How Much Research Should You Do For Your Book?

Something we haven't mentioned, but should is that after all that research goes on the page, we should ask an expert to read what we have written to check for errors.  It need not be the whole manuscript, only specific scenes.  Experts are pretty dang easy to find these days, and some love to give imput.

How Much Research Should You Do For Your Book?

Research is an iceburg.  A research the reader doesn't see makes what they do see float properly.  

The trick is to get a strong structure of general information so that you will know how much more specific info you'll need.  Some writers suggest that you find a good children's book on the subject as your starting point.  For minor details that won't change your novel, leave an asterisk or some other marker and a note to look up the small point and keep moving with your writing so the research won't stop your writing rhythm.

As an ancient person, I also suggest that you young'uns go to the physical library when you are researching because you will find peripheral information you didn't know to look for.  I went to research wild flowers in South America for a romantic adventure I was writing about ethnobotanists, and on the same shelf I came across a book on Southerners fleeing the US after the Civil War and settling in Brazil.  That info changed the whole basis for my novel.  

4 Great Post-Harry Potter Works (That Aren’t Harry Potter)

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, the book series, is currently being reinvented on AMC/BBC-America.  An adult Hermione who has walked away from her witch heritage but embraces her inner geekhood by being a scholar who specializes in medieval alchemy texts gets mixed up with vampires, bad witches, demons, and a power struggle to either control or save the "creature" world.  For adults.  

THE UNEXPECTED ENLIGHTENMENT OF RACHEL GRIFFIN, L. Jagi Lamplighter.  Young young adult.  Fantasy series.  Rachel Griffin enters the magical Roanoke Academy, finds new friends, and stumbles upon a magical conspiracy that threatens not only her friends and the school, but the entire world.  Along with the usual tropes of the magical school, Lamplighter gives us a heroine with the best of Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione, as well as an interesting world of magic and clues that the reader will pick up from our own world that the characters will not.  An excellent read.

THE HOUND OF ROWAN, Henry H. Neff.  Book 1 of “The Tapestry.”  Young adult contemporary fantasy.  Ten-year-old Max McDaniels sees something magical in a tapestry in a museum, and before you can say “Harry Potter,” he’s being attacked by monsters and sent to a small private school for young wizards where he must deal with the usual problems of school as well as various magical ones.  Meanwhile, the school and Max himself have enemies circling.  The book definitely has a Harry Potter as well as a Percy Jackson feel to it, but Neff creates a detailed history and magical beings which gives the story some originality, and Max is a good kid.  

 

THE EMERALD ATLAS, John Stephens.  Young adult/juvenile fantasy.  Book 1 of 3.  Five-year-old Kate is told by her parents to take care of her younger siblings, then the children are left at an orphanage for their own safety.  They move from orphanage to orphanage as ten years pass, and her mother’s words have shaped Kate’s life as she protects and mothers Michael and Emma.  Their final orphanage is really the home of the wizard who started their journey, and they are thrust into a world of magic with an enchanted book as their doorway into the past and a terrible sorceress.  Stephens uses the standard Narnia and “chosen ones” tropes to good advantage as the children have their action-filled adventures.  He does a first-rate job of creating the siblings, and the story is nuanced enough to be one of the best young adult/older juvenile books I’ve read.  An easy comparison also to the Harry Potter series with the worldbuilding and brave and resourceful orphans.

THE WITCH SQUAD, MZ Andrews.  “A Witch Squad Cozy Mystery.”  Paranormal young adult mystery.  Young witch Mercy, under duress, becomes a student at a school for witches.  Somehow, her perky room mate and a few other girls get past her prickly protections, and they become known as the Witch Squad.  On their first day of class, they are taken to the murder scene of a normal local teenaged girl.  Mercy sees her spirit, but their instructor won’t allow the girls to help investigate so they do so on their own.  Disaster and danger ensues.  Decently written with just a bit of a Harry Potter vibe.  Mercy’s gradual change from a loner to a leader is enjoyable.

 

Love, Loss, and Adventure: The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

These books will break your heart.  Thom Christopher, who played Hawk in the tv series BUCK ROGERS and various awesome baddies in soaps, had a film option on this series in the mid-Eighties.  It's a pity he could never find backing.  

Hawkeye Series Starring Clint Barton and Kate Bishop Reportedly in the Works for Disney+ Streaming Service

@3  I made a financial decision.  Should I buy books or a bunch of streaming services for the few series I'm interested in.  The books won without a fight.  

