Sunday, October 15, 2017

5 Struggles of Being a Graphic Novel Fan

I am a graphic novel fan. I'm sure that comes as no surprise if you've ever taken even a peek at my Goodreads because I like to up my Yearly Reading Challenge by taking 25 minutes to rip through the odd comic book. I'm not sure if it's cheating or not because it's so short and easy...but that's beside the point! If you are also a fan of the graphic novel, I'm sure you understand both the joys and the struggles of taking your stories in pictural format. On this blog, we like to focus on NEGATIVES so we're going to talk about the struggles.*

*honestly, it's more just cause complaining is fun



1. WHY SO EXPENSIVEEEE????


  Seriously people, I don't have $30 to drop on every single volume of a ten-part series. Especially when the reading time I actually get off said volume is like, fifteen minutes? I mean yes, it's a great fifteen minutes, and yes, I could probably try to read slower so it lasts longer haha jk but still. I don't even have $30 to drop on a book that will actually take a decent chunk of time to read. I'm a writer, I'm poor! Why do you think half my books have stickers from the used bookstore on them? Give a girl a break!

2. WHY SO SKINNYYYYY????


  This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the reason above: you don't get very much bang for your buck when it comes to graphic novels. They are so freaking tiny 99% of the time. Like, I've held newspapers thicker than this, let's get it together guys! Even though such a short read makes me feel super accomplished it is a hollow victory because there's basically nothing there. I need MOAARR book.

3. WHY RUIN GOOD STORY w/ BAD ART AND VICE VERSA?


  I hate when I really want to read a comic series but the art is just blargh and it kills the desire on the spot like the time my sister took a sharp stake and speared a gopher through the nose and...okay, maybe this is a bit graphic for a blog post...*ahem* I also hate the alternative, when a book has the coolest art on the planet but the lamest story in the galaxy and you have to walk away from the bookshelf shaking your head. Why writers/artists? Why can't the good people work together and the bad people work together, don't team up and drag others down!

4. WHY SO HARD TO SORT OUT?????


  I looooovvvveeee comics and if I had the money and the time of an undead vampire I'd read them all but even then I probably wouldn't because where in the heck do you start when you're trying to get into Spiderman and there's approximately 1045202343924328478324892734 different series/versions of said character, nevermind how many actual comics there are! I need someone to find me a really thoroughly comprehensive guide so that maybe I can make a slight dent in these massive collections.

5. WHY DIDN'T I MARRY FOR MONEY SO I COULD FILL MY LIBRARY WITH EXPENSIVE GRAPHIC NOVELS???


  This is totally a legitimate reason. It's always good to question one's marital choices or to make sinister plans to become a trophy husband/wife in order to suck the life blood of your rich spouse's bank account to fill your dream library's graphic novel section. This is totally normal and you should probably be rethinking your life if you haven't yet committed to such a relationship.


  And there you have it, my 5 struggles of being a graphic novel fan. Can you relate to any of these? What are some of your favorite graphic novels? Did you have the good fortune to marry into money? Let me know below!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Anti-Advice for Writers

  Writers get an awful lot of advice from just about everywhere. Some advice we never even ask for, amiright? As a profession we are pretty bombarded with how-to's and why-you-should's. Which is awesome. It's great that as a creative community we share tips and tricks and help one another. So I don't want to be here pedaling out another how-to list. It's SO much more fun to rant and yell about things that we need to be doing better! So, the topic of today's post is Anti-Advice (Advice that goes against every writerly instinct in your bones) for Writers. Enjoy my raving! :DD



1. PUT THE COFFEE/CHOCOLATE/WAFFLES/CANDY DOWN!


  We writers really like to glamorize/romanticize/cutesify unhealthy behaviors - including consumation of a very large amount of caffeine. Personally, I am not a coffee-drinker, but I am a lover of junk food and when you're absorbed in finishing that chapter today or doing your editing or just GETTING THINGS ACCOMPLISHED WHOO-HAH then you're bound to make some unhealthy food choices. I know I do. All the time. Cause I'm terrible. But here's a call-out to NOT be like me, to get some good, wholesome food in you, to take a meal with the people in your life. Trust me, you'll feel better.

2. READ MOARRR BOOKS YOU HEATHEN!


Honestly, we should probably read more books than we write, but since writing has become so serious to me in the past few years, my once thriving reading career has taken a sharp nose-dive to the point of embarrassment. My mother reads more books than me now! My MOTHER! *sobs forever*


3. ACTUAL WRITING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PLATFORM


  Says she writing a blog post instead of actually writing. *sheepish grin* But seriously, folks, it's really really really easy to get caught up in the black hole of social media marketing and get totally pulled away from your real work and mission. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, particularly when you are in the middle of an actual book-marketing campaign. But that bookish instagram post can probably wait until you finish that word count for the day, hun.

