The top six best fantasy couples

I don’t normally like love stories. I don’t read romantic fiction, and I generally bitch and moan if too much attention is paid to romantic subplots in shows or movies. I’m not here for that, sorry. I’m here for the dragons and the magic and the music and the mystery.

That being said, some love stories are just too good to ignore. Because the characters, who were written as real people, have great chemistry. They’re the kind of relationships that are realistic, wonderful, and inspiring. They’re all of these things because the couples themselves are honest, realistic, and just good together.

I also appreciate that in every situation I’m about to go into, the love story is not the main story. There’s a war, or a monster, or a quest. Love just comes along as a secondary story. Which is how life should be. We’re out there, living our best lives, and we find someone we connect with without even looking.

Here are my top six favorite romantic relationships in fantasy books. One of them won’t surprise you at all, but I’m hoping some do.

Also, spoilers. Like, a lot of them.

Vin and Elend, from Mistborn

Everyone and their brother’s got a rag to riches story about a common girl or boy marrying a prince or princess and living happily ever after. I’m not ashamed to say I have one, too, in Woven. The story of Vin and Elend is different. For one thing, Elend was saved by his love of Vin, because when her crew is busy overthrowing his government, she speaks for him.

But that’s not why he becomes king. That happens because he’s the only one willing to listen to all sides of an issue and give everyone, and I do mean everyone, a fair voice.

I love Eland and Vin because they respect each other for who they are. Vin’s a socially awkward frightening fighter. And I don’t mean the normal socially awkward but really freaking adorable and charming as hell that Disney tries to play off. There’s no wonder we all think we’re freaks. Vin is really freaking awkward in most social interactions. She’d much rather just punch someone than have to have a dinner conversation with them. And Elend just loves her anyway. Loves her enough to trust her. Just like she loves him enough to trust him.

Beka and Farmer, from the Bloodhound Trilogy

What I love is that Beka had a different love interest in every damn book. There was no silliness about there being just one man for her or that he’d been there all along. Farmer wasn’t even introduced until book three. And he’s a good guy.

That’ the nice thing about him, he’s a good guy. He’s an easy going, silly guy who takes little to none of the verbal abuse that Beka seems to want to heap on him.

I love their whole interaction, from start to finish. I love that they just grow to love each other, and there’s never a question of whether or not this will work out. There’s a feeling that after all these other men failed to be who she needed them to be, she found someone who was just right. And she was just right for him.

Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter

No, I didn’t mean Harry and Ginny. Honestly, if I was writing a blog post about the top six couples that felt shoehorned in and irritated me, they’d be on that one.

Ron and Hermione felt right from the beginning. They never idolized each other, and in fact, saw each other as really freaking irritating most of the time. Their love grew through time together, gaining honest and mutual respect and tenderness for each other. Even if I don’t really think Ron realized he cared about her until she started seeing Krumm. Honestly, I don’t know that I would have picked Ron over that hottie. I’d just like to remind everyone that the actor who played him is older than me. Just saying.

Kate Snicket and Dewy Denouement from Series of Unfortunate Events

What, you’ve never even heard of Kate and Dewy? Well, let me tell you something, they made me cry. They made me hope. They made me feel things that most other relationships, aside from my own, could never touch. And they made me do all of this without ever being together in the damn book. We see Kate helping the Baudelaire children, both with and without their knowledge. We see Dewy protecting the hidden library. But all we see of their relationship is Dewy calling for her as he dies, and Kate being broken by the realization that he died, just before dying herself while giving birth to his child. And yet I was so invested in them. I wanted to sob, realizing that Dewy was gone, and Kate had already lost one of her brothers. I swear Lemony Snicket is maybe the most heart-wrenching character of all time.

But Kate and Dewy stole my heart and stomped all over it.

Sarai and Lazlo from Strange The Dreamer

Okay, so a lot of this book revolves around Sarai and Lazlo, even though they never actually meet face to face. But it’s such great love, and both characters are so cool, that I don’t really care.

