Lifestyle, Writing

A Bit O’ Nutshell

*piano trill*

 

Allison is in the house, people!

 

I know what you’re thinking.

Wait, just a second, Alli! We just GOT a nutshell.

Yes, I do apologize for that. I was so late in publishing my last summary of My Life™ that this post (which IS on time) came right on the heels of the other.

Things are so crazy now I don’t even know what I’m doing, so I’m just going to be grateful that I’m blogging at all.

 

 

Bloggers Note: 

This nutshell is going to be a little different, guys.

After doing a social media fast recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about comparison.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with comparison . . . so that got me thinking.

I want these posts to be fun, I don’t want anybody reading them to be comparing anything.

Every one of is in a different season, has different strengths and weaknesses, and different priorities and time restraints.

In light of that, I’m not going to be sharing a lot of “stats” from here on out.

Another words, instead of displaying how many books I read in a month, I’m just going to share about my recent favorites. Less images and more chatting about the things I loved!  Instead of talking about actual word counts, I’m going to be talking more about my writing projects in general.

Don’t you think that’s better? I think it’s better.

 

 

And now that the explanation for the new format has been dealt with – ONTO THE NUTSHELL!

 

 

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– WATCHED –

 

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Raiders of the Lost Ark (in theaters)

My dad saw this in theaters when it first came out, so it seemed fitting that his children should go see it in theaters.

But, really, we don’t need any incentive to watch Indiana Jones.

The Tebo’s are committed Indiana Jones super-fans; it really represents my family’s taste in fiction.  Indiana Jones is really the only super hero that I like (scratch that, LOVE) and it’s definitely my favorite Harrison Ford performance.

Watching it again (for the 100th time?) on a bigger screen, I was struck all over again at how masterful it really is. Everything from the music, the cinematography, the editing – every single shot is framed and lit like a page from an old-fashioned comic book.  It’s a piece of art, not just a part of pop culture.  Indiana Jones, my one true fandom.

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The Empire Strikes Back (in theaters):

Define cool: An original Star Wars movie on the Big Screen with a bucket of popcorn in your lap and way too many Junior Mints.

What can I say? From the moment the probe droid is released from the Star Destroyer flying over your head to the heart-in-your-throat cinematography through the asteroid field to the most epic scene in movie history –

 

(👇 which is this 👇)

 

 

– this movie is an icon. I enjoyed our viewing immensely and noticed things that I had never caught before about the story and the character motivations.

I also got a new revelation.  I used to think this one was my favorite out of the Original Trilogy, but seeing it on the big screen changed my opinion slightly and I do believe that A New Hope is my favorite now.

Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoy The Empire Strikes Back, but as I experienced it in a new way on the big screen, I reformed some of my previous opinions and I think the story line of A New Hope and the characterization appeals to me just a little more. How about you?  What’s your favorite Star Wars film?

 

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The Mandalorian:

When I first watched and reviewed this show, I was pretty restrained. I’m a slow sell. But, more than that, it takes me several viewings of a film before I form a final cohesive opinion. When I watch something for the first time, I’m usually more critical and just trying to get all the details: I haven’t yet decided how I FEEL about it.

Anyway, all that to say, I’m going to retcon my own review.

My new and improved review is the following: This show is awesome.

I had a lot of preconceived notions of this show that struggled to be put to rest, but now they have, and I can finally appreciate this series fully.  It really harks back to the original series with tone, theme, and characterization and is a wonderful salute to the best of Star Wars.  I truly liked and enjoyed this show and I am excited for Season 2.

 

 

The character arcs, the story line, the acting, and all the nitty-gritty of the cinematography and editing – it’s pretty fabulous.

Except the music. I have to say that the Mandalorian theme really drives me crazy. That hideous sound of a bow scraping against strings makes my eyeballs twitch convulsively and my teeth ache from grinding.  But that’s my only real quibble.

 

Star Trek Marathon:

I turned on The Wrath of Khan one evening with my parents and it just turned into an unplanned marathon. We watched The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock, and Voyage Home in one evening and it was EPIC.

