Showing posts from 2017

Saturday Snippets: Winter Warrior

This month, I spent a good portion of my writing time fixing up a short story from a few years back that involved Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) as a wandering spirit. It was inspired by a friend's defense of the Santa Claus/Father Christmas tradition, and I'm very pleased with the final version. Here's a small excerpt from the beginning of "Winter Warrior": Snow fell unseen in the moonless night air, each flake making its journey without notice or proclamation. Nick liked the snow on nights like this. It went about its business anonymously, as he did on the best of nights. Nick was neither angel nor demon, but he wasn’t, strictly speaking, human. To be human, one must possess both body and soul, and Nick was a bit short in the corporeal department. Had been for centuries now. He wasn’t the only spirit wandering the Earth, but he hadn’t met another like him in a month of Christmases. If you would like to read the rest of the story, head over to Ink &

ThrowBook Thursday: Top Books of 2017

As the year draws to an end, I thought I would use this month's ThrowBook Thursday to look back on the books that I've enjoyed the most this year. If I've written about the book, I'll link to the post in its description. If not, I'll rave about it a bit. (For the sake of fairness, I'm not considering books that I read for a second or more time this year, else this would be a list of old favorites.) The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson The finale of the 100 Cupboards series. I'll be writing a full review soon, but suffice it to say that this book was immensely satisfying. Turn Coat by Jim Butcher I haven't written about my love for this series much, which I hope to rectify in the coming months. I have mentioned it here , here , and here . Turn Coat is the eleventh book in the series, which currently stands at 15 novels, one short story collection, and several graphic novels. A further collection and novel are due out in the next year or two,

The (Not So) Subtle Art of "Plantsing"

Recently, Mirriam had a post up about "pantsing" or writing without an outline. Generally, writers are sorted into two camps: plotters (who outline) and pantsers (who don't), but over the years I've come to see myself as something in the middle. A "plantser" if you will. When I mentioned this in relation to Mirriam's advice, another commenter asked if I had anything more to say about this middle ground, so here is some advice for those of you who find yourself needing to plot things out, but not to the extremes that you've seen many plotters advise. Plan Some, Not All The largest contrast between plotting and plantsing is the amount of planning you do beforehand. Bare minimum, you should have your characters, the basic setting (don't worry if all the details are missing, but know if you're in city/country, magic/technology, etc.), and a beginning and/or ending in mind before you sit down. This doesn't mean you have to know every char

Monday Musings: Survey Results and the Art Giveaway Winner!

The year-end survey is closed, and the results are in! Here are the questions from the survey, along with your collective answers. Q: Which is your favorite monthly feature? A: Most people seem to like all the features, with some preferring Top 10 Tuesday and Watercolor Wednesday. Q: What is your least favorite monthly feature? A: Most people don't have a least favorite! Though some chose Saturday Snippets as their least favorite. Q: What would you like to see more of on the blog? A: Most people wanted to see more reviews (whether TV, movie, or book), with some wanting more art and some wanting more lists. Q: What would you like to see less of on the blog? A: Most people were happy with the current variety, though one person said they'd like to see less art and one said they'd like to see fewer lists. Q: Have you read Albion Academy? A: There was a 50/50 split in the respondents between those who have read the book and those who plan

Monday Musings: The Secret War in the Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials

Last week, I talked about how the Rankin/Bass and said I'd offer up my theory on what the cause of all that wintry magic is. (Or laugh at me for taking a bunch of animated TV specials so seriously. Whatever floats your goat.) The Players In case you've forgotten, I kept track of all the magical wintry folk last week and they are (with their original story/stories in parentheses): Lady Boreal ( Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July ) Winterbolt and the Genie of the Ice Scepter ( Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July ) Jack Frost ( Frosty's Winter Wonderland or  Jack Frost , depending on external or internal chronology) Father Winter, Snip, Gypsy, the snow sprites, etc. ( Jack Frost ) Winter Warlock ( Santa Claus is Comin' to Town ) Cold Miser ( The Year without a Santa Claus ) Mother Nature [as Cold Miser's mother, she presumably holds sway over winter] ( The Year without a Santa Claus ) Eon ( Rudolph's Shiny New Year ) [I forgot

