Epic reading: my 2015-2016 Reading List

Epic reading: my 2015-2016 Reading List

Hello, dear pond readers, thanks for joining me here today. This is an exciting day because I am going to reveal my ambitious epic reading list for 2015-2016. Is it long? Yes. Is it highly improbable I will actually read everything? Hellz yes. Is it going to be a fabulous adventure of the mind going to all these fantastic places? Absolutely.

Amazingly enough, as a side-benefit to terrific illness this winter, I am actually farther ahead on this reading list than I expected to be. Yay! Without further ado, here is my list in no particular order:

  1. Ubik by Phillip K. Dick<–Done! :-)

    Shells by E.A. Schneider

    Shells by E.A. Schneider

  2. A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley<–Done! :-)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. The Dispossesed by Ursula K. LeGuin
  6. Codex Born by Jim C. Hines
  7. The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
  8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  9. Almanac for the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko
  10. Landfill Meditations by Gerald Vizenor
  11. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  12. Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
  13. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  14. Kwaidon translated by Lafcaido Hearn
  15. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Trillium by E.A. Schneider

    Trillium by E.A. Schneider

  16. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  17. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  18. Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
  19. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  20. Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  21. A Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  22. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  23. Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
  24. These High Green Hills by Jan Karon
  25. The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould
  26. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
  27. Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  28. Bluebeard edited by Heidi Anne Heiner
  29. Cinderella edited by Heidi Anne Heiner
  30. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  31. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  32. Moon Over the Back Fence by Esther Carlson
  33. 100 selected poems by e.e. cummings
  34. Bully for Brontosaurus by Stephen Jay Gould
  35. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  36. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  37. The Prelude by William Wordsworth
  38. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  39. Once On A Time by A.A. Milne
  40. Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin

    Field of lace by E.A. Schneider

    Field of autumn lace by E.A. Schneider

  41. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin
  42. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  43. Bonk by Mary Roach
  44. Gulp by Mary Roach
  45. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  46. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  47. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  48. The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit<–Done! :-)
  49. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  50. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delaney
  51. Nova by Samuel R. Delaney
  52. A Time for Trolls by Joan Roll-Hansen
  53. Female American by Unca Eliza Winkfield, edited by Michelle Burnham
  54. Frankenstien by Mary Shelley
  55. Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
  56. Mangaboom by Charlotte Pomerantz<–Done! :-)
  57. Star Trek Vanguard by David Mack
  58. Around the World in 72 days and other writings by Nellie Bly<–Done! :-)
  59. Thirteen at Dinner by Agatha Christie<–Done! :-)
  60. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie<–Done! :-)
  61. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  62. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson<–Done! :-)
  63. Virtual Light by William Gibson

    Toad by E.A. Schneider

    Toad by E.A. Schneider

  64. Idoru by William Gibson
  65. Otherland by Tad Williams
  66. Pleasing the Dark by Richard Powers
  67. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman<–Done! :-)
  68. Lockin by John Scalzi
  69. The Continent of Lies by James Marrow
  70. Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas<–Done! :-)
  71. Suspicion at Sanditon by Carrie Bebris
  72. The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde
  73. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlof
  74. Cradle in the Grave by Sophie Hannah<–Done! :-)
  75. American Born Chinese by Gene Luch Yang
  76. Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood
  77. Giraffe by J.M. Ledgard
  78. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
  79. Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers<–Done! :-)
  80. The Smartest Kids in the world and how they got that way by Amanda Ripley

As you can see, I have included a lot of titles from my 2014-2015 reading list but I did leave off several this year. Unlike in previous years, this reading list doesn’t include too many books that are longer than 600 pages. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read most of this list over the course of the next two years but I also know that I’m sure to add titles to the list as new books come across my path. Hopefully, I will post some capsule reviews of the books I’ve read so far in 2015 soon. What about you, dear readers? Are you reading anything particularly interesting so far in 2015? Any big reading plans? Feel free to comment below and thanks again for joining me here at the pond.

