Blog Launch & Interview with Annie Hawthorne of Curious Wren

Hello friends! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my sweet friend, Annie Hawthorne. Not only is she a lovely person, Annie is a wonderful writer. Her blog is launching today (and you should totally go check it out. Go on. I’ll wait here.) In celebration, she’s agreed to answer some interview questions here at On Another Note. This is the first interview I’ve conducted, and I’m so excited! Let’s get started!

Curious Wren

Welcome to On Another Note, Annie! It’s such a pleasure to have you here! In honor of your blog launching, and both of us being writers and bookworms, I thought it would be fun to have a bit of a Q & A. I absolutely love to ask questions, especially about bookish things, so here we go! (I warn you, I’m a little random and hyper around friends 😉 )

Hello, all you lovely people! *waves* I’m delighted I could be here, and thank you so much for hosting me, Sarah! ❤ Never fear, I’m a bit ridiculous around friends too. 😉

1. How / when did you realize you’re a writer?
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and at a very young age I started telling stories to my little sisters about mice and hedgehogs, and an anthropomorphic fanfiction of Star Wars. Telling bedtime stories morphed into writing bits and pieces of story here and there, and when I was about fourteen or fifteen I started to seriously write. I’ve always intended to be an authoress and, since I had it firmly fixed in my young mind that writers were rare creatures nowadays, I considered it a noble pursuit along the lines of reviving a lost art. As I grew older I realized how many of us there actually are, and I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong.

2. I’m so happy whenever I get to connect with other writers, too! If you could sit down to chat with a favorite author over a cup of coffee or tea, which writer would that be? (Living or gone before, either way is okay.)
Hmm… I’ll answer this with four authors: two, sadly, no longer with us, and two living. I think chatting with L.M. Montgomery about writing, and books, and people would be amazing. I have a feeling she’d have scads of helpful advice about how to write description and believable characters. And who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a cuppa with Wodehouse or C.S. Lewis?

As for current authors, sitting down for a talk over tea and scones with Anne Elisabeth Stengl would be a dream come true. She is one very talented lady, and if her books aren’t classics someday I’ll be shocked. (If you haven’t read them yet, do so.) Eric Nylund writes brilliant, gripping, hardcore sci-fi and probably if I ever met him I’d be too tongue-tied to say a word, but, still, I’d have met him. (I read his Halo series and oh, my poor heart. Don’t get me started on how much I love these books, the charries (KURT) or the fandom. Word of caution, if you plan to read them, they are futuristic military books, so lots of swearing. My wonderful brother whited it out for me.)

And then, of course, there’s all my incredible online writing friends who I hope to meet someday! ❤

3. Are there any books you find yourself reading over and over again, or would currently like to reread?
The books that come instantly to mind as constant reads are The Hobbit, To Kill A Mockingbird, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, A Christmas Carol, Starflower, Steal Like An Artist, The Borrowers, Jane of Lantern Hill, Rilla of Ingleside, Little Women, and Johnny Tremain. A few books I’m dying to re-read are Wives and Daughters, the entire Mistmantle Chronicles series, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (which I actually have on holiday with me right now), Jane Eyre, Return of the King, Paddington, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

4. SO many good reads there! What are your top three childhood favorite books?
The Hobbit (*loves with all the love*). All the Beatrix Potter books. The Borrowers. If anybody needs a list of books for their children/future children, by all means ask me. I’ll be happy to oblige. ^_^

5. Do you have any habits to set the mood for storytelling? For example, I need to listen to music and wear something comfy.
We are twins. O.O I also like a glass of water nearby and, ideally, an open window with a breeze wafting in. Does wonders for the inspiration.

6. I always have water dangerously close to my laptop, too. Do you have a favorite pen?
I do indeed! It’s blue (naturally) and the ink flows like Anne’s legendary perfect pen in Anne of Windy Poplars. Sometimes I lose it, and then I became a mad, unrecognizable thing. In a nutshell: borrow it not, if you wish to live.

7. Besides your perfect pen, what inspires you to share your words with the world?
At first it was simply because I love reading with all my heart and I wanted to share my love for Story with those around me. That reason still holds true, but I want more than anything to inspire and encourage people with my words like I’ve experienced with so many books I’ve read. I want to show people hope, and challenge their hearts.

