What is This Blog Even FOR? (Plus: bread making adventures)

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It’s almost been two years since I started THIS blog⎯I’ve been blogging for years before on a different platform. When I posted for the first time, I had a grand idea for what I wanted it to be. I wanted to write lots of book reviews, share my experience in writing/querying/publishing, and posting plenty of short stories.

Looking back, I’ve only somewhat succeeded. I’ve written a handful of book reviews, though I’d like to write more. Certainly I’ve shared my experience with writing, that seems to be the one thing I do regularly. But, I’ve only ever posted one story and a couple of poems here.

Is it worth continuing to update my audience on my writing life, when I don’t even post writing for them to read?

My close friends and family, who know what I’m working on, read my updates with proper context. But what about people who don’t necessarily know me? What if they’ve never read anything of mine before?

So many of my creative projects exist outside of this blog: my paintings, my novel, etc. Then what is this blog for?

At the moment, it’s just been a place where I can vent my creative woes. Basically it’s just an online diary, with occasional book reviews/recommendations.

I want this blog to be so many things. To be a place where I can share the outpourings of my brain, fictional or otherwise. But the life updates and personal posts seem to leave me feeling like I’m not truly being creative. Where are the poems I long to write, the stories I want to tell?

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have plans. I’m in the process of editing some long-lost stories to post as a serial style novel here. Though, as per usual, it’s procrastination central over here. But, I’d like to get the first chapter up by the end of the month or, at the latest, the beginning of April. So… stay tuned for that, I guess!

Perhaps, instead of focusing what I wanted it to be and being disappointed that it’s not, I should do my best to make it what I want. That’s basically the story of my life: stop worrying and wanting and moping, and start doing!

Perhaps it’s the all craziness that’s going on right now: coronavirus, economic recession, etc. So let’s all do our best to stay positive.

On a happier note, I made a loaf of bread from scratch for the first time this week. Specifically, it was a loaf of sourdough.

I’d been wanting to make a loaf of bread from scratch for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it until now. As I wrote in a Medium article about sourdough bread and mindfulness, it was a recipe I found in a French cookbook that finally inspired me. It provided a step-by-step guide on how to get a sourdough starter going through to the baking, even including a troubleshooting page.

Getting the starter going was a little intimidating, considering I was basically growing the yeast I’d need for the actual dough. But it worked! It bubbled and ate and eventually was used to make the dough.

Making the dough was an adventure. Buckle up!

The recipe, written by a professional French baker who has been baking for years and knows exactly what he is doing, told me to make the dough by mixing all the flour on a worktop then pour the wet ingredients into a dent in the mountain of flour. Do you know what happens when liquid is being held in my a wall made of flour? It leaks.

Liquid and flour went absolutely everywhere. In the process of trying to block the leaks, more leaks occurred. The mound was leaking, I was covered in wet flour water, it was all over the floor and the countertop.

Eventually, I managed to grab a bowl and scoop as much as I could into the bowl. Imagine: I’ve got a big metal bowl suspended between my stomach and the counter, as I try and shovel flour and liquid into the bowl while it slowly spread farther and farther on the counter. I could only reach so much with my short little arms.

It was then mixed together in the bowl on the floor. While the counter was covered in gross flour water, which dripped down the cabinets and onto the floor. But, in the end, the dough was made!

I made the biggest mess in the entire world, but the mess eventually made into bread. Of course, after some time rising, and some kneading, and all the things a dough needs before it becomes bread. And bread it indeed became. Somewhat successfully.

The loaf has a fantastically crisp crust and a wonderfully robust sourdough flavour. It’s a little dense, but that can be remedied through experimenting with different flours and rising times. Despite that, I’d call my first attempt at bread a decent success. It was eatable at least and it looked like an artisanal loaf of bread. More importantly, it’s inspired me to continue on this bread-making journey.

So more bread adventures will be had in the future!

The Future of Winifred McQuary

Here’s a question: how much different rejection does it take before you realize something is not working?

It took me 6 years to finish The Curious Adventures of Winifred McQuary. While it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, but I felt confident in my work that it would be publishable at some point.

With the first chapters of my first draft, I was accepted into a highly competitive creative writing program. I worked with a mentor to finish most of the first draft, and he told me my story was publishable. That it was a solid idea.