Sarai has never seen another person besides her sisters and brother before, so maybe it’s no surprise that the first man who can see her she falls in love with. But Lazlo has been so impassioned with the lost city that he hasn’t seen anything or anyone. He could have had a lot of girls, but he fell in love with her.

It’s another tragic story, of course. And while I did give a spoiler warning at the start of this post, I can’t really be blamed for this one. She dies in the first five pages of the damn book, after all. This makes the ride bittersweet, but worth every second. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. (I just ordered it by the way.)

Alanna and George, of Song of The Lioness

George and Alanna just fit together so well. Alanna is a brave, fearless woman who hides her gender to become a knight. She’s a noblewoman who lets nothing, and I mean nothing, stand in her way. George is a thief and a commoner. He’s a smart ass, and really easygoing.

He’s also the first person she Alanna trusts with her secret. He’s the first person to see her as a woman. And, he is completely okay with her best friend being a man, Prince Johnathan. He’s a great dad and pretty okay with being a stay at home dad so his wife can go off to be a hero.

So what do you think? What fantasy character made you say relationship goals? Let us know in the comments below.

In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.

But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.

Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.

Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within.

Get it on Amazon or Smashwords.

Get ready for the end of the Woven Trilogy, coming soon.

missing stitches-001

Fantasy sub genres, part four

We’ve come now to the final installment of our Fantasy sub genre series. These are always so much fun to write. If you guys would like to see me do a horror series like this, let me know.

Here are links to part one, part two and part three in this series.

If you haven’t already, please check out Worlds Without End. It’s the site that provided the bulk of my research for this series, and it’s a fun site.

Let’s get to it.

Romantic Fantasy

A romantic fantasy book is, obviously, a story about a romance in a fantasy setting. While it might have a magical world to develop in, it’s still a romance novel. It might fall anywhere on the spicy scale, depending.

Some examples of romantic fantasy are Master of Crows by Grace Draven, Poison Study by Maria V Snyder and The Winter King by CL Wilson.

Superhero Fantasy

It’s no surprise that the superhero genre is part of the fantasy realm. What else would it be? Superheroes will qualify as any story about a character with superhuman powers. Like Superman, or Captain America.

Some examples of Superhero fantasy books are Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Renegades by Marissa Meyer and The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.

Sword and Sorcery

Kind of the standard fantasy story, a sword and sorcery book is about just that. Epic wars, mighty mages. All that sort of fun thing.

The first thing I think of when it comes to this sub genre is King Arthur. There’s also Conan and Hour of The Dragon by Robert E. Howard.

Urban Fantasy

One thing sets urban fantasy apart from other fantasy stories. It’s set in an urban environment. Now, most of these are set in modern times, but of course, that’s not a necessity. I mean, there have been cities for a long, long time. Personally, I could read a lot of urban fantasy set in London or Cairo. I think I could write a good bit of that, too.

Some examples of Urban Fantasy novels are Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Jekyll by Lauren Stewart and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.

Weird Fantasy

This is sort of hard to describe. A weird fantasy story is going to be highly up to interpretation, as its main feature is that it bulks most of the general traditions and tropes. It’s, well, weird. It’s unexpected and hard to explain. In saying that, any of the sub genres might apply, except that if it fits into a sub genre, it’s not really Weird Fantasy.

Some examples of Weird Fantasy books are Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer and The Etched City by KJ Bishop.

So, that’s it! What did you think? What’s your favorite fantasy sub genre? Did I miss a great book in any sub genre that you think needs more attention? Let us know in the comments below!

After years of war between Montelair and Septa, the two thrones are united by family. starting chains-001Victor’s nephew, Morgan, is sharing the throne with the last heir of the royal line, Jacob. He and Lenore decide to travel to Montelair with their newborn daughters to help broker peace.

But peace among their own people is harder to achieve. The city is tormented by a terrorist who calls himself The Tinker.

Get it now on Smashwords and Amazon.

Announcing Missing Stitches, book three of Woven!

Announcement day! My first launch of 2019, and man is it a big one. It’s the biggest announcement I’ve ever made, actually.

The final book of the Woven Trilogy, Missing Stitches, is coming soon.

