Researching Royals for the Shadeworld Series

 

Sometimes when writing about dragons and magic and awesomeness like that, you have to research real life facts and stuff. It’s a strange world novelists live in.

 

Researching Royalty

For those of you reading the Shadeworld series (P.S. The Dragon Bites, The Dragon Fights, The Dragon Sleights) you’ll know that royalty plays a major part in the plot line. There’s revolution and amnesia and an Earth High School and a bunch of teenagers, but at the center of it all there’s Prince Aeron, Prince Richard, and King Vovin, the royals who rule over the entire Shadeworld, and every creature from harpy to fey to vampire that lives there. But, on account of how I’m an American, I’m not super up to date on royalty and all of that sort of thing.

So while in earlier books I researched fighting and battle tactics, for P.S. The Dragon Sleights I set myself to research up on royalty. And because of a certain famous royal wedding, I decided to do a bit of research on how royalty works in Britain.

So I want to take you along on a bit of the research rabbit hole now and share some of the things I used to learn about the royals.

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Research is a Great Excuse to Watch T.V.

It’s true, research is a great excuse to watch t.v. What I like to do since I work at home now is to turn my lunch break into a nice time to enjoy my food while watching an episode of something fun on Netflix. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

Grace of Monaco

This film is no longer available on streaming Netflix in the USA and you’d have to either do the dvd rental service or check it out on Prime now if you want to watch it. The story was an interesting telling of a true series of events where a Hollywood starlet became a princess and was really quite miserable in it. Interesting events, and of course as an American I love any sort of underdog story. The ending of it cut things off a little abruptly, but I guess it makes sense you can’t boil someone’s entire life into a single movie, so I wasn’t too upset by that.

The Crown

I’ve quite enjoyed this series. I knew very little about the queen’s reign (we learned other things in History classes in my American schools, like The Trail of Tears, the Civilization of Mali, Ancient China, World War II, those sorts of things that had a bit more impact on my hemisphere, though I’m sure the queen is perfectly lovely)  so every episode has been a surprise to me.

I’m sure it’s not completely accurate, it would be almost impossible to capture the nuances of family life and personal relationships just from years of media coverage those outside of the royal family would have access to, but even keeping in mind to take events with a grain of salt I’ve enjoyed the series purely for its entertainment value.

I can’t help but think though that the casting director made some very odd choices for the characters outside of the main cast. The actress for Jackie Kennedy, in particular, was a very unique choice in both voice and appearance in my mind. But the main characters are very well done, so I probably should be more appreciative to just have that!

Prince Philip: The Plot to Make a King

I enjoyed this a great deal. It felt rather documentary-ish, so I’m hoping it’s somewhat historically accurate. Even if it isn’t though I enjoyed it, and that’s what matters.

Final Thoughts on Televised Research

I’m sure none of what I’ve been watching is high quality educational content. But it was fun to watch, and it got me the gist of the ideas, so I figure it works well enough. Learning doesn’t have to be stuffy, I thoroughly believe that is true, so I had fun with my inspiration.

And besides, I’m writing Fantasy, not a research paper. If some of the facts are skewed, it really doesn’t matter at all.

Or, it may be that my “research” is just a poor excuse I’ve made to myself to goof off on occasion. And why not? If you work longer hours, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a slightly longer lunch.

What do you do for work that’s really just for fun?

 

 

 

 

 

The Literary at Leisure: A Roundup of YA Beach Reads for Older Teens

In honor of Summer FINALLY happening this year, I’m kicking off a new series of YA book roundups: Beach Reads! These books are totally perfect for hanging reading on your sand speckled towel at the shore, of course, but they are also great reads for the flight to your vacation destination. Or the hours long road trip. Or sitting in school or work and wishing you were heading off to some vacation, for that matter.

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A trip around West Europe involves a lot of boy drama and family drama. And you know me, family drama is right up my alley. Like most vacation themed books it’s pretty light hearted but it does delve into some exploration of identity. Plus, being nineteen is an awkward feeling where you don’t quite feel adult or teen, so that’s definitely interesting to connect to.

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Lottie’s Aunt, a famous author, dies, but that’s only the beginning. A series of letters from the grave push her to do new things that will lead her to her tipping point. The book pays homage to books and reading as much as to the mysteries that plague Lottie’s Summer.

