Posted in Book Reviews

The Songkiller’s Symphony – A Review

Hello, everyone! Today I have a special book review for you. I was fortunate enough to receive an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of the first book in a brand new epic fantasy series by author, Daeus Lamb. I received the novel early, in exchange for a review with my honest thoughts and opinions. I’m excited to talk about this book, so let’s get started.

Official Blurb:

You may hate me when this ends. For the crimes I committed. For crimes I couldn’t dare commit. I have seen the face of God a thousand times and buckled beneath his blows. But I made him bleed as He bled my heart.

I am a hero. They say.

Have you ever run in terror from your perfect past?

Do you yearn for redemption for the time you failed your dying mother? Will you sever immortal evil’s head to get it?

Are your dreams filled with damnation, or has the offer of a free wish broken your soul?

No?

Then let me tell you my story. Venturing with a world-weary bard, a battle-hungry ranger, and a best friend who soon doubted me, I set off to destroy the Songkiller. It is only in looking back that I perceive the devilry of the song that made us fools. The monsters we fought bore our faces.

My Review:

The first thing that struck me, was how this story hit the ground from the first page, and kicked into high-gear. The cast of characters were as wide, and as varied as the differing lands, and cultures that were explored. In particular, I thought the unique race of the Ublideck’s, and the swampy environments they inhabited were an interesting, and refreshing change from the typical dwarves, and elves most often seen in fantasy novels.

The story begins with our main character Exton, during a secretive meeting with his father, and a legendary, if somewhat mystical bard. Bards in this world are something similar to a wizard–a person with special abilities–and in this story, that ability is called “Songweaving”. Exton’s two closest friends arrive, and they are presented with an incredible challenge, and something Exton has been waiting for his entire life. Along with his two companions, Exton agrees to the daunting task and sets off with the bard on a dangerous journey, bringing them to the brink of death, and their very sanity.

Ventar the bard, was probably my favorite character. I admired his straightforward, rational way of thinking, and I was fascinated by his past and his role as a bard. I only wish we had spent a little more time exploring the magic system–the Songworld–and how the act of Songweaving worked. I had a general understanding of the system, but a bit more of an explanation would have been nice.

In contrast, Exton, our main character, was a wild card–young, passionate, and a little reckless. He tended to be over-confident which led him into some difficult situations, but he did persevere despite the setbacks. By the end of the book, it was clear that he still had much to learn, and his true journey was only beginning.

The Songkiller’s Symphony boasts an incredibly large cast of characters and alternating points of view. At times that made it difficult for me to navigate through the story. New POVs appeared throughout the book, and while they each shared an important detail, I wasn’t thrilled when I had to acquaint myself with so many new characters.

I enjoyed this story, and writing style, but I never felt a real connection to the characters. I felt that I didn’t have the chance to really settle in, and get to know the characters as much as I would have liked. The fast pace kept things interesting, but I missed having some slower moments with the main characters instead of hopping around between POVs.

This story tackled some difficult topics, like morality and war, and they were handled well and didn’t avoid the ugly consequences. The Songkiller’s Symphony, is a promising start to the series, and I’m curious to see where the characters will find themselves next. Lastly, I’ll leave you with a few lines from the book which perfectly capture the essence of this story.

“Do not lose your light, nor let your heart run dry. Run wild, but not too far. Stop before you can never regain your innocence. Don’t touch the night too closely, or it will consume you.”

Books Open Reading - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

You can check find out more on Daeus’ website: www.thescratchingquill.com

And you can purchase this book online now, wherever books are sold.

ebooks

Physical copies

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

Books You’ve Never Heard of – New Titles for Your TBR

Greetings friends. I hope this entry finds you well, in body and spirit. I’m doing quite well, thank you. Fall has arrived, and I’m very happy about it. Most days are still in the upper 90s, but the morning’s and evening’s are so dusky and crisp, and I’m loving them. But I’m not here to talk about the weather (*again), I’m here to talk about books–my other favorite topic of discussion. It’s about that time when readers all over the world start to rummage around, and squirrel up some juicy reads for the remainder of the year. And since we are all eternally, foraging for good books to add to our lists, I thought it would be fun to share a few books that you may not have heard of before. In the book world there are many books circulated that nearly everyone has read, or has plans to read. But there is a vast library of hidden gems out there, and maybe your new favorite book is still waiting for you to find it. Today, I’m sharing a few books that you may not have heard of, that I really enjoyed, and that you might enjoy as well.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Dianna Wynne Jones (Middle-Grade Fantasy)

I’ve mentioned Dianna Wynne Jones on my blog many times before, since she is one of my favorite authors. But apart from Howl’s Moving Castle, not many of her other books get much attention, which is a shame because she’s written a lot of books. One book that I truly adored was, The Dark Lord of Derkholm. This is a fantasy book, with a premise that’s almost too convoluted to describe. It takes place in the same universe as all her other works–which consist of many different worlds. In this novel, there is an event which takes place each year, where those from across the worlds can take part in a Pilgrim Party–an all expenses paid trip to a neighboring world where “pilgrims” a.k.a. “tourists” can take part in a rehearsed adventure. These so-called pilgrims get to defeat dark lords, and dragons, and experience a “real” adventure. And for this year’s event, Derk, and his eccentric family are chosen to host it. We follow our main characters as they endeavor to put on the show of a lifetime, and create a convincing experience for the good paying tourists. The book is hilarious and completely enthralling.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë (Classic Literature)

We are all familiar with the Brontë sisters, and their widely acclaimed books, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights–but you don’t often hear about the third sister, Anne. If you haven’t heard about this book, I’d just like to say that in my humble opinion, the The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, far surpasses the two aforementioned, both in plot and writing style. Wildfell Hall, centers around a reclusive young woman, and her son, and their mysterious past. When a young gentlemen takes a liking to the woman, he makes it his goal to befriend her, and find the truth about the unfortunate events that lead her to the quiet, secluded cliff-side town. This is one of the most honest, and poignant works of fiction from the 18th century, I’ve ever read.

