Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thoughts on "Thirteen Reasons Why" and Suicide

  Just as a warning, I'm going to get real here today, guys. Suicide is a topic that's been on my mind lately and I don't think it's something we should be brushing aside or pretending it doesn't exist. As an aside, most of this will be rambly and not necessarily narrowing to a point, but there are some things I'd really like to get off my chest, and what else is a blog for but recording one's rambling thoughts?

  So Thirteen Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. The official synopsis is below:

  Clay Jensen, a shy high school student, returns home from school one day to find that he has received a mysterious package in the mail. It contains seven double-sided cassette tapes used by Hannah Baker, a classmate who has recently committed suicide. Each tape details a reason that she killed herself.

  I guess that's a bit of a depressing scene-setter. But when dealing with issues like these, how can you not feel depressed?

  Does that mean we should ignore these things and pretend they don't happen?

  Of course not. 

  Trust me, pretending does you no good. 

  Initially what drew me into watching the series was simple curiosity. The synopsis does hold a certain measure of shock factor and for me sounded like it had potential to be a good and thought-provoking story. That it has certainly turned out to be. I haven't finished the series yet as I'm not much of a binge-watcher and rarely have the time to be, but so far I am enjoying it (sad though it may be). I started it a few weeks ago, shortly before a camp friend of mine committed suicide. 

  I was not very close to him, the camp staff all have a friendly relationship with each other but are not all necessarily best friends. There are some bonds between certain sets of individuals that are far stronger than others. I call him my friend anyway though, he was certainly far more than an acquaintance and someone I had known my entire life through the local church and camp both. 

  His name was Andrew. He was a couple years older than me. His camp name was Beaker, like the Muppets character because that's who he resembled. Whenever he was in charge of playing music in the morning he chose the Car Wash song from Shark Tale and could be seen swaying to the beat in the middle of the yard. He hated having one kind of food touch another kind and was exceedingly picky about it - he hated shepherd's pie because of that. He enjoyed mowing the grass and could often be seen puttering about on the lawn-mower in the playing field. He would refer to people as "Turkey" and liked to play guitar. He worked for hours to put all the camp songs onto PowerPoint slides. He was incredibly funny, incredibly well-liked/loved. You would never have suspected so much hurt was going on underneath it all. 

  Hearing that Andrew had passed on was a shock. Hearing that he had taken his own life was terrible. I have not dealt with much death in my personal life (which I am very thankful for), and all of this hit me quite hard. 

  Of course the typical questions run through one's mind, all coming down to one in particular: Is there something I could have done to change this?

  Depression is a terrible thing and I wish it was treated more as an illness and less as an attitude. I myself have struggled with some depression and negative thoughts including suicide, though I've never acted on such things. I know how prevalent the lies of one's mind can be, and how nearly impossible it is to escape them. 

  Andrew was a Christian, a very solid Christian. I firmly believe I will see him in Heaven one day, which makes all of this much easier to bear. But it doesn't make it any less sad. He left a sister behind, parents and grandparents who loved him. They will never be the same. Camp will never be the same. A light has gone out of the world. 

  Thirteen Reasons Why is a secular show and (so far) there has been no mention of anything spiritual or any sort of afterlife. Perhaps that is what gives the show its lingering sadness. It does a terrific job pushing you towards hard questions. This in particular is one of the show's most powerful scenes, there is a touch of strong language for those of you that are disinclined to listen, but the strength of the character, his pain and anger, pushes through:

  For me, the question of "Why" still persists in these weeks following Andrew's death. But now it is less "what could I have done" and more "what should we all be doing now?" 

  Why does the church never talk about things like depression or suicide? Why is that constantly swept under the rug, hung up in darkness like a skeleton in the closet? Why are these real, hard issues overlooked for things that are ultimately so much less important. 

  There are people desperately in need of help, of our care and concern, what are we so busy doing that we can't help them? What are we doing to drive them further away? Why are we all so so bad at taking care of others?

  I can't really answer these questions, they're just there. I needed to put them down. I know it's a hard subject to tackle and I don't expect anyone to come along and pull it apart for me. I just think we shouldn't be afraid to look it in the face, to hold out open arms to those who are struggling. 

  My prayer is that, whether or not I am ever made aware, I can be a factor (great or small) in helping someone overcome the darkness of depression and suicide, if I can help hold them back from a terrible choice - in whatever possible way. To be for others what I was not for Andrew, that is my hope.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Worst Things People Say When You Marry Young (and my responses)

  Hey everyone! I know I totally missed out on last week's post. Everything was absolutely crazy and the weekend snuck by me and passed on and I had no great blogging ideas so I just kind of left it at that. And I know that my post for this week really doesn't have much to do with writing or stories. I apologize. This is a subject that's been on my mind and heart lately and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with my little community of readers.