After rounds and rounds of edits and read throughs from many different people, I thought it was ready. The feedback I’ve had from readers has been generally positive. So when I started sending it out, I expected rejection but thought maybe this book would fall into the right hands and find someone who’s as excited about it as I am.

But the more time I spent querying it and getting rejected, then not getting accepted into a Twitter-based mentorship program, the more I started to think that maybe something was missing or not quite right with the book. But since I spent 6 years working on it, I don’t know if I want all that time and effort to be in vain.

So I figure I have two options:

  1. I continue querying and hope that with an improved query letter I can find the right person to represent my book.
  2. I put the manuscript away for a while, work on different projects, then go back to it and see about edits or rewrites.

At the moment, I’m leaning towards shelving the book and going back to it later. But it sort of feels like I’m betraying it. Six years of work seems like a huge amount of effort to have it all come to nothing.

Sometimes I feel like I’m giving up too soon, when people have sent their book to hundreds of agents before giving up. In my opinion, that bordering on over-saturation. But should I keep sending it out when I feel in my gut that something isn’t quite right?

But I don’t believe it was for nothing. I learned so much about myself as a writer and about writing in general. I’ve discovered what the book has been missing since I started reflecting on it when the rejections kept coming in.

Despite the fact that it took 6 years to finish, I think I was trying to finish it as fast as possible so that I could get it published and start my life as a writer. But in that rush, I didn’t take the time to do some deep digging into the heart of the work. The story itself was fine⎯whenever I described the story to anyone it was met with positive feedback⎯but the storytelling wasn’t where it needed to be.

Poor Winifred doesn’t have a soul. The plot jumps from one point to another, giving Winnie plenty to do but nothing to struggle over. Her internal arc isn’t as developed as it should be. Her desires aren’t what drives the plot and, even in an adventure-like story, that needs to be what does.

I truly believe it’s not the end of Winifred’s adventures. The story isn’t worth giving up altogether, but I need time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say. And, after all those years I spent working, I need time away to really appreciate it again.

I’m working on something new right now and giving it my very best. This one seems to have much more personality than Winnie’s book, the heart will come now that I know what to do.

So The Curious Adventures of Winifred McQuary probably won’t be my debut novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.

If you’ve shown me support on this project, thank you so much. Please know that your kindness and encouragement is truly appreciated.

On to the next.

What I’m Reading Right Now: March

Hello and welcome to March.

It’s that month that is the teasingest of all the months. In the morning it feels like spring is imminent, but by the afternoon it’s snowing. But, one consolation, it’s not February. And we can all live in the knowledge that spring will eventually arrive, whether it wants to or not.

As I was gathering up all the books that I’ve been reading so far in March—besides all the books I’m still reading from earlier in the year—I realized that these were all actually non-fiction books.


Anyone who knows me, knows I’m trash for fiction, especially fantasy of all sorts. But February left me feeling stuck and in need of some change. So in the last week of the month, I took some time off from social media and I’ve actually started reading more non-fiction books.

Currently reading

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

I started reading this actually back in February as inspiration when I was feeling quite low about all the rejections I was getting. I thought it would be a good motivational tool for me to keep writing, and not just give up and crawl into a corner to die like I wanted to.

The book’s main goal is to show the reader how to write a first draft based purely on character arc, rather than simply plot points. A character-driven book is more appealing to audiences than something that is more plot-driven, according to Lisa Cron.

So far it’s been an excellent book. I’m in the midst of writing a new first draft and I’ve been given so much useful insight in how I should go about making this a much better book. So huzzah for that!

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

While on my week away from all sad internet things, I read this book to see if it would/could help me. And⏤somewhat surprisingly⏤it did. Some may find this book a little too self-helpy (there’s talk of Source Energy and vibrations and positive affirmations), but the writing appealed to me.

It’s been fairly easy to read and has actually made me feel like I could shift myself into a better sense of self. But I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you don’t like hippy-dippy stuff about energy and manifestation.

A Brief History of the Celts by Peter Berresford Ellis

To be honest, I started this book a while ago as I was starting research for a potential novel idea. I was going to set the story in a fantasy world based on a mishmash of Celtic/Nordic/Anglo-Saxon cultures. But because of my fiction addiction and moving on to other projects, research stalled.

