Sunday, November 29, 2020

NaNoWriMo Rebels

I used to be a word-hoarding machine. In many ways, I still am. I wrote my very first and very terrible novel when I was twelve. When I was fourteen, my mom found me an awesome course for creative writing—the One Year Adventure Novel. I even had a whole trilogy planned and mostly written by the time I was sixteen.

Then I joined National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, November) in college. I wrote for fun anyway. What was 50,000 words in a month? My first couple of projects I totally dominated, and I even wrote 80,000 words one July for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Lately, I’ve been struggling. Last year, I decided to write an adult sci-fi novel for NaNoWriMo. I had the whole outline planned out. The project’s word goal was 80,000 words, even though the November version of NaNo only encourages you to write 50,000 words. So I planned to keep writing through December.

There was only one problem: work. Long story short, I only made it 24,000 words into my novel by the end of November. Then I got caught up with my job, which I loved. It wasn’t until COVID shut everything down that I actually got back to my story. I know it may have been a crappy time for a lot of people, but I finished my novel in quarantine.

Why, you might ask, would I even attempt NaNoWriMo again this year? “Attempt” might be the wrong word. Rebel would be more appropriate. I didn’t work on a novel in November. I worked on two.


I like breaking writing rules. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I joined the NaNoWriMo rebels.

In October, I toyed with the idea of starting a whole new novel. Or rather a rewrite of a previous novel that was simply terrible. But I already had a novel I was working on and had started back in May, and it didn’t seem fair that I should stop writing it to start another. After all, if I did that, I might never finish. Besides, I already had a rough draft waiting for a draft two.

Adding a third novel to 2020? Hahahaha! No.

Two is plenty for me, thank you very much. Here’s a quick glimpse at them and my progress.

YA Contemporary Fantasy (18,337 words)

Astor Foster doesn’t plan on making any new friends during her last year in Germany. Not since her best friend moved back to the States last December, and not when she is going to move soon. Nobody is more surprised than she is when a family outing leads her to hang out with a girl at the local pool. But there’s more to her new friend than her strange name—Sturm. There’s also her ability to breathe underwater, and Astor wants to know how.

This story is the one I started back in May. It actually turned out to be more of a lighthearted contemporary than I had initially anticipated. And it was really enjoyable to write! The banter between Astor and her brothers was fun as was working in touches of magic here and there.

I also drew heavily from my experience as an Army brat and what it was like to be an American living in Germany. A lot of places where the characters go are places I’ve been. I even based her apartment off the one my family lived in the second time we were stationed in Germany.

Adult Sci-Fi Mystery (31,663 words and beyond)

Cory Bailey is used to working alone. When a cross-cultural investigation agency offers her a job as a linguist, she jumps at the chance to work at a job in her field, even if it takes her halfway across the Solar System. But meeting with the Tchotovoroc, an alien species resident to the colony outside Neptune, isn’t quite what she expects, and the greatest threat may just be the humans closer to home.

This novel is the rewrite of the project I started last NaNoWriMo. What in the world is a sci-fi mystery, though? This WIP doesn’t quite have the high stakes of a space opera, but it still has elements of suspense and detective work common of mystery stories, only it’s set in a colony in outer space. Oh, yeah, and I threw a smidge of poetry in there because why not.

I actually tried writing a YA sci-fi story during Camp NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. It was a disaster. I had no outline, no character development, just 80,000 words that I now question with every fiber of my being. I drew a little bit of inspiration from that story to create what is now an adult sci-fi, but most of it is new. And yet it’s strangely familiar, even though it takes place approximately 400 years in the future.

I wouldn’t quite classify my story as dystopian because I wanted to show both the good and the bad, kinda like life. Is it bad to say that despite my story being the darkest thing I’ve written yet, I love it? I can’t wait to share the characters and their story with you! Next it will be off to my critique partners.


Though I know NaNoWriMo is technically still going on for one more day, I’m just about done. Maybe I am still a word-hoarder after all. I have rewrites to thank for that. I mean, sure, I’m still not done with my novel and probably won’t be until mid-December, but we shall see.




