They all sound terrible.

What’s some writing advice you personally don’t follow?

Well, I never outline; I often tell instead of showing, especially for comedic or aesthetic purposes; I totally edit as I write the first draft; and I don’t tend to share my writing with other people. All of which makes me a very, very bad writer indeed, and it’s only the beginning of my contrarian misdeeds.

I…don’t like being told I can or can’t do something artistically, without understanding why. So, if I don’t understand why, I just do it anyway.

What’s your least favorite book?

This is so much easier to pick than favorite book! One has intense love for many books but intense hatred for only a few.

I think this would be The Three Musketeers? I believe I mentioned it recently. Everybody’s a jerk and a shallow jerk. Ridiculous things happen in a way that is supposed to be comedic but is instead just annoying. What’s-her-name (the villain lady) is such a shallow, over-the-top, evil-for-the-sake-of-it villain! I felt like Dumas had no respect for his characters, and HEY, D’ARTAGNAN, WANT TO MAYBE NOT SEDUCE OTHER PEOPLE’S WIVES? AND SLEEP WITH EVIL PSYCHO LADIES?

Also Aramis eww.

Also, a book with a title like The Three Musketeers should have three main characters, but this has four?? And a book about soldiers should have some swashbuckling in it. I am disappointed.


~In Which Certain Facts Are Disclosed~

This…is so awkward.


Eins: My favorite movie is either Tangled or The Magnificent Seven. (On account of how they’re so similar and all.)

Zwei: I once broke my toe by running into a wall. (In my defense, it was a very intense game of tag.)

Drei: I’m blanking I’m blanking I’m blanking I’m…I sail! That’s interesting, right? I sail Hobie Cats with my dad. ‘Tis an as-yet-unfulfilled dream of mine to one day sail on the ocean, because I live in the Midwest and there are not many oceans handy.


~In Which My Best Post Is Linked To~

Ha. I’m going to go with this one, mostly because I like the title. It is long and silly.


~In Which Questions Are Asked~

  1. Are your favorite books and the books that made you cry the same ones?
  2. What is your ideal outfit to wear on an out-having-fun day?
  3. What three virtues do you value most in a friend?
  4. Would you rather be divinely beautiful, angelically good, or dazzlingly clever? (Anne Shirley and I would both like to know.)
  5. (weird) If you were an insect, what insect would you be?


~In Which People Are Tagged~

Okay, I tag anyone who:

  1. Considers herself an enigma
  2. Wants to be an enigma
  3. Has ever figured out a mystery before Sherlock
  4. Has read all the Father Brown stories
  5. Considers Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, or Dorothy Sayers her favorite author
  6. Likes okra
  7. Regularly speaks Pig Latin
  8. Owns three or more cats
  9. Has a champion poker face
  10. Fits none of these qualifications but wants to do the tag anyway (go for it! It’s a fun little tag; I quite like how it’s set up)