Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 5 Recap & Review: Eastwatch

I forgot to write my review for Game of Thrones last week…so here’s a recap/review to get ready for tonight’s episode.

Although, there wasn’t as much action compared to the previous episode, there were still a lot of plot twists. 

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

Well, Jamie lives! Big surprise there, eh?  He and Bronn manage to swim further on down the river. Jaime tells him they need to get to King’s Landing to inform Cersei about the dragons.

Meanwhile, Dany offers the Lannister army a choice: bend the knee or die. Many start to bend the knee, except for Randyll and Dickon Tarly. They will not serve Daenerys, because she is a foreign queen and she did not grow up in Westeros.  She turns Drogon on them and after they are burnt to ashes, the rest of the Lannister army falls to their knees.

Dany shows up at Dragonstone and Jon Snow is there to meet her. Drogon allows Jon to pet his face, and it almost looks like Dany is going to swoon. Does this mean that the dragon can sense Jon’s parentage? Also, Jorah arrives at Dragonstone and Dany is very pleased to see him.

Tyrion and Varys drink wine and ponder if Daenerys is as bad as her father. Jon gets a message from Winterfell, and although he is shocked that Arya and Bran are alive, he doesn’t have time to feel joy. Bran saw a vision of the army of the dead marching towards Eastwatch.

Dany doesn’t want to help Jon, because she is afraid if she leaves, Cersei will march in and take back everything she has gained. Tyrion offers a different solution, by way of proof. Bring one of the dead men to Cersei, convince her the dead men are real and she will then join the fight against the Night King, and come to a temporary truce.

Ser Davos manages to smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing. Bronn tricks Jaime into meeting with the dwarf, and although Jaime doesn’t wish to speak with him, Tyrion tells him about the army of the dead and Jaime relays their plan to Cersei.

Although Cersei recognizes that they are vastly outnumbered and that a parlay with the dragon queen might be in their best interest, she still delivers this wonderful quote: “Dead men, dragons and dragon queens, whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it.” She tells Jaime she is pregnant and that they must fight this war the way their father did. What, sneakily?

While Tyrion is off meeting with Jaime, Ser Davos finds Gendry working as a blacksmith in the streets of King’s Landing. Ser Davos jokes to us fan’s delight, “thought you might still be rowing.” Gendry joins the fight and tells Jon Snow exactly who he is when they meet. He tells him he is very handy with a war hammer, and the instant bro-mance between them is entertaining.

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Arya is being fooled by Little Finger who is trying to sow discord between the two Stark sisters. He sneaks around the castle, has quiet conversations and basically looks like he is up to no good.  Arya finds the message that Sansa was forced to write by Cersei after Ned was beheaded. It looks to Arya, (who doesn’t know Sansa was forced to write it) that her sister has betrayed her family.

In Old Town, Gilly reads from an old manuscript and asks Sam what an annulment is. After Sam tells her, she reads that the Maester who wrote the manuscript performed a secret annulment and a marriage for a Rhaegar Targaryen in Dorne. This is big news to us, but Sam cuts her off mid-sentence. Does this mean that Jon’s parents were actually married?

Sam is fed up with the lack of response from the Maesters in regards to the Night King. Instead of waiting for them to act, he steals manuscripts from the restricted section of the library and he, Gilly and baby Sam leave Old Town.

Jon arrives at Eastwatch, with Jorah Mormont, Ser Davos and Gendry, but they are not one of the only ones with plans to go beyond the wall to catch one of the dead men. Tormund leads them to a cell where the Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros say they are there to go beyond the wall because their Lord told them too.

All the men establish that most of them hate the other, but Jon insists that they must work together because they are all on the same side against the Night King. The episode ends with the north-meets-the-avengers group heading out into the white beyond the wall.

What was the best part about this episode?

What to choose, really?

  • Jon petting Drogon.
  • Tyrion and Jaime meeting.
  • Gendry popping up out of nowhere. That “still rowing” comment. His war hammer. Jon and Gendry’s budding bro-mance.
  • Jorah returning to Dany, only to leave her again.
  • Tormund asking about Brienne.

Dislikes?

  • Arya being led on by Little Finger
  • Cersei’s pregnancy; really Jaime? She’s toxic!
  • The outrageous plan to bring a dead man beyond the wall…or is it genius? I’m really not sure.

