Monday, June 25, 2018

{Book Review} Horseman (Crockett and Crane #1) by Kyle Robert Shultz


A new series from the author of the acclaimed Beaumont and Beasley novels!

In the year 1790, monster hunter Ichabod Crane searched for a mysterious creature called the Headless Horseman. His quest ended in an embarrassing failure that marked his family with disgrace for generations.

Now, in 1891, his descendant Todd Crane is determined to prove that the Horseman is real. There's just one problem—Todd is a professional con artist and a seller of unlicensed magic potions. This puts him on the wrong side of the law and right in the crosshairs of US Marshal Amy Crockett.

As the Horseman returns to menace the western frontier, Todd and Amy must join forces to stop the monster once and for all. But if they're going to succeed, they'll have to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever.

Enter a Wild West where centaurs wear six-shooters and monsters roam the plains. Welcome to the United States of Neverica.

The Crockett and Crane series is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, Supernatural, or Sleepy Hollow. It is a spinoff of the Beaumont and Beasley series.



I’m pretty sure at this point you’re all aware of my utter obsession with the Beaumont and Beasley series. Ya know, the series set in an alternate 1920s-esque world where fairytales are real? YEAH THAT ONE. So when I heard there was going to be a spinoff series set in an alternate 1890s America, there may have been much flailing.

This book was honest to goodness just as delightful as the B&B series. With similar threads and the author’s trademark humor, but also overfilling with new twists and settings and concepts that made it stand totally on its own. It hooked me with that first sentence, and had me glued to the pages and grinning all the way to the end.


Unlike the refined London-like setting of Beaumont and Beasley, where most people believe magic is purely a myth and fairytales are just that, tales, the Crockett and Crane series is set in the wild west of the United States of Neverica (gotta love it!) where magic potions and mythical creatures run rampant.

I’m gonna be honest with you guys. I, erm, don’t like westerns. Really at all. It’s one of my least favorite genres. I’M SORRY! It’s just never been my thing. The hot, dusty setting makes me feel…well, hot and dusty. But Kyle did the impossible. He made me love a western! I mean, come on, a western full of magic and mythical beasts and retellings and humor? I can get on top of that! Yes, I like the setting of the B&B series much better, but this book was so fun and charming in its own way.

Where the Beaumont and Beasley series focuses on fairytales, the Crockett and Crane stories are more legends. Horseman is centered around The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was a fun and different twist. But, just as the rest of Kyle’s stories, this one takes place after the events of Sleepy Hollow. (Thus the reason the universe all these books are set in is called the Afterverse.) Well, sort of after the events. IT GETS COMPLICATED. But it is awesome! Trust me.



Aaaahhhh! The characters! I wanted to be part of this band of unlikely heroes SO BADLY!

TODD CRANE: Todd is our protagonist and POV character (it’s told in first person through his eyes), and was a riot all around. Not only can he turn into a CENTAUR via a magic ring whenever he likes (SO. FUN!!!), he’s also a heaping pile of dry wit and wild ideas. Todd lives on the edge—travelling around the country, illegally selling magic potions and conning everyone he crosses. But there’s more to him than that. I loved seeing his story unfold and discovering who Todd really is. Also he’ll go to ridiculous lengths to avoid talking about his feelings and just… Todd. *shakes head* I can’t with him. XD Oh yeah, and he’s the descendant of Ichabod Crane. You know, The Legend of Sleep Hollow Ichabod Crane? Yep, yep. Fun stuff!

AMY CROCKETT: The descendant of Davy Crockett. (Cool, right?) This spitfire of a girl was the perfect match for Todd. Their banter literally gave me life. Where Todd is a conman and doesn’t really pay any mind to the law, Amy is a US Marshal and lives for it. Sooo yeah. They had a biiiit of a difference of opinions. It was absolutely hilarious seeing them try to work together. But Amy is not all rules and regulations. She’s got a big heart hidden away behind that strict persona, and will do anything (even not entirely legal things) to keep people safe. I loved the complexity of her personality and seeing her become her own. (Also watching her constantly put Todd in his place was the best thing ever.)

MEG: Meg was the sweet cinnamon roll child that must be protected at all costs and I loved her. Can I just adopt ALL the cinnamon rolls in the world pleasandthankyou? I do love those female spitfires like Amy. But I always so appreciate seeing sweet, tenderhearted females like Meg as well. Her kind heart balanced out Todd’s and Amy’s rather rambunctious, sassy personalities. Buuuut Meg was not all fluff and rainbows. She’s also extremely dangerous because of…reasonssss. *grins* What she is was so contradictory to her personality and I LOVED that. It was completely unexpected!

JULIO: JULIOOOOO!!!! Easily my FAVORITE part of this entire story. He’s a young Mexican man with a sweet heart and…oh yeah, HE’S A SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON! His lines always, always had me rolling. Such as when he was insulting someone and called them a “thingy” because he didn’t think it’d be appropriate to use the word he wanted to. He was so thoughtful and innocent and precious even though he’s a DRAGON and I CAN’T. I need more Julio on my life nooooowwww!

The story centered around those four, though of course there were other very intriguing side characters at play. This whole story just came alive with colorful characters. (Such as Rex and Joy which was another one of my favorite bits of the story!)

And this story had one of my FAVORITEST tropes ever—The-Motley-Crew-Becomes-a-Family. Todd, Amy, Meg, and Julio—despite their differences—eventually learn to work as a family group and LSKDJLFKJLKSJDF. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.



- ALLLLL THE MAGIC. Like I said, in the setting of the Beaumont and Beasley books, magic is something hidden and secret. But in this one, magic is used by eeeeeveryone. The wild west is really wild. Mythical beasts like centaurs, wulvers, sasquatches, and the like are common sights and citizens. While potions and magically imbued items are used by absolutely everyone. It’s just a way of life. And I LOVED that. Todd was especially potion happy, and it was a delight seeing what spell he’d use next.

