Friday, November 12, 2021

Second Week of NaNoWriMo.

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives,

It's hard to believe it's already the second week of NaNoWriMo!!
I feel like I was the least prepared this year than I've been in the past, but surprisingly, I've been hitting my word count goals every day and staying ahead!! Here's to hoping the rest of the month works out in my favor too and I will hit 50k words by November 30th!!

I know a lot of people have been getting busy and/or worn out and feel discouraged with their NaNo projects. To those people I say, don't give up. When I first participated in 2016, I didn't push for the 50k words in 30 days challenge. Instead, I made it my goal to show up every day, even if that meant for 10 minutes to write 100 words. Because any amount of words was more than I started with. Hang in there fellow Wrimos, you got this!!

If anyone is interested in seeing my daily updates and some sneak peaks about the project I'm working on, make sure you're following me on Instagram and Twitter, because I'm posting my progress updates almost every day!!

Aside from my brief NaNoWriMo update, I also wanted to let you all know some very exciting news!! This Monday, November 15th, I'll be dropping some new items in my shop on ko-fi, so make sure you keep a lookout for that!!
Basically, you can expect a limited number of vinyl stickers of my main character, Jack Frost, from my current WIP, The Death of Jack,
in addition to a limited number of handmade journals also featuring Jack Frost. Items will be released at 12:01am on Monday, November 15th!! Make sure you follow my social media platforms where I'll be releasing photos of the products!!

Also, if you want to see more item releases from my shop, feel free to support me on ko-fi. It's just a nice way to say, "hey, I like what you do, keep doing it!"

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Check out my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil) book 1.
Make sure you check my ko-fi shop on Monday for new items!!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Buckle up Wrimos!!

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives, 

I can't believe it's almost November already!!
For some of you, perhaps you're sad that Spooky season is almost over. Or maybe you're excited that it's getting closer to Christmas. Maybe some of you are just finishing up Inktober. And maybe some of you are getting ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) like me.

This year will be my third time participating in the month long writing challenge that is known as NaNoWriMo. For whatever reason, my region decided to host the annual kick-off early this year, and as a result, I've already begun to write my novel, The Death of Jack!!

I'm scared, ha. I feel like this year I'm the least prepared than I have been in the past. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure what I could do to change that. Usually, I'd be beginning NaNo with a project that I'd only just started to write days or weeks prior. However, this year I am continuing to write the project I started last year. I'm already over 50k words in, so I would think I'd be more confident in where the story is going and ready to write the next half of the book. But I don't feel ready.

I took some time off writing since last year, I took the time to read what I had written, I completed a book on world building, and I've written so many notes to build my story and the world it is set in. I have done everything I can think of to prepare myself. I guess all I can do is try my best and write something every day for the next month. Maybe the community of writers is all I need - for encouragement and accountability.

I feel like my characters are just waiting for me to finish their story. I shall try my best to not delay Jack's death any longer. Let's friggin' do this...

NaNoWriMo is all virtual again this year due to the pandemic, so if anyone wants to be part of an awesome community of writers, hit me up and I can send you my region so we can be writing buddies!!
Buckle up fellow Wrimo's and here's to a great National Novel Writing Month and writing 50k words in 30 days!!

P.S. Make sure you keep a lookout in my ko-fi shop in the upcoming weeks!! You never know if I'll drop a new item...
(I know the P.S. section of a letter is supposed to go after my name at the end, but I wanted to make sure you saw this. I know some of you don't scroll all the way to the bottom...I see you...)

Yours truly,
Me

Additional: 
Check out my first novel, The Story of Hollyhocks.
Become a NaNoWriMo participant!!
Support me on Ko-fi!!

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Triple Goddess.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge
click to enlarge

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives,

Have you ever looked up at the full moon, its cool light shining all around you, radiating through you, while the brisk breeze blew against your skin? Did it ever make you feel inspired? Inspired to create? Did it ever make you feel - alive?

The Moon.
When I was in my late teens, I began tracking the moon cycles. I did it simply because I always liked moonlight. It was beautiful and I liked how it lit up the dark night. I then found that I would be excited as I awaited the next full moon. Even if all I did was look out my window to gaze upon its beauty, I felt satisfied inside and I was ready again for the next full moon.
In time, I began to sit outside and write in its light. My book, The Story of Hollyhocks, has several chapters that were written in moonlight. In general, I felt more alive during the night than I did during the day - more inspired to write and get things done.
I began to think about how the moon affects people. It was obvious the moon had an effect on nature, water in particular, especially the ocean and how the tides work. If people are 60% water, it made sense to me that we would be affected by the moon as well, though in what way, I wasn't sure. Perhaps there was some phenomenon happening which explained why I felt more alive under the full moon - like I had more energy.

In recent research for my second book, The Death of Jack, I began exploring the ideology of the Triple Goddess from Greek mythology. I have had a love for the Greek myths for about 11 years, but only in the last year did I come across the goddess known as the Triple Goddess and the moon phases associated with her.

The Goddess.
In Greek mythology, the goddess was the mother of all gods. She was the first one, the creator. She was known by some as Gaia, others knew her as Rhea. She birthed a son, Zeus, and hid him away to be nursed by a goat - or in some stories, a sheep with a golden fleece (yes, THAT golden fleece). She was the head of the gods and she was worshipped as the triple goddess, the maiden goddess, the mother goddess, and the crone or old woman goddess (similar to the idea of the Trinity in Christianity). She embodied all three, but she was one.
As the western world shifted from a matriarchy to a patriarchy, so did the gods. The child (Zeus) became the father and highest power, whilst the mother (Gaia) became the wife (Hera). She who was the authority became subject to her husband.

