The Validity of eBooks

“The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement,” says the Hachette Group CEO

Allow me to scream about this ebooks are stupid thing for a bit, thanks.

I work in a library so I am literally surrounded by books for a good majority of my waking hours. In my day to day life I can easily pick up physical books for free to read. I wouldn’t have to go out of my way. Having access to physical books is part of my life.

Why am I telling you this?

Here is a fun fact: I read more digital ebooks than print. If I were to estimate, it would be upwards of 90% of my reading is done via a screen. I say as I type this up on a screen and read that article on a screen and have another browser with a book I was reading up on my screen. While yes, many of us can say that, when a lot of reading is online. I say that with reading upwards of 100 books last year. Most of them were digital.

There are a few reasons I read a lot digitally, but honestly the main one is ease of access. I always have my phone with me. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to carry the latest doorstopper fantasy novel, however, if it is right there on my phone I can easily read it when I am out and about, or just sitting on the couch and don’t want 20 pounds of paper sitting on me. I have cats for that. Doorstopper fantasy novels really impede the cat cuddling. Phones do not. I am saying this as a person who has the capability to pick up that book and turn those pages.

What if you can’t do that? Ebooks make content, yes, the exact same text as physical books, available for a wider range of people. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s amazing!

For a brief moment, consider garlic. Before it can be used garlic needs all of that outside paper peeled off and then the cloves themselves to be chopped up. First you have to take apart the head of garlic. You need the dexterity and the strength to take them apart. Now imagine if your hands ache with every movement. Then you need to be able to do the delicate work of taking off the thin sheets of papery membrane that hide the meaty garlic from you. Now imagine if your hands shake with every movement. Now you have to mince the clove. Imagine you cannot grip a knife without it slipping from your hands.

Now imagine someone started selling garlic paste in a easy squeeze tube.

Oh yes, garlic is back on the menu. (As a human person who injures her hands on a regular basis, I love garlic paste.)

Ebooks are garlic paste.

Does reading give you eye strain? Switch the background from light to dark. It’s easier to read, and if I recall anything from my Education degree, a light font on a dark background can help some people with dyslexia and learning difficulties.

Speaking of dyslexia, you can swap out fonts. Generally, sans serif fonts are easier to read on screens than serif fonts, swap it out. Many eBook providers will also give a font option like OpenDyslexia ( https://opendyslexic.org/ ) providing even more people with access to information.

Are you hypersensitive to textures and smells? Bam! Digital books don’t have bothersome ink and paper.

Do you struggle with mobility? Downloadable content without having to struggle out of your house is a life saver. I’ll give a little library plug here with a lot of local libraries have access to various digital libraries. Overdrive ( https://www.overdrive.com/ ) is a great resource for  looking into that.  

If you have gotten this far and think: None of these situations apply to me. I would like you to consider two things. Thing one: empathy. Oh, that isn’t enough. Ok, let’s move on to thing two: being able bodied is a temporary state.

We age. We get injured. We become ill. It’s easy in the moment to think oh I love the smell and feel of pages beneath my fingertips. Until it becomes hard to turn that page.

 

As an aside: If you want to support writers and have no money, please please please check your library for a digital library before resorting to downloading a free copy from somewhere… questionable. If you can’t find what you are looking for, suggest it! Seriously. We want to know how to best provide for our community!

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Worldbuilding: Magical & Mundane

There comes a point in creating a magic system you have to decide: What is magical and what is mundane?

When I say magical there I mean the sort of magic that is hidden and reverent. The sort of magic that is spoken about in whispers and veneration. This is the magic kept secret and passed down and down and down until it is as much myth as magic. The magic that, despite being as real as anything else, has passed into legend.

Then there is the other sort of magic, the sort of magic imbued in everything a character does. It is in the sweep of a hand and a muttered word to light a fire. It is in the quick stitches to fix a pair of socks. It is in the glimmering songs sung to a child. The second nature magic. The everyday magic. This isn’t the magic beholden to a wizard in a secluded tower.

This is not to say that the two are mutually exclusive– far from it. Instead, when creating a magic system for your world you need to find the line. Is your world the sort of place where you can hop down to the general store for a magically-imbued potion, or is it the sort of place where magicked healing is myth, a legend, something for your protagonist to search for?  Or can they go to the general store so some ailments, but others are far outside the reach of a local hedge witch’s power? It’s the middle ground– the magical mundane if you will.

My personal tastes run as magical as mundane. I love it when magic is within everyone’s grasp, not something confined to ivory towers, or blood, or some fated destiny. I’d much rather a story where magic runs through the world as immutable as life and death. Magic is not confined to that destined party of three who will save the world, it is with everyone, a force for all rather than a few. However, that’s just me.

To give yourself a grasp on where your line between the magical and the mundane is try a day long writing activity. Here is what you are going to do. For one day write down absolutely everything you do. Write down the minutia of your day. Seriously, if someone else was to read this account of your day, I would want them to think the phrase horrifying detail, then back away slowly.

At the end of your day, sit down with your list of activities and consider one of your WIP’s magic systems, then write down how a character would go about that in your world, what level of magic or mundane would they use for it.

For a quick example, let’s go with what is probably the first thing on people’s lists: waking up. My guess is you do this by an alarm clock or a phone or a combination of both. How do people in your work in progress wake up? Is it through mundane means, magical means, or magically mundane means?  I’ll use an example from one of my WIPs. Pulling from the victorian tradition of knocker-ups and combining it with some magic I’ve got some magically mundane ways of waking up. Rather than having people use sticks or batons to use slam onto doors to wake people up, used the fact that fire magic is prevalent in the area. The magicked up knocker-ups use itty bitty fireworks at windows to wake people up. Not the greatest job in the world, but not bad for a young mage in training.

You might be surprised at the solutions you come up with for everyday problems. How does your world deal with public transportation? Who makes bread? How is grain ground? What is your world’s sewage system? Is there a way to recycle? Where do clothes come from? Who mends them? Constantly ask yourself, could a character do this with magic? Then ask yourselves would a character do this with magic?  Are there systems in place for that? Is magic or mundane the answer?

I’m not saying that you need to include every single one of these in a story, unless you want to create a 10,000 page monstrosity of worldbuilding. However! Worldbuilding is in the details as much as it is in your hand drawn maps and your nation’s power structures. Worldbuilding is in the everyday. So if you want to show how magic permeates every aspect of life, than give us some examples. Show us the background of a rich, fully thought out world.