- A TOUCH OF TIME-WIMEY. Rip Van Winkle plays a part in this story. Which is awesome in its own right. But there’s also a smidge of timey-wimey stuff going on, and complicated time travel stuff is my faaaaaave so just YESSS.

- HILARIOUS CHAPTER TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS. If nothing else, this book is worth reading for this alone. Every chapter has a title and super funny description of the chapter underneath. For example:

Centaurs vs. Werewolves

In which Amy steals my legs and tries to murder me.

It was great!

- DARK AND HUMOROUS. This story isn’t all laughs. A lot of it, absolutely. But there was actually some surprisingly tragic and creepy things going on. And I guess I’m a disturbed individual because I loooove when books are kinda dark and creepy and tragic but ALSO with pleeenty of humor to balance it all out. And that’s precisely what this one was! I wouldn’t label it a dark book really at all, don’t worry. But it had enough depth to punch you in the feels a couple of times. GOOD TIMES!

- NODS TO BEAUMONT AND BEASLEY. If you have not read the B&B series, NO FEARS. This book stands entirely on its own. BUT, if you have read the B&B books, there are a couple of delightful cameos waiting for you. A couple of parts had me shrieking (in a good way). I loooved the little nods to us B&B fans!

- PLOT TWISTS. Quite a few events took me by utter surprise in the best way possible. Things especially took an epic turn halfway through. I just thought I was enjoying the story. But by the halfway point I was UTTERLY IN LOVE. Of course, I’m not revealing a thing. *zips lips* JUST READ IT!

- JULIOOOOO!!! Ahem. Just had to flail one more time…



Nothing…? I’m trying really hard to think of anything but… *shrugs* I really loved every bit of it!

I guess the dusty western setting still wasn’t my favorite. BUT, at the same time, the idea of the wild west being wild because everyone is using magic and there are mythical beasts running around everywhere is seriously one of the most brilliant, original ideas I’ve ever read. Besides, I’m like the only one I know who doesn’t love western settings. So if *I* enjoyed Horseman this much, you guys are gonna LOVE it!



Not a thing. Perfectly clean all throughout. Although, like I said, it does get a little creepy. Though the humor kind of cancels out the creepiness. But there are still a few dark things going on.

Also there’s LOTS of magic of course. Just warning you if that’s not your thing.



If you’re a fan of the Beaumont and Beasley series, you’re going to LOVE this spinoff series. If you’ve never read the B&B series, you’re also going to love this series!

Where else can you get a story about a motley-crew-turned-family and protagonist who can turn into a centaur, set in an alternate version of the wild west where magic and legendary species runs, erm, wild, all centered around The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with humor and colorful characters galore???

This is a hilarious and unique novel, and if you like retellings or fantasy or westerns or all of the above, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

NOTE: You can read this story for FREE. RIGHT NOW. Because it’s up on WATTPAD. Of course, if physical copies are your thing (I’m with ya) you can still order one. But if you’re aching to read it this very second for free, get ye over to Wattpad this instant! You won’t regret iiitttt.



Have you read Horseman? Are you going to??? (The answer is yes.) And how do you feel about westerns and/or legends retold?

Huge thanks to Kyle for sending my a physical copy of Horseman! I was under no obligation to write a review, and certainly not a positive one, but I HAD TO FLAIL! And convince you all to read this book. Bwahaha!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Get to Know Me Tag {Writer’s Edition}

About half an age ago (a.k.a 3 months) the dear Savannah from Inspiring Writes created the Writer’s Edition of a Get to Know Me Tag. And I loved it so much, I was toootally gonna put on my pirate hat and steal the tag if she didn’t tag me for it. Buuuut she DID tag me, so I shall be doing it all legally and stuff. Yay me! (Except can I still wear a pirate hat and pretend to be nefarious???)


This is one of those super fun get-to-know-me tags so you dear nosy dragons can learn more about the person behind all these words you put up reading every week. Except this tag is all about the writerly life! Which is the only life for me, yo-ho yo-ho! (Ha! See, I am a pirate.) Because Savannah is brilliant and fun and you should all go follow her.

So let’s get to it! Because I know you’re all dying to know about every aspect of my life, riiiiight??? (Just humor me and feed me pizza and I’ll leave you alone, I promise.)

. . . RULES . . .

  • Link back to the person who created the tag (That would be SAVANNAH!) 
  • Thank the person who tagged you (Thank you, Savannah, for tagging me so I don’t have to become a thief. And for creating this tag in the first place! Woot, woot!)
  • Share the tag graphic (Optional, but of course I wanted to because Savannah’s graphics are gorgeous.) (Except her blog name is now “Inspiring Writes” instead of “Scattered Scribblings”, if you’re wondering what’s up with that.)
  • Tag eleven bloggers (Getting’ there!)

. . . THE TAG . . .

Vital Stats And Appearance

Name: Christine Smith

Nicknames: Lauriloth and more commonly Lauri by the internet crowd. (Lauriloth means shining, golden flower in Tolkien’s elven language, if you’re curious where that came from.) And that’s…it? I don’t really have a nickname people call me by in person. I give people murderous glares when they try to call me Chris. Eheheheh. I just…don’t like being called that. No clue why. Two of my friends called me Stiney for a while which was amusing, but it didn’t stick for terribly long. OH. And when I was little I went by Dee a lot because when my sister was a toddler that’s what she called me. Nooo clue how the child got “Dee” out of “Christine” but what can you do with toddlers?

Birthday: Somewhere between January 1st and December 31st. *grins* Or maybe I’m an ethereal being who has no birthday. WHO CAN KNOW???

Hair color and length: Blonde. (I joke that I’m blonde in both ways because of my hair and I’m ridiculously airheaded. XD) And it comes a little past my shoulders.

Eye color: Hazel

Braces/piercings/tattoos: Not a one. I mean, I wear a retainer at night if that counts??? Lol.