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Lara is a girl facing the Summer of Senior Year. Yep, where she is no is all a pretty big deal. But in between fun and trying to moonlight as her parent’s wedding planner, she has to deal with the looming problem of The Future.

A happy ending doesn't mean everything needs to be resolved. In Fangirl, Cath is a loner fan-fic writer who’s dreading the social interactions she's expected to make during her first year of college. With her twin sister pulling away and her father urging her toward independence, she feels lost and clings harder to her favorite characters. But then she meets a boy. And another. And much more importantly, discovers she's a talented writer even when she's not in the world of her favorite author, but one she's created.

Cath is a bit of a mess. Honestly, life is moving too fast for her, and she isn’t quite ready for her first year of college yet. It’s going to happen soon either way though. Join Cath as she digs deeper into reading and fandom to escape the pressures of reality, only to find that maybe everything is going to turn out okay.

What did you think of this week’s #BeachReads? Did you read and enjoy any of these books?

How to Become the Hero of Your Own Story in 5 Steps

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I used to spend every second of every day with my nose stuck in a book, jealous of all my favorite heroes. Spending all of my time wishing that I lived in these other places and that I could maybe one day have an adventure fall into my lap just like it happens at the beginning of every quest book.

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I love this series so much I bought a print boxed set of it. You can try your library or buy the exact same set I have here.

But you and I aren’t Princess Cimorene. A talking frog isn’t going to come up to us one day and offer to help us solve our problems. There are plenty of real humans in the world who are willing to help, of course- the suicide hotline (US number: 1-800-273-8255), friends, all the usual things about a trusted adult I’m sure a million people have said a million times at this point. Still, though there is truth that kindness may be hard to find in difficult times but it never dies, no one can help you if you don’t help yourself. No one can help you go on adventures if you refuse to talk to the frogs that offer them.

So one day I decided I was done waiting for the day when someone would pop up in my life and offer me adventure under the right circumstances- I had to prepare myself to be ready for adventure to happen at any time like with Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit, or to chase down my adventure for myself.

Somewhere between traveling the world and committing to be a full time writer as an actual career that I pay the bills with, I think I’ve found my adventures. I’ve turned a few opportunities down, of course, because being unable to say no is also problematic, but I think it’s a great skill to be able to helm your own life and know what your dreams are so you can chase them down. That brings me to my first point:

  1. No one has the power to make your life what you want, besides you

    • You can’t wait for your parents, or friends, or fate to make life happen for you. If you sit on your couch and just let life pass you by, you’ll be one of those people who wakes up one day in their fifties and realizes they haven’t chased a single dream or done a single thing they were compassionate about in their whole life.
  2. No one has the power to stop your adventure but you

    • Of course everyone has their own inner demons, and faces their own life problems- prejudice and hatred can bring you down in very real ways, and people who live in less than ideal places like a region bombarded with bombs won’t be able to just prance into a dream life. But you can still have something to live for, no matter what your life is like. You can still find some measure of at least satisfaction in even the most trying circumstances. And if your life is a more peaceful experience in the suburbs, you really are all that is holding you back.
  3. Don’t depend on others to make you happy

    • Positive Psychology, the study of what it looks like when the brain and psyche are actually working properly (as opposed to regular psychology, which you must admit learning too much about can make you paranoid and think everyone in the world has a mental illness whether they truly do or not) says that happiness is a fleeting and situational response, while joy is a constant and a mindset. So, in a way, it is sort of true that other people and things make you happy, but they don’t make you content with your life overall, and that’s the thing that leaves a searing ache in your heart when it’s missing. Cultivate joy, and if you don’t know how, check out this page which does a pretty good job of summarizing at least the basics I learned in my one semester of this stuff.
  4. Looking for everything to fail in your life means it will

    • Look, I’m not saying you should be bubbly peppy joy-joy all the time. Optimism isn’t really everyone’s thing. But if you give up before you even get started doing something, you will probably sabotage yourself without even realizing it. This goes double if your goal is to make friendships and all you talk about to potential friends is whining about not having friends, because being whiny is really annoying to most humans. It’s not that other people don’t whine, make excuses, and play the blame game- it’s just that it’s best not to fixate on it and be stuck in that mindset all the time. If you can limit verbally sharing your whining with the world to the minimal amount you need to feel better about things, even better then.
  5. You deserve to be the kind of person who sticks up for yourself