8. Speaking of sharing your words, how about a preview of your blog? What might readers find upon entering your lovely site?
Articles about writing, book reviews, character studies, Beautiful People posts, movie critiques, story excerpts… also, the occasional article with Deep Thoughts on Life. 😉 I’m hoping it will be a cheery, inspirational place with lots of discussion and ecstatic (or sedate depending on your personality) fangirling over everything bookish.

9. All of that content sounds fantastic, and your blog is already one of my favorites! When you’re not writing or reading (or thinking about those things), what are your favorite things to do?
I spend lots of time with my family being our usual, lively selves, but I’m also fond of knitting pretty, warm things; playing with my darling nieces; hanging out with my Enchanted Forest coloring book (#biggirlscolortoo); going on road trips; exploring bookstores; target-practicing; beach days (where, yes, I do read); researching interesting and unusual facts; watching movies in the evening; and pining for a Woods to roam about in. Among other things.

10. Funny you should mention roaming- If you could visit any fictional world, where would you go?
This is such a cruel question. o.o
Unoriginal as it may be, I would jump at the chance to roam Middle-earth in person. The Shire, Amon Hen, Gondor, Rohan, Lothlorien, Mirkwood…. can you imagine how amazing that would be? I’d probably never leave.
Of course, I wouldn’t mind visiting my own fantasy worlds in person. Preferably with weapons along. And maybe a bodyguard or several.

11. Which two real places would you most like to travel?
Great Britain — I’m a staunch Anglophile (it’s all Dickens’ fault). I also think Italy would be utterly amazing, particularly Venice. And we mustn’t forget Australia. I know nice humans there. ^_^

12. If you could own any mythical creature as a pet, what would it be? Why?
A dragon. A baby dragon. A baby dragon of glorious color and sporadic flame. And we will roast marshmallows and towns together (I kid. I kid).

A griffin would be epic too.

13. What would you do if you stumbled across a sleeping dragon?
If there are eggs, I’ll steal one while it’s asleep a la Bilbo Baggins.

14. (I actually stole this from a career website. I’m not kidding.) A penguin wearing a sombrero walks through the door. What does he say?
“This is not a dream.” (I am laughing so hard over here, Sarah. xD)

15. I’m sure I forgot to ask you something! Is there anything you’d like to mention or add? The floor is yours!
And here we have a moment of Wise and Solemn Advice from Annie. *cough* Never stop reading, and read the type of books that you want to write. In the words of Austin Kleon, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

Live every moment fully, and don’t forget to enjoy the little things. It makes a tremendous difference in how much of life you experience. ^_^

Free free to ask me any questions you want, everybody! *hands around chocolate chip icecream*

Thank you so much for being here and letting us get to know you a bit more, Annie! And also for bringing chocolate chip ice cream. 😉
And thank you, friends, for joining us! Be sure to check out Annie’s amazing blog, Curious Wren, before you go. There’s a party going on all week long, with more interviews, a giveaway, and perhaps some extra chocolate chip ice cream. It’s going to be a grand time, and you certainly don’t want to miss. Here’s a link, so you can follow and join in on all the fun. 


IMG_7881Annie Hawthorne is a twenty-something writer who tends to be guilty of either hyperbole or crafting scenes that make her beta-readers cry. If she’s not scribbling YA fantasy and speculative fiction, then she can be found interacting with her family as one of its more lively members or attempting to shorten her TBR stack (it never works). She practices piano badly, and photography even worse. People-watching, long road-trips, dissecting movies, Doctor Who and LOTR marathons, wearing red heels, and collecting mugs are always on her To-Do list. She chases beauty, and is a child of God. Annie talks books, writing, and life at https://anniehawthorne.wordpress.com.
You can find her Twitter account at https://twitter.com/annie_hawthorne

What I Learned in May & So Far in June

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I should really stop waiting until the month is over to write these posts… Because every time I do, I inevitably put off the task until we’re halfway into the new month. Better late than never, though, right? (I can hear you saying But never late is better. And although it’s true, I frown upon that reply.)