Now I’m making another attempt to finish it even if it’s just for historical curiosity. There’s a part of me that kind of misses learning new history things. So this is my valiant effort to get back onto the fun-history-learning-time train.

So if you’d like a bite-sized overview on the history of Celtic people, this book is a good place to start.

Last but certainly not least, I’ve been poking around in this book very recently.

It has something to do with a super-secret announcement I’m going to be making on my newsletter in a couple weeks. So if you want to be privy to the news when it drops, you can sign up HERE.

So that’s it for March. Not many books this month, but I’m still reading like 3 books from past months because I take forever to read and I’m always starting new books.

As always, I’m interested in what you’re reading! Let me know by leaving a comment.

My Week Away from Social Media: Lessons in intentional living

Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

As my last blog post suggested, I’ve been struggling a lot recently with negative vibes swirling around me like a hurricane of badness. I needed to do something. I thought it was changing up my creative projects, but I came to realize that I couldn’t focus on my new things with all the negativity I was holding onto.

Then it hit me: I should take a break from social media. Specifically Twitter and Instagram, where I spend most of my time nowadays. I also didn’t worry about publishing on Medium or here, because I wasn’t feeling good about what I was writing either.

These are places where I’m trying to grow my online presence for professional reasons. But in the process I was focusing too much on numbers; how many likes I was getting, how many comments, etc. Obviously I wasn’t getting the numbers I wanted, my engagement was minimal. It seemed no matter what I did, I couldn’t get people to notice me.

I was stuck in this spiral of suck, where I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t doing what I loved. The only way to break out of it was to take some time away from the things that were making me miserable. So that’s what I did.

The past week, from Saturday to Saturday, I didn’t check Instagram or Twitter nor did I write anything new for Medium or this blog. If I had any ideas, I’d write them down or take the picture for Instagram, but I wouldn’t post them.

This is what I learned:

I actually had ideas

Without the pressure of Social Media I had a strange newfound inspiration. There were beautiful pictures everywhere, new ideas for writing, endless possibilities.

A bowl full of blueberries, the view from my window, images of ice taken by a favourite photographer. I was noticing things that bring a little joy into my life, things that I wanted to share. The fact that I wasn’t sharing brought a sort of freedom to my ideas that I hadn’t experienced in a while or maybe ever.

This is going to sound obvious but trying to force it wasn’t working. As soon as I stopped forcing it, the ideas started flowing. I didn’t think it would be that easy, but⏤weirdly⏤it was that easy. I wasn’t even off Social Media for a full day when I started to feel this freedom, this lightness.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought

Like many people, I’m a little addicted to my favourite apps. I spent way too much time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter like it was my job. I’m going to sound a bit like Marie Kondo here, but it wasn’t bringing me joy.

I thought it would take me a couple days to stop wanting to fall back into my scrolling habits but, while I would occasionally open the app without thinking, I didn’t really feel the urges almost right away. It was as if I was truly ready to let go of these miserable-making patterns.

Now that I’m “back,” I don’t feel the need to look at it every five minutes like I used to. So perhaps it was a turning point for my routines.

The numbers don’t matter

Numbers are just that: numbers. They seem like this all-powerful important meaningful thing, but the world didn’t end when I stopped looking at the numbers. In certain situations the numbers matter, though when it comes to passions, the numbers don’t matter.

By constantly checking how many likes I was getting, how many reads, how many views, I was giving those numbers much more weight than they actually need. But that’s not what should matter to me. What needs to matter is my feelings, my love, my passion, my enthusiasm for what I’m creating.

To a certain extent, in order to grow and potentially make more money⏤which, y’know, helps me be able to continue creating freely⏤the numbers need to matter a little bit. However, the numbers don’t deserve top priority in my life. My art is what matters and everything else is just secondary.

I needed to properly prioritize in order to set myself free. And that meant putting the numbers where they belong.

Another thing I did for myself was read a self-help book (dun dun duuuuun). But weirdly enough, it’s been helping. Who’d’ve thought?!

I purchased You Are Badass years ago but it sat on my shelf unread until this past week. It’s as if the book has been waiting until I needed it. Boy, did I need it. It was the perfect companion for my Social Media hiatus, as it showed me how I could live more intentionally and how I wanted to live.