Righty or Lefty: Righty! Shocking turn of events I know. :P

Ethnicity: Uh… A mix of a bunch of different stuff like most Americans. Lol. I shamefully don’t even know what all blood I have in me. Though my grandmother is from Canada, which is fun. And I have some Denmark blood too. Plus supposedly Irish blood which is great! Also sometimes I feel like I’m a descendant of snowmen because my skin is so absurdly pale…


First novel written: My first story was called Christine and Pepper because apparently I was that narcissistic when I was little. I also wrote it in a Lisa Frank notebook ‘cause I was a cool kid. It was about, er, me finding a horse in my backyard with no explanation to speak of and naming it Pepper. Because, like any 9 year old girl, I was ridiculously obsessed with horses. I wrote a little bit of it, but then decided I didn’t actually want the girl to be me. So I started it over and titled it Samantha and Pepper, and I think I got about 11 or 12 chapters through before I realized I wanted to write fantasy. THAT’S RIGHT. My first novel was a contemporary with no fantasy elements to speak of. SHOCKING I KNOW. But I quickly changed that and never wrote a realistic story ever again because ew the real world.

First novel completed: My first “big” fantasy titled, wait for it, The Grand Adventure. (Wooooow! I was so clever with names.) I started it a year or two after my Samantha story, and stuck with it for a long time because I had found my element. Fantasyyyy. It took me a year to write it, and I was so proud when I finished it. It was a portal fantasy about a girl named Maria May Maiden (I thought I was so clever with that name oh my gosh), who gets sucked into a fantasy world via a mirror and must save the world from a cliché villain because she’s prophesied to do so and it had basically every cliché fantasy trope to ever exist. Oh. Maria also befriended and went on the adventure with a talking horse because my horse obsession was still strong. Except this time it was a magical horse. Naturally.

Award for writing: Er…none? Woot, go me! (I’ve literally only ever entered one writing contest. XD One of these days I’m gonna join in more!)

First publication: Also none as of yet? One day maybe hopefully??? I might have a better chance if I, ya know, started submitting stories to things. But I’m getting to that point, I promise!

Conference:  I’ve never attended a conference…YET. But I’m going to Realm Makers in July and AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! I CAN’T STOP SCREAMING ABOUT IT.

Query/Pitch: Also none yet. (Wow, Christine, you’re doing great.) BUT. I will be pitching my book to a couple of agents at Realm Makers so…yeah. Prayforme.


Novel (that you wrote): Wow, Savannah, just ask evil questions why don’t you??? I DON’T KNOW. I don’t really have a favorite. My favorite novel tends to be the one I’m writing at the time. I love following along on the journey of every single one of my characters. I honest to goodness don’t favor one novel over the other. They all hold a special place in my heart, even the horrific ones, because they’ve shaped me into the writer I am today. Each one is a grand adventure (oooh, harking back to my first fantasy novel) and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Genre: FANTASYYYYY. (Aren’t you surprised?) Although I love almost all YA speculative fiction. (Save for maybe paranormal, and I’m picky when it comes to sci-fi.) Why do I love teen drama set in the very-not-real-world here at 26 years old? NO CLUE. BUT I HAVE NO SHAME.

Author: Wait. Author? As in ONE??? HAHAHAHAHA. No. *cracks knuckles* Here we go: Bryan Davis, Jill Williamson, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, Kyle Robert Shultz, Donita K. Paul, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. But I feel like I’m forgetting like 20 authors.

Writing Music: Soundtracks are LIFE. I don’t ever listen to lyrical music while writing, it’s too distracting. But I have to have music going. The silence is distracting too for some reason. With each book, I listen to different things. Such as for Burning Thorns it’s a loooooot of the songs from Maleficent and Cinderella (2015). For another book, I listened to a lot of the music from Final Fantasy X (possibly my favorite video game soundtrack period) and Legend of Zelda stuff. The music from the game Skyrim sounds like it was made for my Colors of a Dragon Scale series. (Video game music is fantastic, just so you know.) I DON’T KNOW. Anything nice and instrumental that fits the tone. I like it all!

Time To Write: My most productive time during the day is anywhere between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. I actually write best at night when the house is quiet and I can turn my light out and put headphones in and just utterly immerse in the story. Buuuut nighttime is usually my unwinding time where I read or watch TV because my busy afternoons burned me out. Lol.

Writing Snack/Drink: I pretty much never snack while writing. I mean, come on, snacking is the perfect excuse to take a writing break! But I always have a beverage with me. Mostly water, but sometimes I get a glass of coke. And coffee and tea are necessities.

Movie: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is and probably always will be my favorites ever. Despite some of the unthinkable things they diverted away from the book. BUT STILL. The amount of epicness in those movies moves my soul. I’m also an utter Marvel movie geek (The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, both Guardians of the Galaxy ones, and Ragnarok being my top faves.) Both the Maleficent and Cinderella movies inspires my writing heart possibly more than any others out there though. They encompass everything I love to write, Maleficent especially. And then there’s Tangled and How to Train Your Dragon and… Okay, I need to stop. (If you didn’t know, I’m almost as much of a movie/TV show fan as bookworm. CRAZY I KNOW!)

Writing Memory: What? WHAT??? I’ve been writing for 17 years now! I HAVE SO MANY. That first moment I discovered I loved telling stories when I was 9. When I found my niche in fantasy novels. The first time I actually finished a story. The fun I had with my beta-readers when they read through Burning Thorns. GAH. SO MANY HAPPY MEMORIES. But, in all truth, my top favorite would probably have to be my first ever NaNoWriMo back in 2010. It’s what really changed my world forever. Not only did I make writing friends (where before I did this writing thing all on my lonesome), was inspired to make this blog, and just had the time of my life poring myself into a novel for a month, it also was the turning point for me. After that magical experience, I knew, without a doubt, this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Before, writing was just a fun hobby that I didn’t take nearly as seriously as I should. But from that first NaNo on, I began learning the craft, writing like mad, making more writing friends, and seriously pursuing this thing. And I’ve never wanted to look back!