Hecate, the goddess priestess of witchcraft, is often thought to have become the triple goddess, goddess of the crossroads and decision-making.
I'm not sure why this is. I like to think of the triple goddess as becoming Artemis, the maiden goddess of the hunt and the moon, Hera, the mother goddess of marriage and childbirth and creation and new life, and Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

The Ideology of the Triple Moon.
πŸŒ’πŸŒ•πŸŒ˜
The Triple Moon symbol shows a waxing moon, a full moon, and a waning moon. It represents the three sides of the triple goddess, the maiden, the mother, and the crone.
I love the ideology behind it, representing all walks of life. The maiden, representing everyone from an infant to a youth, young and alive and curious and beautiful. The mother, representing adulthood, strength, power, and maturity. The crone, representing wisdom.

The paintings I created were meant to capture the ideology of the triple moon and triple goddess. The first painting shows the maiden with the waxing moon, radiating with beauty and life. The second painting shows the mother, the creator, pregnant with life - pregnant with the full moon. The third painting shows the crone with the waning moon, absorbing the last bit of moonlight before the circle is complete, for without endings, there would be no beginnings. On the first and last paintings, I included the snake, a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings in Greek mythology.

I have been thinking of taking these paintings and making them into journals to sell on my shop. I would love your feedback if that's something you would be interested in and if you would like one (or all three!!). As always, thank you so much for reading. XD

Yours truly,
Me

ADDITIONAL:
Check out my shop on Ko-fi!!
Grab a copy of my book, The Story of Hollyhocks.

Friday, October 1, 2021

My Review of "The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook"

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives,

I had a story to tell which was unplanned for. It was about a character who wasn't even going to exist in the beginning. However, a little seed floated through the air and blew back and forth, begging to be planted. I watched it pass right in front of me until I reached out and grabbed it. I found a nice place for it in between the pages of my notebook and I placed it there for safekeeping. When the time was right, I took it out and I planted it. Once that seed had been grounded, it grew and grew as I fed it and nourished it. What it grew into was a tiny winged boy who was not of this world. He was a bit impudent, maybe slightly arrogant, but exceedingly charming. Above all else though, he was dead.

They say the dead don't talk. But he did. He spoke to me so much. I didn't expect him to talk at all, so the fact that he did threw me off guard. And then he wouldn't stop talking. I couldn't shut out his voice, for though he was small, his voice rang in my head. What he said was this: write my story. That was it. Someone who possibly might not have existed at all was now demanding to be the center of attention - to have his story told. How could I deny him? I had brought him into this world, and it was I who would give him what he deserved and tell his story, for his story had captivated me - he had captivated me.

I did my research and I began to write. I soon realized I didn't understand him or his world enough to know everything there was to tell. So my muses ceased to sing, the lights went dark, and I placed his story aside.

And then I found The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook by Scribe Forge. I bought it and I diligently worked though it for 2 months. That's right, I finally finished the world building for my book, The Death of Jack!!!!!
I feel like I understand him and his world better than I ever have. I understand how things work, I know the history to his world, I know how the people live day to day. I feel once again ready to write his story. And I couldn't have done it (at least, not to this extent) without the help of Scribe Forge and their wonderful resources. I promised I would report back to you with my final thoughts on this book and if I recommend it to any other writers out there...this is my final review on the Worldbuilding book: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It asked really thought provoking questions and touched on so many topics. I've filled up nearly 60 full sheets of paper with hand-written notes.
The Worldbuilding book even offers a section of "finer details" to write about things in your world that might not be discussed in the questions, such as art, fashion, architecture, sports, holidays, etc.
I made my own list to write about for the finer details section, such as relationships (dating, courting, etc.), weddings (specifically what a wedding ceremony is like in the fairy realm), how certain events came to be (no spoilers), etc.
The team at Scribe Forge did such an awesome job putting this book together and compiling these questions. I definitely recommend getting it. I know it benefited me so much, I can only hope it would benefit someone else half as much.
My only complaint about this book is the order of chapters. It has the Building a Social Structure chapter AND THEN the Religion, Mythology, and Philosophy chapter. I worked on them in the opposite order, as I believe to fully understand how a society works, you must first know their religious beliefs, for what they believe about the world and themselves will be heavily reflected in how they run their society. Anyhow, that's just me being nitpicky.

As I stated last week, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I feel more ready than ever to get back into writing Jack's story!!

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Visit my website to check out my first novel, The Story of Hollyhocks

Friday, September 17, 2021

Planning Ahead.

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives,

Since August I have been working on my WIP (work in progress), aka, my novel, The Death of Jack, pretty consistently. I purchased The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook by Scribe Forge and I have since been consistently building the world for my story and Jack's world.

During November 2020, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who are unaware, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that hosts the annual month long challenge (of the same name) for writers to work on their stories, and write a minimum of 50k words (the minimum word count for a novel). They offer writing advice and tips on storytelling, a word count tracker for keeping your novel on schedule, writing sprints (writing as much as possible in a timed session, in a group or by yourself), and a community of other participants and writers there to write along side you, encourage you, and help keep you accountable.

2020 was my second time doing NaNoWriMo (I first participated in 2016), and my first time hitting the 50k word count goal! I thought for sure I would finish The Death of Jack a few months after that. Looking back in my notebook, I see that I had a goal to have completed my rough draft by April of this year. That didn't happen, hehe. XD
I can also see that I kept updating my notebook, "finish book by May 15th," "finish book by June 30th," "finish book by September 22nd."
Needless to say, none of those dates were met, ha, oops. Life gets busy, you find other things to do, you get writers block - you understand, right? Right..?

