A Secret Chord

If the deity cares for music

Why shouldn’t you?

Will you become yourself

A broken shoe?

Walk no where, no place to go

So stale and, oh, so slow?

Deafly turned to visible sounds

Deafly blind mysterious rounds

Then stop up, voyager, and turn around

Your journey is whirring

And without sound

But I will listen, I will hear

Silent sounds whisper near

They call and thrum the heartstring bounds

And binding, winding to the way,

Bound I go

And listening stay.

Inspired by Hallelujah, by Jeff Buckley



Colder than the ice caps

Colder than the sea

Colder than the shriven cornstalks

Shivering ‘mong the scree

Cold now is our country

Cold now are our men

Colder are the children

Cold as a dying breed

When women walk the coldness

And their husbands walk away

When children haunt the houses

That shiver and cast away

Then colder than the coldness

Are frozen hearts and ears

Then colder than the darkness

That wails when nobody hears



Do modern novels make you cringe? Does it feel like everything written after 1950 is shallow, immoral, or ridden with sloppy language?

If your soul is slowly shriveling away inside of you and your eyes are screaming at you to find something, ANYTHING, worth their time to read, I have a solution for you!

First, spend a couple minutes of cathartic laughter with Terrible Writing Advice, where you can enjoy that someone besides yourself notices just how awful most modern novels actually are!

Then… take a look at my list below! With 50 recommendations of classic, first-rate literature, you’re sure to find something new and wonderful to read! I have personally read every title, and not only do I recommend them, but I love talking about them! Please comment about your favorite classic, any modern books and authors that are gems in this current ocean of mediocrity, or anything else book-related!

  1. George Elliot’s Middlemarch
  2. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
  3. Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince
  4. Gail Carson Levine’s Fairest
  5. Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  6. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  7. Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three
  8. Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron
  9. Lloyd Alexander’s The Castle of Llyr
  10. Lloyd Alexander’s Taran Wanderer220px-The_Chronicles_of_Prydain_set
  11. Lloyd Alexander’s The High King
  12. Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman
  13. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  14. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  15. Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  16. Robert C. O’Brien’s Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
  17. Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
  18. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time
  19. William Goldman’s The Princess Bride
  20. T.H. White’s The Once and Future KingOnceandFutureKing-768x1179.jpg
  21. C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce
  22. Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  23. C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces
  24. Noel Streatfeild’s Theater Shoes
  25. Shakespeare’s The Tempest
  26. Louis Sachar’s Holes
  27. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth
  28. Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz
  29. George McDonald’s The Light Princess
  30. Charles Dicken’s Great Expectationsgreat-expectations
  31. Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera
  32. Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden
  33. Elizabeth Russell’s Halfbreeds (Yup, my shameless plug! But I’m not ashamed – I love reading my book, and I highly recommend it!)
  34. Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World
  35. A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh
  36. Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  37. Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena
  38. Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc
  39. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  40. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan51f-7KjjFeL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
  41. Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  42. Roald Dahl’s Matilda
  43. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas
  44. Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl
  45. M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island
  46. Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy
  47. Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall
  48. Catherine Marshall’s Christy
  49. Jane Austen’s Persuasion
  50. Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarreimages

BONUS: If you read ONLY 25 of the books on the list and email me with a 1-sentence comment for each of the ones you’ve read, I will send you a free copy of my next book Trinian, An Epic Fantasy!

I can’t wait to hear your opinions!

My Email Address:

Elizabeth @ (delete spaces)



Cry beyond the cage of birth

Crowding toward the crushing earth

Creeping in the soiled skirts

Of carnal lust and losing mirth.


Laughing loud in loyal love

To gain a shred of laughter rough

In breathing in the layered lore

Of life forgotten and forged l’amour.


Loving lust and lousy grime

To grovel low in lowest slime

Crawling and craving and carving

Tomb of craven cries and starving.


Cry contrary and contraband!

And crowd the criers’ crying stand.

Creep upon the crowding crave

And crowing, carnal lust off-stave!


Celestial Castles Beyond Our Own

To write of fairy tales is, as J.R.R. Tolkien once asserted, “a rash adventure.” For fairy tales are enigmas, difficult to define and impossible to believe. And yet we believe them, because they are ultimately more real that real life. They offer us a glimpse of a distant, approaching reality that we cannot see.

This is by far the most important aspect of the fairy tale. It is what makes it invaluable to the developing, questioning mind of a child and intriguing to the mature rationale of the adult.

Stories that are not strictly true often take hold of deeper realities than a story based on true events. Within the context of real life, we are limited. We are flawed, fallen, floundering creatures seeking just a brief taste of sweet happiness in a sea of salty, bitter sin. Pushing ourselves through this life is exhausting and restrictive. It narrows our vision so that we cannot see the entire ocean, the ship approaching us from a distance, or the land mass just off the edge of the horizon. All we see are the burdensome, capping waves that drown us in their persistence. But a fairy tale is a step away from the water. It is a moment of relief on the deck of a boat, catching a glimpse from its mast of a distant, welcoming shore.

A fairy tale is a story that suspends belief in the world of the senses; it looks beyond what we can prove exists, and believes in a distant, wondrous, confusing, and salvific power. The person who lives just at the crest of the ocean knows only two things: there is a small space in his existence where his head is above water, and there is a large opportunity for it to be dragged under. He cannot prove that there is a land, and he may even fear to hear of it; its existence makes his life that much more miserable. It is easier to only believe in the capped waves.

But if he denies and avoids the reality of the shore, he will do nothing to reach it. He will never hope and without hope, his strength will wear out and he will inevitably drown.

It is the fairy tale that saves us! With its magical, imaginative stories, it lifts us up and broadens our imagination to see something better, something greater, something meaningful. It places the mundane struggle of our souls into a broader context, encouraging us to live for others.

The fairy tale encourages the moral imagination to stretch its horizons and see beyond the obvious. Transcending the mundane, it infuses the soul with beauty, love, and hope. It equips it to rise above mediocre life and live in the shining castles beyond. While they may be castles in the clouds, they are not insubstantial; grasping at greater realities, they move the soul toward what is truly important.



With a glance behind and gaze to fore

I pushed myself beyond the door

Door that closed upon my past

And now the future die is cast

Cast to breaking on the shore

Shore that’s breaking on the floor

Floor of deep embedded beads

That time has wrought to sandy seeds

Seeds mix and jumble up inside

My newfound person stepping wide

Wide the round and fertile earth

a promise – a paean – of rebirth

Birth from inner sin and woe

upon the mortal shore I go

Go crawling and pushing upon my knees

Until enveloped in the balmy seas

Seas roil and billow and drown my soul

till my old life has met its toll

Toll on, yea bells, of troubled mirth

Your laughter ends with final birth

Birth anew, a raging clutching pain

And I, defenseless, cast upon the main

Mainly, you know, I’ve struggled and run

to find myself at last a conquered one

One, rise! Oh divinely mortally met

And in thy threesome bosom I am set

Set at last, on softly wafting shores,

And closed, behind, the sinful, mortal doors



The world erupted in flames. It was a small world, barely any bigger than your backyard. In fact, if you grabbed a measuring stick right now and went out to your backyard, and measured it furlong by furlong, you’d find that the flaming world was actually ever so slightly smaller.

So for most people, it really didn’t matter that it went up in flames.

While you watch the news about the bombings in France and the terrorists in Syria, while you go about your daily life, while you eat, dress, work, and talk, while you read this little vignette, her little square of space is now smoldering down into ashes – and do you care?

But it was her world. She cared. We always care when it is our world.


The Tempest – A Gloriously Fun Shakespeare

I read this for probably the third time this past year. I was asking myself yesterday what my favorite Shakespeare is, and it feels like an impossible question to answer. But if I ask myself which one I read the most often…

The Tempest wins!!

I’ve read it before, and I’m sure I’ll read it many times again. What with Ariel and his cloven pine, Miranda seeing man for the first time, and the wonderfully random soldiers drunkenly staggering around the stage – it’s just a gloriously fun story!

Plus, I often find it quoted (more than any other Shakespeare) in other literature, or in life itself!

You may recognize some of these:

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong 
Hark! now I hear them,—Ding-dong, bell.

You taught me language, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse

My library was dukedom large enough.

I’ll swear upon that bottle to be thy true 
subject, or the liquor is not earthly.


Weirdly Whimsical Words

As I was falling asleep the other night I ran through words to help me fall asleep, and I was using the letter W.

What came out ended up being a lovely vignette!

Why worry when

The woman begins

To wield the weirdly words?

A whimsical charm

A mystical yarn

That reveals itself to the world.




Her Charism

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was very bad at being sad. Life was often sad for her, as it is for everyone, and she would reflect on the sadness, let it envelop her, and accept it. But she was a little too sanguine to do it well.

When she spoke of her sadness, loneliness, or her cage, she thought she was being wise. Yet everyone around her was brought not insight, but pain. Not swift understanding, but depression. They felt sorry for her, in an aimless sort of way, because her sad words brought them no direction.