Aside from learning (or relearning!) that these recaps shouldn’t be neglected until the last minute and beyond, here are a few other tidbits I picked up in May and the start of June.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird really does deserve all its acclaim. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I love it. The characters, dialogue, setting… All are so rich and absorbing. I’m hoping for some time this weekend to finish  it. My only complaint is that I didn’t read Mockingbird sooner.
  2. The Loch Ness monster is an excellent writing prompt.
    No, really. I’ve had severe writer’s block for the past several months. Even simple assignments seem to take me forever. But a few nights ago, I got an email from the team at the Fangirl Initiative saying contributions for a group post were due that evening at 9 PM. (By the way, here’s the completed post.)
    nessieOriginally, I wasn’t a part of it, but since I had the night off and I was cleared to write about the Loch Ness monster, I decided to jump in. I can’t remember the last time I finished anything in under an hour, but once I started writing about Nessie, I finished in a flash. After that, I felt a chunk of my writer’s block crumble. I guess the way to get out of a writing rut is to simply write… Even if it’s about something random, and done in a rush.
  3. What I don’t write, I can’t process. When I get busy, I don’t pause to write; yet it’s precisely in the midst of the rush that I need to. Writing, especially journaling, clears my head and helps me understand my story. It gives me some perspective so I can notice God’s script unfolding. For the remainder of this month, I’m going to work towards more consistency in my journal entries, as well as my blog posts.
  4. It’s better to step out and make mistakes, than to hold back and accomplish nothing at all. Bravery begets bravery.
  5. A difference can be made, even in a mess. My last post was messy; I’m the first to admit it. Yet in that jumble, real people came alongside me. The comment section filled up with the kind words of reader and writer friends. Those comments had a theme to me: I’ve been there, too… you’re not alone, and it’s okay. What I shared wasn’t profound or even polished. The response made a difference for me, though, because it was humbling and encouraging all at once. To each of you who read that mess, and especially to those who left encouragement… Thank you. You’re a blessing, and you make a difference.
  6. Joy is a journey. It’s so much deeper than the bubbly emotion of happiness. Joy is clinging to Jesus, even when the world is crumbling; it’s having hope in the light, even when we’re plunged into darkness. Joy doesn’t mean living on a mountain; it means trusting God to sustain us and carry us from the valley. Most of all, joy is our strength.
    joy
  7. It’s the small things that matter most. Sharing pizza with a friend; revisiting my favorite childhood playground; ice cream with a brownie; tickets for a long-anticipated movie; trips to the library. Life isn’t always about the big events. We do just as much living and memory-making in the little ones.
  8. Speaking of small things, it is impossible to cram more than three people into one photo booth. But it is kind of fun trying to prove otherwise.
  9. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” -e.e.cummings. As I mentioned at #4, though, courage only comes with action. Accepting God’s plan for my life and future is scary at times, especially since there’s a lot I don’t understand. Which leads me to my final point…
  10. God is doing a new thing. New things are scary and exhilarating all at once. I usually run from change, as if I can stumble back into the past or race through the discomfort of the present. In this season, though, when my nature wants to dig in my heels, question and/or cry, I’m choosing something different. I’m choosing to be excited. God gave me a promise, and confirmed those words to me: He is doing something new in my life. And I can’t wait to see what it is.
    new verse

What have you learned in these past weeks? What new things are taking place in your life? Should all go according to plan, there will be more new content here on the blog shortly… If you have a blog, drop me a link with your newest post, too! 🙂

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What is this Blog About, Again?

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Somehow, nearly a month has slipped past since my last post. I can’t quite explain why. I don’t have writer’s block. I just have no clue what to write about. Oh, I have ideas. Plenty of them. But I can’t decide which one to go with. The problem is, I’m not sure what my blog is really about these days. When I first brainstormed my site’s theme, I expected to follow a literary trail, featuring book reviews, writing tidbits and such. Then I realized I didn’t want to be limited to just one aspect of my life, even if it was a large one.

Writing a lifestyle blog seemed almost too broad, though, and I worried I would get lost in all of the possibilities. So I tried to summarize everything in my taglines, Ink, Inspiration and In-between. Figuring out exactly what should fit under each of those categories, and how to balance the three, has been trickier than I imagined.

