Ten Days // Ten Books

Guess what? I’m on vacation! Since my trip to DC and the Library of Congress was cancelled earlier this year (which would’ve been an amazing trip, by the way), my family and I have decided to visit a town much closer to home for my birthday week.

Call me crazy if you like, but I’ve decided to try reading ten books in the ten days I’ve got off work for this trip. I may be a slow writer, but I’m most definitely a fast reader. Time, however, has gotten in the way of my ability to read down my pile.

I decided to give myself this challenge: ten days of vacation + ten books = ten more adventures I’ve yet to go on! Yesterday’s book, sadly, fell short of my expectations and I had to move it to the DNF (did not finish) list. I gave it more time than I should, hoping beyond hope that maybe some adventure would be included. That did not end up being the case.

So here are the ten books I’ll attempt to read while on vacation this week:

Saturday, Sept. 19

Unfortunately I had to add INHERITING TROUBLE by Wendy May Andrews to my “Did Not Finish” list. As much as I want to get into Regencies, many of them are Romances, and I just haven’t found the right ones to fall in love with yet.

Sunday, Sept. 20

On Sunday (today) I’m switching gears to read the next book in The Riven Kingdoms series by Shari L. Tapscott. I immediately wanted to know what happened to the two MCs when I finished Book One, not knowing then that it was part of a series. I’ll know this afternoon!

Monday, Sept. 21

NEVERLAND FALLING by Brittany Fichter is the newest addition to my reading list, and I’m always game for a new fairy tale retelling. This one caught my eye because it’s based on Peter Pan, and I don’t read many of those.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

Okay, I lied. A MIDWINTER’S WEDDING by Melanie Cellier is the newest book to my list (having just added it because, well, book distractions). Cellier’s books are hit or miss for me, and I hope this is a hit!

Wednesday, Sept. 23

I got this title last year when I tried doing NetGalley (such a stressful place), but I’ve wanted to read this since then. So I kept it. Wednesday will be MURDER AT KENSINGTON PALACE by Andrea Penrose day!

Thursday, Sept. 24

I love KM Shea’s fairy tale retellings! I was sad when her series ended, but have been meaning to dive into her other series. So I’ll continue my read through of her stories with THE PRINCE’S BARGAIN, the third book in her Elves of Lessa series.

Friday, Sept. 25

A LADY MOST DANGEROUS by Caroline Hanson is next on the agenda for Friday, September 25th. I hope to at least start reading it, because we may go Cosmic Bowling that night! I’m quite ready for some time hopping shenanigans with this one.

Saturday, Sept. 26

To be completely honest, I’m not sure which book comes first, the previously mentioned one or A LADY OUT OF TIME, also by Caroline Hanson. I’ll figure it out when the, ahem, time comes!

Sunday, Sept. 27 (aka my birthday!)

From time travel to even more royalty vs. the lower class, I’m ready to read MAGICAL MISPERCEPTION by Suzanne Rogers. However unsure I am if this is a retelling or not, I know for a fact I’m looking forward to this story.

Monday, Sept. 28

It looks as though I’ll end my vacation with another Tapscott title – PIPPA OF LAURAMORE. I purchased this before SEA OF STARLIGHT, so I don’t know what’s taken me so long to read it. Better late than never, they say!

That’s a lot of variety, isn’t it? And a lot of books! Because I haven’t really been in a good state of mind to write as of late, I debated long and hard over if I should take my laptop on vacation with me or not. I think all I want are a few books, a notepad and no internet.

What are your reading goals for the week?

September Bookviews // Queens, Brides and New Releases, Please!

2020 is The Lost Year. July didn’t even register in my mind until it was August, so I missed that Bookviews post. I bet any money (below five bucks) that we’re going to see an uptick in doomsday books come out within the next couple of years. Regardless, let’s take a look at my Bookviews for my birthday month. The month of September. Bookviews for August 2020! (Here’s the Bookview post for June).

I’ll pull six titles from this site’s On My Bookshelf page: three from What I’ve Read, two from Upcoming Reads, and one from that dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) pile. From What I’ve Read, you can expect my final thoughts on plot, character development, and a star rating. From Upcoming Reads, my expectations or hopes for the book. And perhaps even a prediction or two. Finally, from the DNFs, what made me close the cover for good and if I’ll ever attempt to read it again.

The First Section: What I’ve Read

ALMOST A BRIDE by Jody Hedlund

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Bride Ships Series, Book No. 4
Pub. Year: 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I fell in love with The Bride Ships Series first with A RELUCTANT BRIDE, book one. Not many series can grab and hold me throughout the journey. While I thoroughly enjoyed this now completed series, there are a few things I wish were different about ALMOST A BRIDE.

As my Bookviews are meant to be “speed reviews,” I’ll say only this: While Kate’s initially introduced in Book One, as all the ladies sailing for Vancouver are, I do wish she was developed a bit more in her own story, and was a bit “flighty” for a main character. It felt more like Zeke’s story than Kate’s. These reasons are why I give ALMOST A BRIDE four out of five stars.

Jody’s Genres:
-Historical Fiction
-Historical Romance

Jody Hedlund
Author of royalty, knights and cowboys.

AN UNCOMMON WOMAN by Laura Frantz

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: none
Pub. Year: 2020

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In AN UNCOMMON WOMAN, Frantz doesn’t shy away from tackling social issues present in the 1770s. It seems I agree with several other reviews online, that the pacing is a bit slow and action rushed. However, the world building cannot be denied. Frantz absolutely knows the land and her chosen era. Because the action in the opening scene set such a high expectation that wasn’t followed through (for me) until later on, I give AN UNCOMMON WOMAN 3.5 stars.

Laura’s Genres:
-Christian Fiction
-Historical Romance

Laura Frantz
Author of brides, hearts and history.