Blur, by Steven James (YA Thriller)

Occasionally, I like to pick up a story in the thriller, or paranormal genre. I read this book on a whim, when I wanted something gripping and dark, and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It takes place in a small, quiet town in Wisconsin, where the body of a teen girl is discovered. The death is ruled an accident, but the main character Daniel, soon comes to believe that may not be true after all. He tries to get to the bottom of the case, while strange and unexplainable things begin to happen in his personal life. For anyone interested in a chilling, and mysterious story you might want to pick this book up. Oh, and Blur, is the first book in a trilogy, but I didn’t really like the other two books as much as I liked the first.

The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Natsu Miyashita (Contemporary, Slice of Life)

This year I’ve been delving into some Japanese Fiction. I decided to pick up The Forest of Wool and Steel, and the title is what initially drew me to this story, but I then stayed for the characters. This story is about a young piano tuner, apprenticing at a piano shop in a small mountain village. The main character Tomura, was someone I really related to in many ways. The book managed to make the challenges and difficulties he faced while pursuing his dream, somehow feel like my own struggles in life. This is a heartwarming and true to life story about a young man forging a path for himself, while walking in the footsteps of great teachers.

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Classic Literature)

As a self-professed member of the Lucy-Maud-Montgomery-Fan-Club, you can imagine my surprise when I found this book, while doing some online book shopping. I knew Miss Montgomery wrote other books besides her famous Anne series, but somehow, The Blue Castle slipped by my radar. As soon as I read the title, I immediately, ordered the book. I might be the only one living in ignorance of this book, but in case you too have not heard of it, don’t worry, I just fixed that problem. It was interesting to read a more modern book by L.M. Montgomery, and a story very unlike that of Anne of Green Gables, or Emily of New Moon. Our main character, Valency, is only months away from turning thirty when she receives shocking information that spurs her to break free from her overbearing, and stifling family. Much to the chagrin of several aunts, uncles, and cousins, Valency casts public opinion aside, as she chooses to live the life of her dreams. This is probably my favorite read of the year, and is one of those books I know I’m going to want to read over and over again. So if you’re in the market for something humorous, uplifting, and heartfelt, I think this is just the book you’re looking for.

Book Sticker for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Thus concludes my list of lesser-known masterpieces. Searching for hidden gems in the book world is one of my favorite hobbies, and something I intentionally seek out. The mainstream book market dominates nearly all of social media, yet when you take the time to find books outside of that realm, you may be pleasantly surprised by the treasures that are out there.

Tell me, have you heard of any of these books before? What are some of your favorite lesser-known reads? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure, life

A Summer Sweet and Somber

The atmosphere feels different today, and I think I know what has caused it. Summer has reached it’s final chapter and I can already see the end. The air, the sky, the ground, they all feel different somehow. I don’t think I’ve ever loved summer as I do now, thinking instead I was a cold weather creature, more at home with thick sweaters and fuzzy socks, than flip-flops and shorts. But something in me has changed, and I’ve grown to appreciate summer much more now. Though it’s blisteringly hot most of the time, especially here in the desert southwest, I can’t deny the beauty of the summer season as it explodes with life. There is nothing quiet or still about these warm days. Whether it be squirrels causing a ruckus in the backyard, birds busily chirping, children laughing and playing in the evening, or the neighbor with the constant weed-whacker running in the background, the sounds of summer life are all around me. As we are nearing the end of this season, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the things that make this time feel bright, even on a dull day.

We can’t talk about summer without first considering the sun. For without it, there would be no such thing as summer. Without that particular tilt, during that particular time in orbit, we wouldn’t even have the chance to experience summer, be it good or bad. Without it, we wouldn’t even be alive today. And by the way, how does the earth know to tilt, and become warm? How does it know to change from summer to winter? There is something divine that occurs, which can’t be fathomed, no matter how many scientists or textbooks try to explain it. I find it no coincidence that the word sun, sounds an awful lot like the word son. If you think about it, the very earth is a representation of humans, and the Son of the Most High God. Without the Son, life could not exist. There would be only a great vast, nothingness. The giver of light, and life, are they both.

I’m not sure why, but summer gives me the sense that it has a tiredness about it. The days are longer than ever, and you might think that means more time than ever. But it’s the same twenty-four hour cycle, only rearranged a bit. Summer is so busy with work, and play, and there is never enough time fit it all. And hard work is only made harder by the heat, yet it must be done anyway. By the time the sun goes down, and coolness settles in, you’ll find that it’s gotten late, and the only thing you have time left for is sleep. So you drop heavily onto your mattress, brain and bones seeking a brief respite from the day’s antics only to be met with a familiar foe that plagued even the ancients. The foe I’m speaking of is, insomnia. I don’t know why it happens, but on my most tired of days, I feel like I’ve used up my energy and ability to even sleep. Shutting off the light, as I shut my eyes, sleep refuses to come. The hours of the night tick past, and morning arrives all too soon, or maybe not soon enough. I think during the summer people might become solar powered, because I don’t know where else I get all my energy, if not through photosynthesis– since much of the time it is surely not through sleep.