Because her charism was not to be sad. It was not to reflect on the melancholy truths of life. It was not to stay confined in the bars of her cage.

No! For it was to find beauty, in even the darkest moments. It was to find joy, in even the grimmest disappointments. It was to find hope when hope seemed out of reach. Because when she was alone, she was never alone. And when she was in pain, it was a redemptive pain. And when she was trapped, it was a nurturing cage.

And when she was happy, the world was happy also. And when she was joyful, then people rejoiced with her.

And when she was healthy, she swept them up in a tide of glorious living, and carried them with her, through the bitterest of storms. This was her calling. This was her charism. And it was this that she set out to embrace, accept, and spread.

A Handful of Short Stories (5).png


Thank you for reading! I love writing stories for you to enjoy, but I could not do this without your generous support. If you are a regular follower, please consider contributing to my efforts. There are many ways you can contribute to my work so that I can continue to put out the best of my content! Please consider becoming a part of the Fairy Tale Blog community by joining my Patreon page here for special offers, promotions, and more content; or just make a one-time donation by sending a couple bucks my way to pay for my dinner. Even $3 is super helpful!

If you can’t contribute, no worries – my content is free, so please enjoy!

Thank you so much, God bless, and Happy Reading!


I’m on a Podcast!

I was recently interviewed on a podcast for authors! Hear all about Trinian, when I began writing, my struggles with writing, and more!


Thanks to Darshaun McAway for having me on his show!



The Barren Garden

Where barren bones bring no life to straggling gardens, some seeds new and vibrant should be planted.

But where do we find such soulful seedlings? Where should we plant our special plantlings?

Plant and do not worry, for yesterday has passed away. Plant and rejoice, for tomorrow has a way of coming.

Plants aplenty come and go, some regal and some low, but without today last years would be a myth. With today, tomorrow’s a gift.

Rejoice and cry out, “Today is a bounty!” Rejoice and exclaim, “Tomorrow’s a harvest!”

Hope from death and death from hope. Seeds from plants and life from dust.

We harvest what we plant, we plant what we harvest. So plant anew and plant it better, there’s no such place as a barren garden.


Timothy Zahn May Be the Best Star Wars Author – But He’s Not For Me

I read Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn, early in 2018, and to be honest, and I wish I could’ve liked it better since it included aspects that I really love about the Star Wars universe!

As a child, I read Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice, Last of the Jedi, and Jedi Quest series and loved them! When I read other Star Wars books, however, especially ones that came after episode 6, The Return of the Jedi, I was always disappointed because the vital aspect that made Star Wars STAR WARS was lacking.

The original Star Wars films are presented as legends, as epic heroes, as characters who fight for each other, for what is right, and for something far about themselves. I love that! And it’s the part of the story that always sticks with me, that keeps me coming back to it over and over again. It’s what makes it magic.

But most of the expanded universe books (and the recent movies), disregard the Force-as-above-us aspect of the story, and try to make it more applicable to the common man. In a sense, they take the Force and bring it down to them, instead of trying to rise above themselves to meet it. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s the difference that has stayed with me since I was a child. Obi-Wan, in the Jedi Apprentice series, always knew he was striving for something above and beyond himself, for self-sacrifice, for achieving things greater than he himself was capable of achieving!

Timothy Zahn stays true to that approach. He writes an after-story to episodes 4, 5, and 6 that feels both relatable and extraordinary. His books present the Force as something unknowable and yet something we can be a part of. They explore relationships as both complex and loving. And they explore villainy for what it is – a choice, to embrace the worst parts of ourselves.

But, sadly, I am very picky about sentence structure and beautiful sentences, and Zahn is just not high literature. On top of that, I have a hard time reading things that are only about the story and don’t explore the deeper truths inherent in the story itself, or that only explore those relationships through the action of the story. I get bored with pure action – I desire a conscious exploration of characters that delves into their minds, and their motivations, and the deeper truths of reality.

So I am grateful to have siblings who love Timothy Zahn and are happy to fill me in on his world building! That way, I don’t have to read all the books, but I get a taste of a Star Wars world that I love! And someday, perhaps, an author will take all the scattered aspects of the Star Wars universe and gather them into a true collection of the legends that they are! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… it’ll be a long ago, futuristic King Arthur story!

As far as my recommendation goes, if you enjoy expanded Star Wars universe books, you’ll probably love this.

And for my siblings, I would give them a 4 🌟 for reading it. <– (what is this about?)


A Whole New World in the Hundred Acre Wood

(An add-on article for my original post: how to motivate children to read more and my 2018 reading list)

I grew up on Winnie the Pooh. I watched the classic movies, of course, and also the late 90’s and early 2000’s TV shows on Disney Channel on Saturday mornings,spaces but my fondest memories of Winnie the Pooh are of the nights before bed when my dad read the A.A. Milne books aloud. He would do all the voices – similar to the films, but just a little bit different – and would make those characters come alive for me and my brothers, make them more than something hidden behind a tv screen. He made them a part of us.

There really is such a difference between watching a movie and listening to a book. The movie experience is lovely and can enliven the imagination, but a book seeps into your bones and becomes a part of your DNA. The characters take up life inside of you, and a whole new world becomes just as real as the one we live in.


I wanted my little brother Joseph, age 5,  to have the same experiences of Pooh Bear that I had, but my dad has been working two jobs lately and is often gone in the evenings, so this past year, I decided to read the books aloud to him myself – just like my dad had done.


I do all the voices just the same as my dad, and in doing so, I have realized for the first time just how much I remember from when I was little, and how inseparable the book characters are for me from his voice and presentation.

I have the feeling that had I read these books for the first time when I was an adult, I would certainly have enjoyed them, (as I have many child book classics that slipped by me in childhood) but never with the same complicated fondness , heart-warming laughter, and tear-jerking finish that I do now.

And, of course, my brother loves it! He loves it so much that when we finished, and I tried to pull out a new book (“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,”) he insisted that we start Pooh Bear all over again!


I can not recommend A. A. Milne’s masterpieces, Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner, enough!

Tv shows: the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Book of Pooh


A Murder in the Chicken Yard – A Tale of Attempted Cannibalism

By Elizabeth Russell

A few years ago, my family briefly lived on a farm, and besides giving our chickens very weird names, we learned many odd things about the species that we had never realized before. One was that chickens are gruesomely fond of eating each other after one is dead. Here below is a brief thought experiment about what goes on in the chicken yard and in the empty, blood-thirsty minds of the chickens.

Amidst the incessant clacking that daily erupted in the chicken yard, there was today a new sort of clucking gossip.

Said Dude Jr. to Ugly Duckling, while she was joyfully gobbling down grain, “Come quick! There’s been a murder.”

Said Darth Vader, running as fast as her short legs would carry her, “Well, my dear, it’s about time. So long as it isn’t Gorgeous, I think it’s a positive development.”

“Oh no Vader, Gorgeous is quit all right – the tall man has chosen Fluffy.”

“Ooooh!! How lovely!” cried Crooked Toe, as she ran up alongside them. “He’s such a terribly mean rooster, and quite tasty, I’m sure. The mean ones always are.”

“I’ve been in the mood for meat for awhile,” agreed Dude Jr.

They neared the picnic table, from which arose the bloody aroma that promised a scrumptious meal. The tall man, which his red beard and blond hair, was hunched over the wood, plucking and scattering feathers. Ugly Duckling and Weird Al were already amongst the group that clustered clucking around the table.

Said Dude Jr. to Weird Al. “Why is everyone just milling? We haven’t missed the feeding, have we?”

“Can you believe it?” cut in Chiquita, spreading her feathers in indignation, “that human man has kept Fluffy all to himself! Anytime anyone gets near him, he shoos us away!”

“Hah! That’s just like last time!” cried Dude Jr.

“Well how do you like that?” asked Crazy Dave. “First they steal our eggs, then they steal our chickens! What do they do for us? Hmm? I’d like to know!”

Gorgeous was pecking the ground a little ways away, and they all ran over to him.

“Keeping us away! Won’t let us in!” The ladies all cried in unison, “The nerve! About time someone showed him a lesson! Ooo! Is that grubs?” And as the tall man disappeared into the farm kitchen with the bald, dead chicken, they were all happily pecking the ground again.

The End


The Classic I Never Knew

Brave New World

In January at the beginning of the year, I was staying with a friend in New Hampshire for a couple weeks and browsing her bookshelves. I caught site of A Brave New World, and asked her if she thought I’d like it. As both of us were liberal arts students who had attended the same college together, she was in utter astonishment that I had never read it before.

“Will I like it?” I asked.

“You have to read it,” she said, thrusting it into my hands, and asking, “Haven’t you at least heard of it before?”

Thinking back on it now, I must have at some point. But it never registered in my mind. Somehow, it was a classic that slipped through the cracks. Maybe it was too recent – I tend to ignore recent books.

