December Recap (Yes, I’m still alive.)

Hello, peoples!!  So sorry I’ve been gone for so long.  The lack of posts points to my obvious lack of getting ahead on posts like I meant to do for NaNo, but too late now.  Just gotta haul myself back onto the bandwagon.  And since I’m writing this at pretty much the last minute I can possibly get it done, there probably aren’t going to be any extra drafts, so I do apologize if this is absolute rubbish. xP

Anyway, the disappearance was mostly because of just having finished my first semester of college instead of NaNo.  NaNo ended one week before my end of semester, and the end of semester with all the stuff I had to do left me wanting to crawl in my introverted hole and not show my face to the rest of the internet world for a solid month, and I did that quite successfully.  I got back to some writing, did more reading than I’ve done in a long time, and did a lot of binge watching of Gilmore Girls.

And, aaaand!!!  One of the books I read was A Time to Rise, so the conversion of this blog to an Out of Time shrine is coming soon, properly soon!  There will probably be several weeks of solid book reviews, and somewhere in there I’ll have to throw in Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold.  Sometime after that, I’ll do my review of the Picture of Dorian Gray, because I’m in the middle of reading that one right now, and I’m reeaally enjoying that one.  So yes.  Brace yourselves for book reviews.

Also, for those of you that remember the thing I mentioned that would basically be a flash fiction about Proteus sitting down to tea with the Fates, it’s been put on hold.  I have the basic idea, but have no plot, so whenever I do have a plot, I’ll try something with them.

As for life other than reading/writing endeavors, I had a very nice Christmas with just my parents and me (apart from church, of course.  With my dad being the pastor, we really can’t not show up. xP), a few gifts swapped, and then, AND THEN!!!  We went to see Fantastic Beasts!!!  Ah, I adored it!  Newt and the beasts and… all of it!!  It’s definitely on my list of favorite movies.

That’s about all I really had to say, just a quick status update.  If I disappear again after this, classes start for me on the second, soo that’s why.

Anyway, merry belated Christmas to you all, and happy New Year!  What has your December looked like?  Any plans?  New Years resolutions (I have none. :p)?  See you in the comments!

Tally ho! ~Natasha.

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“Annabel Lee” and Its Influence Upon Guardian

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

There it is, my friends.  As promised, here is the lovely “Annabel Lee,” which has so influential in my recent work with Guardian.  And Guardian really has been in need of some influencing from someone whose work is way better than mine.  In this case, that individual happens to be Edgar Allan Poe, who is one of my favorite people to get inspiration from.  His work is always so dark and creepy, but still so beautiful.  This was one of his brighter pieces, but it still had darker, more painful undertones.

The poem itself might not appear very sorrowful, but when you look at it just a little more deeply, you can see it.  Even though the last stanza would seem to cast the narrator’s loss in a positive light, saying that he would never be apart from her, it’s full pain.  The narrator said that he and she would never be separated because their love was too strong to be broken, but why do we assume that’s a good thing?  The speaker would never be apart from his love because he loved her too much to let her go.  He would remain in mourning for the rest of his life, growing bitter because the happiness that would never be his again.  The one solace the narrator had was that his life would come to an end someday, and he would be truly reunited with his love.

So imagine if that solace was stripped away.

What if the speaker was immortal?

Just about anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time around me and my stories knows I love playing with immortality, and it’s featured strongly in Guardian.  Multiple characters end up immortal, including my protagonist, Eniryt, his wife (tentatively named Erynnah), and their son (whose name is definitely gonna change, but for now, he’s Yavlek).  Of course, in a normal world where most other people are mortals, immortality means a whole lot of loss.

Just because someone can’t die of natural causes, though, doesn’t mean they can’t be killed.  So, because artistic licence and not wanting to give spoilers, it’s safe to that either Eniryt or Erynnah is going to die.  One of them is going to experience not only the heartrending agony of losing a spouse, but they’re also stuck with that pain for eternity, and there is no escape for them, no matter how badly they want it.

The characters and plot weren’t the only thing influenced.  It made me want to give Guardian a fairy-tale-like tone, because “Annabel Lee” had such a gorgeous fairy-tale-ish-ness to it!  Obviously, Guardian couldn’t be quite as completely fairy-tale-ish as “Annabel Lee” — it wouldn’t fit the story.  Still, I want to try to incorporate it as much as I can.  Guardian will be such a dark story in places that it might need that fairy tale lightness to contrast against the rest of it.