What do you guys think? (No spoilers please! I read somewhere that tonight’s episode had leaked…)

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 Review: Spoils of War

I know I’ve been writing a lot of Game of Thrones reviews, lately, but I can’t resist getting caught up in the hype of it all. I don’t often write reviews, because I usually don’t have the time, but with a lot of characters finally reuniting on-screen after seven long years, well, some things just need to be talked about.

Beware, Spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

It seemed like last night’s episode ‘Spoils of War’ was going to be a filler episode, but I don’t think that any episode qualifies as a filler when we are so close to the end.

I think we should just go ahead and name this season, Arya Stark’s season. Everything great that has happened so far has somehow involved this hardy, young woman. Last Sunday brought us its best reunion yet: Arya finally arrives home!

The episode starts out in High Garden. Bronn and Jaime talk about money, and Jaime looks like he is already tired of war. Bronn questions him about it, and it seems the King Slayer is still upset about learning who killed Joffrey.

Cersei gets another visit by the Iron Bank, and reassures them that they will get their money; Lannisters always pay their debts. Bran is visited by Little Finger, who gives him a Valyrian steel dagger. Little Finger seems to think this is a nice gesture, (you know, because he is a notorious kiss-ass,) but the significance is lost on Bran, who knows Little Finger’s dirtiest secrets already. Bran ends their conversation by quoting Little Finger’s own words back at him.

Meera tells Bran she is leaving, and once again we are reminded that Bran is no longer the Bran that we used to know. She feels heartbroken and betrayed when he shows little emotion at her news.

Arya finally shows up at Winterfell, but the guards at the entrance don’t believe her when she tells them who she is. We are reminded of a scene that happened in season one, when she is a little girl and tries to get back into the Red Keep after she is out chasing cats. From the beginning, Arya never tried to be the Lady she was meant to be, and now she has really come full circle.

The reunion between her and Sansa is both heartwarming and awkward, as Sansa doesn’t know what to believe when Arya mentions her kill list. It looks like she doesn’t believe it is real, until Bran mentions it as well. Bran gives Arya the dagger that Little Finger gifted to him.

And here we come to probably the best part of the episode. Arya asks Brienne to train with her and I feel like this is an Arya moment we’ve been waiting for from the first time she tried to become No One. Here she finally gets to show off her skills and strength; this young Stark is much more powerful than she appears.

Meanwhile, in Dragonstone, Jon shows Dany the cave of dragon glass, which conveniently has cave drawings of white-walkers. These illustrations of the undead give Jon Snow another opportunity to reiterate his statement that Dany needs to help him or they will all die if they can’t defeat the Night King.

Dany holds true to her own convictions. Sure, she will help him, she says, “if he bends the knee.” It’s clear from their body language that they are both aware of each other, but as for romance, “there’s no time for that,” insists Jon Snow to Ser Davos.

Dany exchanges girl talk with Missandei, who is worried about Grey Worm. Theon Greyjoy arrives on the last ship that survived Euron’s attack, and Jon comes very close to killing him, but he holds back because of what Theon did for Sansa.

Theon is at Dragonstone to ask help from Daenerys to get Yara back, but she is not there. Dany and her Dothraki hoarde have gone to High Garden and there is a battle with the Lannister army there, or rather it is a slaughter. Dany’s dragon, Drogon, burns the soldiers and it is a horrific, and impressive CGI display of the dragon’s power.

Bronn manages to wound the dragon with the weapon that Qyburn made; and in the heat of the moment, Jaime charges at Dany with every attempt to kill her, but he is pushed out-of-the-way at the last moment before Drogon’s flames can burn him.

The Highlights?

Um, where to begin?

  • Arya’s return home and reunion with family.
  • Remembering Jon Snow in a cave with another woman, not so long ago. What is it with Jon Snow and caves? He will win Dany over yet, just see if he doesn’t.
  • Bran basically scaring Little Finger shitless.
  • The dragons burning things…and um, people.
  • Dany flying on the dragon and burning things.
  • That cliffhanger ending – cause, um, Jaime can’t die that way. He’ll become a captive I’m thinking.

Anyway, what did you guys think? I think this was the best episode of the season yet!