    • Why do you need a hero? Is your life boring? Do you hate hate hate school? Try to be your own greatest hero and find some way or thing that can make your current life satisfying, or even fun. Make a game of doing boring tasks. Try to figure out how to give to your relationships in such a way that you get the love and friendship you need. Tell someone what isn’t working, and problem solve ways to fix it together. And if that still doesn’t help and you can’t change things up so it gets better? Figure out how to rescue yourself from the situation- drop from the advanced math class to the easier one, break up with a friend who just cannot stop being toxic, get to work building the career you actually want to have. (And yes, even if you are younger, creative jobs like the indie book biz or IT jobs can be started when you are a teen as long as you can put in some work and do the research.)

I used to be the kind of person who read because I was bored of my own life. Now I enjoy reading about adventures AND I go on my own. It’s a win-win when you decide to look for your own adventures instead of waiting for them to come to you.

 

Love is a Kind of Magic

In honor of February, we are on our last installment of Romance classics. In the past few weeks we’ve visited English romance classics, and world romance classics.

Today we are diving into the category of Fantasy Romances! These are a little sparse to choose from the English canon (canon= what we call the collection of all classics), as there aren’t a ton of fantasy books written before the early 1900’s in general that are still well known today, let alone romantic ones. That said I’ve combed through all the lists of classic literature and found three that fit this theme perfectly AND are a good read. Win-win, amirite?

Ramayana

ramayanThis Central Asian classic (India, Bengal, Persia, and basically every culture in that whole region have their own versions of it) features a beloved wife who is kidnapped by a demon and held for basically a year. Then the hero rescues her, only to have their relationship fall apart at the question of whether she still loves her husband or has instead fallen for her once captor. This story could be described in Western literary terms as “The Tale of Everyman” meets “Hades and Persephone”.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter

51fp8xbgpblThis book by Lord Dunsany hails from the 1920’s. That means any similarities between it and JRR Tolkien’s character Lúthien Tinúviel and her love story can’t be because Elfland is a copy of that story- after all, it predates it.

This is a story of an elf maiden and a human man falling in love. Their love is NOT smooth sailing. I feel like I’ve already revealed too much of the plot by saying it has some similarities to Lúthien, so I won’t go any deeper into this. Suffice to say it has elves and magic and two lovers from different worlds who will not find it easy to be together.

Beren and Lúthien

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Now that I’ve mentioned them I have to include them again, huh? “Beren and Lúthien” is the first NEW book by J.R.R. Tolkien that has come out in years. Once again his son has combed through piles of old notes and done a bit of judicious editing to bring the story together into one novel for the benefit of the legions of fans of the deceased author.

The story of a human and elf falling in love, I am not so sure of the rest of what happens in this tale. I have read abbreviated references to this, of course, included in the footnotes and appendices of Tolkien’s previous books, but I have not gotten around to this particular full length novel version. I’m really looking forward to reading it, actually!

Which of these is your favorite?

A World of Love

This month we’ve embarked on a series of romance books, and we come today to the second installment: global romantic literature. I think many of my American readers will have read at least one of the books in my last post, but today we are going to go what may be new territory for you.

Global Romantic Literature

Today we will visit Japan, Russia, and France via some of their books. Be emotionally prepared that things will get pretty rough in these books, because the concept that “Romance=happy cheerful books that always have great endings” is a pretty modern invention, and we are delving into the history of the genre today.

The Tale of Genji

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Probably the most globally well known Japanese book- not including famous manga series because that’s sort of considered a different category of story telling in America at least- The Tale of Genji is also really interesting because it was written by one of the earliest female writers in the world. Murasaki Shikibu, like all women of her time, was not allowed to be taught the sophisticated characters called Kanji every book before her was written in. The uneducated and women were restricted to writing in the basic letters of hiragana, which were made to be simple looking versions of complicated kanji- with the association that it was for simple people. The author was one of the first to write an entire novel in the only form of literacy available to her, but the plot was not simple at all.