  So, without further ado, here are some things people say when they find out you're getting married young (and my incredibly salty responses).

this is my beautiful engagement ring - yay!


   Oh, I'm SO glad that you were here to remind me of my life's course as a young person - your prerequisites for being ready to get married (partying, running wild, being tragically irresponsible) sound like the best way for me to live until I'm comfortably 30 and ready to drop into a vegetative state of suburban mom-hood like you did.


  I guess if everyone's decision making in their youth was as bad as yours, Brenda, then we would be in a bit of a pickle, eh?


  Here's an idea - don't?


  I didn't realize a person's independence/individuality was so fragile that it broke upon signing a marriage license.


  Expecting...rude and intrusive comments? Well, yes! Yes, we are.

  (No, I don't have to be pregnant with someone's child to be committing to them for life, usually committing should come first I think...)


  Yeah, we are. But there are people who get married young who aren't, so what does that have to do with it?


  I feel like our ideas of "going out and having fun" are drastically different if you think I can't still do that when I'm married.

  Also, didn't realize marriage was a prison, thanks for letting me know!


  Nah, making you uncomfortable is more fun.


  Well, no, I haven't in fact tested every other type of male out there to see which one best suits me, I didn't realize dating was a scientific experiment.


  Pretty sure they're all quite eager to get rid of us.


  As a nineteen year old totally incapable of doing anything serious ever, this could have been a real problem. Wow. Thanks for the warning.


  Well, we've been together for nearly three years...I guess for SOME people that might be too little time to make important, grown-up decisions. Guess we'll just string each other along for a few more then!

  #13 - HOW OLD ARE YOU?

  Nineteen years of age. My fiancee is nineteen. I know we both look like we're twelve but I swear we can like, drive and vote and stuff. You expect me to have made up my mind on a career I want to commit to for the rest of my life by age nineteen, why not a person?


  I like him? Like, a lot? Is that acceptable?


  Thanks for the vote of confidence, marriage Jedi-master (which totally wouldn't even be a thing cause Jedi don't get married, so HA).


  Actually, I don't want to go to post-secondary, nor do I need to for my career choice. Nor did I want to before marriage was in the picture. I'm pretty content to be a writer from home, work a regular job and let him go do the nitty-gritty work of getting a degree. College is not my jam, okay? And, even if it was, since when does marriage stop me from going out and getting a degree? And since when does having a degree make me "educated"? I'm not stupid just because I choose not to go to post-secondary school, okay?


  Well, if I'm waiting for that in order to pass at getting married we're gonna be here for a looooonnnngggg time...

  However, if you feel like donating to my cause, I am more than happy to oblige you! :D


  Well, I do have about a dozen documents dedicated to long wedding planning and post-wedding planning lists...I have been thinking a little bit. Have I thought it completely, 100% all the way through? Well...I haven't decided what to name our first dog yet...?

  There you go folks, my list of the worst things to say to people getting married young. Now, a small disclaimer, I must say that on the whole, everyone has been very excited for us - like, some more than us. XD And that's really great. We've never had any of these snide remarks from family or friends who care about us, but I totally know these things come up with those who know us less well and of course it happens in the lives of other young couples. I am also not saying that all young people should necessarily be getting married, some people just aren't ready in the least bit, whether they're 20 or 40. However, I think that has less to do with age and more to do with how well someone was raised to be a responsible and dedicated individual.

  Well, there's my young marriage rant off my chest. XD I hope you got some enjoyment from it even though it's probably not relevant to most of my readers!

  Happy Easter weekend everyone!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Emily's Top Ten Fictional friendSHIPS

  So I did a Top Ten OTP's post in February for Valentine's Day. I got to use cute, romantic GIFs and definitely went over the "Top Ten" aspect. Whoops. But today, I am hear to bring forth my Top Ten Fictional FriendSHIPS for your reading/viewing pleasure. You're welcome.

  In no particular order...

FRODO and SAM (lord of the rings)


  No list is complete without these two literal angels. Probably the best example of friendship that I've ever read about. Sam is so faithful and Frodo tries so hard to keep him from the pain of the Ring and AH. They're so beautiful, they make me cry. Ugh

STEVE and BUCKY (marvel, captain america)

To be honest, these guys are on everyone's list. Because look at them. They did not deserve all the terrible things that pulled them apart. They would die for each other and it's all so terrible and sad and beautiful. #feels

TIMON and PUMBAA (the lion king)


Anybody want to start singing Hakuna Matata with me? :DD

LUKE, LEIA and HAN (star wars)

These guys are the ultimate, classic trio and this image is basically their group aesthetic. Look at the smiles, the back-clapping, don't it make you feel all full of giddiness and good ol' platonic love?