Let’s chat! Any other NaNoWriMo Rebels out there? Who else participated/is participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How about those not crazy enough to attempt to write 50,000 words in one month writing “ordinary” stories? What’s your WIP about?

Similar posts: Dandelion Symphony Release Day!; How I Survived NaNoWriMo (Plus a Job and a Move!); and Writing Update: Between Publications

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword

“Brotherhood might be unique to men, but loyalty, devotion to friends, and a sense of fairness are not. They are the precise reasons I became a conscript in Dabao’s place. I could never have been at peace with myself knowing that it was within my power to do something for Auntie Xia and Dabao and not have done it.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I don’t usually go for retellings. But I thought I’d give this one a chance. After all, it’s a Mulan retelling that’s strictly historical fiction written by an American author who immigrated from China as a teenager. So yeah, I was definitely interested.

I know a lot of reviewers may be familiar with Sherry Thomas already, but this is the first I’ve read by her, and I must say I am pleased. I really enjoyed her writing style, with a smattering of historical details, a pinch of setting that isn’t too overwhelming, and the subtle bits of humor.


BookThe Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
My rating: 5/5 stars
Mini description: I could do this blindfolded

The story itself starts off at a slow burn pace. For a while, I found myself wondering, “Okay, where is this really heading?” But I enjoyed it all the same, and I wanted to make the book last, so I tried to spread it over a couple weeks. Until I accidentally devoured two hundred pages in one night.

The part I particularly liked about the pacing was the travel elements. I love a good travel story where the main characters are just sick of traveling by day two because they’re so stinking saddle sore (or sore from walking, but that was not the case here). I love traveling, so I feel that in my soul.

Another element I enjoyed was the culture. I did not know that China was such a melting pot back in the 5th century, and the book helped add more to my mental historical timeline. Throughout the book, Mulan references authors like Sun Tzu and Confucius, and I just appreciate how she knows military strategy and how to sword fight and catch arrows with her bare hands while blindfolded.

As for the characters, I just love how Mulan’s character develops over the book and how the princeling becomes more and more transparent. And the interactions within their small party is just gold.

In all, I gave The Magnolia Sword 5/5 stars for excellent plot, culture, and characters. I recommend this book to readers of who enjoy young adult historical fiction. Now I want to study more of the original story of Mulan to know how close this adaptation is.

Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these young adult books: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (historical fiction with travel), Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (historical fiction with a Chinese-American protagonist), and Code Name Verity (historical fiction with spies and pilots in France during WWII).

Let’s chat! Has The Magnolia Sword made it to your TBR list yet? Have you read it? What’s your favorite historical retelling?



Similar book reviews: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Beneath Wandering Stars, and The Bird and the Blade

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Self Publishing Poetry: A Glimpse into the Making of Dandelion Symphony

Hello, dear readers!

It’s been almost two months since Dandelion Symphony came out, and I’m here today to tell you more about my actual publishing journey. I talked a bit about it in my interview with Alicia Canet on her blog, Midgard’s Writers, but today I’m going to go more into the finer details.

A Poetry Collection vs. Novelettes

As you may know, I’ve self-published two books by this point. I started off with a mini fantasy series, Last of the Memory Keepers, and my latest book is my poetry collection, Dandelion Symphony.

What is the difference between the two? Target audience for one. I wrote the LMK series to be a fast-paced adventure for readers who don’t have a lot of reading time on their hands. DS, on the other hand, is nonfiction and isn’t meant to be read in one sitting, though it’s short enough that it could be.

Another difference: format. You can buy both books in e-book and print form. Only, the LMK series comes in individual e-books and a print collection, whereas DS is an individual book in print and digital.

Last but not least is experience. This time around, I know what to expect from sales and how to market better. I incorporated a lot more feedback than before (thanks again to my beta readers, editor, and proofreaders!), and I had a ton of fun with my blog tour. Now, I’ve even set it up so purchasing signed copies is super easy. All you have to do is use Square. When shipping, I’ve even learned to use media mail (which is cheaper!) and to add insurance.