It follows our main character who goes from riches to rags, plus the women he loved and his affairs, and how much each of his romances sucked. It’s sort of riches to rags to riches meets family drama, and a romance colors every stage of the story because honestly wooing the ladies is just Genji’s favorite hobby.

In modern terms this book might not sound super interesting. But if you are the kind of person who likes to hear all the juicy details of Becky’s on again and off again relationship with Todd who she sometimes dumps to be with Corey, then you might really be into the novel version of that kind of every day drama. In book terms that means if you really liked the love triangle aspect in Twilight this might be right up your alley.

Anna Karenina

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Apparently you can buy the vintage book on Etsy (photo props not included)

As this one is not a British classic it wasn’t taught in any of the literature classes I took in school, or even college. (Funnily enough “Genji” was, but that’s just because I took a Japanese class in Highschool, for all the good that did me.) That said, it’s definitely a classic- just a Russian one. If you like drama, drama, drama, then this is for you. It’s sort of like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” all rolled up in one huge drama of affairs and divorce and spurned love.

Le Grand Meaulnes

9780141441894Called in the English translation “The Lost Estate,” this has become a must read for me. Be forwarned: this French classic is a tragedy. At least I consider it one. All the pieces were lined up for this to be a beautiful perfect happily ever after, but then the characters had to go and ruin it. That’s probably exactly why this is considered a top must read of all French books ever written, according to the French, according to a survey taken of a few French people.Is that complicated enough for you? It gets worse. The plot in this thing twists and turns. As before this has affairs, and heart breaks, and a lot of messiness going on (but the good kind of plot messiness that makes a story juicy, not the lazy plot hole variety at all.)

Which of these books have you read before? Which would you add to your TBR pile?

Love, Luck, and Literature

With a little bit of luck, most people will someday and at some point in their lives fall in love. Maybe not right away, but sometime.

I am one of those people who is not content with the idea of “someday”, and I’d like to fall in love right now, thank-you-very-much. After all, I may be an author- but I am still in my twenties. I have dreams.

Thankfully, this is the month where it isn’t completely disgustingly soppy to read your heart out through the history of romantic fiction. This month we are going to start a series focused on different genres of Romantic Fiction. Up first today we have:

Classical Romance Books

We’ve been going over classical books every Wednesday for the past few months, and today is no different. Here are my top three picks for interesting classic love stories.

Pride and Prejudice

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Penguin’s annotation free edition

This image matches the exact edition of the book “Pride and Prejudice” that is sitting on my bookshelf at this very moment. I love it. I’m not a fan of everything Jane Austen wrote (in fact this is the only book of hers I would give five stars to) but I still think it’s great. I think it’s a love story that can connect to many people- two people who don’t understand each other and don’t get along eventually come to realize they are actually very similar and end up seeing each other more clearly and falling in love because of it. It’s a messy plot, which I think makes sense because love is a rather messy thing for most people. The very beginning of the book has been called slow by many people; but the thing to remember is that even though the romance itself does not start on page one, family drama worthy of any modern sitcom most certainly does. And I must admit, I like family dramas. After all, I wrote one as my first book.

You can check out many free versions of the classic online or in any ebook market (Amazon, etcetera), or you can find a lot of copies with notes on the plot itself or included historical notes to give you a better understanding of the setting and how it affects to story.

Jane Eyre

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Penguin’s edition of the book

This one is possibly even more famous than the last. Charlotte Bronte wrote a book that is moody and what many find to be a perfect antidote to happy peppy love stories. Jane’s childhood is plagued by abuse and neglect, and then her adulthood is plagued by poverty and heartbreak when she finds the one man she finally falls in love with is unattainable- because he already has a wife?!? Then the plot rambles about a bit in more desperate circumstances until things finally settle down.

 

I won’t lie, it isn’t the fastest paced book out there. But keep in mind many classical books move super slowly because the authors were paid by the word and had the financial incentive to stretch things out to be as long as possible- kind of like when you have two thousand more words due for your essay but you’ve already covered all your points so you resort to adding junky filler material.