The city of Septa has barely had a moment of peace since the death of their king, Michael. Lenore, the princess, and heir, hopes that she and her husband, Victor, can bring some stability.
Meanwhile, her brother Devon and his wife, Queen Sultiana, come to visit and meet Lenore and Victor’s twin daughters. Sultiana comes with a heavy heart, having just miscarried her own child, and lost her father.
Instead, Lenore finds herself battling against her uncle, Joseph, over her right to the throne. As he stirs the city into civil war, an ancient enemy reveals itself. Brother Brennan, who claims to speak for The Creator, is killing Septa citizens in the streets.

Then, Lenore’s daughters are kidnapped. While Victor and Devon hunt the city in search of the princesses, Lenore and Sultiana must lead her city in a war against her uncle, and a twisted holy man. The canals run red as Lenore fights for her city, her family, and the safety of the world, in the conclusion of Woven.

I can’t believe this is happening. I mean, on the one hand I’ve written a book and a half in the next trilogy already. So I guess it’s not that hard to believe. But on the other hand, it’s amazing that I’ve actually stuck through all these drafts and edits through three books.

Of course, I’ll let you know as soon as I have a release day. Thank you all, so much, for sharing this journey with me. We’re at the end now, and it’s going to be an explosive one.

Want to catch up before Missing Stitches? Get Broken Patterns and Starting Chains right now.

Fantasy Sub Genres, part three

Welcome to part three of our series on fantasy sub genres. If you missed part one or part two, click here.

I’m endlessly fascinated with the rainbow of fantasy stories, as varied as the people who read them. I assume you are too, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. So let’s dive in.

Please check out Worlds Without End, where I did the bulk of my research for this series. It’s a great site.

Juvenile Fantasy

Pretty self-explanatory, juvenile fantasy is fantasy written for a younger audience. Young adult or children’s fantasy. I’m often drawn to this sort of fantasy, to be honest. There’s just something great about a coming of age tale. Even though I’m quite of age now.

I’m sure I probably don’t have to list juvenile fantasy books, but here it goes anyway. Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

Low Fantasy

While most fantasy is beautiful and bright, showcasing the best and brightest heroes and worlds, low fantasy is, well, a bit darker. It’s the seedy back allies, dirty city guards, drug addictions and whores. It’s an aspect that I’m starting to explore in the second book in my new trilogy, and it’s one that I would love to see more of. Not because we want to romanticize that sort of life, but because it’s an honest part of our world. There are slums, there are drug addicts. There are homeless people and dark places where no one cares about their neighbors. Magic won’t fix those problems. I like that. Again, it’s honest. And writing, even when it’s fantasy, should be honest.

Some examples of low fantasy include American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Magical realism

I love magical realism, it’s what started my Woven series. Magic is simply part of the world, woven right into the existence.

Of course, Woven is an example, but so is Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce. Another good example is The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.

Mythic fiction (fantasy)

Another sub genre based on already set up worlds, mythic fiction fantasy is based on old mythologies like Greek, Roman and Nordic gods. Obviously, there are some traits of this in my books.

Some examples of mythic fiction are Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

That’s it for this time. We’ll be wrapping this up on Friday, stay tuned.

starting chains-001After years of war between Montelair and Septa, the two thrones are united by family. Victor’s nephew, Morgan, is sharing the throne with the last heir of the royal line, Jacob. He and Lenore decide to travel to Montelair with their newborn daughters to help broker peace.

But peace among their own people is harder to achieve. The city is tormented by a terrorist who calls himself The Tinker. He and his group of anarchists plant bombs through the city and call for the death of the new kings from every street corner.

Meanwhile, in Calistar, Sultiana and Devon are marching to war with Kussier. The ancient hatred between the two countries is sprung anew when Sultiana is declared heir to the Calistar throne.

Waiting at the border, though, is a much darker enemy. A force from legend threatens to consume both countries, and possibly the world.

Get it now on Amazon or Smashwords

Fantasy sub genres, part two

Welcome to part two of our review of Fantasy sub genres. For part one, click here.

