Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Procrastinator's Friend

I try to minimize using this writing/personal blog for towel promotion (other than the widget in the scrollbar). However, this is the final sale of the year, and it's for everyone who finds themselves scrambling to get those last few gifts on their list. Not only do I have a variety of designs, Christmas and otherwise, but I'm also offering a discount of 15%, today only! (Normally each towel costs $6.99)

(Although I personally don't tend to procrastinate on Christmas gifts, I do on other things, so I offer this sale in the spirit of solidarity as well as marketing ;) )

I really enjoy creating these towels, and they work well as a supplemental income source that I can manage with my health issues. Even if you're not in the market for more shopping this year, I'd love to invite you to come on over and take a look at my little shop! And, if you like, you can also follow my photos of this adventure on instagram or Facebook, or sign up for my mailing list (the most I'll visit your inbox is once a month, but usually less than that).

I often get asked about my designs, so I'd like to share that I source most of them from the lovely company Urban Threads. I am always happy to add more of their designs to my personal library, so feel free to make suggestions of what you'd like to see!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Reflections on My Mother's Dresser; or, a Room Redecorated

Nathan and I recently completely redid our bedroom decor. And by redid, I mean that we replaced every piece of furniture and painted everything. It was a big project. And not one that I undertook lightly. 

When we first married, we moved into an apartment and had the tiniest bedroom, since the larger room needed to go to the sewing business. (Nathan was completely on board with this, BTW). We pretty much combined the furniture we already had, got a new bedspread, and lined the free wall with bookshelves. 

Then we moved into our new house and I knew that eventually I'd want to do something really cool in our master bedroom. It needed to be a design scheme that we'd both be happy with for a long time. We were getting all new-to-us furniture (more on that in a bit), but it was all dark wood and I'm not fond of dark wood. So that meant we needed to pick a color for the furniture, and Nathan really liked the look of light cream. I approved of this because it meant that I could pick a color for the wall and I LOVE colored walls. 

The problem was that our favorite colors that we haven't already used in the house are red and blue. Combine them with cream and you get a very patriotic mix. Could we really work out a scheme that evoked a different feeling than "USA!" ? 

We thought that we could. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Offline Reflections

I have been feeling very inwardly focused these days. But in an outwardly way. That is, my attention has shifted away from communicating with the outside world via the internet, and focusing more on the practical matters of getting things done in my house and business.

The reason for this, (I am fairly sure), is because my health at home has become fairly manageable, to the point where I actually have energy and even feel better when I'm moving around than when I'm at the computer. I embarked on some serious physical therapy for my headaches this fall and it has been quite amazing. I went from every day painkillers, to maybe once a week. Computer work, as you might expect, is not the best for my neck, and a large portion of my computer time needs to get spent on completing "The Professor and the Siren"  (it is longer than "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" now) or marketing my etsy business. (Need a whimsical flour sack dishtowel?)

And it's wonderful. Having energy to LIVE. Sure, my limits are still pretty low, and leaving the house is hard, but I've still come such a long way from where I was two years ago when I could hardly leave my bed. I've been consistently writing all year, getting back into sewing (for fun, at least), and slowly knocking off various home projects.*

*our basement flooding has make actually organizing the house quite difficult. But we're getting there. The basement is actually repaired now, we just have to get the sheetrock back up...

I'll say this for chronic illness, it makes you really appreciate every moment when you have a little bit of low-pain energy.

So I'm not on the computer as much these days. I'm online, but largely on my phone, which results in more reading and less posting. Which is fine. Observation and knowledge gathering is important for writers.

It's snowing here. I love Minnesota for so many reasons, but cold short days are not on that list. Still, snow is beautiful. And snow, accented by Christmas lights, is the perfect background for a good writing session. I lack a fireplace, but considering that real wood burning fireplaces tend to cause allergies, I can deal... I've got a puppy, anyhow. And in between novel sessions, I'll keep plugging away at my correspondence. I know too many wonderful people all over the world to give up internet all together... ;)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair...

A three-week hiatus on "Once Upon a Time" hasn't hurt so much in years. Which, if you're keeping score, is a GOOD sign. Season 7's choice to reboot nearly everything has paid off, and the show has gone back to it's roots.

Seriously, gang, I cannot say enough good things about this season of the show. I'm going to try in my comments below, but suffice to say, I've been extremely pleased with how much better the show has gotten. If you gave up on it several seasons ago (or even earlier this season), I highly recommend that you come back. Jump on in with 7.1. and give it a couple episodes to warm up. Like cocoa, OUAT Is best served hot (with cinnamon!)

The following contains spoilers through episode 7.8, "Pretty in Blue."

Photo: ABC

So much happened in last week's two-parter that I almost don't know where to begin! One of the biggest and most controversial twists in years is the revelation of the origins of Hook's daughter.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where are we at with Poldark?

Image from the Poldark Facebook Page (PBS/BBC)
"I don't know if I want to keep watching 'Poldark'," my husband and I admitted to each other this week.

But who am I kidding. No matter what happens on the show, I will probably keep tuning in for the costumes, scenery and music even if certain characters are...proving frustrating.

If you have not watched the latest episode of Poldark, season 3, BE WARNED. Spoilers to follow! (In the US, we are one episode shy of the finale, which will air on Sunday night.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


I love writing in November. Even though NaNoWriMo is not currently practical for my writing process, I still find myself inspired to kick out a lot of words during this month of gray chill and cozy nooks. Being a tremendously visual person who loves instagram, I wanted to participate in a writing photo challange, but was unable to find any in the works! (Please alert me if I missed something!) So I decided to make my own.

If you are planning to work on a novel during the month of November, whether for NaNo or not, please consider yourself invited to #IGWriteNov

Check out my Elenatintil Instagram account for further details and daily prompts!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Fairy Tale Community

If you have read my book, "The Mermaid and the Unicorn," you may have noticed that the second half of the dedication is to "The Marchens." Who are "The Marchens" and why are they worth a book dedication?

This is their story.

In the course of my life, there have been three crossroads moments. Times when I had multiple paths to take, and the one I chose changed the course of my life forever.

One of these forks in the road occurred during the fall of 2007. I was finishing my sophomore year at college and undergoing a seismic shift in my understanding of self and plans for my future.

Oddly enough, just as I solidified the decision not to continue at my university, I fell in love with a book about a young woman going away to college for the first time. This book was "Waking Rose." 