Childhood Book: Favorite childhood book??? And the evil questions continue! I DON’T KNOOOOW. I just loved to read. I didn’t really have a favorite favorite for a long time. Maaaaybe Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace? That whole series is really special to me.


Reading: At the time of writing this post, Horseman by Kyle Robert Shultz and loving every bit of it!

Writing: I’m actually not writing anything at the very moment. *gasp* *shock* *agh* BUT I AM WORKING ON THINGS. I just finished a major revision for Burning Thorns, and am getting it ready to pitch at Realm Makers. See? Progress!

Listening to: While writing this post I have a playlist of pleasant instrumental songs going, lots of soundtracks. At this very moment it’s playing “A Bracing Cup of Tea” from the new Beauty and the Beast movie.

Watching: My sister and I just rewatched the 2015 Cinderella movie because we’re obsessed. (Which apparently is obvious since that’s the third time I’ve brought that movie up in this post.) I’m slooooowly making my way through ABC’s Once Upon a Time because I literally got seasons behind on that show and am trying to catch up. Currently just started season 6! Annnd my new obsession is Steven Universe, a cartoon put on by Cartoon Network. It’s super weird (and has some questionable agendas going on, grrr), but it’s also somehow relaxing and has an epic story and if you look up cinnamon roll in the dictionary you’d most likely find a picture of Steven. He’s the epitome of a cinnamon roll and I adore him.

Learning: Oh wow. Well, this round of revisions for Burning Thorns has taught me so, so much. I still would like to do a post about my editing journey for it. But I think a big thing it taught me is, with a lot of patience, any story can turn into something readable. All it takes is going through it one chapter, one sentence, one word at a time. And, most shocking of all, editing can kinda be…FUN! *GAAASP*


Want To Be Published: Most definitely! That’s been my goal all the way through.

Indie or Traditional: I hope to go traditional. That’s the plan for now! I know it’s a looong and slooooooooowwwww road, but, as awesome as indie is, I don’t think I can do it. I actually need someone to be my boss and guide me through it all. I would happily send my babies off into the world to be shaped and sold as a publishing press sees fit! Strange I know. Most people want full control of their books but, eh. I’ve never claimed to be normal.

Wildest Goal: Oh goodness. Really, all I’ve ever wanted is to be able to write full time and sell multiple books. To be able to produce and sell one after the other for…ever? I know that doesn’t happen often for any author and the chances are next to none. But hey, it said wildest goal! So here we are.

That was super fun! Hopefully you found these little tidbits interesting? Maybe? Can we pretend?

BUT NOW FOR THE EXCITING PART! Time to pass this on…

. . . TAGGING . . .

Skye @ Ink Castles | Kiri Liz @ Lianne Taimenlore | Liv @ Liv K. Fisher | Jameson @ Lovely Whatsoevers | Sarah @ Sarah Plain and Average | Josiah @ The Steadfast Pen | Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen | Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate | Kyle @ Kyle Robert Shultz | Allison @ Allison's Well | Christine @ Overflowing Mind and Pen | + anyone else who wants to don their pirate hat and steal this! (Does it count as stealing if I give you permission tho?)

Noooo pressure to anyone whatsoever! (Goodness knows I fail at doing all the tags I’m tagged for…)


There we have it! Some writerly stuff about the strange girl behind the blog which you may or may not have known about. Now it’s your turn to tell me something about yourself! Mwahaha! To all my fellow writers, what was the first story you ever wrote? And to my dear non-writing readers, what’s a favorite show or movie you’ve been obsessing over lately? (Because you know I love to fangirl over these things!)

Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Achieve Great Story Pacing with “Character Fireside Chats”

For the past few years I’ve discovered my love for modern stories—whether they be TV shows, movies, or books—has decreased. For a bit, I couldn’t figure out why. So many had unique premises, exciting plots, interesting scenery. On the surface, everything seemed as though these should be enjoyable stories. Yet…I couldn’t fall in love with them. And it bugged me.

So me, being the writer I am, began to dissect these stories and figure out WHY. Why did these tales with such great potential fall so very short? Then, finally, finally, it hit me.

The pacing was off.

That was it. Sure, the effects of the movie were astounding, or the plot of the book was complex and original, but it was the disjointed, off pacing that made me feel distant.

I, for one, have struggled with story pacing for years and years of my writing life. My older works were far too long, had far too much information, and were far too boring. Then, later, I tried to fix this problem, and instead got a novel that rushed along so fast all the heart of the story was lost.

What we want is somewhere in between that. And I have been searching for that balance my whole writing life. So when I had that epiphany of why modern stories just don’t do it for me much anymore, I wanted to know what made the pacing off, so then I could avoid it myself. Because sometimes we learn better with lessons on what not to do, am I right?

I think it was when I read Illusionarium by Heather Dixon that it really came to me. (Just so you know, I LOVE this book, and I know a lot of you do as well, so I’m not hating on it. I just think the pacing could have been far better, but we’re getting to those details!)

Modern stories have too much action.

“But don’t stories supposed to be action-packed!” you’re probably thinking. “The more actions and thrills, the better the story!” Well…yes and no.

Yes, stories should give us thrills and not naps. (Many of my old works make my eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme donut. Wait wut?) But here’s the thing, if stories are all action all the time, with no rest periods in between, we’re also going to want to take a nap from sheer exhaustion. Basically: STORIES SHOULDN’T MAKE US NAP. Pacing is everything. A story may have all the right ingredients, but if the pacing is off, those ingredients are going to roll together into a mushy, tasteless stew. (Please just humor me with my absurd analogies.)

Okay, but howww do we get this magical pacing balance of action and rest and make our readers LOVE our stories? Wellll, there are lots of different methods. But one thing in particular stands out to me personally above all the rest. Something I’ve taken to calling…

Character Fireside Chats

Whether it’s an action-thriller or a historical romance, all stories have one thing in common: THEY’RE MADE UP OF CHARACTERS. And characters are the driving force of any given tale. I’m a speculative fiction gal myself, but if I love the characters enough, I’m game for pretty much any genre. (Ya know, within reason.) People love people, and when we pick up a book or go to the movies, we’re hoping to find yet more fictional characters we can fangirl/boy over unhealthily and spend hours of our precious lives making memes and searching for gifs of and blogging about to tell EVERYBODY EVER that they must join this fandom and love these poor bbys as much as us. Right? (You know you can’t deny it.)