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 3 Review: The Queen’s Justice

Every Sunday, Mike and I have a routine: at 9 o’clock we settle in front of the TV, (often with ice cream) to tune into Game of Thrones. It’s a love we both share. A story line with characters, (compared to some) that we have become deeply invested in. So, with many character’s story lines finally coming together with others…suffice to say, every night with Game of Thrones is an important one! I think it goes without saying:

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo Credit: HBO

It was so strange seeing Daenerys and Jon Snow in the same room together! She looks powerful, beautiful and queen-like. He looks like a Northerner, bulky in furs, hair unkempt, and tired of politics. But who do you think won the room?

It’s hard to say, really.  Missandei lists out Daenerys’ names and even we’re tired of hearing them. Davos Seaworth retaliates with an awkward, “This is Jon Snow…King of the North.”

It’s clear that Jon is out of his element, but he is also the Jon Snow that we love best, the one who stays true to his convictions. He was trusted to rule the north by the men who named him king and that’s exactly what he’s going to do…even if it means facing a queen who at first looks too big for her britches.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Dany…but with this meeting, I felt myself turning on her. How dare she look down her nose at our beloved Jon Snow? How dare she remind him again and again that she is the ruler of the seven kingdoms, when there are clearly other things to be worried about. White walkers, for instance?

It’s funny how quickly our loyalties change when it comes to characters. However, she does grant him access to the dragon glass on Dragonstone, which is a nice gesture. Doesn’t really seem like these two will start coupling up anytime soon, but it seems like a start, at least.

Tyrion gets some great screen time in this episode. He becomes mediator between the two, especially when Jon refuses to “bend the knee” when asked. Daenerys questions Tyrion, “you told me you liked this man?”

Varys is quick to notice that Melisandre didn’t rush to Jon’s side when he and Davos arrive and she casually reveals that her and Jon Snow didn’t part on good terms, and that she will return to die in Westeros just like Varys. Something she saw in the flames perhaps?

Meanwhile, in Old Town, Sam is both praised but not really rewarded for curing Jorah’s greyscale. Jorah, who feels lucky to have escaped death once again, reveals his plans to head back to Dany’s side. I mean, what a shocker, really. I can’t imagine how he would fit into her entourage anymore. She has Tyrion now and Jorah just feels like a third wheel at this point.

Theon Greyjoy is scooped up by survivors of Euron’s attack, but they pretty much call him a coward, because he is. Also, an unexpected and beautiful meeting happens between Sansa and Bran, who’s finally arrived back at Winterfell.

But he is much changed from the Bran she knew. He tells her how sorry he is about her marriage to Ramsay, and she seems startled by how much he knows and for bringing up such a terrible memory. He is the three-eyed Raven now and it is difficult to explain to her what that means.

Sansa seems to be enjoying her new-found power as Lady of Winterfell by making plans for the long winter, but it’s the words of Little Finger that she still continues to hang on to. Does anyone else want to punch this man in the throat every time he speaks?!

Grey Worm and his fellow Unsullied take Casterly Rock, but it’s not really a victory. The Lannister army is in Highgarden, home of the Tyrells. And Euron’s ships destroy most of the Unsullied fleet.

Suffice to say, Cersei was pleased with the gift that Euron presented to her: Ellaria Sand and her daughter. She poisons Ellaria’s daughter and locks them both in a room together. Ellaria’s punishment is to watch her daughter die and rot in front of her.

Whoa. And here we thought Cersei was done for at the end of Season 6 when we saw all of Dany’s ships sailing for Westeros! Cersei might still be the super bitch in town, but Dany has dragons. Time to use them, I’m thinking?

But alas, it was Olenna Tyrell who really got the last word in this episode. After taking Highgarden, Jaime grants her a merciful death: poison in a glass of wine. But after chugging the poison, she looks him in the eye and reveals that she was the one who orchestrated Joffrey’s death and she doesn’t regret it one bit!

It made me sad to say goodbye to this character. Every time she was on the screen you were bound to laugh out loud or gasp at all the excellent lines she got to deliver. She was the spunky, not-afraid-to-speak-her-mind grandma that we all came to love…and I will miss seeing her very much.

She deserved a better send off than an off-screen death, but she went down fighting! And that’s what matters.

The highlights of this episode?

  • It goes without saying, really. Every scene between Dany and Jon Snow was a loaded one and seven years in the making. We want more of any type of scene with them together!
  • Bran and Sansa reunion, although bittersweet as it was. Bran is not the same Bran from the first season who liked to climb. How cute and sweet he was then!
  • Olenna Tyrell’s confession to Jaime.

