Friday, March 29, 2013

Podcast Mania!

So in the past week I was lucky enough to record guest spots on TWO awesome podcasts...


I come in at about the hour and forty-five minute mark, during which they ask me their usual questions - how I got into the series, and my favorite characters ::cough::Sandor/Jaime/Sansa::cough:: - and then we chat about Ice & Fire Con 2013, and even a bit about the future of Ice & Fire Con :)

Awesomely enough, Amin and Ashley - two of the APOIAF hosts - are attending Ice & Fire Con this year, so I'm looking forward to meeting them...and hopefully convincing them (or the other hosts, or all of them) to come 'round to Ice & Fire Con 2014!


Now, one thing about APOIAF - or rather about this specific episode - it does include a hilarious reading from the Queenmaker chapter of A Feast for Crows, but if you've never listen to an APOIAF episode I highly suggest downloading some of their older podcasts as well - or even first. You'll get a way better idea of the *amazing* scope of this podcast by doing so ;)

Next up, I was a guest on Earth Station One as well! This podcast covers a lot of fantasy and sci fi genre books and shows, but this week's episode is mostly about the Song of Ice & Fire novels and the Game of Thrones TV show...with a bit of a spot about another favorite of mine (WALKING DEAD AHHHH!) at the end.


(I should probably note - just in case - that if you haven't read the Song of Ice & Fire books, you really shouldn't listen to either one of these. Just sayin' - spoilers, spoilers, spoilers!)

Needless to say, I completely enjoyed these experiences, and it seems that I'll be back as a guest on Earth Station One sometime in the [somewhat] near future, which I'm definitely excited about. Just more "Geek Cred" under the belt, ya know! Even if I was the "negative newbie" on the ESO cast... ;)
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Participation! Participation!

So it's been quite some time since I've recorded a vlog, mainly because when I do them, I want them to be, you know, interesting ;)

And on that next vlog will feature YOUR questions! You can send me any question you want, via several different mediums...

1) Leave a comment here on this entry

2) Email me at ageeksaga (at) gmail (dot) com

3) Send me an ask on tumblr - anonymous questions are okay, though as a warning, if they're *way* out in left field I may not entirely answer them ;)

4) Hit me up on Twitter

So send me something! Anything! Ask me about my likes, my dislikes, my many many cats, my travels, my geeky interests...whatever! If I get enough questions I'll record a vlog with my answers this weekend.

Yeah, really...go forth and

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One month until Ice & Fire Con!

I can't believe that we've been planning this for over six months now, and we're finally down to the 30 day mark.

We're also down to the final days of ticket availability - *technically* we can't sell any tickets after April 5th. I say technically because there's always the possibility of an exception to the rule, of course.

Due to a cancellation there is now one Ice & Fire Con package available: the Bannerman's Package. It includes accommodations at Ravenwood and a single Iron ticket; at the moment, additional Iron tickets are also available if someone were to book this package, but availability for the Friday night pub dinner and/or Saturday night feast is first-come first-serve, and there may end up being a waiting list. Still, at just $200 total for two nights’ accommodations (including breakfast) and a full weekend convention ticket, it’s a good deal. Check out the Bannerman’s Package on the website for full details.

There are also partial weekend tickets - Copper Swords - available for $45 each. These are perfect for anyone who wants to take place in the Friday & Saturday night gaming tournament as they provide access on both those days (times are limited; see the Copper Sword page on our website for more details). And of course there are Saturday tickets available as well. These are called Copper Stars and are just $30.

Last but not least, there is still the option of a “Hosted” Package that includes a room share in mine own cottage for Friday & Saturday nights (with breakfast on Saturday & Sunday mornings), full weekend ticket, Friday night pub dinner, and Saturday night feast. This is $215 for the weekend, or $250 if you want to arrive Thursday night. Please email me at ageeksaga (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested in this package ;)

There's a bit more info to come regarding Ice & Fire Con, but for now I have so much to do in preparation for it that I'm about to stop being excited that it's just one month away and start being freaked out about that ;) Pin It

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I really, *really* want to go to Galacticon 3 in May. Like...I'm doing everything in my power to figure out some way to make it work. I don't think it will, but I'm going to try my best.