4. GO OUTSIDEEEEEEEEE


  I am passionate about this one because outside is the bomb and it's where you get to feel really alive. Also, it's hugely inspirational. Back when I lived in my beautiful country home and wasn't rotting away in the middle of the city *dramatic sigh* I would take walks down the lane and through the pasture to stimulate my creative senses, stretch my legs, and dust the cobwebs from my brain. So, go for walks, guys. LOOOONG ones. Or a bike ride, or swimming, or ride a horse (my fav). Bonus points if your adventure takes you so deep into your imagination that you start...
   a) talking to yourself
   b) pretending to be your character(s)
   c) shedding tears as a character
   d) running/jumping/falling/swordfighting dramatically on a hilltop*

*yes I do this and don't judge it's awesome - except not in the city cause ugh, people are watchinggg

5. STOP WRITING!


le gasp! Yes. I said it. Here's the truth, guys, sometimes there are more important things in our lives than writing. I know that can be hard to believe when our imaginations have us entangled in some grand adventure and all that reality is offering is a workload of school or chores. But don't get so caught up in your work (whether you're a writer, chef, carpenter or doctor) that you miss all the beautiful little moments of life all around you. The world is so full and amazing and there's so much to see and to do, just think of all the things that there are - all the lifetimes and adventures to fill an eternity. Sometimes, we just need to take the time to enjoy what we have, what is real, what is right in front of us, before we finish editing that chapter. Trust me, this is super important.

  I know, that last one was pretty scandalous, I apologize if you fell out of your chair. What are some things you feel like writers need to be doing differently? Doing better? Some of the things we maybe take too far? Let's talk below!

  By the way, have you heard my SUPER COOL announcement concerning my end of the month showcase? Check it out on my Facebook page and spread the word, it's gonna be super awesome! :D



Monday, October 2, 2017

Why I Appreciate the Female Characters in The Dark Knight Rises




  Before this year I hadn't delved much into the Batman universe. I had always been a Marvel fan, particularly and especially a Spiderman fan. However, while Batman is far from my favorite hero, he does have a fantastic set of villains in his comics, and the Christopher Nolan movies are really good. I read The Killing Joke and Death of the Family graphic novels and thought they were amazing. I had previously watched The Dark Knight and then finally on our honeymoon finished the series with the other two movies, but what struck me most about The Dark Knight Rises was the two female leads and how well they were written and portrayed.


  There has been a lot of talk in the last few years about writing the Strong Female Character, the girl kicking butt and taking names without so much as a shimmer of sweat on her forehead. And that's all fine and good, I really really enjoy seeing female action and super heroes. BUT why are they always portrayed SO BADLY? And why is that the ONLY OPTION for female characters to be worth something? The real danger of this Strong Female Character trope is not the empowering of women to be truly strong, or brave, or dangerous. It's when people write them to be just like the male characters. Why is it that we feel like females are only valuable in action movies when they can hold their own in a physical fight against any villain, hero, or anti-hero they happen to come across? Why is the standard of strength totally masculine? There are other ways to be strong.


  Of course there is a difference when dealing with female characters like Wonder Woman, whose power gives her great strength and abilities. It makes sense then that she would be able to go toe-to-toe with some very strong and dangerous villains - and it is only plausible for the plot of her story. I'm certainly NOT saying that her character is badly written or portrayed. In fact, I think Diana is quite well-constructed as a female with many different kinds of strengths, not just physical ones. And I'm definitely not saying that women can't be physically strong. That would be dishonest of me to imply. Today I'm looking to mainly address the problem with EXCLUSIVELY portraying females in action movies this way, and how I believe The Dark Knight Rises really got it right.

  NOTE: I'm going to be talking about these characters (Selina Kyle and Miranda Tate) as they were portrayed in the film and NOT the comics, so don't get uppity if it doesn't line up with DC comic canon. Please and thank you. :P


"Do you think this is gonna last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."

  Let's start with Catwoman, AKA Selina Kyle. What struck me immediately about how this character is portrayed is that she is SMART. She doesn't storm the castle, do a few fancy flips, dodge a punch and win the day. She constructs a careful, well-thought out plot and executes a take-down that is brilliant simply because it is clever, not because she's relying on being able to punch her way out of it all the time. She's careful, she's slow. She deals in schemes, not street-fights. The best example of this in the film is the scene in the bar below. It shows how forward-thinking she is, how she can stay calm in a dangerous situation, how she manipulates those around her to feel sorry, to think her weak, and then makes her strike. If you take a look, you'll see what I'm talking about.


  I love how she uses the Congressman as leverage through the whole exchange, without her enemy even knowing. I love how she thought through every possibility, including being double-crossed, and pretended to be giving up in order to make his defeat more secure. She uses the Congressman's phone to spring the trap and keeps herself clean by using Dagget's hand on the gun so her prints wouldn't be on it. Then she cries out and screams in fear when the SWAT team comes rushing in, so that they will overlook her as a frightened bystander, thus allowing her to make a quick, clean escape. This scene really exemplifies for me how a woman can be strong, not just in punches thrown, but in her orchestration and manipulation of events, people and circumstances. When you use your weaknesses as strengths, it is much harder for them to be used against you.

honestly, what a great performance though
  That is one of the reasons I so enjoy this portrayal of Catwoman. She isn't just there kicking butt, she's actually actively working to come out on top of situations she probably couldn't otherwise. Honestly, this is so much more impressive to me then when people dress up a female with a bunch of powers or abilities or get skinny actresses to throw a couple punches and take down a whole host of thugs. This is so much more believable and enjoyable, it makes me believe this is something I could actually do, a feat I could perform if given the skills, and that is so much more empowering.

