*STUMBLES THROUGH THE DOOR AND STRIKES A TIRED BUT STYLISH POSE*
WHAT HO, CHAPS. IT’S ALLI! DID YOU MISS ME???
*pulls up a chair and leans into your personal space*
It’s – *gasp* – another episode of Nutshells with Alli! I’ll bet you were starting to believe that you would NEVER get this post but, HA, you did! Despite all obstacles! I’ve been really struggling to keep on top of my schedule lately and blogging seems to have fallen to the bottom of the pile but, hey, I’ll cut myself some slack, since I know we’re ALL at sixes and sevens right now because of the You-Know-What.
But it would take a lot more than a pandemic and a quarantine to shut ME up for long. And thus we have the long-awaited update. Time to recap everything that happened to me in February and March of 2020.
– WATCHED –
I watched a good bit of TV over the last two months (pain killer, you guys, pain killer) but I was mostly re-watching old favorites because I needed comfort – so I’m going to do a slightly different review format this time and keep it short!
Balto: I probably have this film memorized after watching it on repeat as a kid, but I still mightily enjoyed this nostalgic rewatch. The music (James Horner!), the cinematography, the voice acting, the scripting – it’s all top-notch. Balto is one of my favorite heroes when I was little and I still love his character. Twin and I had fun taking a walk down memory lane and remembering, all over again, that we’re basically Muk and Luk without the fur.
Roman Holiday: Okay, why did I say this movie was only so-so when I first watched it? BECAUSE I WAS WRONG. This is such a lovely film. It’s simplicity is deceptive at first glance, but it’s the simplicity of the story that adds the genius quality to this film. You can definitely see and feel the William Wyler touch with this movie – it’s so delicate, intimate, and unrushed. You truly do feel as if you spent one glorious day enjoying simply pleasures with one of the most delightful couples to ever grace the silver screen. It’s a gem.
Stormworld (TV show): So, a year or so ago, I raved about this Australian TV show and urged you guys to watch it AND I’M STILL URGING YOU. I have to say, I’ve never seen any other filmmakers create the same adventurous vibe and imaginative genre-bending like the Australians. This show is exciting, full of unique world building and has the BEST characters. You are really missing out if you haven’t watched this yet!
Sue Thomas F.B. Eye: How do I deal with stress? Watching conservative shows were the good guys beat the stuffing out of the bad guys in every single episode. Shows where good old-fashioned flag-waving, liberal bashing, and terrorist hunting is down with unapologetic aplomb. It’s very relaxing. 🙂
Seriously, guys, these are incredibly well-crafted espionage stories balanced with touching character arcs. Great actors, great plots, and zero graphic content make for a truly stellar show.
Rosemary and Thyme (TV show): This is such a cozy and delightful show – brimming with British goodness, sisterly relationships, intriguing plots, and flowers – SO many flowers. It definitely makes this budding gardener’s heart happy.
Murder She Wrote (TV show): Basically Mrs. Potts solving mysteries! – and she always has lovely outfits and visits amazing places while tormenting all kinds of famous guest stars with her prying – what’s not to love?
Apparently, I find watching people being murdered on TV relaxing? Or, maybe it’s just a phase I’m going through. Let’s just call it a phase.
JUST KIDDING! Somebody please make me feel more normal in the comments by confessing that you find old murder mysteries relaxing too!
– READ –
I read 34 books in the months of February and March.
But, as always, I have about four skim reads in this list and there are a couple I abandoned midway through because life is too short to read crummy books – BUT I STILL COUNT THEM AS READ AND PART OF MY GOAL, BABY.
Do you recognize any of these books? What have YOU been reading lately?
I’ve seen a few people remarking that they’re having trouble reading (or focusing on a book) during quarantine. Or just having trouble focusing in general.
Believe it or not, I’ve been struggling with that, too. Something that has helped me is to keep the audio books running and to let myself myself read as many books at a time as I want. That way, when my attention flags, I can just jump into another story world.
I would definitely encourage you to stick with it until the feeling passes! This is our free ticket out of our armchairs and that’s always a good gift to utilize to its fullest capacity!
– WRITING –
So, I’m not sure how it happened, but I managed to write 23,794 words in the month of February.
Not so good news, the bulk of it was on Red Riding Hood. I swear this story is DRIVING ME TO DISTRACTION and just keeps GROWING and GROWING and GROWING. The worst of it is, most of it is really sad and dramatic right now, which might be part of the reason I’m having trouble finishing this blighted WIP – I hate seeing my babies suffer like this.