But guess what? If the only thing the characters in the story are doing is running through narrow hallways shooting baddies and speeding through half a dozen unrealistic car chase scenes and barely ever having conversations because they only have time for lots of screaming, welllll how can we even tell if we like these characters? We don’t, because we don’t know them. They’re just…there, doing a bunch of stuff with no heart. Simply a prop to watch avoid exciting explosions.

Do you know how you get to know people? YOU TALK TO THEM. You have conversations, heart-to-hearts. You hear their thoughts, learn how they feel, discover tidbits about their lives and what makes them tick.

It’s the same with fictional characters.

They say action speaks louder than words, but in fiction? Not always.

Let’s look at Tangled.

In less than 2 hours, Disney gave us a movie that completely enchanted us, brought us laughter, kept us glued to our seats, and made us fall entirely in love with the characters. (Or at least, that’s my experience with it. But come on, who doesn’t love Tangled???) So how did they do that? PACING. And why was their pacing spot on? A literal fireside chat!

[WARNING: Many TANGLED SPOILERS coming, on the off-chance someone hasn’t seen that movie yet.]

Remember when Maximus and the soldiers are chasing Rapunzel and Flynn out from The Snuggly Duckling? This is the start to a heart-pounding series of action-filled events. They are chased, Flynn fights with a frying pan (“You should know that this is the strangest thing I’v ever done!”), Rapunzel uses her hair to fly over the gorge, and then she and Flynn get caught under water and nearly die. WHEW. Lots of action! But Disney knew what it was doing. After this series of events, we and the characters are given a rest period.

Rapunzel and Flynn sit by the fireside in a quiet forest, drying out and opening their hearts to one another. Here Flynn learns that if Rapunzel’s hair is cut, it’ll lose its powers, and Rapunzel discovers the backstory of this “thief” and learns he really isn’t the rogue he makes himself out to be. Not only do the characters get to know each other in this scene, but the viewers do as well. I’m 96% this is where we all fell in love with Flynn Rider a.k.a Eugene Fitzherbert.

After this moment, we are then back to some heart-stopping scenes as Mother Gothel appears and starts making trouble for Rapunzel. Now just imagine if the movie had skipped the quiet, fireside chat. What if the second Rapunzel and Flynn escaped from their near-drowning, Mother Gothel was waiting for them and the movie progresses from there with a series of more action scenes? We’d never get to really know who Flynn is, he’d miss vital information about Rapunzel’s hair, and their love story would seem unrealistic because, well, they really wouldn’t have time to fall in love. It was just be a tiring, too-quick series of events.

But, thankfully, that’s not how things played out and we were given a beautiful, well-loved story. All because Disney wasn’t afraid of “boring” their readers with a few quiet, meaningful scenes.


Because that’s just it, we enjoy dialogue. Dialogue is not boring! Or even some thoughtful narrations. Occasionally the POV (point-of-view) character needs some narration to think through the events and come to conclusions on how to fix them. Again, if all we see our protagonists do is run and shoot stuff, with no conversation, no heart-to-hearts, no deep inner thoughts, we’re just going to get tired and not care one way or the other if they make it out of the story alive. (Truthfully, with most action films, I pretty much never even remember the characters’ names. They’re usually just: Big Guy with Gun or Girl Who Can Run and Kick People in High Heels.)

Now let’s return to Illusionarium.

(Don’t worry, NO SPOILERS of this one for those who have not read it!)

This original steampunk story had everything: An extremely unique plot, parallel universes, a deadly plague, gorgeous writing, wit and humor, phenomenal worldbuilding, and, actually, even some great characters. I would have given this book a shiny 5 stars and sent it straight to my Favorites Shelf on GoodReads if not for one problem: The pacing.

There were basically zero “Character Fireside Chats” in the whole book. It was action, action, action at every turn. Every. single. time. the characters were about to have a heart-to-heart BOOM! some life threatening danger cut them short. EVERY TIME. Which made me so sad because I could tell I loved these characters. I could tell they were fun people to get to know. But…that was the problem. I never really, really got to know them. Characters I did like a lot could have been characters I LOOOOOOVED. But since they were so busy fighting for their lives, I feel like their relationships and personalities didn’t shine through as well as they could have. If there had been just a few fireside chats in the story, it would have absolutely gotten 5 stars from me instead of the 4 stars I gave it. It was so close to perfect. But the pacing just didn’t quite hit the mark.

And it seems to be that way with so many stories these days, especially modern films. I’m getting beyond frustrated with modern movies. There are so movies I should—could—LOVE, but just don’t because the pacing is so quick and jittery and disjointed. In fact, even TV shows have gotten this way. We seemed to have lost the art of smooth pacing, and it both frustrates me and makes me sad.

It’s like all these people are so scared of boring their readers, they forget it’s good to add some heart to the story. BUT, as with everything: Balance is Key. Action is good. Again, we don’t want to bore our readers. I’m not telling you to fill your entire stories with one deep, meaningful heart-to-heart after another. That can be just as tiring as never-ending action. Tangled had a few more fireside chats than the actual…fireside chat. (We can’t forget the floating lanterns scene, after all.) But that single scene was plenty to make us fall head-over-heels for our protagonists and stick with them to the end.

Because here’s the thing, the more action your story has, the more we’ll relish those sweet, quiet moments. In BBC’s Sherlock, my absolute favorite scenes are the “domestic” ones. Those moments where Sherlock and John are just hanging around in their flat—John blogging, Sherlock playing his violin or watching soap operas. It makes me grin every time. But I love those scenes because they’re few and far between. Most of the show is full of danger and mystery and intrigue. But, on occasion, we get a normal, quiet, happy glimpse at our characters, and it means all the more because all the rest of the time we’re worried for their lives. (Disclaimer: Sherlock is by no means a very clean show, sadly, and it’s pretty dark. Definitely not something I’d recommend to everyone!)

