My Year of Books: In Which A Girl Named Sarah Talks About all the Books She’s Read

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It’s been a good year of reading. To date I’ve read about 31 books this year, which is pretty good for me, I tend to be a slow reader. Last year I read about 23 books and the year before that was a bad year and I only read 12.

I think I’m coming up with a system which is allowing me to make the most of my free reading time. Lately I’m usually reading about 3 books at once. I’ve done this in the past and it doesn’t end well. I usually end up abandoning most of the books I start. But now I’m reading one physical books, one Kindle book, and one audiobook and it’s working great! I tend to read these different mediums in different places so it allows me to maximize the amount I read. Kindle books are great for when I’m out and about and bored. I listen to my audiobook in the car or when I’m doing things around the house and I usually keep my physical book close to my bed for when I want to snuggle and read.

I know there are people who feel we should only be loyal to one medium of book, but I think that’s silly. I love all the different options I have for reading now. It allows me more freedom and let’s me fit more reading into my busy adult life.

If you would like to check out the books I’ve read this year check out my  GoodReads My Year in Books.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

~~Lady of the Pen~~

FYI I just finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, that’s where my title for this blog came from 😉

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

jews-8651165I wrote this in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is inspired by my visit to Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Museum in Israel.

 

Yad Vashem


A garden of trees

Righteous among Nations

Memorial of those who said enough

Who would not be blind

Hall of memory

Ghosts of the past

Lives cut short

Remembered here

The Hall of Names

A statement

We shall not forget

Each was important

Each lived

Each died in the name of hate

Remember

Remember the silent millions

Remember and let it not happen again

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The Next Master of Animation

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It is no secret that my favorite animation studio has long been Studio Ghibli and I stand in perpetual awe of Hayao Miyazaki’s genius. Ever since the rumors first began of him retiring, I wondered who would take his place as the master of animated magic? Now that Miyazaki has “officially” retired the question has become more immediate. Though Studio Ghibli still releases beautiful and captivating films, I haven’t felt the same stirring in my heart with the last couple of films which I did with all their earlier ones. I begin to think that it may be time for someone else to take up the mantle (not that I’m crossing Studio Ghibli off just yet, but it may be time for something new). I original assumed another Japanese animator would fill the void, but I’m beginning to think differently.

We’re becoming too familiar with anime, brilliant though it may be, it seems to me that a new perspective is needed, a new style. And to my surprise the origin of that new perspective is Ireland.

“Ireland?” you may ask, “Do they make animated movies there?”

Why yes, as a matter of fact in recent years a brilliant new animation studio has emerged by the name of Cartoon Saloon. There’s a good chance you’ve seen their first major hit “The Secret of Kells,” on Netflix.

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 I adored this film, it’s pure magic, with characters and images that linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled. Instead of competing with technology its creators tells its story in beautiful flat, 2d drawings. It draws on Irish Christian and Pagan legends and creates wonderful atmosphere with irish music, and scenes that could be right out of an illuminated manuscript. I loved the film and so was thrilled when I heard they were coming out with another animation called “Song of the Sea.”

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I was curious to see if their second film could hold up to the first one. I was not disappointed, “Song of the Sea,” though set in a more modern Ireland was just as full of wonder and magic as “The Secret of Kells.” It draws on the Irish legend of the Selkie, a seal which can shed its skin and become a human on land. But the film doesn’t loose itself in legend and magic, it keeps us grounded in the characters and their relationships, creating a rich story which I believe surpasses “The Secret of Kells.”

I love American animation, our studios have created masterpieces that will live on in children’s hearts through the years. But I believe that foreign film opens our eyes to new perspectives and new stories, and it’s important for children to have that. We need new stories, or we get stuck in the old tropes our culture has developed, that’s why foreign film is so exciting and I’m glad America has embraced amazing animation studios like Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon, it helps give us the breath of fresh air our stories need. I hope to continue to see foreign countries creating their own unique style of animation and storytelling.

I have high hopes for Cartoon Saloon and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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Adventures

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Beit Shean and the amazing Roman city of Scythopolis.

Good day loyal readers. I apologize for not writing regularly for the last few months, I’ve been distracted by adventure. I spent a couple of weeks overseas in Israel at the end of February. This was my first trip over the Pond and it turns out that large scale adventures take up a lot of time before you ever take to the air and once you’ve had them it takes time to recover and acclimate to ones normal life once more. So put simply I’ve been distracted and am attempting to return to a regular writing routine.