 

100 Books, 100 Quotations – 2017

Last year I began a 100 books/100 quotes a year challenge to get myself out of a reading slump and to read outside of my preferred genres and age ranges. I continued this challenge into this year and just hit my 100 books!

I’ve slowly been poking at Goodreads to figure out how that all works, so you can follow me over there (authorialfuries) and keep watch for new books in that new little sidebar I added here. I’ll learn the ways of bookish internet eventually, I promise.

Before I drop the 100 books in here, let me mention some reading highlights this year. This was the Finally Reading V. E. Schwab Year and loving A Darker Shade of Magic as much as people were telling me I would. She also happened to do a signing at a bookstore near me and I was able to go! Totally worth the hour drive! Something I would suggest of literally anyone if they get the chance.  I went away wanting to write again. Looking back, this year seems to be the Year of Exciting Book Signings since I had the opportunity to see Roxane Gay! Once again, if you ever have the chance, listen to her speak and read everything you can. Both were wonderful, engaging signings. Bonus: Roxane Gay commented on our Toast totes and it was everything. I suddenly understood the phrase To Fangirl deep, deep in my heart..

Onto the 100 books!

(Note: I’ll add a new post at the end of the year to see how far past 100 I can read.)

  1. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely — “We tried to edge our way a little closer to the front line, and with all the camera crew hovering, and people watching us on their TVs back home, I wondered if anybody though what were doing was unpatriotic. It was weird. Thinking that to protest was somehow un-American. That was bullshit. This was very American, goddamn All-American.
  2. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand — “Sometimes before you can give someone help, the person has to ask you for it, because they have gotten really good at hiding what hurts them.”
  3. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan — “He is a prince, and I am a frog. A hairy frog that is due for an eyebrow wax and breast reduction, with a sexual orientation that will get this frog imprisoned sooner or later.”
  4. Beast by Brie Spangler — “I can’t be the prince, can’t be a bodyguard, definitely do not want to be the Man, and now even being a friend feels all shot up with holes. Don’t quite know what that leaves me, but it feels like nothing.”
  5. Yes Please by Amy Poehler — “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.”
  6. The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne — “Before my brain could catch up with my mouth and shut it down, I said it. The idea. The only possible solution.”
  7. Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi — “But now the elf princess had turned into a pumpkin. Prince Charming had faded into the virtual night. Reality had set back in. I felt like crying, but I was too proud to allow the tears to fall.”
  8. The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Abigail Halpin — “Or he could be attacked by a bear or he could freeze to death, but those are endings that don’t usually happen in kid’s books. Adult books are probably different because they don’t worry about terrible endings.”
  9. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab — “I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
  10. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab — “She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”
  11. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab — “Anoshe brought solace. And hope. And the strength to let go.”
  12. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman — “I hope none of you are here for answers. Authors are notoriously bad at answers. No, that’s not right. We’re not bad at them. We come up with answers all the time, but our answers tend to be unreliable, person, anecdotal and highly imaginative.”
  13. The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose — “In winter, when they’re gobbling down the suet dough I mix up for the birds I want at my feeders, I think of a starling as nothing more than a capacious digestive tract propelled by a set of triangular wings.”
  14. Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck — “Not everyone has the time, yard space, fertile soil, or inclination to plant a tree, but everyone can learn to appreciate and cook with fresh fruit. When you crunch into a crisp apple on a blustery fall day, or eye a basket of burnished nectarines, part of what you consume is the grower’s story.”
  15. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss — “‘I am a myth,” Kote said easily, making an extravagant gesture. ‘A very special kind of myth that creates itself. The best lies about me are the ones I told.’”
  16. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman — “‘Because,’ said Thor, ‘when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.’”
  17. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — “I hadn’t wanted to be a soldier. I’d become a thief instead, to avoid the killing. See where that had gotten me.”
  18. Bestiary by Donika Kelly — “Love Poem: Pegasas/ Foaled, fully grown, from my mother’s neck,/ her severed head, the silenced snakes. Call this/ freedom.”
  19. Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne — “They say in your twenties/ each moment is priceless/ if each moment isn’t/ an existential crisis.”
  20. Love is the Pain of Feverish Flowers by Kwon Cheonhak, translated by Kim Hana — “I will send with the wind/ the thing which will be gone with the wind”
  21. Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 200-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. Le Guin — “Imagination is not a means of making money. It has no place in the vocabulary of profit-making. It is not a weapon, though all weapons originate from it, and their use, or non-use, depends on it, as with all tools and their uses.”
  22. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas — “Calaena hit the landing, ran for the tomb door, and prayed to gods whose names she’d forgotten, but who she hoped had not yet forgotten her.”
  23. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis — “That look said, without the need for words: You will never be impressive enough to be worthy of my attention. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fireballs to belch into this woman’s face in answer.”
  24. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab — “My thumb traces over the words, The wind is lonely.
  25. The 13 Clocks by James Thurber — “‘I hope,’ the Golux said, ‘that this true. I make things up, you know.’”
  26. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard — “So I had put together a portfolio, written my artist’s statement– an activity that always made me feel like I was writing some strange manifesto that had nothing to do with why I actually wrote– and sent in my application.”
  27. Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough — “Uh-oh. When I start noticing the length of shadows on the floorboards, I know I’ve entered that psychological state my father likes to call the Self-Pity Parade. It begins with a hypersensitivity to tacky cliches of despair like long shadows and howling dogs.”
  28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel by Mark Haddon — “I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words.”
  29. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald — “Ever now and again a pair of big gray eyes peeped up over the edge of the book, like a prairie dog sticking its head up to check whether the coast was clear.”
  30. It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt — “This is what it looked like when the sun finally came up. I was tired, we both were, but we did it anyway.”
  31. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil — “What was wrong with everyone?”
  32. The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey, illustrated by Sfe R. Monster — “Being despised is exhausting.”
  33. To the Sea by Cale Atkinson — “It’s not everyday you meet a friend.”
  34. Siren Sisters by Dana Langer — “Like most of our family stories, I don’t know all the facts and details. It’s the curse of the youngest sibling.
  35. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella — “The truth is, if you don’t communicate with anyone new, ever, at all, then you lose the knack.”
  36. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell — “It would please Lafayette that the pleasant patch of grass bearing his name is where all sorts of splittist, foreign and domestic, routinely air their grievances. After all, the only reason a there’s a statue of him staring at the White House is because as a teenager he defied his father-in-law’s edict to settle into a boring job at the French court, explaining afterward, ‘I did not hesitate to be disagreeable to preserve my independence.’”
  37. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy — “That night when I replayed our introductions over and over in my head, I realized that he didn’t flinch when I called myself fat. And I liked that.”
  38. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — “‘Tribal’: that’s what they called humans from ethnic groups too remote and ‘uncivilized’ to regularly send students to attend Oomza Uni.”
  39. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson — “The Dowayo people of Cameroon in Africa have special forms of pottery for different people (a child’s bowl would look different from one belonging to a widow), and there are taboos against eating from another person’s designated food pot.”
  40. Beneath My Mother’s Feet by Amjed Qamar – “Sherzad stepped back. ‘I’ll miss you. Remember to sleep where you can see the stars, baji. No matter what you’ve been through, the lights in the night sky will always sooth away the day’s pain.”
  41. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson — “That night I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about how I’ll never experience what Livvy’s experiencing tonight. It’s a biological impossibility so unfair it makes my entire body throb.”
  42. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill — “It was the first lie she ever told. Even though the words were true.”  
  43. Cinder by Marissa Meyer — “With a yank of the last wire, her foot clattered to the concrete.”
  44. Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall — “I have– I hate myself even as I think the word– a crush.  I have a crush on my best friend. I have become a teen rom-com cliche. There is no hope for me.”