  Selina Kyle has trained more than her body to respond to situations and think of solutions to problems, she has also trained her mind. In one of the gifs above we see her take down Bruce with a simple flick of her heel, having noticed the heavy way he is leaning on his cane. In the gif below you can see her shut down an officer by handing him her hat and blocking his view of her punch, allowing her to make a clean hit without fear of being blocked.


  Both of these moves impress me with her quick thinking. And I absolutely love that it is totally accurate to the character's skills, experiences and profession as a very talented thief. Audiences aren't expected to swallow that this small woman is taking down a whole mob of men who are literal punching bags with just her fists, but we get to see her use actual methods and opportunities. We get to see her use REAL strengths, not just those of the biceps. DC and Christopher Nolan got this so so right here.* It all makes for a character much more rounded, much more legitimate, much more honest. Isn't that what we want in our characters?

  *Honestly, DC has such good females and villains but their main male heroes kinda suck, as far as interesting characters go.


  I should also mention that she's allowed to have actual FEELINGS and MOTIVATIONS that make sense and are consistent with her character. She's from the bottom of Gotham's totem pole and wants a better life, resenting the rich upper class who have such a hold over the rest of the city. She wants to upset the balance of power, she wants to see big change in Gotham. Yet, when she sees the change her actions have inevitably led to, she realizes that what she wanted for Gotham and the way she went about it maybe isn't exactly what she bargained for.


  She's allowed to make mistakes, to feel for things, for people. She's allowed to realize she was wrong, allowed to help. She's part of the story, part of the plot, the catalyst and one who helps end the conflict. She gets to be all of those things, she gets to be a GOOD FEMALE CHARACTER. Really all that it took was the writers allowing her to be real. How easy is that, right?

 
  Let's move on to our second subject of the day, Miranda Tate AKA Talia al Ghul.


  "Innocent is a strong word to throw around Gotham, Bruce. I honor my father by finishing his work. Vengeance against the man who killed him is simply a reward for my patience. You see, it's the slow knife...the knife that takes its time. The knife...that waits years without forgetting...then slips quietly between the bones. That's the knife...that cuts deepest."
―Talia al Ghul

   Honestly, knowing nothing about the film going into it, I've gotta say I was totally taken off guard by the reveal of Miranda Tate as the villain, the instigator. The story, writing, and filmography was orchestrated so well. I had never for a second suspected Miranda of being "the Child" spoken of. Here again the audience is given a great example of a female using other strengths to her advantage. Talia is smart, she is cunning, she is patient. She has laid such a trap for Gotham through years of watching and waiting while sitting right under everyone's noses. I love that this character has no grand fight scene, no reveal of fancy martial artist skill. Despite being the leader of the League of Shadows and likely being a well-trained fighter, she does not rely on muscle to execute her conspiracy against Gotham. Her tactics are simple, but far from straightforward. Layers upon layers of deception, of careful acting, of manipulation and years of patient work pay off for her. It's not about swinging in and pulverizing Batman in one fell swoop, but taking true vengeance, playing it smart, and waiting.


  Ultimately, what I really like about this character is the fact that she so obviously does have some great physical abilities but it is never taken advantage of. Having grown up in the prison known simply as the Pit and making the impossible escape by scaling the walls and making the leap across the chasm, and being the daughter of R'as al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows, and training under him, it stands to reason she should be a formidable physical opponent. It may seem weird, but honestly, I love that the writers don't use this skill. I love that she works through Bane in the physical sense, but deceives her way into power and into Bruce Wayne's heart, enabling her plot to have a really solid foundation.


talia escaping the Pit
  As shown with Catwoman, Talia is also a REAL character allowed to have motivations, feelings, and aspirations. She is a woman with a story not driven by a tragic romance. She wants to bring balance through destruction, a similar mission of her father's, she wants to avenge his death, fulfill his dream. She loves Bane, her protector and friend. Even as all she has worked for hangs in the balance she takes time to help him, to say her goodbyes. She is given something to feel and care about aside from just having an evil plot to mastermind. She seems like a real person rather than a cookie-cutter female antagonist. 


  I know I keep spouting off about characters being REAL but man, this was honestly so cool to see in this movie - easily the best part for me. That these two female villains/anti-heroes, were written so  brilliantly. It wasn't about them going toe-to-toe with "the boys", it was about them forging their own methods of destruction, of leadership, of winning.