*shoves Red Riding Hood into a corner and tries to ignore it*
About 9,000 words of my total count for the month were on something other than Red Riding Hood (thank goodness for breaks). Those 9,000 words were devoted to a new short story called Seven Strong. It’s a fairy tale retelling (not related to the Tales of Ambia) set in a steampunk world and with several . . unique twists. *grins and winks*
I FINISHED EDITING POPPY’S PERIL! LET ALL THE WORLD REJOICE: ALLISON DID THE IMPOSSIBLE.
*commences victory dance – which looks something like a Hip Hop Version of the Hula with a bit of Can-Can thrown in* (did you get that reference? let me know in the comments)
I finalized a few things with my cover designer for Poppy’s Peril and began working with an interior formatter. We are close, guys, SO CLOSE to publication!
I submitted short stories to various magazines and anthologies.
I’m not sure if you remember this or not (don’t worry, I’ll remind you) but back in November of 2019, I wrote several short stories with the plans of shopping them to various publications. One of the short stories I wrote was a fantasy post-apocalyptic tale entitled Out of the Ruins. I am extremely pleased with this story and it is definitely has some very personal themes woven into it that I love.
I submitted it to an anthology back in December and waited anxiously for a response. I got the rejection letter in February.
Waving my fist in defiance, I submitted Out of the Ruins to two other magazines that had much faster response times.
Three rejections, all in a row – in the space of one week!
I have to admit, this rattled me a bit, because I did feel like this story is one of the best things I’ve ever written.
But, nevertheless, my rejection policy is to always resubmit the story to another market within an hour of receiving that rejection. So I did! It always helps to get my dander up and shake my fist at the doors that closed in my face.
Sent out arcs (Advance Reader Copies) for Poppy’s Peril to members of my street team! Hopefully, after all of this build-up, people won’t be disappointed.
I started developing a TOP SECRET project which, for now, I will just code name as Soldier. It’s in the idea stages right now, but I’m really excited about it.
Pulled quotes for The Pirate’s Path’s. The editors of the anthology I am going to be published in contacted the contributing authors letting us know they needed some snappy sentences from our stories for marketing and promotional purposes, so I had a mini treasure hunt by going over my story again searching for the best quotes to pirate. I thought I’d share them here. What do you think?
Outside the inn’s night-dark windows, the ocean screamed — like a woman, calling endlessly for something we could not hear.
To gain a map that led to the legendary Fountain of Gold any pirate would happily kill to get their hands on it.
Fog lifted from the ocean and curled around the walkways and gangplanks like ghostly fingers. One false step and Red and I could both plunge into the lashing waves.
It was Pop’s dying wish and I intended to see it through.
If it killed me.
Sometimes even I think I’m not the easiest person to live with.
But I AM lucky.
In the month of March I wrote a mere 10.077 words.
*CRINGE* Boy, was that was a big come down from February.
Again . . . . it was mostly on Little Red Riding Hood.
*INSERT CRAZED LAUGHTER HERE*
Yeah, enough said about THAT, the better. #MovingOn
Did more tweaking to Poppy’s Peril, because everyone knows every author will tweak their book ad nauseum.
I had my twin (and official / unofficial development editor) read through two Tales of Ambia short stories that I finished a while ago to get her feedback. I have taken notes, and rewrites should begin on those wee darlings in the new few months. THIS TRAIN DON’T STOP, FOLKS. More Ambia is coming to you in 2020.
Okay, okay, no promises, but I AM trying.
I started editing Seven Strong to prepare it for submissions. After sweating over that puppy in March and finally finishing it, I then had to CUT almost 5,000 of those added words to get the story under the maximum word requirement.
After I finished editing it, I submitted Seven Strong to an anthology seeking submissions. I now have three short stories out in the wild and I am waiting anxiously for responses for all of them. When that long-awaited day will be, I have no idea.
I line-edited one of my twin’s short stories! If you want help with developmental edits for your story, I shouldn’t be anyone’s number one choice – nope. But, thanks to some friends who have taught me a lot about grammar, punctuation, and style (you know who you are), I’m becoming quite a dab hand at line editing!
Worked with my cover designer to tweak Poppy’s Peril a bit more, since KDP was giving me FITS over my Kindle files.
My formatter did such a good job on Poppy’s Peril, I went ahead and hired her to tweak a few things in my previously published books, as well as format another project. I can’t wait to tell you more about those but – muhahaha – you’ll have to sign up to my newsletter to hear about it! (whenever I do send that doggone thing out)
And I’ve reached the end. Hmm, looking over this March recap, it seems as if I didn’t get much done in the writing department. March is so long ago (and so buried in the fog of Life) that I can’t even remember what happened or what I was doing. Eh . . . WHATEVER.
– LIFE –
FEBRUARY + MARCH
Watched the Superbowl! . . . technically speaking. I glanced up now and then when my family yelled beyond a certain decibel, so I TECHNICALLY watched the super bowl but, in reality, I was talking to a group of fairy tale authors on Facebook. LOOK AT ME, I’M SUCH A SPORTS FAN.