I have this image in my head of this whimsical life where I can write and paint and bake without fear and I can support myself from it. It seemed too far out of reach until I started reading this book.

Yes, self-help books are cheesy⏤this one is especially “rah-rah”⏤but it’s my kind of cheese.

Rejoice in the cosmic ridiculousness!

Jen Sincero

This was a line that really stuck with me; a reminder not to take life so seriously.

Here’s what I’ve taken away from what I’ve read so far:

Live like you’ve already got the life you want

Do the things you envision yourself doing in your dream life, or figure out ways that you can start doing those things. Be proactive and intentional with your decisions.

For me, that means writing and painting and doing all the things that bring me joy. Yeah, I still have my day job, but if I spent less time feeling sad about the fact that I have to have a day job or wistfully longing for my dream life or on my scrolling on my phone, I’d be able to do the things that I dream of.

I’m going to have to work some internal fears, but that’s part of it. Pushing aside the feelings of suck to make room for the awesomeness that’s ready to take its place. We constantly tell ourselves excuses for why we can’t live the life we want, these are rooted in fears and negative beliefs that we carry around in our subconscious. But, if we instead tell ourselves positive stories about us, we can shift our thinking and in turn our reality.

If I can get to a place where the fears don’t keep me from living, I can do all the things!

Be wholly you with as much enthusiasm as you can

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.

Dr. Seuss

I think that sums it up nicely. You need to own your special brand of weirdness because there’s no one else that’s going to do it. Embrace it. Live it. Live it loudly!

I was trying too hard to be like the people I admire. And why wouldn’t I? They’re awesome people! They’re successful and other people like them. But I’m not them, I’m me. I can’t do things like them, I can only do things like me. I can’t succeed in the way someone else has, but I can succeed in my way.

These people can inspire me, but in the end, my work needs to come from me. They need to come from my own truth. They need to come from a place of passion and love, from the place that is wholly me.

And I need to be me. In the most ME-est sort of way. I want to love what I love without fear of judgment, wear what I want to wear, create what I want to create. Someone else that’s been a “be yourself” inspiration superhero for me is Bernadette Banner, who makes and wears her own historical clothing and is a general sunshine person. She embraces her interests with a crazy amount of enthusiasm and isn’t afraid to show it.

I’ve spent too much time concerned with what other people think of me. But, the thing is, what other people think of me is actually none of my business. It’s been hard to wrap my head around, but it’s true.

The only opinion about me that matters should be me.

Live in the moment with gratitude

The moment is where it’s at! Literally. Live for the moment that you’re in and be grateful for all the amazing in the world.

Some of my happiest little daily moments are when I’m simply loving the world around me; gazing at the clouds, listening to a singing bird, feeling the fresh air in my lungs. If I could live like that all the time I’d be set.

Unfortunately, it’s not totally possible to live in a state of constant gratitude all the time, but it’s a noble goal. When we see everything through the lens of thankfulness, even the negative can have a silver lining.

All of the rejections and setbacks I’ve been having lately are all a lesson for me to learn, a way to teach me that something wasn’t working. I’m thankful things didn’t go the way I wanted or I’d be somewhere I shouldn’t be. And I’m so grateful for the time I gave myself this week and for the new inspiration and motivation I’ve gained from it.

I can’t recommend this enough: take time away if you need to. The internet will be there when you get back. The people who are important will understand that you need to take care of yourself.

The world is wide and wonderful; there’s so much more to it than what’s on Instagram or Twitter. It just took some time away from it all for me to realize it. Now I’m ready to go out there and do so much more than I was doing before.

Winter Blues: an update on my creative projects

It’s the middle of February and, while it hasn’t been a bad winter compared to the past couple years, seasonal affective disorder has been sneaking up on me. With long nights and grey gloomy days full of snow, I’ve been feeling a little worn out and lacking the creative pep I usually have.

And I know I’m not the only one.

I’ve commiserated with plenty of my fellow creators about winter blues since the beginning of January. Once the festivities of December are over, there is a harsh coming down in the next month.

