Monday, February 6, 2017

There Be Snow!

Hey everyone! If you're in western Washington, you probably heard that snow is shutting down most of the Seattle area, which includes my Monday job. So I'm currently home working on the next Darkwoods novel! I've already made lots of progress - three pages longer! (Trust me, that's lots of progress compared to how I've been doing.)




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Here's a Singer for Fantasy Fans!

I'm so silly - I've been trying to think of something to post about for quite a while now, but I completely forgot about one very obvious topic!

Do you all remember last year when I posted about one of Celtic Woman's music videos? Well, the guest singer in that video is Oonagh, a German singer. I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't really investigate to see what else she sang. I Googled her, which is how I know she's German, and I vaguely remember finding a video of her singing some heavily electronic song that just wasn't my cup of tea.

Anyway, fast forward to last summer, about mid-July. I was listening to Tir na nOg on YouTube, and YouTube's Autoplay, instead of playing more Celtic Woman, sent me to one of Oonagh's videos called Orome. I think I was writing something at the time, so when I heard the opening sounds, you can imagine my surprise. But I listened to the video, thinking that "Orome" really sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. So I scrolled through the comments on the video, and I came across one comment (from a woman with my first name, no less) explaining that Orome is one of Middle-Earth's Valar! Replies to that comment added that Oonagh sings a lot of the choruses in Tolkien's Elvish!

To put it mildly, I was thrilled. I went scouring all over the web looking for her music, and I found out that, in addition to singing about Tolkien's stories (mostly from Silmarillion), she also uses mythology, legends, and fairy tails. But from what I can tell, most of her songs are inspired by Tolkien.

She had two albums out over the summer, called "Oonagh" and "Aeria"; then in October, she released a third album called "Märchen Enden Gut", which according to Google Translate means "Fairy Tales End Well". Every album a few songs about Silmarillion characters or places, and each one also has a few songs about other stories. So, if you're into fantasy (which I assume you are because you're reading this blog), you might like Oonagh!

The problem is that her music isn't on iTunes, and it's not available for Amazon Music in America, so you'd have to get one of the CD's from Amazon, Ebay, or some similar site. I recommend getting the extended versions of each CD if you can.

If you're curious, here's her Facebook page. There's a link there to a pretty amazing website that plays excerpts from "Märchen Enden Gut".

Oonagh (Attea Ranta)
Aeria (Sartoranta)
Märchen Enden Gut (Deluxe)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

From Twilight to New Moon

So, while I was revisiting some of my old posts looking for inspiration for a new post, I reread a lot of my old book reviews, including the two Twilight books reviews. (Twilight and Eclipse.) In the Eclipse review, I just briefly said that New Moon was enjoyable except for the parts that had Edward in them.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot what I said about the first Twilight, and when I reread that review, I realized I liked Twilight and New Moon for completely different reasons. Twilight had the characters acting like decent people, I wouldn't call it particularly deep or insightful, but there were a few statements and actions that, I thought, merited a little consideration and reflection, kind of in the same way some of those pretty Facebook memes do (just without having to scroll through all the negative that Facebook offers in order to find that one positive thing). You know - not profound, but not bad. Characters were just trying to act like decent people.

New Moon, I enjoyed for a completely different reason, which I feel a particularly strong need to mention because of Bella's idiocy in trying to put herself in danger. I didn't feel the need to mention that at the time because it has been soundly discussed already, and also because Bella realized she was wrong  - she changed. She has at least one scene, even before Edward comes back, when she realizes she was acting selfishly. (As I mentioned previously, she did not do that in Eclipse.) However - given what I said about the previous book, I should probably make the distinction. What I said about the characters in Twilight does not carry over into New Moon. I like New Moon because of the book's atmosphere. There was an element of mystery around the werewolves that really wasn't around the vampires. Even though Bella had to kind of figure out what they were, there was still this scene where Edward just offers up all this information with very little prodding. The werewolves didn't do that very quickly, and I think it made for a mysterious atmosphere. I already knew a lot about these particular werewolves even before I read the book, so I think the mystery in the atmosphere was due to the writing. It was also nice that this book spends more time discussing nature and the outdoors than its predecessor. I think that may be why I liked it - at least, until Alice showed up.

So, that's my summary. I found Twilight pleasant because of the characters, but that does not hold true for New Moon - I enjoyed that because of the atmosphere. Given how irrationally Bella acted in New Moon, I should have made that clear right at first. But better late than never, right?

Monday, January 2, 2017

I Hope Everyone's Holidays Were Great!!!