The Tick’s Incredible Second Season Asks Us All to Make a Choice

The first step in war or slavery is to deny the humanity of the enemy/victim.  

6 Ways That Fanfiction Makes Your Writing Stronger

@8  What works for you, works for you.  Writing is very individual.

6 Ways That Fanfiction Makes Your Writing Stronger

@4  Fiction and nonfiction are different in that sense, although anyone who wants to write nonfiction professionally needs to figure out their own styles. (You need different ones for different types of nonfiction.)  Fiction is all about individual voice/style. I've taught fiction craft for many years, but, beyond mentioning that a writer's natural voice comes after a lot of writing where the sheer exhaustion from trying to imitate others finally allows the natural voice/style to come through, I don't teach voice/style because it shouldn't be taught.  I do recommend that the writer read extensively in their specific genre, and the authors they pay attention to be newer, more successful authors.  Narrative styles change over time, and recent years have seen lots of changes.  If the writer immerses herself in enough newer fiction of her genre, she will find that her voice will reflect that.  

6 Ways That Fanfiction Makes Your Writing Stronger

Bad things about writing fanfic.  It becomes a warm, safe space, and some writers I know never venture out of it.  That's okay if all you want to do is fanfic, but, if your ambitions are to go professional, that's a bad thing.  

Fanfic, for the most part, isn't as structured, long, or plot-driven as most commerical fiction.  Fanfic writers are essentially writing dramatic opera pieces which aren't really the tone or pace of commercial fiction.  You have to learn the difference if you want to succeed beyond fanfic.

If you decide to turn your fan piece into your own universe/work, readers and editors may very well recognize the source and will not be happy.

Also, you don't want to learn how to copy someone else's style.  You want to develop your own style and voice which means you will spend about a million words getting everyone else out of your head and into your own so you comes through.  

Good things beyond what you mention.  At the same time as I was writing my own fiction, I wrote some fan pieces as gifts and at the request of friend fanzine editors.  I used those pieces to play with themes and different narrative techniques.  A short piece is much more suitable for that than the novel you are currently writing.   

2019 Hugo Award Finalists Announced

I see only one book that wasn't published by a traditional publisher.  A pity.  Some of the best books I read this year were self-pubs and small press.  People really need to expand their reading.  

But, congrats to all the nominees.

Spring Comes to Horse World

I wrote this back in the day when I had a horse and three dogs, not to mention barn cats.

ODE TO A CURRY COMB

Animal lovers all know and agree

Spring is not all it’s cut out to be.

For when Spring’s sweet breeze blows, animal shed.

Have you ever found a collie hair in your bed?

If life’s sweet mystery is shown by pollen,

You almost wish spring was fallen.

Dog’s man’s best friend, all will agree,

But does your best friend start a hair losing spree?

So with the philosopher we will contend

“Never get downwind of a shedding animal, my friend.”

 

Here Are All the Things We Better See Now That Avengers: Endgame is Going to Be 3 Hours Long

I'm calling it first.  Stocks for companies making adult diapers are going to skyrocket before this movie.  Also, those that make nose plugs for the smell of the urine in the theaters.  There will also be multiple murders because the kids with their cell phone addictions will open their phones and some adult with beat them to death with that cell phone.  

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA had an intermission right after a loooong scene in the burning desert.  Soft drink sales were very, very good for that movie.  Something for theaters to consider at the idea of an intermission for ENDGAME.  

I recommend the HISHE video for ENDGAME where the surviving heroes from every franchise imagined show up to help stop Thanos.  Funny and sad.

https://youtu.be/bwjF3QWCrXA

 

Disney’s Animated Classic Dumbo Was Small on Story But Big on Heart

I saw the original on TV a few times growing up.  This was pre-VCR, etc.  So ancient times.  I HATED it because of the bullying and mean characters to the point I couldn't enjoy Dumbo's victory.  And "Baby Mine."  That song just shoved another spike in my tender, empathetic heart.  It's right up there with BAMBI on the viewer child abuse scale of my young life.  

Speaking of BAMBI, back in ancient times when the first VCR movies began, I was in a department store video area where the first VCR of BAMBI was playing on a TV nearby.  I was unfortunate enough to be there when Bambi's mom died.  The clerk and I were sobbing without embarrassment.  Two adults, and we still hadn't gotten past that moment.  Sigh.  

Five Superhero Romances We Need to See On the Big Screen

Sue was supposed to be in this season's version of THE FLASH, but, since she never showed up, I'm guessing that Carlo Valdes' probable departure from the show and his character Cisco's romance took its place.  Bummers for both.  

