Know the Novel - Ships, Secrets, and Survivors Part 3

Apparently I'm not done posting for 2019.

So basically, I thought I had already done this post, but after a quick check in my blogger archives I had this moment of "the archives are incomplete" which lead me to realize "if it's not in the archives, it doesn't exist, which must mean I never made the post" and so here you go.

Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around? Firstly, that was last month, so I don't remember (this post is bound to be interesting). Um...I remember I went on a family vacation during the first week or so, and I got behind on the original schedule to finish in 2 weeks. But I still finished.

Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome? I finished later then I wanted. But other then that, everything went well.

What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? I loved writing the ships. Not the romance ones, but the wood and sails and freedom kind of ships. Also, switching from two POVs was fun. Haven't written multiple POVs in a long while.

How about your least favorite part? Having to do research on certain injuries, french revolution weapons, and what are the parts of a ship. I'd much rather be drafting, mate.

What do you feel like needs the most work? Um, honestly, the RPG bit that Sarah and I did before I finished it myself for NaNo. But NaNo draft wise, I would say the ship parts...

How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details! I think I did a fairly good job with the characters, including the ones who were originally Sarah's. They all got a chance to shine and grow a little. But I'm especially in love with Ravin (shy, awkward ex-assassin) and Adi (knife-wielding feisty princess).

What’s your next plan of action with this novel? Um. Edits, basically.

If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be? Mate, I want this turned into a movie/tv series. All the pirates, pirate hunters, agents, sea dragons, monsters, ships, would be so cool!!

Share some of your favorite snippets! Just check out my Shared WIP Tag post available here and the Know the Novel Part 2 post here. And enjoy the snippets!

Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel? Well...I just figured out how to work with Google Docs, so that's cool. Editing this book will be an adventure for sure!

Anyways, so my next post really will be in 2020...

6 Movie Recs

Are you looking for some new movies to check out over the holidays? Tired of watching the same old films? Looking for something out of the ordinary? Look no further! I have a quick list of same favorite (clean) movies for y'all to check out this winter.

Get a hot drink and some blankets and check out these movies. :)

Black Lightning

This is a Russian movie, but fear not - for those of you who don't speak Russian, you can get it with English subtitles! (Don't get it dubbed, never ever do that, to any movie.) And it's rentable on Amazon.

Black Lightning is a beautiful story about a poor boy who wants to become rich so he can drive a nice car and impress the girls. His father gives him an old, clunky car for his birthday, and he's so embarrassed by it that he doesn't even drive it to school. But then he finds out the car can fly. And the rest is history.

This movie is one of my favorites. Ever. It's a superhero movie, is clean, and also extremely funny. The special effects don't look corny, and the plot is well written. Please, if you try any movies from this post, try this one.

Based off the historical fiction book The Eagle of the Ninth, this movie has flaws (weird costumes, not close to the book, not even historically accurate) but if you just take it for what it is (a fun adventure story), it's really enjoyable.

My brother loves it because there's zero kissing/romance involved, haha. My sister loves it because it's different than your usual movie. I love it because the music is amazing.

It's a little gritty and dark. But no language or "skippy" scenes. :)

So this is based off a kids series (which was made into a cartoon series), but I didn't find that out until a few years ago? But this has been a favorite horse movie of mine since I was little.

Pros: Fun story plot, beautiful horses, aussie accents, amazing soundtrack, ghost stories and chills at the end, different from your normal horse movie.

Cons: If you don't like horses, you'll find this boring...

This is kind of old, so maybe everyone's already seen it and we just don't talk about it? But it's hilarious. Hysterical.

Basically, it tells the story of Red Riding Hood in such a brilliant way...interviewing all the characters and piecing together what really happened. You'll never look at the fairy tale the same way again.

(Apparently there's a sequel movie? That was not very good? I haven't seen it - can anyone tell me if it was worth watching?)

Only Old Men Are Going to Battle

Yes, another Russian movie. Not that I'm sorry. And there are more I could recommend, but I'll just stick to two for today.

I came downstairs one night to find my Dad watching this. I sat in for the last half and enjoyed it; then I watched the whole thing again later and loved it more. It inspired a bit of my trilogy, actually.

But it's clean, despite being a war movie. It follows a group of fighter pilots, and is thoughtful., really interesting, and presents such an interesting aspect of war. Basically, only old men (the most experienced) are sent into battle, but as time goes on, those get killed off, so the more and more younger men are sent out. Until young boys are going up because they're the most experienced over the newbies.

You can watch it for free on YouTube here. Good news: includes English subtitles. :D

The Court Jester

This movie is a classic with our family. Even after all these years, we are still laughing hysterically every time we see it.

A ex-circus entertainer pretends to be a jester while smuggling the real king back onto the throne, and gets involved in all sorts of trouble...