  45. Wrecked by Maria Padian — “Her roommate shakes with silent sobs. Haley just holds on. She doesn’t know how long.”
  46. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher — “I watched her go. I felt a bizarre mixture of friendship, lust, fear, pity, lust, confusion, panic, and lust.”
  47. Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman — “I’m not sure exactly how she will interpret this request as a personal attack, but I’m sure she has it in her.”
  48. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp — “I never realized that courage was so terrifying.”
  49. 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac — “There would be no keeping calm and carrying on. There would be panic, and reeling backward.”
  50. A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind: How to Be “Normal” in Your Twenties with Anxiety and Depression by Emily Reynolds — “I felt like my identity was so wrapped up in my unhappiness that I wouldn’t be anything without it. If I was happy, or at the very least not unhappy, there’d be nothing to me.”
  51. The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente, Illustrated by Annie Wu — “We call ourselves the Hell Hath Club. There’s a lot of us. We’re mostly very beautiful and very well-read and very angry. We have seen some shit.”
  52. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown — “The whole being-gay-and-a-preacher’s-daughter thing comes with some weird mixed messaging– Jesus Loves You. Well, maybe not you. It’s been a constant internal struggle, having grown up in a religious household, desperately wanting to believe in the great goodness all around me, yet hearing so much hate even when my dad did his best to shield me.”
  53. The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash — “I smile down at her. ‘Then I wish I was in one of your stories.’ And who wouldn’t wish that? Certainly everyone here– dressed up as aliens, and wizards, and zombies, and superheroes– wants desperately to be inside a story, to be part of something more logical and meaningful than real life seems to be.”
  54. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley — “Now he knew it to be absolutely true: He had a friend. And he was terrified of her.”
  55. Draw The Line by Laurent Linn — “Like blood, ink is miraculous. Whether confined in a pen or free on a brush, it spreads and builds, giving my drawings life.”
  56. How To Success!: A Writer’s Guide to Fame and Fortune by Corinne Caputo — “Delete unnecessary clutter words like “a,” “and,” and “the.” Grab the Reader’s Attention.”
  57. D.I.Y. Magic: A Strange & Whimsical Guide to Creativity by Anthony Alvarado — “As you mosey along, divide up the length of the walk, block by block into the different eras of your life.”
  58. Wretched Writing: A Compendium of Crimes Against the English Language by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras — “prose, purple: Purple prose– the art of writing prose so ornate, so flowery, and so overweighted with frills that the reader not only gets exhausted but also feels as though he o she is being smothered in highly scented velvet curtains– is a time-honored hallmark of wretched writing.”
  59. Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans — “Monsters are scariest when they’re revealed in pieces, and scarier still when revealed slowly.”
  60. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman — “Spoons are excellent. Sort of like forks, only not as stabby.”
  61. Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke — “Just when you thought she was done with her tirade, she’d hit you with a prolonged diatribe, wrapped in a sermon, and topped off with a tedious dose of scripture.”
  62. Haffling by Caleb James — “ ‘There is no fair,’ I said. ‘It’s just a made-up thing.’ She looked at me. There were tears in the corners of her eyes. ‘I know that, but someone your age shouldn’t.’”
  63. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli — “She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”
  64. Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman illustrated by Divya Srinivasan — “One day a tiger came to the palace. He was huge and fierce, a nightmare in black and orange, and he moved like a god though the world, which is how tigers move.”
  65. The Pants Project by Cat Clarke — “Sexist. Dumb. Unfair. Even the moms agreed with me. Mom said she hadn’t worn a skirt since her cousin’s wedding back in the nineties.”
  66. The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian — “I tried to distract myself from my anger by taking out a notebook and a pencil, and beginning a family tree.”
  67. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness — “The indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something.”
  68. A World of Cake: 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions From Cultures Near and Far by Krystina Castella — “Cakes are rich with meaning and symbolism, inspired by the celebrations that surround them.”
  69. The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich — “Death by incineration is a thing of nightmares, but life for a successful Love Interest isn’t exactly a happily ever after. After winning, the Love Interest needs to be a perfect partner to prevent his Chosen from ever moving on.”
  70. Perfect 10 by L. Philips — “The witch sits across from me, gnawing on Cheez-Its, practically bouncing up and down with excitement on the cafeteria bench.”
  71. Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica — “He had had enough therapy over the years to come away with the idea that everyone was fundamentally neurotic.”
  72. A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica — “Being married to a slave-owning, sociopathic, court-appointed killer might make me pissy, too.
  73. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren — “But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound. And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.”
  74. The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso — “America’s first apple trees were planted from seeds, cuttings, and small plants brought by the Jamestown settlers to the New World in the early 1600s.”
  75. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon — “Dimple thought of Insomnia Con, of Jenny Lindt, of SFSU, of Stanford. Of all the things she’d jeopardize if she called Ritu auntie a backward, antifeminist blight on democratic society.”
  76. The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle — “It’s depressing how my dog is a better human being than I am.”
  77. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones — “Time to come forth and fight.”
  78. Best Enemies by Jane Heller — “Cardinal rule in publishing: Never tell an author the truth.”
  79. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer — “It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse.”
  80. Poison by Sarah Pinborough — “What was this need to be seen as benevolent? If you were going to be cruel, then admit it. Embrace it. Anything else was just self delusion and weakness.”
  81. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, Katie Kath — “You know that chicken I told you about? It can use the Force.”
  82. Geekerella by Ashley Poston — “Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”
  83. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner — “I can spot an underemployed lazy intellectual anywhere.”
  84. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn — “Was that personal growth or insanity?”
  85. The Best Man by Richard Peck — “We thought he was weird. He thought we were weird. It was great. It was what multiculturalism ought to be.”
  86. Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee — “‘Awkward’ — what an awkward word. It sounded like the cry of a giant scraggly bird. AWK. WARD. AWK. WARD.”
  87. Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee — “I never knew how to answer this. Because the question really was: SO ARE YOU GOING TO DIE? And usually I wanted to answer: YES, I AM. EVENTUALLY. AND SO ARE YOU, IDIOT.”
  88. The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo  –”Zot wanted that color too…”
  89. Inked by Eric Smith — “Growing up as ‘the orphan with the mysterious past,’ I’d become accustomed to those kind of looks, and the whispered bits of gossip, surrounding me and my grandmother, just two outcasts living on the outskirts of town.”
  90. The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith — “Your name isn’t Robert Jordan and you’re not writing the Wheel of Time series. Short and sweet, my friend.”
  91. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs — “White Knight Trolls can sometimes morph into Nice Guy Trolls who believe that women are just vending machines that you put Nice into until Sex falls out. They are mistaken.”
  92. A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrations by Chris Appelhaus — “A round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog. / A greyhog, a ground dog, a hog little hound dog”
  93. Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell With Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman — “The greatest one-word spell: “no”
  94. The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla, Julie McLaughlin — “Now when you ask, ‘How are you, Charlie?’ I will say ‘Fine,’ even if I’m not fine, even if I know this amazing thing about starlings that would fascinate you to hear, instead of just hearing the boring old word: ‘fine.’ But if that is what people want, then fine. Okay. I’m fine.”
  95. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan — “I try to imagine her with a name i associate with Swiss cartoon characters or a famous supermodel- not my twelve-year-old Korean best friend.”
  96. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle — “Quinn, your life story is starting to turn into a documentary that people would walk out of because it’s both too sad and too slow.”   
  97. Into White by Randi Pink — “Black skin was filled with so many barriers, so many restrictions, so many.”   
  98. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani — “That pashmina will allow women to see their choices. You shall no longer be bound by fear.”
  99. Slider by Pete Hautman — “If you ever feel the desire to be completely and utterly miserable, I recommend two pizzas followed by an entire head of raw cabbage, eaten as quickly as possible.”
  100. One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman — “Shh, I thought at my brain, because I was never going to get any sleep with it making so much noise.”