What did you guys think of this episode? Who were you rooting for in the Dany/Jon Snow meeting? 

Our Vacation Out West Part 3: Zion National Park, The Emerald Pools

On our vacation this year, Mike and I played the license plate game. We made a list of all 50 states and checked off all the license plates we saw on our drive out to Utah. The only state besides Hawaii we couldn’t collect was Rhode Island, and guess which state’s license plate we saw last night in the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot around here?!

From New York to Utah, we saw 48 license plates, not including Hawaii and Rhode Island. (RI was our holy grail of license plates until last night). We also saw two Canadian plates and one from Mexico. It was fun and it was exciting and it passed the time. I wish I was back on that road trip, seeing sights that I have never seen before.

This post is about three weeks late, but it is fun to reminisce on the fun times we had. Hey, if you missed part 1 and part 2 of our vacation you can click on the links to view them.

This was probably the best time I have ever had…and I’m trying to find another vacation to compare, but I really can’t.

After about two and a half days of driving, Mike and I made it to our KOA in Cedar City, Utah. The campgrounds are about an hour away from Zion National Park. The tent sites were very close together and at first I didn’t like it at all but then I shook myself a bit. I was on vacation! Why was I complaining?

We got our tent up very quickly, and it was really all a matter of getting dinner for the night and going to bed.

We found a diner about two minutes down the road from the KOA, called “All American Diner.” Anytime Mike and I can find a great diner, with good, cheap food, we call it a special treat.

The next day we headed to Zion National Park. The first day, we hiked the emerald pools trail, which was about a 5 mile round trip. A good portion of it was climbing up hill; I wasn’t prepared to climb it in about 110 degree heat. We took plenty of water and had our snacks, but the heat, man.

When we got back to the car that first day, the car’s thermometer registered 117 degrees!But while hiking, you’re walking up sand that’s so hot you can feel the heat burn through your sneakers. The sun beats down on your hat covered head and you long for shade, like you long for cold water when your throat is dry and your tongue feels thick.

That’s also what makes the pools you see on this hike so special; it is like a small oasis in the middle of this desert climate, but the hike is more difficult the higher up you go.

The trail becomes steeper, narrower; the shade trees are a little bit more sparse. I was struggling to catch my breath in the heat and wondered if it was all worth it. And then you come around a bend in the trail and that view. That. View. For one delicious, corny second, you feel like you are the only person on earth, and this view was made just for you. Now, mind you, I am a very easily entertained person…so that might have something to do with it. But, seriously, guys. If you can’t appreciate a view like this and call it nothing less than phenomenal, there’s something wrong with you.

This is the second pool, about two-thirds of the way up the trail.

At the very top of the trail, were these squirrels that kept hanging around, hoping for some snacks or trail mix. It’s $100 fine to feed the animals in the park, but kids can’t resist…not very often you have wild animals hanging around near your feet, and trying to climb into your backpack.

And if you make it to the very top, there is a larger pool of water at the very top. It looks like a small beach in the middle of the mountains. If you were allowed to swim in it, if there weren’t so many people trying to catch their breath, it might have felt more magical. But by that time, I think the heat had really done Mike and I in.

Afterwards, we got food at the park and then headed back to our campsite. The further we got from Zion, thankfully, the cooler it became. A 99 degrees felt practically chilly compared to 110…kinda. Not really. But what fun we had!

Next day, we hiked the Narrows! And then after that, the Grand Canyon.

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 2 Recap: Stormborn

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

Daenerys makes plans with Lady Olenna Tyrell, Yara and Ellaria Sand. The other women wonder why Dany doesn’t use her army to conquer the red keep, but Dany has other plans. To quote Tyrion, she doesn’t want to be “Queen of the ashes.” The Tyrell and Dorne army will surround the city by blockade and basically starve them out, all transported there by Yara’s ships, of course.

Samwell might have found a treatment for Jorah’s grayscale, but it includes a lot of screaming and pus and is not exactly legal.

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, the king in the north receives two messages: one from Samwell informing Jon Snow of dragon glass in Dragonstone, and one from Dany, inviting Jon to Dragonstone to “bend the knee.” Um, I don’t really see Jon bending the knee to anyone, do you?

He decides to go despite Sansa and the other lords who think that the invitation might be a trap. Sansa seems to want to argue more that is until Jon leaves Winterfell in her care until he returns. Finally some power for the dear Sansa?