Audio and Visuals

Did you know poetry was originally meant to be read aloud? Sometimes, it still is. When it came to reviewing my poems, I read them aloud to some of my beta readers, which helped me figure out what sounded right and what didn’t. Though you can enjoy the book while reading silently, each poem has been sound good too. At some point, I think it would be fun to put together an audiobook, but I’d have to do more research first.

When it comes to the visuals for DS, I had a lot of fun! First, I changed the format of some of my poems, which is always fun to play with. Then, I commissioned an artist to do some sketches based on some of my favorite places in Europe. I seriously wish I could have commissioned each and every one of my favorite places, but then I’d be broke. The ones I did select correlate with the seasons and themes of their sections.


Speaking of commissions, this time around, I had an easier time of figuring out how to find the right people. First, I asked on Twitter if anybody knew where to find some great artists for interior sketches. While I received a ton of offers from artists directly, I also got recommended to check out Fiverr, which I ultimately utilized for both my interior artist and cover designer.

I really like the way the site made it easy to search for artists and the plethora of options. I actually had a hard time choosing between two interior artists, but I ultimately went with the one who’s style I liked the best. Though the site had some minor glitches, posting details for my commission was relatively easy to work with.

Fiverr itself takes a small portion of the commission fee to keep up the website, but creating a profile and browsing is free. At the end, after I approved the final submission, I had the option to tip the artist, which I did and highly recommend. If you like the work you receive, leave a tip! Then, both the buyer (myself) and the seller leave reviews of each other, which is awesome. Though I’ve never sold anything on it, from what I gather, the site is both buyer and seller friendly.


Formatting and Publishing

Last but not least came the dreaded formatting. Dreaded for me anyway. I don’t know why I hate it so much. Maybe because it seems like I’d spend five minutes fixing one problem, upload the manuscript to double-check it, wait for it to load, get up, grab some tea, maybe a snack, come back. It’s still loading. Open Pinterest. It’s finally loaded. Check to see if the mistake is fixed. It is! Then I find five more.

So I repeat the process all over again. Or maybe the problem isn’t fixed, and I spend the next half hour tweaking the same thing over and over until I get it right. Most of the tweaking was adding a space or a tab to get the poems’ shapes right. Writing poetry is fun. Formatting poetry for publication? Not so much.

Yeah, it’s a little painful, especially since I don’t have an actual formatting software. Microsoft Word isn’t exactly known for its e-book capabilities. I actually had to call up one of my friends who worked in graphic design to try to figure out how to get some of my pictures to show up in the actual e-book.

In the end, I got it all worked out before my self-imposed deadline, and the final book looks great, if I may say so myself. I had a lot of help along the way, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The best part of self-publishing? Holding the final copy in your hands and smelling it.

To wrap up, if you’re ever considering self-publishing your own book, here are just a few roles I’d recommend looking into. Some of the roles you can fill yourself, but some require a second pair of eyes:

  • critique partners (mandatory)
  • beta readers (mandatory)
  • sensitivity readers (depends on the topic)
  • interior artist (optional)
  • interior designer (optional)
  • cover designer (optional)
  • editor (mandatory)
  • proofreader (mandatory)
  • marketer (optional)
  • book bloggers (optional)

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my self-publishing journey. If you haven’t already grabbed your copy of Dandelion Symphony, you can do so now!


Barnes & Noble (e-book)

Amazon (e-book and print)

Signed copy (US only)




Let’s chat! Any other indie authors out there? What’s your favorite part of the publishing process? Have you read Dandelion Symphony yet? If so, what did you think?

Similar posts: Dandelion Symphony Release Day!, Dandelion Symphony Blog Tour, and 3 Types of Writers You Should Know

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Buy the Book

One of my first posts was on why you should always carry a book with you. I still abide by this philosophy. After all, you never know when you’re going to have five minutes to get in a couple pages or if somebody’s going to end up at an appointment, only to drag you along with them, and now you’re bored. Always bring a book.