Worldbuilding: Healthcare

If your character broke their leg how would they mend it? If they have a cough who would they see to heal it? If they had depression who could they talk to? Would they staunch their own wounds and hope for the best?

Healing can be confined to the few.

Healing can be given to all.

Your world, your rules.

Medicine can be easily accessible or it can be only for the the wealthy. There could be an underground for doctors and nurses. Healing could be taken from the people as a punishment. Medicine could keep people compliant– given out only as a reward. How does your government heal their people? Or does the government ignore the needs of its people?

Who has the power?

Sickness could shatter a person’s wealth as much as their health– keeping those without money from seeking out what they need. A cure could be too expensive for the common people. What do people sell to afford their life? What is the cost of just one band aid?

If you are writing a book with magic, is healing in the hands of magic-users or in the hands of scientists, or somewhere in between? Witches could brew up a potion to alleviate cramps. Wizards could charm a prosthetic to grow with a child. Mages could ward against malaria. Sorcerers could spell against seasonal affective disorder. Healers could treat gender dysphoria, sculpting bodies by magic.

Is the child mortality rate high? Is a pregnancy ripe with fear for the mother and the child? Is birth control accessible to all who need it? Is it available to people who are biologically female or male?  Hidden in back alleys, mages script a morning after spell because it’s disallowed by the crown. Witches create coven of midwives. Wizards draw protective runes across bellies.

Is mental health seen as a stigma? Do empaths work as counselors guiding their patients? Or are people left to suffer in silence, their minds betraying them, while pretending nothing is wrong?

Consider what sort of world you want to build.

What sort of world do you want your story to unfold in?

 

My Publishing Dragons

If it doesn’t happen now, it never will.

If you haven’t been on the writerly twitter cycle recently Alyssa Wong talked a bit about youth success stories in writing. Then some other writers talked about it, so now I’m going to have some 20s something unpublished writer feelings about it…

I was eleven years old when Eragon was republished in a pivotal moment in my development as a young writer. Here was this kid not much older than me that had a book series already published. I read it in astonishment. Then I picked it apart finding the barely veiled references to The Belgariad, Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, and Star Wars. I read it disgruntled and annoyed. After the movie came out, every time I went into another bookstore covered in Eragon merchandise, my soul died a little. I scribbled what would be baby’s first book– a laughably terrible story I’ve written about before.

I would like to say that I ran Eragon out of my mind, but for years it was there, a tiny blue dragon nibbling away at my conscious. I wrote and wrote and wrote chased by a sapphire dragon. I gave friends bits and pieces of stories to read. Stories about princesses transforming into fairies. Stories about death and family. Stories about women wizards and warriors. However, no matter what I wrote, a winged shadow ran after me.

Someone gave me a copy of Eldest when it came out, I flipped through it, reading past the Elven world and into what I thought it said about the world of publishing. Now the dragon hounding me flared red. Scarlet. Jaws open ready to snap me up if I dropped from my breakneck sprint. I kept hearing about the writing success stories of young people. 

Looking back now, I had an unhealthy obsession with it publishing young. Take a breath.

Brisingr arrived as Eragon fever subsided, the movie had come and gone. Bookstores, no longer swathed in blue and red, returned to their old ways. It was a moment of relief to watch it subside. For a moment I slowed down. I didn’t have to be an overnight success as a teenager. Even still, whispers still echoed around me. Publish at 13. 14. 15. Publish now. Publish. Publish. Publish.

If it doesn’t happen now, it never will.

Dragon’s fire curled around my feet.

Dragon’s fire twined around my legs.

Fiery branches ensnaring me.

Creeping up, up, up.

If it doesn’t happen now, it never will.