In theory, I really wanted to finish my novel, but I felt like I wasn't able to, like my muses were silent, like I didn't know where my story was going, like I didn't understand the world it was set in. So I bought the Worldbuilding book. I thought I'd get through it pretty fast and still finish my novel by the autumnal equinox. Turns out, there's a lot more to world building than I realized (and I'm not mad about it). 

So now my plans have changed once again. I will finish the world building for my book by the end of September. I will spend October planning out the second half of my novel. In November, I will participate in NaNoWriMo once again and work toward finishing the second half of my second novel, The Death of Jack.

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Check out my first novel, The Story of Hollyhocks.
What is NaNoWriMo?

Friday, August 27, 2021

Smash Writer's Block.

To my dearest friends and followers,

click to enlarge
Writing The Death of Jack has been going really well!! I am still in the world building phase of it (check out last week's post if you missed it, as I talk about some of the things I've learned about my novel through working on The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook book by Scribe Forge).

This week I am working on building the magic system in my book (where does the magic come from, how does it work, who practices it, etc). It's a lot of fun and I feel like this section from the Worldbuilding book is really valuable for my own book because this is helping me to really understand the differences between how the fairies live vs. how the humans live and their respective perspectives on life based on the magic (or lack thereof) used. 

I've been really happy with some additional questions for me to answer about my book/characters as well. Before I continue, let me go back...

So, I have been in contact with Scribe Forge via email (I've also tagged them on social media several times). Basically, I told them that I bought the Worldbuilding book and I've been using it to work on my novel. I also sent them the link to my blog for them to check out if they liked. I then asked multiple times (on my blog, through email, and on Twitter) if they would sponsor me. They basically said no. πŸ˜‚

Buuuut, they did the next best thing, which is send me their Smash Writer's Block card deck for free!! Sooooooo, that's pretty cool.

**THIS IS NOT A SPONSORSHIP, I'm not being paid to say what I'm about to say.

Smash Writer's Block is a deck of 100 cards with writing prompts printed on both sides of the card. The cards have a gloss finish and are actually really sturdy, which I wasn't expecting, so that was a nice addition. XD

I think the idea behind the cards is that you use them while you're working on your story. When the muses have ceased to inspire you, you select a card from the stack, read the question printed on it, and then continue to write your story, riffing off the idea you got from the prompt on the card.

Really, they can be used any way you want. When I get tired of working on the Worldbuilding book, I've been selecting a random card from the stack, writing down the question or prompt in the notebook I made, and then thinking about my characters and answering the question with the thought that I just might incorporate some of my newly written material into my story.

To the team at Scribe Forge, you guys did an amazing job at asking probing questions (via the Writer's Block cards) to help build our characters and our stories.

Some of the questions are so simple, but they're things I never thought about before (and I think they REALLY help me understand my characters more), such as:

  • If your protagonist died tomorrow, what would they regret the most?
  • What traits do your main characters like in other people? Why?
  • What is one ethical line your protagonist won't cross? Tempt them to cross it.
  • Something your protagonist believes about himself/herself/themself is a lie. What is it?
  • How do those who can use magic treat those who cannot use magic?

Of course, that's just 5 examples of 199 questions and prompts!!
I'm in love with these cards, I'm so happy I have them and I will probably use them for not just the novel I am currently writing, but for future projects as well.

You know when you see an ad for a company and you're not sure if the company is legit so you Google them and you still can't find anything on them, but you really want the product they're selling so you take a chance and then you receive the item and it exceeds your expectations (which were pretty low, but still!) and you're so excited and now they're one of your new favorite companies??
Yeah, that's how Scribe Forge is to me haha.

To any of you who are writers or story tellers, I think you might like the Smash Writer's Block card deck from Scribe Forge. I know I do. Everything I've gotten from this company has been excellent quality and has proved to be very useful to me in writing my novel. I can't recommend them enough!!

Again, this is NOT a sponsorship, I'm just so happy with my experience with Scribe Forge so far.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional: 
Check out my first novel, The Story of Hollyhocks.
You should totally take a look at the Smash Writer's Block card deck from Scribe Forge because they're on sale right now for $5 off their original price!!

Friday, August 20, 2021

Worldbuilding Book Update.

To my dearest friends and followers,

This week has been pretty exciting for a multitude of reasons, one of those being that I started working through The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook by Scribe Forge and am building the best world I can for my second novel, The Death of Jack.

My sister and I have been working on it together a few times a week (the Worldbuilding book that is) and we are three chapters in so far.

Since the Worldbuilding book assumes I am beginning a new project, I decided to write down everything I know and understand about my world in The Death of Jack thus far (or at least everything I could think of at the time), down to the mundane. Here are some of the details I wrote, so you, my dear reader, might understand better what my book will contain:
  • The Death of Jack is the sequel to The Story of Hollyhocks and takes place in a time Hollyhocks's world refers to as the "Ancient World". Possibly 100 years (or more) before Hollyhocks is born.
  • The separation between the fairy world and the human world has not happened yet.
  • The setting is primarily in the forest (lower case "f" intentional here, as the forest is not yet named). The forest is primarily flat land. The mountain range is to the north and the human village is to the east.
  • The Earth Mother (Rhea) is the supreme being, the creator of the world and the earth itself. The god, Cernunnos, is the nature god who is the father to the dryads, though all of the fairies (sprites, pixies, pillywiggins, hobgoblins, dryads, etc.) are considered Goddess Children and are referred to as her children and she their mother. The Great White Stag was the Earth's protector before the god, Hypnosis, put the other gods to sleep.
  • A prophecy says that with the falling of the stars, a new protector/champion would emerge.
  • The forest only experiences spring and autumn (the dryads and the sprites keep the colder elements from entering into their home).
  • Each of the fairies has magic (sun magic, moon magic, and star magic).
  • The grove is not connected to the forest.
I feel like there's a lot more mythology and magic in this book than there was in Hollyhocks's story. I think that's because Hollyhocks went into the human world and experienced what that was like, whereas in the Jack's story, we (the readers) are going to experience what his world is like.