I view my blog as a conversation with a friend. Almost like sitting down and chatting over coffee (preferably mocha chip frappuccinos. With extra whipped cream.) The thing is, when I physically meet up with a friend, coffee in hand, we chat about anything and everything. It’s difficult to detect an exact theme in those conversations.

None of this would bother me on its own. My interests are varied and even a little random; my blog tends to reflect that bit of my personality, though a little less sporadically (I hope.) But in all the reading I’ve done about building a blog audience, I’ve heard one piece of advice over and over: You have to stick to a topic, or else no readers will stick with you… And that’s why my struggle to nail down my niche has me perplexed.

Which subject should I stick to? How can I decide? Should I really settle on just one?

I’ve seen that work for a lot of bloggers. There are plenty of blogs I follow because I’m looking for that single topic. But there are just as many, if not more, that I follow because I like the style of writing, the voice of the writer, and how they make me feel like a friend.

Maybe in the future, my blog will become like that first type. For now, though, I’ve decided to let it follow the latter style. The direction of my life is in the process of a shift, and I can feel my writing shifting as well. The only way I can describe my theme, however loosely, is the same way I described it when I started: Ink, Inspiration, and In-Between. Especially in-between. There’s lots and lots of in-between.

Despite my tangled up thought process, and my unmade bed, I really do like things to appear neat and put-together. I’ve been trying to keep up that appearance here, with everything from my writing to social media presence. The thing is, I don’t have it all together. As much as I feel the need to be professional, impressive even, I don’t measure up to the ideal bar I’ve set. I’ve spent the last month avoiding the “Publish” button because nothing felt ready. I didn’t feel ready. But as I’ve said time and again, I can’t wait until I’m ready. This whole thing is an experiment. An adventure.

And I’m never going to get anywhere by staying put. (Clearly, I have to repeat messages to myself in order to get them.) I didn’t make formal resolutions during New Year’s, but now that we’re six months into 2015 (yes, already. Don’t get me started!) I’m going to set some new goals. Just as I tend to raise my standards too high, I set overly ambitious goals. It’s all I can do not to promise to post daily, but I know I’ll never meet that goal. So I’m not going to make a rigid standard. I’m just going to work at making progress.

In the days ahead, I’ll be posting about What I Learned in May, and I have a few book reviews coming soon, too. Beyond that, I’m not sure of my blogging schedule or subjects yet. I hope you’ll stick around, friends, as I learn along the way. It might be messy at times, but maybe we can learn something through all this together.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a reader, and my online neighbor, whether you’ve been with me from the beginning or you’re a new friend.

If you have a blog, how do you decide what to write about? How would you explain your blog?
If you prefer reading blogs to writing them, what subjects do you like to read about?

More to come!

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Love & Link-Ups: A Post for Fun, Fiction & Valentine’s Day

Happy (late) Valentine’s Day, dears! I’m never quite sure how to feel about this holiday, as a single girl. Should I buy myself chocolate? Pretend it’s not a holiday? Celebrate “Singles Awareness Day” instead? (No. I hate that term. It makes singleness sound like a disease, which is it not.) Actually, I like to spend Valentine’s Day celebrating… love. Shocking, isn’t it? But just because I’m not in a romance of my own, doesn’t mean I have no one to love. Today, I enjoyed the blessing of my family’s love, the love in my friendships, and the boundless love of the Savior. It’s love that has lasted me for years and years, and has no end in sight.

Of course, I’m not anti-romance by any stretch. I may roll my eyes or grumble about the occasional couple and all the posts with photos of flowers, but I’ve been a hopeless romantic since I first watched Sense & Sensibility at age seven. My favorite love stories tend to be just that: stories. As a writer and a romantic, it often fascinates me reading through a fictional couple’s story. True, there are plenty of romances I don’t care for, but when I find a couple I deeply care about, I must follow their story.

In the world of fans, there’s a special language for this situation. It’s called shipping, which essentially means wanting or supporting two characters in a relationshipBelieving two characters are perfect together means they are your one true pairing. In honor of Valentine’s Day, and the fact that many fans are more interested in fictional relationships, I’m linking up with the Fangirl Initiative on this subject.