  So, as writers, readers and consumers of characters, here are a few things I believe we can learn from these two women and how they were written for the movie:

  • THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO BE STRONG. Intellect, organization, cunning, patience, harnessing fear, motivational drive, deception - these are all skills and strengths, all methods of successfully fighting a battle. Remember, women can absolutely be physically strong but there is so much to be said for these other strengths and many more. 
  • WOMEN ARE PEOPLE TOO. You'd think this goes without saying but action movies seem to tend to forget this vital piece of information. If you want to have meaningful, interesting characters, make them be like real people. That means giving them strengths, weaknesses, normal emotions and feelings as consistent with their story, giving them goals and aspirations. It's a really simple formula - just take a look at literally any real person.
  • BEING FULLY CLOTHED IS FUN. Though this movie didn't have a perfect record on this front, it was refreshing that both Miranda/Talia and Catwoman/Selina were fully and normally dressed for pretty well the entire movie. They weren't using their bodies to sell the movie, but they did both use their charms and sexuality to manipulate the men around them on a couple of occasions. I feel these were justified in keeping with the characters, and weren't just "eye-candy" scenes for male audiences. There was actually a point to it, and that at least is refreshing.
  • WOMEN CAN MAKE GREAT VILLAINS (WITHOUT A TRAGIC ROMANTIC BACKSTORY). This one was kinda huge for me. It seems that whenever female villains are written, their current villainy has something to do with a boyfriend hurting them and making them evil. This is lazy, stupid writing and I am so glad to see the opposite with the two women villains in The Dark Knight Rises. Guys, let's give women characters - villains or otherwise - actual motivations for their actions, something interesting and not a rehashed cliche. 
  Ultimately I just wanted to praise this movie and the writers for doing such a good job in portraying these characters. I really appreciated watching them unfold on the screen - even if I watched this movie like, five years after it's release. :P But hey, good writing is good writing, no matter how old.  

  So, what are your opinions on the portrayal of female characters in The Dark Knight Rises? Do you agree/disagree with my assessment? Let's talk about it! I can literally talk about fictional characters all day. 

  (Also, there's a snowstorm here where I am so I'm trapped indoors all day - alone. :P It's kinda sucky, so brighten up my day with hypothetical conversations maybe?)

  ((Also, also, check out my Facebook page here for the cool news I've been hinting at the past couple weeks! :DD))

  

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Highlights '17

  Not gonna lie, whenever I think about the fact that it's September already I get a little bit confused and concerned and feel like I've been dreaming the entire year because it WENT BY SO FREAKING FAST OHMYWORD.


  LIFE EVENTS


  • NORMALITY THAT'S NOT NORMAL//It's so strange coming back from a honeymoon and delving straight into a new "normal." It doesn't feel normal quite yet and definitely didn't at first. There's been a lot of adjustment. Cleaning up a messy house - and keeping it clean. Adapting to a new schedule. Job hunting. Fitting activities, events, work, and personal priorities together with someone else and their various things. It's been super strange and now that I think I've mostly passed through the first (and extremely emotional) period of change and adjustment, I am beginning to feel at home where I am, and that is a good feeling. 
  • GIFT OPENING//Upon our return Jonathan and I went to his family's house for our wedding gift opening with both our families and were just totally overwhelmed again by the love that had been showered on us by friends and family. We were blessed with some really cool things and were feeling super super thankful for those who had given so much - not just in gifts, but in time, love, and friendship over the years.
  • LARCH VALLEY HIKE//We got to take a beautiful hike to Larch Valley in Banff National Park with Jonathan's mom and sisters this month - right after I got my hands on a new and lovely camera. I was able to take some cool pictures on the hike and it was really nice to get out and stretch my legs after a week of "settling in" at home. 
  • PHOTOGRAPHY//Speaking of a new camera, it was purchased for the purpose of participating in a Digital Photography program through the college's online continuing education platform. I'm super excited to study and learn more about the technical side of photography and to see how I can grow and improve.
  • BIRTHDAYS AND PARTYS//There were quite a few birthdays this month: my mom, my sister Ava turned 10, my friend Lisa's baby boy Sid turned one, my friend and bridesmaid MacKenzie turned 20, and Jonathan's best friend and best man Vernon had a going away party for his YWAM trip to Australia. So yeah, lots of parties and birthdays. It was pretty fun (though I probably had too much in the way of good food).
  • ALL THE HORSES//I've started back more or less regularly riding at my barn as well as riding the camp horses now that the off-season has come around. I have yet to actually ride my horses since I've been home (it's a 45 minute drive, okay) but I'm hoping to move my mare to my barn next week so I can get working with her more. I'm really looking forward to that. I got to ride my teacher's fat and retired showhorse who is totally awesome but his fat, retiredness makes him a bit on the lazy side. I made him jump anyway cause I'm cruel and unusual.
  • THE HUNT FOR WORK//Has been going slowly. I guess it's only been a couple weeks of serious searching but it has been slightly discouraging. I've never held a "proper, normal" job before so my resume consists of farming, riding horses, volunteer hours, writing books, camp counselling, janitorial work and kitchen work. I feel like it's a bit of a weird mixture. However, this week I did have an interview for a nannying job and an interview at Lammles - so that's something I guess?
  • MEDIA PURSUITS//Jonathan and I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events and are probably complete trash for not having read the books yet but WE WILL I SWEAR (so many books...) We also started Daredevil and that has so far proved to be pretty darn cool, like everyone in this community has been saying for a long time. 


  WRITING LIFE


  It's been more a RE-writing month for me as I fumble through my second draft editing of Faithless. I am over half-way through the manuscript at this time and will soon be on the hunt for beta-readers to take me into the following drafts, so stay tuned for that. As much as this book is currently Confirmed Trash I do really enjoy the premise of it and when describing it to people have been told it is intriguing so who knows? Maybe it isn't awful and won't be quite as awful as I feel like it is once it's reworked and fixed up.