That need for some light is probably the reason stars are going to feature so strongly in Guardian.  I’ve loved them for a long time, and they were part of Guardian before I read “Annabel Lee,” so their being part of the poem just reinforced that “Annabel Lee” needed to be one of Guardian’s main wells of inspiration.

Something else that “Annabel Lee” influenced was the setting.  Before reading the ballad, I’d been having such a hard time pinning a setting down, but the “kingdom by the sea” made it click into place.  Eniryt’s home city-state is by the sea.  Its architecture bright and beautiful and strongly resembles Ancient Greek architecture.  The sea glistens beside it and the mountains rise behind.  Aesthetically, it is the perfect ancient-times fairy tale setting.  Beyond that, though, very little of it is quite so idyllic as the typical fairy tale.  Ancient cities are not so beautiful as they appear from afar.  There’s always a slew of problems within, and this city is no different.

 

Another piece of setting that was influenced by “Annabel Lee” was the tombs of royalty.  Erynnah is, after all, a princess, so both she and Eniryt would be buried in those tombs.  The lines,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.
painted a hauntingly dark, misty image of a cliff face carved with ornate tombs far above a crashing sea.  A long, narrow mountain pass provides just enough room for pallbearers and mourners to make the arduous march from the city to the tombs.  There are so many stories that surround that place, so many tales of death and heartbreak.  Alas, the only one I know as of yet is Eniryt and Erynnah’s!
And there you have it.  Some of the major things “Annabel Lee” has inspired in Guardian.  What do you think?  How do you feel about borrowing inspiration from other works?  Have you done it before?  Talk to me in the comments!
Tally ho! ~Natasha.
P.S. Here’s a lovely musical rendition of “Annabel Lee.”  It’s performed by Monica Gil, who did an absolutely amazing job on it.  It’s by far my favorite version I’ve come across so far.  Please listen and enjoy!

NaNoWriMo Begins!!!!!!!

NaNo, people, NaNo!  NaNo has begun!!!

Half the writers squealed for joy…

And the other half shrieked in terror.

I am in the latter half. :p

See, none of my stories are in any decent shape.  Guardian is in little more than partially glued-together shambles, a story set in Starwater has all of a single vague character in it, and a new contemporary WIP I’ve got is still in development phases.

So what am I doing instead?  Have I got some other genius novel idea that’s going to pop out of this?

Not exactly.

This NaNo isn’t about any novel in particular.  It’s vaguely about all of them, and about none of them at all.  I’ll write a little bit about them, maybe do some short stories and whatnot.  One way or the other, there’s going to be chaos.

Chaos in the form of blog posts.

Yup.  I am writing blog posts for NaNoWriMo.

Those of you that actually like this blog are probably jumping for joy right now, going “Yaay, more blog posts from this obscure aspiring writer almost no one has heard of!!!”  Those of you that don’t…  Well, you’re probably just gonna ignore this post for the most part anyway.  And that’s okay.

Mind you, I’m not expecting to actually succeed with this NaNoWriMo.  Sounds pessimistic, but it’s true.  I’ve been pretty swamped with college recently, and NaNo comes second to that, so I don’t intend to put myself 100% in the madhouse just because it’s NaNo.  I’ve been close enough to that a few times already, so I don’t need to get any closer.  Right now NaNo is just the motivation to get some writing done, and to see how well I actually can do with limited time.  All I expect of myself is to write as much as I can so you, my peeps, are not as dreadfully neglected as you have been in the past month or so.

That being said, I’m not going to be posting my posts as soon as I finish writing them.  I’m going to keep them at their usual times, the Wanderings on Friday, and any stories I do will be posted on Tuesdays.  Who knows, there might even be some book reviews in there!  Because I haven’t done a single one of those since I started this blog…   And let’s face it, you all are glad I’m going to be doing it like that, because if I didn’t you might be getting post a couple times a day or every couple days (if I’m feeling optimistic).  Last I checked, that’s generally along the lines of spamming.  And spamming isn’t cool.

So I mentioned a couple things I might be doing in the coming month, but what else?  What specifically can you look forward to or dread?  Well, I have a few ideas.

annabel-lee-by-edgar-allan-poe

Oh yeah.  That’s right.  Already agonizing tale of mine, meet the last work Poe completed in his lifetime.  Any potential readers, prepare to kiss your pretty hearts goodbye.  This is gonna be torturous awesome.