Top 10 Tuesday: Christmas Albums

When Advent comes upon us and everyone else finally starts listening to Christmas music (I never really stop; I just take breaks away from it), I usually pull out some favorite albums to carry me through the season. I used to have only a handful of albums that I'd list as favorites, but the last few years have introduced me to more and I actually have a top 10 now. Here they are, in roughly ascending order: Chris Tomlin: Glory in the Highest A very contemporary-sounding album, Tomlin's Glory in the Highest  combines old songs and new, and takes some cues from Biblical passages, as in the song below, "My Soul Magnifies the Lord." Loreena McKennitt: To Drive the Cold Winter Away With a Celtic album to add some variety, McKennitt's voice conjures up firelit halls and minstrel-led singing. Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable For the country/bluegrass part of me, there's this album. The opening track (below) gets me excited for the season like fe

Monday Musings: Synchronizing the Ranking/Bass Christmas Specials

If you're at all familiar with Christmas in America, you know that there are some old claymation and hand-drawn animation TV specials that come out of the woodworks this time of year. Rankin/Bass made quite a few of them, and even branched out into other holidays like Easter and New Year's, and more than a handful of them featured at least one of a trio of characters that these specials have (further) established in the public consciousness: Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus. A few years back, during our yearly rewatch of many of these specials, my wife objected to the disparity in Jack Frost's portrayal in the second Frosty special, Frosty's Winter Wonderland . I set about thinking up a way to bring this special into agreement with Frost's eponymous special and the seeds of this theory post were planted. The Rankin/Bass "trinity" of holiday figures Before I get into this, let me clarify which specials I'm including: Rudolph the Red-N

Monday Musings: Magical Knitting and Christmas Crochet

I mentioned last month that I'd picked up knitting and crocheting again after a long break, and I wanted to share the projects that have stemmed from that renewed interest. First up, some fingerless gloves/arm warmers in the style of Gandalf. I made these to go with the wizard hat I mentioned in last month's post. They turned out well (and I even had someone pay me to make a pair for them). Here's the full outfit (with different long-sleeved shirts underneath to try out the effect of the greys). The staff is an actual walking stick I trimmed and tidied up from a hickory branch that fell in our yard a couple years back. I really like the effect of the hat with the gloves and the staff. I need more opportunities to wear this outfit. This picture also includes my Remus Lupin scarf that fits in well with the grey theme. A few years back, I misread the song title "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" as "I want a Hippogriff for Christmas&quo

Monday Musings: Dandelion Fire Review

A couple of months back, I reviewed the first book in N.D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards trilogy. Today, I'm taking a look at the second book in the series, Dandelion Fire . Dandelion Fire  picks up the story in the weeks after 100 Cupboards  wraps up, and although Uncle Frank has failed to follow through on his promise to seal up the cupboards once again, Henry has no desire to go exploring any more. While he's curious about his otherworldly origins, the aftermath of his fight with Nimiane of Endor has left him satisfied with life in Kansas. He could stay here forever  and be happy with his newfound friends and family. Even a strange dandelion burning away his sight isn't enough to keep Henry from wanting to stay. Unfortunately, Henry's adoptive mother has other plans, and has sent an official letter through her lawyer that Henry will be brought back to Boston after the 4th of July. In a desperate attempt to find out where he comes from and where he belongs before

ThrowBook Thursday: The Inkheart Trilogy

When I was planning out the topics for this month's blog posts, I had hoped I'd be finished with To Green Angel Tower  before this post so I could wrap up my Osten Ard reread series. Alas, it was not to be. Instead, today's post is brought to you by recent conversations that have inspired me to reread yet another series (though the actual rereading is probably not happening just yet). I've talked about my love of Inkheart  and its sequels in the past  but I want to talk about it just a little bit more today. Specifically, the five things about this series that have stuck with me and make it a series I will still fan out over today. Dustfinger First things first, there's this little gem of a character. At times a hardcore wise man and a ruddy coward, Dustfinger is one of the series' most complex and sympathetic characters. He is also the center of one of my favorite character arcs in fiction (it's up there with Zuko's redemption in Avatar:

Monday Musings: My Literary Twin(s)