It snowed! We didn’t get any snow in December of 2019 or January of 2020 – nothing, zippo. Then suddenly, BOOM, snow day.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long enough to play in (I don’t care how old I am, I will roll in snow and lick it if I want to). However, I did light festive candles with great ceremony and filmed it and photographed it and stared out the window with my hands cupped around a steaming cup of coffee and basically lived the aesthetic dream for about an hour and a half.
I planted my morning glories! I started these guys inside in some Rube Goldberg mini greenhouses, just to get the seedlings started before moving them outside in March. We’re still having some chilly nights, so I’m worried that I got these little guys started too early but, fortunately for me, morning glories have proved to be hardy. Which is good for an often-neglectful plant mama, such as myself. I need tough plants and flowers.
Me and my siblings had an outdoor movie night! My sister bought a projector and we watched a TV episode on our garage door under the stars. We set up camp chairs in the driveway and kicked back with hot tea, chips, sweets, and desultory conversation. It was fabulous. I realize that to many people – especially to those who grew up in a time where drive-in movies or projectors were the norm – this isn’t much of a novelty, but it definitely was to me. Being able to lean back in my camp chair and stare up at the night sky while the movie soundtrack filled the night was truly magical.
I survived two months of quarantine! I only left the perimeter of my property twice – both of them on fifteen to twenty minute errands. I didn’t even leave the HOUSE for a while to walk up and down my driveway because of allergies. And I didn’t turn into a man-eating monster! Okay, okay, maybe a little tense, even grumpy at times but that’s it.
Had a live Q&A on my Facebook author page and Instagram. The Facebook was a total bomb (define awkward? When you have a Q&A session and no one shows up and you just fill airtime for fifteen minutes with one loooooong ramble).
Instagram fared MUCCCCH better though and I had a fun time answering all the questions in my stories and extroverting away with all my might!
Had a family celebration that involved CAKE.
Did some baking – including madeleines, chocolate cake, Victoria jam cake, and homemade graham crackers.
I won several giveaways! I won several giveaways! One was for the electronic version of Deep Magic’s latest issue and another for an issue of Bella Grace magazine.
A brief round up of some of the special things I’ve been doing now that that leaving our hobbit holes is not an option. Because, hey, maybe you guys need some new ideas, since we’re all looking for new ways to stay busy during these insane times.
I started deep-cleaning a basement room, sorting through all kinds of junk, and refurbishing and redecorating various items. Basically, I rip everything off the walls, shove all the furniture into the center of the room and then sit in the mess and stare at it all until inspiration strikes. It’s messy but it works.
One day, when I’m FINALLY finished, I’ll have to film a room tour. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I took a before picture. *face palms* But, believe me, there’s been an improvement. Anyway, cleaning and rearranging furniture and knick knacks is one of the ways I deal with stress. I start going like a crazed beserker and can usually be found on the floor sometime later. I’ve had to take a break, but I SHALL conquer this room.
Experienced the novelty of going to the store and post office in surgical mask and latex gloves – because everyone knows that when you wear a helmet and gloves you are INVINCIBLE. A lot of other people in the store seemed to feel that way, too.
But seriously, guys: wash your hands and wear masks. It doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
My mom read one of my sister’s new novels out loud to the whole family!
I could fill a bookcase with all of the books that my mom read out loud to me when I was little, but it had been years since I have had the pleasure of having her bring a story to life for me. There is something incredibly comforting and engaging about having a loved one read aloud to you, and it’s only more so when a loved one wrote the book! As always, my sister is an AMAZING writer and, AH, I can’t wait for the day when you guys finally read her work. You know how picky I am and, I’m telling you, THE WORLD HAD BETTER HOLD ONTO ITS HAT.
Had some outdoor lux. One day, while feeling particularly overwhelmed, I grabbed a luxury candle, a champagne glass, a bottle of ginger ale, and picnic blankets. I went outside, poured myself a glass of bubbly, lit my candle and laid on my back and watched the clouds turn into stars. By the time evening fell, I was calm again and greatly relaxed. I highly recommend treating yourself to your outdoor retreat.
Played games with my brother. He used to go play games twice a week but, since he can’t now, I’m filling in for the regular Guy Gang.
WHEW. I DID IT. I FINALLY POSTED THE NUTSHELL. It’s thirteen days late but, oh well. It takes a while to find all these amazing gifs!
Okay, chums, now it’s your turn to talk. How have these last two months treated you? Did you do anything special for Saint Patrick’s Day? What have you been doing to keep yourself occupied during the last two months? As you can see, I’ve been staying pretty busy, in spite of everything.
I hope you are all staying safe and sane, my friends!
*extra soft group hug*
Stay calm and carry on – no matter what.