And yet another summer is passing without any special trip, or event to speak of. I’m not sure where this invisible pressure comes from for us to make it “big” during the summer. Personally I see nothing wrong with a slow summer. Even if you don’t go out on some big adventure, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the season in small ways. For instance, summer is not summer in my opinion, without at least one late-night trip for ice cream. And I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished that feat, a few times actually. And it would be a grave travesty of me, if I claim to have done nothing special this summer. It may not seem extraordinary or special to someone else, but to me, this summer has been of great interest. For one thing, I’ve taken up tennis. I’m no good at it, but who cares? I have no intention of competing in Wimbledon, so what’s the big deal if I miss the ball a few hundred times? I’ve also ridden a bike, on a ten mile excursion. I’ve waded in the the river, and watched the glittery ripples glide past. I’ve gone swimming, and experienced the horrors of public pools. I’ve had outdoor movie nights with my family and friends, and indoor movie nights at theaters. Summer has been fun, even without any big events to attend, or spectacular trips taken.

Of course the season hasn’t been without some rough times too– sad times, hard times, and times I don’t really want to think about. But I guess that’s the way of things, right? The simple, joyful moments might not even be recognized, if not for the challenging times we experience, to remind us. Optimism does not come naturally to me, so I guess that’s why I make an extra effort to remember and appreciate the happy times. I strive to see the good in everything, even if that sounds impossible at times. It doesn’t take much effort to see the bad, and the wrong with the way things are these days. So I think the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to find joy in spite of all the darkness around us. I look at it as a small form of rebellion in the face of that darkness that attempts to squeeze and crush us all. It reminds me of a certain bible verse, about heaping coals of fire onto the heads of those who seek to cause harm. Maybe we all aught to keep that in mind from now on.

Summer GIF Guide — New GIFs for 2021! | AWeber

So my friend, I hope your summer has been swell and I hope you’ve gotten lots of sunshine, and had an ice cream or two. I hope you’ve found joy, in the big things and the small ones too. And if there was anything special about your summer, please tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

A Story in Song | Inspiration for Your Next Story

If there was ever a show of hands, I’m sure everyone in the room would admit they love music. Music is an incredible, magical, phenomenon that has the ability to spread light and love in an otherwise dark world. Some people love to make music with instruments, or even their voice, and others, like myself, love listening to it. Music can inspire more than just happy thoughts or fuzzy feelings, however. Many songs can instantly spark a story in your mind. After all, songs themselves are a form of story. Worthwhile songs are filled with thoughtful words, feelings, and ideas. I thought it would be fun to collect a few songs that have a particular feeling, or an ability to tug on our emotions, and possibly even inspire an entire novel. Let’s get started.

  • Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No.1
Once Upon A Time In Paris | Travel Between The Pages

Lately I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for classical music. This composition in particular has such a nostalgic, melancholy, yet whimsical feeling, and I often listen to it on repeat. If I close my eyes, I can just see someone walking alone in the rain. Maybe they’ve forgotten their umbrella, or perhaps it’s late at night, or maybe they’re just going for a leisurely stroll in the afternoon. Whatever it is, this song is perfect to set the mood for your writing, or maybe even inspire an entire scene.

Listen here.

  • RM – mono.
RM 'forever rain' MV - YouTube

I’m cheating a little here, since this is an album, not just a single song– but I had to include it. I’m not sure how many times I’ve listened to this while writing. Somehow, it’s always the perfect soundtrack to the scenes I’m working on, and I’ve become very attached to each of these songs. Again, they have a slightly melancholy, lonely feeling, which often fits in well with the struggles my characters are experiencing.

Listen here.

  • The Civil Wars – Pressing Flowers
The Civil Wars - Poison & Wine - EP - Amazon.com Music

If you are writing a story that’s a little creepy, or mysterious, then this song is just what you need. Filled with haunting harmonies, and soft melodies, everything about this song makes me want to know more. What’s the meaning behind the garden? Why must they meet secretly? Maybe someone out there can write a story to answer all of these questions.

Listen here.

  • Seori – Running Through the Night
Breakthrough Korean artist Seori set to make her mark on the world stage

I really like this next song, and in fact, until I added it to this list I had nearly forgotten just how much I like it. Seori’s voice, accompanied by the strange tempo, and the visuals in the music video are the perfect combination of science-fiction and fantasy. This song, along with the others in this album are very much a story all on their own. The album art, and theme of the lyrics makes me want to write a sci-fi story about a lost princess on a faraway planet in some distant galaxy. If such a story calls to you, I think you’ll enjoy this song.

Listen here.

  • twenty one pilots – Leave The City
Leave The City/Two/Truce/Two - twenty one pilots (Flash Warning) - YouTube

Twenty one pilots are the kings of dark, and moody music, and if you’ve never given them a listen, I would highly recommend you do so. This song in particular is achingly sad, and beautiful at the same time. The lyrics play out like a movie script, and I can picture the scenes so clearly in my mind. This song is the epitome of dystopian, or fantasy tales, and the inspiration this song provides is just waiting to be called into action.

Listen here.