I still think it’s worth a read, especially if most romance stories are a little too grossly cheerful and cheesy for you. You’ll find none of that nonsense in here. I especially recommend this to anyone who loved “Me Before You” and “Me After You”, but keep in mind this one does actually have a fairly happy ending.

North and South

9781496081797This book delves into a romance between an industrialist- one of the many men of the Victorian era hiring even children to work in factories and paying his workers so little they can hardly afford their daily bread and skipping the expense of any safety equipment in the factories- and the woman who loves him even though she is fighting for worker’s rights and the betterment of the working class. The big divide between their morality would make many think that a romance couldn’t work for them, but do they figure out a way to a happy ever after somehow? Read on to find out.

 

 

Which of these would you read?

Adventures in The Forest

The forest is a pretty magical place to me, but it’s not that way all the time. Any part of nature can be treacherous and threaten your life. Especially if you live in it all alone without the conveniences of modern life to show to you from danger. Today were going to dive in to some classic and some new adventure books based in the wild!

Hatchet

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Hatchet is an adventure classic, a straightforward tale of a boy who ventures into the world alone and must fight against the forces of nature which threaten to kill him even while his secret tries to tear him apart.

My Side of The Mountain

Sam is a 12-year-old boy who hates his family's cramped New York City apartment and decides to run away to his great-grandfather's abandoned farm in the Catskill Mountains. He reads a book about wilderness survival and uses his fledgling skills to stay alive: camping, hunting, and even making a peregrine falcon named Frightful his pet and hunting companion. Inspired an entire generation of kids including probably Richie Tenenbaum to be fascinated by falconry, and was named to the the Newbery Medal Honors list in 1960.

This was one of my dad’s favorite books growing up, but it took me a few chapters to warm up to it. Naturally, when I was forced to read it in school, I wasn’t a fan of it at first just because I was against the principal of assigned reading. once I really got into it though I was a big fan of this! It’s a classic survival book, yes, but it’s cool in the clever ideas he uses for said survival. I will definitely be reading this!

The Sign of the Beaver

It's 1769 and 12-year-old Matt is left on his own in the wilderness while his father resettles their family. He befriends a 14-year-old Native American chief's grandson named Attean and learns to hunt and fish, and is eventually invited to join the tribe and move north. Some of the descriptions of native culture in this book are dated, but the underlying message is of acceptance and understanding.

This book is a little different because it relies on teamwork for the hero to survive. it’s a pretty historical novel, not really because it’s old but because some of the cultural portrayals are. That said a story of a boy basically abandoned by his family coming to find his identity through friendship with someone who is supposedly his enemy by virtue of race alone is both interesting and encouraging. I flipped through it, but I definitely intend to sit down and read it front to back someday soon.

Have you tried these books? What adventure books are your favorites?

Adventures in The Snow

I recently completed a post on awesome classic adventure books based in the jungle. You guys seemed to be fans of it, so I will take this series further!

The Call of the Wild

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This classic tale is about a man, his dogs, and the struggle to survive. I’m particularly drawn to rereading this right now because I feel I struggle to survive with how the weather has been very gross this winter!

Balto, but the book

The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by [Salisbury, Gay, Salisbury, Laney]

I think everyone has heard of the heroic dog named Balto. The story of a sled team racing to get medicine during a pandemic is still well known thanks to a 90s  animated movie. THIS version, however, is a little more grown-up and a lot more factual! I’m a major dog nut, some definitely reading this.

Winterkill

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Something old, something new, right? I wanted to feature a more recent adventure book because it’s awesome. “Outside the gates of Emmeline’s village is a horror no one stupid enough to tempt. But facing the unknown might be the only way to escape the evil hiding among their own…” this is on my must read list for winter and I think it just might end up on yours too.

Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend your own favorite adventure novels?

Adventures in the Jungle

This month we are going to dive into action stories, starting with today’s scene: the jungle. A lot of interesting action stories are based on this setting, and today we are going to look at a few of them.

Tarzan of The Apes

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Edgar Rice Burrough wrote this classic tale of a child abandoned on foreign soil and orphaned by a wildcat’s attack who ended up being raised into a man by apes. A rather unlikely tale, indeed, despite the scattered stories throughout human history of feral children raised by various types of animals- sure, it can happen, but it usually doesn’t.