How One Book Convinced Me Tomatoes Weren’t Actually My Mortal Enemies (As Previously Thought)

Never, ever read "The Hollows" series by Kim Harrison. GMO tomatoes did to the regular human population what GMO corn did to mutants in LOGAN.  

Deer have ended my gardening days, but my organic tomatoes were famous among my elderly mom's friends because the tomatoes tasted like a tomato should taste.  Organic and heirloom is the way to go for the best tomato.

One Free Trick: How to Use the Writing Skills You Have to Learn the Ones You Don’t

And, this, boys and girls, is why writing courses are a very, very good thing because a good teacher can help you pull all those weak skills together with that strong skill to make a novel.  

A Whole Different Kind of Time Travel: Andre Norton’s Lavender-Green Magic

"Blah, blah, blah.  Yacky smackity."  Taz's dad in the cartoon, TAZ-MANIA.  He speaks normally, but Taz tunes him out as gibberish after the first few sentences.

The only thing I really recall about this book, was it this book?,  is the beads made out of flower petals and herbs.  I thought that was cool.  

I just reviewed a juvenile paranormal mystery which used a slave ghost instead of time travel, plus lots and lots of original documents searches, to the same effect.  It was so earnest and bland that I doubt its target audience would be interested, but it would be a good kids' book club selection.  For anyone interested, it's STEELE SECRETS by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

 

Valdemar, Pern, and the Real World Horse-Human Bond

They can also bond with dogs and cats.  My mare and my German Shepherd were best buddies.  Heidi the dog would lead Lady around by her reins, guard us when we rode in the countryside, and freak out when Lady and I had a tiff because she didn't know whose side to take.  Once, we were surrounded by small dogs.  Heidi knew she was in their territory so she was in the wrong so she didn't eat them for lunch as she could have.  Instead, she stood under Lady who popped at them with her hooves until they left us alone.  

4 Theories For What Pepper Potts is Doing in Avengers: Endgame

@4  Wong!  Watch the HISHE "How Infinity War Should Have Ended" to see how Wong could have won the war.  Wong's part begins at 3:15.  https://youtu.be/NcEbZ_vexA8  

My bet is that she's been looking for a way to find Tony, and she will be the one to find him and bring him home.  

The Works of Robin McKinley and Why Fantasy Should Seem Real

A truism in writing any fiction but high fantasy is that the more bonkers it gets, the more grounded in the real world the story has to be.  A reader will buy a demon in the pantry if that pantry is stocked with Pop Tarts and peanuts, and the main character has the munchies in the middle of the night.  Real details makes the unreal more really and connects the reader to the character's experience because they've gone looking for snacks in the dark.  

The works of Tolkien are HIGH fantasy which has little to do with the real world.  The authors you mention write LOW fantasy where the real world is the setting of the fantasy happenings.  Do a search on Wikipedia which has a brief comparison of the two.  

Final Trailer for Avengers: Endgame Will Do Whatever It Takes

Okay, goosebumps.  

"You can't go back."  But many theorists say that the surviving Avengers will go back in time to stop Thanos from the snap.  So snarky misdirection or the theorists are totally wrong.  

Why Does No One in SFF Ever Read the Damn Manual?

Older Southern men don't read manuals, particularly for large moving objects because they believe shade tree mechanic abilities are in their DNA.  Just ask them.  As an example, my brother spent many hours complaining and replacing the belt of my mom's lawn tractor because sweetgum balls kept knocking it loose.  After I took over mowing duties, because I'm a dumb Southern girl, I read the manual, did a five-minute adjustment of a part, and never had the problem.  

On a much less funny note, yesterday's news about the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes was about the crappy manuals that came with the planes and the possibility that those manuals lack of info may have caused the crashes.  

How Do You Fight an 80-Foot Sand Dune?

There are a huge series of sand dunes, of the ocean variety, in Kill Devil Hills, NC, where the Wright Brothers flew.  It's moved about but not that much, but some years back, its size began to diminish at an alarming rate.  Turns out some a**hole contractor had bought a lot beside it and had been hauling it away to make concrete.  Who the heck cares about a geographical wonder of the state, right?  (Irony.)

Sand dunes not only crawl, they also blow away.  Never turn your back for long on a sand dune.  

Turning the World with Andre Norton’s Fur Magic

Humans didn't become animal slaves until cats domesticated us.