****

That’s it for my short list. You may have noticed a theme in each of these songs. None of them are very cheery or happy, but I think that is why they spark so many ideas in me. These songs evoke questions and mysteries in my mind, and they make me want to climb into their world and discover the story within them. I hope you enjoyed this little collection of songs and I hope they even inspired you in some way. Do you find inspiration in music? What’s one song that you think could inspire a novel? Let me know, and we can chat in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, WORDS

A Page From My Journal

Do you keep a journal? A super secret notebook for your eyes only? Or maybe a notebook where you collect stray thoughts and ideas before they escape into the ether? Journaling has always been a part of my life. Even when I was very young, writing daily was always encouraged by my mom, and through the years I’ve filled up dozens of notebooks. Sometimes I write about the adventures I’ve had, or milestones in my life, but most often I write about the ordinary, everyday things that can often slip by as seemingly unimportant. I don’t write in my journal as often anymore, but I still try to keep up with it even if it can sometimes feel like a chore. There is just something calming and therapeutic about writing like this, and when I’ve reached the the end of the page my hand may feel sore but I usually come away feeling calmer and more at ease.

Back when I was younger, there were some days when I just didn’t know what to write. I would stare at the blank page, too uninspired to think of anything to say. That was when my mom would bring out a certain list of journal prompts to get me writing. I recently rediscovered the list and I wanted to try it out again. It’s been years since I used this list, and it brought back so many fun memories from my childhood. The prompts are simple but they serve as a great conversation starter. Just a little nudge, or suggestion to get your brain into gear, and get the words flowing.

So what is on this list? Let’s take a look.

Outside my window…

I am thinking…

I am thankful for…

From the kitchen…

I am wearing…

I am reading…

I am hoping…

I am creating…

I am hearing…

Around the house…

One of my favorite things…

Plans for the weekend…

I think its a pretty good list and now I’ll share a “page” from my journal. I wrote it by hand, to make the experience feel more authentic, and then I typed it out here for you to read. It’s always fun to look back on old journal entries from a few weeks, months, or even years back. And sometime it’s even more fun to read from the pages of someone else’s journal. So let’s have a read, shall we?

* * * * *

Outside my window, the sky is a mix of strange phenomena, and odd weather patterns. It’s terribly hazy from a distant forest fire and a little cloudy from a rainstorm that must working its way here. I am thinking, of how incredible it is that the sky changes so quickly. In the space of an hour it could be completely transformed by an approaching storm or a cloud of dust and smoke, only to clear again shortly after to make way for a bright sunset. I’m always thankful for such sights.

From the kitchen, I’ve pilfered a bag of trailmix. The day is well on its course, but I’ve yet to have a proper meal. Eating what I can here and there when I get a chance is my motto, but we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the day unfolds. I am wearing, my summer uniform today, which as it happens, changes daily. Today that uniform is shorts, with a large T-shirt. Air flow is essential, so I tend to base my fashion sense on the suggestions of breath-ability, and aerodynamics.

These days I am reading, a great many books about a great many topics. One of them is about the search for a lost Welsh king, in the small town of Henrietta, Virginia. And yet another book spends much time explaining the harrowing, yet heroic partnership between vast forest systems and and friendly fungi. I am hoping, for an afternoon rainstorm, so that I can have an excuse to hunker away with one of my books. Because when it rains, it is absolutely imperative that you drop everything you are doing and pick up a book immediately. You don’t even have to read it, you can just hold onto it and gaze moodily out the window. Trust me on this.

I am creating, a whole host of things lately. You’ll see remnants of them everywhere in my room. An unfulfilled summer to-do list, a half completed crochet project sitting on my desk, half-written stories in notebooks, and computer files. I think it’s about time I stop creating, and start completing.

I am hearing, the ever present hum of the air conditioner that has become synonymous with these summer days. But underneath all of that, there is a lo-fi playlist adding a bit of aesthetic ambiance to this decidedly un-aesthetic environment. Around the house, there are ceiling fans, and swivel fans, and probably some other type of fans valiantly working together to rid the house of stuffy, heavy, swampy air. But despite their best attempts, it is a losing battle.

One of my favorite things, to do in the summer is sitting outside and watching the sky. Sometimes at night, I’ll climb up onto the roof and stargaze, or search for the milky way streaking across the sky. And if I have the opportunity, I’ll sit out under a shade tree and watch big, fluffy, cumulus clouds trudge across the horizon bringing with them a summer downpour or maybe even, some mighty thunder and lighting. The weekend, is always lurking around the corner, and I do not have any plans to fill it just yet. A funny thing happens though, when I try to make plans. For some reason, they usually do not come to pass, no matter hard I try. So I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to the weekend. Instead of me, making plans, I simply wait for plans to make me. So far this method is working out swimmingly.

But I guess that’s all I have to say today. Time is pressing, and other tasks are calling my name. It was nice chatting with you, and I thank you for your time. Hopefully we can do this again sometime. But until then, have a great summer. Ciao!

* * * * *

Moving Sunny Day Sticker By Christine Polz

If you want to play along and try out these prompts for yourself, go right ahead! You can pretend this is a tag and that I’ve tagged you! Or, just have fun with these prompts and play around on a piece of paper, or your own journal. If you do try this out please be sure to let me know! I’d love to read your responses. Thanks again for stopping by.

Yours truly,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 7: The Dragon Called Hogwash

Once upon a time, there was a young writer who discovered a mystical element called “theme”. The little writer learned of the great power this element held and its ability to transform story craft. The notion of “theme” did in fact seem logical but the wide-eyed little writer paid no heed. The little writer surmised that by the process of osmosis, or more accurately, diffusion, this very important element would somehow take root and settle naturally into her little writer mind. But alas, the little writer was soon met with the great big dragon called, Hogwash. This great and terrible dragon was too fierce a match for the writer and it sent her packing, all the way back to the drawing board, where she pulled out her dusty old books and began her study anew.