This combines a bit of the element of survival, plus exploring strange jungles (always an Action genre favorite), along with the question of finding your place in the world. And maybe a little bit of romance on the side with our heroine/damsel-in-distress Jane.

The Jungle Book

jungle_book-2What would a collection of jungle based action books be without Kipling’s most famous book? I’m personally not a huge fan of the author as a human, my impression of his personality when he was alive was of a fairly ethnocentric individual based on reading his work, but I’m not one to hold a questionable author against a good book.

This book features another feral child (Are all jungle themed action books based on feral children???) who doesn’t really go on a quest so much as he just lives his very colorful life, but then in the end a bad guy pops up so he has to leave his home and join the humans. It’s a little unusual as far as plot goes because leaving home to start an adventure is usually the beginning of the story and not the end, but this book breaks that standard and I kind of like that.

Ken Ward in the Jungle

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This book features a museum curator and his explorer brother, and their adventures together. Instead of Africa or India, this jungle is supposedly in Mexico. I kind of like that this is still a solid adventure novel, but unlike the others the star of the book is a giant nerd. There’s something appealing about that to me as a giant literary nerd.

You should definitely read this book, especially since you’ve probably never read it and none of your friends have- so this is basically the #1 Hipster choice of classical books. Even if you don’t care about being the first of your friends to know about something new, this is a fun read anyways. And, again, as is classic for adventure novels, there is no slow pacing so you won’t be bored at any point unless you respond to books very differently than I do.

Which of these have you read already or plan to read in the future?

 

 

The Gift of The Present: Christmas Gift Haul!

2017 has been special in many ways for me. I published my first book and started an author blog. Come to that, just the fact that I finally, finally got to come back to doing the blogging I so love has been really awesome. So you can guess that my Christmas wishlist had some pretty writer oriented gifts requested on it (some people have requested demanded we introduce wishlists for Christmas presents at least because they aren’t the sort to be happy with anything that is not in their mental wishlist already, and apparently my family is the sort that will negotiate with at least holiday terrorists and require that the rest of us follow along. Yeah, it’s not really my idea, I love the surprise of gifts I actually had no idea about, instead of just not knowing which option you already picked out they’ll give you, but oh well.)

I’ll skip the boring stuff- stocking stuffers are mainly chocolates, other candies, a clementine, and random practical bits like lip balm or socks, so we’ll definitely skip these gifts that are lovely to receive but boring to read a blog post about- and get right to the good gifts by category. I’ve had crafting, entertainment, and electronic gifts, so I’ve organized the list below that way. Have fun living vicariously through my spoils of war!

Christmas Gifts for the Hobbyist

Craft Gifts

Thread scissors are amazing for embroidery, hand sewing, AND machine sewing projects, which is great if you have any of those hobbies. Or, you know, if you just have low quality clothes in your closet that get a lot of loose threads you have to snip. These are great too if you are a hobby sewer because they look super pretty and come in a handy holster so they won’t get lost in the mess that seems to always pile up on crafting, sewing, and hobby tables- especially when they’re in use!

If you’ve ever had to get embroidery thread through the eye of a small needle, then you have been wanting this your whole life. Actually not kidding here, a needle threader is life changing if you ever do any hand sewing of any sort- even if you just sew on a button once in a blue moon this makes things so. much. easier!

Christmas Gifts for Those who Love Entertainment

Movie and Book Gifts


Yes, I have become the kind of person who collects blank notebooks. Thankfully I don’t just have empty books I’ve never filled and I’m actually steadily filling up my collection with sketches and freewrites and poetry, but I still have several empty notebooks waiting to be used. I added this notebook to my wishlist anyway and I’m so glad I got it- it has dragon and is pretty, and the paper can be used for art or writing. What’s not to love?

I know, this isn’t exactly a new release. But I haven’t seen the movie since the one time I saw it in theaters and LOVED it. It was super cute, and the story was interesting, and the animation was satisfying. I was all around a fan of the movie and glad to have received it.