THE VICTORIAN BOOK OF CAKES
by T. Percy Lewis and A.G. Bromley

Genre: Cookbook
Series: none
Pub. Year: 1991

Rating: 5 out of 5.

With a forward by cookbook connoisseur Nicholas Lodge, THE VICTORIAN BOOK OF CAKES was purchased with one sole purpose in mind: historical research. I always enjoyed history class as a student, but they rarely dove into this kind of detail. As a kid, I craved further studies on things such as these.

Part of the Amazon description states: a classic Victorian book reissued for the modern reader. While many of the recipes are perhaps a bit too technical for an amateur baker such as myself, its pages are threaded with additional tidbits of information on pastry-making machinery and traditionally used techniques. Because of the aforementioned, THE VICTORIAN BOOK OF CAKES has earned itself a five out of five star rating.

Unfortunately, I was unable to dig up any biographies on Lewis or Bromley.

T. Percy Lewis

A.G. Bromley

The Second Section: My Upcoming Reads

I’ll not include any stars for these entries as I’ve yet to read them. Instead, I’ll include its brief synopsis, why I picked it up, and what I hope will come from the story.

SEA OF STARLIGHT by Shari L. Tapscott

Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Riven Kingdoms, Book Two
Pub. Year: 2020

I’m so happy this book’s finally out! It’s about time too, because I’ve wanted to include SEA OF STARLIGHT in a Bookviews post since I read its predecessor, FOREST OF FIRELIGHT. I don’t preorder books often. When I do, it’s usually because it’s book two or three of a series I fell immediately in love with. I can count those series on one hand. I’m picky about my books, okay?

As such, I really hope Book 2 continues on in the same manner as its predecessor. With two more novels to go (both not yet released), no one yet knows. Unless they’re already written and betas have their hands on them.

Shari’s Genres:
-Fantasies
-Contemporaries

Shari L. Tapscott
Author of kingdoms, magic and relationships.

THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

Genre: Historical fiction
Series: none
Pub. Year: 2015

I’ve come across Gregory’s historicals before but didn’t buy one until this year. My recent interest in London’s ancient royalty rekindled my need to read THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN. This novel is the eleventh of fifteen in her The Plantagenet and Tudor novels (meanwhile I can barely finish writing one!).

While she does have more modern set novels, I do believe she prefers the earlier centuries. If I enjoy THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN, I foresee closing out 2020 with all the rest of her stories.

Philippa’s Genres:
-History

Philippa Gregory
Author of history, princesses, and Tudors.

I’ve fallen down the historical fiction rabbit hole again and I can’t get out. No, not can’t.
I won’t get out. My reading habits expanded in 2020 to include other eras other than Victorian.

The Third Section: What I Did Not Finish

There were none I couldn’t finish this time around, and that’s a good thing!
There were, however, some I couldn’t start due to exhaustion from work.
But that’s a blog post for another day.

Here are some books recently purchased,
or downloaded via Kindle Unlimited:

THE KING’S CURSE by Philippa Gregory
THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS by Pam Jenoff
A HEART IN THE BALANCE by LG Rollins (Unlimited)
THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE by Dorothy Mack (Unlimited)

Well? What do you guys think? I hope you had fun reading through these titles and my thoughts on them. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

June
August

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Deep Space Nine

With all this new Star Trek coming out (Picard, Discovery, Lower Decks), I thought it high time to revive a blog series I’d forgotten about. Earlier this year, I analyzed the cast of Star Trek Voyager and assigned each member of the main crew their arc. Today, I’m going to take a look at the very large cast of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and give myself more work by analyzing not only their arcs, but which change best suits them, or if they’re round or flat characters.

Deep Space Nine had an absolutely huge recurring cast of secondary characters, so I’m sticking to a list of just twelve. I’m not even including anyone from the series’ Mirror Universe or the Dominion, as there just isn’t enough source material to work with. The twelve I’ll analyze in today’s post are the core characters the series’ used the most. If there is a cross next to an actor’s name, it means they have passed on into Paradise.

A Quick Review of Character Changes and Arcs

*In this section I refer to Meg LaTorre’s iWriterly blog post on the Types of Character Arcs in fiction,
as well as several resources on KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors website.
If I use a different resource I’ll include a separate hyperlink.

01


Positive Change

Normally used for the heroes in the story. The characters with this change type often struggle more when faced with difficult choices or internal conflict. They want to become a better person.

02


Negative Change

While this type of change is often used for “villains,” other characters can have negative plot lines which will not land them on the truly evil side of things.

03


Flat Characters

No matter the choices these characters make, they basically stay where they started at the very beginning. Sometimes they’ll change. Usually not.

04


Round Characters

To directly quote Judy Blume’s Masterclass on the matter: “Round characters are fully realized characters that come into conflict with each other […] spurring character development.”

05


The Change Arc

Whether this character’s change is immediate or over the course of time (or both), protagonists usually have these arcs. To quote LaTorre, “This change is radical.”

06


The Growth Arc

Characters within the growth arc has more internal change than outward change. Change still happens, but not as radical as the aforementioned arc. They’ll grow as a person regardless of external circumstances.

07


The Shift Arc

According to LaTorre via Reedsy, ““The protagonist changes his perspective, learns different skills, or gains a different role. The end result is not ‘better’ or more than the starting point, just different.”

08


The Fall Arc

Fall arcs can apply to both protagonists and antagonists. This change often results in a decrepit state of mind, death, true villainy, etc. Or even a fall from grace.

Check out this post over on KM Weiland’s blog concerning large casts of characters.
There she explains how a balance of the above changes and arcs can greatly benefit a story.

Now that all that’s out of the way, here are



Linked character names will take you to Memory Alpha,
a website dedicated to fandoms and detailed pages about characters, shows, etc.
Linked actor names will take you to their IMDB pages,
should you wish to learn more about either!