So I read it… and loved it! Maybe I could compare it to 1984, but it was so much better than that. I highly, highly recommend it! The references to Shakespeare are so inspiring, they make you want to read and study all of his plays! It’s sort of like reading A Series of Unfortunate Events for adults – feels like there’s secret code everywhere.

And of course, when I came home from my trip, while perusing my brothers shelves, I saw the same book. Apparently he had had it for some time, and I just never noticed!

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (🌟)

I would rate this a 4 for difficulty level for middle schoolers, but grant a child a 5 for reading it, considering that it is a classic. However, I would not give it to a child under at least 15, due to mature subject matter.


How to Motivate Children to Read More, and my 2018 Reading List

In 2018, I read almost 50 books. Most of them I loved! I have a hard time finishing a whole book if I don’t absolutely love it. But there are a few that were less than wonderful, but that I still pushed through to the end. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting reviews for each of the books.

This year, I’ll be trying to match, if not exceed, last years total. I also have been doing my best to motivate my young siblings to read more, and especially more of high literature. My 11-year-old sister and 13-year-old brother are not always avid readers, especially if something has been assigned for school work. They were devastated to hear about some of the books that I was assigning them to read, and the sheer number of them (which really wasn’t that much.) But then I decided to make it a competition. They are both very competitive personalities, and as soon as I suggested that they could keep a list of how many books they read, and could score the books on a scale of 1 to 5 stars according to difficulty level, and whoever had the most stars at the end of the semester would win, they could not stop talking about it! Every time they see me now, they ask how many stars is this book worth, how many stars for that book?

My system is: I will grant three stars for something that is at their reading level, and then go up and down according to that. But if something is considered a classic, it gets an extra star, and if something is a specially long, then it gets an extra star. So, for example, Alice in Wonderland is two stars according to middle school difficulty level, but three stars, total, since it is a classic.

My brother has been trying to push through Lord of the Rings for a very long time, but now that he knows he will get 5 stars ⭐️ every time he finishes one of the books, he’s all over it!

I’m so excited to see what they read this year! Welcome 2019!

My 2018 reading list

1. Brave New World

2. The World of Winnie-thePooh

3. Heir to the Empire

4. The Tempest

5. Paper Towns

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

7. The Art of Loving God

8. Creating Character Arcs

9. Boys Adrift

10. Odd Thomas

11. The Color Purple

12. Anya’s Ghost

13. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

14. Romeo and Juliet

15. The Once and Future King

16. Catherine of Sienna

17. The Two Princesses of Bamarre

18. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

19. The Book of Merlyn

20. Running Down a Dream

21. Maggie Now

22. The ONE Thing

23. Ella Enchanted

24. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time)

25. Twelfth Night

26. Good Morning Midnight

27. Peter Pan

28. Winnie-the-Pooh

29. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

30. Pride and Prejudice

31. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

32. The Epic of Gilgamesh

33. As You Like It

34. A Christmas Carol

35. The Loser Letters

36. Halfbreeds

37. Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook

38. Forever Odd

39. Vader’s Little Princess

40. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

41. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

42. And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street

43. Ruth Hall

44. Princess Academy

45. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

46. Mother Angelica Her Grand Silence

47. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

48. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

49. Esio Trot


Avengers and Flutters of Butterflies

Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you can trust someone to tell a good story? I tell you, there’s nothing like trusting your entertainment to someone. You wouldn’t think it would be such a big deal – but it really is!

We are only human, and we get upset when a story is told badly. When it’s full of clichés, or the action doesn’t flow properly, or the characters are impossible to connect with… So many ways a tale can be mishandled! But you get a deep, excited feeling in your stomach, a flutter of butterflies, when you know a new story is coming out by someone you trust. It makes you feel alive, and like there’s something to add just a little bit more brightness to your regular day. Praise God for good storytelling!

This was brought home to me painfully when the new Star Wars films came out. So much of my being is wrapped up in the story of Luke, Han, Leah, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and all that wonderful world of characters, and the Force that inspires them. But then the films were such a disappointment. I don’t want to go into that in detail here, although I might sometime, but it was the first time that I realized just how deeply a story could impact me. Because when you open yourself up enough to be impacted for good, then you’re opening yourself up to be impacted for the worse too.

And now the trailer for Avengers Endgame is out! And I am squirming in my seat! Those are storytellers that I trust – they have done such wonderful things with their world up until now – and it has been truly impressive! The large cast of characters, the emotions that affect all of them, the character building, the world building, the consistency and variation across films that matches so well together! I could get nitpicky, and point out a few things here and there that they didn’t do well, but when it comes down to it, they are masters. They are bards. They are Homerically Epic.

And, which is unusual for me, I don’t have a way that I want the movie to come out – I am content to merely let them tell the story, and lose myself in however they decide to handle it. Because I know it’s going to be amazing! 😃

The trailer already is! 🎥

Who are your favorite story tellers? Who do you trust when it comes to that flutter of butterflies in your stomach? Are you excited for Avengers 4???


Coming of Age (or Internal) Genres

So, before I continue on the path of laying out each individual genre in this continuing series, I think it’s good to take a moment to talk about the category ‘Coming of Age’. This is the Internal Genre, where the story is driven by the hero’s personal struggles, rather than a villain they must defeat.

By ‘Coming of Age’, I do not mean a teen romance. I’m willing to bet that, when you hear that term, you think of a young adult category.

I won’t argue that these types of stories certainly seem to appeal in a deep way to young people who are only just beginning to understand life; however, a ‘coming of age’ can imply far more. Every person is learning and re-learning life all the time, and stages of maturity and realization happen for us sometimes at 12, sometimes at 20, and sometimes at 75, so I think it is fair to say that a ‘Coming of Age’ story can happen for anyone, and appeal to anyone.

There are 4 ‘coming of age’ categories that my brother and I have been able to identify so far. I’m not sure yet if there are more than these, and would love to hear what you think!

They are:

  1. Death
  2. Self-Delusion
  3. Romance
  4. Responsibility

I’ll use death to explain this a bit more. Sometimes there is a story like My Girl, where the main character has to deal with death at a young age, and matures through that process. But there are also stories like A Christmas Carol, in which an old man has to come to scrooge-and-tim.jpgterms with his own mortality, and becomes a more whole person because of it. Both of these, in a sense, are ‘Coming of Age’ stories. They deal with someone who begins the story incomplete, or possibly broken, in some way. And when the story is over, they have grown, learned, and moved on, embracing the reality that they had before ignored or been ignorant of.

So the criteria for a ‘Coming of Age’ story is:

  • There is a reality, or truth, of life – such as death or love.
  • Main character denies or does not know about this reality.
  • The reality confronts the character with unavoidable force.
  • They run from it, rebel against it, do not want to accept it.
  • Finally, they must accept it, although they have to die (in a metaphorical sense) to a part of themselves to do so.
  • They are a more complete person after accepting it.


So there you have it! I’ll be diving into each section in detail soon, so keep an eye out.

Are there any ‘coming of age’ stories you can think of, or any other genres that fall under this heading? Are there any stories you would like me to explore to see what genre they fall under?


Why Legolas is Unnecessary

Literary Panic

So, I called my brother in a literary panic the other day.

Let me explain. I have realized that I read books differently than most people. Even, possibly, differently than most authors – though I don’t personally know enough authors yet to confirm this.

I like to read in order to hone and perfect my own writing. So I read masters.

I tend to avoid anything that is subpar in every way.

If something is popular, I will read it to study why. And if something is a classic, I read it for the same reason. I love and enjoy many books this way, and I don’t really look at it as an academic exercise, but that’s why and how I read.

So I often revisit books that I have read before – especially books that are similar to my own stories. And while I was dwelling on The Lord of the Rings the other day, I had my panic moment.


Legolas Superfluous?

All of a sudden, I was very much afraid that Tolkien made a grave error in his story. I suddenly wondered if Legolas was a superfluous character.

I called my brother, and the first words I spoke were: “Is Legolas a necessary character? Or is he only a convenient one?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, after laughing at my panic. “What does it mean for him to be a convenient character, and what is a necessary one?”

So I explained. An unnecessary character is one that could be removed from the story, and everything would still happen the exact same way. For example, if Sam were taken out of the Lord of the Rings, the ring would never of been destroyed, Frodo would never have made it to Mount Doom, and Gollum would’ve had a very different role in the story. Not to mention the fact that, as a reader, it’s important for us to connect with Sam in order to see Frodo from a distance, instead of being trapped inside his ring-obsessed head.

Frodo is the hero, but Sam provides a foil – a perspective – in which to view him. It’s a necessary point of view, especially the way that Tolkien told the tale. I suppose he could’ve left Sam out completely, but I’m sure we can all agree that the books would’ve been very different.