I'd read the first two books in the series earlier in the year ("The Shadow of the Bear" and "Black as Night," by Regina Doman) and had been riveted by these modern retellings of traditional fairy tales. Yet it wasn't until I picked up "Waking Rose" that I really found myself truly captivated. Rose Brier reminded me in so many ways of myself, and I found inspiration and encouragement in her journey. A lover of books and theater, with a flair for the dramatic and a habit of sensing the romantic in everything, I felt that her story captured a bit of my soul and put it on paper.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

"The Gifted" - Just Another Superhero Show?

Photo: Fox

Of all the TV shows in the world that I have wanted the most--but expected the least--X-Men has to top the list. While Fox's "The Gifted" is not quite "Classic X-Men" it nevertheless remains truer to comic book roots than most of the movies. This gives it an edge and unique flavor that already set it apart from the plethora of other superhero shows on screen this year.

"The Gifted" was, it seemed, hobbled from the start with a less than A-list team of mutants. Those who grew up on any of the animated shows might recognize one or two names, but most of the characters are obscure even for comic book readers. Indeed, many viewers may be tuning in more for the actors than the premise, if Amy Acker's fan club is anything to go by.

But the X-Men have a proud tradition of taking no-names and turning them into stellar stories precisely because they focus on character development and strong plot rather than A-list headliners. My absolute favorite X-Men title is "X-Factor Investigations" which took a whole band of b-list and c-list mutants and grew them into a strong cast of three dimensional characters. "The Gifted" seems to be doing pretty much the same thing, and is off to a good start.

That is not to say that the show is without flaws. Balancing the mutants and the Strucker family plotlines is a mix they have not yet perfected. And yet...the show is slowly melding different ingredients into an increasingly engrossing whole. First and foremost it completely understands that the appeal of the X-Men revolves around their outcast status, and the family of misfits they form.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Not the Hook you're looking for

In OUAT 7.2 we saw the long awaited single-episode of Emma Swan--but that was hardly the biggest highlight of the episode. Beware of spoilers below!

Photo: ABC

In the lead-up to season seven of "Once Upon a Time," it was clearly stated that the Regina of season seven would be OUR Regina, and not a doppleganger.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Remix

"This is cool," said my husband when I told him about the premise for Once Upon a Time's seventh season. "Now I can watch it with you!"

Which is excellent because with the new Friday night slot, the earliest I'll get to watch new episodes is Saturday mornings, as we don't have a television in our house. So I'm pretty psyched that our Saturday morning couple tradition for this year is going to be watching OUAT.

Because, let's be honest, I'm addicted to this show. It's gotten pretty lame in spots, but I haven't given it up. And I'm glad I haven't because it's my television candy. Super sweet and not the best mind food, but entertaining and fun all the same.

OUAT's original premise was a remix of the Disney versions of fairy tales. They've turned that on it's head several times for two-parter episodes, but not for a whole new season. And never this drastically. After a good wrapping up of the old storylines and characters and a summer to adjust to publicity photos of the new characters, I was ready to dive in.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How Authors Forget Their Own Facts

When I was a younger reader, it used to bug me to no end when an author would mess up their own continuity. "They wrote it!" I'd think. "How could they forget that fact?"

Then I started doing multiple drafts of my own books, and sequels, and I realized how difficult it is to keep all of one's facts straight when sometimes they change in every draft!

I'm not a natural note-taker. I tend to trust my memory to remember things. Yet between my advancing age (haha) and my fibromyalgia brain fog, I've found that the old gray cells have become a little cluttered and fuzzy. I've got to keep notes in order to keep my stress levels down.

Microsoft Word has a track changes feature that is helpful when looking at changes you've made between drafts, but it makes for a choppy reading experience and I prefer to only use it when approving changes by an editor (and vice versa). To keep track of fact changes, I keep a daily log and I'll also leave comments for myself in the text to remember to sync up or double check any changes I make.

Today, word processors with tools like the in-text comments, find and replace, and track changes make the work of smoothing out continuity much easier. I'm in awe of those authors who hand wrote their novels (or used a typewriter) and still managed to keep things quite straight. I mean, anyone who has read the drafts of J.R.R. Tolkien knows that he changed hundreds of things throughout the course of writing his entries for Middle Earth, and somehow "The Lord of the Rings" remains fairly clear from a continuity standpoint. A good editor can catch a lot, but not everything, especially if you're doing a sequel and you got a new editor in-between projects.

So, anyhow, as I work hard to keep the continuity intact for "The Song of the Fay" I have developed greater appreciation and grace for all of the authors and editors who work hard to achieve the same tasks for their works.

You may also enjoy:
Fast Writing: Tracking Set-ups and Pay-offs
Write Like a Job
Your first published novel is rarely your first WRITTEN novel.
So... NaNoWriMo. Yes or No?
Every Novelist Needs This Sign
Basics of the 3 Act Plot
Why FanFiction is NOT a Sin

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No News is Good News

Well, sort of.

I've been pounding away at this draft of "The Professor and the Siren" and passed the 110,000k mark yesterday. Exceeding my monthly wordcount goal again this month, despite having several days of low word counts but extended editing time. And also despite having a very nasty and debilitating headache and overwhelming fatigue. Season change is no joke, y'all!

But it's actually fall, for real, and though I don't relish the shorter days coming to Minnesota, I'm ready to move from gardening back to sewing. I haven't done much sewing this summer and I miss it.

My husband and I have been binge-watching Arrow. It is my second time through the show, but his first watch for seasons 1&2. Hard to believe that it's been four years since I first watched the series! I'm surprised at how much I've forgotten. Definitely feel that the show has come a long way in doing better combat scenes!

The binge-watch was inspired in part by the fact that we finally finished off season five. The first half of season five was SO SLOW that we gave up about halfway through. "This isn't worth watching with commercials and poor CW player streaming," we said. "We'll wait until it's on Netflix." Of course, as soon as we started watching again, the episodes picked up in pacing and we loved it. Go figure. Here's hoping that they get the pacing back on track in season six. All the CW superhero shows start coming back on October 9th and we are psyched! (I'm such a CW junkie. Oh boy.)