The different fantasy genres are as varied and complex as the people who enjoy them. And as a fantasy writer, I find them endlessly fascinating. I hope you do, too.

And please check out the website Worlds Without Ends. Their site provided the bulk of my research. While I don’t usually do this, I will point out they’ve got a Patreon page.

Fairytale fantasy

A fairy tale story is one that strongly uses what would be considered fairy tale motifs. Poisoned food, magic talismans, wicked witches, bubbling streams that give advice, talking pearls. I don’t have much experience writing this sort of thing, but I do love it.

Some examples of the Fairytale fantasy sub genre are Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Deerskin by Robin McKinley and Red as Blood by Tanith Lee.

Fantasy of Manners

Alright, this one’s a little confusing. A fantasy of manners is sort of like a Rodney Dangerfield movie. A character threatening or going against a set of rules or expectations in a certain society, for a satirical look at the situation.

The first example that comes to mind is A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. (Did I need to mention that? I assume if you’re reading my blog you know who wrote A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.) Another good example is Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. I would even argue that the first Fantastic Beasts movie had some strong elements of this sub genre.

Heroic Fantasy

Heroic fantasies are kind of exactly what I think of when I think of the fantasy genre. A hero travels the land, defeating monsters and saving the world. Heavily character driven, with a great and powerful person kicking ass. It’s swords and demons and everything that makes for a great, thrilling read. I would say Woven falls into this category, but not so much as the new trilogy, the Coinkeeper’s Saga.

Some examples that aren’t mine are The Lord of The Rings by JR Tolkien, The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Personal note: I didn’t like this but I’m like the only one who didn’t.) and Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. I told you, it’s exactly what people think of when they think of fantasy.

High fantasy

This is also known as epic fantasy, and really similar to heroic fantasy. It’s the story of an epic battle between good and evil on a grand scale. This is no Spiderman saving Manhattan. This is The Avengers taking on Thanos. I would argue that a high fantasy story is more plot driven than character driven.

Some examples of high fantasy series are the Mystborn series by Brandon Sanderson, Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I assume I don’t need to tell you that Sanderson is my favorite fantasy author, Jordan is my husband’s, and CS Lewis is our favorite author all together.

Historical fantasy

Historical fantasy is similar to alternate historical fantasy. They both deal with adding fantasy elements to one specific time in history. The big difference is that where in alternate historical fantasy we’re dealing with a story that ends differently, historical fantasy keeps everything just the same, it’s just that now there’s magic. This is another sub genre that I want to explore.

Some examples of historical fantasy are The Golum and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty.

Well, that’s it for part two. Stay tuned next week for part three and four.

In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. broken-patterns-001What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.

But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.

Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.

Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within.

Enter the world of Woven on Amazon or Smashwords

Fantasy sub genres, part one

Every time I do one of these posts, I end up adding twenty books to my Goodreads page. Oh well, worse problems to have I guess.

I did a series of posts a few months back about Science Fiction subgenres. It was fairly popular, and I had a good time writing it. I learned a lot, got some great story ideas, and found out about books I really really want to read.

So I decided to do it again, this time with Fantasy sub-genres. Once again, all of my research was done on a website called Worlds Without End. Go check them out.

Alternate History

I read this description, and like seventeen story ideas just popped into my head. I want to do a whole novella series about the war of the roses, but with magic. (Yeah, like Woven isn’t already that.)

Alternate History is a Fantasy subgenre where you take a historical instance, and re-imagine what it would be like with magic. How amazing is that? I cannot wait to start writing some of these.

Some examples of Alternate History Fantasy books are Wild Cards, an anthology series edited by George RR Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik and The Moon and Sun, by Vonda N. McIntyre.

Comic Fantasy

Fantasy tends to be very serious. Comic fantasy, not so much. It’s all about a lighter and much funnier look at dragons and magic. I wish I could write this, but I’m only funny in small doses. I’ve got a tight five stand up routine at best.

Some great examples of Comic fantasy books are The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, and of course literally everything Terry Pratchett has ever written.