Captain Benjamin Sisko
The Change Arc

Captain Benjamin Sisko was portrayed by Avery Brooks

From the very first episode, Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake, are thrust into an intense period of change. It propels the entire series forward, and many aspects connect the Sisko family to the people of Bajor. You could say that Sisko’s path very much mimics that of the Bajorans.

The Bajoran home world has just come out of a fifty year occupation by the Cardassians. Sisko must not only bridge a broken peoples’ relationship with the rest of the galaxy, but somehow promise them there is hope for a brighter future.

Change follows Sisko all the way to the final episode. But I refuse to include any spoilers here. This series has one of the most emotional conclusions I’ve ever seen. Avery Brooks poured his entire heart and soul into Sisko, and it’s evident in his arc.

Jake: “…He insisted that she cut up his food for him.
He was treating her like she was some kind of slave.”
Sisko: “It sounds like he’s acting like a Ferengi to me.”

source

Constable Odo
The Shift Arc

Constable Odo was portrayed by Rene Auberjonois

Odo, the station’s constable. Odo, the enigma. Odo, the only one of his kind on Deep Space Nine.

For much of Odo’s arc, he’s searching for his origins but he’s sure of who he is as an individual. Then how, pray, does Odo end up in the negative change arc?

Sometimes what we seek isn’t what we’re meant to find. Or what we wanted to find. Odo’s story is one with many layers, but was it better at the beginning or at the end?

Odo: “Where’s the Changeling? I lost him in the conduits.”
O’Brien: “We haven’t seen him.”
(another Odo emerges from another access port)
Changeling/Odo: “Wait. It’s me, Odo.”
O’Brien(looks at both Odo’s) “You don’t say.”

source

Dr. Julian Bashir
The Growth Arc

Doctor Julian Bashir was portrayed by Alexander Siddig

Stay with me on this one. I’ll not deny that Dr. Bashir had some amazing character moments and difficult choices he had to make throughout the series, including defying orders on several occasions.

Due to some behind-the-scenes tension, Bashir wasn’t developed as well as Sisko or Dax. It’s a well known fact among long time Trek fans that Season Four is when Bashir really begins to shine.

Even with all the writers’ issues with the Bashir character arc, Siddig did an amazing job portraying one of my first television crushes.

Kai Winn: “There is more at stake than one man’s life.”
Bashir: “One man’s life is all I’m concerned with at the moment.”

source

Chief Miles Edward O’Brien
The Shift Arc

Colm Meany reprised the role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Colm Meany wasn’t sure about reprising O’Brien on another series, but I’m sure glad he did! Because of this O’Brien became an integral character on DS9. Grandfathered in, if you will.

We saw some of his development on Next Gen, but he was more of a secondary character there. Watching the Chief’s growth from Next Gen to the end of DS9 was, and still is, such a joy.

One of the most serious episodes in all of Trek involves O’Brien. If you’re already a fan, you know precisely the one I speak of. It only affirms Trek’s relevancy to what 2020’s brought us. And it O’Brien’s arc shows us that humans in the 24th century will struggle with and overcome the same things we do today.

“It’s not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became, because of you.”
– O’Brien to Glinn Daro

source

Major Kira Nerys
The Growth Arc

Major Kira Nerys was played by Nana Visitor

Major Kira Nerys, very set in her ways when it comes to what she believes, is still willing to accept into her life new relationships, new thoughts and takes on whatever the universe throws at her with strength and grace.

The Round character type suits Kira the most. As she’s Bajoran, she’s just as passionate about her faith and her politics as Cardassians are about order and conquest. Kira’s passion is what draws people of all races to her, and thus needs to change and grow in order to survive.

“If you want to change the government, Minister Jaro, you vote to change it.
You don’t sneak up from behind it with a dagger.”
– Kira to Jaro

source

Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax
The Change Arc

The Dax Symbiont’s eighth host was played by Terry Farrell

Confession: I had a hard time pinpointing Dax’s character arc. And even now I’m still unsure if I made the right choice. Dax, the symbiont within its host of Jadzia (read up on Trill physiology here), has already given Jadzia eight life times’ worth of experiences by the time her character’s introduced in Episode One.

As such, I do believe her character was thought out long before they cast Farrell into the roll. Round in that she knows firmly who she is even with the memories of so many lifetimes inside her.

Even so, Dax still manages to experience much change. Her change isn’t as integral to DS9s timeline as Sisko’s, but their arcs compliment one another well.

Dax: “The Korvat colony. First day of negotiations, I walked out on you, right in the middle of that long-winded speech of yours. You should have seen the look on your face. Nobody had ever had the kajunpak’t to show their back to the great Kang before Curzon did.”
Kang: “I almost killed Curzon that day.”

source

Lt. Commander Worf
The Shift Arc

Michael Dorn also reprised his role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Because he previously appeared on Next Gen with Chief O’Brien, Worf is quite the Round character. Much of his character’s already developed, so if you really want to get the full Worf experience in, watch all of that series first.

That’s why Worf has the Shift Arc in DS9. We see him learning new skills, learning how to deal with different situations, and how he’s able to hold fast to his heritage in a place he’s never felt quite comfortable in.

If you thought Worf already had quite the role in TNG, just you wait!

Worf: “Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth.”
Kira: “I don’t think I’ll ever understand Klingons.”
O’Brien: “Don’t worry about it, Major. Nobody Does. It’s the way they like it.”

source

Quark
The Shift Arc

Quark was portrayed by Armin Shimerman

Whether you want to believe a Ferengi can change or not, Quark falls under the Shift Arc category. Two of my absolute favorite DS9 episodes are completely Ferengi-centric: “Little Green Men” and “The Magnificent Ferengi.”

Even with those two fantastic episodes, and other times Quark shines in episodes like “Business As Usual” and “Profit and Lace,” Quark ends up exactly where he began.