In the Worldbuilding book, the first chapter covers the stars and planets your world takes place in. It was a pretty easy section for me to get through, since my world does take place on Earth, in the known galaxy, and the same stars we know of. The second chapter covers the location aspect, including geography, climate, and ecology.

A few things I learned about my world (in addition to some things I already knew, but forgot to write in my list) from this chapter are:
  • Geographically, the story takes place in mythological Wales.
  • The beings who live in the location are the various kinds of fairies and animals, and humans, though the humans are not native to the land.
  • They don't have electricity yet, but rely on fire (for candles or cooking), moonlight and fireflies.
  • Food is foraged in the forest and surrounding land (meat is not eaten by anyone, as that would be disrespectful to the Earth Mother and her creations).
  • Water is found in the river for drinking and irrigating crops (only the humans have crops).
  • There are little "natural resources" in the land, though the humans and fairies do trade in herbs, food, and the like.
The third chapter covers fictional beings created by the author (me in this case) and what they're like. Here are some things I've written about them in my notebook (for the sake of length, the types of creatures I'll be covering in this blog post will be the sprites, pixies, and pillywiggins):
  • The environment the fairies have evolved in is the forest, as they have been there for a very long time and were created by the Earth Mother. They have great respect for nature and all living things and for one another.
  • The type of shelter they live in varies between the different fairy species. The sprites live in trees - quite literally in trees, such as preexisting hollowed out trees or holes in trees. They are also not confined to living near each other, but are spread out throughout the forest (the central areas of the forest). The pixies live on the ground, in their own little community, with houses made out of mud or clay, dried grass and sticks, and small rocks. The pillywiggins don't live in the forest, but just outside it, in a single massive willow tree. They don't really have individual houses, but treat the willow tree as one big house and each fairy sleeps on a branch or twig with a bed made of dried flowers, herbs, and other plants, such as heather.
  • The fairies eat wild berries (dried or fresh), tiny mushrooms, and honey. They drink nectar for a similar effect to that of wine, and drink dew drops for water. They also like sweet treats provided by humans, such as bread, lemon treats, and cream.
  • The fairies are very small, ranging from 3-4 inches at full height. 4 inches is the maximum height and any fairy over 4 inches would be quite tall.
I haven't finished going through the questions for my fictional beings I created, but I'm really excited to finish and learn more about my characters.
I love Scribe Forge's Worldbuilding book so far, as it has provided me with not only a reason for my sister and I to work together, but its also asked some very interesting questions about my world that are really making me think. One thing I will say is that it asks a lot of questions that might not seem relevant to my current WIP (work in progress), but that's ok because those questions might prompt aspects of my world that I hadn't previously thought about and then I'll go ahead and answer those questions and maybe, just maybe, I'll end up using this new element in my story. At the very least, I won't use it on my story at all, but I'll still gain something by better understanding the world I am building.
If you are a creator of any kind, I highly suggest checking out a copy from Scribe Forge for yourself, so you can better understand the story you want to tell and the world it takes place in.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

**Disclaimer: this is not a sponsorship

Additional:
Check out my shop on Ko-Fi to get a copy of my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook

click to enlarge
To my dearest friends and followers,

A few weeks ago, I shared that I had purchased a book titled: The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook: Create a compelling world your readers will love by Scribe Forge. As you probably guessed, Scribe Forge is not a person's name. It's a print-on-demand publisher. If you go to their website, it looks like they offer several tips and tools for writing a story, including Smash Writer's Block prompt cards, notebooks, and more, though it appears that the Worldbuilding book is the most popular. Supposedly Scribe Forge collaborated with several authors to create this book, though I do find it a bit odd that they don't say who those authors are...
The book has only been published since 2020, but it has a lot of positive reviews, so I'm definitely here for it.

The first novel I wrote, The Story of Hollyhocks is a fantasy novel about a fairy who ventures into the human world. It was a lot of fun to write and it was easy. Not easy in the sense that I knew exactly what I wanted to say each time I sat down to write or even in the sense that I really knew where I wanted the story to go. It was easy in the sense that I was writing about a world I know - nevermind that the story is set in 1400's England, because that can be researched, but I understand what the human world is like and I understand the belief systems they had at the time that the story is set in.
click to enlarge

Now I am writing book 2, The Death of Jack. Let me tell you, it's very different. I'm not writing about a fairy who left home to be a part of the human world. I'm writing about a fairy whose home is inhabited by humans. Here's the thing that's drastically different from Hollyhocks and Jack: he never leaves the forest. That means I'm writing about the fairy world - a world which is different from ours, with pagan gods as ancient deities, with a multitude of different fairy types, and with star magic, prophecies, and spirituality. It's a world that I'm so excited about and I want to write about it, but in order to do so, I need to understand it.

That's why, when I saw an ad for a book on worldbuilding, I bought it. And it arrived!! As you can see from the picture, it's a spiral bound book which I think is so smart because it makes the book more easily accessible and easier to write in, etc.
I am so excited to begin working through it with the companion notebook I made (for the sake of being able to use the worldbuilding book for future stories I write) featuring my MC, Jack, on the cover. Also, my sister is going to be working on her own copy of the Worldbuilding book!! I'm really happy she's doing it too, I feel like it will help to keep me motivated. XD
If any of you are wanting a copy, definitely let me know, it would be fun to hear from you and learn what you're working on.