Still water by E.A. Schneider

Still water by E.A. Schneider

A Sand County Spring, A Whale of a Summer, a Utopian Autumn, and an enchanting winter: my 2014 seasons of books

A Sand County Spring, A Whale of a Summer, a Utopian Autumn, and an enchanting winter: my 2014 seasons of books

It is time, dear readers, for a wrap-up on my reading list progress from 2014. I did pretty well in 2014, reading 33 books is no joke, but, I wish I could’ve read more, as usual. As I’ve discussed in previous posts about books, I feel that there are seasons of reading and that when I think of a year I usually think of one or two particular books first. For me, 2014 was definitely the year of Moby Dick, Aldo Leopold, and Herland. Because I didn’t manage to blog as I read, I don’t have previous posts with reviews to link to, I just have the original list I made. Instead, I will endeavor to do some super-duper short capsule reviews for each book below with an extra sentence or two for the books I feel really stuck with me.

Coneflowers by E.A. Schneider

Coneflowers by E.A. Schneider

  1. A Sand County Almanac  by Aldo Leopold
    This book was profoundly special for me. Leopold’s vision, wisdom, and accessible prose were a delight. This should be required reading for every conservation class. There were so many quotable passages that I have pages copied out in my reader’s journal. I hope to put these quotable quotes up on my blog later this year. Even though I haven’t been much of a gardener his essays in here really felt like a call to spades and have inspired me to try to turn our own little plot of land into more of an oasis of native plants, even if it will be a tiny one.
  2. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss
    Witty, charming, and educational this book is a must-read for everyone who loves language and clear communication.
  3. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
    Another enchanting entry in their canon of fairy tale anthologies, I love this collection of gas lamp fantasy.
  4. Orison by Daniel Swenson
    The adventure of a young thief named Story who is trying to survive in the city of Calushain after her brother gets them in a bind, while simultaneously avoiding the notice of the Dragon gods, is a page-turning piece of sharply crafted narrative that left me wanting more. The pacing is perfect, the characters feel real, and the world clearly has deep roots that you can feel supporting every page. I can hardly wait for the sequel.

    Trees over the Centaur shoulder by E.A. Schneider

    Trees over the Centaur shoulder by E.A. Schneider

  5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    This was the longest book I read in 2014, the densest, and it took me the longest to read. Moby Dick was also very rewarding to read. Melville’s prose is beautiful, his attention to detail is acute, most of the book does not involve whale hunting per se, but rather talks about every detail surrounding the work of whale hunting including the whales themselves.  I was engrossed as Ishmael by the enormity and wonder of the sperm whale by the end. Also, considering the incredibly long climb of rising action, the final crisis and conclusion of the novel seems so abrupt, so quick with such closely paced final chapters, that I found my heart quickened during the chase, visualizing every moment. I also found myself blinking in confusion and thinking “It’s already over?” at the end, so long had I been reading the book. I was also surprised at how many passages were laugh-out-loud funny on purpose, even after 100+ years. If that isn’t good writing, I don’t know what is. I understand why this is an essential American novel now and I will re-read it someday to better discuss it with my kids.
  6. Deerskin by Robin McKinley
    I tried reading this book once before years ago, before I knew about the Perrault story, Donkeyskin, and I was just getting really into McKinley as a writer. When I reached the crisis point of the first section of the novel I was horrified and put the book down like a hot rock. Sexual violence is a tough thing for me to face in a book or movie, especially when I am not expecting anything of the kind. But this book haunted me. I learned more about the Donkeyskin story type and read more McKinley novels. I felt like a wuss for putting this book aside and I am not a wuss. This year I picked it up again and I am so glad I did. Yes, the material is challenging but it is supposed to be. The point is that with love and friendship, in this case between a girl and a dog, any wound, any trauma, can be overcome and life can continue. It is a beautiful story that is so much more than a romance or a fairy tale and I am really glad that I finished reading it.
  7. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
    The end of the Space Trilogy, this book makes sense and Lewis makes some compelling arguments about the nature of evil, he always does, and while I still find his Victorian sexual/gender politics wearying, the ending at least makes sense for the characters.
  8. Aristopia by Costello Holford
    An interesting vision of an alternate history/utopia, I found this to be a great thought experiment to ponder even though the protagonist is an annoying twerp and it is a sausage-fest of racists.
  9. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
    This is splendid, page-turning, bibliophile fun. I am so excited to read the rest of the series, particularly because I loved how Hines chose to end this book for the characters because it was unconventional, brave, and true to the characters he developed.
  10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    This is a charming romance that actually made me laugh aloud, highly recommend it for some quality fun reading.
  11. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
    Splendid read that makes me want to grab a pen and get busy writing something Datlow and Windling would want to publish someday.