Somehow our social life has expanded to include three RPG groups! One is weekly in person, one weekly online, and one semi-weekly as we can manage it, in person. It's just such a fun way to chill with friends! Plus, Star Wars, Harry Potter and X-Men...great load of geekiness in regular doses! I'm actually GMing the X-Men group right now, with my first foray into the Fate Core system. It's been a bit of a learning curve after four years of playing the FFG Star Wars system (and D&D before that) but I'm enjoying the simplicity of the central mechanics. For those of you who are into RPGS: What systems have you used and which do you prefer?

We also completely redecorated our bedroom. That was a massive but extremely rewarding project. I've posted some photos of it on instagram, but will be doing a complete write-up on it soon here.

Mateo continues to be a constant source of joy for us. He recently got to hang out with some friendly cats and totally adored them--I almost had to bring them right home. Poor pup doesn't really care for other dogs (to put it mildly) despite our best efforts at socialization. No other anxieties though, he adores people and isn't scared of much (though he is tremendously cautious).

I'm not a computer gamer by any definition, but I have recently gotten addicted to this little game called Mini Metro. And by addicted, I mean that I play about 20 mins a day. Nice little brain puzzle to transition from one part of the day into another. It's extremely streamlined, with nice simple graphics, but very cleverly structured to keep you pushing yourself. Well, me. Nathan has a new game he's playing about every week. The fact that I play ONE game, over and over, for MONTHS, drives him crazy. (But then he's super proud when I get on the worldwide leaderboards so whatever.)

All of this probably makes it sound like I've been crazy productive, but that's not true. Sure I've gotten a lot of projects done (at least, for a chronically ill person), but my house is a mess and I'm way behind on food preservation. Not to mention that I've had almost no time to work on Whimsical Kitchen all summer. Plus, the lack of sewing. Man, I gotta sew...

And blog. More posts coming up soon!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why Daphne's Hair is Blonde

Writing confession time.

I've been thinking a lot about hair color in book heroines lately. Mostly because none of them ever seem to have my color (light brown). I've often told my husband that I love his hair and as a little girl that was exactly the shade I wanted.

I blame books for this. Heroines all had dramatic colors: raven black, chestnut brown, fiery red, or golden blonde. Whenever anyone had medium brown hair, it was usually described as "mousy" or "plain." Rarely did one see a yummy or exciting descriptor like "caramel" or "bronze."

Okay, those descriptions veer a little close to the edge of purple prose. And honestly, my hair color has taken on more depth as I've gotten older, so perhaps the adolescent dissatisfaction with the color that comes through in the novels is fairly accurate. Unfortunately, it becomes a reinforcing cycle. Most girls that I know with hair color similar to mine keep it permanently dyed one shade or the other of a more 'exciting' color. (Me too, I tried several in my early 20's).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

And the Giveaway Winners are...

First Place: Kate
Second Place: Jessica

Congratulations! I'll be sending you both emails today using the address elizabethAhajek[at]gmail[dot]com so keep an eye out for it!

If you didn't win but are still interested in reading the book, why not request your local library purchase it? Here's the lowdown on requesting title purchases.

And if you can't wait, you can always pick up the kindle ebook for $2.99 on Amazon, or read it for free with your Amazon Unlimited subscription!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My (updated) Introduction to Doctor Who

What is Doctor Who?

Well, it isn't dead, for one thing. Despite the overall mediocre and depressing season 8 turning off a lot of fans, the season turned around with some good stuff in season 9, and an amazing, back-to-the-2005-vibe season 10.

BBC Doctor Who Logo

I've been explaining the show to a few people recently and I realized that my introductory blog post on the subject is not only seven years old, it is also one of the most hopeless fangirly things I have ever written. Read it for a laugh, if you dare!

Plus, at the time, I hated River Song. Boy have we come a long ways since then.

Since my husband and I have currently been doing a huge rewatch of the show (we're on season 9 now), I thought it a good time to write a new post about the series from a more balance and mature perspective. *Ahem.*

What is Doctor Who?

A mad-man in a box who travels who space and time, saving civilizations while always remembering that no person is ever unimportant. From Pompeii to the Moon Landing, from creepy statues to intelligent trees and every kind of alien in-between, with appearances by Agatha Christie, Vincent Van Gogh, and Queen Victoria, the show seriously has an episode for everyone. Witty dialogue, clever endings, and a constant dialogue of morality and ethics add further appeal and depth to a show that at times can be downright campy (but in the best way).

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I write so that my blood won't shrivel

I write so that my blood won't shrivel.

Years and years ago, (actually, almost a decade ago if I'm being honest), I used to stay up late chatting with friends online. We talked about lots of crazy things: vampires and Hogwarts and religion and fairy tales and glitter bombs. And we wrote. Lots and lots and lots.

We also made graphics. This was the beginning of the digital meme age, and it was also the beginning of the age when everyone made their own graphics to share on the very very first Facebook apps that no one uses and barely remembers anymore.

And we wrote. Lots and lots and lots.

The melding of all of this came together one night when my friend Andy and I were having a long conversation about the Dark Side and Cookies. I think we were making jokes about the light side having milk AND cookies, or oreos, or something. It was a decade ago, okay? My memory is good, but not that good. Anyhow, somehow the subject got around to writing, and why we wrote. At that point I did a LOT of my writing very late at night. Or rather, very early in the morning. I might be tired, but I couldn't sleep until I'd written something. It was a compulsion. Andy and I were discussing this compulsion and I proclaimed "I write so that my blood won't shrivel."

Andy thought this was great, so we made it into a graphic, and it became an in-joke, our own little meme. But it was more than a meme for me, it was true. Perhaps not quite literally true, but psychologically. Expressing myself through storytelling is a core part of who I am. It has been this way since before I could spell words and made my parents write my stories for me. (No joke. I used to dictate diary entries to my parents, grandparents and babysitters when I was five.)

And it remains this way. Yesterday I was so wrapped up in my current novel that I had to literally tear myself away from the computer just to keep my body from freezing up and bringing on fibro pain.

I believe that storytelling is one of the things God made me to do in this world. I thank him and I praise him and I love people and I tell stories. (And also design clothing. That's another thing that will shrivel my blood if I am separated from it too long. But this post is about the writing.)

I write so that my blood won't shrivel.

What part of your life is that essential piece, that your soul cries out to do every day? Make time to do that. 

Don't forget, I am running a giveaway this week with fun prizes like a signed copy of my novel and Parisian Mermaid jewelry. Check it out here!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"The Mermaid and the Unicorn" GIVEAWAY

The Giveaway is CLOSED and I am in the process of contacting the winners. Thanks to everyone who entered! 