I recently knitted a pair of arm warmers designed to look like Gandalf's in the Middle-earth movies. In the conversations that followed my sharing about this on Facebook, Mirriam mentioned that Gandalf was her literary twin. Several other friends joined the conversation, offering up their own literary twins -- the characters with whom they most identified. I was surprised so many people had given this matter some thought, and confessed that I did not know who my literary twin would be (I do however have a birthday twin who is a wonderful human being). So I thought about it. And thought about it. And thought about it some more. And here we are, with me still not having a single fictional character who is my "twin." I have many. Hear me out, though. I have dozens, if not hundreds, of favorite characters -- characters I enjoy watching or reading, characters I would want as friends, characters I identify with in small and large ways. But very few of those come close e

Inexhaustible Inspiration Year-End Survey and Art Giveaway

November is almost halfway over and I'm taking a look at how the blog has done this year. If you've enjoyed any of the posts I've put up this year, I hope you'll consider taking this quick survey to help me know what types of posts you enjoy most (so I can make more of them in the future). If you take the survey, you'll also be entered into a drawing for some Albion Academy -inspired artwork created by yours truly. Thank you for your feedback and your continued presence here at Inexhaustible Inspiration. Create your own user feedback survey

Top 10 Tuesday: Things I'm Thankful for This Year

It's November, which means everything Christmas Thanksgiving is upon us. In that spirit, this month's Top 10 is all about thankfulness. Let's get rolling! Albion Academy is published. There's nothing like knowing you've created something that's out in the world for people to enjoy. NarniaWeb continues to bless me with friendships, memories, and news about the Narnia films. (Yes, children, The Silver Chair is  happening.) I've been able to work on my art this year -- written and visual. It's been a blessing to express myself in these ways and to learn more about the forms. It's also been nice to just be somewhat consistent with creating. Samwise and Jeana (and our cat Pumpkin) continue to light up my life every day. I'm immensely thankful God has allowed me to have these people in my life. My immediate and extended family have been around a lot this year (I'm sure Samwise has nothing to do with this) and I've been able to

Monday Musings: Why Disney's Sleeping Beauty is NOT Aurora's Story

Sleeping Beauty is one of those Disney films I love to come back to again and again. It has beautiful animation, humor, and some interesting magical characters. But over the years, I've come to think of it less as Aurora's story and more as the story of fairy politics. This belief was only reinforced by our weekend attempt to introduce Samwise to the movie (he was about as interested as he is in anything not Moana , which is to say very interested for about 5 minutes and then sporadically interested when he wasn't playing with toys). Exhibit A: Her (In)Active Role This is something a lot of people criticize about Sleeping Beauty : its protagonist . . . doesn't do much in the film. She sings, she wanders the woods while the "dears" prepare a birthday surprise, she meets a man, she submits to having her life turned upside down, and then she falls under the spell of the villain. She also has the fewest lines of dialogue of any Disney princess ever. She si

Watercolor Wednesday: Halloween and the End of Inktober

October is over, and so is Inktober. Here are the last 9 of my Inktober drawings, along with a watercolor sign I painted as part of my Halloween costume (also pictured). I'm moving Watercolor Wednesday up a week this month because the months when first Tuesday and second Wednesday fall in the same week are always harder to keep up with blog-wise and because I don't anticipate a lot of painting getting done this month apart from Christmas gifts that I can't share until after they've been received. Day 23: The Kitsune Girl (Urban) I really had a hard time with this one, but I'm pleased with the fox tail. Day 24: The Anti-Vampire (Urban) Another character sketch from Ashes and Dust , this was one of the prompts I stretched the most, as the character I drew is actually a vampire. But given his role in the plot, I figured it was close enough. Day 25: The Cursed Knight (Forest) One of the quicker drawings I did for Inktober, this one turned

Saturday Snippets: Oz and Fairy Tales

October is almost over, so it's time for more snippets. These come from There's No Place Like Home?  (my NaNo novel from 2015, newly finished) and from "Paper and (T)horns" (my modern Beauty and the Beast retelling). From  There's No Place Like Home?   The kalidahs who had been sent to the front gate had expected an angry mob. Not quite torches and pitchforks angry. More like billy clubs and Molotov cocktails. At the very least, they had been anticipating an unruly assortment of people led by a towering, charismatic man, perhaps wearing a mask, who would shout meaningless mantras over a megaphone. Instead, the leader appeared to be a small girl with a fire in her eyes most of the kalidahs had long since forgotten. Hope. Righteous anger. Determination. Love. While the crowd behind her—and the kalidahs in front of her—grew ever more restless as they waited for something to happen, the girl simply stared into the heart of the Westford mansion with that fiery-eyed