Contemporary Fantasy

This is a sub-genre I’ll be dealing with eventually. (I have a fourteen book plan for the Woven universe. The last one will be a contemporary fantasy book.)

A contemporary fantasy book is one that takes place in modern times, with magic built into the corners of our world, going largely unnoticed by the rest of the world. I think people love this one because there’s not enough magic in the real world. There are plenty of monsters, but not near enough heroes.

Probably the most popular example of Contemporary Fantasy is the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Another few examples are Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Dark Fantasy

I would consider my upcoming series, The Coinkeeper Chronicles, a dark fantasy. Dark fantasy stories deal with horrifying monsters, in a fantasy setting. And they are really fun to write, by the way. You’d think that a werewolf wouldn’t be so threatening when you have magic on your side. But then you’ve got demons and haunted insane asylums. Magic can only do so much about those.

Some examples of Dark Fantasy books are Coraline by Neil Gaiman, The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and the Miss Peregrin’s series by Ransom Riggs.

Erotic Fantasy

Okay, we’re all adults here. I think we can guess what erotic fantasy is. No, I don’t write it. No, I don’t intend to write it. I don’t look down on people who do it, I’m just not that kind of writer.

Some examples of erotic fantasy are The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice, Monster Whisperer by Nobilis Reed, and A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton.

That’s it for part one. Check out Friday’s post for part two.

Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite fantasy sub-genre? Let us know in the comments below.

In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. broken-patterns-001What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.

But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline. He travels there to help the dragon queen save her people.

Meanwhile, Devon’s sister Lenore joins the Church of Singular Light. As Lenore learns to serve, and falls in love with her city, she discovers a dark underbelly to the church.

Lenore fights for her city, and Devon rushes to find a cure to the plague, while an unseen enemy raises an army to destroy Septa from within.

Get it on Amazon or Smashwords

The Twelve best fantasy creature characters, part two

Today I’m continuing my list of my favorite fantasy creature characters. If you missed part one, here’s a link.

The Direwolves from Song of Ice and Fire

I’m not going to sugar coat this. The destruction of the majority of the direwolves is a big reason I stopped liking this series. Kill all the humans, most of them are terrible anyway. But the direwolves! Especially Sansa’s wolf, Lady. I know this was supposed to be some half-wild animal, but I couldn’t help picturing a beautiful, loyal husky. Oh, and that’s the dogs they use in the show. Oh, and the actress who plays Sansa adopted the dog who plays Lady. The direwolves are loyal, smart and terrifying. I loved them, and I never really got over their unfair and untimely demise.

Pounce/ Faithful from Tortall

More god than animal, Pounce (or Faithful) is the cat companion for Alana the Lioness and Becca, the Blood Hound. He’s smart, a fierce fighter, and a smart ass. He is a cat, for all that he’s able to speak with people and walk among the stars. And I love him.

The cat from Coraline

Alright, I’m pretty convinced this unnamed cat from Coraline is actually the same character as Faithful index(or Pounce.) He’s also a companion for Coraline, even if she doesn’t want him to be. He’s the only person able to move from the other world to the real world without aid. And he is, again, a cat through and through. At one point he is quite pleased to tell Coraline that the Other Mother can’t keep him out of her world. That he goes where he pleases. That is a cat, even if it’s also a god.

Thimbletack, from Spiderwick Chronicles

This character is a menace, but he has a reason to be. He’s a type of fairy called a brownie, whose job it is to guard the Spiderwick house. But, if you piss him off by, for instance, ripping his house all to bits, he turns into an evil boggart. He’s small and brown and he talks in rhyme. And I love him.

tockTock from The Phantom Tollbooth

Tock is a dog full of shame. He is a watchdog, and his job is to make sure that no one wastes time. I could use a Tock in my life to growl and bark after me when I’m being lazy. He’s a brave and noble dog, but here is his secret shame. His name is Tock, but he goes tick tick tick. He has a brother named Tick, who goes tock tock tock. His parents have given up on having any more children, as they couldn’t bear the shame of naming their children so incorrectly.