One year ago today I published my first book, and to celebrate I'm giving some themed items away to YOU! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bringing Paris to Life

I visited Paris once in my life. It was the middle stop of a three-legged, twelve-day tour of Europe, and the one I was the least excited about. England? I was dying to see it. Italy? That would be so cool. Paris...Paris was so hyped, it had to be overrated, right?

But I loved it. Indeed, while I'm still more drawn to English history, and I adore much about Italy as well, I think in some ways Paris became one of my very favorite cities. I know not every visitor has the same experience, but I was blessed with a trip that seared this place into my heart forever.

It was thrilling to be able to convey this affection in my novel, "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" and, indeed, the book in some ways became my love letter to Paris. My fond memories of my youthful trip combined with all that I discovered in my research, resulted in a deep appreciation.

But simply loving a city and knowing stuff about it doesn't mean that one is able to bring it to life in a novel. I would not have been able to do so if I hadn't received some very specific critique as a young writer.

"Your dialogue is great, but we really think that you could use more description," my parents told me. "Could you tell us more about where the characters are standing? What they are seeing?"

It was rare that both my parents made the point of stating such a specific critique, so, though at first I was annoyed, eventually I got to work on it. As I grew as a person and a writer, I learned to incorporate description of all five senses, and as the internet grew, I gained more and more resources to fact check those descriptions.

So when I read the reviews of "The Mermaid and the Unicorn", so many of which contain delight in the descriptions of the city of Paris, I am filled with intense gratitude for my parents. Neither of them are fiction writers or English teachers, but they are both avid readers and they knew (and were not afraid to say) what I needed to improve as a young writer.

Learning to write involves so many factors that there is no one right way to do it. But heeding good critique and learning from it is certainly a vital factor.

Thanks Mom and Dad. This is just one more way that my book wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the two of you. :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Midsummer's Update

If you're not following me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have wondered why the blog has been quiet for the past month. I figured I'd do a big update and fill you in on the happenings at the Hajek Homestead. 

Firstly, we finally turned our three season porch into my summer sewing room. Although it won't work year-round in the Minnesota climate, I'm hoping to get a good 6-7 months of work a year up here in this gorgeous space until we can afford to insulate it properly. For now, the good coat of paint did wonders!

Monday, July 3, 2017

20+-Year-Wait: Disney's Live Action "Beauty and the Beast"

It is quite possible that the new live-action "Beauty and the Beast" was the longest anticipated movie of my life. Certainly I have been waiting for a live action version of "Beauty and the Beast" since I first read Robin McKinley's "Beauty." The Emma Watson film may not be an adaptation of that book, but, like the animated version before it, it has many of the same values which mean the two retelling often appeal to the same crowd of people. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fast Writing: Tracking Set-ups and Pay-offs


There is one major rule that all good jokes and stories have in common: the three beat set-up and pay-off. 

What this means is in a story or a joke, you foreshadow a situation twice before paying it off with the third mention. Think of your favorite joke - how many times is the humorous bit repeated? Usually three times, with the third time leading to the punchline. 

Within a long novel, a complicated plot thread may end up getting set-up more than twice before it is paid off. This is okay. It shouldn't be overdone, but in a longer story you may need a tad more repetition to keep the element within the reader's mind. A good set-up is a memorable detail that sticks in the reader's mind for it' original place within the story. Only later, at the pay-off, does the reader usually  realize that the initial two mentions were setting up something bigger in the final act.

(Since this is Harry Potter Anniversary week, I'll mention that J.K. Rowlings, whatever her other faults, is pretty masterful with her set-ups and pay-offs. Keep an eye out for them next time you read through the series!) 

Many big items will likely be mentioned in the initial outline of your work, and you'll know from the get-go that you need to work in a few mentions of a character, place, object or technique before it really comes into play in the third act. However, sometimes you develop a set-up or pay-off later on in the writing process. Perhaps in the third act you insert a weapon that you realize wasn't foreshadowed at all. Or maybe as you are writing the second act, you create a set-up that you need to make sure to pay-off later. 

Now, you could go and write the other two thirds of the sequence immediately. However, this takes time, and time is money! I have found a really nifty way to keep track of set-ups and pay-offs that come up that saves a lot of time.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 Years of Harry Potter

Nope, that's not a typo. This week marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" but I would not read the series for another 10 years. Ironically, I finished an article marking this 10-year milestone just days before the internet exploded over the 20th anniversary.

This article will appear in an upcoming edition of the online magazine "Fellowship and Fairydust." F&F is a new publication emerging from a merger of "The Fellowship of the King" and "Ink and Fairydust," the latter of which was an online publication I founded back in 2009. Over the years I eventually got too busy to serve as Editor-in-Chief, a position which has been filled by many capable ladies, and it's been quite some time since I've even contributed. However, to commemorate the next stage of the journey, I am excited to be contributing a piece.

"Fellowship and Fairydust" - Facebook Page
"Fellowship and Fairydust" - Online Magazine and Back Issues

In the meantime I've been celebrating my love of all things Harry Potter by playing "The Battle for Hogwarts," participating in two Harry Potter RPGs, and rereading the books. It's been a great treat to pick up the series for the seventh time, particularly because a year ago my hands were in too much pain to hold such large tomes. This year, I could hold them and read for hours, lost in Hogwarts again.

I'll post a link to my article when it is released, but in the meantime you can check out my previous musings on the series here:

Harry Potter
What's the Point, Jo? (The Harry/Hermione confession)
In Defense of Hufflepuff
Pottermore Review and the Truth about Hufflepuff
Firebolt - a Musical Celebration of Harry Potter
What Hogwarts House are YOU? 
Deathly Hallows Part Two Review
Why do we all love Harry?
If Doctor Who went to Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Cartoon Prince Index
How Harry Potter Brought My Family Together
Half Blood Prince Movie Review
Harry, A History ~ Book Review
Hogwarts and the Importance of REAL Education

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dogs: Smiles and/or Allergies?

I love being a dog owner, but I am well aware that not everyone feels the way about our furry friends. So when I read that last Friday was "Take Your Dog to Work Day," I had mixed feelings.

On the one hand, as someone whose mental and physical health has benefited from a house dog, I love the idea of a dog friendly work space like the Etsy corporate offices have. On the other hand, I find myself worrying about how employees or potential hirees with allergies manage. Are you just out of luck if you are allergic to dogs and want to work for Etsy or Amazon?