  Other than that I haven't been doing too much, mostly taking things slow and easy and giving myself reasonably achievable goals because the BUSYNESS IS REAL GUYS. DON'T BECOME AN ADULT IT'S BAD NEWS.

  READING LIFE


  I did decently this month considering the constant scrambling from one thing to another that my life feels like right now but I'm still disappointed wishing I could have done better. Le sigh.

NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman
I really enjoyed this novel, it was rather Alice in Wonderland-esque and had some very interesting characters and plot twists that had me on the edge of my seat. It was also very weird, but I loved it. Highly recommended








STORM Graphic Novel
I became anti-social at Vern's going-away party and decided to dive into his comic book collection. Storm was very interesting and very well-written and gave me lots of new insight into the character that I had previously not known. I really enjoyed it.







VADER Graphic Novel
This was my second comic I managed to get into and get done before we had to leave (I had to read really fast, like twenty minutes, so I may have missed some things). I really liked this though, I've always enjoyed the character of Anakin/Darth Vader and this series of graphic novels really seems to do him justice. I'll have to look into it more in the future.






  BLOGGING LIFE


  I accidentally totally forgot about my one Sunday post day because Vernon's aforementioned going-away party was also an overnight thing (that involved watching the new Pirates of the Caribbean and having my heart melted and subsequently stabbed through). So posting totally slipped my mind until mid-week and then it was kinda too late so yeah. Apologies. Otherwise, I've been pretty good since I got back. AND I pretty much have my whole schedule for the rest of the year plotted out so I'm super excited for things coming in the next couple months.

  GOALS


Goals for September


  • Start rewrites of Faithless // I am half-way through and even though I find myself smashing my head against the keyboard and being incredibly embarrassed by the mess I churned out, I am really excited to pursue this story. Betas will be needed in the near future!
  • Read 2 books // Does 1 novel and 2 graphic novels count as two books?
  • Blog consistently // More I less I have done this and am happy. 
  • Pick a NaNo project // I think I've decided on finishing Part One of The Wandering for NaNo since I'm bound to be busy and that won't involve too too much in the way of effort for me. Just 12 chapters left to finish!
Goals for October

  • Finish Faithless rewrites // This shouldn't be too difficult seeing as I am more than half-way through at this point. I do have a lot of parts that need fleshing out/adding onto though so we'll see how it goes.
  • Read 2 books // I've started Fevre Dream by George RR Martin and once that is done will have to pick another from a whole slew of books that I want to read right now and that is hard.
  • Promote my Secret Project across the Interwebs // As of now I'm not revealing the blog series I have coming next month, but it's going to be really cool I think (hope) and I really want the idea to take off. So keep an eye out, it's gonna be awesome.
  Well, that was my month in a nutshell. How was your September? AKA Return to Work and School and the Onset of Winter *shudder* What kinds of things are you looking forward to this school term? Do you know what you're writing for NaNo yet? Let's talk!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Hobbit Day! (And Why Frodo Baggins is My Fav)




  Today my blog is celebrating the fictional birthday of probably my most favorite character in all of fiction to ever grace the earth (and his uncle)...

  If you haven't guessed it yet, I'm sorry to say you don't know me very well. 

  Here's a hint...

that is the face of an angel if i ever saw one
  It's September 22nd, the day LotR fans the world over celebrate the birthdays of the MC's in two of the most pivotal books of the 20th century: Bilbo and Frodo Baggins (of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings respectively). If you're not a crazy LotR lunatic like myself, you probably weren't aware. That's okay, I forgive you. 

  But I mean, come on guys, it's an excuse to re-watch LotR for the 10003030300222777th time and eat cake and defend Frodo from the haters because he is a precious cinnamon roll, too good, too pure for this world.*

  Now, as much as I enjoy and appreciate Bilbo Baggins - he is the greatest eccentric uncle ever - I have a very special place in my heart for his nephew, Frodo.** I was first sucked into the beautiful black hole of fandom back when I was about 13. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring with some fellow nerd friends and, like a crack addict, I was hooked. I read the books, finished the movies. Read the books again. Watched the movies again. Basically I became a LotR-psycho. 

 


*That's probably not still a relevant meme but whatevs.
**And no, it's NOT just because Elijah Wood has the window to the universe trapped in his gorgeous eyeballs, good grief. 

  Frodo pretty much immediately became my Ultimate Favorite Character Ever upon first viewing, almost like love at first sight except not actually because DESPITE the beauty of Elijah Wood's ethereal face, my love for Frodo is very very far from romantic. Frodo is not a romantic character, at least, not in that sense of the word. He is brave, selfless, honorable and kind, but he is far from the contemporary view of a romantic. Frodo is one of few characters I could never peg in a romantic relationship. It's just...not part of him, y'know? He's a person who exists more than that, it's a piece that could just never rest easily in him. I think that's some of what sets him apart for me. 