So I was suddenly worried that taking Legolas out would not fundamentally change the story. Now, there are some arguments against that. For one, Legolas, as an elf and kinsman, seems to be the key that allows the fellowship access to Lothlorien. For another, Legolas tells them the way off of Caradhras and gives them hope with his light heart. And lastly, he is one of the three companions traveling at the beginning of The Two Towers, alone, through the wild, and the reader can latch on to him emotionally through that journey.

But the more I explored these arguments, the more I was confirmed in the opinion that these are merely conveniences. If Legolas had not been with the group in the Fellowship of the Ring, when they enter Lothlorien, there is very little reason to doubt that they would still have been brought before Galadriel. Galadriel had a vision about them, apparently, and sends a message to her warden elves telling them to let the fellowship come to her. She has this vision apart from anything that Legolas does. Also, we learn in the appendixes that Aragorn was very familiar with Lothlorien, and could probably have gained almost as easy access to it as Legolas himself.

“2980: Aragorn enters Lorien, and there meets Arwen Undomiel.” – The Return of the King, Appendix B

For the second argument, Boromir and Aragorn head off to find the way off the mountain with Legolas, and Tolkien had only to change a few sentences to make them the ones who brought back the hope of going down. And this scene is so small that I’m willing to bet that some of you reading this article don’t even remember it. It’s pretty short. I had forgotten it myself.

“‘Well,’ cried Legolas as he ran up…. ‘There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn, and there our Strong Men were almost buried. They despaired, until I returned and told them that the drift was little wider than a wall.'” – The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Ring Goes South”

Finally, we are given very little chance to emotionally bond with Legolas in the early scenes of The Two Towers. As I talked with my brother, the most emotional of a connection that I could recall was the moment when he is not sure whether the wizard approaching them is Saruman or not. When he realizes that it is Gandolf, and cries out Mithrandir! we feel elation and bond with him. But it is brief, and passes very quickly. After that, we are shown much more of Gimli and Aragorn’s emotions than Legolas.

“Legolas gave a great shout and shot an arrow high into the air: it vanished in a flash of flame. ‘Mithrandir!’ he cried. ‘Mithrandir!'” – The Two Towers, “The White Rider”

There seems to be no necessity for Legolas as a character, and I was crushed. Especially as my brother kept agreeing with all my arguments. I wanted him to talk me out of them!

I was crushed because I like Legolas. Because I want him to have a reason to exist. Not because Tolkien would be lowered in my estimation: every author has flaws. But I felt like Legolas should exist, and I wasn’t sure why. It bothered me.


Is that OK?

But then I asked the next question. Is it OK to have a character who exists only out of convenience? Who is not well developed, and doesn’t fundamentally contribute to the plot line?

We explored that question next, and after a lot of discussion, we decided that it was. We allowed Legolas to remain. We realized that the biggest flaw was just that Tolkien had underdeveloped him. Not that he should not exist, but that he has so much more potential than he was given in the story. You could say it was the fault of Tolkien, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the story or the world. Legolas very much belongs in Middle Earth. Our understanding of Middle Earth is enriched simply by his being there, and that alone is enough of a reason for him to remain. But even more than that, he does not intrude into the story. His presence is not abrasive, or misleading, or distracting. It fits. And if a character fits, even if they are not as perfect as they could be, they should exist.

We started naming off some of our favorite classics that have underdeveloped characters. Even as main characters. The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, does not give us an adequate understanding of the Pevensie children – especially in Prince Caspian. They have no character arcs, no faults, and no struggles in that story. They simply exist as a convenience to place Caspian on the throne. Does that mean CS Lewis should not have written Prince Caspian? No! It simply means he did not elaborate as much as he could have.


We also talked about the Lord of the Rings films, and how Orlando Bloom was given the opportunity, because Legolas exists, to elaborate on the character presented in the books. My understanding of the Lord of the Rings is intrinsically tied up with the films themselves. I saw the films before reading the books, and have very little desire to separate the actors’ portrayals from the book characters. And Legolas does have a little bit more presence in the films. As my brother said, ‘He kills Wormtongue!’ (He said that sarcastically though – our family is not a fan of that moment in the films! Why would Legolas kill Wormtongue? It makes no sense!) His presence in The Hobbit films is unfortunate, only because of the way that the films themselves turned out. I think his presence in the Middle Earth world could have been further illustrated, but that entire project was handled indelicately – which is a great disappointment!

So what do you think? Is it OK to have a character who is less developed than they might be? Should all the characters be thoroughly worked out, and always present a foil to those who are more central? Or do you think it’s OK for someone to slip in through the cracks, present more world building, and enrich our experience? Love to hear from you!

Who is your favorite Lord of the Rings character? And which do you like better, the films or books?



I Kept Writing, and Got Rid of the Scary Red Text!

Last night, I skimmed through the 500 page word document of my novel manuscript, and stopped every time I encountered a block of red text. Those sections were notes I left myself about missing scenes in the narrative, and with dedication, I knocked each one out of the park! All my missing scenes are now written, and I officially have a finished, readable story from start to finish.

Woo hoo!

Those red sections were like scary warning signs before – telling me my novel isn’t complete, and darkly hinting that it may never get there. But I did it! I got there! I beat that red text.

I feel so much better about it now, too, because it’s turned into a great story! I know that when I enjoy reading my book, I’ve made a good product. It might have a few problems, or not be entirely, one-hundred percent perfect, but then, nothing ever is! It’s a good book, a good story, and I can say that with confidence. And soon, it will be published and able to be enjoyed by others!

I can’t wait!

Have you signed up yet to read it for free? Really, it’s totally free, no strings attached. Well, OK, unless you call giveaways, videos, and author interviews strings. Because that’s what you get if you sign up to read it BEFORE it hits bookstores!

If you’re not sure whether you want to read it, check out the first chapter, and see if you like it!

Also, if you could help me out – what was your favorite author giveaway or promotion you’ve ever been a part of? What did they do? I’m totally open to new ideas!

And… share the link! Got friends who love to read? Send it to them – they get to read for free! Who doesn’t love that? 🙂


Freaking out about Publishing

I had a total freak out moment yesterday! I all of a sudden got very terrified – not just about publishing my book, which is scary enough on its own – but about being a writer at all. I’ve heard about writers feeling like frauds, and for the first time, I really felt that!

My mom talked me down from the emotional ledge, thankfully. She reminded me of the big picture: of the fact that I am a good writer and am always trying to be better, and that it’s ok to not be an overnight success. “They say it takes three books,” she reminded me, “before you really get noticed.”

I sighed in relief – this is only my second novel, and already, I know it will do better than my first. This is a process! I’m taking actionable steps, and I know success is down the road – I just need to be patient about getting there.

“Wish I could turn back time

To the good old days

When the mama sang

Us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out!”

Have you been there? How did you get past the overwhelming terror?

If you want to find out what I’m freaking out about, you can read the first chapter of my newest novel, and let me know what you think. If you enjoy it, sign up to receive the whole thing for free! I won’t send you junk mail – only my book and a weekly newsletter.


Action/Adventure Genre

Action/Adventure is an EXTERNAL GENRE.

External Genres, as opposed to Internal, are primarily driven by a problem that comes up outside the person, and solving this problem results in the end of the story.

The problem usually looks like a large-scale villain. Someone the protagonist has to face off against and prevent them from doing permanent harm to the world.

Mystery, Horror, Thriller, Comedy – these are all External Genres. However, it is HOW these stories are told that determine what genre they fall into.

My brother and I determined the genre according to the emotion the story raises in us, and Action/Adventure raises the emotion of excitement. It puts us, with our hearts racing, on the edge of our seats, wondering at each moment what is going to happen next. It’s a lean forward, hands on you knees, emotion.

This is one of the largest genres of all time.


Example Action/Adventure Stories are:

  • All the Marvel Films
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • All Star Wars Films
  • Dark Knight Trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Cowboys vs. Aliens
  • Bourne Identity
  • Mission Impossible
  • The Matrix

If the story is edge of your seat action, but takes the action lightly, it is not an Action/Adventure genre. Action/Adventure takes itself seriously. Guardians of the Galaxy is the closest you get to comedy without being a part of the comedy genre, only because it is part of a larger universe, and the characters are in real, permanent danger throughout the the story.

The story begins with a problem – someone is kidnapped, someone is running for their life, someone is pulled out of normal life and thrust against an evil force. The story ends when that someone defeats the evil force. All in between is full of nail-biting action – this is the Action/Adventure Genre.

I’ll do the comedy genre next.



It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post about genre, and I think it’s overdue.

Romance is another of the simple genres, so I’m going to get that one out of the way with this post.

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Most of us could say right off the bat what a romance genre is. Romance begins with two people who are not in love, and who are in some way closed to falling in love. Usually their problem is internal, but sometimes it is an external obstacle. By the end of the story, they’re both in love. That, in its barest form, is romance.

