Merlin and an Elf

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For some reason I decided that it would be a good idea to throw a Halloween party this year. I’m not really sure what got into me, but there you have it. Once I got past the stress of getting everything together and making sure that people were actually having fun (i.e., slightly tipsy), it turned into a really good time. There were some spectacular costumes that showed up!

I was an elf, complete with bow and arrows, and my friend was Merlin from my favorite BBC show.

These two lovely ladies won the ‘Most Original Costume’ award for their portrayal of Sophia Grace and Rosie.

We had a vampire and the Joker, who won the award for ‘Best Costume.’

And this wonderful photo op cut-out made for lots of fun throughout the night.

There were, of course, a lot more fabulous costumes that made an appearance, but I want to know what all of you did for Halloween and what you dressed up as. I would love it if you would share stories of your Halloween fun in the comments.

 

 

 

The Casual Vacancy

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As you should know by now, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Most people who know me think I’m a little weird due to my extreme love for this book series. Well, like most Potter fans, when I heard that the genius behind the story had written another book I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on whatever this new novel was going to be.

Then the press release came out. It was revealed that JK Rowling’s new novel was called The Casual Vacancy and would be about the ripples caused by the death of a man on the council of a small town in London. I remember staring at the official description in shock at how boring it sounded.

But this is JK Rowling we’re talking about. Surely anything written by her would be good. It couldn’t possibly be bad, right? Alas, yes, it could.

I bought this book when it came out on September 27 and only just finished it last week (part of why I posted no blogs, I was on a mission to finish this thing). For the first 150-200 pages I actually fell asleep every time I tried to read. I think the most I got through before battling sleep was 15 pages. That is not normal for me.

JK Rowling wrote the book from the perspective of nearly every character that featured and almost none of them were likable. It wasn’t just a matter of them being flawed, which they were, but I genuinely had difficulty caring what happened to most of them.

The plot (I use that term very loosely) gets more interesting the last 100 pages or so, which mainly means I no longer struggled to stay awake. It wasn’t until the last 20 pages where I actually felt invested and cared about the events taking place. And then it was depressing.

I am sure that there are some people who would enjoy this book, but I am not one of them. Most of my fellow Potter obsessed friends didn’t even finish the book. I think part of the problem is that the genre is so completely different from what made Rowling famous that it reached the wrong audience. If this book had had any name on it other than Rowling I wouldn’t have even considered purchasing it because it didn’t sound like anything I would ever enjoy reading. The writing itself was still great and there were even times when I could hear the writing voice I loved so much from Potter, but pretty words are not what keeps me turning the pages late into the night when I should be asleep.

I think it is pretty evident that my reading of The Casual Vacancy was a colossal disappointment, but I am still hesitant to give the blanket advise not to read it. Instead, what I would say is, if you read the description inside the jacket and it sounds like the type of book you would normally enjoy, give it a shot. If not, leave it be and just be content to reread Harry Potter.

Have you read (or attempted to read) The Casual Vacancy? What did you think? Did you find it as boring as me or do you think I’m crazy and that it is a fantastic read? Let me know in the comments.

 

Jessica Targaryen, Horse Master

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As you may or may not know, last year for Christmas I got the incredible gift of a voucher for a two night stay at Southern Cross Guest Ranch. This voucher was good for two people and included four horseback riding sessions per person. During my little writing sabbatical last month I finally packed my bags and redeemed my gift along with my best friend, Adina.

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this Bed and Breakfast/Ranch was. It was all-inclusive and the food was amazing! Good old-fashioned, country cookin’. The rooms were big and cozy, there was a pool and hot tub, several different lounge rooms and game rooms, and, most importantly, free Wi-Fi. But, of course, the best part about this place were the horses.

Every morning and afternoon Adina and I would hop on two of the bicycles available for our use and ride down to the stables. We were assigned horses based on our previous riding experience and, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was thrilled when I was told my horse’s name was Luna – I just hoped there weren’t any wrackspurts around.

One of the really cool things about this place was that you got a real hands on experience of handling your horse. You were responsible for getting a lead rope and fetching your horse as well as taking it back once finished. We had to brush our horse before and after the ride, fetch and return the saddle and bridle, and squeegee off the water at the end of the afternoon when they were hosed off. It was really nice getting to do all of that and helped foster a relationship, no matter how brief, with the animal you were spending time with. 

When I went to get Luna for the first time my heart skipped a beat. I had already been fantasizing about all of my favorite heroines who rode horses, which naturally includes Daenerys Targaryen, so when I saw that Luna was a silver color just like Dany’s horse I sort of floated off into nerd ecstasy. So it was that every time I rode Luna I pretended that I was the Khaleesi and she was my Silver. I tried explaining all of this to Adina and she just shook her head and smiled endearingly at her nerdy little friend. 