 

  Another thing I have always been drawn to about Frodo is how Tolkien describes him throughout the series. There's just something about him that is so different than other hobbits, he's often said to be "more elvish" than the others. Just take a look at some of the things Tolkien said about him:

“And here he was, a little halfling from the Shire, a simple hobbit of the quiet countryside, expected to find a way where the great ones could not go, or dared not go. It was an evil fate.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers


“And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“Then as he had kept watch Sam had noticed that at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger. Frodo's face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiseling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identity of the face was not changed. Not that Sam Gamgee put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured: "I love him. He's like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

“He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

  That last one is my favorite. I think it describes Frodo absolutely perfectly. Honestly, I have a hard time describing what exactly I see in this character. I think maybe there's a lot of myself reflected in him, the sense of feeling like there's more I should be striving for than just what's right in front of me perhaps? It's hard to pinpoint. All I know is that Frodo represents a part of my soul in a tangible, personable way that I have not experienced with any other character. This is what I believe really attracts me to him. 

  


  A lot of people like to hate on Frodo. This, as you can probably imagine, rankles me a bit.* I've heard various different stupid things said about him: "whiny, useless, not special, etc." The absolute worst is when people put him down to lift up his companion, Sam. Now, don't get me wrong, Sam is a fantastic character, who was totally a hero and Frodo definitely needed and relied on him, but do I think that takes away from Frodo as a character, or makes Sam the hero in his place? DEFINITELY not. They were both heroes, they both needed the other. But it was Frodo that bore the burden of the Ring, and Frodo alone. 

*Or like, a heck ton of a lot. Fight me, Frodo-haters.

  I've never personally been able to convey a proper defense of Frodo's characterization, but I have read plenty from other Frodo-lovers like myself. Below I have included a screenshot of what I think is one of the best ones I've come across. Please read it, enjoy it, and maybe it will help you understand just what I see in this beautiful character, Frodo Baggins.



  Well, now that I've spammed you with my Frodo-love and wished you a Happy Hobbit Day! you should probably be logging off to make yourself a cake and go re-watch/re-read your favorite parts of the LotR trilogy. That's just the proper thing to do on a celebratory day like today, amirite? Run along, young hobbit, enjoy this momentous occasion! 


  And don't forget to leave a comment! Are you a LotR junkie like me? Who's your favorite character from the trilogy? Or do you have an entirely different fictional character who inspires you like Frodo does me? Let's talk!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

6 Struggles of Moving Out for the First Time

  Since I had a totally busy weekend and have not had the time to put together a decent post, I am here tonight, throwing this together at the last minute to continue my good posting streak. Also, now that I have done the unthinkable and actually left home forever I do have things to rant/talk about. I'm curious to share some of my thoughts, feelings and experiences in this area and see if anyone else has felt the same way, or maybe prepare you for some of the weird sensations that come when you step out completely on your own for the first time. So, here we go.
 

1. WHICH HOUSE DO YOU CALL "YOUR HOME"?

  To be honest, this one is fairly straightforward for me. My old house, my parent's place, my farm is my home. I'll probably always think of it that way. But it's SUPER weird to have another place that you live in that's supposed to technically be your home, but it's not really your home, y'know? It's not the place that holds all the memories. That can't be replaced very easily after twenty years. All of it just becomes confusing. 

2. I DON'T HAVE ANY SIBLINGS TO MOCK ANYMORE?

  This is difficult. Mocking siblings is the pinnacle of my existence and now there's none to tease? It just isn't right, or fair. What am I supposed to do with myself now? All this extra time to spare...

3. WAIT, I HAVE TO CLEAN THAT?

  If you were lucky, like I was, you had a really awesome mom with a really high standard of cleanliness....that really just can't be met when you yourself are super lazy but still don't like feeling like you're walking around in dirt and grime all the time. So you've gotta do something about it, but ugh, work. It's a vicious cycle where it's mentally damaging to sit in the filth but so, so hard to do anything about it. 

   **My house isn't that bad, my mom just has crazy high standards that I'm used to. 

4. I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS COOKING YOU SPEAK OF...

  We might as well state right now that I'm probably the least domestic person in the history of ever and I can't cook or bake to save my life. I love food, but the act of making food is so slow and boring and time-consuming and I could be doing literally anything else and be much, much happier and more productive. So, naturally, moving away from said-amazing-mother is a bit difficult in this regard. Since I have to not only do the cleaning, but the cooking too. And I have high standards for food as well. Thanks mom and grandma. 

5. TOWN LIFE SUCKS.

  Of course this is not a struggle that applies to everyone, but for me, it is hard. I have only ever lived in one town of 100 people and spent most of my time at the farm anyway, so moving into the city has been...well, unpleasant. Tap water is disgusting. The roads are noisy. I don't hear coyotes anymore. I can't see the stars so well. Le sigh. I don't like it.


6. NO PETS!

  This one is the worst. Renting a place often means no animals allowed. I miss my dogs and my cats a lot, and my horses as well (though of course they couldn't exist here at all). I've always had pets in my life and not having them is definitely a hard thing to give up. 