Any bit of good weather has been clung to like a life raft, any reminders of spring—even just from others’ Instagram accounts—have been gazed upon with awe and love. But all that can’t seem to fully fix this vague apathy that seems to drape over me in these months. When I need to be working towards my writing goals, I find I don’t have the energy. When I want to begin new creative projects, I can’t seem to muster the motivation.

I’ve also been dealing with some weird health issues that started late last year and have carried over into this one. While nothing is quite confirmed, I know I need to take some time to care for myself.

How can I balance my health with wanting to constantly be working on different projects?

I need to keep working on my query letter, which I’m submitting to a Twitter-based author mentor program. In order to do that, I’ve had to rewrite my whole letter and edit my synopsis, while researching mentors I want to submit to and what they’re looking for in a submission. All while fighting back my fears of rejection.

I’m also drafting a brand new novel and trying to get the first draft done in the next couple months. This has been more fun than working on the query, because it’s purely creative. I haven’t planned much at all and I’m writing whatever comes to me at the time. I’ve been handwriting it and I’ve found that I quite enjoy it.

Along with my desire to write more poetry and get more into painting, I don’t know how I can have time to do everything I want to. I also have been thinking about putting some of my art on Etsy to sell, but I have no idea if anyone would actually want to buy anything I’ve made.

But most of the time lately, I haven’t been doing much of anything because I’ve just felt so awful and tired. A toxic mix of SAD and whatever is going on with my health. And it’s hard to tell if I’m tired because of SAD or if it’s something wrong with my health. Not really having answers about my health was also wearing me down.

I’ve been wanting to try something new creatively. Though I don’t know what that is. All I know is that I’ve had this stagnant feeling for a while.

My goal going into 2020 was to create more. So far, things haven’t been as productive as I’d hoped. But these feelings of wanting to try something new means I have the desire and sometimes hints of motivation to get going.

Writing a couple new poems has been fun, and it’s the first time I’ve written any since I was an angsty teenager.

I’m also trying to get back into writing short stories, which I haven’t really been able to write since I started writing novel-lengthed things. It’s a long and complicated issue full of self-doubt and second guessing and lack of ideas that don’t need 80k words to explain. But I’ve begun working on one and I feel good about it.

Not writing related, I also want to branch out with my painting. I love painting birds and other animals, but I’d like to try abstract painting a little bit. Letting my feelings come out through the paint a little more, getting a little messy, experimenting with multiple mediums.

Another thing I wanted to do this year is getting into photography properly. I was lucky enough to get a really nice camera for free, but I barely know how to use it. Most pictures I take are on my phone, and while they work fine, I want to do more with an actual camera. I love photography when done well and it’s so inspiring.

While I’m certainly not an expert on healthy coping mechanisms when it comes to SAD or any sort of emotional distress, I can offer some advice:

  • Do your best
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Small steps are steps nonetheless
  • Appreciate the little things
  • Get as much sun as you can

I’m feeling hopeful now that this rough week is over and there’s a long weekend ahead of me. I plan to do plenty of relaxing, reading, and writing. Maybe this will get me back into a better creative groove to move forward with my creative projects.

If you’d like to keep up with my work outside of this blog (Medium, painting, photography), please consider subscribing to my newsletter to keep up with those.

What I’m Reading Right Now: February

Hello, and welcome to February.

It’s that lovely time of the year where we all feel relieved that January is FINALLY over, but still feel a vague sense of dread because winter is far from over and February is basically the Tuesday of the year; Monday’s crappy cousin.

But don’t fret because there are always books to read!

Here’s what I’m reading this month. Not including those I’m still reading because I didn’t finish last month…

Why am I like this?

Currently reading

The Emergency Poet ed. Deborah Alma

My continued poetry education. This clever book is sectioned off by certain emotional “ailments” and is a wonderful anthology of poems from various writers.

For example, today I went to the “Tonics to lift the spirits” section and found Loveliest of trees by A.E. Housman. I’d never read that poem, nor had I heard of that particular poet, but now I have and I’m glad.

Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Because I can’t not be reading something that has to do with Anne of Green Gables.

This is a series of short stories by L.M.M. about the other people in and around Avonlea. It’s a fun continuation and expansion of the world inhabited by Anne Shirley and I feel like it’s added so much more life to my idea of that world.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This is a book I should’ve read ages ago. But I was particularly motivated after seeing Gretta Gerwig’s gorgeous adaptation. Actually, this is a copy of the book they released after the film came out and it’s the version from the movie. It’s so pretty! I’m only a few pages in so far, but I think I’m going to enjoy it.