I confess...that for once I don't really have my vacations planned ridiculously far in advance. I know what I *want* to do later this year/the beginning of next year - travel-wise, I mean - I just don't know if I *can* do it, so therefore I've put off actually making plans. Which is probably the smart decision anyway :-/

I confess...that I've got a ton of things I need to do this week, but all I really *want* to do is continue my Battlestar Galactica re-watch ;)

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck's Off-Duty BDU's "Tutorial"

A couple of months ago, a good friend of mine began pushing me - not for the first time - to put together a Kara Thrace/Starbuck costume. Lucky for him, I had recently started re-watching Battlestar Galactica. It was actually a totally random choice to do so, by the way...and something about him telling me that I should costume Starbuck, combined with my watching the show again, finally convinced me that it had to happen.

Now, lucky for me, I had this great BSG BDU tutorial to light my way ;) Of course, I used it as a guide more than anything, because unfortunately several of the links that are given in it are old and the stores are either no longer open or no longer carry the items needed. I'm sure that whatever links I post here will eventually be worthless as well, but hey...every little bit helps, right? And for now they're definitely useful!

So first things first - the tanks. There are definitely knock-offs out there, so you want to make sure that you're not only getting the properly SHAPED tanks, but the right COLORS as well - the undertank is gray and the overtank is *olive*. Not black, OLIVE.


I purchased my tanks on ThinkGeek. You can get them on Anovos as well, but the ones on ThinkGeek are legit, The Real Thing, and even at their regular price they're only $39.99...vs. Anovos wanting $64.95? I'm not even sure what that is about, to be quite honest. And I was lucky enough to buy my tank set during Think Geek's President's day sale and only paid $29.99 for it :) So if you have time, I definitely suggest signing up for Think Geek's emails and waiting for a similar sale. Every little bit helps!

The dog tags proved to be an easy find as well. If you're doing a Starbuck costume, to save money you can purchase Kara Thrace's dog tags on Ebay for I think $23.99 (for a set of two!). Unfortunately, so far as I can tell hers are the only ones that you can purchase pre-made for such a low price, but there's always the option to buy the personalized tags from Quantum Mechanix. They're $65, but you can get your own name on them, or the name of any character (including Starbuck).

ETA: A friendly Redditor pointed me over to Galron Manufacturing. They make a lot of BSG pins and have *several* different versions of the BSG dog tags at much cheaper prices than those of Anovos, so I suggest checking it out if you need ones that don't say Kara Thrace on them!

The BDU pants were a bit more difficult to find, but after a lot of Google searching - and a lot of finding the pants, but only in ridiculous sizes like XS and 2XL - I finally found the exact ones that are mentioned in the aforementioned tutorial - Tru-Spec Classic 65/35 Poly Cotton Rip-Stop BDU pants - on a website called Tactical Assault Gear Store. Obviously you want to make sure to buy the OD Green color.


They're perfect, and they're only about $30! Now, I bought a size Medium/Tall. I probably could have pulled off a Small/Tall - the Mediums are pretty darn big on me, to be honest - but that site has no size chart to go by and I figured better safe than sorry. I'm not going to post my exact measurements on here, but if you're interested in purchasing these pants and wondering about sizing, please feel free to email me at ageeksaga (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll give you more specific sizing information :)

Starbuck wears two belts - one regular belt through the belt loops of her pants, of course, and a gun belt as well. While I was on the Tactical Assault Gear Store website, I found the exact gun belt that Starbuck uses - a simple Cobra Buckle belt. It's not cheap - $39.99, to be exact - but I figured that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. Of course if you're just doing a regular BSG BDU outfit for any other character out there, you don't need this, but if you're costuming Starbuck and getting the pants on that website, you might as well suck it up and buy the belt as well, right? Just make sure you get it in black, of course.

If you're costuming Starbuck and bothering with that gun belt and really want to do the thing right, you need holsters as well. Unfortunately that's the one thing I'm not much help dad is a gun nut, so I was lucky to be able to borrow some holsters and mag pouches from him. Not entirely screen accurate, but hey, gun holsters are NOT cheap! Of course, if you have $164.95 laying around you can get the regular gun belt from Anovos...and if you have $189.95 laying around, you can get the Starbuck edition from them!