Thank you for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Check out my fantasy novel, The Story of Hollyhocks.
I highly suggest taking a look at the Scribe Forge website and seeing what they offer. They're definitely one of my favorite go-to sites right now for writing. I've even downloaded their Free Novel Tracker and Course.
Take a look at The Essential Workdbuilding Blueprint and Workbook.
Check out my Ko-fi shop for my fairy journals that can be used as companion notebooks to the Worldbuilding book.

* Please sponsor me Scribe Forge πŸ˜‚

Friday, July 30, 2021

Reading Samantha.

 To my dearest friends and followers,

It's Christmas day and I'm 7 years old. There are lots of presents under the tree for my family of 6, as there was every Christmas during my childhood.
This Christmas felt extra special and it would turn into one I would never forget, for under the tree was a large rectangular box prettily wrapped in shiny silver paper. In the box was, what I thought would be a doll - not just any doll, but an American Girl doll. Imagine my disappointment when I opened the box and there was no such doll, but a Disney's porcelain Cinderella doll.
I don't remember exactly what followed, but eventually I got around to opening the elongated rectangular box which contained the Kirsten doll by American Girl!! She was just what I had asked for and she was beautiful!
I still have her to this day and she is just as special to me as she was nearly 20 years ago.

At some point in my childhood, I decided I wanted to add the Molly doll to my collection. However, I already had several of the books from her collection, including the Meet Molly book. For some reason, I felt like I couldn't get the Molly doll because she came with the Meet Molly book and then I'd have 2 copies of the same book and I couldn't possibly do that and the thought of getting rid of one never occurred to me. Yeah, I don't get how my brain worked either. XD
Point being, I never got the Molly doll. And then at some point, I wanted the Samantha doll as well, but I went through a phase of thinking I shouldn't get her/ask for her because I felt I was too old for dolls. I am happy to say that I got past that phase and I LOVE toys again, especially dolls. I would like to point out that American Girl retired many of thee original dolls between 2010 and 2014, so it seemed like the chance of me ever getting one of those dolls was impossible. Of course, I could ways get a used doll, but I never really settled on doing that. Getting something used is never as exciting as getting something new.

Recently I borrowed all of the Samantha books from the library. For those of you who are perhaps unfamiliar with American Girl, it is a doll company started in 1986 by a woman named Pleasant Rowland. She wanted to offer something for young girls to play with other than baby dolls and the hugely popular Barbie dolls, which Rowland saw as basically an unfit toy for young girls, teaching beauty and setting unhealthy body expectations. So she started her own doll company of high quality dolls that were meant to be about 8-12 years old (the same ages as the girls who were playing with them) and teach valuable lessons through American history. Each doll was from a different time era and had a set of clothes that were historically accurate, along with a 6 book set about a girl growing up in that particular time, giving modern girls the chance to learn the history in a fun way and be able to relate to the main character.

Samantha's story takes place in 1904, where she is growing up in high society in a Victorian style mansion in New York. Her books are really good, written by 3 different authors: Susan S. Adler, Maxine Rose Schur, and Valerie Tripp. The first 2 books are written by Adler and the 3rd book is written by Schur, while Tripp wrote the last 3 books. I'm not sure why they had so many different authors write the series, but I wish Susan S. Adler had written them all. The tone of the first 2 books is, in my opinion, much more enjoyable. They're a bit slow paced and some the characters feel more stiff, but I don't mean that in a negative way at all. It actually felt more time appropriate. Samantha likes to have fun and is a very curious 9 year old, determined to lead and to achieve her goals, meanwhile her grandmother is very old-fashioned and a "proper lady", making Samantha feel as if she were in trouble when she is around her grandmother, because she knew she had to speak only when spoken to, sit up straight, and be on her best behavior.

Schur's book is very enjoyable as well, but she did leave out some of the characters we got to know from Adler's books. And then there's Valerie Tripp. I would say she became much more popular than the previous 2 authors, as she went on to write many of the American Girl books. In my opinion, her writing isn't as enjoyable though. The stories were still good, but they were very fast paced and we got to see a much more spunky and energetic side of Samantha that we hadn't seen in the first 3 books. It honestly felt to me that I wasn't reading about the same character at times, especially when Samantha would exclaim things like, "Oh gosh!" and "Jiminy!" It felt like too much, like Samantha wouldn't say that and like the story is in a slightly different time - only for the fact that Tripp's writing style did not mimic the writing style that was being written during the early 1900's, and I feel that Adler's style very much so felt like the style produced during that time.

Still, even though I know the books were targeted toward young girls, I thoroughly enjoyed them and felt like a kid again, being able to relate to Samantha on several aspects, as I remember very well how I felt about certain situations when I was her age.
I believe that American Girl was doing something very positive, with each book containing a "peak into the past" section at the back, talking about the historical events that were happening at that time in relation to the events that were happening in the story. They dared to touch on such topics as child labor in factories and dangerous conditions they faced and the next to nothing wages they made, immigrants coming from Ireland to work as servants, how awful the orphanages were most of the time, and young girls quickly growing up to be "proper ladies" or suffragists advocating for women's rights and the right to vote.
Every character and every book was so bold as to touch on the topics they did, including the trials and difficulty faced by pioneers, fighting for the freedom of slaves, winning independence from Britain, facing the Great Depression, growing up during World War II, and so much more. These were all huge moments in history and American Girl was making sure they were teaching that history and those lessons to young American girls.
I feel sad that the newer dolls being released do not have as impactful stories and they have taken away the historical sections at the backs of the the books, like they are trying to erase the history (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that shaped this country.
I think that American Girl is doing a lot of things right and I believe they are a positive influence on kids today, but I think they have also strayed away from some of the more impactful stories of their past.