If for 98% of the time your favorite character is running for their lives and constantly almost dying, then you will live for that 2% of time where they’re just quietly sitting and eating cereal. Don’t try to deny it!

So if you’re wanting to write a heart-stopping thriller, GO FOR IT! Those are good! Just remember that if you really want that pacing to feel balanced and your readers to fall in love with the characters, throwing in a couple of “fireside chats” can do absolute wonders.

I by nooo means have this down flat. As I said before, pacing is something I’ve struggled with for years and am still learning. (Pretty much all of my writing tip posts are things I’m figuring out myself!) But this pacing problem of modern stories has been bugging me for a while now, to the point that I consider it one of my biggest pet peeves. (Which you can tell, because when I have a pet peeve I ramble on about it foreverrrr and…this post is so long! In fact, I had many more examples of good vs. bad paced stories but I’m preeetty sure you guys have the gist of it what I’m saying now. I should figure out better pacing for my blog posts. Eheheh.) I’m so ready for us to get back to meaningful stories that aren’t just all quick, disjointed scenes.

It’s all balance, guys! And the very best way to truly learn that perfect art is studying it for yourself! Start paying attention to the pacing in books and movies. Trust me, after some time you’ll figure out what feels off or just right.

And can we just take a minute to appreciate the fact that the best way to learn writing is to read books and watch movies? Sometimes writing is the actual best.


Well that was…long. I hope you all made it through that okay! (Again, this is such a huge pet peeve of mine and I just had to rant for a while. Thanks for putting up with me!) Now my favorite part, discussing the topic with YOU GUYS! Have you noticed a trend of disjointed pacing in modern stories? What are some stories (movies/books/TV shows/what-have-you) that you found the pacing way off on? What are some that you LOVED the pacing of? Do you agree with my “fireside chat” method? And do you have some methods for rocking pacing? I’D LOVE TO HEAR ‘EM!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Lifely Recap - Finishing Edits, Lots of Painting, Even More Fangirling, and I’m Back!


Guess who’s back from her hiatus???? Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? Do you even remember who I am? Do *I* remember who I am? *has mini existential crisis*


Anyways! Apparently May is no longer with us (wow, that sounds like May got murdered or something. Then again…that would explain why it just vanished suddenly, hmmmm), and since I did say I would be returning in June, well, HERE I AM. And my goodness, have I missed you guys! I feel like so much has happened since I was last here on the ol’ bloggy producing content and chatting with you guys. And because of that, I decided for my return I’d do a bit of a lifely recap. You know, recaps, those things every blogger and their mother’s dog does and I…never get around to? Yeah, that! I can be a cool kid, too! *whips out sunglasses* *accidentally pokes eye with them*

Erm, anyway…

Life has been a chaotic jumble of amazing and stressful and awful and wonderful for the past two months. So I’m going to talk about April also because a TON happened then as well. Really now, April and May needed a serious chill pill.



. . . LIFE . . .


April swooped in with big plans of finishing my edits on Burning Thorns and having a fun, eventful, awesome month. Then Life was like HAHA.

- The month actually started off with a lovely note, as Easter landed on April 1st. And it was happy day of food and family and remembering Jesus and His beautiful Sacrifice. I’ve always loved Easter—the transition of winter to spring, the bright colors and Easter egg dye, families gathering, good food being eaten, the celebration of the Resurrection. It’s always a joyful day.

- Our library had its annual sale which is my faaaave. Though this year it was smaller than it has been for the past couple of years. I didn’t come home with much. But still. LIBRARY SALE. My life’s blood basically.


The finds from that day.

- I had to go out of town for a cardiologist appointment and some tests. (I have a severely deformed mitral valve and have to get it checked yearly. Don’t worry, I’m not dying or anything!) Which was a day-long thing and kind of felt like 3 days…or years… Doctor appointments are always fun. Yaaaay. >.>

- I was so relieved to have all that done and thought things could settle and be good. Well, right after I got home, my beloved poodle Navi was having lots of health problems. She had been having them for a few months, but things were getting worse, and we ended up having to put her down. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I felt like my best friend died. I’ve had her for 11 years and she’s never been just my pet. Navi was my world. I didn’t actually know it was possibly to love an animal that much before I had Navi. I still can’t seem to accept that she’s gone. But I am so grateful for those 11 years God blessed me with my Navi girl. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.


I so miss this spoiled ball of fluff. <3

- Thankfully,  I had plans for a week-long trip to go stay with my bestie that landed literally the day after we put Navi down. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing. Because I am not one who needs time to herself to mourn. If I’m heartbroken, I need PEOPLE and distractions. Just being in my room by myself thinking about how sad I am makes things worse for me personally. So I was beyond relieved to have this trip planned. It helped ebb the sorrow so, so, so much. And ooooh my goodness, I had such a lovely time with my friend. Life turned around at this point and my hopes for a good month finally started coming true.

- The week included eating pizza every single day but one that whole week. What? you think I’m kidding. I do not kid when it comes to pizza! (Okay but my friend’s aunt, uncle, and cousins owns a pizza restaurant and it’s literally my favorite pizza in the world and I only get it when I’m there (boo on living in different cities from your bestie! *sniff, sniff*) so I always try to get as much of it in my system as possible during my visits. #NOREGRETS). Book shopping. #necessarypartoflife Drinking probably more coffee than is healthy. #stereotypicalwriter Makeup tutorials. (My friend is the master at makeup!) Many movie nights. Hanging out with so many of my favorite peoples. And just in general loving every second of being with my best friend. It filled me up.

- By the time I got home, April was coming near an end and I had a lot to catch up on and ponder over. As far as editing? AHAHAHAHA! Nooot much got done in April. It was one of those terrible/amazing months and by the end of it my mind was whirling from it all. But as life settled back into a new normal, I was ready to tackle the next month with new vigor.