    Shy Green Frog by E.A. Schneider

    Shy Green Frog by E.A. Schneider

  12. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
    I was disappointed in this book. It was uneven, Carter couldn’t decide if she wanted her tale to be gritty & realistic or magical & enchanting so she succeeded at neither. I thought it wound up being an odd combination of the ugly and the lyrical with singularly unappealing characters.
  13. The Iron Heel by Jack London
    At first, I did not particularly like this book. It is singularly depressing as one might expect from a dystopian novel but the unremitting grim atmosphere was wearing. But, the transformation of the narrator Avis Everhard from mild-mannered housewife into international woman of intrigue is absolutely fascinating. Spoiler alert though: the ending is abrupt, almost Python-esq, and it left me laughing for reasons that I’m pretty sure weren’t intended.
  14. Beastly by Alex Finn
    This was better than I thought it would be and left me pondering the entire Beauty and the Beast fairy tale type. I hope to write a more extensive post on this train of thought sometime this year.
  15. Beauty by Robin McKinley
    I have long loved this novel but re-reading it in light of having read Beastly, and having re-evaluated my thoughts on the fairy tale as a whole, left me with mixed emotions. I hope to write more later this year on this topic.
  16. From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
    It is entertaining to read Verne’s picture of Americans and our priorities with his dry humor while poignant to read the results of the voyage the protagonists take.

    Hand in bronze by E.A. Schneider

    Hand in bronze by E.A. Schneider

  17. Round the Moon by Jules Verne
    Ditto above, really it is hard to think of the books as separate works.
  18. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
    I really like this book. It is a great entry in the Dresden series that continues Harry’s adventure as the Winter Knight in a logical way that still had my gripping my nook with white knuckles, reading as fast as I possibly could. I look forward to the sequel.
  19. Od Magic by Patricia McKillip
    Fantastic book, this one meant a lot to me because I felt that it not only had a lot of craft but that it also had something real to say about power and intellectual freedom. It feels like one I will definitely re-read.
  20. The Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
    I liked this sequel. I like the world Card creates with “the Piggies,” and the colonists as well as the portrait of the adult Ender. The ending is beautiful.
  21. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
    This book is beautiful in many ways with a lot of creative ideas, particularly the concept of “philotes,” but I feel like Card was trying to do too much at once and dropped a lot of narrative balls in the process as a result. I found the story of the “god-spoken” and their world more compelling than the primary plot line in the end, I think because it was more focused. I will read the sequels eventually but this book did sap some of my momentum to do so.

    Jaguars by E.A. Schneider

    Jaguars by E.A. Schneider

  22. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  23. Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins
  24. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    Let me just condense my thoughts on the Hunger Games trilogy as a whole. It was splendid. I loved the character Katniss. I liked that Collins wasn’t afraid to engage tough issues of political authority, freedom, surveillance, public performance, allocation of resources and ultimately the consequences of the environmental and political choices made by the people. Collins covers all of theses issues with approachable characters that feel real and I applaud that. I also applaud that she wasn’t afraid to let characters die or afraid to have a bittersweet ending that I thought made sense in the context of the world.
  25. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    This book is still very relevant today even though in many ways our society has integrated genders and reached more equality than Gilman could probably have ever expected. It is well-writen too with some quotable and many thought provoking passages. The eugenics in the story with its emphasis on quality Aryan characteristics left me cold, even though I know that was the progressive/intellectual attitude of the day.