The irony of the timing is that I just got done updating my Etsy product listings to clarify that we have a dog in our house. Although I do my best to keep him from coming into contact with any products, air still moves allergens around and I want anyone with a serious dog allergy to be informed. As part of figuring out the best wording, I solicited opinions from my facebook circles, knowing that there were both dog experts and allergy sufferers to weigh in. The ensuing conversation was really informative and helpful.

Now, as best as I can tell (and assume true, based on US laws), the companies in the Parade article are not letting dogs run around their factories--the work environments impacted are offices, not manufacturing companies. So you don't need to worry about food being contaminated with dog hair. But as someone who has other sorts of allergies, I find myself thinking about the employees who might not benefit from the situation. That said, HR departments exists for exactly reasons like this, so if the policies have been in place for so long, they must have a working arrangement.

And while I would never expect to be allowed to take my dog with me everywhere, I am always grateful and pleased when I can. Last week we took Mateo to the local bookshop (after calling ahead to confirm the rules), and it was so fun to see his excitement and also how much the employees LOVED seeing him!

I get similar reactions when I take Mateo on walks. I never presume that I'm walking past a dog person and keep Mateo's leash short when we pass others--but Mateo adores people and wags his tail and grins at them, and most of the time they beam back a matching grin, and you can tell their walk was just made. And that fills my heart with such joy. I love, love, love spreading smiles.

In short, I really want my impact on people's lives to be one that makes them better. Sometimes that means bringing in Mateo--and other times that means leaving him in the kennel. And sometimes, just sharing some cute photos on social media is a happy middle ground.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Secret of the Fast and Messy First Draft

I hate messy first drafts. Well, hate is a strong word. They can really 'bug' me, you know? From what I've observed, I'm hardly unique in this aspect. In fact, being perfectionist about one's first draft can be one of the biggest hindrances keeping an author from finishing their novel!

Guess what? This year I am writing my messiest first draft ever--and it is going okay!


Here are the stumbling blocks that have been tripping me up and wasting my time in the past:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Her Royal Spyness

Wow, I can't believe I haven't blogged about "Her Royal Spyness" yet! I was certain that I had, and yet, when I tried to find a review to go with the announcement that the kindle was on sale ($1.99 on Amazon), I came up with nothing!

I think this is because Matt, the Novel Ninja, who got me into the series, wrote such a good review that I felt anything I did would be completely redundant. Which is still largely true--but since I've gone and read the whole series twice now, and actually own all of the books in one form or another, I'd be remiss if I didn't take the time to personally recommend the series to you all.

You should read "Her Royal Spyness" if you like...
-period mysteries
-screwball comedy
-plucky heroines
-the 1920's
-England's royal family
-historic comedy (think P.G. Wodehouse)

Although the delightful heroine, Georgie, is a fictional distant member of the royal family, the series is strewn with excellently executed cameos of real historic figures. I particularly adored the appearances of Coco Chanel and Queen Elizabeth II (as little Lillibet).

There's some innuendo throughout the series, nothing tremendously over-the-top, but I'd still say this is an adult series, and even that will depend on personal taste. Georgie's personal opinions on sexuality are refreshing, however (Again, Matt's review goes into more detail about this, so I won't be repetitive here.)

So, even if your summer reading docket is full, take advantage of the kindle sale because normally the ebook is upwards of $7.00!

Monday, June 5, 2017

"The Mermaid and the Unicorn" on sale for $0.99!

"The Mermaid and the Unicorn" e-book is currently available on Amazon for just $0.99! It'll go up to $1.99 after Wednesday, and back to $2.99 at the end of the week, so you'll want to hurry and purchase yours now! Whether you are looking for some good summer reading for yourself, or the perfect gift to send the graduate in your life as they head off to college, today is the day to get your digital copy of "The Mermaid and the Unicorn."

Learn how to gift a Kindle Book here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Did I love it?

I've been trying to be more intentional about reviewing things over the past year. Books, items on Amazon, even a few game reviews have made it onto the list! This is in part because I married a guy who reads all the reviews (or a lot of them) before buying anything. I've come to appreciate the benefits of researching something before buying, and want to return the favor for other shoppers.

But there is another side too, and that is (unsurprisingly) finally being a published author. I will not lie, I regularly check reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I'm fairly certain that the good reviews there were significant in convincing several librarians to stock my book in their systems. (I don't know for sure, but if they did any research at all, they found good reviews).

I'm a fan of 'show not tell' and living by example. I mean, I write a blog so sometimes there just has to be some telling involved (like right now), but I really can't expect people to write reviews for my books, if I don't try and at least do a few reviews for the authors in my own life. Of course it is easier to do reviews for authors I don't personally know, because then I feel less awkward about identifying any weaknesses in the story.

I've also found it interesting to compare how people rate books on Goodreads and Amazon. Amazon is a commercial service, and the stars are overall geared towards measuring how happy customers were with their purchase. A reviewer can 'like' a book, but give it four or five stars because it was worth the purchase. However, on Goodreads an average book is only going to get about three stars, as the rating system is presented differently:

1 star - did not like it
2 stars - it was okay
3 stars - liked it
4 stars - really liked it
5 stars - it was amazing. 

I do appreciate that Goodreads actively assigns a specific reaction to each star, as I feel it makes the rating system clearer and less arbitrary. Also, in general, in Goodreads reviews I get more of a sense of "here's what I did or didn't like" in a more critical manner, whereas on Amazon the reactions are often less analytical and more 'loved it, good purchase' or 'horrible, don't bother'. This makes sense, of course, because Goodreads is specifically a community of readers and Amazon is specifically a (non)-community of purchasers.

Anyhow, it's been interesting to reflect upon and analyse these differences a bit over the past year.

By the way, if you haven't had a chance to read "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" yet and would like to get your hands on a Kindle Version for 99 cents, sign up for my quarterly newsletter (or keep an eye on this blog!). I've got a sale coming up very soon, but it'll only be lasting for a couple of days, so you'll want to be ready to buy! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

This is too good to be a Star Wars book

Once upon a time there was a young lady who amassed such library fines that she could not get ahold of the new Star Wars novel "Bloodline" when it first came out. Then, one day, her husband got a library card and a fine-free account, took her to the library, and lo and behold, the book was on the shelf...