In high school, I garnered up enough courage to give friends a whole finished manuscript– 300 pages of elemental magic, loneliness, and shadows. I still get inquiries about the main character. What happened to Ana? Last thing they read she blew up atop a tower– the end of the book a blaze of magic and anger. I don’t know, I wanted to say, but instead I give them a mischievous smile, Maybe one day you’ll find out. *

I discovered Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown around this time. I found it in a bookstore that only existed in my hometown for about a month before disappearing. As I never remember seeing anyone else in the bookstore, I imagine it appeared in my time of need, spat out the books I needed, and disappeared into the wind– A fairy godmother made of dust and paperbacks. Aerin became my unwitting guide during my teenage years. I read it when I needed solace, lady knights, and above all dragon slaying.

Meanwhile, Inheritance came out the year I graduated high school. I never bothered reading it. For a moment the dragons pursuing me dropped below the horizon unseen.

Years passed as they do. With whispers still swirling: If it doesn’t happen now, it never will. Publish. Publish. Publish.

So…One of my first acts after graduating from college? Querying a fantasy novel .

I was a recent unemployed grad with a degree I ended up not wanting to go into and a book I thought was not atrocious. What else is a girl supposed to do? I didn’t know what else to do. (I mean I still don’t know what I’m doing, but now at least I’m employed.)

Within hours of sending out my first query, I received a partial manuscript request. I am not exaggerating about this here. It might even have been less than an hour. I tell people this bit of my life and they look at me in shock. Trust me, I was too. I expected silence. Instead of automatically replying, I went to the grocery store and ate too many cheese samples. I returned to my email and became even more amazed to see I was not hallucinating. It was still in my inbox.  

I didn’t get that agent and I don’t have an agent. Nothing went past that initial partial request save a polite no thanks little buddy, good luck. Getting what amounted to a form rejection on a manuscript hurt, but I deserved it. This isn’t my self-hatred and self-deprecation speaking. I really did.

I put that manuscript in a metaphorical dusty drawer for a while. Go think about what you have done, I told it. A few years later and I am typing this blog post up, so thankful for that rejection (and the few others that didn’t ask for any bit of my manuscript). It shouldn’t have gone anywhere. Impatience forced my hand. That dragon had not dropped below the horizon, it was right on my tail, only invisible. Stealth +100. My pursuer still whispered in arcane tones: If it doesn’t happen now, it never will. 

In that time when my manuscript was in detention? I wrote and wrote and wrote. Don’t get me wrong I sometimes wondered if I should ignore my gut and query again. But, in those years, with that manuscript hiding from me, no, I will be honest… me hiding from it, I found a voice that was mine. My writing changed. Evolved. Perhaps even improved.

I’ve pulled out that manuscript again, because I think there is something there. Something in the bones of the story even if the writing needs work. Working through it, chapter by chapter, pulling out the pieces that work and the pieces of nonsense, I’m making something better. I am making something that I could not have made years ago.

Take that, dragons.

* It’s been a decade in the making, but I know what happens to Ana. So I repeat: Maybe one day you’ll find out.

Worldbuilding: Discordanant Elements

Let’s talk about moogles. Kupo.

Let’s talk about moogles. Kupo.

… Spoiler Alert: Final Fantasy.

I recently finished Final Fantasy XV, instead of raging about my myriad of problems, concerns, general angst, and annoyed love with it I’m going to talk about moogles. No, I have to say something about XV. I’ll inevitably have a cat named Prompto. What a dork. I promise this has something to do with worldbuilding. I’ll get there.

On that note, back to moogles. I’m not going to give you the full History of the Moogle. If I ever went back to school that is the name of my dissertation. The History of the Moogle: Foundations of Fluffiness and Folklore. An entire chapter would be dedicated to the “-mog-” naming system. Note: Worldbuilding discussion about names… coming to a computer screen near you soon(ish). Instead, here are some brief highlights from the games:

First playable character: Final Fantasy VI. This cast is huge and includes a Yeti. It would make sense this is when we first get to play a moogle ourselves. There is an entire moogle army/invasion section.

Final Fantasy VII: Cait Sith. Ummm… Cait Sith. I don’t know what to add. Who is looking forward to that in the remake. Raise your hands! Most importantly, there are no living moogles here!

They are practically nonexistent in Final Fantasy VIII, only appearing as a pseudo Guardian Force available through the Pocket Station and a few dialogue mentions across the game.

Mog as a summon in Final Fantasy IX. Eiko’s little buddy turns out is not so little and is a Eidolon disguised as an orange pom pomed moogle named Mog. Additionally, moogles function as your save point and you in turn run their mail around for them. I love you so much, IX.

In Final Fantasy X we see them pass into legend again. Rather than a living being, they are an equippable doll for Lulu to use as a casting weapon. They reappear in X-2 as Yuna’s mascot dress sphere.

XII brings us full circle to see them once again as a race incorporated into the world, not as a legendary creature.

They return to creatures of legend in XIII. An exception might be made for XIII-2’s moogle who is also a weapon and can speak. Much like the rest of XIII-2, that was unclear and a little bizarro.

That was not as brief as I planned.

In the list of things Final Fantasy fans expect in their games, moogles rate up there along with chocobos, summoning, and crystals. Chocobos are an easy thing to incorporate, they often operate as the Final Fantasy equivalent of a horse. Side note: In XV there is a line of background dialogue of “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Are there horses in this world? I don’t think we ever see horses. Have horses fallen into legend as chocobos took over their role? Is this a hint that the world is much larger than we see, are there horses on the other side of it? Or, would it simply be more appropriate to say “I’m so hungry I could eat a chocobo.”  It is a translation/idiom error? Why does this line exist?

Anyway, chocobos are not a problem to work into a game of varying levels of technology and magic. Moogles, however, have a particular aesthetic. How do you work in a fluffy white creature with a pom pom delicately attached to their head and sharp bat wings protruding from their back into a game like XV?

Moogles are painted in two different ways: real and legendary. Looking across the games, those with the most advanced tech and greatest focus on humans have passed their moogles on into legend. Mainly: VII, VIII, XIII, and XV. I cannot imagine what hyperrealistic moogles would have looked like in XV. Perhaps they could have gone with the demon route and made them into enemies that only came out at night? That could have been frightening.

In games that include moogles as living beings such as IX, there is less of a focus on humans as the dominate race and realism. In XII, where technology is often seen in browns and bronzes and given a more naturalistic look, moogles are real. While humans seem to be the majority, the world also is home to viera, bangaa, seeq, and others.  Keeping moogles as living creatures with their own culture makes sense here, in worlds where magic and technology operate together.