Buck to the Future: The Many Incarnations of Buck Rogers

@23  In some Gil Gerard interviews, Gerard said that Grey was going to be dumped with the remainder of the Season 1 cast until he threatened to walk.  So, it's no wonder her character was treated so badly.  

Buck to the Future: The Many Incarnations of Buck Rogers

Part of the writing problem of Wilma in Season 2 of the series is that Hawk was supposed to be in the two-part season opener then leave, but the awesomeness of Hawk/Thom Christopher convinced the showrunners that he needed to be a season regular.  The early scripts gave many of Wilma's lines to Hawk.  

For those interested in the history of Season 2, I recommend the Thom Christopher website where all his articles and fan club interviews are archived.  Click on the Archive tab under "Thom Christopher."  http://www.thomchristopher.info

And, yes, I'm the one who compiled most of the archives.  

Five Genre-Bending Young Adult Books

Urban fantasy's primary driving plot is, most often, a mystery, and that mystery can be any variety of mystery except the cozy.  If the heroine/hero isn't in leather with a weapon, it's most often either supernatural suspense or a paranormal mystery.  Paranormal cozies tend toward ghosts and witches.  

 

Trying Hard to Get It Right in Andre Norton’s Dragon Magic

@2  Yes, WOMEN of purpose, not kids.  Was there a civilization where girl children had as much autonomy as boy children?  

Trying Hard to Get It Right in Andre Norton’s Dragon Magic

Considering the place of women in those early societies, a male protag is really the only choice to give a wide enough view of that society.  

Say what you will about Norton, her heart was always in the right place, and I give her a pass on what she screws up.  

“Stupid reptiles!” — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

@2  I had forgotten how young Stephen Amell looked in the early seasons of ARROW until the 300th episode, and this was filmed very early in the run of ARROW so he is boyish when this is filmed.  

Fun With Ancient, Squishy Complex Life Forms

Years ago, I saw a documentary on dinos in the Jurassic period.  The CGI recreations were astonishing, but the behavior of the dinos was even better.  A female T-Rex? had some babies.  The mom was exhausted, the babies were rambunctious, and one in particular would not let up poking and prodding mom when she was trying to sleep so she was practically comatose.  That one wandered off and got eaten.  I laughed through the whole vignette.  Who needs humans and time travel to connect with dinos?  

From Science to Spirit: Equus, Story of the Horse Explores the Animal’s Connection to Humans

I certainly hope that horses can avoid the same disasters as popular dog breeds like Goldens becoming "cancer dogs" and the hip dysplasia in the larger breeds.  Maybe, DNA testing can be used for good, rather than the evil of "speed genes, etc.  

Watch the First Teaser for Disney’s Frozen 2

@4  A "teaser trailer" rarely shows story.  It's usually visuals and mood. The new ALADDIN teaser, for example, shows the mood with the "Arabian Nights" song from the original with visuals of some of the places and characters.  

Keeping Your Fantasy Novel Organized with a Bullet Journal

I have always used the term "book bible," the term many authors and media creators have used over the years.  The one I used for my trilogy which ran 300,000 words was a spiral notebook.  (At the time personal computers were just beginning. I hand wrote the books then typed them on my IBM Selectric. )  I had character pages with their descriptions and back history, a crudely drawn map of the hero's house with its system of mazes, lists of the books I used for research, and all kinds of other stuff. I glued in articles I'd clipped in my research.  It wasn't pretty, but it saved me a massive amount of time.  For the new information I didn't preplan, I'd reread what I'd written that day and insert the important stuff into my notebook.  In later years, I used digital files, and each book had its own folder.  

Knife Fights, Lockpicking, and Other Things I’ve Done to Become a Better Writer

There is a group on Yahoogroups where writers can ask questions of experts. Go to Yahoogroups.com and do a search for 

Crime Scene Writer .

 

 

The Mysterious Discipline of Narratologists: Why We Need Stories to Make Sense

 Even though the world is too complex to grasp, humans want the world and everything that happens to make sense.  We apply structures to it like religion and science to do that.  Storytellers have the hubris to believe that they can show a world where people and events make sense.  If their truth about the world speaks to readers' truth, then they are read and remembered.  Whole genres become structures of the same truth.  Romance is about the power and truth of love.  Mystery shows that justice exists.  For better or worse, the power of the story can change the world.

A Few Too Many Strings — Avengers: Age of Ultron

@79 @80  The Russos have said that the "endgame" comment was deliberate on their part.  