What I haven’t talked about directly, though I’ve certainly put a lot of thought into and hinted at here and there is book buying. Now, I come from a military brat family. That means for my whole childhood, I’ve had to move around a lot. As a result, I’ve had to keep my books to a minimum. While I may have more than the average person, I don’t own as many books as your avid readers. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to change that, honing my personal library. Here are just some of my motivations.



Have you ever heard the phrase: I have enough books to survive the zombie apocalypse? For me, it’s true. Owning a bunch of books that I’d previously enjoyed helped when during the COVID shutdown I ran out of library books. I’d been preparing for this my whole life! Ultimately, though I probably wouldn’t be satisfied reading the same material over and over. And over. I’m like my dragon. I like shiny, new things.

All the same, I love revisiting my favorites. It’s like talking to an old friend. People who think rereading is ridiculous have obviously never watched the same movie twice. Or listened to a song again. Or told their favorite story more than once. That would just be ridiculous and repetitive. Why would you want to do that?

I actually don’t buy books I’ve never read before, with a few exceptions, because I’ve been disappointed all too often. That and I read far too much. But, if I happen to read a book and thoroughly enjoy it… If I give it 4-5 stars… If I like the author’s previous work… If I know there will be more in the series that I must read, I’ll go out and buy the book even if I just returned the library copy.


The Aesthetic

If this one sounds a little vain, that’s because it is. I know you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the covers are just pretty (see my post Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover). Thank you, cover designers! Even if you can’t afford to buy all hardcovers and all you own is a bunch of used paperbacks with loved spines, it’s still delightful to see them sitting up on a shelf all cozy together.

Why do I have books 1-7, then 9? (bottom left) Book 9 is the second series. 
I have the rest in e-books and am working on obtaining the collection in print.

Supporting Authors and Bookstores

Did you know that buying books supports authors? Of course, there’s also leaving book reviews and checking out their books from the library, but sales in publishing can help with an author’s career. Every now and then, I’ll branch out and buy a debut book that I’ve never read before. The books don’t always suit my taste, but at least I know I supported the authors.

Not only does buying books support the authors, but it also supports bookstores. I like shopping at indie bookstores, but when they’re not available to me, I’ll shop at your good ol’ brick and mortar Barnes & Noble (or Waterstones in the UK). I’m not a huge fan of Amazon, though I do like its subsidiary Book Depository. I’ll only buy books from them for three main reasons. 1) The book is only available on Amazon/Book Depository. 2) I’m living overseas and shipping from a specific bookstore is difficult/impossible. 3) I have a gift card, and I want to support indie authors.

There you have it! Just a few of the reasons I like buying books. I realize other readers may have different motivations, but those are mine.

Let’s chat! What are some of the reasons you’ll buy books? Do we share any in common?



Similar posts: Are Book Dragons a Dying Breed?; Pre-ordering, Boarding the Hype Train, & Letting it Pass; and Bring the Book

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Poem: The Smell of Earth

When you think of the word “Earth,” what do you think of? If you’re a sci-fi fan or into astronomy like me, you might think of the planet, with its big blue oceans and smattering of continents buried under white clouds. Or if you’re into gardening, you might think of the green plants that go into the brown soil—or sometimes reddish-brown depending on where you live.

For this poem, I decided to flip my own expectations, and focus on a color I don’t necessarily associate with Earth—the color white. That’s the fun thing about poetry, I suppose, turning expectations on their heads.


The Smell of Earth

white, the way the worm 
writhes beneath my fingertips 
submersing young roots




Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? Any fellow gardeners out there? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Earth?

Similar poems: Cathedral CavernsCopper Coated Autumn Leaves, and Down South 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

The story is so lyrically delightful I fell in love with the writing style from page one. I just love it when stories make you want to fall in love with words all over again. It even introduced a few new words I can add to my vocabulary like *checks smudged writing on palm* muffins? That can’t be right.


Book: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

My rating: 5/5 stars

Awards: Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2020), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2019), etc.