You guys know how much I love Star Trek, particularly the original series. I get more emotional over Star Trek than almost anything else I ever watch, and these three films, this stupendous trilogy, is the culmination of  three seasons of adventures with one of the best ensemble casts of all time. These characters feel like dear friends and I love them so. The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and the Voyage Home are definitely the high point of the Original series and cast and are not to be missed by any fan of the real Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

 

 

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– READ –

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, instead of having a long list of all the books I read in June and July, I’m just going to talk about a few of my favorites.

It’s been a while since I wrote a book review, mini or not, so let’s dive in, shall we?

 

 

Nobody Likes A Goblin by Ben Hatke – 5 stars:

I have been on an extreme goblin kick lately, due to a certain writing project of mine – but I have always had a soft spot for the “unlovable” and a predilection for ugly little monsters with cute personalities.

Nobody Likes A Goblin did not disappoint me!  It’s an adorable story about a courageous little creature and his heartfelt friendship with a skeleton. What is NOT fun about that???  In addition, it has absolutely charming pictures. I love the soft, dreamy, fairy-tale quality of Hatke’s watercolors. Just check out the darling little goblin and troll in the picture below! Aren’t you hooked? I was, at first glance.

 

 

 

Song of The Deep by Brian Hastings – 4 stars:  Apparently, this book was based on a video game, which struck me as intriguing, because I grew up playing quite a number of “educational” computer games. Among them was a certain game called Operation Neptune (PLEASE TELL ME SOMEBODY ELSE PLAYED THIS). I adored it and Song of the Deep’s underwater / submarine concept reminded me of the countless hours I spent playing this beloved game.

 

 

Okay, Operation Neptune aside, Song of the Deep was an entertaining read in its own right. The concept of “leveling up” and finding new stuff to gain more powers or to find new entrances or escape routes were woven cleverly into the story.

But aside from the fun gamer plot-line, the story about a girl trying to rescue her father is a touching one. There were a few scenes between the heroine and her daddy that actually made me a bit misty. The added knowledge that the author wrote this specifically for his daughter made this element of the book all the sweeter, and his fatherly affection really bled through into the fictional story.

 

 

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club by Alex Bell – 4 stars:  This was such a deliciously old-fashioned adventure!  It’s a farcical take on Old World explorers such as Lewis and Clark or Stanley and Livingston and the hilarious tongue-in-cheek references were seamlessly mixed in with the wildly whimsical world building.

It’s a merry little romp of a book and features some engaging child characters, but it was the heroine and her adopted father that really had me grinning and sniffling. (you can tell I have a weakness for this particular relationship, right?) Felix and Stella’s vibrant and happy love for one another and Felix’s sacrificial care for his adopted daughter was truly moving.

The book did almost got a little too weird for me in bits but, fortunately, the authoress restrained herself from going overboard.

 

 

Lady In Waiting by Rosemary Sutcliff – 3 stars:  This read was both touching and melancholy. No one could weave the themes of inevitability so skillfully as Sutcliff.  The story centers largely around Bess Throckmorton’s relationship with Walter Raleigh. You know how picky I am about relationships, but I was okay with this one (though it was what most people would call a doomed and possibly unhealthy relationship).  It was definitely one of Sutcliff’s more adult reads, simply due to the themes and the poignancy of the Raleigh’s relationship. Nevertheless, it is still as beautifully written as all of Sutcliff’s other books and I was as hopelessly memorized by Lady In Waiting as I was by her works, despite the sadder story line.

 

 

The Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson – 3 stars: (Oh my goodness. I very nearly typed the lady of SHALLOTS) but spared myself the embarrassment at the very last moment).

This summer, I tried to be deliberate about reading more classics and more poetry, with nominal success. I had read a little bit of Tennyson in the past and took an immediate liking to him. And, of course, we’re all familiar with Anne Shirley’s infatuation with this particular poem.