A Few Too Many Strings — Avengers: Age of Ultron

Many of the older AVENGER movies are running this weekend on several cable networks, and I just saw the last thirty minutes of CIVIL WAR.  Tony has the emotional maturity of Star Lord.  They should get together to have toddler squabbles, but, for the love all that is sane, take their dangerous toys away from them.  

A Few Too Many Strings — Avengers: Age of Ultron

@22  Quicksilver can dodge bullets, but he can't dodge Fox's X-Men's control that only allowed him to be in this movie.

@33 Wanda read Ultron's mind and found out he was going to wipe out all human life on the planet.  What she thought of the Avengers means next to nothing to stopping Ulton. 

@43 I love the scene in the CIVIL WAR version of HOW IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED where all the other Avengers mark out "Sokovia" on the Accords and put "Tony" in its place since all the problems were caused by Tony in the first place.  https://youtu.be/fvLw021rVN0

 

Ted Nasmith Is the Bob Ross of Middle-earth

@1  None of the images I checked were huge, but there may be too many.  I have that problem on another site which has an obsession with .gifs.  

5 SFF Stories About Surviving the Dangers of Boarding School

Nothing paranormal, but I've always been a sucker for the MONTY PYTHON's and Michael Palin's RIPPING YARNS boarding school comic bits.  

Here are some of my favorite paranormal boarding school books.  

THE UNEXPECTED ENLIGHTENMENT OF RACHEL GRIFFIN, L. Jagi Lamplighter.  Young young adult.  Fantasy.  Rachel Griffin enters the magical Roanoke Academy, finds new friends, and stumbles upon a magical conspiracy that threatens not only her friends and the school, but the entire world.  Along with the usual tropes of the magical school, Lamplighter gives us a heroine with the best of Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione, as well as an interesting world of magic and clues that the reader will pick up from our own world that the characters will not.  An excellent read.

THE HOUND OF ROWAN, Henry H. Neff.  Book 1 of “The Tapestry.”  Young adult contemporary fantasy.  Ten-year-old Max McDaniels sees something magical in a tapestry in a museum, and before you can say “Harry Potter,” he’s being attacked by monsters and sent to a small private school for young wizards where he must deal with the usual problems of school as well as various magical ones.  Meanwhile, the school and Max himself have enemies circling.  The book definitely has a Harry Potter as well as a Percy Jackson feel to it, but Neff creates a detailed history and magical beings which gives the story some originality, and Max is a good kid.  

 

ARCANUM 101, Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill.  Young adult contemporary fantasy.  After Tomas Torres starts using his ability to conjure fire and throw it to make money for his family, he’s caught for arson, but he’s sent to a “special” boarding school instead of jail. Yes, it’s a school for mages and psychics to train them to use their gifts safely and correctly.  VeVe Langenfeld is his student mentor.  She’s also a talented battle mage who has been fighting monsters since she was a little girl.  This novel is mainly an introduction to the school, Tomas’ discovery that real magic and monsters exist, and that he has considerably more to him than anyone can guess.  A nice story but maybe a little low key for kids expecting lots of action.  Boys should enjoy this story because of Tomas’ viewpoint and his interest in repairing cars.

 

“This isn’t freedom, this is fear” — Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Sam and Cap's swift friendship and Sam's perfect skills for the movie are an acceptable bit of story shortcut.  I'm sure Cap has met hundreds of people in his new life, many of whom are veterans.  Since Cap is known to visit veterans, the ULTRON party is an example, he could have met Sam at the VA hospital which would have made more sense, but jogging on the Mall is more visual.  I always tell my writing students that most stories have one gimme or plot convenience.  In a cozy mystery, it's okay for the main character to keep finding the murder vicitm at the start the story.  In the case of a romance or this movie, the gimme is that two people who are perfect for each other manage to meet.  More than one gimme is bad writing.

@14  The kiss to hide yourself is based on the fact that most people look away when people are kissing in public so it's not really a trope.  It's using human nature to your character's advantage.  

@5  "Captain America is back, and he didn't skip leg day."  -- Honest Trailers.

Andre Norton’s Star Gate Inspired Me Before I Knew I Wanted to Write

In the late 1990's, I belonged to the RWA online chapter for romance writers of fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal stories.  Andre Norton's health was beginning to fail, and one of her writer friends got the word out that Norton was very depressed and felt that her writing no longer mattered. The friend asked for people to send fan letters to Norton to tell her how much she meant to readers.  All of us female writers, many who were already successful writers and some who would be, began a conversation about Andre Norton.  Almost all of us considered her the inspiration for our writing.  She told us, at a time when girls didn't have adventures in books, that girls could, and a partnership between men and women as equals was possible with even a tiny bit of romance.  Here it is almost thirty years later, and Andre Norton's books still matter to readers and to the writers she inspired.  She was a truly awesome writer.   