Example romance stories are:

Pride and Prejudice

You’ve Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

The Lake House

27 Dresses

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Romance is the first of the INTERNAL GENRES that I’ve posted about. Internal Genre stories are all driven by a personal problem for the protagonist. As the story progresses, the main character has to shift their world view until they see the world differently. For the Romance Genre, the World View is a shift from ‘closed to love’ to ‘open to love.’

And just to avoid any confusion, the love must be amorous and romantic in order for the story to be a Romance. Other types of love, such as a parent for a child, friendship, or pet love, would not be a romance.

I’ll do Action/Adventure Next! Keep an eye out!


Prologue of Trinian

Hey guys! I figured it was about time you got to read the Prologue of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy!

I’m so excited to share this with you – I’m at a loss for words. This novel has been 12 years in the making, and it blows my mind that it’s so close to it’s release date.

This chapter lays out the god’s plans, and introduces us to the villain. All the fun world-building!

The picture is a rough sketch of Rordan, done by the lovely Sophia Dytewski!

Enjoy, tell your friends, and sign up to receive the entire novel!

Trinian, An Epic Fantasy

Chapter 1

Fate, the master of the heavens, watched his round glass watch as it ticked eleven, and with its final, fateful chime, the last age of the mortal world began. At the start of every century, Fate hosted the centennial convention, the time for the high gods to convene and discuss the mortal land of Minecerva, and now he took his place as mediator upon his mighty throne to host the final meeting.

From the vast corners of Minecerva his brothers and sisters came flying to the heavenly palace. The first to arrive was Terror, on his wings of panic that were spread wide in darkness behind him.

Then sister Resolve, in her straight-laced dress, walked with dignified, regal, controlled steps to her seat in the circle.

Peace erupted into the chamber with a triumph of color, her gown fluttering freely. She was unrestrained, creative, and joyful; and she was wise and calm.

Knowledge sparkled and she was pure beauty. As she entered, she drew the other god’s eyes to her in wonder, fear, and scorn. They all considered her far too pretentious, but they envied her all the same.

Famine tripped in hand-in-hand with Plenty, both carefree and careless.

The three brothers Depression, Destruction, and Death stumbled about, singing a rousing war cry with their arms firmly round each other’s shoulders. The other gods gave them a wide berth, their presence unpleasant, but they three did not care to notice and threw themselves upon a bench, their feet stretched forward, their heads thrown back to drink during the proceedings with disinterest.

No one noticed Solitude, pale and forgettable, creep into her corner.

Charity and Passion carried on an age-old argument as they entered, their different beauties, the first subtle and the second overwhelming, clashing as they passed witty banter between them.

Hope smiled softly as she crept through a side door; she looked over all and shook her head at brother Fate. He smiled back, and made room for his favorite sister on the throne beside him.

Power, last to arrive, dominated with each shaking step, until he sat, not in a chair, but on the ledge above Fate. From here, he could make eye-contact with every god except his oldest brother, and he smiled. Let them notice him, let them roll their eyes at his vain seat of power here. Soon, he would control everything; soon, he would rise above Fate himself.

When Power had taken his seat, Fate lifted his mighty gavel and called the session to order.

“To this day,” he announced gravely, “we have conducted affairs on our own; we have not involved any low gods or mortals in our affairs, nor have any higher interfered with us.” There was a swell of assent that roared through the chamber like a mighty river, deep churning and little trickles drawing together into a mighty roar.

“But we are nearing the end of our reign. The Golden King has at last sent a messenger to me. We must heed what he says, for we know that when the clock has turned to the completion of time, it is His rule we will obey.”

With a rumble of voices that would have opened a chasm in an ocean bed, murmurs and whispers behind cupped hands, boastings and bragging, music and cheering and laughter, filled the hall at the mention of the Golden King. Hope held her hands over her ears and smiled to herself, doing what she did best. Power also made no sound, but settled himself firmer on the ledge, and sneered. He had waited patiently, plotting a long time for this hour.

Fate let them have their varied fun and anger until finally, he pounded his gavel once. “You will each decide how to act when the twelfth hour arrives,” he continued. “Until then, we have a little more time, and those who have not had free reign in the lives of men, will have it now.”

Death came forward to complain. “But you know why we’ve never gone down everywhere yet. Free reign – I snap my fingers at it, and you know why. The city of Drian, the very capitol of Minecerva, stands like a silver beacon, untouchable. We don’t want to go down if we can’t go everywhere. It’s a low, dirty trick of favorites, and it’s unfair.” Depression, Destruction, and Famine nodded their heads angrily, for it was they, too, had not yet had their turn.

“I have not forgotten. For the first time, we will convene with a lower power, for he has proven himself a force to be reckoned with. While we left him alone, he was not content to leave us so. Rordan, natural god of the river, I call you to the presence of the high gods!”

A colossal man entered the throne room of the gods and strode forward until he stood before Fate.

He showed no embarrassment in their presence, but merely bowed his head in submission before their might. There was, however, a rippling of his shoulders as if he would lash out any moment, at any threat. There were two remarkable things about the giant; the first was his hair, which flowed down his back almost to his knees, clear and green, blue, and silver, depending on how it caught the light. When he moved, it rippled.

The second was the walking stick he held in his fist which was the width of a fifty-year-old tree, gnarled, knotted, and ringed, and twice as tall as himself. Destruction, who was all too familiar with the weapon’s reach and solidity, backed up and hid behind Charity.

While all eyes were on the river god, Power, angry and stifled, was unable to maintain his temper in the presence of this discussion of the Golden King. Silently, he slipped from the chamber. But he did not leave. He listened still from the shadows of the outer hall.

“You have been called here, Rordan,” continued Fate, “because, as the natural god of Drian, you have set yourself as its protector and defended it from misfortune for over a thousand years. You have done well and the Golden King thanks you.”

The giant bowed, his flowing hair cascading over his shoulders and brushing the floor.

“But the completion of time nears, and even Drian must have its time of trial. You are not allowed to block out Death, Famine, Depression, and Destruction from the mortals forever. Those gods have a right over the mortals as much as any other, and the mortals must learn to deal with them as they will. You are to step aside and give the gods who have not ruled Minecerva free reign. This is the command of the messenger of the Golden King.”

The river god tensed and held his breath a moment, as if attempting to reign in an overflowing temper. But then he nodded curtly. “I will do as the Golden King commands,” he rumbled.

He turned to leave, and Death, who was cavorting gleefully behind his back, stilled in place until the Giant had stooped through the round doorway and his long hair had followed him.

Just before descending to the mortal realm, Rordan stopped still in the outer hall. A thin shadow lurked behind a pillar, watching him. He clenched his fists when he saw the leer of triumph on the shadow’s face.

With a flex of his strong arms, he planted his gnarled staff upon the stones. “You vile beast, you have already ruled Drian!” he told the shadow, which slithered out from its enclosure. It was Power, and he trembled with triumphant rage over Fate’s decree, for he hated the river god from the very depths of his being.

“I will allow the others through,” said Rordan, “but you will never have free reign again. You will rot in your murk and grime until the twelfth hour, when the Golden King casts His light upon your buried crimes.” Power’s face twisted in a grimace as Rordan continued. “Fate may not know or care how you spend your time, but I do. If you attempt to enter Drian, you will know my wrath!” With that, he lifted his staff, and Power growled and clenched his muscles, but then abruptly turned and marched away.

Power descended to his corner of the world, desolate as it was, and plotted evil for Rordan and Drian. Meanwhile, Famine, Death, and Destruction greedily leveled themselves against Drian, spreading their gifts in a massive overdose to make up for lost time. In the process, they forgot all about the Golden King.

Loved the first chapter? Read the rest!

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NaNoWriMo – My Failed Week – And Why I Don’t See it as a Failure


Hey everyone, it’s been almost a week since you’ve heard from me, and I wanted to be honest about why that is, and why I haven’t been keeping up with my NaNoWriMo Challenge.

As you may know, I chose not to pursue writing a novel this year – although I’ve done it the past two years. I just finished a novel, and wanted to pour my energies into editing and preparing it for publishing. So I chose to do a poetry challenge instead – see if I could learn proper metre  the same way I might learn a new language. To pursue this goal, I started reading The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry, and I completed about 6 challenges – less than one total week of NaNoWriMo.

Then I fell off the grid. For a complete week, I did no poetry, and posted nothing related to NaNoWriMo.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Should I? No.


Here’s the thing. In those 6 days that I actually participated in the challenge, I learned more about poetry than I did in 4 years of classical high school, and another 4 years pursuing a Liberal Arts degree.

In no way is that a loss!

Why I Failed

Life just got in the way, you know? It does for all of us, and each of our problems are unique. Personally, I’m plagued by Myalgic Encephalitis, and am constantly confined to bed with migraines, near paralysis, and brain fog. That makes writing near impossible at times, and last week was particularly bad.

But other problems are just as legitimate. Sometimes a kid gets sick, a pet dies, our spouse struggles and needs all our attention. Sometimes a friend needs us more than our writing.