As a Ferengi, Quark was raised with an intense need to earn profit. The entire population within the Ferengi alliance, after all, knows the Rules of Acquisition by heart.

For Quark, even with all his aspirations and more deals gone wrong over those gone right, his character ends with some negative changes.

Quark: “You practically begged me to stay,
which was against my better judgement, but I did!”
Sisko: “I didn’t beg you, I blackmailed you.”

source

Rom
The Shift Arc

Max Grodenchik portrayed Rom

Max Grodenchik has said that Rom was supposed to be just a guest on DS9. While it’s true he’s not in the opening credits, both he and Nog really should’ve been.

Rom is not your typical Ferengi. He’s often criticized by members of his own race, or mocked by others, for being too influenced by “hoomans.”

Rom’s arc connects him to several story threads, and he takes it all on in, well, in Rom’s own way. And Rom’s own way is exactly what’s so endearing about him.

Even when he’s plotting against Quark – because he is, after all, still a Ferengi. A Ferengi with a finish you’ll never see coming.

Rom: “I’m going back to Quark! At least then I’ll be cheated by family!”

source

Nog
The Shift Arc

Nog was portrayed by Aron Eisenberg

Nog, influenced by his friendship with the Sisko family, begins to desire something more than what his society expects of him. There’s so much backstory with Nog and the man who portrays him that it could be its own separate blog post.

Because of those desires, he’s met with some tough resistance from those who can’t believe a Ferengi would want something more than profit. He wants to join Starfleet.

Nog’s journey from childhood to trusted member of the crew is a great reason families should watch DS9. For a secondary character, that’s not too shabby if you ask me.

Jake: “I- I- I made other plans!”
Nog: “What could be more important than dom-jot?”
Jake: “I have a date.”
Nog: “Ohhh. We-ell. That’s different.”

source

Gul Dukat
The Fall Arc

Gul Dukat was played by Mark Alaimo

What can I say about Gul Dukat that won’t spoil anything for you? For the character that he is, he’s one of the most developed I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek series. Next would have to be Commander Worf.

Dukat’s journey is one filled with challenge after challenge. He falls from grace, reclaims his place and falls again. Does this give him some form of Cardassian inferiority complex?

Let’s just say that Dukat is the polar opposite of DS9s resident Cardassian, Garak. While their race, as a whole, is ambitious, confident and efficient, this combination of traits feed both Dukat’s ego and his downfall.

Kira: “Why is it when you smile I want to leave the room?”
Dukat: “I suppose it’s because of my overwhelming charm.”

source

Kai Winn Adami
The Fall Arc

Kai Winn was played by Louise Fletcher

Speaking of ego, Winn Adami likes to begin many of her statements with the “I.” I’ll not hide my feelings about this particular character: Adami is a snake, and I’m sure she’ll not appreciate my use of her given name here.

Adami not only qualify for the Fall Arc, she’s a rather flat character as well. Her wants are singular. And, irony of ironies, she’s openly bitter about her circumstances.

Is that bitterness warranted? Is it self-imposed or was it fed by the Bajoran thirst for freedom from the Cardassian Occupation? I guess you’ll just have to watch and decide for yourself.

Kai Winn: “I was chosen by the Prophets to lead our people into a new era. I know that! But I was not meant to be in a room with a Cardassian, debating legalisms and diplomatic nuances.”

source

“But Leigh! You left out Ezri Dax. Jake Sisko. Garak. Weyoun. Keiko and Molly and Kirayoshi O’Brien. Not to mention Liquidator Brunt, Quark’s cousin Gala, Moogie, the Grand Nagus, Damar, Leeta-“

Slow down, slow down, slow down. Deep Space Nine has one of, if not the largest pools of secondary characters I’ve ever seen in a series. And, whether you like my analysis or not, those folks are secondary characters.

While Jake Sisko did indeed grow up on the show (figuratively and literally), there really aren’t enough Jake-centered episodes fully round out his character. I should hope that even Jake Sisko himself, the captain’s son turned author, would agree with that conclusion. In conclusion: his is a flat character arc.

As for the others, some I’d love to see come back if Deep Space Nine were ever revived. But without Odo or Nog (rest in Paradise, Rene and Aron), as well as certain characters written off the show, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

For now, don’t let my analysis of these characters dissuade you from watching Deep Space Nine. Sandwiched between The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager, the writers for DS9 were able to explore a different kind of frontier.

“Very well written and insightful. Writing is definitely your strong suit!” -Greg

The Gilded Conspiracy // Prologue and Part One Now Live

Evenin’ all! I hope you’re having a great start to your weekend. Does it feel like Autumn where you are? It’s certainly beginning to here in Pennsylvania and I can’t wait for my birthday weekend trip to Johnstown in September.

If you didn’t already know, I recently launched a new website for short stories. It’s called The Power of Histfic. There I can share any story my brain concocts as I work on Project Firedamp. Everyone needs a creative outlet, right?

And who knows? Maybe other writers can join in on the historical fun over there as well. For now, the Prologue and Part 1 for my first ever web series are both LIVE and ready to be read. I invite you to hop on over and give them a read. I’d also love constructive feedback as well. Behold: The Gilded Conspiracy! A story set in 1853 London. Click the image below to read.

What I Bought From the Kawaii Pen Shop.

A couple of months ago I put up a post titled Seven Online Stationary Shops I Need to Buy From ASAP.

The lessons learned during this particular experience were many, though it should’ve been a simpler process.

Before we get into all that, let’s take a look at what I purchased. I had a difficult time sifting through the site’s offerings, so I made a mental note: only buy a little, at first. $46 + some change later, here’s what I chose.

Kawaii Pendant Gel Ink Pen. The charm’s what drew me to this piece. It reminded me of the Japanese manga Sailor Moon. A loose reminder, but a reminder nonetheless. After owning this pen for two weeks it stopped writing. Not only that, it stopped writing and leaked a big puddle onto my desk. Price: $2.59 + one desk.