Mini description: portal fantasy


The Ten Thousand Doors of January opens with a humble introduction to the power of Doors and their influence upon the world. Or shall I say worlds? At first, the story started off at a meandering pace, but right around the part where I started to wonder whether or not Doors were a metaphor for stories or maybe some magical realism element, the narrative really picked up and started to clarify my questions.

The world building is simply stellar. As it should be. It’s one of the key focuses of the book after all. From the various cultures of Earth to the islands of the Written, I find myself wanting to travel again.

Then there was the element of in-betweenness, which has dual meaning in a book like this. The first one, January’s bi-racial heritage, is introduced early on, but the other element, which is slighty spoiler-ish, crept up on me. I thought it was beautifully done.

The characters themselves were incredibly complex. I particularly liked Yule Ian the scholar, Adelaide the explorer, and of course January and her dog Sinbad “Bad”, who wants to bite everybody. Finally, a pet that isn’t nothing but friendly. Though none of my dogs have ever wanted to cuddle like Bad does, they’ve always leaned toward protection rather than trustworthiness.

Last but not least, the themes were stellar. Ten Thousand Doors addresses complex elements like absent family members, discrimination because of one’s skin color, and having the courage to stand up for one’s self.

“Let that be a lesson to you: If you are too good and too quiet for too long, it will cost you. It will always cost you, in the end.”

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have its lighthearted parts. It’s just intense at times.

In all, I gave The Ten Thousand Doors of January 5/5 stars for stellar narrative, world building, and themes. I’d recommend the book to anybody who likes young adult fantasy, particularly portal fantasy. I know publishing likes to compare books, and I’ll add more recommendations below, but this one was refreshingly original for me.

Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these books: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

Let’s chat! Has The Ten Thousand Doors of January made it to your TBR list yet? Have you read it? What’s your favorite portal fantasy?




Similar book reviews: A Conspiracy of Stars, The Astonishing Color of After, and The Snow Child

Sunday, October 18, 2020

7 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-to-Movie Adaptations I Enjoy

I’ve talked before about why I like some book-to-movie adaptations, but I haven’t talked about which adaptations I enjoy. Time to change that! To narrow it down even more, I’ll specifically be talking about sci-fi fantasy books to movies. There are plenty of contemporary adaptations, but I’ll try to keep this list short-ish.

What I will not be talking about: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I think we can all agree that the former is excellent and the latter (casting excluded) is terrible. Okay, maybe not terrible. Cringe-worthy, maybe? Yeah, let’s go with that. LotR is a work of art in film and book forms, but I’d like to focus on some other noteworthy stories today.

The pros and cons listed apply to the movie adaptations, not their books.

Ender’s Game

Pros: CGI, stellar casting, general plot accuracy, excellent character portrayals

Cons: ending inaccuracy, plot feels rushed after reading the book

Do you ever have those moments where you watch the movie first and it makes sense, and then after you’ve read the book, you re-watch the movie, and the film makes less sense? I had that sensation with Ender’s Game. But as far as films go, the movie still does a great job.

The visual depiction of Battle School along with the battle simulations is stunning. The imaginative portrayal in the movie really helped me where my imagination fell short while reading the book.

I only wish they would have delved more into Ender’s perspective. It started off strong, but as the movie goes along, I felt it lost the connection to the character in favor of wrapping up the plot. If you’re looking for more great character development, I highly recommend the book as well as the rest of the series.

Ender: In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.


How to Train Your Dragon (1-3)

Pros: character and dragon designs, intricate world building, characters, dragons

Cons: minor historical inaccuracies, inappropriate references and some problematic relationships

I haven’t actually read all the books yet, though from what I have read, they’re incredibly different in plot and even some characters. From what I gather, the movies have kept the general heart of the story.

That being said, the dragons are awesome, the music is amazing, and Hiccup is incredibly relatable. I really wish I could befriend a Night Fury. I particularly like how the story blends a warrior society like the Vikings with a compassionate intellectual like Hiccup. Then there’s the intricate world building that just gets more dynamic with each film. I haven’t seen any of the spin-off shows yet, but I’ve heard they’re great.