MERRY and PIPPIN (lord of the rings)

Can't have Frodo and Sam without these two to add the comic relief to a grief-sodden story. Also, they are the cutest and bestest by far. How can you not love them?

PETER and HARRY (marvel, spiderman)

I definitely prefer the original trilogy but couldn't find any gifs so here are the aesthetic Andrew Garfield and Dane Dehaan version of these two brothers-turned-enemies that play upon my heartstrings.


Well, over this part year these kids squirmed their way into my heart. I can honestly say they are super adorable 80's memorabilia and science experiment. They're pretty great kids.

TODD and COPPER (the fox and the hound)

Is it still considered socially acceptable to cry about this movie when you're like, an adult? Yes? Good. Cause I do. Like, bawling. My childhood guys.

ANNE and DIANA (anne of green gables)

If you're a young girl, particularly a homeschooled one with an overactive imagination and a love for reading, then you also loved this friend ship. How can you not? They are such beautiful, amazing and inspirational young ladies.

THE GAANG: AANG, SOKKA, KATARA, TOPH and ZUKO (avatar: the last airbender)

Saved one of the best for last - the Gaang. The best animated friend group known to man. If you have yet to subject yourself to the glories of ATLA then I beg of you to put this post down and go to Netflix and WATCH. Like, seriously!

  So, did any of your favorites make the list? Tell me, who did I leave out? Going through this I remembered a lot of pairs I had left out of my OTP post. Whoops! What fictional friendship is your favorite?

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Highlights

  And we come to it again - the ending of another month. I am still here slowly freaking out about everything...the busiest time of year is coming up fast and I am not prepared guys. Not at all.


  • Lots of theater this month (well, two different instances)! I went to see a local theater group's production called "Lucky Lucky Hudson", a comedy musical featuring gangsters that was pretty entertaining. Then I went to see my cousin, Tracy Cantin, in the Edmonton Lyric Opera as Chrysothemis, the sister of Elecktra, the title character of the opera. I've never been to an opera before and actually quite enjoyed it. It was Strauss' Elektra but with a dystopian feel and lots of blood. It's funny having to read subtitles for a play. XD
  • This month was my camp's All Girls weekend, and the theme was Spies! I had three seven year old girls in my cabin group of six which was...interesting. But it was a fun weekend. We had a great speaker for chapel and I learned a lot from her. It was a pretty fun time. 
  • So much wedding productivity! We finally got to meet with our caterer, I ordered and received my bridesmaid dresses, I got my invitations made up and am beginning to send them out, among other things. It was kind of a crazy month for wedding things. But I'm super glad so much could be checked off the list!
sisters modelling...
  • I started an art class which has been good for getting me back into drawing on a semi-regular basis at least. I never have the time anymore! 
  • Went to Edmonton and met my cousin's boyfriend for the first time. We taught him how to play The Bean Game in the food court of West Edmonton Mall. Good times.
  • So much horses. I've been doing a ton of jumping and I'm starting to feel more confident. A new jumper horse is coming this weekend and then we'll finally have more than one horse who is athletically capable. XD Lots of excitement! I also got to take my own horses out for a sunny ride down the road for the first time this year - which was great. Galloping down the road is an amazing feeling for sure. And I've spent a fair bit of time with the horses out at camp, doing some trail riding, which has also been really nice. I find that horses are one of very few ways lately in which I can keep my brain focused and content. My brain is moody.


With all going on above, this month wasn't the most productive month for writing. I did manage to get a few chapters of The Wandering completed, not as much as I wanted but oh wells. My mind is currently drawing a blank on what else I wrote this month...maybe it was just that? I did go through my endless lists of notes on my fantasy series however, trying to do some plotting.

Oh! And I got my manuscript back from the editor! Now I just have to go through her copy edit and approve it before sending it back for a proofread and then I'll be ready to look at publishing! Eeep!


I met my goal of two books this month, and they were both CS Lewis, so that's excellent. XD

The last book of The Space Trilogy that I had put off reading for awhile, simply out of busyness and other books coming along. I really should not have. I talked a little bit about this whole series in my post about CS Lewis novels that you should really be reading. But this one is definitely much different than the others. First, it takes place completely on Earth, second, there is a lot of political conspiracy, third, a lot about marriage, fourth, there's Merlin and fifth, it's quite a bit darker than the others - at least I thought. But no less fantastic. 5/5

This is an unfinished manuscript of Mr. Lewis'. It's missing a couple pages and is actually not complete - the story abruptly ends just as it's beginning to really get going. This is a huge disappointment to me, as I found the story - a piece featuring some of the same characters in the Space trilogy - wholly fascinating. We are led to believe there is time travel involve but it is hinted that something much different is going on. I'm not sure if I can recommend this due to the fact that it is unfinished and I wouldn't want to inflict anyone else with eternal suffering, but it IS a very good story start and there are enough hints placed in the text for the reader to at least imagine some sort of ending. There are also some very good short stories included in the book - I really loved The Man Born Blind personally. 4/5


Still managing to post every week! Though some of my posts end up being a day late...whoops. I'm excited to have gained some new followers this month, and to have read some really great blog posts from other bloggers. Keep up the great work everyone!