While I like some of Tennyson’s other work more, I still enjoyed finally reading this classic piece all the way through at last. Tennyson has such a lovely meter and beautiful imagery.

 

 

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson:  It’s a little difficult to summarize this book.  “Irreverent” is the word that comes to mind for this crazy piece of fiction.  This is everything that I want science fiction to be – trope defying.  I was laughing out loud on nearly every page and shaking my head at the absurdity of it all – and yet, it’s believable. This short novel drips with irony and sly subtleties.  In a scenario slightly reminiscent of Ewoks taking on the might of the Galatic Empire, Poul Anderson shows how a more “primitive” culture can overcome a technologically advanced enemy with relative ease in a hilarious social of human nature and society in general.

It ended up being a little too irreverent for me at points, due to some of the anti-religious statements, and the novel lost a star for that but, over all, I still mightily enjoyed this book.

 

 

The Sidekick’s Tale by Elisabeth Grace Foley: I am extremely particular about Westerns as a rule and only like them if they are ‘unusual’ – another words, not your standard sheriff comes to town sort of story. This authoress NAILS IT! The story is more like a Shakespearean comedy-of-errors – my mouth was literally open with surprise and laughter by the first few pages. Characters were zany, hilarious, and human; the turn of phrase employed by the narrator is hysterical, unique, period – it oozes “Western” in the most wonderful and original way.

 

 

T Spec Fiction Issue 1 by Tor, Jaq, and Al Thibeaux: Okay, I helped write this and my sister’s wrote the rest of it so I might not be the most unbiased opinion on this but I STILL LOVE IT.  I am really proud of these stories and the fact that this is my sister’s first publication. And I definitely had fun writing my contributions to this e-zine. 🙂

My sisters and I are delighted by some of the feedback we are getting. We wanted this e-zine to be a fun escapes for the entire family, and we are so gratified to know that T Spec Fiction is already meeting that goal.

 

 

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– WRITING –

 

Even though I didn’t participate in Camp Nano (I decided to boycott it due to its outrageous leftist political agenda becoming more and more apparent to me) I still wrote a great deal in the last few months. Thanks to my social media fast, I doubled my usual word count in July.

It seems that when you’re not wasting words by commenting on Instagram, you can actually write more on your WIPs.

 

 

The project I worked on the most was that retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier I’ve been mentioning to you. It’s not related to the Tales of Ambia and the working title is The Dancer and the Goblin.  I poured a lot of hours and words into this project and I’ve more or less finished the first draft of this novella.

Of course, I now hate the very sight of it and suspect it’s garbage and I might bury it in the backyard for all time.

 

 

It’s in the hands of my developmental editor right now (my twin) so I’m waiting to hear how much rewriting this project is going to need (or whether or not I should indulge in the impulse to tear it in half and eat a gallon of ice cream while sniveling over the curse of messy first drafts).

Before I rewrite it, I may also need a month off to remember how to string sentences together.

 

 

I wrote a fantasy time travel short story based on Arthurian legends! That took a bit of doing, but I finished and submitted it to an anthology seeking submissions and I’m pretty pleased with my take on the legend of . . . well, I can’t tell you everything about it, yet.

 

 

I wrote a very short short story for submission to Cricket Media (it’s all about krakens and brothers – what else do you need??).  That one was a bit of a challenge for me because I have read Cricket media magazines and had to adjust my style a bit to match their tone. I’m not sure how well I did, but I’ve got my fingers crossed!

 

 

Worked on content for my upcoming Patreon launch – this included writing up travel guides to the magic systems of Ambia and it’s neighboring countries and proofing a patron exclusive novella (that Burndee In Quarantine story that I’ve talked about previously).

I was getting into the content so much that I was exciting MYSELF about the Tales of Ambia. I am champing at the bit of set some stories in Radorria and other countries now. I can’t wait to share more about all of this with you!

 

 

After adding thousands of more words to it, I FINALLY finished Moon Boy Episode 2: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This “short story” has turned into a novelette.  *face palms*  I don’t know how I’ll cut this one down.