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos

A library book, you say, I didn’t know Jenna ever went to a library. I do, dear reader. I have my own card and everything. I just tend not to get books from a library because I am so darn slow at reading them that I would need to renew them a billionty times before I’d actually finished. But I wanted to support my library more this year so I’m making an effort to go more often and actually borrow some books.

This one is a book I thought might be a comp title for my manuscript. I don’t actually think it fits, but I’m enjoying reading it anyway. I’m only about 1/4 through and it’s due next week, so I might renew it… as I knew I would have to!

So that’s it for February! As I said last month, I hope this gives you inspiration for your own reading list. And as always, I’d love to know what you’re reading now. Leave a comment!

Book Review: Before Green Gables

Disappointed? With the sun streaming in the east window, Bertha looked at her new daughter, all wrapped up in a warm flannel blanket, and decided that she had never seen such a beautiful baby. After the confusion and agony of childbirth, she was convinced that Anne had been born at sunrise, and no one ever corrected her. Walter was just staring at his child, stunned by an almost suffocating love.

Before she arrived at Green Gables, Anne Shirley had a difficult early life. Orphaned as a baby, she is sent from one foster-home to the next, caring for other people’s children though but a child herself, and escaping from her dark reality through the power of her vivid imagination. Curious, inventive, and outspoken, even at a young age, Anne battles to make a life for herself by searching out kindred spirits, finding solace in her books, and dreaming of the day she has a family of her own. Award-winning author Budge Wilson brings young Anne vibrantly to life in this highly anticipated and fully authorized prequel to the much-loved Anne of Green Gables.

Goodreads | Amazon | Chapters

If you don’t know me very well, you might not know how borderline obsessed I am with Anne of Green Gables. Well, obsessed is such a harsh term. Maybe passionate would be a better word. So of course I was going to have lots of thoughts about this authorized prequel to one of my favourite books.

I do have a lot of thoughts.

I’ll start with the good. It’s a decent book, the writing is good and the story pays a respectful tribute to the original work. Budge Wilson certainly put a lot of care into writing it with lots of details from the original works. We can easily pin-point the details that Anne describes to Marilla when talking of her history. Wilson tried very much to have the book feel like it could fit seamlessly in with the rest of the series; there was a sense of whimsy and wonder even in the hardships that Anne faces as a young child.

But I think for all of its positivity, it went slightly too far in that direction. As much as the show Anne with an E went much too dark with their version of Anne’s backstory, Wilson sugarcoated poor orphan Anne’s history to the point where I was left wondering what the point was.

The main problem was that Anne wasn’t as starved for love as she is going into the original books. OG Anne Shirley barely had a friend in the world, thus had to be her own friend and make up Katie Maurice and Violetta to have some semblance of camaraderie. But this Anne seems to make friends everywhere she goes. From teachers, older siblings, and grumpy people in the woods, Anne has plenty of friends. She still imagines her two made-up friends into existence, but it almost feels forced when there are real people in her life that like her.

Wouldn’t any of them have thought to adopt her?

And sometimes hitting the beats from the original series felt quite contrived. As if Wilson knew she had to write these scenes so readers could connect them. Specifically when Anne learns how to treat croup. It was obscenely obvious that this was a “see? I know the books” moment, because after the first time Anne treats croup it’s almost never mentioned again. Even though Anne specifically states that she treated croup so many times when looking after the Hammond’s children, this event takes place with the Thomas family.

To someone who hasn’t read Anne of Green Gables as many times as I have, these issues might not bug them as much. But as much as important plot beats were included, there were some that I felt were lacking.

Things Anne is so adamant about in AoGG are almost completely missing in this book. Anne’s insistence that her name be spelt with an ‘e’ is only mentioned once, then never again even when she’s changing family’s or moving into the orphanage. Her imaginings seem to be mentioned in passing and never once does Anne imagine away her red hair or shabby clothes. The Anne that loves pretty things is missing. And poor Cordelia. This Anne never once imagines being called Cordelia despite one of the first things she says upon arriving at Green Gables being, “Will you please call me Cordelia?”