That being said, I am so excited that they have rereleased 6 original characters for their 35th birthday, and I am happy to say that I now own a Samantha doll. XD
Definitely be sure to check out their website if you're thinking you want to get yourself a new doll because they are selling out fast!!
As always, thank you for reading. 

Yours truly,
Me

ADDITIONAL:
Check out American Girl's 35th birthday collection!!
Check out my fantasy novel on my ko-fi shop!!

Friday, July 23, 2021

A Book For Writers.

To my dearest friends and followers,

One thing that really helps me with writing and in this case, getting motivated to write, is reading.
I believe, one way to always be improving your writing is to read and never stop reading. Because when we read, we are learning. Obviously if we're reading educational or informational books, we're learning, but we're also learning when we read fiction. We're learning new words, writing structure, and style. Every writer has their own unique style and I think there's something to learn from each and every one of them. And as a bonus, maybe something you read sparked an idea which can be used as inspiration for your own work.

I've been reading a lot of fiction lately (which is typical of me) and I'm really excited to share with you the latest book I ordered!! It's not a typical book, and by typical, I mean it's not the typical kind of book I usually read, it's actually a book put together specifically to help someone with their writing.

I saw it advertised on Facebook. I usually try to stay away from ads like these, but this one really pulled me in and it seems legit. The ad was for a book titled The Essential Worldbuilding Blueprint and Workbook by Scribe Forge. Caught my attention almost immediately.
It's supposed to help you organize your ideas and build a world for your story (whether it's a fantasy world you're creating, paranormal romance, or sci-fi) by offering tips on worldbuilding, thinking about the location (geography, climate, etc.), the magic system, the technology, the religion and/or mythology and philosophy, the history, etc.. It also includes tons of worksheets allowing you to think about your answers and build the ideal world for your story.
Personally, I feel like I probably won't write my ideas in the spaces they provided, I'll probably get a separate notebook or journal to write in so I can use the Worldbuilding book for other projects in the future.

Since I've been having a bit of trouble writing The Death of Jack, I thought this would be really helpful for building the world for this project along with understanding how to build worlds in future projects.
My order hasn't arrived yet, as I just placed it yesterday, but I'm super excited to work through it!! I'll definitely write another post on this in the future to give you my thoughts and to let you know if the book is actually helpful. XD

The price isn't bad and the shipping is free anywhere in the USA, so if you want to check out the book, feel free to do so by clicking here.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Disclaimer: I feel like I should add that this isn't a sponsorship, I'm just excited about the Worldbuilding book and I wanted to share it with you lovely people in case anyone else would benefit from it. XD

Additional:
If you are interested in getting a copy of the Worldbuilding book, might I suggest getting one of my handmade fairy journals from my Ko-fi shop to use as your companion for writing down ideas?? The support means more to me than you know...

Also...
...you should totally take a look at my fantasy novel, The Story of Hollyhocks. XD

Friday, July 16, 2021

My Thoughts on Coraline.

 To my dearest friends and followers,

A couple weeks ago, I went to the local library and borrowed a small stack of books, one of those being Coraline by Neil Gaiman.
So...Coraline is an interesting one haha. It's a book that was published in 2002 and in 2009 it was adapted into a stop-motion claymation film with Laika.

I was aware when the Coraline film came out. My parents wouldn't have let me watch it, but it reminded me of Tim Burton's films which I also wasn't allowed to watch. That's probably a good thing, because having seen them now, I think they would have really scared me at the time.

In the summer of 2019, someone asked me and my husband if we'd seen the movie and then proceeded to tell us a little bit about it (if you're reading this, thanks Brianna πŸ’œ). It sounded creepy as hell, but it also intrigued me. I thought, "I should give that a watch." And then I put that in the back of my brain and didn't come back to it until early 2020. So my husband and I watched the movie.
So, here's the thing. I like scary movies. But for some reason, animated creepiness is more terrifying to me than live-action creepyness.
Basically, I thought the Coraline movie was REALLY creepy and disturbing. I wasn't sure if I even liked the movie or not. But it's one of those movies that you can't stop thinking about.
Earlier this year, I watched the movie again with my sister. And last week, I read the novella.
If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, then you might want to skip this post because I'm going to be giving away spoilers. XD

There are a few differences between the book and the movie. I'm honestly having a hard time deciding which I liked better as I can now say I enjoyed them both. The movie features a character not in the book: Wybie (short for Why Were You Born). Horrible, right? But he's a likable enough character and it's fun to see someone else in the movie who is Coraline's age. I kind of wish he was in the book.
The other thing is, the beldam seems to know what Coraline wants and what she (Coraline) thinks she's missing in life. How does she know this? In the movie, it seems to be through the eyes of the doll she made that Coraline now possesses. In the book, it's a little unclear how she knows, though we do see a spider-like shadow which seems to be her spying on Coraline.

I did a bit of research about the beldam and I found very little. I wanted to know, what is a beldam? Is it a creature found in folklore in different cultures? Is it a monster who appears in several fairy tales? I don't know. It seems maybe Neil Gaiman invented it, but don't quote me on that. What I did find, is that beldam basically means "witch". So who is the beldam in Coraline?