Kawaii Pendant Gel Ink Pen
Gel Ink Stain on my desk…

Sweet Pocky Pens

Sweet Pocky Pens. If you’re unfamiliar with this sweet, Pocky is a stick shaped biscuit treat first developed in 1971 Japan. Since its inception many versions of the chocolate covered treat have hit the market and can now be found in many popular North American retailers. So I really liked the look of these pens, and have to remind myself to not take a bite out of them! While they’re aesthetically pleasing, I’ve yet to find a good way to hold them. However, I do appreciate the fact the pens’ manufacturer flattened one side of it so the design would always face up. Price for two: $4.98.

My Neighbor Totoro Gel Ink Pen. As much as I adore Studio Ghibli, I did not like this pen. The Totoro top is a thin, rubbery piece of felt, and it stopped writing just like the pendant pen. I’m just grateful it didn’t also leak all over my desk. Price: $2.39.

Japanese Pattern Washi Tapes

KOKUYO Dot Liner Applicator + Bear Hug Correction Tape. When I’ve the time for it, I love crafting. Making cards, stationary pages and more. I really like how the dot liner is re-loadable. Most American versions of double-sided tape dispensers are one time use tools. This brings me to the correction tape applicator. Its adorable design made me buy it. I didn’t need it, but I wanted it. Dot Liner: $3.99. Bear Hug: $2.99.

Macaron Galaxy, Japanese Patterns, and Slim Washi Tapes. So far, these items are the only things to perform as they should. The Japanese Patterns tapes were a bit tricky to use as the sticky side is adhered to paper rather than just the other side of the roll. The stars tapes, both the gold and aqua silver rolls, are gorgeous. Price for all washi tapes: $17.47

Totoro Plastic “Stickers” and Thin Washi Tapes

Kawaii Totoro Plastic Stickers and Kanahei Bunny Stickers. As a kid I was a sucker for stickers. Even now, if I see cute stickers, I have to at least drool over them before convincing myself I really don’t need a sticker collection. I’m glad I picked up the bunny stickers – my seven year old niece will love them. But the Totoros? They’re not stickers at all. Plastic, yes. But there’s nothing sticky about them. They’re merely plastic cut outs of the characters, and I can still use the Dot Liner to apply them to my next letter. Price of Totoro “stickers:” $3.99. Price of bunny stickers: $3.59.


I placed my order on July 31st, they acknowledged it June 1st, and shipped it June 2nd. When did the package actually arrive? August 4th. It took two months to receive it. I’m most mad at myself because I knew, before deciding to place an order, that they’re based out of Hong Kong. The day it appeared in my mailbox I was going to file a dispute for the transaction to get my money back. Moral of the story: Never shop online during a pandemic unless what you’re shopping for is absolutely necessary.

Was this purchase worth the money? I’m sorry to say, but no. Some of it wasn’t worth the money nor the time it took to arrive. Just because something’s labeled “kawaii,” that doesn’t mean it’s reliable or practical. The experience only confirmed what I needed it to: online shopping isn’t everything. Do I trust the Kawaii Pen Shop? Nothing’s happened to my bank account since then, so I trust them for that. What I do not trust the quality of their products. Still, if you’d like to check them out for yourself, here are their links:

What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

The answer: very little, in fact. Way back in April, at the very beginning of all things pandemic and everyone else was binging their entire Netflix list, I conducted a month long experiment and unplugged my television. For science. Five months later it’s still unplugged, and I haven’t seen a single political ad this whole year. The result: a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media. As such, here’s what I watch when I’m not writing. Or trying to write. Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

YouTube

For a long while I unsubscribed from all the channels I was watching the past two years. Some of them no longer posted content, and others no longer piqued my interest. Last night I whittled down the my current list from over fifteen to six. Here they are.

Kittisaurus

Kittisaurus and her ten (yes, ten) cats brings me so much joy. A YouTuber out of South Korea, Claire, Lulu, Momo, TT, DD, LaLa, CoCo, ChuChu, Nana, Toto and DoDo will most certainly brighten up your day. However, Claire recently got back ownership of her original channel, CreamHeroes. While I’m really happy she was able to accomplish that, I’m still nervous to resub. (If you know anything about YouTube politics, you get what I mean). So here’s a couple videos from her Kittisaurus channel for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! She’s got such a large, international fan base that she’s been working on her English skills.

Royalty Soaps

I love Katie’s soaps. Having watched her channel grow over the past several years, it’s now incredibly difficult placing orders on her soap release days. But that’s a fantastic problem to have – for Katie! She’s a small business based out of Texas and basically her whole family’s involved in the process. (Process. Cold processed soap. See what I did there? hehe). While I prefer low-top soaps over the ones with high piles of “soap frosting,” I bought a high top grapefruit soap earlier this year and was sad when it was gone. If you prefer using bars of soap over liquid, consider supporting Katie’s Royalty Soaps. If you can’t seem to get your hands on her bars, look into Ophelia’s Soapery.

Binging With Babish

I found this channel a month ago. I don’t even know why I started watching it. All I know is I’ll never make a good 95% of the recipes he recreates from television shows and film. Of the five percent left, I *may* actually attempt an alcohol free version of the cheese fondue video below. I bought one of those electric fondue pots last year, and I own several old school fondue cookbooks from the 1970s. Oooh – I may just have to for my birthday coming up next month!

Kimono Mom

Kimono Mom’s the most recent channel I’ve subscribed to within the last few weeks. Moe cooks Japanese cuisine with her adorable daughter, Sutan. I’ve always wanted to try making more types of food, and I love this channel’s simplicity. In fact, I’m going to try making tonkatsu later this week. The closest Asian market that I know of here in Pittsburgh is about twenty minutes away on a good driving day. I don’t know if they’re currently open for business, but I’m going to try looking for ingredients to make dashi, and that coveted Japanese mayo!