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Although I didn't have any guns in my holsters when I was at MegaCon (for several reasons, mainly that I was flying and didn't want to bother with even fake guns, and also that MegaCon has a really weird "weapons" policy), I did buy a prop model kit while I was there! It cost about $35 at the convention, but the booth - Arsenal Models - has a website, and you can surely order anything from there. (You'd at least have to pay the extra cost of shipping though, I'm sure.)

As for the regular belt - you may be able to find something that works and is already put together, but I had the time to put my own together...and doing so is certainly less expensive. The buckles that you need are 1.5" black plastic duraflex buckles. I could only find them for sale in quantities of 5 or 10, and the one seller who had them on Amazon had some questionable reviews (regarding sending 1" instead of 1.5" buckles)...thankfully I did find the exact buckles in a webstore called Country Brook Design. At just $8.95 for a bag of 10 buckles, I figured hey, it's never bad to have extras, right? :)

The material you want for the belt strap is 1.5" flat nylon webbing in forest green. And yes, trust me, you want it in forest green! I got about 4 feet of it, which cost me less than $5, and once I had the webbing and the buckles I just did a quick [hand] sewing job with some dark green thread to finish it off :) (haha, I just realized that sentence could sound really dirty if you read it out of context/left some words out)

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The boots you're supposed to look for - according to that tutorial - are "Galls 8" Safety Toe Zipper Boots". When I was putting together my Starbuck costume it appeared that the website she linked to didn't carry them anymore, but I also have to be honest...those boots are ugly as sin. And I had already gone way over my costume budget for this year. And I already owned a pair of plain black combat boots, anyway. So those are what I ended up wearing. But hey, if you really want those hideous screen accurate boots, "Good Hunting!" as they say on BSG ;)

As for the general "look" - outside of the physical items that make up the costume - I have long (well, long-ish), fairly light blonde hair. Which I wasn't about to cut. And seeing as I met the blonde requirement, I also wasn't about to buy/wear a wig. And all that meant that I needed the proper tattoos, of course! Unfortunately, though I bought the temporary tattoo paper to make Starbuck's tattoos for myself, it ended up being forgotten. Left behind, if you will. In a way. Of sorts. (It's a long story.) So I ran to CVS, picked up a black Cover Girl eyeliner pencil, and my friend Mike drew Starbuck's giant tattoo on my arm. It actually came out REALLY well, especially for being hand-drawn, though of course I had to be very careful not to let it rub off on anyone - or just rub off, period - all day long. Ah well, at least I have the tattoo paper for next time!

Last but not least...toss in a cigar (and if you're in the right place and it's allowed, a drink) and you've got yourself one hell of a Starbuck costume. At least in my opinion ;)


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Comic Review: The Walking Dead Compendium One

Now, I haven't read a comic or even a graphic novel in a really long time. Far too long, to be completely honest. And I'm shocked and appalled at myself for not having picked up any of the Walking Dead comics before now...but hey, what can you do, the show was tiding me over. For a while ;) But then it wasn't, and then I was at MegaCon, and I just had to purchase Compendium One.

Now, I knew going into this that the comics are vastly different from the show. Well...okay, there are some similarities, and there may be people who actually believe that they're as similar as they could be considering the two very different mediums. But honestly, the differences didn't phase me much, and I can definitely say that I enjoy both the comics and the show.

However. My one major complaint is basically along the lines of: whoa holy crap was this written by a bunch of MEN. Seriously, can we please get a female comic writer to work with these guys? I know they're out there (female comic writers, I mean), and The Walking Dead needs a female writer. Desperately. Or hey, I'd even be okay - at the very least - with a male writer who actually knows something about women.

I'm not talking about the "gore", or about the terrible things that happen - not even about the awful things that people in this story do to each other. I'm talking about the seriously one-dimensional female characters. I'll say this much for the show - many of the characters got on my nerves at times, and the women most of all - but the sad thing is how much better developed they all were/are compared to the comic book characters. Especially the female ones, and considering how much certain female characters ::cough:: Lori ::cough:: frustrated me in the show...weeell, let's just say that the comic made most of them a thousand times worse.