    Willow in the sun by E.A. Schneider

    Willow in the sun by E.A. Schneider

  26. The Big Four by Agatha Christie
    Jolly good fun with a delicious over-the-top un-ironic conspiracy of n’er do wells that Poirot handily defeats. I love it.
  27. Elephants Can Remember  by Agatha Christie
    I love stories where Poirot actually does nothing but talk to people and think but the addition of Ariadne Oliver makes this book extra fabulous.
  28. Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
    An old favorite, I had fun re-reading this Poirot adventure adapted from a play.
  29. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    An old favorite that I have not indulged in re-reading for years, this read was beautiful. I appreciate the way this book extorts benevolence and charity without demanding a dimming of delight while not losing sight of the Christian nature of the Christmas holiday.
  30. The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris
    This book was a disappointment. The plotting was all over the place, like a mad-libs game for fairy tales. Morris uses female archetypes rather than characters and the journey of the protagonist from no-nothing to wise king makes zero sense. Also, a lot of threads were left dangling. Considering how much I adored The Well at the World’s End with its complex characters (yay! Ursula!) and tightly plotted story, this book was a deep disappointment.
  31. Furry Fantastic edited by Jean Rabe
    This was a delightful read with some very entertaining stories I will probably re-read when I need a palette cleanser.
  32. Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James
    The language James uses is superb for capturing the time period with such a wonderful vocabulary, I was beside myself with word nerd joy. The story is told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view and followed Lizzie very little with hardly any conversation between the Darcys and no witty repartee to speak of, that was the only disappointment for me. The mystery was fine but there was no suspense to speak of, it was all very restrained and mannered as one might perhaps expect. Mostly I enjoyed the way P.D. James imagined a post Pride and Prejudice life unfolding and I appreciated the way James seems to delight in picking at the uncomfortable realities of Regency England societal ethics when it comes to paying off blackguards.
  33. Neuromancer by William Gibson 
    This was a fun book with which to end 2014. The world is very film noir with that great grittiness only a future written during the ’80s has. So many terms we take for granted now appear in the book like matrix and cyberspace. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more Gibson.

While I did not put these capsules into any particular order, I realized as I went through my reader’s journals for 2014 that there were certain patterns. As the title implies, I spent the spring inspired by Aldo Leopold, then the summer was consumed with reading Moby Dick, then the autumn reading a lot of Utopian fiction, and the winter reading more fantasy stories and anthologies before ending the year in a cyberpunk adventure. It was great year of books. I hope this year to read 40 books and I am planning to post my revised reading list soon. What about you, dear readers, did you read anything special in 2014 that has stuck with you? Are you reading anything splendid in 2015? Please, comment below and thanks again for joining me here at the pond.

Autumn oak leaves in the sun by E.A. Schneider

Autumn oak leaves in the sun by E.A. Schneider

To Boldly Quilt

Hello, dear readers! As promised, this is a post devoted entirely to pictures of my Star Trek Quillow which I posted about here. Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s!” like something Star Trek, after all.

This was a gift for someone very close to me who has long wanted a Star Trek quilt. I’m still working on an actual a quilt for this person, by which I mean I have a giant pile of fabric and a drawing (that is how every great quilt starts!), but I was able to give them something Trek to keep them warm in the meantime.

Quillow front in progress by E.A. Schneider

Quilting in progress by E.A. Schneider

I kept the front design as simple as possible. The intended Trekker is a big fan of the ships of the Star Trek universe, particularly the Galaxy class Enterprise-D so I made that particular iteration of the flagship of the Federation the focal point of my design.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

Close-up of how I used the backing fabric to fold-over and make the border of the front.

When I had the quilted pocket done I realized that it was missing something. On a practical level, the quilting lines were a little far apart and I was afraid of the batting shifting during repeated use. I busted out the embroidery floss to finish the quilting with some Federation issue flair.

Insignia hand-quilted in by E.A. Schneider

Insignia hand-quilted in by E.A. Schneider

Insignia close-up by E.A. Schneider

Insignia close-up by E.A. Schneider

I’m not the world’s best embroidery artist but I am rather proud of the detail of the star-within the insignia. This is meant to be the captain insignia that was worn during the original series. I think it turned out well.

For the blanket, I used a fleece blanket kit I bought from Jo-Ann.

Blanket for the Star Trek Quillow by E.A. Schneider

Blanket for the Star Trek Quillow by E.A. Schneider

The kit was supposed to be one of those no-sew tied style blankets but, if one actually did that, the blanket surface would be insufficient to cover most adults, including the recipient Trekker. I think the dashed lines actually look like the star tracks you can see through the ready room and Ten-Forward while the ship is flying at warp speed through space in the show so I left them in the blanket. This proved to be sufficient for good cuddling coverage and I didn’t have to add a border.