I started "Bloodline" with low expectations and, truth be told, I almost don't want to give you any expectations at all, because I want you to be as blown away by this book as I was.

(Whoops. Expectations.)

I've read perhaps a dozen Star Wars books over the years. Although I enjoyed some (the Thrawn Trilogy, of course, and there was an Obi Wan novel I can never remember the name of...), others (notably "The Courtship of Princess Leia") burned me enough that I became very reluctant to invest time into novels in this universe. So when I heard positive reviews coming in for Claudia Gray's "Bloodline"I assumed it was good by Star Wars standards. I didn't expect it to be amazing by regular book standards. The whole way through I kept thinking "Oh man, I hope it finishes as well as it began! I'm so afraid it's going to wobble in the third act! It can't really be this good, can it?"

It could. You guys, this book is really, really good. This is, of course, a biased and personal opinion, but I feel as though this was the Princess Leia novel I've been waiting for my entire life. I'm about to gush all about it, but I'm going to keep this review spoiler-free.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

OUAT: The Final Battle

Photo: ABC, via TVFanatic
It's the end of the line if you want it to be, but it doesn't have to be. The final two episodes of "Once Upon a Time" season six provided a perfect capstone to the story they've told for the last six years...but if you want more fairy tale magic, you can hop along for a similar but different ride in season seven.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Write Like a Job

Putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is daunting. Even when you are brimming full of ideas, getting past the initial block of 'starting' is difficult. Unfortunately, if you want to get your novel published, you are going to have to push through this. If you want writing to be your job, you need to treat it like a job.

This means blocking out time for it every day. Maybe it is only a half hour, but get something down, day after day, and eventually you'll have a book. 

Sure, you aren't getting paid peanuts now, and you'll probably only get a little more than peanuts once you start publishing. Indeed, there are few jobs with so little immediate reward and equally low chance of future rewards as writing. But, if you want to have a chance of getting peanuts (and maybe jelly and bread too), you have to make the decision to treat writing like a job and put in the time, even when you don't feel like it.

With my headaches and fibromyalgia brain fog, it can often be really, really difficult for me to write. Rather than set a weekly goal for myself, I've set a monthly one. My minimum writing goal for each month is 4,000 words. As long as I'm achieving that, I know that I'm moving forward with my writing project. Since I can write 1000 words in an hour when I'm going good, this gives me plenty of wiggle room, even if 3/4th of my month is blacked out with health issues.

But that's just the minimum! I set a bare minimum so that I would have the psychological boost of knowing that I was moving forward. My actual 'strive for it' goal is to write 10k a month. Even that is a fairly modest goal by most standards, but it is sufficient to manage a complete draft of a novel a year, with the reasonable expectation of publishing a new book every two years. 

Of course, to succeed as an indie author, I do ideally need to be coming out with at least one novel a year. And this is still compatible with the 10k goal because of how drafts cycle out to readers and editors. I can get writing on the next book while the current book is being reviewed and polished. 

In the end the difference between a writer and a published writer is really the work. If you have even an ounce of talent, you can put in the effort and hone it into becoming a published creator. 

So here's my challenge for you. Set yourself a minimum writing goal for the week or month, and then set a higher goal as well. Secondly, make the time to write at least three days a week. Since it is my job, I always take Sundays off, and rarely write on Saturdays. I've actually found that giving myself the weekend off encourages me to be more proactive about writing M-F. 

More Writing Posts:

A look at my page "On Good Writing" reveals that I've written on this topic before--a lot. Apparently, I believe it is important...

Monday, May 8, 2017

OUAT: The Musical Episode

*HI HO HI HO it's off to SPOILERLAND we go!*

I realized today that not only is this show in its sixth season, but I have also been blogging about it for six years. There is no other show which I have written about so prolifically for so long.

Photo: ABC
That said, I am kind of sad that this episode was not the series finale. Going from the darkness of the beginning, to a musical episode with a wedding would have been the perfect narrative peak.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Problem of Arwen

Photo: New Line Cinema "The Return of the King"

Arwen is a difficult character. She stays in the shadows in the books, and her film adaptation is contested among fans (for both adaptive and storytelling reasons). However, there is a lot about her that I've come to appreciate over the years, and I thought it'd be worth a blog post.

First, let's go to the source. I've reread the books numerous times over the years, most recently in the past week. They've had a huge shaping effect on me as a writer, creator, and person, and there is very little about them that I don't love (or at least appreciate). Although the Fellowship itself contains no female characters, overall I have always felt that Tolkien's world boasts some of the strongest women and role models in fiction. Luthien is just the best, Galadriel rocks, Eowyn has a tremendously relatable story, and other characters like Idril, Gilraen, Melian, and Elwing are strong in the brief moments we see them .

 In fact, there's a hilarious but usually overlooked theme in Tolkien's work that men who don't listen to their wise wives end up regretting it. (*cough* Thingol *cough*).

However, Arwen...well, honestly there really isn't much about Arwen in the books. Although a huge point of inspiration and strength for Aragorn, she is seen doing almost nothing, even in the expanded backstory in the appendices.  Indeed, in the story proper we see her:
- look pretty,
- embroider a banner
- give a jewel to Frodo.*

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Revisiting Childhood Reads

Quintessential middle school historical fiction, "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" was a favorite for a lot of my generation. I'm a fan of all of Elizabeth George Speare's historical fiction, but it's been some time since I picked any of them up and I was interested to see how they would read from an adult perspective.

Overall I found it still the compelling and engrossing novel that captivated me as a pre-teen, yet I found myself wishing that there was a longer version, with more fleshed out characters. Although the cast is well developed for the short span of the book, it is a story and setting that certainly could have filled a larger volume. Characters like Uncle Matthew, Aunt Rachel, Mercy and Judith are skillfully drawn with short paragraphs, but cry out for more story time.

Perhaps most surprising to me was finding how little time in the book is really given to the romance. The true romance, that is. I'd always liked the ultimate pairings in the book, but somehow I'd forgotten how little time is really given to Nat and Kit's friendship. If I had to make one change to the book as it is, it would be to flesh out that dynamic a little more. It relies too heavily on the typical 'bickering couple' chemistry and thus doesn't actually show us much of what makes Nat and Kit work as a couple, only what makes them 'click' dynamically.

The other slightly changed perspective I had was realizing that this is a very similar time period to that of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and really, Kit has a lot in common with Elizabeth Swann. This gave me more appreciation for and understanding of the world Kit left behind in Barbados.