The artwork itself is good, though the artist who took over after volume one absolutely does not know how to differentiate between females. And although the drawings were rarely so gory as to gross me out, *wow* these comics definitely deserve that "M for Mature" rating ;)

As for the compendium as a physical item...well. Meh. I guess this is partly my fault, but I picked up the one that looked to be in the best condition only to get it back to my room and realize that the pages in the back that told a little Morgan and Duane story were bound wrong. So wrong that they were unreadable. Also, the cover itself is extremely flimsy for a book of this size - despite being seriously careful when reading/carrying the thing, by the time I was done with it the cover was falling apart where it attaches to the bindings (in like three different corners). So generally, I'm just not happy with the construction and if you're planning on ordering this compendium from the internet you should probably be aware of what you're getting (I saw numerous other reviews - mostly on Amazon - mentioning that they received what were supposed to be brand new compendiums but were practically falling apart. And yes, some of them were people who ordered directly from Amazon, not through the Marketplace.)

Anyway, aside from shoddy "construction" and the fact that they could really use a female writer in there spicing things (in other words, female characters) up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading/viewing these comics. I literally couldn't put it down. Yes, it's a very, very bleak take on a zombie apocalypse...but in the words of my dear Sansa Stark (by way of George RR Martin), "The worst ones always live." There's a reason for that. And to be honest anyone who thinks that The Walking Dead is too depressing, too horrifying, blah blah blah etc. simply fooling themselves into thinking that people are better than they are. (I mean people in general.) So, I'd love to give this 5/5 stars, but because I got tired of seeing the women giving men leadership "because they just wanted to be taken care of" and similar situations, The Walking Dead Compendium One gets 4/5 stars from me. Pin It

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MegaCon Recap: Day 1, Part 1

Well, I meant to post some MegaCon thoughts WHILE I was there...buuut anytime I actually *had* internet after Thursday the 14th it was questionable at best. Sad :( So I'll be posting a quick recap of my MegaCon experience - or what I can remember of it - over the next couple of days.

Now I have to be fair - I knew going into this that MegaCon was *not* - in any way, shape, or form - Dragon*Con. But I also have to be honest - nothing could have prepared me for *how* different it was. I've been to other conventions before - for example, Star Wars Celebration - but that's not really comparable either, because it's a single fandom con. Which Mega, well, isn't. Still...I was, admittedly, more than a little disappointed.

Here's how it started - a friend of mine suggested staying in the Rosen Centre. He had every reason to suggest this, and in a way I'm glad that I stayed there because he and his fiance were there as well, and therefore we got to hang out a lot :) But...I should have stayed at the Rosen Plaza. Because it was cheaper. And I think technically it was even a closer walk to the main areas of the convention...or at least it wasn't farther away. Also, they refused to even *try* to check us in early. I mean, wouldn't even put our names in the computer or anything. I'm sorry, but you can't tell me that the three times we tried to get into a freaking room before 3 PM, they literally had *nothing* available.

(at least there was some fun stuff to look at while we waited for rooms and tickets. sigh.)

I also bought my ticket in advance, but apparently so did everyone else, and MegaCon clearly wasn't prepared for the number of advance ticket purchases - both days the "wait" for purchasing passes on site was 15 minutes or less, whereas we waited in line for over 30 minutes on Friday morning to pick up our pre-purchased passes. It wasn't a huge deal or anything; it was just clearly poor planning on their part.

The main perk that advance ticket purchasers did receive was that we got into the dealer room early. So thanks to my buddy Tarl, I got to meet Jeremy Bulloch (the REAL Boba Fett) as well as wander around and check stuff out a bit. I have to say though...I'm *terrible* at dealer rooms. There's so much to see, and I never see all of it, and for some reason I'm also bad about actually approaching booths and looking at/asking about the things that they have for sale? I have no idea why. I'm an oddity, I suppose.

Next up was the "Crafting the Character Arc" panel, which was interesting and probably would have been helpful if my phone hadn't been buzzing off the hook with text messages and phone calls throughout the whole thing. The panelist did get off topic more than a few times, and go out of order in regards to her little presentation print out at least once (maybe twice?), which didn't help things either. Still, I always love attending these writer's workshops/panels - there's usually at least some information that I can glean out of them and use later :)

Once that workshop was over I was *finally* able to get into my hotel room...which meant that it was *finally* costume time!

Master Fay from Star Wars Republic comic #53
"'In all her long decades, she never raised her lightsaber in combat. I don't even know if she carried one...'" - Obi Wan Kenobi, about Master Fay

Please excuse the self-taken photo. I've only got one other picture that shows all/most of my costume and in it my obi/belt are all crooked. Sad.