We could beat ourselves up over this and say these are just excuses – we could say we should be able to write despite all that. And lots of times, that’s true! It’s important to pursue our writing whenever possible, and make time in our day for it. But when we have done all we could, and life still had thrown a wrench in our perfect plans, then regretting what we could not control, and beating ourselves up for it, helps nothing.

Changing Our Outlook

We need to embrace our weaknesses and distractions, and appreciate the work we did anyway! Despite my erratic illness, I learned iambic pentameter! AND, my love and appreciation of poetry had vastly increased! I was inspired to listen to all of Twelfth Night the other day just because I was so newly excited about poetry. That’s a win, if you ask me!

Any work you got done on NaNoWriMo this year is a plus. It has reintroduced you to writing, or reminded you how much you could write in a day. It has connected you with other writers, or re-ignited your passion. Any of those results makes this month of November a win!

We should never let the chance of failing keep us from benefiting from the journey. So please join me this week in celebrating the failures that lead to success!

What did you accomplish this month so far? In what way has it helped you? I want to hear your wins — no matter how different they might be than what you expected! Share your failures and wins on instagram and twitter with the handle #Nanofailtowin, and let’s support each other in life and in this final stretch of writing!


The Terror and Thrill of Reviewing My Novel

Now that I have enough of Trinian, An Epic Fantasy put together to send into the world for review, I’m getting germinal feedback. I love it! But it’s also terrifying.

My sisters, who are geniuses with artwork, have already taken a stab at illustrating a couple characters, and my best friend Sophia has started marking up my first chapter. She says she’s being harsh, and I’m so grateful to her for that! I want the feedback as truthful as possible, so I can turn out a final product that will please my readers! And, of course, help me to achieve the highest level of writing ability that I can!

I’m thrilled and nervous all at once, and the emotions flow together inside me to create general excitement! Whether the manuscript is terrible or wonderful, it’s going out into the world, and that something!


The Twelve Brothers



Arthur Joseph Gaskin

Vaclovas Ratas

Walter Crane

Harry G. Theaker

Henry J Ford

HansMyHedgehog on etsy

Louis Rhead Ill

Anne Anderson


Charles Folkard

Andrea Dezsö’s

Alice Duke

Nadezhda Illarionova


My Pinterest Boards

I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my pinterest board, because if you like what I put here on the blog, you’ll love what I post! So much beautiful artwork!


Trinian for Free!

Come January, I will be providing my novel Trinian|An Epic Fantasy for free! Click here to sign up to receive it!


Thoughts on Endings and Trinian, 2nd Draft

Sorry for my weekend extended absence. I spent all weekend, and some bleed through into Monday, finishing Trinian, An Epic Fantasy’s second draft. I just sent it out for review, and I can’t believe my project is actually out there, being read by other eyes! I’m all tingly.

I still have a few middle scenes to compose, and a bit more of the ending.

I intend to avoid the common writing choice of writers who write an entire book, with lots of detail and description, and then end the book immediately, as soon as the climax has passed. Maybe they have a brief wrap up, bringing the characters together who’ve been estranged, etc. But I have always felt far more satisfied by endings like Jane Austen or Tolkien, or even Dean Koontz, who really take the time to explain not just what the characters did immediately after the action, but how the action affected the rest of their lives.

So I’m making sure that I’m putting time into my ending, and not just wrapping up the major loose ends. But don’t worry – it won’t be a drag, making you wish that it would end already. — At least I hope not!


The Fear of Taking the Next Step

I’ve been particularly struck lately by the power of creativity. The impact you could have on a person’s life by simply being brave and open to self-expression.

I used to doubt that word: self-expression.

It seemed fabricated, as if people were trying to force something out of themselves that wasn’t there to begin with. Or else were closing in on themselves, self-focusing and thereby shutting out the world. And while that might be true sometimes, I think most of the time, self-expression never happens at all.

Fear is a very real thing, and keeps us bottled up inside. In fact, if it were not for personal handicaps that have kept me from pursuing other avenues in life, I’m not sure I ever would’ve allowed my own creativity to see the light of day. I had nothing to lose by pursuing my writing: I couldn’t hold a job, I couldn’t volunteer or give of my time to other causes, other things that I saw as more important at the time. But over the years, by devoting myself to creativity and self-expression, I have found that I have not shut out the world by being self-centered: it’s the exact opposite.

I am so much more open to experiences, emotions, and connections to other people than I have ever been before. And the more recognized I’ve become through my art, the more it terrifies me. For the first time, I’m scared to take the next step, because it might be noticed.

And if it’s noticed, I can’t go back.

But I don’t want to go back!

I want to keep going. I want to write for the rest of my life, and make an impact on the world. It’s just that I thought I had to do something more than my writing in order to do that. But I just need to do what comes naturally to me. I need to allow what is easily inside of me to come to the surface. And to be seen by the rest of the world.

So look out world. Here I come.

Don’t let your fear stop you, or you might close up. You might shut out the world. You might never truly experience it. We only have one life. And it’s never going to be perfect. So why self-sabotage?

It’s. Just. Not. Worth it.

Be creative. Express yourself. And do it for others. By doing it for yourself, it cannot stay with yourself. It must – and will -influence the world.


Mystery Genre

The mystery genre is pretty straightforward. It begins with the main character and the audience not having all the information, and by the end of the movie, they have all the answers.

Some films that fall into this category are,

Sherlock Holmes

Murder on the Orient Express

Rear Window

There are other films that seem to fall into this category, but do not. Such as the Bourne Trilogy, Memento, The Fugitive, and Minority Report. These have mysteries in them, but the main point of the film is that it is an action movie, which is a different genre that I will talk about soon.

In order for the film to be a mystery, the mystery must be the main point. It must be the part of the movie that most consumes and engrosses you, and what controls the action. If there is someone chasing the main character the whole time, then it’s the action that predominates. Because, in that case, the main character is only motivated to solve the mystery because of the chase, whereas in a true mystery, he will be motivated to solve the mystery simply because it is a mystery.

There are not many true mystery films, but there are mystery TV shows. Those abound in plenty! Numbers, Monk, Psych, Castle, Sherlock Holmes, Person of Interest, CSI, and The Good Cop are all mystery genre TV shows.


Redefining Genre Romance Genre Romance Genre


Sabrina Fair

I’ve always been curious about this poem. I love the artwork and play/films it has inspired, but I confess that the classic-ness of the poem eludes me. Maybe it’s because it’s John Milton – I’ve never been able to really enjoy him.

This poem is nice, and pleasant to read, but it doesn’t stir my heart and wrench my gut like most classic poetry. But I wanted to share it, just to see if, by investing in it, I can appreciate it the way Arthur Rackham clearly did. Enjoy his gorgeous illustrations!


Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that livst unseen
Within thy airy shell
By slow Meander’s margent green,
And in the violet imbroider’d vale
Where the love-lorn Nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad Song mourneth well.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle Pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O if thou have
Hid them in som flowry Cave,
Tell me but where
Sweet Queen of Parly, Daughter of the Sphear,
So maist thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heavns Harmonies


Sabrina fair
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honour’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.


Listen and appear to us
In name of great Oceanus,
By the earth-shaking Neptune’s mace,
And Tethys grave majestick pace,
By hoary Nereus wrincled look,
And the Carpathian wisards hook,
By scaly Tritons winding shell,
And old sooth-saying Glaucus spell,
By Leucothea’s lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis tinsel-slipper’d feet,
And the Songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope’s dear tomb,
And fair Ligea’s golden comb,
Wherwith she sits on diamond rocks
Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance,


Rise, rise, and heave thy rosie head
From thy coral-pav’n bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have.
Listen and save.


Sabrina rises, attended by water-Nymphes, and sings.


By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the Willow and the Osier dank,
My sliding Chariot stayes,
Thick set with Agat, and the azurn sheen
Of Turkis blew, and Emrauld green
That in the channell strayes, 
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O’re the Cowslips Velvet head,
That bends not as I tread,
Gentle swain at thy request
I am here.

Spirit. Goddess dear

We implore thy powerful band

To’ undo the charmed band

Of true Virgin here distrest,

Through the force, and through the wile

Of unblest inchanter vile.

Sabrina Shepherd, ’tis my office best

To help insnared chastity.


Brightest Lady look on me,
Thus I sprinkle on thy brest
Drops that from my fountain pure,
I have kept of pretious cure,
Thrice upon thy fingers tip
Thrice upon thy rubied lip,
Next this marble venom’d seat
Smear’d with gumms of glutenous heat
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold,
Now the spell hath lost his hold;
And I must haste ere morning hour
To wait in Amphitrite’s bowr.

Source Text

Gorgeous Illustrations all done by Arthur Rackham


NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 5

Day 5 already! Even though it’s the 8th of November. 😉 (So I missed a few days over the weekend… oh well. It’ll probably happen again)

There was no exercise with the reading today, so I just decided to write five pairs of verse with what I learned.