Watch the First Trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home!

@5  Tony Stark made Peter an Avenger so he should know who Nick Fury is even if he's never met him.  

Killer Flora, Fascinating Fauna: Andre Norton’s Voorloper

The smart gar were my favorite part of this book. Underground tunnels and ruins make a great deal of sense for world building in Norton's novels.  Humans come to the planet on space ships, and the first thing they'd see and explore are ruins so the hero would have nothing to discover.  Plus, ancient tunnels would have a much better chance of surviving intact from nature than buildings on the surface.  

These novels may be outside of the parameters of this reread, but I got a notice that three of Norton's books as a collection are on sale as ebooks at B&N today for just under $2 US.  I woudl imagine that Amazon has the same sale.  The collection is called THE FIVE SENSES and seems to be young adult novels for girls.  

The plot summaries:

Three different young women, each endowed with extraordinary abilities, pit their powers against warriors, wizards, and royal intrigue to preserve their worlds and stem the tide of evil.
 
Mirror of Destiny: Transformed by a powerful talisman, the orphaned apprentice Twilla defies her king—and escapes her fate as an unwilling bride—in favor of joining a crusade to rescue the vanquished of an ancient magical war and help save the destiny of a disputed land.
 
The Scent of Magic: An orphaned child and captive scullery maid, young Willadene’s uncanny ability to smell the magic of the natural world delivers her from servitude—to the highest circles of the Ducal court. But depravity and corruption infest the castle, and the power that has been her fortune now draws her into a maelstrom of evil.
 
Wind in the Stone: An infant girl, abandoned after her mother’s death and raised to young womanhood by the strange denizens of the Forest, discovers the wondrous earth magic she wields. Now, Sulerna must confront the brutal sorcerer who enslaved her homeland—and battle an enemy who is both her bane and blood: the twin brother she lost to darkness.

“I’d rather be a good man than a great king” — Thor: The Dark World

@15  Maybe he did. The big wave of ships and garbage hit everywhere at once, and we only saw the results via Arthur's viewpoint and a few news reports.  Arthur and Mera almost immediately went into the ocean from that point so what happens next on the land isn't shown.  I was surprised that Sicily or whatever island they were on to find the location of the super trident showed no damage even with the huge cliffs.  

Queering Hogwarts: Fantasy Books That Succeed Where Harry Potter Fails

In fairness to JKR, HP wasn't about the sexuality of the characters. The hormonal teen stuff was about character conflict that affected the primary plots, not plots unto themselves.  The primary plots were focused on the epic conflict between Harry and Voldemort.  

A Realtime Breakdown On How Pottermore Made the Chamber of Secrets Weird For Me

Since JKR has an excellent Classical education, I doubt this factoid is from her.  There was indoor plumbing during the Roman Republic, long before England was infested with the Romans who left behind massive public baths and sewage systems.  Archeologists have also found various types of latrines and middens in prehistoric sites.  So, the magical community would have had to be remarkably stupid not to pick up the idea of indoor plumbing before Hogwarts was built.  

How The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever

@ 6  Before the mid-Seventies, what we now classify as romance didn't have its own shelves in bookstores, or publishing lines.  Gothics weren't called Gothic romances, they were Gothic novels or Gothic historicals, and they were shoved in with the historical novels or on the general shelves of what we now called the mainstream books.  When Woodiwiss and her sisters in historical romance began to sell zillions of books and the publishers and bookstores realized what a gold mine they had, romance became a genre with publishing lines and bookshelves devoted to them.  

How The Lord of the Rings Changed Publishing Forever

I was in my early teens when LOTR came out, and I remember the hoopla about the pirate version as well as the authorized one.  My oldest brother read it first.  I read it a few years later and agreed with my brother that it was so dang immersive.  I'd put it down and blink a lot to reorient myself into the real world because Tolkien's world became the real world when I was reading it.  The books weren't quite the phenomena that the Harry Potter books were, they weren't as mainstream, but they were a phenomena, nevertheless.  LOTR would have been a phenomena whatever was happening in the real world.  

A bit of a correction.  With the exception of Harlequin which is a genre unto itself, the romance industry didn't really exist until the mid-Seventies with the publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss' first historical romances.  