The game that plays with this divide is IV. While IV has an almost steampunk aesthetic, the technology is in general not comparable to what you see in VII, VIII, XIII, or XV.  However, technology plays a major role in the game, and humans are dominate. This is a case where magic is a legend, while moogles are not.

How do you make your worlds make sense?  How do all of your little bits and pieces come together to make something that makes sense as a whole? When we are working on our own stories, we usually don’t have 30 years worth of narrative history and expectations to work with.  However, we can learn from the multiplicity of ways similar elements are morphed and altered to create a world.

Ask yourself: Would a moogle from IX, book in hand muttering about kupo nuts, traipsing through the background of a gritty, electric Midgar break a bit of carefully built world?

November 2016, Go Home.

In the middle of Nanowrimo 2016 I stabbed myself in the hand. I am not talking metaphorically here. I literally lost a fight with an avocado and stabbed myself in the hand. There was blood. There was an ER visit. Luckily no stitches were required, just fancy flesh glue, before sending me on my merry way. I might add that this also happened right before Thanksgiving, so I heard every iteration of “you won’t have to peel potatoes this year!” from everyone in my life. Which, honestly, is the real travesty here. Come up with some new material, y’all. (And what I really got myself out of was taking brussels sprouts apart leaf by leaf.)

I’m going to take a moment here to say that this post is taking me forever to type as my hand still aches and my typing speed is laughable. USE APPROPRIATE KNIVES. Ahem. Anyway.

I’ve never done Nano before, but I decided that this was the year I would do it. I had an intense chapter by chapter outline of a book I’ve been wanting to start, but have been a bit leery about. Characters charts made and filled out. A general good feeling about writing. Not to mention wanting to distract myself from a certain event happening on a November Tuesday. So you know, I thought it would go well, I really did. Ahhh, to have hope.

Then I stabbed myself in the hand.

I am not clumsy. I don’t slip on ice. I don’t fall. I’m adequately athletic. I can count on one hand actual injury-inducing accidents I’ve had which is surprising given how absent-minded I am. Do you know what I spent part of my last few weeks doing? Using various knives to carve hair sticks. Did I injure myself? No. Instead, in the kitchen task I’ve done a million times… that’s when I decide to get stabby.

You know, leave it to 2016.

There is a saying about sharp knives and dull knives. It’s something along the lines of a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. It was a dull knife I let slip– a dull knife that left a jagged cut that will not heal with the speed and cleanliness of a sharp knife. It wasn’t, isn’t, fit for the job and now I’ll pay the price.

When you experience a trauma, you need time to heal. You can’t leap back into something, your mind reeling with pain and frustration and exhaustion and expect to be up to par.

You need time.

You need time to process

You need time to heal.

You need time to get angry.

I’ve been angry for weeks. Seeing my own blood seep through a towel as I held pressure on it broke me. It snapped me from anger at the world to anger at myself. My hand slipped. I had made a mistake. I had stopped writing. Just downright stopped. I couldn’t find the worth in it, not for weeks. I couldn’t find it. I spent my time doing anything other than writing.

Rallying cries fill the world right now. Art matters. Your stories are important.  Keep writing. Write. Write. Write. Keep creating Create. Create. Create.

So here I am, sitting in front of my computer, resting my left hand on my keyboard because it is still swollen wondering about Nanowrimo. Wondering why I think I should spend time typing away at that book rather than giving my hand time to rest. Wondering why I think I should fling myself into writing more than ever. Wondering why I think I need to write right now. (Also, wondering if I can take more ibuprofen, since it’s worn off…. I can’t. Not for another hour. Maybe I’ll eat some pie instead.)

Narrative is a way to reach people when so many other ways fail. I live somewhere very, very red. (I don’t mean because I bled on it.) I’m very, very blue. (I don’t mean my depressive spirals.) I’ve spent too much time not knowing what to do, feeling helpless and exhausted and angry, because I’ve forgotten what I can do. I can write. You can write. We can write.

So here I am, sitting in front of my computer, writing away because it is what I can do. I can write through this ache. Writing because this cut will heal. Writing because this is my answer. Writing because art does matter. Our stories matter. (Also writing because I’ve run out of pie.)

…anyway, what was I saying about metaphor?

Worldbuilding: Festivals, Holidays, and More

As we go into October, America begins to shift. Halloween decorations pop up here and there. Scarecrows and witches appear in equal measures. Turkeys fat, round, and made of crepe paper rule over their dominion of seasoned breadcrumbs at grocery stores. In a sudden shift, almost overnight, after the blackest of Fridays, Christmas trees sprout from unwitting places weighed down with sparkling ornaments. Santas, their beards white and curled laugh merrily at passersby, ringing bells. If you look very closely sometimes you can see blue and silver– a menorah half-hidden behind a display of red and green stockings.

I find holidays fascinating. For a little while every year I step away from myself, deeply entrenched in Midwestern Americana, to look at it all as an impassive observer. To see that butter turkey with eyes that have never seen one before. To see that tree dragged in from the cold and shaken of any wayward needles only to be dressed in finery. To see the skeleton who sits in a rocking chair beside me, a pointed hat sitting atop her head at a jaunty angle. It’s odd. It really is.

Our years are punctuated with celebrations. Holidays. Memorials. Anniversaries. Some looking to the future. Some looking to the past. Some in celebration. Some in solace. It’s a global phenomenon.

People celebrate. We mark time in some way. Sometimes it’s by disemboweling a squash and carving wicked faces into its flesh. Sometimes it’s by chanting in verse around a flaming cake. Sometimes it’s imbibing in a potion of spices and coffee and capitalism. #PSL

A bit ago I went to The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon at Fort Ouiatenon. It’s an annual recreation of a gathering of the French and Indigenous Americans during the mid 1700s. While there, as per usual, I did a lot of thinking about how this will inevitably find its way into a story somewhere: the smell of gunpowder, the multitude of uniforms, the intricacies of lace making. (In related news, I learned that my aptitude for guessing military uniforms is mostly based on Age of Empires and Assassin’s Creed.) All that, though, is what they were performing. What about the performance itself? This year marked the 49th anniversary of this event. It’s gone on for years. People getting together and marking time with this celebration.

It feels like sometimes fantasy novels are stagnant in a bizarre lack of history. Nothing has changed and nothing will, until maybe our chosen protagonists have something to say about it.  If there are monarchies, then the same families have been in control since the very dawn of the kingdom. If there is a monotheistic religion, then that singular deity has never been worshiped in any other way. Perhaps there was once a great upheaval, but the ripples of it have long been forgotten. There is a lot forgotten in fantasy.