New Fairy Tale Facebook Group

The Fairy Tale Blog Pinterest.png

I just started a Fairy Tale Facebook Group for the Fairy Tale Blog. A place for writers and readers to talk about stories, build community, and mutually recommend great authors, films, and stories!

Same stuff you find here, just even more!

Visit and request to join. Under the first question, mention that you saw the blog post. 🙂


Redefining Genre

So, my brother and I got very fed up last night with genre.

Take romance and psycho-thriller for example. One describes how a film makes you feel, the other describes how characters change throughout the film. They are not compatible comparisons!

Romance is about two people who meet and fall in love. When we hear the word romance, we know that the film will be about two characters who are not free to love each other in some way, but by the end of the film, they will both be free. But to say a movie is a romance tells us nothing about how we will feel when we watch it. In fact, it is so bad at conveying that idea that we have to pair funny romantic movies with the word Comedy, thus specifying it as a Rom-Com.

Whereas, if someone tells me we’re watching a psycho-thriller, I know exactly how I will feel when I watch it. As my brother put it, I will sit plastered to my seat, wondering eagerly what’s going to happen next, why it’s happening, and how.

So… We got ambitious, and decided to re-explore the entire concept of genre.

After an hour of discussion we split it into two categories.

  1. How Movies Make us Feel (External Genre)
  2. What World View Changes Throughout the Film (Internal Genre)

We call them:

  1. How to Feel Films
  2. Coming of Age Films

Number 1 is pretty self-explanatory. Movies make us feel a certain way, and dividing them into how they make us feel just makes sense. Especially since most genres that exist already fall into this category.

Number 2 might require some explanation. (UPDATE: You can read the post about it here.) Many films are driven by the main character changing their world view. They start by believing a lie about the world, or having wrong information, and by the end, their world view has shifted.

Most Stories have both an External and an Internal Genre, but they will be primarily driven by one or the other.


  1. Mystery (feeling: curiously confused)
  2. Action/Adventure (feeling: excited and adventurous)
  3. Horror (feeling: afraid)
  4. Psycho-Thriller (feeling: mentally stimulated)
  5. Off-Beat/Quirky (feeling: light about depressing or deep subject matter)
  6. Comedy (feeling: funny)
  7. Uplifting/Motivational (feeling: happy)
  8. Hopeful-Depressing (feeling: hopeful about depressing subject matter)


  1. Death
  2. Self-Delusion
  3. Romance
  4. Responsibility

(Sure there are still more…Haven’t exhausted all of these – love to hear if you can think of any others!)

Check in soon – I’m going to be elaborating on all the genres in future posts, supplying examples for each.

What do you think? Any genres that I missed? Love to hear from you!


NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 4

Well, this is a bit late in the day, but I’m just proud of myself for actually doing it!

I decided to repeat exercise 3 since I had so much difficulty with it yesterday.


Nanowrimo Challenge Day 3


My nonsensical lines for this exercise, although I kind of failed on the caesuras…😯😑


1) I listen – and I gawk at music played

By pianist for famous Bach: concert!


2) She loves – and waits in tower for

a lovely man to whisk her – well away.


3) But though he rides beneath, his eyes are cast

Unto the weary world and earthen place.


4) Mary, each day, for twenty greedy mouths

Bakes. Til she meets death above the stove.


5) Each saint or sinner is unknown, until

The ancient godly judge he stands before.



NANOWRIMO Challenge Day 2

Stephen Fry’s second exercise:

This was my attempt. It was more difficult than I anticipated, so most of it’s just silly and nonsensical. But it was fun to do!

I think the hardest part was following his command not to rhyme!

  1. I see no reason to exclaim or cry
  2. The little bird has only bent her wing
  3. The back bears pack of heavy load and I
  4. Sink low and carry more than I can bear
  5. Meticulous and crazily I jerk
  6. Reading and books are bread and butter to me
  7. And Pluto is a faithful dog to Mouse
  8. Maximus eats apples and crunches nuts
  9. And Mag and Iron keep me fit and well
  10. I brave migraine amid the pits of woe
  11. Bernadette saw a lady dressed in white
  12. Her name I bear and to the lady pray
  13. A sweater warms and chases out the cold
  14. My slippers snug and warmly keep my feet
  15. Samantha had an uncle with a car
  16. The little bear found no more food
  17. The porridge pot would make no more
  18. The agony of wasted time drags each
  19. and all beneath her time encrusted hand
  20. By Merlyn’s magic great and small were wrapped


Artwork Credit: Michelle St. Laurent


Writing Descriptions 101

There’s a lot of advice out there about writing descriptions. About keeping them to a minimum, about making sure they don’t cut into the action, about not over-painting a picture.

It’s all well and good, and has valid points. BUT, knowing how to write a long, detailed, poignant description is still a very important skill! You won’t know what to cut out without knowing what to put in in the first place. And who better to learn from than the masters?

The greatest description writer of all time, in my humble opinion, was Charles Dickens. Reading him can get cumbersome at times, but oh, how lovely his cumbersome writing is!

51NKRiPgHVL.jpgTake this passage here: “The place through which he made his way at leisure was one of those receptacles for old and curious things which seem to crouch in odd corners of this town and to hide their musty treasures from the public eye in jealousy and distrust. There were suits of mail standing like ghosts in armor here and there, fantastic carvings brought from monkish cloisters, rusty weapons of various kinds, distorted figures in china and wood and iron and ivory: tapestry and strange furniture that might have been designed in dreams. The haggard aspect of the little old man was wonderfully suited to the place; he might have groped among old churches and tombs and deserted houses and gathered all the spoils with his own hands. There was nothing in the whole collection but was in keeping with himself; nothing that looked older or more worn than he.” – The Old Curiosity Shop

What an image! The shop lives and breathes in our minds, leaping out to us from the page, drawing us inward. Dickens did not simply lay out all the items in the shop, and then describe the old man. He used the items to reflect the old man, and the old man to reflect the items. He made them seem one and the same, as if removing one from the other we do harm to both. Which of course happens later in the book, and is all the more heart-wrenching because of the image he has planted in our minds at the very beginning. The old curiosity shop is curious not so much in itself, but in it’s inhabitants. And Dickens conveys all of this in one paragraph.

Take this next passage as well, which is one of my favorites: “Monseigneur, one of the 1953.jpggreat lords in power at the Court, held his fortnightly reception in his grand hotel in Paris. Monseigneur was in his inner room, his sanctuary of sanctuaries, the Holiest of Holiests to the crowd of worshipers in the suite of rooms without. Monseigneur was about to take us chocolate. Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France; but, his morning’s chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.” – A Tale of Two Cities

What a ritual! It goes on for several more paragraphs, detailing exactly how he takes his chocolate. Aside from a few comments about what other people think of him, we are able to form a picture of the Monseigneur simply by watching him eat chocolate. He makes a ritual out of it, as if it were a celebration of the mass, or some other liturgy. Amid all the squalor that we see in other parts of the book, this is a revolting spectacle of decadence, and yet, Dickens never tells us how revolting it is. He lets the actions speak for themselves.

Dickens is a true master of description. His characters come so to life, but if you’ve everThe_Old_Curiosity_Shop_08 watched a BBC miniseries reproduction of his books, you know that they are the most true reproductions of any book you’ve ever seen. His villains are hatable, is heroes lovable, his side characters mysterious, lovable and gross all at once. I highly recommend that you pick up a page of Dickens, notice the details that he draws upon, and then try to describe the room you are in with as much detail. Reflect on the characters and personalities of the people who decorated the room, or left their things in it. Allow the surroundings to speak of the characters, and you will become a Master Descriptive Narrator!


My NaNoWriMo Poetry Challenge

So, I’ve decided to go a different direction this year with NaNoWriMo. I’m reading Stephen Fry’s book The Ode Less Traveled, Unlocking the Poet Within, and I’m loving it!


Every day I’m going to read some of it and write a new poem/verse. I’m hoping to improve my ability to write poetry, which is a writing art that has always eluded me. 🙂

Today’s I learned Iambic Pentameter, and here’s my verse:

And searching o’er from top to pit for it

For what is lost and missing left unfound



The Art of an Artist – To Ever Improve!

As I’ve been editing the final draft of my latest novel, Trinian – An Epic Fantasy, the editing process affects the way that I watch and read other stories.

What I mean is, as I edit and pay attention to character development, all I notice when I watch a movie is the character development.

And when I edit plot and pacing, that’s all I notice in the book I’m reading.

My head is so jam-packed with characterization, mounting conflict, increasing stakes, and relatable villains that I feel like I’m going to explode!

I will be so happy when this novel is finally finished, which should be the end of December!

I couldn’t have gotten this far without all the resources I’ve benefited from along the way, so here is a brief list of some of the most helpful writing resources that helped turn me into the writer I am today. I highly recommend all of them!