All I can say is just watch it, okay? It's great. 

Let me know if you've seen any of these, or if you watch them. I'd love to chat!!

Cars and Characters

So the below meme (or post or whatever you want to call it) has always made me laugh. And it popped up again the other day and I thought, you know, I should do something like that for my Red War Trilogy characters.

So I did. And below is the result.

The original post.

Marywyn doesn't even have a moped or motorized scooter, much less a car or a license. However, she would think nothing of walking or biking 5 miles to a store. Has hitched rides with local grandmas, farmers in tractors, people on horseback, lost families on vacations, and once a celebrity (who she had never even heard of). 

Duren drives anything, from tractors to semi-trucks, automatic or manual. Has stories about driving each and every kind of motor vehicle. His own car cost like $500 and grinds horribly when it changes gears and the brakes work intermittently. No one knows what the original color was supposed to be, but it probably wasn't "rust".

Jaran had a license, but it gets suspended frequently, as he's always getting caught speeding, doing doughnuts in parking lots, or drifting around curves. His car is one of those little manual sports cars, used, but still fast. He modifies it from time to time, usually when he's unable to drive it because of his license getting revoked again.

Rayn has an expensive sports car, washes it once a week, has a strict "no food" rule for passengers. Has memorized when and where the cops usually are and only speeds when he knows he can get away with it. There's a chance his parents took out the loan for the car so he hasn't paid a thing, but he'll neither confirm nor deny it... 

Wisdom has the biggest, loudest diesel truck around, and likes to dare everyone else to attempt to drive it. Grew up on a farm and was driving tractors when she was 10, though she did get her license on time.

Lavern has a cheap "piddly gray car" that everyone helped her find. She paid for it herself with cash, and it's not fancy, but it's reliable. She learned to drive later in life, and can be timid, though she's working on that and trying to drive to places that would normally make her nervous.

Mask runs everywhere, or else begs someone to pick him up. No one realized he doesn't have a license because no one ever taught him to drive (they just assumed he didn't have money for a car), so once, Duren asked him to take a turn behind the wheel on a road trip. After the normal instructions anyone would receive when first driving Duren's rust bucket, Mask proceeded to take out a line of caution cones and scrape the side of the car across the concrete divider. He was careening towards a line of stopped cars when Duren pulled the emergency break. That was his one and only time in a driver's seat.

Connaven has a cute little Jeep, brand new, purchased for her by her parents. Everyone tries to get her to take it out four-wheeling, but she refuses--mostly because she doesn't want to get it muddy, but also because she's terrified of driving it on anything that's not a fairly quiet road. So the other characters view it as "a waste of a good Jeep." She had her own private driving instructor, but hasn't gone on a highway since the lessons were over.

Ondore has a motorcycle license, but never bothered to get one for driving. She will drive, but only trusts herself in the drivers seat, and everyone knows she doesn't have a car license, so they don't let her drive. So she usually just takes her bike places, which is fine with her. Has a couple bikes, suitable for all occasions, most of which she fixed up herself. 

Gillian lives in the country in the middle of nowhere, and never bothered to get her actual license. She obeys the rules of the road and has never once been pulled over. Happens to know all the local cops and even waves at them. It's never occurred to her that she needs to get a license. Then again, she goes to like, five places when she leaves home and that's it. For special trips, someone comes and picks her up. Current car belonged to her grandma; no one knows what will happen when the tag gets expired.

Tach trades vehicles so often, he hasn't actually paid for inspections in years. Gets pulled over frequently, but never for speeding. Usually because his current car is breaking safety regulations: no lights, no turn signals, exhaust not working, and the like. He doesn't fix the problem; he just trades the car again.

Maxin is a good citizen. Keeps his license and his vehicles up to date, obeys all laws and regulations. Except he never wears a seat belt (because when he was a kid, he never had to). Also eats while driving with his knees. Has been driving the same station wagon for 30+ years; the transmission has been replaced twice. No one knows how the vehicle is still running.

Tan drives a small truck that's completely covered in rust and sounds like a sick tractor. He learned to drive without a license, but does have one now, because "that's the way things are these days, gotta make it all complicated with rules and regulations. Back in my day, you just slapped an engine on some tires and drove it into town." Has multiple run down vehicles in various states of disintegration behind his house.

Hope you enjoyed that! Now go do it with your own characters--it's pretty fun!

Cooking Incidents

So I want to start off with a brief note that I am a pretty good cook. I usually don't do much beside bake, as by the time I come home from work, Mom has supper almost ready to eat. But on the nights when my parents go out together, or if I feel like cooking, or if Mom doesn't feel like cooking, I can whip up something edible and tasty.

But I have also had a number of cooking incidents, which I will now proceed to share.