This fall, I had a plan to post at least one Christmas carol once a week and do a little background research on the hymn's origins. Then I got hit with the reality of school, work, and holiday preparations - and truthfully, I didn't even do that many holiday preparations. Most of the presents I bought, I bought either online or at the craft shows I went to, and I only managed to make four types of Christmas cookies (although, in my defense, they were pretty labor-intensive cookies). I didn't post anything for Advent, Christmas, or New Years because I was just resting most of the time. I watched a lot of TV and anime, and yes, I did work on the next Darkwoods novel.

In any case, I hope everyone had a relaxing and meaningful Christmas, and that everyone is beginning this new year with hope and a refreshed spirit. God bless you all!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Something About Prince Asherad

I'm sure some of you have heard me railing against the endless stream of love triangles in books these days. The truth is, I don't mind a love triangle every once in a while, as long as it's tasteful and well-written. But these days, there seems to be no end to them. Every main character needs one... Ugh.

Which brings me to Prince Asherad of Miamur.*

Both Asherad and Dejuday are in love with Zuryzel, so doesn't that count as a love triangle? Personally, I don't really think so, for two reasons. The first is that Zuryzel isn't ever particularly drawn to him at all - he's just a friend. She doesn't ever really face a decision between him and Dejuday, because she never really considered Asherad.

However, the second, more relevant one, has to do with the history of writing Darkwoods: originally, I meant for Zuryzel to end up with Asherad, not Dejuday. I was actually pretty determined on that for a while, I think until after the first few rounds of edits. I don't really remember when I changed my mind to Dejuday, but I remember pretty clearly that it just crossed my mind that Zuryzel could be with Dejuday instead, and I found the idea so good and, frankly, irresistible that I changed it for the future. However, during Darkwoods and Pasadagavra, there really wasn't much else for Asherad to do. He has some cool things to do in Arashna, and I like him too much to just get rid of the character completely, so I had to keep him in; but, I admit, I couldn't think of any other way to keep Asherad in the previous books.

So, that's the story behind Asherad. I like him very much, and I plan for him to have an exciting story arc in the future, but I never intended for him to be part of a love triangle, and, incidentally, I don't ever plan to have any in future books unless it sounds really, really good. Like I said, there are some good ones, but I don't think it's something that is necessary in my stories.

*I didn't post a **spoilers** tag because this doesn't really count as spoilers.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving - From Alabama

As always, I am thankful for my family, my country, my church, my schools, my friends, my writing, my jobs, and most of all for Christ and His sacrifice. This year, I have a couple of new things.

First, since I'm not working as a webmaster anymore (I still miss that job), I got another job to tide me through school. First, I'm carrying on my summer job at the insurance company, and I'm thankful as ever for that job. Secondly, I am also working in a school quite a drive from my house but a convenient way from SPU. I get a lovely drive three mornings a week across Lake Washington, usually right about sunrise. It's a wonderful experience.

Second, I'm thankful for the chance to live at home while I'm doing grad school and working. It means I get to save up extra money, at least some of which will go to publishing future books.

There's a third thing I'm thankful for that was last year. My mom and dad got my roommate and me tickets to see the Seahaws and Packers game in Green Bay last year! Unfortunately, the Seahawks lost, but it was still fun to be there. However, this came with some strings attached: I had to agree to go to an Alabama football game with my family.

If I haven't mentioned it before, my family are die hard Alabama fans. I'm not. But this Thanksgiving, we met up with family in Alabama, and since we're in the state, my mom decided to call in my promise. So, Saturday we'll be at the Alabama/Auburn game. It's a big rivalry, and if Bama wins, they'll probably be playing UW at some point in the future.

So, if you're watching the Alabama game tomorrow, look for me in the stands!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thank You to Everyone At Holly Daze

I'm working on something I really don't want to do, so naturally, I have to take a break to do something I really want to do.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone at Holly Daze, both the soroptimists hosting the event and the people who bought books there. The event ran wonderfully smoothly and the hosts were so accommodating. And that passport function, where people get prizes for visiting different booths - that was great for the vendors!

Most of all, though, thank you to the people who bought the books. I broke several records while I was there. First off, the number of people who bought books in one day - the first day there broke all my records. Second, the number of books I've sold at a single event - more books over this event than any other multiple-day setup. I sold the equivalent of nearly two whole boxes of books. Third - and this one is really the most important to me - the number of sets of booksI've sold in any event, single-day or otherwise.

Selling sets of books is wonderful, and it gives me so much encouragement to keep writing. Long story short, thanks to you, I had a wonderful weekend and fresh energy to keep on writing. (I would have anyway, since I really do love writing, but a few more weekends like that might just knock a month or two off when Arashna is finally released. Or they might mean that fifth book in the series will be a reality after all.)

I cannot say it enough, but I will say it once more - thank you!!!

If you couldn't make it over to Port Orchard, I will be in Auburn this Saturday at the Federal Way United Methodist Craft Show. Please come, and bring your friends!