Arya is in a tavern and runs into Hot Pie, her friend from the  good ol’ days when Arya was pretending to be a boy. She learns from him that her brother Jon is back in Winterfell and instead of going south to Cersei, Arya heads back home.

Hot pie asks her what happened to her, and she quickly changes the subject. What happened indeed?

Death, survival, close chances to rendezvous with family members only to have them murdered minutes after or before her arrival. The Red Wedding…her aunt Lysa. You can’t help but think that something is going to go wrong again on her way back to Winterfell. Jon might not be in Winterfell when she gets there. They might pass right by each other!

Arya encounters her dire wolf, Nymeria, in the woods with a pack of her own, but Nymeria is a wild wolf now and won’t go back to Winterfell as Arya asked. She’s chosen her own path, too.

We have a nice, romantic moment between Missandei, and Grey Worm, and Varys gets some nice dialogue while he proves himself loyal to Dany. The Red Woman shows up at Dragonstone and is welcomed by Dany. It is Melisandre who suggests Daenerys meet with Jon Snow. She claims that either one might be “the prince who was promised.”

Cersei tries to convince the Lords of Westeros the horrors of Dany’s barbaric dothroki and unsullied army. While, Jamie Lannister speaks with Samwell’s father about becoming more involved in the war to come.

But no matter how careful, nothing goes like how Dany plans. As Yara and Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are on their way to form that blockade, Euron attacks. He kills one of the Sand Snakes? Two of them? And burns all of Yara’s ships. It looks like Euron’s gift to Cersei is going to be the woman who poisoned her daughter.

Euron also takes Yara as captive and Theon has a chance to intervene, to maybe beat all odds and rescue her, but in the heat of the moment, he breaks down and becomes Reek once again and like a coward, jumps over the side of the ship.

What were some highlights?

  • Definitely all the scenes with Arya in them. Arya (so far) is getting a lot of great screen time in these first few episodes of the new season, and I feel like things can only get better?
  • Dany and Jon Snow will finally meet! I thought this wouldn’t happen until the end of the season, surely?
  • All of the strong women of Westeros gathered in Dany’s war room. Yara, Ellaria Sand, Lady Ollena, and Daenerys.

What was your favorite part of last night’s episode? I’d love to hear about it!

Game of Thrones Season 7: What did you think?

Beware, spoilers ahead!!  

It’s been a few days since the premiere of season 7, and already I’m getting anxious. I want the new episode to be out already!! This will be more or less a recap. And my thoughts on Sunday’s episode.

Photo credit: HBO

Well what happened…

The episode starts out with Walder Frey giving a toast to all the other Freys. But wait, it’s not him at all but Arya Stark seeking revenge for the Red Wedding! She poisons all of them. Afterwards, she tells the terrified girl at the table, “You tell them, winter came for house Frey.”

Sansa and newly elected ‘King of the North,’ Jon Snow, clash over what to do with the families who betrayed them when Ramsay was still around making life difficult.

Jon shows compassion, while it’s clear that Sansa seems to be wondering more and more where her place is, especially with Little Finger constantly popping up and whispering doubts and insecurities in her ear.

Bran and his companion arrive at the wall, and Arya shares a comedic moment with some Lannister soldiers when she blatantly tells them that she’s going south to kill the queen.

One of the Lannister men end up being none other than Ed Sheeran, a surprising if somewhat jolting cameo. It took me out of the story for a bit, but I love Ed Sheeran and it was a fun scene. (I wonder if Arya is going to kill him in the next episode, hah!)

Euron promises ships to Cersei in exchange for marriage. She says no and he says he won’t return until he has a gift for her. Sandor Clegane learns about the lord of light when he sees a vision of white walkers in the flames. (The Night king and his army are walking towards the wall.)

While Jon prepares the north for winter, Samwell is in Old Town with Gilly and baby Sam. There is an entertaining montage of bed pans, slop, and shelving books that really shows the monotony of his new life studying to be a maester. Sam discovers a book in a very harry-potter-like restricted section of the library, which says there is a lot of dragon glass, (the stuff that kills white walkers) in Dragonstone.

Dragonstone, incidentally, happens to be the Targaryen’s old home and we finally get to witness Daenerys taking her first steps in Westeros! This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for from the beginning!

My favorite part of the whole episode?