This Anne often felt more like a one-dimensional illustration of Anne, trying very hard to emulate the original.

This might be nit-picky, but Anne’s hair isn’t as much of an issue as I thought it might be when I started reading this book. When Marilla is teaching Anne how to pray after they’ve decided to keep her, Anne says, “[…] Mrs. Thomas told me God made my hair red on purpose, and I’ve never cared about him since.” And since her hair is one of her defining features throughout the series, I figured it would’ve come up more often than it did.

I rolled my eyes when Anne first encounters of solemn vow of friendship with someone at the orphanage who then turns around and stabs her in the back. It continued to leave me wondering about the point of everything.

In general, this is a nice book and I’m happy that Anne continues to be such an important character. But it certainly didn’t feel like Anne most of the time, which is a shame. Most of the time it felt like someone writing a very nice fan-fiction, but they didn’t actually know the books that well.

I think a better prequel would’ve found a better balance between the dark details of the hardships Anne has to face and the whimsical dreamings of her imagination. And it would’ve included Cordelia.

Moodboard: Cemetery Clock Book

“We need the key to the clock.” Chelsea had a look on her face that told Ivy that the girl would not be denied. 


Chelsea crossed her arms in front of her chest, hugging the leather-bound book, and sighed. “To go through the door, of course.”

“Door?” Ivy asked. “What door? There’s no door in the clock.” This conversation was like a dream, nothing quite made sense. 

“Yes there is,” Chelsea said, as if it was common knowledge and it was ridiculous that Ivy didn’t know. 

Ivy looked at the grandfather clock in question. It looked like a perfectly unremarkable antique clock. “No there isn’t.” 

Chelsea huffed and grabbed a key from the tray at random. “Fine. I’ll do it myself.”

Now that The Curious Adventures of Winnifred McQuary is being queried, I started writing (hand-writing actually) a new novel. “Cemetery clock book” is the working title as I actually haven’t picked one.

All these images are from the Pintrest board I made as inspiration for the book.

#AMMConnect Mentee Hopeful Bio

My name is Jenna Goldsmith and I write YA and NA fantasy/urban fantasy/magical realism. Once I tried to write a contemporary story and it ended up with elves in it. I actively write on my blog (here) and on Medium, where I post articles about writing, self-care, and life lessons.

I started writing stories at a fairly young age, just because I thought it was fun and I enjoyed storytelling. For a while as a kid, I thought I wanted to be an actor⏤storytelling through performance. It seemed to fit. I’m a major drama queen and, despite being an introvert, I do enjoy the “spotlight” sometimes. But as I got older, I liked the idea more of being in control of the stories. In High School, I started writing more seriously and thought it could be something I’d want to do with my life.

In university, I studied English Literature and History, which I think was the best for developing my creativity and writing abilities. I’m not sure if I would’ve had the same experience if I’d studied creative writing specifically. But, I did get a post-grad certificate in creative writing after I graduated.

I love stories. For me, they are a way to escape the mundane and explore a vast number of worlds and people. That’s why I love urban fantasy and magical realism, real life with a sprinkle of magic. As if it could really happen to me.

The book I want to submit is a YA fantasy: The Curious Adventures of Winifred McQuary.

It’s about Winifred, a shy and bookish 16-year-old girl, who falls into a portal while on a family camping trip. The world she falls into is fantastical and magic, including whales that soar through the sky as if it was water. But all is not what it seems, even when she is granted magic from the local deity, or when she has to save her new friend from being held captive by the local dictator. Winnie must decide for herself who to trust and what is right. If she doesn’t, she might never get home.

The project was inspired by the Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away and by my own struggles in finding myself after a bad break up.

Even if I don’t get accepted as a mentee, I’m looking forward to connecting with so many talented and wonderful writers! I’d love to connect so follow me on Twitter or send me a message.

On the Island

Sea fills the air.

Salt and sand,

Blue and grey and white,

Silver pearls,

Waves and whirls.

And I am full of sea breezes.

I wrote this poem dreaming of Prince Edward Island.

My father actually first said the phrase “full of sea breezes” to me, but I quickly adopted it as my own and it’s been rattling around in my brain waiting to be used.