The Constantly-Expanding No-Bake Cookies

My first baking incident was probably around 2014. I was staying at Sarah's house for a weekend, and while we did lots of fun stuff, we also made no-bake cookies. Well, Sarah made them; I mostly provided moral support.

But I loved those cookies and of course asked for the recipe.

Sometime later, Sister 1 and I decided to attempt making them ourselves.

To this day, I'm a little hazy about the details. Apparently Mom didn't help us? I'm not sure. All I know is that we started off with the small pot, it overflowed so we got the next big pot, which also overflowed...and we basically went through all the pots until the cookie stuff we were heating up was in the largest pot.

It being quite the ordeal, Sister 1 and I were traumatized and agreed that we weren't really bakers.

The Radioactive Banana Pudding

I'm surprised we were allowed to bake something after making such a mess with the cookies. But as I said at the beginning, we're not bad cooks. We have made lots of successful meals. But sometimes things go wrong.

I was going through a banana pudding phase. No idea why, tbh. But there it is. And so I found a recipe.

Oddly enough, the recipe told me to bake the thing. Like, it's bananas and cream and those vanilla wafer things, what could possibly need to bake??

But I followed the instructions. Heated up the oven. Put in the pudding. Set the timer.

Then I was washing the dishes (I like to wash dishes asap, so they're not just sitting around) when suddenly a bright light flashes in the kitchen, followed by a loud POP. Smoke comes out of the oven.

Once the panicking is completed, we realize the heating element in the oven blew up. Mom's been wanting a new oven anyway, so this is the perfect excuse.

But what to do with my half-baked banana pudding?

Well, there's only one thing for it, lads.

I microwaved the thing.

Which, we assume, caused the rubbery consistency of the pudding, wafers, and banana pieces.

My family shunned the desert, and it would likely have sat forgotten in the fridge except we had a guest over. As usual, my Dad gives the "make yourself at home" speech, to which Mom adds, "Help yourself to anything in the kitchen."

Well, the guest got up in the middle of the night and was hungry and ate like half the banana pudding. And still lives to this day.

So at least it didn't all go to waste. I emailed a friend and said something like "So I blew up the oven today making banana pudding." And she laughed and was like "ah, you're too funny."

Then while we were chatting a few weeks later, I made the comment "Well, we got the new oven installed today."

And she was like "wait, you actually did blow up the oven?!"

Haha, yes I did.

The Emergency Cookie Stash

A few years back, my dad got a great deal on an entire pallet load of emergency food. Basically canned and freeze dried foodstuffs that you use whenever you get snowed in, attacked by zombies, or don't have time to go to the grocery store.

One of the cans included a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies. To this day I can't remember what was in the can, or even if they were for snickerdoodles or just another kind of cookie. Snickerdoodle is what pops in my head, and that's what I'm running with.

What I do remember is that the cookies turned out rock-hard. They tasted fine once you ate them, but then had a bitter aftertaste that stuck in your mouth for hours after eating a cookie. And the recipe had made like, 200 of them.

So we basically had a week's worth of rock-hard, sadness cookies. And we ate every single one of them. It was hard. But we did it.

The Almond Flour Cookies

So a friend asked if I could bake him a cake for the surprise party he was throwing for his fiance. She has a sugar allergy, so he gave me a recipe for some sugar free peanut butter cake that called for almond flour. It was something I didn't have sitting around, so I bought some for the cake.

The surprise birthday party went well, and the cake was a success. :)

Time passed, and we had guests over, and I offered to make cookies on a cold, winter Saturday. I didn't check what ingredients we had. I just started on my usual sugar cookie recipe (this being the year I did nothing but bake sugar cookies and had memorized the recipe). I started on the dry ingredients, and realized I didn't have enough all-purpose flour. But I did have enough of that almond flour still hanging around. So I just threw a couple cups of that in instead.

Better bakers then I probably already know my mistake. (Better bakers then I probably actually measure things, too.)

All seemed fine and dandy until I checked on the first batch in the oven. They weren't rising and getting baked. They were melting. Running into a thick goop and filing up the baking pan like some kind of albino brownie.

I whisked the first batch out and discarded it in horrified silence. After checking to make sure the oven hadn't blown up again or something, I put in a second batch, which also did not turn into proper sugar cookies. Embarrassed, I explained to the guests that the almond flour was not baking right, and it was a disaster. Then I teased that I could offer them raw cookies.

They instantly jumped at the idea, claiming they loved raw cookie dough, and so I spooned the remaining batter into dough balls and served them to the guests. They were a big hit.

The Lemons, the Water, and the Sugar Glop

Years ticked by, and I got better at baking. I also got a phone, so I could quickly look up substitutes and find recipes (and text Sarah for advice, haha). I'd hoped my disaster days were behind me.