My productive April plans transitioned well into May. The month wasn’t quiiiite as eventful as April, leaving me enough time to get things done. (But I’ll talk more about the writerly things in a minute.)

- With May came painting my brother’s room, something we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. I hate painting with every fiber in my being buuuut it is so very satisfying seeing a room freshly painted.

- Mother’s Day of course came. And I’m totally bias and think my mother is the bestest one on this earth (becausesheabsolutelyis), so celebrating and giving her some extra love was a joy.

- For a week I got to go over and feed our neighbor’s cat while they were out of town. Which I didn’t complain about one little bit because KITTEH! He’s such a snuggly, precious kitty and I loved going every evening to feed and pet him. <3

- Then the last week of May was the busiest, being as how my sister and I decided to switch rooms for various reasons. And I wanted to repaint hers before I moved in. (Another paint job. Hurraaay. >.>) I didn’t think it’d take too terribly long. Ahahaha! Why do I disillusion myself?? It turned into a week-long event of painting and moving and cleaning and rearranging and yeah. It was hard work, but actually turned out to be pretty fun in the end. And the best part is her room has way more wall space from my previous room which means I can have an entire BOOKSHELF WALL. Something I’ve aaaalways wanted, but never had the space for. Once I get everything arranged just right I maaay have to do a room tour. (As of right now I don’t even have pictures hung on the wall yet and I may buy another bookshelf and tweak things.) Buuuut I will give you a peek at my book wall…


It’s definitely subject to change, but I’m pretty happy with it for now.

And I have another shelf on the other side of the room, but it needs more work. It’s a bit messy looking as is.


Don’t mind my typewriter on the floor. Like I said, I’m still arranging things.

I’m being so indecisive about my shelves. I’d LOVE to arrange them by color because #aesthetics. It’s the thing now and I think it’s beautimous. Buuuut, at the same time, my perfectionist self can’t bear the thought of breaking up series. DECISIONS. #HALP I’d also absolutely love to get some fake flowers and fairy lights to decorate around the shelves with. If you guys know of any great places to acquire fairy lights (and what type I should get) SUGGEST AWAY!

- The month ended with us wrapping up our room switch, and now I’m comfortably settling into my new room and ready for yet another (hopefully) productive month to come. But May proved to be quite the month of writerly things, which I was counting on. As hard of a decision as it was to take a full month off of blogging, it was the right one. It gave me just enough time to wrap up some big projects of mine.

. . . WRITING . . .

- As of May 25th, I FINISHED EDITS FOR BURNING THORNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GUYS. I’ve been working on this 2nd round of major revisions since January. AND NOW IT IS DONNNEEEE. I couldn’t be happier! I may have to make another post about my editing journey (because I have quite a few thoughts and this post is becoming a monster as is), but for now I’ll just say this revision was tons of hard work and one of the biggest ones I’ve ever done. And…I kind of loved every minute of it. I’m thinking I’d like to go over the story one more time and check for any inconsistencies and do a typo sweep, but that shouldn’t take long. What matters is the big rewriting phase is done (for this draft anyway ehehehe). AND I JUST WANT TO DANCE IN ALL THE CONFETTI.

Alsoooo I will probably be doing a beta call sometime after Realm Makers (perhaps early August?) soooo yeah. Keep your eyes peeled for that. *wriggles eyebrows* Speaking of Realm Makers…

- I made some good headway as far as my giant DO BEFORE REALM MAKERS LIST goes. Editing BT was the biggy. But with that major task done, I’m now looking to getting other things done. I’ve scratched a few things off the list though.

- I made business cards! Super excited about that. I used Vistaprint because it was cheap and easy and I was quite happy with my design. Although the pictures I uploaded came out rather dark on the physical cards, as if they printed them wrong or something. It’s not too bad, I’m gonna live with it, just thought I’d warn you guys. I got matte cards, so it could be something to do with that? *shrugs*

- I sent in the first 10 pages of BT for a scheduled critique for Realm Makers. (SCARY STUFF.)

- I also scheduled appointments with 2 agents for RM. (MORE SCARY STUFF. Butalsoexciting.)

- I’ve been making planssss for a cosplay costume, since one night at RM we’ll all get to dress up. I’ve got the dress ordered, and have most of the rest of the costume figured out. It’s still a work-in-progress, but it’s coming together. I’M EXCITED. I think I’ll leave it to be a surprise though. *grins*

- Overall the Realm Makers prep is coming along nicely. Next up is perfecting my blurb for Burning Thorns, making a one-sheet (any tips, links, suggestions, etc. are always appreciated! I’m not even sure what kind of paper to make them out of and what size???), and work on a pitch for BT. Once I get those things done and my costume fully together I’ll be mostly prepared I think. I hope because WE’RE LOOKING AT LESS THAN TWO MONTHS NOW, PEOPLE. *SHRIEKS*

. . . BLOGGING . . .

Wait. Wasn’t I on a blogging hiatus for May? Well, yes. BUT…

- I did a guest blog post! The ever brilliant Savannah @ Inspiring Writes asked me to do a guest blog post for her Fairytale Retelling Month she did in May. Being as how I’m a huge fairytale retelling nerd (I mean, duh) I jumped at the chance. I wrote a post alllll about why YOU should write a retelling and why they’re cool. *puts on sunglasses successfully this time* So if you want  me to forcefully push convince you to join the fairytale bandwagon, you can read my post: 5 Reasons to Write a Fairytale Retelling

Also GO GIVE SAVANNAH A FOLLOW. Her blog, Inspiring Writes, is so well named. I come away from her posts inspired every single time. She makes the most motivating posts, will fill your plot bunny stash up by the millions, and she also interviews other amazing creatives. It’s seriously the best place to go fill up that creativity tank. Plus Savannah is the sweetest, most enthusiastic bean ever. <3

- I fiiinally got a more professional looking photo of myself for the blog (and other social media places). You probably noticed the new photo up there. *points at the top right sidebar* I’ve only been meaning to do that foreverrr, but I realized I needed it for my business cards, so that pushed me to get it done. Kudos to my amazing mom for capturing the photo. ^_^

. . . READING . . .