Falkor from Neverending Story

Of course, Falkor had to be number one on my list. The Neverending Story was my favorite movie as a falkorchild, I watched it on repeat some days.

Falkor was huge and fearless. You had the sense that nothing bad could happen when he was there. He was beautiful, and one of my greatest aspirations as a child was to sleep on top of him because he looked so warm and so soft. Falkor was the voice of reason and loyalty, and just a comforting character. I wanted a Falkor in my life. I still do, to be honest.

I’m sure that I missed some terrific fantasy animal and creature companions. If you know of one I missed, please share with the class. Let us know in the comments below. (Preferably with pictures.)

broken-patterns-001In Devon’s world, magical work is as common as turning a pot or fletching an arrow. What isn’t common is a man with thread magic. When Devon finds that he is a seer, weaving prophetic tapestries, his family tries to keep it a secret.
But the family can’t hide Devon’s visions after he predicts a devastating plague in the dragon lands of Coveline.

Get it on Smashwords and Amazon

The twelve best fantasy creature characters, part one

Most of the best fantasy stories have about a hundred moving parts that add to the enjoyment of a story. The characters, the magic structure, the world building. All of these things add (or take away) from the core story itself.

A favorite part of any fantasy story for me is the mythical or animal companions that join the main characters along the way. They might be anthropomorphic, and full characters in their own right. They might be just animals, interacting with the characters in the same way that the animals in our world interact with us. They might be demons or other fairy creatures that must be treated with the same (or more) respect that we give our fellow humans. Any way they present themselves, I love them. They’re one of the reasons I keep reading young adult fantasy instead of adult fantasy because there are way more animal companions there.

Here are my top eleven favorite animal or mythical creature companions. I’ve tried not to include more than one character from any one series. I mean, I could probably do a whole post on my favorite Harry Potter non-human characters alone. I should also warn you, there are a lot of cats. Because cats are fantastic and make me smile.

Lucy, from Disenchanted

Lucy is a tiny little dark demon from the wicked fantasy show Disenchanted. He follows his person41101519_2211308525777516_4543447674162961347_n around, tempting her to do bad things that she really doesn’t need much convincing to do. He’s cute, he’s dark, and he made me squeak the first time I saw him. His character evolves and changes as the first season progresses, which is rare. Also, fun fact, within a week of Disenchanted coming out, people had tattoos of Lucy. Just saying, I’m not the only person in absolute love with him.

Little Bear from Circle of Magic

Little Bear is exactly what you want a dog to be. He’s big, loyal and sweet, and the perfect companion for a group of magic kids who are having a hard time getting used to their wildly new powers. This dog was curious about everything but managed not to rip up any of their crucial mage work. In short, Little Bear is a very good dog.

indexThe rat creatures from Bone

Yes, I am including a comic book character on this list, because Bone is wonderful and comic books are stupidly unappreciated in the literary world.

The rat creatures are big, hissing beasts with long fur and horns that seem to live only to devour good creatures. They’re not that bright, though, so they don’t account for many deaths. The cutest part of the book is when Bone, the main character, finds a baby one.

Chime, from Shatter Glass, Circle Opens

I’m including this character, even though I also included Little Bear. I’m taking advantage of a loophole. Technically Little Bear was introduced during Circle of Magic, where Chime is definitely a character from Circle Opens.

Chime is also a dragon made out of glass, that acts like a poorly behaved puppy and eats everything. It then pukes up either fantastic or horrific things. It screeches at the top of its little glass lungs and scratches at things, people and animals, with its talons. In short, I’d have sent this damn thing to the shelter, but it’s really fun to read about.

The beavers from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The vast majority of the characters from this book are talking animals. But I love the beavers best. They’re sensible and realistic. They think to pack food, sewing things and a fishing line to go to war. They are ready to open their home to some lost kids in the woods, and they ask for nothing in return. They are exactly what I think of when I think of a good person. And I aspire to be as open, as hard-working, and as giving as them.