A Fairy Tale with the Worst of Husbands: “The Swan Maidens”

The swan maiden out of water has no abilities or skills to survive on the land so going with the jerk who stole your feathers is better than starving to death or being raped and murdered by some other stinking human man.  Also, there's a chance to steal those feathers back.  So, it kind of makes sense.  

Backed Up By the Best of Humanity: Doctor Who, “Resolution”

Since there have been so many WHO digs this year at the present US administration, I imagine the comment about funding was more about the US than Brexit.

Aaron's emotional difficulties are so sadly common that many of us don't need a closer examination of what makes him tick, and I imagine that's why so little attention was paid to him.  Thematically and emotionally, he also made a very good punching bag for Graham and Ryan's unhappiness, and he deserved every punch.  

A Horse Between Worlds: The Mystical Side of Sleipnir

You missed the pale horse ridden by Death in the Bible's "Revelations."

If any animal can bring us through the liminal spaces, it is a horse of any color, but pale will do.  

Gingerbread Bricks, Cherry-Eating Cats, and Other Culinary Disasters

The moral of your story is stay away from cherries.  They seem to be bad luck.  

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Is Its Own Perfect Example of the Illusion of Free Will

Free will isn't an illusion, and denying it is an excuse for every stupid thing you do.  

A Charlie Brown Christmas Searches for Truth in a Complicated Holiday

I rescued a sad little foot-high Norfolk pine table decoration years ago that was left from the half-off sale.  It is now over five feet tall, and I have to cut it back every summer so I can roll it inside in its huge pot when the weather gets cold.  When I tell people it is my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, they understand its story completely.  

@1  (For the humor-impaired, the following is sarcasm.)  How dare Christians have one stinkin' Christmas cartoon to call their own when all the others aren't remotely religious!  Let's also excise African heritage from Kwanzaa so white folks won't feel excluded, insist on pork at Jewish get-togethers to help the American hog industry, and offer craven images of Mohammed for sale to support the arts.  It's the right thing to do for those who believe in nothing beyond themselves.  

Culture Wars in Andre Norton’s Eye of the Monster

Cute and furry is much more relatable than reptilian, and Rees is an idiot kid who doesn't quite get the lesson that the reader will, hopefully.  For those who aren't paying attention to the "lessons" of the story, it's a ripping good escape yarn.  

Merry Christmas to all fellow Nortonites who celebrate it. 

A Matter of Life and Death Deserves a Place on Your Holiday Watch-list Alongside It’s A Wonderful Life

@9  I don't have a problem with criticism of WONDERFUL LIFE.  I do have a problem with the author of this article saying that a religious story is wrong because it follows that religion's beliefs.  

Plus, as someone almost old enough to have been around when this movie first hit the theaters, I remember the world this movie depicted.  Growing up in a moderately sized Southern town, I went to school with one Jewish girl. The synagogue had maybe a hundred members.  Almost everyone was a Christian of some variety and could trace their roots back over a hundred years in this area.  And my town wasn't as insular as Bedford Falls in the movie.  That's what life was like, back then, outside of major cities with a huge influx of immigrants.

 

A Matter of Life and Death Deserves a Place on Your Holiday Watch-list Alongside It’s A Wonderful Life

Gosh, a Christmas story with a Christian underpinning.  How shocking and politically incorrect!  Next thing you know, there will be a Hanukkah story that doesn't include Christianity and Islam.  (Sarcasm)

You don't really understand the term "sentimentality."  In a good sense, it means a warm fuzzy feeling evoked in a story.  In a bad sense, it means unearned warm fuzzy feelings evoked by a story.  It's a show versus tell storytelling comparison.  If you show the events and let the reader/audience feel the emotion, it is good sentimentality.  If you tell the audience they should be feeling warm and fuzzy but don't show them why, it is bad sentimentality.  

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE has the good kind of sentimentality that is earned by the story, the characters, and the cinematic storytelling. This is shown by its continued popularity.  It obviously speaks to many of us. If the viewer doesn't feel this good kind of sentimentality, that speaks more about the viewer than the story.  

Get Into the Holiday Spirit With This Heartwarming The LEGO Movie 2 Short

And the moral of this story is, "Too much eggnog makes abs go away even if you're Batman."

Once Again, With More Feeling: The Black Stallion Returns

Most of us have never found our one true horse love (platonic), but we can dream with stories like this.  I loved this movie.  

You and I Will Be Friends Forever: Doctor Who, “It Takes You Away”

Hanne said that her dad was mentally ill since her mom's death.  That explains some of his stupid behavior.  He definitely needed a kick in the rear.  