It was so fun collaborating on this link-up with my fellow Initiative agents Sky and Jaime. Together, we came up with 14 questions to celebrate February 14 and our favorite fictional pairings. You can read the full link-up post, and find out how to join, here or by clicking the image below. If you’d like to hear about my chosen couple, read on!

It’s a wonder I haven’t mentioned the River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren before. They are my favorite young adult books, some of my favorite fantasy novels, and they include the story of one of my favorite make-believe couples.

If you haven’t read them, I recommend two things: 1) You read them and 2) You don’t read the rest of this post until then. I’m going to spoil some of the love story in answering these questions, and I’d hate to ruin the romance for you. And the series is so fantastic, it’s worth experiencing firsthand. Then we can discuss it! (Online book club, anyone?)
River Tribe

If you have already read these novels, don’t mind spoilers, are too curious to stop reading this post, or you don’t plan to read the books (though I could write a review that would change your mind), I will now come to the link-up questions and my answers.

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My chosen couple is Evangelia (Lia) Bettarrini and Luca Forelli. They start out as secondary characters in the series, but they were instantly stars for me. I loved watching their stories unfold, especially towards the latter half of the series when Lia becomes a main character. I’ll contain myself from writing a book report, and stick to the 14 questions shared on the Fangirl Initiative.

  1. What is their current relationship status, and how did they meet?
    “Current” depends on which book you’re reading. By the end of the series, they are officially husband and wife. They met when Lia and her sister Gabriella accidentally traveled back in time to Medieval Italy. The sisters were separated, and it was actually Gabi who met Luca first. He and his cousin, Marcello (spoiler: Marcello and Gabriella make a marvelous match as well!) help Gabi find her sister, Lia. Luca and Lia instantly have a connection, and become great friends through the early part of the books.
  2. Why do you want them to be together? What makes them better together? They know how to be a team. Their relationship is romantic, but it’s so much deeper than that. They understand each other and respect their differences, using them as strengths rather than weaknesses. They can survive without the other, but they thrive together. 
  3. What song(s) remind you of them? I would say “I See the Light” from Tangled. (See question #12 for more on that.)
  4. How would they divide household chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.)? Being nobility in Medieval Italy, they have servants, so neither one has many chores. If they did, Lia would likely attend to most of them. Though Luca would do just about anything his lady asked him to. (With some teasing complaints tossed in.)
  5. What would this couple argue most about, and who is most likely to compromise? They tend to argue about their different ways of handling situations. They’re protective of each other, and sometimes overly so, which causes a bit of conflict when one starts to feel smothered. Fortunately, both are good at compromising, so it all evens out. 
  6. What interests do they share? Archery, riding, art, spending time with family, and laughing together.
  7. Are they introverts, extroverts, one of each? Lia is an introvert, and Luca is an extrovert. In some relationships, this could cause friction, but in theirs it lends more balance.
  8. What would their first date be like? (If they’ve already had their first date, describe their ideal date.) I would imagine a picnic in a sunny spot, perhaps by a river. (This IS the River of Time series, after all.)
  9. Do they get along with each other’s families? Yes, completely. Since his cousin marries her sister, they really are all one big, happy family.
  10. In what ways do they drive each other crazy? In what ways do they drive other people crazy together? See answer #5 for one way they drive each other crazy. I think it also drives them crazy that it’s hard to stay mad at one another. They drive other people crazy with their inside jokes, and earlier in the story, their resistance to actually forming a relationship. Or maybe that last one just drove me crazy. 😉
  11. Where would they go for their honeymoon/a romantic getaway? Sienna, or perhaps Normandy.
  12. Do they share any similarities to classic romantic couples? (I.E., Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Beauty and the Beast) Maybe it’s too soon to consider them a “classic” couple, but Luca and Lia remind me of Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled in many ways. Hence the song that I chose for them (#3)
  13. What would their “celebrity couple” name be? (I.E., Brangelina) I really can’t think of anything, considering their names both begin with the letter L. Lucia? Liuca? This is harder than I expected.
  14. Where do you see this couple in 10 years?​ Happily married and with several adorable children, some of whom are outgoing and spontaneous like Luca, some quiet and sweet like Lia. And I imagine this couple will continue to fight for justice as needed.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Have you read any unforgettable love stories? Did you celebrate this Valentine’s Day?

Lots of love!

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