I just don’t care for some of the side characters, especially the twins and Hiccup’s cousin Snotlout. That’s right. His cousin. Am I the only one who finds it disturbing in the third movie that Snotlout starts hitting on Hiccup’s mom? And the movie never addresses it? Come on.

Stoick: With love comes loss, son. It’s part of the deal. Sometimes it hurts, but, in the end, it’s all worth it. There’s no greater gift than love.


John Carter of Mars

Pros: great themes, music, and characters

Cons: lack of xenolinguistics

I know this movie didn’t do so well in theaters, but in my family it’s a favorite. We could probably quote the entire thing. I especially like the character development and the element where the girl saves the guy and vice versa several times throughout the movie. Then there’s the dynamic cultures of the “Red Men” and Tharks, and Woola the dog-like monster.

The soundtrack is stellar, and I like to listen to it on its own. Michael Giacchino is one of my favorite composers.

My only complaint is that they skipped over the language aspect rather quickly whereas the first book did not. I understand that viewers may not necessarily want to read subtitles the entire movie, but you don’t just drink a magic potion that helps you understand another language. That’s not how language works, not even in the books.

Dejah Thoris: Most warriors change their metals, but not their heart.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian (Disney, 2005 and 2008)

Pros: amazing music, great casting, stunning CGI

Cons: some inaccuracies, only three adaptations of a seven-book series

I’m not going to talk about Voyage of the Dawn Treader because I’m not actually a fan of the film adaptation. When The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first came to theaters, my dad took my brother and I to see it a ton. I remember getting all giddy when the train would chug across England, and I’d get swept away into the beautiful land of Narnia.

Although we didn’t watch Prince Caspian in theaters half as much, I was still in love with the story. Growing up, I went back and forth between Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair being my favorite books. I guess I like the concept of returning to a fantastical world with characters familiar and new.

I particularly liked the casting for Prince Caspian and only wish they would have included Caspian’s nurse. The movie was less lighthearted than the books. Trumpkin lost his sense of humor and didn’t get tossed in the air by Aslan. There was no holiday at the end of the book. In that sense, I think the movie seemed a little more grown up than the books had intended.

Lucy: I wish you’d all stop trying to sound like grow-ups. […]

Trumpkin: I am a grown-up.


A Monster Calls

Pros: beautiful art, great casting, incredible themes

Cons: will rip your heart out

I can only watch this movie or read the book at certain times. It’s that intense. But the way it combines CGI with live action reminiscent of the black-and-white sketches in the book is just beautiful. So artistic.

The story itself is so heartbreaking. It doesn’t always make sense, blending fantasy with reality so sometimes they’re hard to tell apart, but it’s an excellent story all the same. Intensity aside, I have no complaints.

The Monster: […] humans are complicated beasts. You believe comforting lies, while knowing full well the painful truth that makes those lies necessary. In the end, Conor, it is not important what you think. It is only important what you do.


Series of Unfortunate Events

Pros: important themes, satirical, pokes fun at plot conventions

Cons: incredibly irritating, very unfortunate to the point of being synonymous with 2020, unsolved plot points

I’m referring to the Netflix series, not the stand-alone movie, which had too happy of an ending if you ask me. I know the show is technically a series, not a movie, but this is my blog so I do what I want. Each book in the series gets two 40-minute episodes, so it’s like a full-length movie. Right? Maybe I’m just writing in circles, which is a phrase here that means I should move on and really be starting a new paragraph.

I read the books in-between watching the episodes when they first released, so my experiences of both are rather intertwined. The episodes follow the books much closer than the initial film adaptation, the primary difference being the added influence of VFD and all the Easter eggs like that stupid sugar bowl. Oh yeah, and Lemony Snicket is twice as annoying in the show and not half as funny. Maybe it’s because I’m more of a bookwyrm than a show fanatic and appreciate the way the books poke fun at books themselves.

Of all the books/episodes, I really like book two (episodes 3-4) with Uncle Monty (The Reptile Room). Being a bearded dragon mama, I could see myself one day having a reptile room of my own. Though if I happen to take in some orphans, I’ll be sure to listen to them and flee the country immediately.