And then I started getting the Pixie Dust book crates, which include recipe cards. And, as you might have guessed, the recipe for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was for turkish delight.

The first step was "pour three packets of gelatin in 1/2 cup of water." And I messed that up - I was so busy looking for "something that has markings for a cup of water" and so I pulled out a large measuring glass, measured a cup of cold water and dumped the gelatin in.

I was doing the second step (boiling 1/2 cup of water with the sugar) and realized I'd made a mistake. So I rushed over to the solidifying gelatin and yeah...I quickly poured out half a cup of water/gelatin goop, and then added in the last packet, just to "be sure" of things.

Then I boiled the water and sugar, added the gelatin goop, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Well, I'm elbows-deep in the cabinet, looking for my 6'' pan, getting annoyed because it's gone, and finally I think, "huh, Brother was messing around in here earlier, maybe he pulled it out for me." So I stand up and...the liquid sugar has been boiling over onto the stove and there's basically more on the stove then in the pot. I quickly whisk the pot of the heat, and in mere seconds the liquid hardens into a sticky goop. It's sticking to the pot, the oven, the burner, everything. So I quickly pour the remaining sticky stuff into another pot, set it on the remaining burner that is mess-free, and set that to simmer again (on a lower heat, lol).

I spend the next 20 minutes cleaning the stove top: one swipe with a hot washcloth to get the sticky stuff less sticky and more liquidy, and then a swipe with a paper towel to get it off the stove while it's not in a goopy mass. (Sadly, this is not my first time doing such a thing, thanks to the infamous honey incident which happened in 2011 or so, and would require another blog post altogether.)

So I finally get the kitchen cleaned, the stuff has simmered nicely, and it's time to add in the lemon flavor. The recipe called for lemon juice and lemon extract. Well, I didn't buy lemon juice because mom always keeps lemons and lemon juice for her water, right? So I got the lemon extract, which is like 83% alcohol (I'm surprised they didn't card me when I bought it).

Turns out the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and just a dash of the extract.

I have in my hands an almost empty bottle of lemon juice and a full bottle of lemon alcohol.

So I squeeze in as much lemon juice as I can get out of the bottle, and toss in as much lemon extract as I can handle without worrying I'm going to get everyone drunk or something.

Then I pour it all into the 6'' pan (which has been sitting in the counter watching all the excitement) and let it sit overnight.

This morning I've completely forgotten about it all until I'm about to walk out the door. "THE TURKISH DELIGHT" I yelp and about drop my purse and rush to the counter. The gelatin sugar lemon booze goop isn't interested in falling out of the pan and dropping onto the powdered sugar, so I scoop out two helpings, roll them in the "poof" sugar, and take a sample as Brother and I head out the door.

Not bad. I mean, tastes like lemon jello with sugar. Certainly edible, though maybe not sell-my-siblings-to-the-white-witch-in-return-for-more-edible.


Again, let me repeat that I am (usually) a good cook. I have countless success stories. These are the few incidents that I've had in my years of cooking. I am merely sharing for your enjoyment. Hopefully you laughed!

November Wrap-Up

Obviously, Novermber was mostly about NaNo. And pirate-y things. And horses, apparently (though I'm sure y'all expect that by now).

I'm proud to say I finished NaNo and the novel, so that's cool. More info on that via the other posts scattered throughout November, and I don't want to keep repeating myself.

What else was done?

Hmm. Well. Kept on track for the M'Cheyne Reading Plan. Read a bit (though not a lot). Tried to survive the cold weather.

First day of the ice skating season - and we had the whole rink to ourselves!

Rode Pepper with a bunch of gaited horses that kinda left us in their dust, lol

Thankfully Pepper doesn't mind riding alone, so we took our time and enjoyed the scenery.

Rode Bree with a group, where he was the second tallest horse (and he stands barely over pony size).

Watching a pirate movie while writing a pirate book.

Sister 2 did her first ever RPG. Basically, her princess character forced my prince character into marrying her by threatening to turn him into a frog if he didn't. It was all her idea, I just played my character...

Went to IN to visit friends. Apparently they also play airsoft, which we didn't know or else we would have brought our own things. So here I am, with rented equipment. Figures the only cool airsoft pic of me is when I'm 100% unprepared, haha

Mounted archery with Bree.

Riding Spirit...he's in the back on the way out and in the front all the way back!

On my way to work. Love living in the mountains, feat. our resident "volcano" or as I call it, My Lonely Mountain.

Went to the big fall horse auction.

This horse was 19.2 hands tall. The current tallest living horse is 20.0 hands.

Adorable little horse I spotted at the auction. :)

So that was my month. Hope y'all had a lovely Thanksgiving! And wow...December is upon us. And then 2020 starts. Wowzers. Time flies, eh?