Crookshanks from Harry Potter

I know, most people love Hedwig the most, but I’m here with the unpopular opinion. He’s sassy, he’s a fighter, and he’s badass. And he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for not only knowing who the bad guy is, and who the good guy is, in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Even after that, he is with the team, being a cat. He’s hunting vermin in the garden and the girl’s dormitory. He’s an ugly, rough cat who loves Hermione right away. While he has no patience for anyone else, he’s always ready to give a purr to his mistress and keep her seat warm.

This is getting a bit long winded, so in the interest of brevity, I’m going to cut this post in half. Stay tuned for part two on Friday.

Raise a glass, then make some plans

Happy New Year! Still hung over? I’m not. Though we did head out to Pittsburgh to celebrate First Night. That was an awesome trip, let me tell you.

So, now it’s 2019, and it’s time to start thinking of what we’d like to accomplish in the next 12 months.

No, wait. We need to do something first. Something that a lot of people skip right over in their haste to be a smarter, brighter, more successful person in the next year.

We need to celebrate what we did in 2018 and give ourselves a good healthy pat on the back. Because no matter how you’re feeling, I bet you did a ton in the last year to be proud of!

Let’s sit down with our journals, and chronicle what we should be celebrating about.


What you accomplished. Even if you don’t think it’s a lot, I bet it’s really a lot. Start writing a list of things you did, big or small. Did you remember your aunt’s birthday, for once? Did you survive that damned flu that never seemed to go away? Did you send a scary email you didn’t want to send? Did you go to that party, even if you weren’t sure you really wanted to go? Did you freaking move? Did you start a blog, or write a book? Did you find an awesome new recipe? Write it all down.

The good habits you started. I actually did well with new habits this year. I started the Flylady system, I’m drinking more water. I’m taking a multivitamin and I’m using a treadmill for about fifteen minutes a day.

This one is important because small habits are the hardest things to establish and the best way to improve your overall life. So what new habits did you start?

Anything that was just freaking awesome. These would be things that were just great. A nice vacation, a really good day, an unexpected windfall. Just list the great things that happened today. If you had a hard year, then this list is doubly important. I had a really hard year, but I still managed to make a pretty big list of great things.


Now that we’ve celebrated what we did in 2018, we have a better idea of what we want to accomplish in 2019. Now, we know what, looking back, we’re most proud of. Ask yourself these questions.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Big or little, write down everything you want to do.

Now, I’m sure you know what happens next. Take all of the things you want to do, pick one, and break it down into actionable items. That makes it far less daunting.

What do you want to do better? Do you want to write better, keep a tidier house? Take better care of yourself, or someone else? What parts of your life is causing you pain? Make a list of anything you’re not in love with.

What do you want to stop doing? We’ve all got bad habits that we want to cut out of our lives. Write down a list of things you want to stop doing. And, write down why you want to stop doing it. Knowing the why is the most powerful tool you have to make sure you actually quit.

What do you want to experience? This is a fun one. Do you want to stay at a bed and breakfast, or go to Florida? Is there maybe just a local festival that you always say you’re going to make time for but you don’t? Life is more than just to do lists. Make plans to actually live this year.

Based on all that, what’s your word of the year? I know this seems a little silly if you’ve never done this, but I can promise you that choosing a word to guide your year is transformative. In 2017, my word was Create. I created a ton of stories, books, and content. It was rather exhausting, but it was great. In 2018, my word was Learn. I learned all sorts of new things in the last year. Some things I didn’t really want to learn about, but that’s life.

For 2019, my word of the year is Brave. I’ve got some personal stuff going on that will require my bravery. But I also have some writing decisions that I’ve been afraid to act on. I need to be brave in 2019. What do you need?

What are you celebrating this year? What do you want to be celebrating next January? Let us know in the comments below.

Deciding To Start contains some of the best blog posts from the first two years of Paper Deciding To StartBeats World, updated with new information and new insights. It covers such topics as inspiration to start writing, advice on the tools you need to get started, how to be a writer while also being a full time human being, and inspiration to keep going.

If you are a new writer, trying to find your feet on the path, these essays are intended to lend you a hand and give you a light to help.

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