Really, though, it will be.  I had to read it for Intro to Lit, and it was amazing.  I had been struggling so much with figuring things out for Guardian, but when I read “Annabel Lee,” the first traces of ideas started to fall into place.  I’m really excited to share with you some of the tidbits I’ve accumulated that will help move Guardian into a place where I can turn it into a workable draft.

In the meanwhile, if you want to read “Annabel Lee,” it’s a short ballad.  It doesn’t take up even an entire page, but it’s still hauntingly beautiful.  You can easily find it just by googling it, since it’s public domain.  If you read it, be sure to tell me what you think, and any theories you have that might connect into what you know of Guardian!

new-story-pages

That’s right!  Soon I’ll have new pages up and running, talking about my new (tentative) WIPs.  So we’ll have Guardian, the Starwater storyworld, and a new WIP I’m calling… House of Gold. (And to all you TOP fans, it is based off that song.  It’s where I got the original inspiration for the story. 🙂 )

playlists

I’ll be honest, guys, I’ve turned into a little bit of a YouTube addict.  I’ll play songs pretty much all day while I work on my various school projects, occasionally get distracted by them, find a song that makes me go, “Hey, this works for one of my stories!” and add it to one of my playlists.  So I’ll end up making a post with the links in them so you can hear my playlists for my precious little WIPs.

teatime-with-proteus-and-the-fates

And all of you that aren’t familiar with the mythology scratched your heads and went, “Huh??”

But yes, this is exactly what it sounds like.  Proteus (the Old Man of the Sea who shepherds seals and knows everything) and the Fates (the three ladies that determine where, when, and how a person will be born, live, and die) sitting down and having tea together.

Because I’m a mythology nerd, and I read a Wordsworth poem that brought Proteus to my attention, and my Intro to Lit class again spawned plotbunnies for me.  (My professor’s probably gonna need a thank-you note for all the plotbunnies she’s helped me find…)

So yeah, you’ll have a Greek-mythology-laden short story coming soon.  If you aren’t already familiar with the mythology, again, you can google it and find it easily.  I’ll still explain it before the post itself, though.

review-of-the-out-of-time-series

(Because Out of Time needs more epic lettering than aaaallllllll the rest.)

Woot woot!!!  I love Out of Time.  I’m gonna finish reading A Time to Rise, and then I’m gonna write a review for the ENTIRE SERIES!!!!!!!!!!  Or maybe three consecutive weeks of reviewing and a couple extra weeks of fangirling, because otherwise it’s gonna be a reeeaaally long post.  So yes, this blog might turn into an Out of Time shrine at some point in the future.


Aaanyway, there’s five things I just gave you.  Now no more spoilers!  Let me know in the comments if there’s anything in particular you’re looking forward to, and if you have any ideas/things you would like to hear in a blog post, let me know!

Tally ho! ~Natasha.

Of Kitties

Yeeessss, peoples, today we talk about the traditional writerly companion!  Kitty!  The sweet, fluffy, cuddleable bundles of joy!  Or aloofness.  Depends on which kitty we’re talking about.  😜

Believe it or not, though, I wasn’t always a cat person.  I had listened to too much of Daddy’s anti-felineness, so of course there wasn’t anything good that could come out of having a cat.

Then I met a certain orange cat.  And, ever so subtly, my views began to change.

After all, who ever knew a cat could be so charming?  So sarcastic?  So witty?  So dragon-eaten ridiculous you couldn’t help but love him?

Oh yeah.  The other Imps in the room know who I’m talking about.

And for those of you who aren’t Imps (Tales of Goldstone Wood fans), prepare yourselves for a quick education.

The orange cat to whom I am referring is a fey shapeshifter, Sir/Bard/His Eminence Eanrin of Rudiobus.  He’s the snarkiest character Anne Elisabeth has, so of course I love him.  He’s a kitty after my own heart.  But aside from that, he’s…  well…  Basically everything I described above.  He’s fluffy and orange and has just enough sad moments to make my empathy go crazy and enough awkward moments to make him hilarious.

I’ll stop there.  Otherwise this post will get longer than all the appearances he made in the Tales.  For those of you who don’t know, that would be very long.  (Yes, it’s hyperbole, but whatever. 😝)

It started out as just a love of a character.  Then I discovered Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog, and I looked at all her adorable post about her kitties (six of them last I checked!  Isn’t she amazing!  The epitome of crazy-writer-cat-lady-ness!), and I started to think, “Awww…..  I want one!”

There was just one problem.

Daddy still hated cats.

Clearly there was nothing to do but to change his mind.