History and holidays are linked. It’s memory. A cultural memory of how celebrations occur and why they do. There are ceremonies for birth and death. Holidays for abundance and good will. For the turning of seasons. The cyclical cycle of the planet that no one can ignore really.

One of my books starts with a festival. I did this for two reasons. Reason number one: to enact that old fantasy novel standby of beginning at a fair, or a harvest festival, or a autumnal thing that is never really said what it is for but there are squashes and merriment. Reason number two: to see the same event celebrated two ways. To see the celebration of those who won a battle and the memorial of those who lost. Not heroes or villains. Just opposing forces. The same event was the catalyst for both holidays, but the way both nations celebrate it draws a decisive line between them, for good or ill.

When we build our new worlds, when we write them into existence, we aren’t beginning at year one. We don’t, for the most part, begin with the big bang. We are stepping into the middle of something. Something that comes with its traditions and holidays and history all linked together in a messy, tangled web. They celebrate their gods and goddesses. They mark death and life. They know what their traditions are, even if we don’t yet. It might not be the first anniversary of something, but the 12th or 87th or 119th.

There is a richness to holidays and the everyday intersection they have with life. As you build your world, consider what they would think is worth remembering. What swirls around them, vivid and full of life and memory? A world doesn’t happen in a void.

Wherein I Ramble About The Shannara Chronicles

I come at this with a lot of love. I grew up on 70s and 80s fantasy. Our bookshelves weighed heavy with Jordan and Feist and Eddings and, of course more apropos to today’s post, Brooks. I went from picture books to epic fantasy in not very many steps. From the Pokey Little Puppy to the Flaming Sword of Justice and Fate. As you do.  So when it was announced they were making a Shannara series I was filled with equal parts hope and apprehension. (And maybe a tiny part of me wants to fill the hole in my heart that formed after Merlin stopped airing.)

Let’s get this out of the way early on. I am glad that the pronunciation of Shannara is not like how I have been pronouncing it in my head for years. There is Book!Shannara that lives in my head untouched by TV!Shannara. TV!Shannara can do a retelling and a reimagining without touching the characters that live in my head.  Really it’s for the best. That doesn’t mean I am not going to compare them. Not in the least.

I took twenty two pages of notes while watching this show. I will admit they are small pages. But still… twenty two pages.  Here they are in all their glory. Note: I watched this with Sister Number Three, so there are  some interjections by her.


Episode 1

WAIT, IS THAT ANDER?

Ander is a baby!

Wait, there was no trial… Amberle was just… chosen. And gender wasn’t this big of a deal, right?

I am into this music.

Why was that credit scene red, white, and black? Why is that a thing right now? The elfstones are blue. I guess the tree is red?

Hi Gimli, nice tree.

Why is Ander the most dashing person in the room? Yes, we see his eyes are blue. You can stop flashing light on them.

ANDER IS STOIC. WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Ahhh yesss, Mount Doom.

ALLANON.

We already know far too much about Allanon.

Why does he have Fandral’s sword?

*Enter the Farm Boy*

Always kill the parents. Just murder a bunch of people and call it good narrative.

THAT IS A BETTER ALLANON ENTRANCE.

LEAVE YOUR HOOD UP!

Eretria!

Well, clearly don’t accept drinks from sexy women.

Wil, look up the definition of “honey trap.”

Why is evil always ugly?  It’s not that easy to determine.

Episode 2

Wil, no.

You did not actually say “Your destiny awaits.”

I need Colin Morgan to give lessons to anyone who has to act magical abilities.

Note: I’ve started leveling characters up in Hyrule Warriors while getting Three’s description of this scene: “HE IS LITERALLY CRUSHING HIS FACE. FACE SMOSH.”

You are not witches.

I MISS MERLIN.

Real line: “The dagda–what?”

This is now the plot to Thor. Which is a classic, I suppose. Brother vs Brother.

I do not remember this much brother-angst.

Woman can leave home without being pregnant.

Well, aren’t all problems related to women’s love life choices?

SHEA WAS NOT A DRUNKARD. I can get over you making him Wil’s dad. Weird timeline wise, but ok. BUT NOT MAKING HIM A DRUNKARD. NO.

I am offended for Shea.

Allanon, you’ve met Arrow, you know how to put YOUR HOOD UP.

WHY IS SHE NAKED?

Allanon, you’ve talked more in five minutes than in two books.

Of course she was made up for the show, she calls Allanon out.

Note: We’ve referred to any character who randomly shows up, dispenses relevant plot knowledge, and disappears into the ether as having an “Allanon Complex” for years.

And now… she’s dead. Obviously.

Episode 3

I still miss Merlin.

How many shirtless scenes are we going to see?

Are the women really cowering at Wil’s feet right now? They are both fighters. No.

The music is once again the best part of this.

I am bored.

Still bored.

Bored.

Episode 4

I’ve worn Wil’s outfit in real life.

I’m EVIL= Dressed in black.

This dialogue is cringy.

Three: “We can’t compare things to Merlin and Sanctuary, it’s not fair. But Christopher Heyerdahl would make an excellent cloaked, hooded, and very tall Allanon.”

This is a fine Allanon for this show. However, I don’t get the creepy factor of Book!Allanon.

And we are back to the plot of Thor.

There is no recognition of time passing. I don’t understand their great, meaningful relationship. Especially when it feels like they are always arguing and have barely been together.

You should never wear an outfit that Scorpius would be proud of.  However, Tilton is cool. Even if this outfit is… ridiculous.  She will also probably end up dead.

Yes, you definitely killed this evil monster by snapping it’s neck.

Chop of it’s head at the very least, this is a magical being.

NO GENRE SAVVY.

Yep, you didn’t cut of it’s head. This is what you get. Murdered.

Episode 5

Flashback. I only care if it is about Shea.

It’s not about Shea.

Already shirtless. Ahem, I mean: Plot.

I am so tired of ugly bad guys.

This would be more interesting if we didn’t assume he was about to die.

I am into this battle theme. I LIKE THIS MUSIC.

Yep, dead.

They have significantly Shakespeared up the brothers’ relationship.

“Boy!” said with disdain– the mark of The Farm Boy.

Villains: Ugly men + gorgeous scantily clad women.

THIS IS NOT BOOK!CRISPIN.

Was anyone this racist in the books? I do not remember this.

Oh right, I haven’t actually talked about Bandon yet.

He is so going evil.

Starting to practice your seer powers on an ancient druid seems like a bad idea.

That tourniquet was on the wrong side.