After “finishing” only two episodes, I can already tell that that Moon Boy is going to be a pain in the neck.  Somehow, I’ve got hammer this puppy into submission.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

 

 

I worked on two short stories involving murder and robots that, sadly, didn’t really go anywhere and I abandoned it (temporarily) after it refused to cooperate. That bugged me a little bit, because usually my will power is more than a match for any problem child of a story. *frowns at screen*

I will probably go back to this project someday to wrestle it into submission just for the principle of the thing.

 

 

For a bit of refreshment, I worked on a zany Snow White retelling that I first started last year called True Love’s Bite.

I’ll just let you speculate about what the title means.

 

SO, that’s what I’ve been writing on . . . 

Unfortunately . . . that wave of productivity has ground to a halt. A complete and total dead stop. 

 

After my sisters and I published our first issue of T Spec Fiction, my goodness, did the battle begin! I can’t recall ever being so bombarded with doubt over my writing and so hammered by writer’s block.

 

Well, perhaps I have, but only blocked the unpleasantness from my memory.  But I do know that this is a singularly bad bout of it.  Hopefully, I’m nearing the end of this nasty phase.

 

 

Now, time for some good news.

Two of the anthologies that have accepted my short stories were released to the world!

 

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YIPPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Note: Not all of these anthologies feature clean stories (mine are clean, but some of the others aren’t). If you would like to hear more about it, just DM me and I’ll let you know what to expect. OR, you can just wait for the next issues of T Spec Fiction, which will feature all of my stories once the rights revert back to me.

 

 

I submitted to a lot of magazines and anthologies. (several of these were the same stories, just sent into different anthologies / magazines at the same time – i.e. a simultaneous submission.

Annnnnnnd . . . I got ten rejections in two months. TEN.

 

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I’ve mentioned to you before that I kind of submit in cycles. I get my courage up to a rip-roaring boil and then start submitting like a wild beast and then I take a pounding from the Great Rejection Tsunami and revert from fearsome T-Rex to crushed rabbit and retreat for a while to lick my wounds before pulling myself together for a fresh barrage of submissions.

I am definitely in the bummed bunny cycle right now.

 

 

But that’s okay! While I’m taking time off from submitting, I’ve got plenty to do.  Like trying to conquer that great big writer’s block. Yeah, I’d better work on that, since not writing could definitely put a crimp on future submitting.

But, that’s just part of the writer’s life, right?  Things aren’t always hunky dory, but we’ve just gotta straighten our hats, snap our suspenders, hit the jump button, and go for it!

 

 

 

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– LIFE –

 

Got to see old movies in theater.  Yeah, you were probably scratching your head earlier when I mentioned seeing The Empire Strikes Back and Indiana Jones in theaters. Allow me to explain.  As you all know, the movie industry has ground to a fault during Current Events. Because of the lack of new releases, our local theater is trying to stay alive by running old movies – which is kind of the best news we’ve had in months because our family doesn’t like new releases and we’ve been longing to see our favorite movies on the Big Screen.  LO AND BEHOLD, IT HAPPENED.

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Old classics are being shown on the silver screen!  *contented sigh* Good things still happen, it seems.

 

I fasted social media for thirty days. I cannot begin to describe how beneficial this was for me. I really urge you to try it!  You can read a little more about some of the awesome things that happened to me due to my break on this Instagram post right here.

For one thing, MY READING SLUMP PRETTY MUCH EVAPORATED. It turns out, all that disinterested reading of captions and ceaseless scrolling that was really destroying my attention span.  BUT IT’S VIRTUALLY GONE NOW AND I CAN ENJOY BOOKS AND THE PROCESS OF READING THEM AGAIN.

 

 

My sisters and I launched our e-zine, T Spec Fiction. I know I’ve screamed and squealed about this already, but . . .

 

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I am still just so proud of my sisters for this accomplishment and for taking this first step into publication.  I have dreamed of seeing their work published for so long and have had this vision of us collaborating for years.  God truly did bless our efforts and open doors for us to give us this beginning.