It turns out the story of my favorite tv series, Avatar the Last Airbender, actually continues after the last episode in a series of comics. I know, I must have lived under a rock to not know this already, I’m ashamed at how behind the times I am too. Anyway, I found this out and have bought a few one buck comics at the local comic store, but I don’t go past the store very often and I don’t ever want to ask the shopkeeper for help finding a particular comic because somehow that is stressful to me, so I figured instead it would be best for me to collect the multi comic collections wrapped up as three volumes. I received the first of these as my Christmas present a few days ago, and I’m looking forward to gathering the rest!

Electronics Gifts

So, why would an author need a hardrive that can store four whole terabytes of information? Honestly, I actually write enough that this insane amount of digital storage is really useful for me. Plus I take photos for blogging and such, so that’s handy. PLUS, and this is really important, I’m still working on figuring out video editing so I can eventually start up a Youtube channel. I’m not going to commit to an official release date to a channel because you know and I know that whatever date I write down I will be extreme waaaay past deadline on it, so I don’t want to disappoint you by promising it will happen by a particular day in the first place. Suffice to say it will happen, and having something that can store all that will be super useful.

I just know for certain in my gut that this will change my life as a writer. Think about it- I could be painting my nails while I am dictating a book. I could dictate a manuscript in half the time of writing it all out, with less typos than my own writing. (Yes, I know even Dragon makes typos, but I am sure I make even more- my editor is a patient soul who deserves the highest praises for fixing all my technical mistakes.)

Yes, I did receive a wireless mouse. The story of the mouse is that our house has just one working mouse, and five people who borrow it. So, obviously, no one can get the mouse when they want it. This means that I do hours of writing and editing work on the stupid tiny trackpad attached to my laptop. I guess someone was just tired of going without a mouse themselves and decided to give everyone their own to end the great mouse war, but I am just glad that I can now do computer work a little more comfortably!

Christmas Gifts for Makeup Lovers

I got just a few beauty gifts this year, but they were very good and very worth planting the idea in your ear so you have it in mind when the next friend’s birthday rolls by. For this one I’ll also throw in my favorite stocking stuffer gift I received!

So, what gift do you give to the person obsessed with nail polish? Well, every nail polish lover must have at least one bottle of holographic polish. Holo polish reflects rainbows, and this bad boy managed to put on a solid holographic finish in just two coats, which is a total win for any glitter type nail polish really. It is not super cheap, but it works and it is free of the top most common toxic chemicals found in most drug store nail polish brands, so I’d say it’s worth it except I didn’t actually buy mine so I really have no right to say that realistically. I still will though because, holo.

This is a solid shampoo, which is weird. It also claims to be worth the same amount of shampoo as a full 24 oz bottle, which is crazy. But it smells good, lathers well, hasn’t stripped or greased my hair like some of the Lush solid shampoos have, so I’m psyched by this discovery.

Christmas Gifts for The Sporty

Or Gifts For People who Workout Just to Stay Healthy

Running socks make all the difference between an okay run and a great run (does a great run even exist though? Sometimes it almost feels like I’m actually having fun while running, so maybe. I still hate the getting out the door to just get going and feeling tired and gross afterwards though so I’m not a complete run loving monster.) These running socks are purple, high enough so the back of the shoe doesn’t dig into my ankle like most shorty socks leave me exposed to, and it’s made of natural wool so it doesn’t hold onto that obnoxious funk sweat wicking polyester fabrics have a problem with.

Yes, I did in fact ask for water inflattible dumbells. They are life changing if you love weight training but travel a few times a year because hotel gyms tend to have cardio equipment and nothing else. These are great for on the go workouts and they work well in my house filled with worryworts who’d be stressed by heavy weights living in the house all the time. They are the top reviewed water filled travel weights on Amazon as well so that sold me on this particular pair, and apparently it sold my family member enough to choose this as one of my presents!

Present for The Haul

So there you have it! These are all the gifts I got for Christmas this year. I’m really glad for all of them. It’s a little sad that I don’t get completely surprised by my gifts like I used to- because everything changed once the gift list became mandatory in my family- but there’s still some benefit I guess in knowing you won’t get a single present you want to return. Unless, of course, they are super expensive leather ankle slippers that claim to fit size Women’s 10-11 but can not even be squeezed onto my size 8 feet. Those will be returned, so they don’t count for this list because they failed me. Every other under tree gift I got is listed here and they were all awesome.

How did your holidays go?