This episode held my interest better than most of the other episodes this series so yeah!

2018’s Robin Hood Wants You to “Forget What You Know” or You’ll Notice How Sloppy Their Interpretation Is

I saw one review that shows how this movie lifted good chunks of THE DARK NIGHT and inserted them into this movie.  You know, plagiarism.  A pity that didn't help the movie in the least.  

Racing the Wind with The Black Stallion

It's a romance about a boy and his horse, and their mystic connection. Reality had very little to do with that fantasy.   When I read the novel, I wanted to be Alex sooooo much.  

Some wild horses, like the ones on the North Carolina coast, can live on native salt grasses, but I doubt an Arabian could.

As to the Arab. An Arabian horse is owned by an Arabian prince and is stolen by an abusive Arabian asshole who needs to be this way for plot reasons.  Yeah, obviously racist.   

The Systems Aren’t the Problem: Doctor Who, “Kerblam!”

The subversion of the obvious plot came so late that I found the plot boring through most of the show.  A few other minor twists would have improved things.

The system and the robots brought Kira down and put her in that room, not to kill her, but to teach Charlie the lesson of losing someone you care about.  It didn't know that the plastic wrap was explosive, and she would die.  

The problem with automation taking most of the jobs is that it also takes money out of the system because people have nothing to spend on luxuries.  Essentially, Kabalamazon! is committing slow economic suicide.  Not something most of these stories ever take into consideration.  

A snicker moment came when the Doctor changed ankle bracelet colors with Graham.  The smartest alien in the room was going to be the janitor because of her "skills."  

 

The Moldy West — Jonah Hex

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW does a Jonah Hex episode every year.  I'm looking forward to seeing what fairy tale creature will arrive in the weird, weird West.  

What Really Happens After the Apocalypse

@4  My biggest beef is with the continued "survival" of zombies.  A good chunk of nature--flies, birds, bugs, microganisms-- is around to get rid of dead stuff.  Then there's the sun and heat which speeds up the ripening process.  Zombie bodies would be disintegrating in a matter of days.  All most of us would have to do is hunker down for a few months.  Maybe some snipers on roofs, after that, to take down new zombies.  In a few years, most of it would be over.  

What Really Happens After the Apocalypse

As someone who has been close to disasters like Floyd, Hugo, and Michael, I agree that most of us will act with kindness and sense rather than brutality.  We will help others, rescue pets, and share resources.  However, in areas with high population density like large cities, the predators already there like gangs will take advantage which can incite mobs.  In NYC, for example, predators have roamed during power outages and civil unrest, yet decent people pulled together during 9 11.  People are people, and most of us are decent human beings, and a few aren't.  

TV Dramas with the Right Amount of Horse Fantasy: Free Rein and Heartland

I feel cheated.  All I had growing up was the Saturday morning live-action show, FURY, and some really bad movies.  Of course, I did grow up during the heyday of Western TV so there's that.  

When It All Goes Wrong: Andre Norton’s The Defiant Agents

@5  As someone of retirement age with a background in literary history who has seen a lot of of change in my own life as well as what has happened in the past, I know that, one day, you and I will have our books taken apart by another generation, and from their perspective which isn't remotely like ours, we will be judged harshly.  It behooves us to be kinder toward those before us in hopes of a kinder regard for our works.  

When It All Goes Wrong: Andre Norton’s The Defiant Agents

As a qualifier for Norton, during that period, scientists had no clue about whether there was or wasn't racial memory.  Both sides had proponents.  Heck, psychologists and sociologists are still arguing over nature vs. nurture.  

Jane Yolen Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Yolen was an awesome writer.  Well before her time.

She Changed the Universe: Doctor Who, “Rosa”

@16.  The British sf comedy series, RED DWARF, did a really fun take on time travel and JFK's assassination.  "Tikka To Ride" Season 7, Episode 1.  

@14.  I live near the site of the Woolworth's sit-in.  One point I've heard from a number of people involved and historians is that Greensboro was a good place for this to happen because they knew the local police would not kill them.  In the same way, I imagine that having a respectable black woman as the protester was the most likely scenario for survival in Montgomery where a black man would have probably died.  So, maybe, it had to be Rosa Parks.  

Regarding Elvis and Las Vegas, Eleven spent some time there during the Rat Pack era and spent some "quality time" with Marilyn Monroe.  So, not surprising that Elvis had a phone.  

For me, this Doctor with her goofy charm lacked the gravitas to pull off this episode so I found it less than enthralling.

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