If you want to check out our website, you can do so at this link right here, or you can find our first issue HERE, or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Okay, I’ll stop talking about T Spec Fiction . . . for now. I just can’t help it, I’m so excited, you guys. 

 

Celebrated the 4th of July.  More “fire works” were set off in the driveway, and we got an upgrade this time around and got some bigger bangs that were quite exciting.

If there’s a celebration, if there’s anything patriotic going on, there’s going to be explosions at my family’s house.

 

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Our local libraries opened again!

 

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Libraries are a very passionate subject for me.  (that was a Eugene Meltsnere quote, did anybody get that?)

Suffice it to say, I was crushed beyond measure to not have access to my beloved libraries – and absolutely overjoyed when they opened up again. Granted, several of them are only offering pick up and won’t let me inside, but still, I’ll take it!

Two months felt like a lifetime. As soon as the libraries opened again, you can bet I set those librarian’s heads a-whirling with the amount of holds I placed.

 

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I haven’t even been able to read everything I’ve checked out, but just HAVING library books on my desk and knowing that they’re there brings me such comfort.

 

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I know this is a side note but, does anybody else remember Arthur??? Let me know in the comments.

 

Got to do some baking.  It had been a while since I got in the kitchen and I have really missed it.  At heart, I am a Burndee and find a lot of gratification in baking.  And, of course, there’s the added pleasure of eating what I made, so that’s always a plus.

 

 

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As you can see, other than the launch of T-Spec Fiction, nothing too exciting happened to me in June and July.  Was it as quiet for you as it was for me?

Comment away, I’ve missed chatting with you – don’t leave me hanging!

 

Did you do anything special for the 4th of July? Watched any good movies, lately?  What were some of YOUR all-consuming projects in June and July? Until then . . .

 

 

6 thoughts on “A Bit O’ Nutshell

  1. That is SO COOL you got to see some classics on the big screen! Oh my goodness, what a special thing to get to do! I think A New Hope is my favorite of the originals as well. I just love all the characters first meeting and forming bonds and everything. It’s just so FUN.

    Looks like you got a lot of writing done in July! That’s fantastic! I, too, discovered I can spend SO much more time on my own stories and have a lot more creative energy when I’m not on social media all the time. Sounds like taking a break and stepping back a bit in July was great for both of us. ^_^ And what is this about a FANTASY, TIME TRAVEL, ARTHURIAN LEGEND story??? Those are like three of my favorite things! IN ONE. *FLAILS*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with such a bad case of doubt and writers block though! D: *ALL THE HUGS* It is definitely the worst part of being a writers but, praise God, it’s NOT permanent. I know the Amazing Alli will conquer that nastiness and come out victorious! But I will absolutely be praying for you as you work through this season. Do be kind to yourself! <3

    1. YES, YES, YES! The FIRST MEETINGS are a blast – and now that I think of it, is IS so much like something you would love!

      Thanksss! I was so happy to hear that your break was beneficial for you! *squeezes* HAHAHA, thank youuuu. I hope to publish it in T Spec soon! *grins*

      THANK YOU SO MUCH, DEAR CHRISTINE. You are always such a ray of light and an encouragement! *HUGE HUG* 🤗 I’m definitely trying to give myself some grace during these crazy times!

  2. June and July were mostly work, school, my sister’s weddings stuff, and when I read I think it was mostly rereads. Yesterday, I still had to work with short breaks to finish to from 6am-11pm, so yeah, it’s been a blur.

    I had a ton of books from the big city library system (we have access with a fee or working in the city county or else I’d book starve). But I wasn’t inspired to read most of them. I’ve done a lot of rereading plus had a slump. Our smaller county libraries opened, and I’ve gotten some books from them, and finally the city library expanded their pick up services (I usually ordered from the entire system, whereas the county libraries have SUCH a limited selection). Yeah, libraries are important!

    1. Oh wow, that sounds crazy! I hope you all had a beautiful and blessed time at the wedding!

      They sure are! *double high fives*

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