To answer that, I suppose we must first look at who Coraline is. Coraline Jones is around 10 years old when her family moves in to a new house. Only it's a very large victorian house that's been divided up into multiple apartments. Coraline's parents work at home and ignore her and want her to keep quiet and keep to herself. She's not allowed to play outside in the rain, and she's not allowed into the drawing room of the house. So her life seems rather dull. She loves exploring and has a wild imagination though. 
At one point when her mother asked where she was, she answered by saying she was "kidnapped by aliens," but managed to escape by "wearing a wig and laughing in a foreign accent." I really liked this side of Coraline and I wish they had shown it in the film. She's not as likable a character in the movie in my opinion. She shares a lot of traits with her mother and is mean to Wybie for really no reason that I can see.

So who is the beldam? She is the being who creates a world almost identical to Coraline's - with the house and the surrounding garden. The beldam then disguises herslef as Coraline's mother (and by disguising herself, it's hard to say if she can shape-shift or if she puts the idea in Coraline's head that she is her mother, therefore tricking Coraline into thinking that she looks like her actual mother). She also and creates a creature to look like Coraline's father. I feel like I should note that the beldam doesn't really create something from nothing, rather she takes things which already exist and twists them and shapes them in to her liking, creating something new. 
The beldam has shiny black buttons instead of eyes. And she was a little bit too thin and a little bit too tall and her fingers were a little too long and her skin was a little bit whiter than Coraline's actual mother. The beldam introduces herself as Coraline's "other mother" and the father as the "other father". The other mother even says that everyone has "another mother." I sure hope not.

Coraline comes to learn that the other mother wants her to stay in her world that she created, but Coraline must allow the other mother to take her eyes out and sew on button eyes instead. Pretty messed up, right? That's because the eyes are the windows to the soul - and with the windows open or gone, the soul is vulnerable. And it appears that the other mother likes to feed on children's "lives", though she doesn't actually eat the soul, she just drains them of everything that makes up their lives - love and happiness and memories. Coraline is definitely not the first child the beldam has come after, but I do appreciate that in the movie, we get to learn a bit more backstory about who one of the other children was.

In the end, Coraline escapes the other mother and returns to the real world where her real parents don't even seem aware of what was happening. The book does leave the reader wondering if Coraline actually defeated the beldam...

One thing I might add here is that while we can all agree that the other mother is super creepy, I would beg to differ that she's actually not the scariest thing in the book. I guess I should mention how Coraline actually gets to the other world. There is a door in the drawing room that opens up to a brick wall, and on the other side of the wall is the other apartment which nobody lives in. However, sometimes this door opens into a hallway or a corridor  - a corridor that is similar the one in Coraline's actual house, only it's not her actual house, it's the house the other mother created to look like Coraline's house. Toward the end of the book when Coraline is running for her life back to the real world, we are told that "whatever the corridor was was older by far than the other mother. It was deep, and slow, and it knew that [Coraline] was there..."
Notice it says "whatever the corridor WAS" and not "whatever was IN the corridor." So that begs the question, is the entire corridor / other world in and of itself a living being like Tartarus in Greek mythology? Does that make the other mother a parasite within that being..?

Probably my favorite character in the book is the cat. He's just a stray black cat and for whatever reason, the other mother doesn't like him. I'd even go as far as to say she's scared of him.
The cat is cool and witty though. Coraline isn't really startled that the cat can talk and assumes that he's the "other cat", but the cat says, "I'm not the other anything. I'm me...You people are spread all over the place. Cats, on the other hand, keep ourselves together."

When Coraline asks him his name, he says, "Cat's don't have names...Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names." And when Coraline is in the world that the other mother created, she asks, "...what is this place?" and the cat answers, "It's here." Coraline then wonders "whether cats could all talk where she came from and just chose not to, or whether they could only talk when they were here - wherever here was." 

Another favorite part is in chapter 5, when Coraline is back in the real world and the beldam has taken her real parents so she must go back to the other world to rescue them from the other mother. The cat is with her and she's telling the cat about a time when her father and her were out and were being attacked by wasps. Her father told Coraline to run ahead of him and he stayed back to let the wasps attack him so she could get away. In the process he loses his glasses, but he too makes it out ok, though he was stung nearly 40 times. He then went back to that spot to find the glasses. She remembers her father saying that he was not brave the first time because he didn't know the wasps were there. Staying there so she could get out was the only thing he could do. But when they both got out and he decided to go back to get his glasses - that was brave because he knew the dangers that were there. 
She tells the cat that she too is brave because she is choosing to go back to the other world when she knows the other mother is waiting for her. I appreciated that little insight. XD

I feel like the message of the story is pretty simple: the grass isn't always greener on the other side, or be careful what you wish for. On one hand, the message is so clear, it hits you over the head. On the other hand, the terrifying and disturbing images distract from what's really going on in the story and it might take a minute or two to actually grasp what's happening.

Coraline is a tricky book because it's one of those that's written for children and it will be found in the children's section of a bookstore, but I'm not sure how many children will actually appreciate it for what it is. Its message is simple, but the way that message is told is, in my opinion, not for children.

I really enjoyed the book as well as the movie, but if I'm choosing here, I think I'd have to choose the book. XD
Coraline had a lot more personality and imagination and was more likable. The cat had some pretty great lines that were missing in the movie. The corridor added a whole other dimension. The spider references are everywhere and plainly told to the reader (I had a difficult time interpreting several things from the movie when it came to that). Also, it's so fun to see Gaiman's writing style.

Whether you enjoy dark fantasy / horror stories or not, I would highly suggest reading Coraline if only to take note of the writing style itself. It is, after all, written by Neil Gaiman who is easily one of the best writers of fiction of our time.

Also, if you want to know more about Coraline and the history / backstories of the different characters, you should definitely take a look at the Horror History video series on YouTube made by CZ's World. His videos are slightly creepy, but extremely intriguing and insightful.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

ADDITIONAL:
Check out my young adult fantasy novel, The Story of Hollyhocks from my Ko-fi shop!!
Read Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Watch the Coraline movie!!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Into the Wildwood.