Quillow pocket attached to blanket by E.A. Schneider

Quillow pocket attached to blanket by E.A. Schneider

Here you can see the back sewn on to the blanket. From this angle, if you look closely, you can see how I swirl quilted the saucer section of the Enterprise-D on the front of the quillow as well as the back of the insignia. Other than those flourishes, the quilting is very simple outline quilting of the seams.

Here is the Star Trek Quillow, all folded up and ready to cushion a head or be cuddled during a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon.

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

I am really pleased with how this quillow turned out. I think it looks very polished with its mitered corners, symmetrical design layout of the Enterprises, the border fabric, and the beautiful ships in the center.  I love these fabrics and I’m looking forward to making more Trekker projects.

Thanks for stopping by the pond, dear readers. Live long and prosper and comment below if you have any questions, comments, or just want to get into a rousing Trek discussion. Q’pla!

A flurry of crafts

Squirrel in action by E.A. Schneider

Squirrel in action by E.A. Schneider

Hello, dear readers! I have some fun, creative updates for you this weekend. I am finally not producing copious amounts of mucous and involuntarily attempting to project my lungs across a room. To celebrate my return to mostly-good health, I have the following updates.

Update the first: I’m up to page 45, 13,140 words, on my WIP based on this piece of flash fiction.  Huzzah! Cue the dancing and start the band, pond readers, because this appears to be a roll. Now, the trick will be maintaining the momentum. I think I can do it and I’m hoping that maintaing the habit of updating you lovely readers will encourage me to continue.

Monitor lizard here to keep on an eye on the situation by E.A. Schneider

Monitor lizard here to keep on an eye on the situation by E.A. Schneider

Update the second: I am approaching quilting a new Queen/King size quilt that I’ve been hoping to finish for years. The quilt is pinned and ready to go, I just need to clear off the tables, get out the right foot for the job, and thread the machine. This is very exciting. Soon, very soon, there will be new quilt pictures here on the pond and new quilted comfort here at home. Mwa hahaha! Please, enjoy this sneak peak:

Pinned quilt with a sneak peak at the adorable backing flannel

Pinned quilt with a sneak peak at the adorable backing flannel

Update the third: In light of the fact that my beloved Lena (that’s my sewing machine) will be tied up in quilting duty soon, I have been frantically trying to finish several smallish projects that have been sitting on my quilting table making me feel guilty. Before viruses and bacteria combined to lay me low for the last two months I was able to finish several really nifty projects.

Behold! A Star Trek Quillow:

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

Star Trek Quillow folded up by E.A. Schneider

I teased this quillow way back in this post.  Because the Star Trek Quillow is such a nifty project that I am quite pleased with, I am going to devote a post to cataloguing its details soon. Check-back for all the fun!

A fountain pen roll-up of my own design:

Fountain pen roll-up action shot by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up action shot by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up from the back by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up from the back by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up actually rolled up by E.A. Schneider

Fountain pen roll-up actually rolled up by E.A. Schneider

The real beauty of this roll-up is that it can stand up on its own, as pictured above, thereby storing the pens in the upright position, as they are meant to be stored, while keeping them together, portable, accessible, and safe. The interior is oil-cloth and the exterior is cotton. I am super pleased with how this project turned out and it makes me smile every time I use it and see it.

Being the nerd that I am, I really like to play Magic the Gathering with my husband and friends. Dice and counters are useful things to have for this game but they can be awkward to transport. I got rather sick of scruffy plastic sandwich bags holding my dice so I made this spiffy drawstring bag of holding.

Drawstring bag of holding by E.A. Schneider

Drawstring bag of holding by E.A. Schneider

It really holds up well in the rigors of my purse without dropping dice or counters. I am pleased.

A further adventure in bag making for me was the zippered bag pictured below on the right. This was an experiment, I have never before sewed a zipper into anything, but, I think it turned out well. The scarf on the left is another of my favorite gifts to make, they are warm, easy-to-make, and fun to personalize.

IMG_5637-001

Scarf and zippered bag with yo-yo flower by E. A. Schneider

My final nifty creation was this cute apron for one of my favorite people.

French cafe apron by E.A. Schneider

French cafe apron by E.A. Schneider

Pocket close-up by E.A. Schneider

Pocket close-up by E.A. Schneider

The apron was a pre-printed panel that was fun to put together. I am a fan of anything good that simplifies crafting and gift giving and I’m definitely a fan of cute panel projects like this. Thankfully, the recipient likes it a lot too.