  There you have it, 6 Struggles of Moving Out. Perhaps a few can relate, for some it may serve as a future warning. :P In all seriousness though, moving out is pretty cool. It's a whole new, thrilling adventure and another chapter started in your life. It's pretty neat to see all the different things that begin to unfold when your life takes such a drastic turn. I won't pretend there aren't some hard things too (as mentioned above), and those take a bit of getting used to/getting through. Change can be cool, but it can be difficult too. And that's totally fine. I'm learning that all I really need to do is trust in God, sit back and enjoy the ride. Cherishing memories and living moment by moment and looking forward to the future with hope. Doing that, the change is not quite so hard or bad, in fact, it's pretty cool. 

  How did you cope with big changes in your life like moving out? Did I encourage or discourage you with my little rants? XD Let me know below!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Summer Highlight Reel '17 // Whereupon I Return from the Dead

Wowza. In the time since I ran away in June my life went into warp speed and completely exploded in the loveliest and most awesome ways. Summer is nearly over and the boring things of the fall season such as going back to work and school will be upon us shortly. However, there are so many exciting things to come in the next few months and I'm really looking forward to them all. However, today's post is a highlight reel/wrap-up/trip-down-memory-lane of summertime! Allow me a moment to reminisce...



LIFE EVENTS

In July...

  • Started off the month with celebrations of Canada's 150th year on July 1st. My hometown typically has a parade, barn dance event, and fireworks in the evening that are all impressive for the hamlet-size my town is. Unfortunately, I missed the parade due to still being at staff camp but was able to make both the dance and fireworks. Both of which were great as per usual. 
Waiting for fireworks
  • The following day was a birthday date out in the Rockies near Abraham Lake with Jonathan, whose birthday was two days prior and mine was to be the following day. We both turned twenty this year and had a great time out in the beautiful Albertan backyard. 
  • Then it was my 20th birthday, I had some friends out to the lake for a swim as is tradition and then went back to my house for cake. Seeing the 2 and 0 on my cake was slightly frightening and a little sad, but there was excitement in it too. I am probably the world's youngest looking twenty-year old but that's okay, I'm beginning to come to terms with my ancient age.

  • As camp weeks went on and off throughout the month, my sister and I came home after a week of work one evening to find a new puppy at home - to our great delight. A border collie female we eventually named Jess who is super cute and funny and not all that bright but adorable nonetheless. I haven't seen her in weeks now and I imagine she's gotten giant. 

  • One of my best friends, Kenzie, returned from her year long mission trip to Cameroon, Africa in the midst of the crazy July, and that was awesome. I had missed her so much while she was gone and it was so great to have her home for the celebrations, thrills and new experiences the summer had to offer. She was dearly missed!
  • My dear friend and once camp counselor, Sarah, married her husband Jesse in July and I got to be there to enjoy the event. I thought her wedding was so beautiful and the location was amazing. I could gush about it forever. 
All of the camp people who attended their wedding!
  • Jonathan and I went with his parents to the city to shop for camping supplies and furniture and let me say, mine and Jonathan's first trip as almost-married-adults to IKEA together went just about exactly how you'd expect. 
  • Nearing the end of the month my family hosted the third annual Princess Party where homeschooling families and friends from the area get dressed up in their best medieval attire and go gallavanting about for the afternoon. Us older girls always take the horses out for a ride in our dresses and of course did that again this year. We also made a trip into town to watch the new Spiderman movie which was EPIC. 
  • Jonathan and I began renting our first house together and moved stuff in and later moved ourselves in as well. It's a three story townhouse that's actually pretty darn nice for a college student and writer to have hoped to accomadate and I'm quite liking it. 
It is slightly nicer looking now...
  • I participated in a jumping clinic at my barn with a green jumper prospect named Link who thought that it was his job to get over every jump AS FAST AS POSSIBLE so that was an interesting time. It was a good experience though, and I learned a ton. 
  • I was at camp pretty much the entire month, working one week as a counselor and the rest as a wrangler in charge of the younger junior staff. This was a summer of learning and growth and my camp experiences were all so much more uplifting than usual. In past years I have had periods of crippling depression hit hard in the camp summer, but this was the first year where this did not happen. An act of God I guess? It was a great summer though, so so many cool highlights and new adventures with such good friends.

In August...
  • There was MORE camp in August, one time in this month Jonathan and I were thrown into the ice cold pool as a wedding gift. There were lots of other fun times like that, all adding up to make it a great summer. 
  • Between the last two camps I had my bachelorette party which was basically two days of swimming and frolicking with my friends. Probably among the biggest of summer highlights. At one point while we were at the lake, Elise drug out a large fallen tree and we all began climbing up on it and jumping off. Doing flips and dives and all sorts of things, it was super fun.
  • My lovely Australian family came out for the wedding, including my best cousin Rebecca, whose beautiful voice opened our wedding ceremony a week after her arrival. I really enjoyed a week of catching up with her and sharing the Spiderman series with her. We got through them all (and I only sort of fell asleep from exhaustion in parts)!
  • The day before the wedding was the decorating, rehearsal and sleepover at camp for the bridal party (since the ceremony took place at mine and Jonathan's summer camp). That was an absolute blast, despite the bit of stress that had begun to settle in for me. I had so much fun eating great food, trying to organize some of the least organized people in the Northern Hemisphere, playing handball, watching Tim Hawkins videos and reading Song of Songs in the cabin with the girls late into the night. It was a great last day of singlehood.