As much as I wanted to ride a horse, I was still a little nervous. There was no need, the experience was even more enjoyable than I had imagined. Sure I had bruises on my bony bum from bouncing in the saddle, but it was so worth it. Getting to sit astride one of these magnificent animals and wander through the woods was one of the most peaceful and, simultaneously, exhilarating experiences of my life. 

The other thing that was really cool about this place was the huge pasture area just behind the B&B. Each night after dinner, Adina and I would go out onto the pasture and walk in the midst of 60+ free ranging horses. There are no words to describe the awe that we felt while on that pasture. Absolutely remarkable.

We dubbed this gorgeous creature Black Beauty.

Needless to say, this was a perfect weekend getaway and I would love to go back. Maybe one day I will even get to shoot my bow from the back of a horse. ;)

Have you ever been horseback riding or even around horses? What kind of experience did you have? Let me know in the comments.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

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We are now halfway through the month of October, inching closer and closer to Halloween. Stores are filled with candy, costumes, and decorations as an ever present reminder of the approaching holiday, pumpkin patches have sprouted up in every available grassy space, Halloween stores have filled vacant buildings, and trailers for horror movies have overtaken the screen.

Now, I have never been a big fan of horror movies, so when the trailers for these films start flooding everything I get a little annoyed. But I was also never very into Halloween and that has started to change. Now I really look forward to the holiday. I’m excited to come up with a costume and go to parties where I can see what all of my friends have come up with. So, I have started to become a little more intrigued by the idea of scary movies.

Even though I haven’t seen a ton of scary movies there are a few things I know:

1. I hate zombie movies. I don’t know what it is about them, but I absolutely loathe them. My ex used to love them and every once in a while I would agree to go see one with him since I knew how much he enjoyed them. Oh, the torture! Torture for me, not the characters in the films. Ugh. They are awful! So yeah, no zombies.

2. My favorite type of scary movie is the psychological thriller. I am fascinated by the mind and how it works as well as human behavior, so when you have a film that uses those things to create mystery and suspense, I am all about it. Classics, such as Psycho, and newer films, such as Silence of the Lambs, are the scary movies that I get excited about. I may have nubs for nails at the end of them, but hey, that’s part of the fun, right?

3. I don’t really care for slasher films. I don’t hate them, I don’t mind watching them, but they aren’t exactly films that I will choose to go see. Really the only films in this category that I went to go see were the franchises that started when I was young: Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. All I can say here is, meh.

And that kind of sums up my horror film knowledge. I know there are so many great, classic horror films that people like to pull out during Halloween that I have never seen. I kind of want to see some of them. So, here is my question for you: What are your favorite scary movies? Let me know in the comments and if there is a movie that seems to stand out among all of you (and I haven’t already seen it), I will watch it and let you know what I think. I can’t wait to see what all of you have to say!

Second Chances

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YOLO, the latest trend in cliches. In case you aren’t aware of what it stands for (I had been seeing that damn hashtag for months before I knew what it meant), it means “you only live once.” It’s one of those things that you either roll your eyes at or nod your head in agreement every time you see it. I tend to be an eye roller, but the fact of the matter is, it’s true. And when you really stop to think about it, that’s kind of a weighty nugget to bear. There are no second chances at life. If you make a mistake, you do not get the time spent on that mistake back. It’s gone forever.

For a long time, this idea, this knowledge acted as a chain binding me. There were decisions I had made, huge life decisions, that were not the best decisions I had ever made. I won’t go so far as to say that they were mistakes, but they certainly weren’t smart. There were years of my life that, rather than admit I had made a wrong choice and move on, I tried to fix things. I wanted to make these decisions “right” so that I didn’t feel like I had wasted time that I could never get back. I realize now how stupid this was. Instead of owning up to my lack of wisdom, I “wasted” even more time trying to justify something that wasn’t justifiable.

Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn’t do that anymore and I finally made the choice to change my situation and take those years for what they were – a learning experience that went on a little too long. I realized that second chances can exist and I gave myself that chance. Will I ever get those years in my early and mid 20′s back? No, but that’s okay because I now have the chance to make my late 20′s and my 30′s better than what they would have been otherwise.