 Uncle Monty: Life is a conundrum of esoterica.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Pros: CGI, compelling plot, great characters (mostly)

Cons: playboy pursues the female scientist (can we just kill this trope already?)

This graphic novel series adaptation is actually one of the few where I enjoyed the movie more than the books. While the books doubtlessly lean more on the scientific aspects of science fiction, the movie did a much better job on character development and storyline. If anything, the characters in the books just annoyed me, and I got bored with the plot.

In both the movie and the books, the world building is excellent. I also like how the casting for the film defied the typical casting. Usually when the guy has a deep voice like that, he’s a villain, not the protagonist.

My only complaint is the romance. I know I usually complain about romance in general, but I actually find the one in this story to be problematic.

Doghan-Dagui: We know how humans work.

Doghan-Dagui: They’re all so predictable.

Laureline: Clearly, you’ve never met a woman.


Honorable mentions: Bridge to Terebithia, The Hunger Games, The Neverending Story, and The Princess Bride


Let’s chat! Have you seen any of these movies and/or read their books? What did you think of them? Have any sci-fi/fantasy book-to-movie adaptations to add to the list?




Similar posts: Are Book Dragons a Dying Breed?, 7 of my Go-To Authors, and Why This Bookworm Enjoys Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Poem: Cathedral Caverns

It’s been a little over two weeks since my poetry collection released! *throws confetti* *cat tries to eat confetti* *chaos ensues* Now, I’m actually having a hard time figuring out which poems I want to share on the blog. I’m not sure why. It just happens sometimes, I guess.

As I was thinking about the poems I’ve written this year, I realized I hadn’t written much about what it’s like to live in the American south. I thought about some of the places my dad and I have visited lately, and the Cathedral Caverns came to mind.

Before we went, I was really skeptical. I mean, I’d seen Carlsbad Caverns before, a massive expanse of caves in New Mexico. I’d seen some rather disappointing lava tubes on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the sandstone caves carved out of the rock beneath Nottingham Castle. When we were kids, my dad used to take my brother and I exploring in the amazing lava tubes by Mount St. Helens. What could Alabama possibly have to offer?

The answer: a lot, at least when it comes to caves, hiking trails, and the history of space exploration. Cathedral Caverns actually did remind me of some of the European cathedrals, and it was a pleasure to visit. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy caves.


Photo credit: Michael T. Klein


Cathedral Caverns

The way I remember the difference
between this word and that
is by word play—
stalactites cling tight to the ceiling,
and stalagmites act like little mines on the floor,
Though I recently heard they might one day reach higher up.

I don’t recall the drip, drip
of water here so much as the murmur
of the creek below.
take lighter footsteps
and don’t speak louder
than a whisper
can you hear it?

After we turn around the column
aptly named Goliath and larger than my house,
past the heard of stone elephants
tromping through the water,
we reach the Stalactite Forest,
and I am stunned
by the way this one
looks like the jellyfish
carved into ice in Sweden,
or how that one resembles
a turtle, a Viking, an eagle,
all stone that would make
the dwarves of Erebor gape.

How I wish I could swim
to the top, but I am stuck to the floor,
pinned by gravity and soon—
total darkness.

Breathe in—
can you see it?
Breathe out—
blink and behold
the starlight
that illuminates
the walls like a three-D model.

Breathe in—
the dark.
I can’t see my hand
in front of my face.
But it’s not the dark I fear,
nor the winter shelter for the bats,
nor even the thought
of being alone.

I am not afraid today,
though I know this tour
is nothing like the great escapades
of Verne or Tolkien,
but I relish the moment
and breath out as the lights come back on.



Don’t forget to check out Dandelion Symphony, my poetry collection. If you’ve already read it, if you could post a review on your favorite site (Goodreads, Amazon, and/or Barnes & Noble), I would appreciate it a lot!

Let’s chat! What’s your take on caves? Do you have a favorite?


Similar poems: Down South (Audio), Ode to Winter (Video), Cathedral