Tonkatsu reminds me of the German dish schnitzle, which is also a breaded cutlet.

Jessica Braun

I’ve watched Jessica Braun for years. And I do mean years. From the floor of her bedroom to her wedding to the birth of her adorable Gigi, it’s been a privilege to watch her little family grow. If you like all things Disney, her husband’s a travel agent and they often vlog their trips (when there’s not a pandemic going on, of course). If you like a more down-to-earth YouTube channel experience, give Jessica Braun’s channel a try.

Alexandria Ryan

Alex’s channel is one of those channels I unsub from only to come back a month later. I don’t know why I just don’t let the link sit in my subs list. To quote Alex, “Anywho…” This channel’s specialty lies in subscription box unboxings. If you ever think about getting one, she may have a review of it already. Boxes aren’t as big as they once were, but I could be wrong. The only box I purchase is FabFitFun. That’s mostly because of their options and quality, add-on specials, and ease of cancellation.

Netflix

I have a rule of thumb with Netflix – never have more than five shows in your Watch Later list. Right before I unplugged my TV, I pushed my way through a list twenty titles deep. By the end, instead of entertained, I was disappointed in myself for some of the choices I make in life. Okay, let’s not get philosophical here. Here’s what’s currently on my Watch Later list:

Star Trek

Some people binge watch FRIENDS. Others The Office, and still others Seinfeld. Then there’s the generation that adores shows like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and the newest version of Sabrina. Whatever your favorite genre may be, mine will always, always be Star Trek.

This month’s series is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve yet to dip my toes into Discovery or Picard, as its the classics I love. One of these days I really should see what all the talk’s about.

It takes me about a month to get through a Star Trek series, and I can’t watch them out of order. The only one I also can’t get into is The Original Series. I do, of course, understand its significance and place in pop culture history.

If you doubt my love for Trek, just read these blog posts of mine:

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager
The Dream That Star Trek Gave Me
Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes
Five Favorite Childhood Books

Black

Another Netflix habit I have is rewatching old Korean dramas I absolutely adore. I normally don’t go for dramas with older cast members, as I prefer more light-hearted series. But Black’s dark nature rekindled my love for its genre (think Japan’s Ghost Hunt anime, Supernatural, and S. Korea’s Bring It On, Ghost [oml Taecyeon’s my weakness).

Last month I watched Oh My Ghost again. I really want to rewatch the Taiwanese and Japanese versions once more, but that’s a lot of TV. For now, I’ll stick with the Korean mystical thriller, Black.

Cast:
1. Song Seung-heon
2. Go Ara
3. El Lee
4. Jo Jae-yoon
5. Kim Dong-jun
6. Kim Won-hae
7. Choi Myung-bin
8. Lee Hyo-Je
9. Kim Hyeong-min
10. Kim Jae-young

Cursed

Cursed is one of those shows with such mixed reviews I hesitate to watch.

I’ve also been so busy as of late that I really need to set aside time to sit down and pay attention to something brand new. I think that’s why I enjoy having old shows on in the background, so I can still work without having to stop and watch.

Yes, this includes Korean dramas like Black.

I’m drawn to anything with swords. Think Lord of the Rings, Legend of the Seeker and that one episode of Firefly where Mal is challenged to a duel. Okay, looks like I’m giving Cursed a chance.

NiNoKuni

Every so often I’ll hop on the anime train. I can only handle it in small chunks. As a kid I loved Sailor Moon and watched Inuyasha during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming. I also absolutely love Sword Art Online, Clannad, Mary and the Witch’s Flower and A Silent Voice.

This past week I finished A Whisker Away, Ouran High School Host Club (again), and Toradora. That’s a lot of television for someone who’s unplugged her actual tv!

NiNoKuni‘s a film along the same line as A.I.C.O. Incarnate, another post-apocalyptic Netflix original. The similar concept drew me to add it to my list, and I can’t wait to dive in.

I do appreciate how one kid in the poster kinda reminds me of Haku from Spirited Away:


So how’s that for an impromptu blog post? I suppose the other reason I wanted to share these titles is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube video or Netflix flick. They’re a great stress reliever and frees up those neurons so they can plan out your next great scene. Give yourself a break and do something freeing today.

August Bookviews // Islands, Recipes and Devil Fires Indeed

Well, it looks like I completely forgot to do Bookviews for July. July didn’t even register in my mind until it was August. The number of books I read also dropped dramatically, but more writing’s happened and that’s taken priority. I’d still like to share my Bookviews for August 2020! (Here’s the Bookview post for June).

The format these sections is as follows. I’ll pull six titles from this site’s On My Bookshelf page: three from What I’ve Read, two from Upcoming Reads, and one from that dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) pile. From What I’ve Read, you can expect my final thoughts on plot, character development, and a star rating. From Upcoming Reads, my expectations or hopes for the book. And perhaps even a prediction or two. Finally, from the DNFs, what made me close the cover for good and if I’ll ever attempt to read it again.

The First Section: What I’ve Read

SAVING MISS EVERLY
by Sally Britton

Rating: 3 out of 5.

July’s and August’s reads all have one thing in common: I wanted Regency. While I wanted gritty, adventurous Regencies, many that piqued my interest were the sweet romance variety.

That’s what I appreciated about SAVING MISS EVERLY. It’s unique setting felt very much like LOST (minus the airplanes) x CAST AWAY and I’m not mad at that at all.

With that being said, I did feel like there were one too many characters. I also felt that several of the characters’ reactions to situations were blown out of proportion. This could be an 1814 vs 2020 disconnect.

If you like uncertainty, adventure, islands (definitely a summer read), and romance, then give SAVING MISS EVERLY a try.