Why is there an attempted rape? Why does it always go there?

I wish I would have been counting gratuitous bathing scenes.

Why does it look like a pig?

Writers room scene:

Writer 1: Hey guys, how do we make this dude not look like the balrog?

Writer 2: Dual axes…

Writer 3: …and slow mo.

Writes chorus: Nailed it.

It looks like the lego Balrog. I can’t help giggling at it and I am not sure why.

“Prince,” said with disdain.

Confirmed: Plot of Thor. Shapeshifter on the throne.

Episode 6

I now have ice cream.

Your sword is very far away.

A playground? No.

I am in physical pain, but I have mint ice cream.

Amberle, you will actually be happier as a tree. I can almost guarantee you.

FROLICKING.

Seriously, just turn into a tree already.

Has any episode not had a shirtless scene in the first five minutes?

I just snorted at the phrase “There’s a storm coming.”

SWORD TWIRL.

Three: “Mal might have been Captain Tightpants, but Ander is Prince Tightpants.”

AND THEY CALL IT A MINE. A MINE.

HOW IS THERE ANOTHER BATHING SCENE?

Wil, you occasionally have moments of genre savvy, then you turn into a complete fool. Own it. Learn something from listening to Shea’s stories. OH WAIT, HE WAS A DRUNKARD.

Is he really being framed by one streak of light?

EVERYONE’S EARS ARE THE SAME SIZE. I LEGITIMATELY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH OF A DIFFERENCE.

Speaking of ears, I do like that one of Arion’s is slightly crooked. It’s a nice touch.  Clearly, Mr. Dashing can’t have crooked ears, but it’s nice.

The changeling is even doing the Loki-lean on the throne.

Now… there is a creepy laboratory?

Creepy child. Check.

*creepy giggling*

Three: “Don’t put me down for mummification.”

How touching. Turn into a tree.

Now Ander is a drunk? No.

Why is it dead parents and/or alcohol. Always.

ORGAN MUSIC IS PLAYING. I DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS GLEE OR HORROR I AM FEELING.

Episode 7

Don’t worry, I am sure that palm injury will heal into a silvery circle. As they do.

No one was shirtless before the credits. Good job.

Soaking wet, yes. Shirtless, no.

Three: “That hairdo is right out of Red Sonja.”

Now Allanon is shirtless. We were doing so good.

WHY IS EVERYONE ALWAYS NAKED. I MEAN WHY IS THERE SO MUCH PLOT.

Me out loud: I’ve worn that outfit. Why do I dress like a post apocalyptic elven man?

Three: Meaningfully raises her eyebrows.

Me: Nevermind, don’t answer that.

They fall into a high school. I can’t do this. The banner actually reads “We can all be Heroes.”

Either own the absurd or play it serious.

THEY ARE LOOKING AT A YEARBOOK.

WHAT IS HAPPENING.

I care more about finding out about these composers than Allanon’s resurrection.

Also, I do not remember Allanon having this much trouble staying alive.

AMBERLE DID NOT JUST PICK UP BLUE DICE. NO.

THOSE HAD BETTER SERVE MORE OF A PURPOSE THAN A DRAMATIC SIGH.

ORPHANS BOUND TO A TRAGIC FATE.

Actually, nevermind. Now I want the elfstones to be dice. We are all saved by the power of tabletop gaming.

Did Eretria just shoot someone through the eye while rolling around on the ground? That seems improbable.

Three: “I think Allanon just did his overdrive.”

Poor Arion. NOBLE DEATH.

MEANINGFUL DICE CONVERSATION.

KING ANDER. Still tho, you are like 12. It is a good thing the camera just keeps lighting your eyes up blue. We wouldn’t want to forget who the dashing one is.

Three: “Now he is King Tightpants.”

Episode 8

I now have tea instead of ice cream.  

Note: Earl gray, although I didn’t know much I was foreshadowing then.

THIS IS A TOWN FULL OF NICE HATS.

Shut it, Allanon, there is always a choice.

I’m bored again.

A creepy cultist?

Where are you getting gunpowder?

Also, this is totally about human sacrifice.

Why does the creepy cult leader want to be Johnny Depp?

NO.

THEY SHOWED A CLIP OF STAR TREK? AND NOW ARE HAVING A RAVE?

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?

I AM SPEECHLESS.

Episode 9

Bored.

They really have trolls under the bridge?

Embrace the weird.

Bandon is going evil.

Oh look, he attacked the king.

GO DARK BANDON. GO DARK. WE NEED A VILLAIN FOR NEXT SEASON.

A map on her skin? Does that happen in the books? I apparently have no memory.

I need to read Elfstones again.

CHESS ANALOGY. WE CAN’T HAVE PLOT WITHOUT IT.

Do you feel like a pawn? Maybe a pawn of prophecy?

Bandon, your eyes are getting squintier. If I learned anything from watching all the Merlin commentary, it means you are getting more possessed.

I think I’ve fought these witches in Zelda before.

This is bizarro.

I still don’t understand Kael’s plan?  Why is Ander such a bad king? Why is she going against him? I don’t understand. He is markedly less racist as far as I can tell.

TREE. TURN INTO A TREE.

WIL. YOU ARE A HEALER. THIS IS YOUR SKILL.

Episode 10

WHY ME? Because everyone asks that. Literally everyone.

Yep. Evil Bandon. Called it.

I am being sincere when I say this: Ander, thank you for allying with the “uglies.”

It really is terrible to be Arion.

Red magic doesn’t have to be evil? Why is it evil but also coded to the tree? Which I guess makes sense that it is holding back evil. But then blue is good. The color imagery going on in here is odd.

I repeat: Everyone who has to use magic has to go talk to Colin Morgan.

YES. CHOP OF THE HEAD. YOU LEARNED SOMETHING.

Save the world or let everyone die.

That isn’t a choice Allanon. That is being backed up into a corner. You really need to brush up on your definition of choice.

Three: “I want her to turn into something that looks like the Deku Sprout.”

YES. AMBERLE. TREE TIME.

King Ander: A study in blue eyes and tight clothing.

Bandon: Called it. Black eyes = evil. THAT OUTFIT IS FAB AND THE SWORD. FAB VILLAINY. JUST FABULOUS.

Tilton: Also called it.

Allanon… just keep saying words, wise druid words.

Eretria has to be rescued. Because of course.


 

As I finished watching the first season I asked myself one question: Will I watch season two?  Yes. Yes I will. 100% will.

However first, I am going to get out my battered copy of Elfstones and start reading.

Shannara