The whole Arya getting rid of the Freys was quite entertaining. It’s also refreshing when you think about all the strong women who are still left in this show.

We’ve got Arya, Sansa, Brienne, Cersei, Dany, and Yara. Oh, and can’t forget Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island! Evil or not, considering Game of Thrones record of killing off characters, that’s a lot of women power!

What was your favorite part of the episode? The white walkers? Arya? I’d love to hear about it!

Our Vacation Out West Part 2: The Desert

After driving through the Rocky Mountains, Mike and I watched the landscape turn dryer, the rocks and dirt became a burnt red and orange. Small bush-like trees grew across the desert. And if you looked towards the horizon, the land continued for miles and miles in every direction. Flat and sparse and rocky, shadowed by giant mesas, we were just accessories to an already finished masterpiece.

This was the Utah that first greeted us. We drove for miles with no one around, except for the sparse trailer or house dispersed across the barren landscape. We drove through a good portion of the Navajo reservation and much of the landscape was the same; houses dotted a flat landscape of orange, red and brown.

Whoever lives here must drive for an hour to reach the nearest grocery store, or a half an hour at best to reach the nearest gas station. Little huts which promised finely woven Navajo rugs and pottery and jewelry, started to pop up every couple of miles alongside the highway.

We felt awed by the difference of this landscape compared to what we were used to back home. Upstate New York is green, the mountains are gentle hills, breezes tease the trees and rainstorms nourish. Here in this desert landscape was a harshness and a palette of colors we had never encountered before.

As the we drove into higher elevations and then drove back down, we kept our eyes out for eagles, and looked for big-horned sheep. We saw a few horses, and the occasional grouping of cattle, which chewed on the brown-yellow grass.

During our journey, I’m thinking about Star Wars, about a lonely teenager longing for adventure his desert home doesn’t provide. I’m thinking about science fiction stories of life on Mars, or a desert planet much like this one.

I fell in love with the desert’s stark beauty in a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Of dirt, and hot wind and a sun that blazes so hot and bright, it makes the sand burn underfoot.

I’m already in awe and we haven’t even made it to Zion National Park yet…and as we soon discovered, it’s always beautiful in Zion.

Spring Writes! Literary Festival: What I Learned this Weekend

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a literary festival in the new town that we live in! What is a literary festival you ask?

From Thursday to Sunday, writers, readers or literary-lovers of all sorts were able to attend workshops, panels and readings from a collaboration of local writers. These writers are all supported by donations, and a $5 dollar entry fee which purchased the cute pin featured above and was my pass to all the events this weekend.

On Saturday I attended: Workshop: Research Secrets, How to Write What You Don’t Know by and Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, Targeted Writing and Publishing.

What I learned from the Workshop: Research Secrets, is that there is never just one source of finding information out there – the internet is a great tool to finding what you need, but also don’t forget the value of your local library and historic museums, if applicable.

Don’t rule out YouTube and Google Maps as excellent how-to resources when it comes to story research and world-building. Also, remember to validate the credibility of your online sources! (Not everything you read or hear on the internet is true.)

And the instructor also pointed out the value of a good interview. Sometimes the best place to get information is from the person who wrote the book in the first place. Remember to be courteous, prepare your questions and always follow-up.

At the Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, the instructor emphasized that getting your work published is more of a science rather than an art and he pointed out some great strategies that writers can use to get your work out there.

Don’t forget the benefit of submitting stories to Contests. Contests have lower pool of submissions, are judged blindly and carry a lot of weight in a future cover letter if you can brag later on down the road and be like: I am also the first prize winner to XYZ magazine…

He says that contests which feature a specific theme also have a lower pool of submissions, and always remember to ask for feedback when you are submitting something. Most editors will probably not offer feedback, but sometimes someone will.

Focus on the number of submissions that you have out there…it is better to have so many balls in the air that after one rejection, it might not sting as much because you have all those other submissions to look forward to!

The more book reviews you write, the more submissions you submit and the more you get out there and talk to other writers, the more you are building up your social network and other opportunities might present themselves.

Today I attended: Panel: “World Building: If you Build It, They Will Come” and Panel: “Intimate Communities, Starting and Sustaining a Writing Group That Works”

In the world building panel, a group of women spoke about their different processes of world building and their favorite part of the process. Each of their approaches to world building was different.

Some of them approached a world as having a central conflict. What makes parts of the world clash? While answering these questions you get an idea of the different cultures, and the holidays and the food that the characters might eat.