I hope you enjoyed that little allegory about a certain writer and her misconceptions regarding theme. And in case you had any doubts about the true identity of the little writer, well, it’s me. Theme is something I have struggled with throughout my writing journey and for a time I thought the idea of theme was even a little exaggerated. I knew theme was important and I knew every story had one, but I failed to understand how to implement theme into my own works. I had assumed that my subconscious would weave together a coherent theme into my story and things would all work out in the end. But as I was trudging deep into yet another writing project, many of the same issues began to crop up on the page as they had in most of my previous projects. I had a niggling suspicion in the back of my mind that the root of my problems was theme, or the lack thereof.

I examined all of my notes on the subject and reviewed what other writers had to say on the topic and it all began to make sense. All this time, above all else, theme had been what was hindering my writing process the most. To be honest, I think the entire notion confused me a bit. With so many technical terms and methods discussed by writers like, experiment in living, and poetic justice, not to mention, story theme, in contrast to story idea/message, my understanding became murkier and murkier. It was also a little embarrassing, since theme is reinforced so rigidly on writing advice websites, like Story Embers. I’d even read entire books discussing it.

I think I’ve finally reached a point where I can comprehend the idea in a more straightforward, if somewhat simplistic way, (which is how people like me tend to think, per K.M. Weiland’s teachings).

Theme, is the unifying subject or idea explored via recurring patterns–what ties everything together. (i.e. Power Corrupts)

Another way to think of it is by the definition of synchronicity:

The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

Theme has always been hard for me to grasp because when I first begin to work on a new story, my ideas are generally very broad. In the plotting and planning phases, my thinking tends to be too big when I should be thinking much smaller. With world building, and character arcs being developed, I find it extremely difficult to narrow my focus to the very essence of my story. I began to ask myself, if all of the scenes, and dialogue were stripped away, what would my story really be about? What message would remain? For a long time I agonized over this problem. So I tasked myself with a challenge, what if I had a clear theme in mind from the very beginning, would it change or affect my writing process? You may recall the experiment I talked about a few months ago, when I endeavored to write a first draft entirely by hand. What I didn’t mention back then was that I also used that same story to test out my new understanding of theme.

I had a few of the basics down. I had an intro, a few characters in mind, and a few names and places to begin with. But I did not yet have a theme. I was at a loss on how to condense this broad story idea into a single, cognizant message. So I did what any writer in doubt does, I went to google. I couldn’t really believe that I was scrolling through lists of generic themes to carve my story around. But to my surprise I found just what I was looking for. I found a theme that worked with my story and in fact, was exactly what I needed to fill in the gaps and join everything together seamlessly. Never had an outline come together so quickly or easily before.

At first it felt like cheating to use a theme I had found on the internet, but I realized that tons of other people probably do that as well. I don’t mean to say that google is the ultimate cheat-sheet to solve all of your problems, but I am saying that theme doesn’t have to be something so abstract or unique only to one story. There are actually a finite number of themes and truths to express in your story, but there are infinite ways to deliver them. What matters most is the way you deliver your truth.

I’ll close with a bit of advice I wish I had known a long time ago and that is, theme matters, a lot. But your theme doesn’t have to be so complicated you can’t articulate it with a few words. You can have a simple theme and still have a broad and expansive story to express it. It’s better to develop your theme before you begin your first draft, as I have learned the hard way. Also, don’t get caught up in all of the technical jargon thrown your way while you’re still figuring things out, you can worry about that stuff later. Google can be a friend, (sometimes) so don’t be afraid to use the resources at your fingertips.

16 Cute little green dinosaur emoji gif – 🔥100000+ 😝 Funny Gif Emoji  Emoticons Box 😘 Free Download 👍

I’m still trying to figure things out for myself, and just wanted to share some of my thoughts on this subject. If you’re also trying to make sense of all of these writing terms and elements, try not to worry, lots of us out here are right beside you treading those very same waters. And if you’ve already braved the rapids, perhaps you could share some of your thoughts and experiences with the rest of the class? We would all appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Helpful Resources:

Story Embers – Guiding and Inspiring Christian Writers

Writing Your Story’s Theme, by K.M. Weiland

Posted in writing

A Lesson in K-Drama | 5 Tips for Writers

If you know me, you know that I love K-drama, a.k.a Korean drama series. It was a few years ago when I first became curious about these foreign films and TV shows. I decided to give them a go and it didn’t take long before I was hooked. I never knew I could become so attached to characters on the screen or root so hard for them. And in many ways they surprised me by their depth, complexity, humor, and ability to draw you so deeply into a story. The more I watched and became familiar with the genre, the more I found certain elements that I wanted to include in my own stories. And after watching hours upon hours of content, I realized there were a few things many of them had in common. I compiled my notes and came up with five key elements that make K-dramas so darn good.

1: Vicious Villains

If there is one thing K-drama does best it’s villains, or at least the opposing force. There are times when the villain will move against the protagonist and I find myself filled with a burning rage, and other times when the villain feels so real and so honest, that I’m often empathetic towards them. When any work of fiction, (books or film), can get you to feel so intensely toward a villain, you know that character is done well. And when villains have realistic goals and/or purposes their impact is much greater than a character who is simply bad in order to cause friction in a story. I’ve also learned that a villain doesn’t have to be an evil Overlord, reigning terror upon innocent citizens. Sometimes it’s a classmate, a neighbor, a brother, someone who wronged you years ago. What matters most is the emotion and the selfish motivations driving them forward. (My recommendation: Tale of the Nine-Tailed)

Good Ol' Review: While Fun, "Tale of the Nine-Tailed" Falls Short of Epic  Potential - DryedMangoez.com
Hmm…. Who could the villain be?