That said, it is an award-winning novel for a good reason, and I enjoyed the reread as an adult (even if it was much too short). I'll be happy to pass it along to my own kids for reading in the future.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Future of "The Song of the Fay" and my other writing projects.

I've been talking with a few people about the future of "The Song of the Fay" lately, and I realized there are a few non-spoilery bits of info I could pass on to my readers.

First off, it IS a series! I have four books planned, God willing, and then we'll see what comes next. Each book will star characters from the previous books, BUT they will not all have the same main characters. Furthermore, the will be told from third person POV (point of view), which allows me to have multiple POV characters without getting confusing. And, finally, although books 1 and 2 are both set in Paris, this is not an exclusively "Parisian" series, or even one that will be completely set in Europe.

Book 2 ("The Professor and the Siren") is, of course, a prequel (though meant to be read second in the series), and features the Morlands as POV characters. It is set about eight years prior to "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" and will include many of the magical Fay from that book, as well as introducing new characters and types of Fay. I am currently 60K into the second draft of the book, all of which has been written in the past 10 months. It is due to be a bit shorter than "Mermaid" so I am hoping to get it published on a much quicker timeframe.

Book 3 ("The Selkie and the Queen"), takes place directly after "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" in Scotland. It is currently written to be told from the POV of Kate, Derek, and one other character whom you'll meet pretty early on in the book. Abby and Pete, who were minor characters in "The Mermaid and the Unicorn" get much larger roles in this book, but not POVs. Although Daphne is back in the US at this point and thus not an 'onstage' character (so to speak), she is still friends with the main cast and will have some updates. I've written about 10K so far, and hope to get more done when "Professor" heads off to the beta readers.

Book 4 is developing into a plot I'm pretty excited about, but at this point in time I need to be pretty cagey about it. I haven't written any of it yet, but I'm developing the cast and setting in my head. As of today, I've only told three people the premise of the book, but they've been very positive about it.

At this point, I feel that God is asking me to write these books before moving on to any other projects, except possibly my first sewing book. I have part of a draft of a super-hero chick lit novel (first of a series) that I really hope to further develop and publish eventually, but I'm not sure when I'll get the Heavenly green-light on that. We'll see!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Lord of the Rings (pt 1) - Revisiting Childhood Reads

I'm currently rereading "The Lord of the Rings" for the first time in a decade. (I basically overdosed on them in my teens by reading them at least half a dozen times in about four years plus various other Tolkien works and knew them far too well to read again until now).

As a youth, I was a speed reader, and this time I'm taking the series a bit slower. I'm also forcing myself to read everything--I'll admit that on a few past reads I would skip the parts I found creepy or boring (the barrel-wrights, a lot of Sam/Frodo/Gollum stuff). But this time I really want to refresh my memory on everything.

The Fellowship is perhaps the most difficult since it is the one I read the most and know the best. However, even for all of that knowing, there are still things that I'm 'rediscovering' anew. For instance, the movie versions became so predominant in my visual memory, that I forgot how Merry starts out as such a strong leader. Basically, whenever Merry is around, he's making as many or more decisions for the little group of hobbits than anyone else. In the film he is regulated to a prankster alongside Pippin, but in the book is is portrayed as a steadier, more capable character at the outset.

Another aspect of the book that strikes me in particular this time through is how, after each major brush with danger, the hobbits are given a chance to rest and recuperate. In our world of fast-paced action adventure series (fantasy or otherwise), we don't see this much anymore. But, in "The Lord of the Rings," Frodo and his crew are not given more than they can handle. They are pushed to their utter limits, which means that as they grow in strength, the rests become less frequent, but when rest is truly needed, it is always provided.

This reminds me of my own life. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but he also promises to watch over our needs. My life over the past few years has been really, really hard, but God has provided me and Nathan with moments (and days!) of relaxation and joy amid the hardship.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

101 Dalmatians - Revisiting Childhood Reads

I am revisiting some well-loved books from my youth this month. Just got through a re-read of "The Silmarillion", sped through "Beauty" and just this afternoon got through a quick read of "The One Hundred and One Dalmatians."

While I have a whole separate post I'd like to do on "Beauty," I wanted to first take a moment to talk about "Dalmatians" while it is fresh in my mind. Most of us grew up on the Disney movie version, which is fun, but pales in comparison to the book. However, due to the over-saturation of Disney everything, most people aren't in the least aware that there is a book, much less that the book is so much better than the movie.

Dodie Smith, also known for writing "I Capture the Castle" (which, for one reason or the other, I've never managed to get my hands on), has a tremendous sense of story, narrative flow, charectarization, and a charming narrative voice, all of which contribute to make the book a classic. She's created a system for the world of dogs that nestles nicely into our own. The book is hilariously funny, with charming characters straight from the 1950's of London, and includes several memorable cast members that didn't make it into the movie. Most notably among these are the real Perdita (young foster mama Perdita and Missus Pongo are combined into one character in the movie), Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler (again, combined into one character), a gallant old Spaniel, and Cruella's cat. (Yep. Cruella has a cat.)

Book Cruella is sleeker and less physically psycho than movie Cruella, but no less insidious (indeed, I find smooth and elegant Cruella much creepier). She also has a husband, a little man whom she married for his occupation as a furrier, and an obsession with copiously peppering all of her food.

Although given first names in the film, the book calls Pongo and Missus's 'pet's Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, and Mr. Dearly is not a poor musician, but rather a canny accountant. Perhaps influenced by the film, I always viewed the Dearlys as being rather poorly, but not actually, that's not so true! Each of them retains their childhood nannies as their maid, and though things are related as being 'rather expensive' they are still affordable to the Dearlys. Mr. Dearly's sharp mind is echoed in that of his dog, Pongo, who proclaimed one of the smartest canines in England.

I think the true test of a classic is whether it can be equally enjoyed by both children and adults. As a child I borrowed my grandmother's copy so often that it came to have a permanent residence on my bookshelf! I was delighted to find that rereading it as an adult was no less enjoyable an experience. Even though I have read the book so often as to have memorized some of the lines, I still met each scene with a new sense of wonder, no matter how familiar.

And, of course, this was my first time reading the book since we brought Mateo home, which made it especially sweet!

