Showing posts from December, 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