2: Tropes Done Right

Whether we admit it or not I think we can all enjoy a good trope, when it’s done right. I’m sure you know the silly, sometimes cheesy stereotypes often found in film and books. A common one you’ll find in K-dramas is Rich Boy/Poor Girl. As often as I think I’m going to get tired of this trend, I don’t, because the character development isn’t so shallow as to end there. The personalities, motivations, and emotions are more real and affecting than the character’s job description. I have found myself able to relate to the billionaire, C.E.O. of a conglomerate company, from the humble walls of my suburban house. K-drama has the ability to remind us that we’re all human, no matter our social standing. (My recommendation: My Shy Boss)

Club Med Cherating Beach (Malaysia) – Korean Dramaland

Another common trope you will find, is love triangles. (Cue the cringe.) Not everyone can pull this off, but it is through K-dramas that I was introduced to the term, ‘Second-lead Syndrome’. Which means exactly what you think it means. It’s a strange and often painful phenomena where you find yourself rooting for the second lead instead of the main lead. Going down this road will most definitely end in heart-break, but it’s oh-so worth it. </3 (My recommendation: True Beauty)

Webtoon Artist Yaongyi Says She Fell For SeoJun In Drama "True Beauty" |  Kpopmap
“Nice guys finish last”

3: Internal Struggle External Conflict

Another aspect that K-drama does exceptionally well is internal conflict. Typically within the first episode you will catch a glimpse of the inner struggle the protagonist is faced with on a daily basis. Each character has a very real and often relatable challenge that most people can understand. K-dramas are mainly character-driven stories but that isn’t to say the outer conflict isn’t just as deep and pertinent. Trying to predict the twists and turns of a K-drama is almost as complicated as brain surgery. Okay, maybe not that complicated. These two different forms of conflict will surprise you when they culminate in an often epic clash at the end. (My recommendation: He is Psychometric)

He Is Psychometric - Episode 5 | Rakuten Viki

4: Moral of the Story

The moral of the story or what the writing world refers to as theme, is never left out of any K-drama. Most K-dramas are fraught with drama, as their name implies, but by the end of a series you’ll come away with a valuable life lesson or even a tough moral question to ponder. Many of them have a strong family element woven into the storyline with complicated relationships and consequences for all peoples. Sometimes they will focus on positive character transformations, and other times they will highlight the consequences of allowing darkness to take root in one’s life. So next time someone asks why you’ve been watching a K-drama for four hours straight, you can tell them it’s not just entertainment, you’re also learning some very important life lessons. For example, maybe the friendly neighborhood assassin down the street is just misunderstood, and his actions are actually justified? Hypothetically speaking, that is. (My recommendation: Kill It)

Jang Ki Yong | Kill It | Selebritas, Fotografi, Aktor
Still not over this one. </3

5: Laughter is Medicine, Too

If you’re ever feeling down the surest way I know to lift your spirits is a little K-drama pick-me-up. When you’re feeling gloomy or just want a little distraction from the world, humor is the best remedy. Just press play and you’ll soon be laughing, (or crying), along with the characters on the screen. Sometimes comedy can be over-done or even cringe-worthy, but when you find the right drama your belly will soon be aching from all the laughter. But even the seemingly lighthearted and cute dramas can be quite complex, and serious at times. It’s easy for jokes to fall flat in film or TV, but K-dramas sure know how to make you laugh, or at least smile. (My recommendation: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo)

Currently Watching; Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (역도요정 김복주) –  Kdramasanonymous

***

I could go on and on about why I love K-drama so much, but I’ll end it here for today. I find it hard sometimes to classify K-drama’s as a thriller, or comedy, etc., because they also have the unique ability to bend genres. They will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions and plot twists as you follow the characters along their journeys. I have learned so many story-telling techniques from K-dramas, that I think it’s safe to say that all those hours invested might just pay off in the end. And if you’re not too intimidated to cross the threshold into the territory of subtitles, I don’t think you’ll regret it. You might even find a new way to spend your free time.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, writing

Turtle vs. Sloth – A Writing Update

Hello there, how are you? I hope your spring is getting along well. You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a bit. I’m still here, just fell behind on posting because I’ve been so busy with work and life, that everything else has gone out the window. I’m another year older, and maybe even a bit wiser. The years come and go, whether we want them to or not, and hopefully we continue to grow and blossom, just like the plants and gardens we tend. The weather here is warming up nicely, or so it seems, until winter swoops back in and reminds us that it’s not ready to move on just yet. Spring is strange like that though, almost like a battle of the seasons. Reminds me of myself too, hot and cold, summer and winter all at the same time. But before I blather on any longer about the weather, or my own existential crisis, let’s move on to the topic at hand– my writing progress.

I’m in the middle of two projects right now, and they are coming along nicely, for the most part. Sometimes I feel really motivated to write, and I make good progress, and other times I don’t feel up to writing anything for several days. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I have that nagging feeling that I should be. I’ve been working on my short story and it’s up to 4k words. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turning out, but progress has been slow, and I feel the need to give myself a little push. Be it my job monopolizing all my time and energy, or procrastination, or writer’s block, or all of the above, I’m not entirely sure, I just know that I can do more. I’ve been trying to remind myself of the words from the author in The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. After reading numerous essays, the point she’s driven home the most is–just write, and the words will come. I tell myself that often, but somehow I always have a very good excuse not to heed her advice.