So, please! If you've never picked up this book, and have any sort of affection for furry animals (dogs AND cats), do give it a try! Whether reading aloud to your children or pursuing for your own pleasure, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Death Comes to Pemberley

A quick look at my blog header should indicate that I am a Jane Austen fan. However, I'm not a purist who decries anyone who writes a 'sequel' to Austen -- only those who do it badly!

My first introduction to "Death Comes to Pemberley" was via the PBS special, and I found it dull and depressing. Hardly a recommendation to pick up the book! However, two weeks ago I found a copy in the clearance section of the used bookstore, and I was desperate for more reading material, so I said, "Why not?"

Turns out, the book is way better than the TV movie. (Surprise surprise.)

"Death Comes to Pemberley" is a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice" framed as a police procedural. In it, Darcy and Elizabeth are swept up in a murder mystery. Whereas the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mysteries gave a Nick-and-Nora banter to the Darcy's, this novel takes a slightly graver view. In doing so, it revisits a few aspects of the original novel that I never looked at too closely before, but nicely discusses and excuses the potential weaknesses it examines.

Most of the characters of the original novel receive at least cameos or mentions here (as do a few characters from other Austen novels), and I felt were sketched with appropriate justice. James has a solid understanding of Austen culture. The novel begins with a recap of "Pride and Prejudice" as it would have appeared to the populace of Meryton, which is both amusing and useful to the reader who hasn't picked up the original novel in awhile.

My single qualm with the book is that it features slightly less Elizabeth than I would prefer. However, it is a more balanced presentation than the TV movie (Which was even more Darcy heavy) and did a better job of making the other players more intriguing. Indeed, in reading the novel and seeing how much of it depends on inner thought life, I realized exactly why it was a difficult novel to adapt adequately to screen. The structure of the story does not lend itself to making the transition to screen in a satisfying way.

The mystery itself is perhaps not overly original, but it is interesting to see a murder investigation framed within the society and technology of the early 1800s.

James is not only a writer, but a professional in the world of crime solving, something which quickly becomes clear to the reader. I actually found myself thinking several times that I ought to get my husband to read the book. Although it will be enjoyed by female readers (and James is a woman, though using obscuring initials), there is definitely a feel to the novel that I think would appeal to a masculine reader, especially one who enjoys mysteries.

Conclusion: Skip the TV movie - or if you already saw it, push aside your recollections of it. Either way, pick up the novel. It's well worth the read, whether you're a die hard Austenite, a mystery junkie, or a lover of good period fiction.

For more Austen, click here!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Blessings You Do Not See

A friend of mine told me that he once asked a priest if it was difficult to hear the confessions of all the awful things people did.

"No," the priest replied. "It's hard to hear of all the good things they do, and not be able to tell anyone."

And, the thing is, this injunction not to brag about good deeds goes beyond the silence of the confessional. Matthew 6:3-4 says "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Being ill has put a lot of strain on our family, in many ways, but we've been very blessed by a number of people who have given generously of their resources to us. I find myself really sympathizing with the priest -- I want the world to know how amazing these people in my life are! But at the same time, I know many of the people giving to us would not want their giving to be known -- even those with other belief systems are still doing it out of love, not a desire for recognition!

We live in a world that is very driven by outward appearances. Social media allows everyone to create a very public persona, and most people are aware that a lot of the messiness of life is deliberately hidden from these spotlights. But I think we forget how much of the goodness is hidden as well (or, at least in Christian doctrine, is supposed to be hidden). I love seeing stories about people helping out others, and I think it's encouraging to realize that there is far more generosity going on in the shadows than we'll ever know about in this life.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

An Author Learning from RPGs

One of the greatest challenges for authors is developing unique characters that speak with their own voice. Observation of the world is tremendously important for this, but recently I've realized how much I'm benefitting from another element in my life - my weekly role-playing game.

I've written extensively on the benefits of roleplaying games (rpgs) here, specifically in respects to social interaction and personal development. Lately, however, I've been observing how much it is enriching me as an author.

I strongly believe that reading other great authors is the best form of 'studying' a writer can do. However, the one weakness of this in regards to character development is that (most of the time) every character in a book is written by the same person. No matter how hard an author works at their craft, ultimately each character's motivations are being developed by the same mind.

In an rpg group, however, while you have a narrative story run by the game master, each character is developed and played by a different player. This adds an element of unpredictability and surprise that few other mediums offer. (Stage and screen have some of this, with actors contributing their thoughts, but ultimately the story is strongly run by the screenwriter and director).

The other benefit of the rpg group is that you can discuss character motivation and actions -- not only do I get to observe how different people play different characters reacting, but we also discuss (sometimes) why they did so. This has been a tremendous window into human nature.

A week ago, my character majorly ticked off another character in the game. Out of game, we all agreed on the action ahead of time because it would be so disruptive, and everyone thought it was an awesome narrative choice. In game, however, it was INTENSE. And then we had to wait a week for the real big drawn out fight to happen! I had several days to think through how my character would react... I knew, if I were writing the scene, how it would go. What I didn't know was how the other player was going to have their character react! It ended up being little like I expected, but tremendously true to the character as developed. As a result, I found myself re-analyzing (again) how different people of different personality types react to the same situation, and am thankful that the RPG group gives me the constant reminder of this!

Anyhow, it was a good incentive to re-dedicate myself to really developing distinct, believable characters.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Fall of Magic" - a Storytelling Game (Review)

Last night my husband and I had a game night with some friends, and we got to try out a storytelling game called "Fall of Magic." It was so fun, that I decided it was time to write up my first game review on the blog!

Game play involves a map that you unwind over the course of the story. Step one is putting together your character from a list of name and occupation/title prompts, followed by a quest with the Magnus to save the dying magic of the kingdom. Each nicely illustrated stop on the map has different scene prompts, and each person gets a chance to set a scene at the location. The rules are simple and contained in a small booklet, and there are only a few tokens and one die. There is no 'winning' or 'loosing', just having fun! You can play completely cooperatively, or develop characters with conflicting agendas...it's up to you!

However, it's a beautifully rich set-up, and we found that two hours sped quickly by as we journeyed on our adventure to save magic! The game is structured just enough to let things run smoothly and form a loose framework for one's imagination to run wild. You can 'act' out your scenes, or narrate them as you choose. A great game for those who love writing, improv, or role-playing! Works as either a one-day game, or an on-going group activity.

While we got to play with the snazzy cloth scroll and metal tokens that our friend brought, there is also a much cheaper digital version for purchase.