Some of my favorites...

Abigayle Ellison's Banishing Plotting//When to Plot and When to Not
Katie Grace's Growing Older + some thoughts on that
Abbie's It's Okay to NOT Be Independent (Why I Still Live with My Parents and Love Every Minute of It)
Andrea's A Talk About Tropes
Jonathan Trout's Dear Writer, How's Your Heart?
Mary Horton's A Word About Beauty and the Beast
Aimee Meester's You Can't Be a Writer Unless You...

This month's blogging stats:

  • Pageviews: 5375
  • Followers: 16
  • Posts: 59


Goals for March...

  • Get The Sorceress and the Squid sent off to the editor!! // This actually happened, and I even got it back and now I get to read through it and clean it up! Sweetness. :D
  • 1-2 chapters of The Wandering written? // Did this one. *wipes imaginary sweat from brow*
  • Read at least 2 books - hopefully more if possible // And this one! What?
  • Try to get somewhere with The Snow Dragon? // Not this one so much...depending on how this coming month goes we'll see if I touch it again. 
Goals for April

Guys, I have SO much to do/so much I want to do....gotta make the goals small, which, sadly, means probably no Camp NaNo for me this year. Sigh. Maybe next?

  • Get to chapter 20 in The Wandering? Maybe? I'm mostly saying "20" cause I'm on 16 right now and 20 is a good round number...
  • Read 2 books (my permanent monthly goal)
  • Finish my read-through of The Sorceress and the Squid (hopefully before the end of the month) so I can send it back for the proof-read.
  • I'm working on Thin-Skinned for school starting this month, so we'll see what happens there I guess...hopefully some new chapters?

  Well, that's all I've got for this month. It was busy and fun and exciting and productive - just not always in the areas I want. I think I need to learn how to be content with not being productive in every area of my life at all times because I will probably kill myself before that happens. Sigh. 

  How was your month? Did you do anything exciting? Are you doing Camp NaNo this April? Tell me about your project or about your April goals below!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Logan: Movie Review (feat. SPOILERS)/Should We Have R-rated Superhero Movies?

  *casually posts late and hopes no one notices*

  At the beginning of the month I got to go see the new X-Men movie "Logan", a movie centering on the Marvel character, Wolverine, and his struggle to save a new child-mutant, Laura. I went with my fiancee and his dad (which may sound awkward but his dad is actually hilarious so that made it better). I had kind of meh expectations for the movie because all the Wolverine standalones and recent X-Men movies I've seen have been less than overwhelming. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one.

  Happily, my medium-size expectations were blown right out of the water. I laughed at this movie, I even cried twice - which I hate doing in a movie theater - and I definitely enjoyed the whole ride.

  Today I am going to share some of my thoughts on the film with you, and also my thoughts on whether or not we should make R-rated comic book movies a regular thing. So, let's jump in!

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X at a remote outpost on the Mexican border. His plan to hide from the outside world gets upended when he meets a young mutant who is very much like him. Logan must now protect the girl and battle the dark forces that want to capture her.
  So the movie is set about ten or so years from now with Logan working as a sort of uber driver to earn money for him and Charles Xavier who is beginning to succumb to a horrible dementia. They live just beyond the US/Mexican border and Charles is kept in an old turned-over water-tank where he is mainly looked after by Caliban while Logan is away. They are trying to raise money to buy a boat where Charles and Logan can sail away from the rest of the population into total isolation. The movie reveals that as Charles mind begins to slip, he becomes afflicted by horrible seizures that can have catastrophic consequences for humans and particularly mutants in Charles' vicinity. It is hinted that this is the reason why there are so few mutants left alive in the world.

  Right out of the gate I want to say that Charles' dementia was probably my favorite plot point. It's a really (I think) creative idea on the part of the writers. What would happen if the world's most powerful mind started to disintegrate? What would be the consequences? I enjoyed how the movie played with this idea while still keeping Charles (mostly) sane and sensible, allowing us to really empathize with the character throughout the film. I've always really liked Charles Xavier but this movie definitely made me love him more.