As for my novel, don’t tell my characters, but I’ve been avoiding them. Due to many of the previous reasons I mentioned, but even more so because I’m getting very close to the midpoint. I can feel myself bucking under the weight of concerns that I’m not going to do it justice, or I won’t be able to pull it off. I know that’s a silly thing to worry about but I can’t quite shake it. I know that this novel is not going to be perfect, and that no novel ever is, but the pressure is starting to pinch a little. The good news is, I’m still very excited about the story. I love the characters, and the world, and I really want to explore it more deeply. The bad news is, it’s turning out to be quite hefty. I haven’t even reached the actual midpoint, and I’m already passed 50k words. If my math is correct, the final story should be in the range of 100k words. I’ll probably have to dig out my axe, and do some serious trimming in later edits. Or maybe a chainsaw would work better.

Me at work!

Beyond those two stories, I’m fairly bursting at the seems with excitement about my next projects. I have two in particular that I can’t wait to work on. I’m not sure when I can start seriously working on them, but I’m slowly gathering information and inspiration for later. One is a fantasy trilogy, and the other is a paranormal short story. Hopefully I can begin the short story sooner rather than later but only time will tell. Overall, I’m happy that I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration, but again, I’ve come to realize that I need to be a little more strict with myself. Or at least try to find a routine, and practice more self-discipline.

So that’s where I am lately in terms of writing. And if you’re wondering about my reading habits…let’s just say, they’re even worse. (I am blaming that all on bed-time procrastination.) Work has been busy and long, so I don’t have much time to read during the day and all I can manage is a page or two at night before my eyes drop shut. It took me about four whole days to get through one chapter. But progress is still progress, no matter how small, right? Isn’t there a saying about eating the elephant, one bite at a time? Some days, are tough but keeping a positive mindset and continuing to aim towards improvement, can help to see us through the rough patches.

Where are you, with your writing these days? Have you been accomplishing much, or maybe just taking things one day at a time? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

To Read or Not to Reread – 5 Books I’d Like to Read Again

Are you a re-reader? That wasn’t a stutter, I’m curious to know if you read books over again. There are so many books in the world, and even more are getting published every day. Most of us have an ever-growing list of dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of books we’d like to read in our life-time, so it probably sounds counter-productive to go back and re-read a book. I don’t often allow myself the pleasure of a good re-read, but a good book is a good book and should be worth re-reading shouldn’t it? It’s like sitting in that most comfortable chair, in your favorite corner, with a warm cup of tea and an old friend to chat with. So I gathered up a few books that I read years ago, that I feel are due for a re-read.

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

I consider this one of my favorite books, though, I confess, I can hardly remember the plot line. I’ve seen the Miyazaki film dozens of times, and the two have somewhat blurred together in my memory. The book, and Studio Ghibili adaptation are quite different, and I feel like I underappreciated the book when I first read it a few years ago. Dianna Wynne Jones fills her stories with so many unique, and funky details, it’s sometimes hard to take it all in. And since Dianna Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors, and Howl’s Moving Castle is one of her most legendary works, I must give it a proper re-read.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’m not exactly part of the Austen fan club, but I have read most of her books. Some I enjoyed, others, not so much. One that I did enjoy, as far as can I remember, was Pride and Prejudice. It’s been, seven…? eight…? maybe even nine…? years since I read this book, and all that I can remember is a certain Mr. Wickham dashing off with a certain daft younger sister. I know that is but a smidgen of what occurs in this book, and not at all the main plot, but for some reason that is what stuck in my memory. I’m terrible at remembering what happens in books after I finish them, which is probably why I like re-reading, because it’s almost as if I’m reading them for the first time…again! I’m hoping that that is the case with this book. I’d love to dive in with fresh eyes, and experience the story all over again. And since this book is so highly acclaimed, I feel it deserves closer look.

3. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

Kudos to anyone out there who knew that C.S. Lewis also wrote a sci-fi series. I wasn’t aware of that fact, until I chanced upon the series while sifting through the bookshelves at a thrift store. But I digress… where was I? This book is yet another case of, ‘I’m sure I read that book, I’m just not sure what happened’. This book too, went by rather under appreciated by my youthful brain. What remains of my foggy memory are strange, gorilla-like creatures, on this far-out planet, (and that much is evident by the cover). Anyway, I’d really like to read this story again with a more mature perspective.

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First off, a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella definitely deserves to be read. Second of all, The Lunar Chronicles is probably one of my favorite series ever. I have so many fond memories of reading this series, and waiting eagerly for each release. I remember reading each book as fast as I could, so that I could pass them on to my sisters after I’d finished, (I always insisted on reading them first). I want to read these books again, simply because I miss them. I miss the world, and all of the colorful characters, the moon castles, cyborgs, lonely satellites, a certain prince, and so much more. One of my sisters and I have been talking about re-reading Cinder for a while now, and I think the time has finally come.

5. The Blood Race by K.A. Emmons

What should I say about this book? The premise is so unique, and I’ve never read anything else like it. I really enjoyed this story and all of the deep, gut-wrenching moments, I absolutely couldn’t wait to read the second book. But for some reason, I never got around to it. I’m not sure what held me up for so long, since it’s still high up on my to be read list. So before I strike up part two of this series, I feel that I should go back and reorient myself with the first book. This is an indie published novel, which is awesome, so I want to continue my support of the rest of the series.

~ ~ ~

There are so many more books I’d like add to this list but I don’t want to keep you here all day. For me, re-reading books is a lot of fun, and its kind of like catching up with that old friend, taking a trip down memory lane, back to some of my favorite worlds, and favorite characters. There are certain books that I could read over and over again, but I chose a few books that I haven’t read in a long while, and that I don’t ever want to forget about.