  • And then it was our wedding! Wow. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was definitely the best day of my life. I can't describe how it feels to be surrounded by all the people who love and support you as you step into an incredible new adventure with the love of your life and your best friend. It was a day of total bliss and I felt so at peace about it, there was practically zero stress through the entire day and that was such a blessing. I don't have any of my official photos yet, but the ones friends and family took have their own charm and beauty. It was an amazing day.
  • Ever since that day I have been road-tripping through the country with Jonathan. From Waterton, Alberta, to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to Seattle, Washington, to Vancouver, BC, to Kelowna, BC and home again. It's been a fantastic trip. Highlights include: hiking Crypt Lake, downtown Seattle (even if we were there with no map or GPS), cheesecake with friends on the beach in Vancouver, hanging out with family on Quadra Island, backpacking Juan de Fuca, and raiding all the Kelowna bookstores. It's been an incredible three weeks. I would not change it for the world.

WRITING LIFE

I don't really regret saying that I literally wrote nothing these two months. I was living life and had some amazing experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything, and that is more important to me. However, I am itching to get back to work and can't wait to continue my projects and share stuff with you guys once more. Faithless is next on the list for rewrites in preparation for beta-readers later this year, so stay tuned for that! Also have to decide on a NaNo project...

READING LIFE

I actually got some reading done!! :DD Part of my honeymoon was literally three days of lying out in the woods reading books and that was so so nice. 

BRAVE NEW WORLD//Aldous Huxley
Very thought-provoking, mildly disturbing, and highly engaging. This book reminded me a lot of 1984 by George Orwell in tone but the plot and characters are very different. Hugely recommended if you like adult dystopias and classics.










MARTIN HOSPITALITY//Abigayle Claire
A lovely book, warm and heartfelt and close to home, I thoroughly enjoyed Abigayle Claire's Christian contemporary novel. There were twists and turns that drew me in and loving moments between the characters. I love the portrayal of Gemma - not as an angsty, rebellious teen who won't allow anyone to come close to her, but as someone genuinely frightened and broken looking for love. I love her character arc, and how the romance is not love at first sight, but something that grows out of compassion and kindness. Great story for those who enjoy heart-warming tales about family, hospitality (hence the title), and love.



THE NAME OF THE WIND//Patrick Rothfuss
Jonathan encouraged me to start this series and I was not disappointed by his taste. Patrick Rothfuss weaves an intricate web of mystery, adventure, and bravado that all fantasy books should boast. 
What I enjoy and find unique about this series as opposed to many other fantasy books is:
a) That the author focuses on only one character, allowing him to really hone said character and write so descriptively and thoroughly about everything. 
b) The portrayal of female characters is varied and on the whole, interesting and unique.
c) That magic is portrayed as mostly a scientific venture. 

Some criticism is the portrayal of the main character Kvothe, who - since he is the singular main protagonist - suffers from a bit of Mary-Sue syndrome, simply because the author has limited himself to placing all the characteristics/abilities he wants to include into only one character. However, Kvothe is still completely likable as a character and the book is extremely well-written, humorous and interesting. Highly recommended.

SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 2 GOING SANE
Great graphic novel. Incredible artwork, writing and plot. The concept was super interesting and played out very well among the Suicide Squad cast of characters.










BLOGGING LIFE

Well, obviously nonexistent since, y'know, hiatus and all that. But never fear! I have returned with a bit of a blogging schedule and plans to continue my consistent posting that was happening before summer began. I promise! However, I did get up to 30 followers this summer, which is a super cool nice, satisfying, round number for me. XD

GOALS

Goals for July/August


  • Sell 50 copies of The Sorceress and the Squid // I have sold quite a few copies, probably not 50 unfortunately, but close. And I am proud of that. Now that I'm home I can try to get back into marketing again.
  • Read 2 books // This was totally completed (only on my honeymoon, lol) and I am proud of that. I'm hoping for more reading time once I settle into some sort of routine in my new environment. 

Goals for September


  • Start rewrites of Faithless // I'm hoping to have this up and ready for beta-readers in the next few months, so stay tuned for that. The book is a mess right now but I think that I can really make it great. I'm excited to get back to it. 
  • Read 2 books // My monthly goal til year's end. I think I can do this fairly easily. 
  • Blog consistently // Now that I'm home and back to regular life this shouldn't be hard. 
  • Pick a NaNo project // I'm trying to decide if I should finish the last 12 chapters of the first part of my second fantasy novel (The Wandering), or if I should finish The Snow Dragon. Do you have an opinion? Let me know!

  Well guys, that was, again, a crazy awesome summer. Definitely one of the best of my life. There are so so many great moments and memories caught up in it. And while I am sad to put it and so many other things behind me, I am super excited to look ahead to the coming year, particularly where writing is concerned. I have a lot of plans, guys! Yeah, yeah, I always have a lot of plans. :P We'll see which ones *actually* happen I guess. For now, I want to hear all about your summer! Did you have any cool adventures? Events? Trips? Campfire nights? Beach days? Tell me all about it! :DD

  Happy Almost Fall, Everyone!