  Another challenge presented for the characters is that Logan's age seems to be catching up to him. He is no longer as strong, fast or powerful as before. Strictly put, it seems as though he is beginning to die.

  On top of all of this, Logan finds himself mixed up in a strange conspiracy involving a young, mute girl whom Charles immediately believes is a mutant. Her name is Laura and as Logan grows to know her, he comes to realize that she is like him. Very much like him.

  From here, the group sets out on a strange family road-trip, heading for North Dakota where Laura will be safe from those who are hunting her. But there are many twists and turns to be had along the way.


  My overall view of the movie is strikingly positive. I really enjoyed the action, the plot, the characters, dialogue, everything. As stated above, one of my favorite plot points was Charles' dementia and the devastating affect it had on him and those around him cause I'm sadistic like that mwahaha. Another thing I really liked (and this is where the spoilers come in) was his death scene.

  I was initially quite sad and depressed by Charles' death. But when reflecting on it, I'm really impressed by how the writers pulled it off. It ranks among my favorite movie deaths for sure. I won't explain it in death, but it can definitely be described as shocking and cruel and just...pretty sad all things considered. But that is what I enjoy in death scenes, so I was quite pleased.

  I also really liked how they explored Logan's weakened state and letting him get beat up and kind of suck in perfect honesty, and not being afraid to do that.

  The bravest thing the writers did however, was not only killing off Charles Xavier, but Wolverine as well. All in one fell cinematic swoop. This was quite a surprise to me - especially Charles' death because I had kind of predicted by the movie trailers and such that Wolverine was on his way out. The fact that the movie took out both of them though is pretty surprising to me. And kind of...refreshing? In light of this and Rogue One, I wonder if 2017 will be the year that movie franchises get brave enough to kill off their most popular characters? That will be interesting. And hard on my poor heartstrings.

  One thing that I thought I would dislike based solely on my viewings of the trailer was that Laura was virtually the same creature as Logan, only better because she was younger and stronger and "the newer model." I find that a little annoying most of the time when comics do that with characters, but this movie actually pulled it off. Even when it was revealed that Laura was Logan's daughter (which I would initially have thought was too cheesy) it actually seemed to work out well. But that's just my opinion. Maybe other people will disagree? In any case, I did really like the way their relationship develops and grows over the course of the film. In the end, Logan cares for her enough to give up what's left of his life for her and her fellow experiments. And that definitely struck a chord for me.


  I think what really worked about this X-Men movie is wrapped up in it's title. All of the other movies featuring Logan were titled "Wolverine" in some way or another, placing all the attention on the superhero side of the character. This movie, titled simply "Logan", is a much more personal testament and homage to the character and that's probably what makes the film really stand out from the previous attempts at Wolverine standalones. It's not about him simply being cool (though there is plenty of that as well), but of him being a real, vulnerable character who loves and loses and tries and fails. That was probably the best part of the film and I'm really glad that the writers were brave enough to do that with this character.

  That being said, I've heard complaints about the R-rating of the film. Reading PluggedIn's review of it they seemed to really enjoy the themes that I discussed above, and that Logan had some real care and concern for those around him, and that he acted more hero-like probably than I've ever seen him, but they couldn't get past the language and violence that earned the R-rating. What I'd like to bring up for discussion is simply, is that really fair of them? I agree that the amount of language, while not really a personal issue for me, was over the top. They could definitely have cut some of it out. It definitely seemed at times like they were really trying for their rating, and it came across awkward. But the violence when you have two Wolverine characters running around, slicing and dicing, yeah, things will get a little messy. I think it's fair to grant the movie the freedom to do that.

  Something that really bothers me about the Christian film industry and Christian views on what makes a good movie is that they will simply watch anything so long as it's "clean and good" the whole time. Even something that was a legitimately good movie with good themes and lessons to glean, like Logan, will fall by the wayside simply because of language and violent content. Of course we do not want kids watching these things at certain ages, I totally get that. And some people are simply uncomfortable with these things. I get that too. However, I think there is a happy medium to meet with how far comic book adaptions can/should go to be faithful to their content. I mean, they are about all-powerful super-humans fighting villains wanting to destroy the world. There's probably going to be some violence going down.

  In my opinion, Logan was one of the movies that reached the happy medium. I know that last year when the Deadpool movie came out there was some controversy about that. I agree that there were definitely some over-the-top elements of that film (though I did not see it). I think it's R-rating took itself a little far - though it is in keeping with the comic character. In that, I think filmmakers should go ahead and make a faithful adaption, good on them. But that doesn't mean we have to watch it? Like, if you're really uncomfortable then don't see the film? It's that simple. Deadpool obviously did some things right as it was a pretty big box office hit. The same goes for Logan. It has one of the highest Rotten Tomatoes ratings I've ever seen for anything (92%) and an 8.5/10 on IMDB. That's pretty impressive. Does it have something to do with the filmmakers being free in their adaption? I think it absolutely does.