What about you? Do you ever re-read books? What are some books that you’d like to read all over again?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life

A Week in the Life: Quiet Days & Gloomy Nights

Hello everyone, how are you? Welcome to another installment of A Week in My Life, where I bring you along to share a few days in my life. I wanted to break up my usual content, so I thought this would be fun. The last time I shared one of these posts was almost a year ago and I thought this would be a good time for another round. I’m continuing this series in a journal style format, so get comfy, and let’s get started.

Monday, March 22, 2021 8:23 P.M. MST

I woke up to a very gloomy world today. It was so dark this morning, that I almost didn’t wake up in time for work, (at the greenhouse). It turned out to be a very busy day, but it was a good kind of busy. We’re getting into full swing for bedding season, and so very many flowers, and vegetables are being readied for planting, (hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds).

Despite the busyness I got off a little early, which is always nice. I tried to get in some writing, but I was too tired to focus. So instead, I did some reading. The clouds finally cleared away by evening, and I headed outside to catch the sunset while I read. Dusk is one of my favorite times of the day, when everything is silhouetted against the pastel sky and a quietness settles in.

I’m hoping to get to bed a little earlier tonight, since I’m still getting used to this whole time-change business, but we’ll see if I can follow through with my plans. I’ll check in again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 10:07 P.M. MST

Well, I didn’t get to sleep as early as I had hoped, but I did wake up on time, so it all worked out in the end. And I guess I was feeling ambitious after work, because I decided to do some baking. I’ve probably spent half of my life watching cooking and baking videos on YouTube, so I thought I might as well try one of the recipes for myself. I made custard buns, something I’ve always wanted to try. They weren’t perfect, but I had fun making them, and I think they were pretty good for my first attempt.

After all the action in the kitchen, it looked like a tornado had swept through. Why does cooking have to be so messy? I pushed up my sleeves and dove head-first into “Mount Dirtydish“. When I finished, the place was sparkling, and for some reason I felt as if I had reached the summit of Everest. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

I’m going to start reading a new book tonight, after I finish writing here. I don’t think there’s any other feeling quite like reading the first sentences of a new story. A certain nervous excitement always sets in at the prospect of entering new worlds and new adventures. The book is called, The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Natsu Miyashita.

Anyhow, the night is not getting any younger, and neither am I, so I’d better get on going. Signing off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 7:56 P.M. MST

I’ve been fooled! I was silly enough to think that spring, meant warmer weather. Last weekend it was gloriously warm and sunny, but today I woke to gloom, wind, rain, and SNOW. It wasn’t a lot of snow, but enough to make things cold and soggy. (Although, nothing a cup of hot tea couldn’t fix.) Whenever it snows, the mountains in the distance become even more majestic than usual. Sometimes I pretend they’re the Misty Mountains, that the dwarves used to sing about in The Hobbit.

In the afternoon my brother and his family came over, and it was nice to spend some time with them, and get clobbered by my nephews for a couple of hours. But now that the evening is drawing to a close, I’m going to settle in and work on my short story. I’ve been writing late in the day, during that awkward space between dinner and bed-time. I’m still really enjoying this hand-drafting experiment and each time I get to sit down and write, I’m excited. But I guess I had better get busy before I run out of time. I’ve got my chamomile tea steeping, and it’s calling my name. So long for now.

Thursday, March 25, 2021 9:18 P.M. MST

Frost covered every surface this morning. It was so, so, cold out, but sometimes the cold feels nice. In the morning, when you’re still feeling stiff from sleep, the brisk air can send the blood rushing through your veins, assuring that you won’t be tired for long. Once in a while I can appreciate the frigid air, instead of loathing it all the time.

After work, I had to do a grocery run with my sister, then we went over to see my grandparents. We walked through their garden, and admired all the blossoms beginning to peek out–daffodils, quince, and apple, to name a few.

A heavy gloom settled in again this evening, so I huddled up at my desk with a cup of Lady Grey tea, while I worked on more inventory for my soon to open Etsy shop. It’s tedious work, but I’m taking my time to ensure that everything turns out nicely. It took me a bit longer than expected, and it’s starting to get late. I still have to wash up, and do some reading before I can head to bed. I’ve got to start my night routine early, or I’ll get to sleep way past midnight, and then I really won’t wake up on time for work.

I can hear police sirens in the distance, and my dog is howling something terrible. Whenever I hear ringing sirens, I feel like I live in a big city, just like you see in the movies. Anyway, it’s almost Friday, which means it’s almost Saturday, which MEANS I’ll get to stay up late, and then sleep in late. I already can’t wait.

Friday, March 26, 2021 9:47 P.M. MST

Friday, at long last. Okay, so this week wasn’t terrible, but I’m always happy when Friday rolls around. All week I anticipated staying up late this weekend, having snacks, and throwing a party. But by 7 P.M. I’d already switched into my PJ’s, and could have gone to sleep. But I knew I would regret it, if I didn’t at least have some instant ramen, and watch a little K-Drama. Because nothing goes together like ramen, and K-Drama’s. My sister and I are starting a new series, and I’m pretty excited.

In hindsight, I had a good week. I was able to squeeze in some writing, I accomplished a lot at work, and still had some time to rest and relax at home. There was nothing special about this week, but that’s not to say it wasn’t time well spent. Living life in a quiet way, is special to me. I find that simple, peaceful days are rare, and valuable, so I cherish them. Sometimes I wonder why people don’t embrace them more fully. Anyway, I hope your week went well, and that you found a few moments of stillness, and quiet.

What was your week like? Tell me all about it.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S