I probably don’t even deserve to have this section. Reading has been so slow these days. Like EMBARRASSINGLY SLOW.

- I did read the whole Storm Siren trilogy by Mary Weber though. Something I’ve been meaning to do for aaaages. But being as how she’s the keynote speaking at Realm Makers, I wanted to make sure I had read her books before then.

The stories were quite good. I got extremely fond of Nym and her cute impulsive behavior and deep desire to not harm anyone, as well as the rest of the cast (Eogan though <3). I also ADORED the world. It was like medieval fantasy slowly transitioning into steampunk times. Um. YES PLEASE. Such a unique and fun setting. Plus you can’t go wrong with a protagonist who literally creates storms. It was hilarious whenever Nym got angry and thunder would rumble in the sky.

The plot itself was pretty exciting buuuut…I don’t know. It almost felt like something was missing. Throughout all three of the books I was waiting for…more. It just kept feeling like the setup of a story and would get more exciting eventually, but it never really did. And yet at the same time it was chock full of war and emotion (THE FEELS) and life-threatening battles and the world threatening to end and airship fights (YES) and all that good stuff. So…maybe it’s just me? I think I’m becoming a picky reader and it’s a problem.

Overall, I enjoyed the trilogy quite a lot, but it didn’t quite blow me away. I’d probably get the trilogy 3 and a half stars all together.

That was all mostly May reading. I read barely anything in the whirlwind that was April. SAD I KNOW.


. . . WATCHING . . .

- INFINITY WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! Naturally I saw it the weekend it came out and and and AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! No spoilers here, don’t worry. But yeah. o.o I can’t decide if I utterly loved it or hated it. SO MANY FEELS, GUYS. I’ve been screaming about it with my sister and friends for a month now. I WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM THIS MOVIE. EVER.

Confession: I’m not a huge musical fan. *ducks from the flying tomatoes* I probably just lost a few followers for saying that. I KNOW IT’S SHAMEFUL. I don’t dislike musicals, I’d just rather my entertainment not be interrupted by one song after the next. It takes away from the realism for me when everyone breaks out into song. So when I saw all this hype for The Greatest Showman I was more than skeptical. (I also can’t stand Zac Efron so…yeah.) WELL. My friends convinced me to watch it with them and… *shifty eyes* I loved it. I LOVED IT. Absolutely, completely LOVED. Every. Single. Minute. The whimsical feel, the amazing chorography, the beautiful setting, the emotion, the sweet characters, the absolutely breathtaking songs. It utterly enraptured me and had me lost in the story from that first goosebump-inducing opening scene to the credits.  NOW I AM HOOKED. So I shall swallow my words of not liking musical for this once and proceed to rewatch this amazing movie over and over again. Sometimes hypes are there for a reason. WHO KNEW?

I’ve been intrigued with this movie for a while, so was excited when some friends all decided we should watch it together. First I will say, this movie is NOT for the weak of stomach. It’s brutal. And gory. Good gracious. o.o If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly flick THIS IS NOT IT. Two scenes in particular I really wish had not been there. BUT. I kind of loved the movie. It’s one of those movies that sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. I saw it over a month ago and am still pondering it. The strength and determination of the characters was awe-inspiring, the post-apocalyptic setting was fascinating (I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic/survival storylines), and the plot delivered an extremely powerful message about hope and sacrifice and never giving up and doing the right thing and treating all of humanity with respect, without ever once shoving it in your face. I seriously loved it. But again, viewer discretion EXTREMELY advised.

- PETER PAN (2003).
Only my FAVORITEST MOVIE EVER (next to Lord of the Rings). This is a movie I saw in theaters twice, bought on DVD the very day it released, and proceeded to watch it until my disc nearly got worn. The movie that still gives me chills when it comes on despite the fact that I can quote it word-for-word. This movie means the world to my best friend and me. Watching and liking this movie is basically our rite of passage to being our friend. XD (Juuuust kidding…sorta.) So naturally while I was staying with her, we had to show it to friends who had never seen it. We hadn’t watched it together in the longest and AAAHHH NOSTALGIA. It brought back every bit of our preteen and teen years. And, shockingly, this movie holds up. There’s really nothing about it that feels old and cheesy. It’s a beautiful, whimsical, magical movie and if you have not seen it YOU ARE MISSING OUT. Like…I can’t even put into words how enchanting this movie is. It’s one of the very, VERY few movie adaptations I like just as much as the book. Yes, I like this movie equal to my beloved Peter Pan book. I TOLD YOU IT’S GOOD.

I probably watched a gradrillion other things that I’m not thinking of, but this post is already a million years long and those were the highlights.
(Plus I have the memory of a goldfish and don’t keep up with what I watch month to month so…)

I feel like there’s a million and twelve more lifely bits and pieces I could tell you about these past couple of months. Like I said, they’ve been a doozy! Buuut being as how this post is already long enough to circle the world, I think I should end it eventually.

Overall, life has been hectic and stressful and heartbreaking. But at the same time? Between seeing my bestie, finishing edits, getting some Realm Makers planning finished, celebrating Easter and Mother’s Day, and switching rooms with my sis, it’s been an utterly thrilling ride. I’m ecstatic to be back to blogging (I’VE MISSED YOU GUYS!!!) and can’t wait to produce some new and (hopefully) exciting content for you all. And I’m muchly looking forward to seeing what all June has in store. I think we should make it an epic one, don’t you?



WELL THEN. Now that I’ve blabbered on to nearly the end of time, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! What have you been doing while I’ve been away? Do you have any fun summer plans? Have you seen any of the movies I’ve listed??? (I NEED TO FANGIRL WITH PEOPLE.) I have missed you all and want to discuss ALL the things!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...