Sally’s Links

ALLEGHENY CITY: A HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH’S NORTH SIDE
by Dan Rooney and Carol Peterson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re from Pittsburgh, or even familiar with the National Football League at all, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Dan Rooney. Naturally, a book published by such an iconic man as Mr. Rooney would make headline news for weeks on end.

My church, located on Pittsburgh’s North Side, was formed in 1992 when two churches came together in one building we still call home. I never knew the historical significance of our location until I began my research journey in 2016.

Since then I’ve poured over maps and my fascination grew for things that used to be in my own city. I’m sad for not picking this up sooner. Even if you don’t read this book, consider looking into your own town’s history. There’s informational gems there you may never otherwise discover!

News Article Links

STORING UP TROUBLE
by Jen Turano

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is one book I’m glad I bought in paperback and not Kindle. If you want romance, and you want adventure, then STORING UP TROUBLE should definitely be your next read.

I was actually really happy to find a book set in my own manuscript’s time frame, as many things mentioned throughout her story matched with what I know from research.

What I didn’t realize when I picked this up is that it’s part of the American Heiresses series. It can be read as a standalone. That being said, I could easily devour all of Turano’s stories, just like I do those by Melanie Dickerson.

Jen’s Links

The Second Section: My Upcoming Reads

THE UNOFFICIAL DOWNTON ABBEY COOKBOOK
by Emily Ansara Baines

I’ll not include any stars for these entries as I’ve yet to read them. Instead, I’ll include its brief synopsis, why I picked it up, and what I hope will come from the story.

Would you believe me if I told you I’ve never seen any part of the Downton Abbey television series?

Then why did I buy THE UNOFFICIAL DOWNTON ABBEY COOKBOOK? The answer is simple. Research.

I wondered: how old could some of the recipes be? Would they be at least reminiscent of dishes served in late Victoria?

So it’s time to learn how to cook again. For science.

Emily’s Links

A LADY OUT OF TIME
by Caroline Harris

I’ll not include any stars for these entries as I’ve yet to read them. Instead, I’ll include its brief synopsis, why I picked it up, and what I hope will come from the story.

The Lake House. A Wrinkle in Time. The Time Traveler’s Wife. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. What do all these stories have in common? Time travel.

It’s a trope that’s been used time and time again (see what I did there?), but what’s important is the author’s ability to control it. That’s what I’m most anxious to see in A LADY OUT OF TIME.

Caroline’s Links

The Third Section: What I Did Not Finish

THE DEVIL’S FIRE
by Matt Tomerlin

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Oh boy. Where do I even begin with THE DEVIL’S FIRE? No book I’ve ever attempted to read made me madder than this one.

Now here’s the trouble I face. Do I write a scathing review or do I suggest you buy it and attempt reading such an necessarily violent, misogynistic tale yourself? Part of a trilogy (the first book), I honestly don’t see how this was published.

Whoops – did I say that last bit aloud?

I’m mad at this book all over again.

Matt’s Links

Well? What do you guys think? I hope you had fun reading through these titles and my thoughts on them. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Announcement // A New Site For Short Stories

Good evening, everyone! I just wanted to take a moment to put up a quick announcement for an exciting new venture I began earlier this evening.

For a long while now I’ve wanted to share some short stories with you. The last time I tried to write such things was two years ago and I never finished them.

One of my personal goals for 2020 is to practice bravery. I felt brave when I opened my first ever credit card, I felt brave when I had to “adult” and correspond with both AAA and PennDOT over issues with my car (and resolved them), and I felt brave when I posted made the very first post live for THE GILDED CONSPIRACY over on my brand new website, The Power of Histfic.

So I invite you to follow the adventures of Lady Irene Washburn in a Victorian web series over on thepowerofhistfic.com. I can only hope you enjoy the story!

I Created Pinterest Boards for my Characters.

They say many things are best left to the imagination. While that’s, for the most part, a true statement, sometimes creating visuals can help your writing process. That’s why so many writers create those grids and aesthetics that still pop up on Twitter from time to time. I’ve got about twenty on this Pinterest board if you’d like to check them out.

Call this a cheap, easy blog post if you like – because, well it is – but this is a crazy work week and I wanted to share these boards. Plus they’ll be brief introductions to some very important players in THE FIREDAMP CHRONICLES.

I won’t go into full detail, however. Only three characters are represented here. Who wants to give away the recipe before the cookie is eaten?

Okay, that’s totally not a saying, insofar as I know. But a certain J.Elle got me thinking about cookies with her last “Monday Mixer” on Twitter. I’m not one to start trends, but I sure do like experimenting with them. So here are Pinterest boards I’ve created for three of my characters. Which ones are main? Secondary? Tertiary? Who knows!

Bronagh Hayes

Bronagh’s not as spunky as a child her age should be – exploring life, learning, or working on a sampler. Life’s dealt her more pain than an eleven year old should bear. This board represents her hopes and dreams:

Simon Dunkle

Born to German immigrants, Simon’s dreams feel a bit more far-fetched and unrealistic by the time his story truly begins in THE FIREDAMP CHRONICLES. Here’s Simon’s board:

Alwine Dunkle

Alwine, Simon’s mother, is just as hardworking as those men in the mines and mills. Her recipes feed their families, employers and travelers who find themselves on the main street of Franklin. As such, her board is filled with all sorts of delectibles she wishes she had time to make.


Well, what do you guys think? I like how each board almost has its own color story. Did you find one or two potential Easter eggs in any of them? Leave your plot theories in the comment section below!

Are you stuck on a scene or character or plot point? Maybe creating a Pinterest board for it will do the trick.

A Comparative Review of CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS for Golden May Editing

We don’t read action scenes for the action. We read to see how hard a character will fight for what they desire most.”

FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW TO PAY THEM A VISIT

If you’ve never been to AnotherHartmanAuthor before, then hi! My name is Leigh Hartman. I’m in the fourth year of my writing journey with an intense interest in Pennsylvania history. I realize the title for this post reads as though I’m part of Golden May. I am not. But I am honored they trust me enough to review their workbook, CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS.

Reviews. Whether they’re posted up on Amazon, Goodreads or here on my blog, a funny feeling washes over me each and every time. Did I say the right things? Who is this review really for – the writer? The reader? The publisher? In truth, reviews are for everyone. And that is a terrifying thought.

Why? Because reviews are incredibly public opinions concerning another’s work. Not only that, these days, opinions are picked apart and, if the individual on the receiving end doesn’t like what you have to say, the very real possibility of your review magically disappearing isn’t all that far fetched.

Why, then, am I reviewing CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS for Golden May? The answer is simple: I love non-fiction. Okay, I love non-fiction and fiction. In my never-ending quest to find new resource materials, you better believe I jumped at the chance to review and see if another method of creating believable characters could work just as well, or better, than my current one.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to compare this guide with that of author KM Weiland’s character interviews to see which better matches my style. Because, in the end, you’ll never know what works best unless you try it out.

CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS can be broken down into three key parts:

01


Advice

02


Activities

03


Completion

Plot twist!

When Emily Golden and I connected over this opportunity, I told her initially that I would be using this to work on my WIP’s antagonist. However, upon further reflection, I realized I didn’t want to give anything away anything for Project Firedamp, especially anything about my story’s baddie. I will touch upon all four of the above points as this post progresses, working with my newest character named Lady Irene. She will appear in a new web story series I’m writing for this very site.

PART 1. The Advice

“All stories make a point, beginning on page one. Which means that as a writer you need to know what that point is, long before you get to page one.”

-Lisa Cron, Story Genius via workbook pages

Have you ever read a self-help book and thought, “Okay, get to the point. This is too much information”? Another thing a reader needs to consider is how they’ll receive what’s presented. What I first appreciate about this guide is its straightforwardness. There’s no beating-around-the-bush or anecdotes. The second thing I like about CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS is it was created by two editors with years of experience in the biz. Not only that, Emily confirmed the status of my grammar. I’ll gladly take that advice any day of the week!

PART 2. The Activities

Call me stubborn if you’d like, but I sometimes have a difficult time accepting change. After working with the character interview pages for Project Firedamp for so long, it was hard to switch gears. But did I liked the idea of activities over a list. Let’s begin.

The First Activity

Draft your story point. Consider why you’re writing this story, and who you’re writing it for. […] You’re aiming for a one-line statement: the message you want to share about how the world works.

Lady Irene’s heart is in turmoil. Her life, turned upside down the previous year, still affects her daily life. Stuck in a rut, she believes she’ll never go back to normal. Okay. This isn’t a single statement. Let me give it a real whirl:

Hope always follows fear.

Hmm – I think that’s actually pretty good! It matches the story’s overall arc which will, hopefully, be pertinent to 2020’s conditions.

It’s also at this point I’ll begin world-building. The opening scenes will play a very important later on in the story.

The Second Activity

Let’s take a look at the seven (or five, whichever you prefer) stages of grief. They are:

Shock
Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Testing
Acceptance

Lady Irene, in deep grief, absolutely refuses to acknowledge she’s passed any of these stages. She’s alone in her journey – though perhaps not as alone as she thinks. Irene’s setting herself up for a spinster existence, one no one else wants her to experience. She believes she’ll never escape this, nor the expectations placed upon a Victorian woman in 1853.

What beliefs can you think of that are in direct contrast to your story point? List them out and consider which which one is the most succinct, holds the greatest emotional impact and stakes, and will provide your character with the most intriguing struggle.

The Third Activity

What internal and external goals can you give your character that are incompatible with their inner obstacle?

Internal Goal: Our lady wants to get out but hasn’t realized just how desperately she needs to figure herself out before it’s too late.

External Goal: She wants the strange happenings and her tears to end, and things back to what they were.

The Fourth Activity

Lady Irene feels her time slipping away. Everyone abandoned her… including her Julian.

If Lady Irene cannot solve the mystery behind things which never happened before in her home, she fears she’ll go insane before her twenty-fifth year. She must discover whatever the messages left behind for her mean, lest she remain in her grief stricken state forever.

Okay , this needs some work!

What dire thing does your character fear will happen (whether real or imagined) if they don’t achieve their internal and external goals? Are they serious stakes? […]

The Fifth Activity

Now this is where I’ll end things because
No writer wants to reveal too much!


PART 3. Completion

Within the last pages of the guide there are charts you can work from to build your own. It shows how each of the previous parts works together to clearly showcase your character’s main motives.

While I may have done these pages differently from the intended results, the guide did force me to look past the interview style of building up a character.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Where’s this duel? Where’s the comparison part she promised us?”

So how does CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS
differ from KM Weiland’s character interviews?

Craft Complex Characters

1. Looks at motives from the smallest to overall
2. Focuses more on the protagonist’s obstacles
3. Guides the writer to zero in on why they’re writing the story

Character Interview Method

  1. Details character’s mannerisms, demographics, personality, etc
  2. Can be used for protagonists, antagonists and secondaries
  3. Easily modifiable to fit your characters’ needs

Do I think they’d make great companion resources for creating well-rounded characters?
Absolutely!

As it turns out, both guides were created with very separate goals, but still the same overall one in mind: to help you finish your story and finish it well.

With all that being said, keep your eyes peeled for a Victorian ghostly tale coming next month to this site –
THE GILDED CONSPIRACY, featuring our Lady Irene.

And don’t forget to check out CRAFT COMPLEX CHARACTERS by Golden May Editing, available for purchase this weekend. Be sure to vote in the poll below, and feel free to let us know in the comments below what tools you use to create your characters