  1. Shawn Coyne at The Story Grid, especially his podcast with Tim Grahl
  2. Joseph Campbell’s analysis of The Hero’s Journeya
    • Although I’ve never read his book, just studying the concept has helped me immeasurably! I love charting various heroes’ journeys!
  3. Writing the Breakout Novel, recommended by Weronika from Lightening Bug (below)
  4. The Lively Art of Writing
  5. Lightening and Lightening Bug’s Blog
  6. The Institute for Excellence in Writing

I’m so grateful for everyone who’s helped me through this process, which has benefited me so much and burned away so many bad habits and thought processes in my writing!


The Children of Lir


Source for Text

The Children of Lir Artwork

Anne-Marie Tully

Andrew Ryan

Source for Artists Below

Sheila MacGill-Callahan

Ed Org

John D. Batten

Paula Tabor

PJ Lynch

Matt Doyle

John Duncan

Emily E Weichbrod

Shauna Blumingale

John Quigley

Deirdre O’Reilly

Alexandra Soranescu



How to Increase Drama by Lengthening Sentences

A paragraph with sentences that vary in length is far more powerful than sentences of all the same length.

For example,

Short: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak. I lost him.

Long: With longing, I watched him leave the room, and the pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to take the steps necessary to get him back, so he left and I lost him forever.

Compare those to this:

Combo: I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart. It burned my skin because I wanted him back, but my pride rooted me to the floor. I was too weak to chase after him, and lost him forever.

This paragraph begins with two short sentences, and then swells with a longer one that carries up through the emotion and out the other end, where the last sentence drives home the resolution.

When every sentence is the same length, it’s difficult to convey emotion in writing. Short, staccato sentences carry desperation and excitement, while long sentences convey melancholy or peace. But when put together, a wider range of emotions can easily be conveyed. Your writing will improve by leaps and bounds!

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Length

1. Combining Sentences

  • Combine 2 thoughts into one sentence and create a flow.

2. Clauses

  • Put a less important thought inside a longer one to extend the dramatic effect.

3. The Short Sentence

  • An occasional short sentence drives home a point, or increases the drama.

1. Combining Sentences

Two thoughts side by side can sometimes be combined into one sentence, which makes for easier reading and variety of structure.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: She floated past me like a cloud and I was terrified by her beauty.

Or these,

1. I decided monsters didn’t scare me. 

2. I was going to be brave.

1&2: I decided monsters didn’t scare me, and I was going to be brave.

How to Lengthen Sentences

By combining the sentences, the cause and effect is much more clear, and so is the sequence of events. It plays out easily, with a flowing rhythm.

2. Clauses

Sentences can also be made longer by the addition of a clause. Whether at the beginning, middle, or end of the sentence, a clause adds information that stretches the thought, and makes it more dramatic.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head. 

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2:  I decided, because I was thirteen and emotional, to run away from home.

In both sentences, the first thought is not as important as the second, but it serves to paint a picture of the setting. It works better as a clause inside the second sentence, instead of on it’s own.

3. The Short Sentence

I am not opposed to short sentences by any means! They are a valuable tool and should be used when a short, dramatic statement will heighten the tension or drive home a point.

For example,

1. He loved me. I knew it now. Looking deep into his eyes, savoring the truth I already knew, but wanting to hear him say it, he whispered tenderly into my ear, “I love you.”

2. I felt like the room was closing in like the trash compactor on Star Wars. Something was coming, breathing down my neck, making the little hairs prickle and rise. Just behind me, a hoarse sigh. I whirled.

See how each short sentence is accompanied by a lot of detail, and longer sentences? This raises the stakes, and we know the short sentence is important. Everything leads up to it, or adds to it afterward.


Writing long and medium sentences is a good idea because it adds a rhythm and flow to your writing style. It heightens emotion and action, and draws the reader naturally into the story. But don’t forget the short sentence! It’s the best part, so use it sparingly.


The Seven Ravens


The Seven Ravens Source Text


Allison Reimold

Oscar Herrfurth

Adrian Ludwig Richter

Mary Alayne Thomas

Lisbeth Zwerger

Jana Heidersdorf

Teresa Jenellen

Ryan LeMere

Gustaf Tenggren

Maria Pascual


The Seven Ravens

The door was locked, and she started to take out the chicken bone, but when she opened up the cloth, it was empty. She had lost the gift of the good stars.What was she now to do_ She wished to rescue her brothers, a.png

The Seven Ravens Source Text


Allison Reimold

Oscar Herrfurth

Adrian Ludwig Richter

Anne Anderson

Mary Alayne Thomas

Lisbeth Zwerger


3 Tips to Improve Sentence Structure

The best way to make your book interesting – after having a good, solid plot and characters – is to improve your sentence structure.

Lately books are all the same. The sentences are short. They’re sweet. They all start with a subject.

For example,

I watched him leave. The pain of his loss squeezed my heart, burned my skin. I wanted him back. But my pride rooted me to the floor.

When every sentence begins with the exact same part of speech, it gets boring to read. It’s easy to read, but it’s boring. So if you want to write a novel that stands out, and doesn’t come across as simple, keep reading.

3 Tips to Vary Sentence Structure

1. Adverbial Opener

–Describes the verb.

When I was a child, the world was a simple place.

2. Adjectival Opener

–Describes the subject.

Chivalrous to a fault, I refused to let her open the door and did it for her.

3. Prepositional Opener

–Begins with a preposition

With the force of a mighty wind, he destroyed the sand castle.

Adverbial Opener

Don’t just open with an adverb, like ‘lately’ or ‘really.’ Stretch yourself and describe the setting with a phrase. Instead of putting two thoughts into two sentences, combine them. Place and time are good material for this.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. The trees grew thickly behind the house

2. The trees were like my thoughts, and I ran among them as I tried to get away from everything inside me.

1&2: Where the trees grew thickly behind the house, I ran to escape the thick, tangled thoughts inside my head.

Or these,

1. I was thirteen and emotional.

2. That was when I decided to run away from home.

1&2: When I was thirteen and emotional, I decided to run away from home.

Adjectival Opener

Freeing you to create free-flowing visuals, adjectival openers can be a wonderful tool. A good indication that you’re using an adjectival opener is when the first word ends in ING, although it’s not always the case. Just make sure it’s modifying the subject. Again, a good way to use an adjectival modifier is to combine thoughts.

For example, combine these two sentences,

1. She floated by like a cloud.

2. I was terrified by her beauty.

1&2: FloatING past me like a cloud, I was terrified of her beauty.

Or these,

1. I felt lazy.

2. I decided to watch tv.

1&2: FeelING lazy, I decided to watch tv.


1. I was brave in the face of monsters.

2. I stood up to him.

1&2: Brave in the face of monsters, I stood up to him.

Prepositional Opener

As with any sentence variable, prepositional openers can be very useful. But these have the most potential. There are tons of prepositions, which means tons of different sentence openers for you!

Combine these sentences,

1. We looked to the sky.

2. The elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.

1&2: Above the three ring circus, the elephant floated like a dark gray cloud.


1. She mourned the loss of her gray kitten for a while.

2. But Mandy tried to get on with life after that.

1&2: After mourning the loss of her gray kitten, Mandy tried to get on with her life.

Next article, I’ll talk about how to make your sentences longer inside and at the end, and when it’s a good idea to do it.


The Seven Swans

So…there is NO fairy tale called The Seven Swans, although I’ve often referred to it by accident. Turns out, there are several different fairy tales that include the words ‘seven’ and ‘swans’, and are all much the same story: “The Seven Ravens,” “The Six Swans,” and “The Wild (or Eleven) Swans.” There’s also the story “The Children of Lir,” which has a plot similar to the others. And the more I dig, the more I find! The Twelve Brothers/ The Twelve Ravens by Grimm, and The Seven Ravens by Ludwig Bechstein, are both another retelling. There seem to be more versions of this tale than of Snow White!

I’m going to call this post The Seven Swans, as a nod to all the similarities between the stories.

1. “The Wild Swans,” by Hans Christian Anderson, is majestic and ornate. By far my absolute favorite! It’s full of trusting tenderness and wicked guile. And Anderson’s descriptions are gorgeous!


2. “The Seven Ravens,” by Grimm, is short, with a lurid tone. A regular Halloween tale.


3. “The Six Swans,” also by Grimm but translated and republished by Andrew Lang, was clearly the one that most inspired Anderson in his retelling. But it is a little darker than his, as all the Grimm tales are.


The Children of Lir, an Irish Fable, is a short one, and far sadder than any of the others!

5. The Twelve Brothers surprised me! I thought the Twelve Ravens was my last one to compile until I found this hidden gem!


6. The Twelve Ravens has a twist at the end that I like, but some confusing plot twists!

7. The Seven Ravens retold by Ludwig Bechstein, is my favorite of the Ravens!