I think this fear of admitting that we have “wasted” time is huge part of what keeps us from taking those risks that could lead to greater happiness and life fulfillment. What if I spend all that time working on that degree and then I hate my career choice? What if I take this job that doesn’t pay as well but gives me more time to write/perform/create/do ‘x’ and I never find success with that occupation? What if I take a chance on loving this person and things don’t work out down the line? And on and on and on…

Every choice we make has a risk. Life is a risk. We must chose whether we take the safe path that may not be as fulfilling, but is also not likely to lead to disaster, or take a chance on the path that could lead to either great fulfillment or greater disappointment. If we chose the latter, we often face a choice that I believe is even more difficult, the choice of whether or not to take that path of risk again when the first time led to failure. It is this second choice that has had me stalled for quite some time. I think part of what makes the choice so hard is that one is not right or wrong, they are simply different. They lead to different lives and we must choose which life we want, which is scary. But I have finally decided. It’s time to breathe deep and take the first bold steps down the path of risk. I choose to give myself a second chance.

Have there been times in your life where you have faced these choices? Which path did you choose? Or are you currently stalled at one of these forks? Let me know in the comments.

Did Pitch Perfect Hit a Perfect Pitch?

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Hey, hey, hey! I was gone for slightly more than a month, but I am back (cheesy post titles and all) and am excited to be here. I’ve really missed interacting with all of you and hope you are all well. The only change that I am making from before my short little sabbatical is that I will only regularly be posting twice a week now as opposed to three times, but they will be the same types of posts that you were used to from before. So, let’s get to it!

This weekend I went to see the movie Pitch Perfect. As I’m sure you can imagine, this movie was right up my alley. From the moment that I saw the trailer I knew that I wanted to see this film. Oh. My. God. I was not disappointed.

This movie was absolutely hysterical. I cannot even begin to convey how much I laughed, nay, guffawed, during this film. Going into it I thought that it would be funny, but nothing could have prepared me for the true extent of the hilarity. One of my friends even went so far as to say that it was the funniest movie he had seen since The Hangover (the original, not the sequel).

A huuuuuuge part of why this movie was so funny was the incredible cast. I really don’t think that they could have picked better actors for any of the roles, but, without a doubt, the star of the film was Rebel Wilson who played the role of Fat Amy. Every time she was on the screen she stole the attention no matter what the she was doing in the scene. There was this one scene in particular. You know how when something is really funny you will be so overwhelmed with laughter that the simple act of laughing is not enough to express your pleasure and you must also clap? Well, during this one particular scene at least 80% of the theater, and it was a packed theater, erupted into spontaneous laugh claps and a friend of mine who saw it at a different time than me said the exact same thing happened in his theater. 

One of the things that I was most looking forward to seeing in this film were the musical performances. I love acapella music and the arrangements that they came up with were incredible. Even better, there were a ton of great songs from the 80′s/90′s as well as current music. Then, add on top of that some fantastic choreography and you have a film full of fun. One of my favorite scenes was when all the different acapella groups from Barden College (where the main characters go to school) met up in an alley and had a “riff-off,” which is basically an acapella battle. This scene was so much fun! I really, really, really want the soundtrack to this film.

Bottom line, if you want to go to the theater and have a good time, go see this movie. And, in case you were wondering, this isn’t just a film for females. I went to see it with a group of girls and one poor guy who was dragged along by his girlfriend. He was being very tolerant of having to see this movie, but it was evident that he did not have much interest in it before it started. Yeah, he was laughing just as much as all of us and admitted that he was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It really is a movie that anyone can enjoy.

Time to Regroup

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As you may or may not have picked up on by my erratic posting schedule and some of the content I’ve written about, my life has gotten a little crazy the past few months. Back at the very beginning of June I went through a major life change and have been struggling to keep up with everything while also adjusting to this change. I haven’t done as poorly as I might have, but I haven’t exactly been successful with it either.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because I have made a very tough decision. I have decided to take a break from my blog for at least the entire month of September.

The past three months I have had to begin the difficult process of rediscovering and redefining who I am (and I’m not finished). Thankfully, this process has been incredibly freeing and, well, FUN! But it has also sucked up a lot of my *free* time that I normally would use for writing. This week was the first time I even opened my manuscript file since the end of May. That’s not a good thing for one who wants to be a writer.

Since I haven’t been doing all that well with keeping up my blog anyway, I figured that it would be better for me to take the creative energy I was using for it and turn it back towards my fiction. Once I get my feet firmly on the ground once more I will return to blogging. I have grown to love this little blogging community and the interactions it has sparked, so there is no way I could leave it forever.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me over here this past year – you are all amazing. I hope to see all of you again when I come back. In the meantime, I would love to keep in touch with you through Twitter, Facebook, or over at Hypable where I podcast. *HUGS*