  I wish that movies could be made disregarding the ratings or shock factors entirely. I wish that stories could simply just be told, good stories. Whether or not they contain dark or difficult content. I've found that many of the best stories usually aren't the most squeaky clean. It seems that audiences like something a little edgier, something that doesn't sugar-coat. But I also think we don't need a pile of sex, swearing and violence dumped in our laps with every movie either. It seems filmmakers are scared to meet in the middle, they only feel comfortable being on one extreme end, as those are the movies that sell.

  But Logan is definitely selling. And it's definitely in the middle. And it's definitely worthwhile. To me, it's a big smack in the face to those who think that movies have to be soaked in filth or all soaped up pretty. Movies, stories, can visit dark things, hard things, and still have lots of good elements to show its audience in the end.

  So, bearing all that in mind, should there be more comic adaptions with R-ratings? I think so. I definitely think so. That doesn't mean I believe studios should be trying for those ratings with all of their might, I think they should just let what happens happens. In the end, I think all an audience wants is a good story, and those come so much easier when we're not wrapped up in whether or not something is clean enough or dirty enough. Just let it be. Just let it breathe. That's my opinion anyway.

and logan agrees

   Have any of you guys seen Logan? What did you think of the film? What do you think about superhero movies having R-ratings? Are you for or against? Let's talk about it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Rant Against Romance Novels...

  Well, once again this week I did not get my post out at the appointed Sunday time (sorry about that). However, taking the day and going out on a date with my wonderful fiancee is what gave me the inspiration for this post, so I guess it's not a bad situation all things considered?

  Basically today is going to be me ranting about the atrocity that is the romance novel genre and why I think it's damaging. Damaging to writing standards everywhere and to the female psyche it's geared to.

  Let's get started...

  The Harlequin Romance Novel is a pretty huge cliche/eye-roll for both writers and readers everywhere - yet, they are still being written and published at a ridiculous rate. At Chapters yesterday with Jonathan as we perused the shelves and laughed in derision at the titles under the Romance genre, I was aghast to realize this section was pretty much as big as the Fantasy section in the other corner of the store. Even thinking about that now is a bit of a horror.

  We stumbled upon titles such as "Seduce Me, Cowboy" and "His Amish Teacher" and others of a similar, cheesy nature. It seems that romance writers/readers have a few set male stereotypes dominating their genre.

  • Tall, dark and handsome rich guys
  • Tall, dark and handsome Scots
  • Tall, dark and handsome doctors
  • Tall, dark and handsome bad boys
  • Tall, dark and handsome cowboys without shirts standing in a field (or on a beach in their jeans and cowboy hats as one cover depicted)

  I have a personal vendetta against the cowboy ones because I have grown up in the cowboyiest place short of Texas and I'm here to tell all you fantasizing female romance writers that this IS NOT HOW COWBOYS LOOK OR ACT OR EXIST. COWBOYS DON'T STAND AROUND GAZING SEDUCTIVELY INTO THE DISTANT FIELDS WITH THEIR SHIRTS OFF OR UNBUTTONED AND MOST OF THEM DO NOT HAVE HUGE, OILED MUSCLES FROM FARMING/RANCHING. YOU DO NOT BECOME A BODYBUILDER FROM WORKING ON A FARM. SORRY. 

  unless you're me of course jk lol

  As for the rest of these rather stupid and WAAAYYYY overused tropes, first of all, no. Second of all, just no. 

  I do not proclaim to be any great romantic expert or male aficionado, but I have come across a fair number of guys in my nineteen years and never met anybody like the males depicted in romance novels. Maybe I haven't met enough guys? Maybe I haven't been involved in enough sketchy, bad-boy romances/love triangles? I'm probably just innocent and naive and all that...but I do have one hypothesis and I'd like to pretend that I'm actually right. You can let me know whether you agree or not...

  So, female romance writers and readers, you know those over-photoshopped magazine ads of super skinny models with flawless skin and hair and perfect bodies? Those pictures aimed at all of us and our insecurities, meant to make us hate ourselves and strive for an unachievable female beauty ideal? Yeah? I'm about to drop a bombshell on you, you ready?

  The guys you portray/read about in your romance novels are guys to whom you are doing the EXACT SAME THING. 

  Those jacked, broad-shouldered, sexy, tall, dark, handsome, cardboard cutout, "perfect" men are your unachievable male ideal. And yes, it's just as damaging as the unachievable female ideal is to you. 