A few of the women started with a character first, and then they built the world around the characters.

They talked about the differences of world building for short stories, versus a novel, and how for some stories you don’t have to know everything, because you will also discover a lot of the world in the writing process.

To organize their notes, one of the women uses the software Evernote, which is what I use! And then another, keeps a notebook with character details.

The best part of world building according to the panel of ladies, is living in another time period, and the power trip: you are basically God.

In the panel, for Sustaining a Writer Group, I learned about the importance of knowing what you want personally from a writer’s group, and remembering to have Guidelines in your group.

Establish those Guidelines from the get-go and you’ll need someone to be the leader, to enforce those guidelines and to keep everyone on task.

I learned so much this weekend, and have some great reference points for finding a writing group in our area that might suit what I am looking for; I am so excited to move on to the next step of the process!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and Happy Writing!

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Myself

new-years-day-1892263_1920

I don’t normally do these lists, but well, I wanted to this year. Besides, if I don’t write things down lately, I will never remember them. And this is for me after all…Plus, it gives me a chance to actually think of my New Year’s resolutions as I haven’t really thought of them yet, heh heh.

Anyway here goes…

1. Love More

Love my family more, love my boyfriend more, love my friends; show compassion to others who don’t necessarily see it on a day-to-day basis. More hugs and cuddles!

2. Be a better Writer

Okay, confession: I am a terrible speller, and I could be better when it comes to grammar. Sure I know the difference between my there, their, and they’res, but there are certain grammatical rules I should probably know better. Like does that comma go there, does that semi-colon go there, etc. Sometimes I feel ashamed of myself. Oh, and I need to actually Write More this year!

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3. Eat Healthier

Now that the holidays are over, enough with the sweets already! We are having a nice meal tonight (courtesy of the gift cards we got for Christmas) but this is our last hurrah. But what a way to break into the new year with filet mignon and scallops, eh?

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4. Travel More

Was playing a drinking game last night, and it became clear to me that a lot of us hadn’t been out and done anything. I felt kind of pathetic. Enough of that! It’s time to see the world and experience new things. You only live once.

5. Volunteer

This Christmas, I felt the need to give back more than ever. It has been hard with my Grandma gone around the holidays, but this year felt just a little bit easier.  I felt like it was time to show the love to everyone that she has been known for.

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6. Exercise

I hate going outside during the winter months sometimes. It’s so cold! But on the sunny not-windy days, I need to bundle up and get moving! Motivate myself with a new book, etc.

7. Treat Myself Better

This goes along with taking time for myself. Sleep more, give yourself time for light therapy in the mornings, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect and there will be bad days and good days. I have to remember that when you are upset you make it ten times worse to make yourself feel bad about it.

8. Be Open-minded

If there is anything to take away from this disastrous election year here in the US, it’s to be more open-minded. Not everyone is going to agree on everything, but we should listen and chat openly about the issues we are facing in our country. Only by educating ourselves can we truly understand the problems at hand.

9. Save Money

We are terrible at saving money. It’s not that we spend it on useless things, and it’s not that we ever go without – we just see a little extra money in the bank, and it’s a hey! Off to a great place on the weekend or a new restaurant! Self, it’s time to BE BETTER at this.

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10. Love Animals

My boyfriend’s dog, (aka our fur baby) lives at my mother’s house as a country dog, which he loves very much. But being with him this holiday season reminds me of the powerful therapeutic connection we share with our four-legged friends and how important it is to continue to support our animals…domestic or otherwise.

And that’s it really. What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

NaNoWriMo: How’d you guys do? Finish a novel?

writing-828911_1920Well, my NaNoWriMo month wasn’t very successful. I honestly didn’t have the time.

Buut…wanted to ask everyone: How did it go?

Since it is no longer November, don’t you think we should have a December novel writing month?  DeCeMoWriMo?

Wait, that doesn’t make much sense…December NaNoWriMo?

Anywho…did you guys get a lot done? Create awesome characters? Type out about 50,000 words of trash? (Hehe!) Trash is still good!

The important thing is, is that you are writing and no one can take that away from you.

Something I ‘scribbled’ in my phone today on the way home from the library tonight:

 

for what I have are words

life’s love song

I hold them like a talisman

close to my heart

 

Hope everyone is having a great night! Happy writing!