To my dearest friends and followers,

For the past month, I've felt really dry. By that I mean, creatively dry. Several times I sat down with the intention of writing a blog post and I just stared at the blank page before me, my mind equally as empty. I felt I had nothing to share, nothing exciting was happening that I felt like I wanted to talk about, and I still haven't worked on my novel.

I really need to take the time to write it, I know I keep saying that. What I think I want to do and maybe will set a goal for myself in the next few weeks, is find a writing buddy who will motivate me and share the experience of writing with me. Someone to keep me accountable basically. And I will do likewise for them.

While I've felt a bit dry, I've been doing some reading. I wasn't allowed to read this certain book when I was a kid, but I recently came across it again and began reading it. Wildwood Dancing is the title, written by Juliet Marillier.
It's one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read, right up there with The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge and The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.

Wildwood Dancing is a bit different than most middle grade fantasy novels I've read though, in that it is not set in the traditional English settings that most fantasy novels are, but rather, it is set in Transylvania and pulls heavily from the folklore from that surrounding area.

The story is lightly based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brother's Grimm. Instead of 12 sisters though, Marillier writes about 5 sisters who live in a castle. Every Full Moon, the sisters pass in secret from their world into the Other Kingdom and spend the night dancing with the fairy folk.
Jena is the second eldest sister, but behaves like the oldest sister, while Tati is the eldest sister, but behaves, in my opinion, much more like the youngest sister.
Tati becomes deeply involved in the seemingly dangerous affairs of the vampire-like Night People, while Jena is trying her best to look after the household in her father's absence.

Possibly my favorite parts of the story are in the flashbacks where 5 year old Jena and her 2 older cousins, Costi and his younger brother, Cezar, are playing near the Deadwash (the body of water that separates their world from the Other Kingdom and which they are forbidden to play near).
The 3 children find themselves playing a game of make-believe in which Jena is Queen of the Fairies, Costi is King of the Lake, and Cezar is King of the land. However, while the children are playing, the Witch of the Wood comes to them and tells them that their game is not a game of make-believe, but that there is truth in it, and that each of them must sacrifice something to get what they want. Jena gives the witch her precious paper machΓ© tiara, while Costi gives the witch a precious family heirloom given to the eldest son, and Cezar - well, we weren't sure what he gave up.

Eventually the witch left and the children continued their game. If only they hadn't been playing near the Deadwash, Costi would still be alive. If only Cezar were as kind-hearted as his father had been, the village might still live in peace. If only Father had not gotten ill and left Jena in charge. And why did the Night People have to show up and steal Jena's sister away? Why won't the witch help her make things right again? And who is the little talking frog who mysteriously showed up?

Honestly, it's such a good book filled with strong friendships, family bonds, heart wrenching betrayals, forbidden love, and hidden secrets.
There are many unforgettable characters, such as Gogu the frog, DrΓ’guΘ›a the shapeshifting witch riding upon her tiny white fox, Sorrow and his sister, Silence, and of course, strong headed Jena.

There are many things I really liked about the book, but one of the things that really stood out to me was Jena's character. I feel like there are a lot of modern shows being made that are not historically accurate at all, in that the woman is not at all what a woman would have been at that time; she talks back, is not respectful of others, is stubborn, unladylike, etc. and it's not addressed by any of the other characters - like it's not out of the ordinary. 
However, Juliet Marillier did a really great job in writing a character who is not like the typical women of that time in that she incorporated it appropriately into the story. Jena is different, she stands out, she is outspoken about women's rights. An early feminist as it were. I compare her to Jo March from Little Women. She is a strong female character without being a physically strong bad-ass warrior woman like we see so often today. She is strong because she is breaking the stereotype of women of her day, she is standing up for what she believes in, and is pursuing her dreams and determined to succeed in a man's world and she is acknowledged for her efforts and faces backlash from her male peers. It feels very real for the time that the story is set in. But most of all, it feels real. It feels like something achievable. While Katness Everdeen and Wonder Woman are pretty epic ladies, they're not realistic or achievable for someone like you or me.
I give much credit to Juliet Marillier for keeping the book feeling time-appropriate and also writing a strong female heroine. We need more books like this.

Currently I am reading Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I'll give my thoughts on that next week.
I hope you all are doing well and thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
I highly suggest you take a look at Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. I definitely give it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ stars!!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Happy One Year...


To my dearest friends and followers,

If you haven't heard, I'm having a book giveaway for my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks, on Twitter (which you can enter by clicking here) in honor of the one year anniversary since publishing it!!
NOTE: only US residents eligible to win.

In a few words, my novel is a fairytale-esk fantasy / historical fiction novel, set in mythological Wales and England at the end of the 15th century. The story follows a young sprite from the "Invisible World" whose curiosity in the human world leads her away from home. She meets and befriends Edward V, a young human child who became a king at just 12 years old.
At its core, Hollyhocks's story is a coming of age story, a story about friendship and love, about facing struggles and overcoming them, about growing up, maybe losing yourself a little along the way and coming to the realization that your childlike perception of the world is not 100% accurate.

To further celebrate, I'm selling my book for 30% off the original price in my Ko-fi shop AND I'm shipping it worldwide for the first time. The sale will run from today to Monday (May 28th-May 31st), so if you've been wanting to grab a copy, I can't think of a better time than now. XD
Click here to pick up a copy of my book at a discounted price!!

Happy one year anniversary to Hollyhocks's story becoming available to the world!!

Yours truly,
Me