  I'm sorry to burst the bubble of your romantic fantasies i'm not really but i'm trying to be kinda nice but really guys, if you wonder why men you read about don't exist it's because they freaking don't? You're training your brain to expect something that isn't real, just like guys who stare at pictures of hot babes. It's the exact same thing, you cannot logically pretend it's different. If you think that women should not be idealized and held to some fake beauty standard (and they absolutely should not be) then maybe don't do it back to guys? Maybe?? 

  This isn't just a body image thing either, the personalities of men portrayed in romance novels is partially nonexistent and partially filled in with a base, bad-boy persona that has long ceased to be cool and has never, ever presented the promised of a healthy relationship. If this is how you expect and fantasize men to act and then whine about "not being able to find good men" well...

this might be too harsh...maybe
  On an even more extreme (and moral) standpoint, in my oh-so-humble opinion, romance novels are pretty much just straight up women's porn and are doing no more good for female minds then other porn does to the minds of men. This is unhealthy. Unhealthy for ALL involved. It is not a "guilty pleasure", it's just plain guilty. It is doing neither you, the people around you, those whom you have a romantic relationship with now or in the future, or society in general any favors. In fact, it's only inflicting damage. 

  Don't believe me? Check the facts. There are an endless amount of studies and research poured into the effects of porn on the male brain and certainly there is just as much of an influence on the female mind as well. Even if your romance novel doesn't have explicit sexual scenes, there is an element of emotional manipulation as well that - for females anyway - is just as bad, if not worse, for your brain.

  I see this especially in the Christian fiction romance that is stocked on shelves today. All the historical romance, contemporary, Biblical, Amish, etc romance fiction is chock-full of what I am tempted to call "soft emotional porn" that can totally have an effect on a woman's mind and her view of romantic relationships - especially if they believe that it's all totally safe and good and they aren't using any discernment or good judgment. As a young woman who, while not being super interested in romance as a genre, did read some Christian fiction romance as a teen, I definitely felt that there was a certain amount of emotional manipulation going on and I don't believe for a second this didn't have some effect on me. I certainly was set up to think of men completely differently then I have found them to be in my actual experience. While this was not devastating to me, it certainly had some lasting effects. I think that if you're going to write this way under the Christian fiction genre then you should be sensitive to the fact that young girls will be reading this as some of their first experiences with romance and maybe treat it as your duty to portray properly and take a little responsibility. Please.

  At this point I'm probably sounding entirely like a prude. My argument against this would be simply that I'm not. I am comfortable to read books and series such as "A Song of Ice and Fire/Games of Thrones" in which there is a lot of sexual scenes. I think the difference there is that there is some (often harsh) reality at play and these romances are never idealized. Usually quite the opposite. But, to me, when romance is portrayed outside of stereotypes and cliches and with some actual realism and gravity, then there is much less danger of being deceived into looking at it as an ideal. Absolutely you should use discretion and discernment and not read what makes you uncomfortable when working through heavier content, but I think there is a difference between seeing sexuality portrayed impurely upfront and seeing sexuality portrayed impurely through the rose-colored glasses of romance novels. One is showing you something wrong, the other is showing you something wrong and trying to tell you it's right. 

  My personal belief is that the romance novel as a genre is deeply flawed. On the surface it is entirely ridiculous and embarrassing to me (and many others I know). Yet why do so many women keep coming back to it? 

  Because they're looking for something there, something that a romance novel will never, ever be able to satisfy.

  Ladies, if you're looking for a romance story, start looking for a *good* one. I have read incredible romances set in books that have absolutely nothing to do with the romance novel genre. In fact I think this is the best way to search for them. Love and romance is one of those things that the harder you search for, the more you focus and obsess on, the stronger you desire, the further away it slips. To me the beautiful thing about romance is that it shows up when and where you least expect it, and those instances are far more fulfilling than any cheesy, re-hashed romance novel ever could be. Trust me. Just start reading stories and you'll begin to find it, here and there. Real romance and love will transcend a hot cowboy on a cover and has a much greater ability to lift a romantic spirit. 


  Now that my initially sarcastic post turned rather somber, let's lighten the mood a little. To help solidify in your mind that romance novels are pretty much confirmed trash, here are some of what I found to be the most hilariously bad romance novel titles. Enjoy. 