So, unbeknownst even to myself, I designed the foolproof plan that would assuredly turn Daddy into a cat person.

step-1

 

 

Because how else could I go about convincing Daddy?

Let’s face it, this step wasn’t that hard.  Mom and I are really, really tight.  We’re pretty much two halves of the same brain, so of course I talked to her about the Tales!  I was known to gush on her about them for hours on end, so, naturally, she heard a lot about Eanrin.

I eventually started slipping little comments about wanting a kitty into the conversation.  She wasn’t fooled.  She knew exactly where I was going before I even did.  At first she was like, “Tasha, we already have a dog.  We can’t have a cat.  You know your dad doesn’t like them,” but I got her to soften up.  Soon, I had the next step rolling:

step-2

 

This step was ESSENTIAL to my success.  By watching funny cat videos, I exposed not only Mom, but Daddy as well, to the wonderful, hilarious world of kitties.  This desensitized both of them, opening the doorway for the power of suggestion to work on both of them.

step-3

For those of you who don’t know, Blondie is one of my best friends.  I mentioned her on my old blog, Memoirs of a Taleweaver.  It really isn’t a mean nickname, like some people might think it is.  I’m a blonde too, after all. 😉

Honestly, though, I didn’t have that much to do with this step.  My whole family was friends with her whole family, so we went to each other’s houses a lot.  She just so happened to have two kitties, Nala and Mu (“Mu” being short for Mufasa), and Daddy ended up really liking Mu.  He’s this really pretty gray tiger kitty, and my word is he vocal!  He’ll just walk around and meow for no apparent reason, though usually that reason is just because he wants treats.

Anyway, a few funny cat stories came out of hanging out at their place, and Daddy got to liking Mu more…  And more…  And more.  It got to the point where, when he was working at the heavy diesel garage he worked third shift at, he would be telling stories about this cat to his coworkers at something like three o’clock in the morning.

Yes, yes.  My plan was working veeery well at this point.  Daddy began to turn cat person.

This leads to Step #4…..

step-4

“It’s just for fun,” both Mom and I said.  “We aren’t actually planning on it.”

Ha.  Haha.  Ha.  Ha.

No, but seriously.  We weren’t lying about it.  We genuinely weren’t seriously looking.

step-5

That’s right!  It was quite out of my hands, and Daddy was doing his own research into the matter!  I didn’t need to do anymore convincing!  Only one step was left…

step-6

 

That’s all there was left to do.  Just wait and see if anything would happen.

So I waited.

And I waited.

Really, I didn’t wait much, since it was already November by the time I finished Step #5.

That’s right.  The first kitty came at Christmastime.


The lovely Sidney, aloof ruler of our household, who answers to Kitty-Kitty-Kitty and nothing else.  She’s been here about two years now.

Oh, did I say first kitty?  Well…


Meet Harley.  Yes, as in the motorcycle.  That’s what she sounds like when she purrs.  Though, like Sidney, she probably doesn’t know that’s her name, since she gets called “Baby Girl” all the time.

She was actually an impulse buy.  We were only walking into a Petco to buy some nail clippers for Sidney, since the other pair is stuck in a box somewhere, when, out of habit, we walked over to the kitties they keep there.

As it just so happened, the lady working with the kitties was a full-on crazy cat lady and an extrovert.  The result was that she took Harley and plunked her in Mom’s arms, saying, “Here.”

Mom was immediately in love.  She passed her over to me, and I was no better.  I was actually a little worse.  Then we gave her to Daddy:


Pure.  Adoration.

After a few minutes of deliberating between the parental units, Daddy left to get our kitty carrier, while Mom and I stayed behind to fill out paperwork, then we got to take her home!  After a couple weeks of slow introductions, we got Harley and Sidney to playing.  Playing and otherwise ignoring each other.  As happy a kitty ending as there ever was. 😊

And now the credits in which you are bombarded with photos of my kitties:

 

My laundry basket is apparently the best place she could find to doze in….  I think it’s best to just not ask……..

My new bookmark, full of sweetness and fuzziness.

She really should be a kitty model.  Just look at those eyes!!!

Selfie time!!!

“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight..!”

*dies of sweetness*

*dies of even more sweetness*

img_1430

As it so happens, my computer bag is also a good place for napping.

The Brown One (Hunter) needed to say hi, too.  Pretty boy.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my babbling!  With any luck, there’s some of you who need the tips on how to secure a kitty, so I hope I helped!  See you in the comments!

Tally ho! ~Natasha.