Those are my updates for now, dear readers. Thanks for stopping by the pond today and sharing in my creative fun. Please, share any questions or comments below. What kinds of projects are you using to wile away the winter? Share below! I hope that your winter is going well and you’re managing to be as creative and productive as you wish, dear readers.

Beautiful sky over lovely bog by E.A. Schneider

Beautiful sky over lovely bog by E.A. Schneider

 

Word Count Update

Since writing my NaNoWriMo Season is Here post, I have written 1,684 more words on my novella. I’m up to page 39 and 11,050 words in total.  Considering how much traveling I’ve been doing in the last two weeks I think this is decent progress. Slowly but surely, I am building up this story’s first draft. I have been pleasantly surprised by a new character I introduced. I think he might have the potential to hijack my carefully outlined narrative a little and that is always a fun feeling. What about you, dear readers? How is your drafting going? Are you encountering any narrative surprises? Thanks for stopping by the pond!

 

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

 

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Happy novel writing, NaNoWriMo scriveners! May your fingers be as nimble as your ideas are fast and may you reach your word count before the month is out. This year, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Instead, I’m doing more of a NaWriMo in that I want to enjoy the positive energy and social writing atmosphere of the month to write more on a project I already have rather than start a new novel from scratch. All too often as an artist in general and a writer in particular I feel like I get just so far on a project before I get distracted by another idea which I chase down instead until such time as I get distracted again like a small child in a field of so many different colored butterflies. This time, I am resolved to stay the course and persevere on a project I already have rather than chase another fluttering idea.

Long time visitors here at the pond might recall that I wrote a piece of paranormal flash fiction called Cinderella’s Ghost. For the last two years I’ve been pecking away at continuing the story as a novella. I’ve planned it out. I’ve picked it up and put it down in favor of other projects but I have always circled back to it again. For the last few weeks I’ve been making real headway on the story and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Over the last two years I wrote 33 pages,  9,372 words, by hand in a journal using my baggie of fountain pens on the story. One major achievement today is that I finally have the whole draft computerized. Yaaaaay! The fear of sweaty hands or a spilled cup of tea obliterating my words is now defeated. Huzzah!

With this story I changed my style a little. Rather than blindly blazing an inky trail of words across the terrifying blankness of my journal’s pages, I carefully planned out all the major beats of this novella. Two years ago, I made a 21 beat outline of each major scene/event from beginning to end and I have been methodically checking off each one. So far, I’m at beat 14 so I’m a little more than halfway through. I have had to add some scenes that I hadn’t originally planned out as the story has developed but making that kind of addition is a lot easier knowing pretty much where I am aiming to end up. Having the plan also has made it a lot easier to put down and pick up the story as needed over this time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to use this technique again, I think that will depend on the story and the characters, but it’s nice to know that at least so far it can work for me.

A buddy of mine is doing NaNoWriMo in earnest and I aim to keep them company as they progress through the month. I also hope to put some word count updates here at the pond as I type away, just to keep me honest.

What about you, dear readers? Are any of you attempting to write a novel this November? Are you just trying to, like me, write away at a current project? Please comment below thanks, as always, for stopping by the pond.

 

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Homemade Fox Mask & Ears

Happy belated Halloween, dear readers! I hope you had an enchanted holiday with good friends and yummy snacks. I had a lovely holiday. I got to go outside my comfort zone to attend a party for which I made a simple fox costume. Picture time!

 

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

I layered red, white, and black felt on a mask base from JoAnn. I used tacky glue to layer the pieces and give the snout piece some dimensionality. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the glue dried and how well it all held together. I made up the pattern except for the eyebrows and the white in the ears which I got from here and here. I layered the ear felt on top of green floral wire. I wrapped the wire around a simple black headband and it worked amazingly well. I liked  how I could tilt and angle the ears when I wore them.

Action shot:

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

I got the question a lot that night about whether this was a “What the Fox says,” costume. It’s not. As entertaining as that youtube video is, I just really like Vulpes vulpes a lot. Long time visitors to the pond might remember my flash fiction pieces featuring foxes from here and here. Foxes are just cool! They are the ultimate survivors. They can adapt to every environment, every circumstance, and persist, that is pretty darn amazing.

Thanks for visiting the pond, dear readers!