  (PS. I apologize if some of these are less than "family friendly", they were just so bad I couldn't help it)

  • Seduce Me, Cowboy (this was the worst one Jonathan and I found yesterday)
  • The Wall-Street Were-wolf
  • Seduced Hearts: A Body-Tingling Romance
  • Kill or Be Kilt (not even kidding)
  • Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf
  • Falling for Santa Claus
  • A Prairie Dog's Love Song
  • Fangs In Frosting
  • Me Bear's Baby
  • For Real
  • Mermen Are Coming For You
  • Prick of the Thistle
  • One Night, So Pregnant!
  • My Sinful Surrender to a Highlander Werewolf
  • Heartbreak on a Stick
  • Happy Birthday
  • Learning the Dingo's Quirks
  • Waking Up Married (the horror)
  • Operation Cowboy Daddy
  • My Bosses Gasses
  • Tentacles of Trump
  • In Deep 
  • In Deeper
literally me the whole time i researched these
  I hope you had as much fun reading this list as I did finding it. Among the tears of laughter I am shedding there is also this sense of horror, shame and embarrassment creeping up upon me with the knowledge that other humans actually wrote, published, sold and bought these things? I am not sure what to think about humanity right now.

  Well, hopefully you enjoyed my rant. Are you a romance novel writer/reader? Hopefully I didn't offend you too much, I do have a lot of strong opinions on this subject. Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss with me in the comments below!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sorceress and the Squid is BEING EDITED

  Hey guys! How is your Monday? I know I'm a day behind for my post - I apologize. I was working at my local Christian camp's All Girl's Spy Camp weekend - which was a blast. I was in charge of a cabin with three seven-year-olds and that was...interesting. Especially when I had to operate yesterday on 3 hours of sleep from the previous night. Le sigh.

  But anyways, today I am going to talk about my novel that is currently hanging out at the editor's, getting all cleaned up. Some of you may have heard that exciting announcement through Twitter, Facebook or an earlier blog post. I'm really excited to see how it comes back and to finish all the polishing in order to pursue it to publishing.

  If you know nothing about my novella-turned-novel "The Sorceress and the Squid" then read on, my friends and hopefully you will be enticed to pick up a copy when there are copies available!


In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes sympathy on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?


  This is my second full-length novel that I've fully completed. I really enjoyed writing this one because it was purely fun and just kept growing and growing as I went. The world got a little bigger and the conspiracy a little thicker and the magical elements a little more complex. It surprised and entertained me while writing - which is an awesome thing to experience. It also taught me a lot about myself because each and every character in the story (aside from the Wizard, Morana, the Commander and the King) are based on myself and real people around me in my life. I know, I know, that's like one of the major rules in writing that you SHOULDN'T BREAK: inserting yourself or people you know into characters. Yeah, it's probably not the best plan in every situation, I grant that. Things can get awkward and people could be offended. But I think there are times when this can be pulled off. I think it worked for my story especially.

  The inspiration came from a conversation I had with my boyfriend (before he was my boyfriend) about him being a secret ninja squid - thus inspiring the squid part of the story. The sorceress piece came after we started dating. He complimented me by referring to me as "casting a spell on him" and then my brain did a couple turns and the rest is history. I didn't immediately start writing as that all happened in late 2014. I started the story in fall of 2015 and finished in spring of 2016. I've been editing since and now am on the road to publishing - a thrilling concept.


  A lot of different things. There are obviously a lot of, er, more ridiculous elements (such as soldiers being turned into squids by angry sorceresses). But for all the light-hearted tones, there are just as many dark and mature ones to balance it out. There are themes of loyalty and betrayal, of doing the right thing at one's own personal sacrifice, of not getting mixed up with the wrong people and many more. There are cabins in the mountains and pirate ships sailed by elementals and haunted woods with vampires and nymphs, wizards and sorceresses, princesses and goblins, warriors and squids. It's a big, crazy mess of fun and frolicking and tons of traditional fairy tale elements all jumbled together. As for darker elements, there are victims of abuse, orphans, elements of fairy-tale racism, revenge, self-sacrifice, disability, and dark magic.

  As far as what range of readers this would appeal to? I think that almost any age could enjoy this story - so long as they enjoy fairy-tales and fantasy. There are elements for everyone.

  Want to know more? Feel free to ask! Please do!


  Glad you asked. ;) I have made a few blog posts about this novel on here...

  Here I talked about the Girl-Is-Foil-to-the-Guy's-Character trope and how I unconsciously went against that while writing TSatS.

  Here is the day I finished the story and introduced it.

  Here is the original first chapter.

  Here is the original second chapter.

  And here is my Pinterest board for the story.

  Well everyone, there's a bit of another look into this story. I know I've probably overshared about it, I'm just so in love with it and I think that it could be a really neat read for others. I'm so enthusiastic about sharing it with people and I can't wait to get it out into the world and into the hands of readers. If you would like to be one of those readers, please, let me know below! I would love to chat further with you about the story and am so excited to share it with you soon! Be on the look out for future posts regarding the publishing process! Happy Monday, everyone!