I’ve discovered that there are things in life that we know in our heads, but don’t truly become real for us until we see them for ourselves. For me it’s easy for faraway places to seem obscure and nearly fictional. Israel was a place I’ve read about, seen pictures of, and seen in movies, but to actually go there was a little like finding myself in Narnia (minus the magic and talking animals.) It was strange to exploring this country which I had ever only known second hand.

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View of the Old City from The Mount of Olives

The landscape was very green this time of year and beautiful. I had more fun exploring ancient ruins than anyone has a right to have. I love old things and in Israel it’s hard to throw a rock without hitting something ancient. It’s amazing to see the remains of civilizations thousands of years old and get a small glimpse into how they must have lived. It made the past come a little more alive for me.

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Streets of Jerusalem.

I learned new things, saw new places, and gained a broader perspective of the world and I know some of that will seep into my writing.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Israel and I hope to travel more. For now I’ll continue to focus on my writing and see what the future brings.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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The Beauty of “Weird” Music

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According to some people I like weird and unusual music. This is true, I like a lot of non-mainstream music. I listen to steampunk, dark music, symphonic metal, celtic folk, indie rock, musicals, Japanese, instrumental and any other sound which catches my fancy.

I was thinking about why I love many of these genres today and decided the root of it is because they makes me think. For me good music teaches me something or gets my mind working. I’ve learned new words from steampunk songs, history and folk lore from celtic folk, and delved into the depths of human emotion and motivation with indie rock and alternative music. I love instrumental because it offers no restrictions except for the mood of the sound and allows your imagination to take off. But the common thread is it gets me thinking and challenges me.

What’s some of the unusual music that you guys like? I’m always on the lookout for new music (;

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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Three Hobbies

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I found this quote awhile ago. “Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.” That quote has stuck with me ever since. I can see the importance of having variety in my passions. My hobby to be creative (hopefully one day my career) is writing. But if I only focus on writing than I’ll be sitting in front of a computer screen all day and that’s not healthy. That’s where my hobby for keeping me in shape comes in. I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was 13. I took a 2 year break and have recently gotten back into it, but it’s made a huge difference in my life. I’d decided that I’d just focus on my writing and sure I might miss martial arts, but I don’t really have time or money for it. Well some doors recently opened up, by the grace of God, and I’m back into it and I’m a lot happier for it. It’s important to exercise both the body and the mind. As for a hobby for money…well I’m still working on that one. I hope that writing will one day be my hobby of creativity and money, but I’ve also played with the idea of photography or making jewelry as a side gig to bring in a little extra cash.

Whatever your hobbies may be, it’s important to have duality and balance in our lives, it makes us healthier more rounded people.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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Distractions

study_distractionsWriting regularly is a challenge. People who are serious about writing have to treat it like a job, a fun, amazing job which lets you create worlds and people, but a job nonetheless. When you have a job, even if it’s one you love, there will always be days when you don’t want to go in, days you’d rather watch Tv or hang out with friends. With most jobs you shrug off these feelings, because you have a boss and it’s not acceptable to just not show up because you didn’t feel like it.

In writing, or many of the arts, we don’t have the luxury of someone standing over us cracking the whip. At least not when we’re first starting out. Later on we might have agents and publishers breathing down our necks to meet a deadline. But starting out all we have is our self discipline and our dreams to keep us going. So many days, even though we want to create, it’s easier to get caught up in the immediate. But the problem is that if you’re a writer and want to get published you have to put the time in and that’s not easy. Somedays it’s the last thing you want to do. But the question becomes do you want to look back in ten, twenty years and say you watched a lot of tv and wasted time? Or do you want to look back and see a trail of books–or art–that you created through the years?

I, for one, have so many ideas running through my head that I know I’m going to have to writing more and faster if I’m ever going to keep up with them. I have ups and downs with my writing, as do we all, but rarely am I writing as much as I know I should. I know that I need to start treating my writing as a priority if I’m ever going to capture all those delightful–sometimes dark, sometimes beautiful, perhaps a little twisted–ideas running rampant in my head.

I hope that all of us, in the coming year, can say no more often to the distractions and yes to The Work.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

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