After donning our first costumes of the weekend, Tarl and I headed back out to the dealer room for another look around. Thing is, he was dressed in a Star Trek costume, so a lot of this happened:

Credit to Howie Muzika

I'm not really sure why I'm Force choking him...err...that's like a Vader thing. But hey, whatever.

Now unfortunately my eejit arse forgot my cell phone when I went back out in costume. So I had no idea what time it was, ever, and I also needed to get back to my room to change for a photoshoot that I had scheduled around 6 PM. I'd wanted to attend the World Building writer's workshop/panel, but it [sadly] didn't happen because of this misplaced cell phone situation.

Coming up next: the rest of MegaCon Day 1, of course...including a rant about how no, I was not dressed as either Daenerys Targaryen or Princess Leia ::rolls eyes:: Pin It

Friday, March 15, 2013

Your Regularly Scheduled Ice & Fire Con Update ;)

Today's Ice & Fire Con update is actually brought to you by a very special idea that was the brainchild of two wonderful ladies named Cavalyn and Dani, as well as myself, Matt, and Valerie...

Though The Order of the White Raven is still in its planning stages, we [should, *hopefully*] have an official website set up sometime this month, and the official unveiling will of course take place at Ice & Fire Con :D For now, though, we do have a Facebook page to keep you up to date on what's going on with this new ASOIAF/GoT fan group :)

What is The Order of the White Raven, you ask?

We're a Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones social network organization composed of and operated by ASOIAF/GoT fans :)

Basic Information
THE ORDER OF THE RAVEN is a non-profit group; even a family of sorts. We come from all over the world and all different walks of life, and we all contribute in our own different ways - but the end-all and be-all is that we're in this to meet like-minded fans who love and support the series as much as we do - fans who don't just want to hide behind a computer arguing theories and writing fanfic. Not that we have problems with either of those things - but this *is* a group for people who want to meet other fans in person, be it at Ice & Fire Con, other major conventions (Dragon*Con, Comic Con, MegaCon, KatsuCon, etc. etc. etc.), or just local/local-ish get togethers.

Our mission is to have a fun time, whether it be by discussing aspects of the series, watching (and possibly complaining about) the TV show, or dressing up as our favorite characters (or even the characters we love to hate).
General Description
We're a laid-back fan group that's come together from different parts of the world to rally behind this phenomenal series. We believe that while membership numbers are great, it's not necessary for this group to get bigger just for the sake of those numbers. We just want to meet awesome, unpretentious fans (preferably in real life, but hey, online is fine too!) - people who want to hang out with us, discuss ASOIAF with us, and party with it at the next major con, our very own Ice & Fire Con, a local RenFaire, or however we can think to get together!

Some of us are bigger fans of the books. Some of us are bigger fans of the show. We love costuming either/or, but that's not a necessity if you want to hang with us. Are you getting that laid-back vibe yet? We hope so ;)

Full Mission Statement

We want to be organized, but we don't want to obsess over organizational details and thereby lose sight of the fun aspects of being fans of ASOIAF/GoT. There are probably some fandom groups out there that would better suit your fancy if you want more membership restrictions and/or a stricter code of conduct. We've got a bit of everything in us - the hedge knight, the man of the Night's Watch, the sellsword, the small council, the Lord, the Lady, the wildling, the Dothraki.

And let's not lie, the best way to mature as a group is by meeting people in person. Our idea of recruitment is finding other laid-back folks who can take a deep breath and not cause drama if someone hates their favorite character or thinks their favorite 'ship is weird (I mean really - pretty much all ASOIAF 'ships are weird).

We love being social at cons and leaving them having gotten to know some great new people. This group is about making new friends and maintaining those - and our longer-term - friendships, which is more important than making a name for ourselves.

The Order of the Raven is for discussing new and upcoming installments of both the Song of Ice & Fire book series and the Game of Thrones television show, for organizing gatherings at future conventions, getting others addicted to the series, and expanding costuming knowledge...amongst other activities. Above all, we wouldn't be doing ourselves - or the fandom - any favors by being elitists or taking things too seriously. The series itself is serious enough as it is, no?
As I mentioned, the official unveiling of this fan group will happen at Ice & Fire Con, and I'm totally stoked for it - because it will also help us gather fans together at major conventions as well (hopefully)! All Ice & Fire Con attendees will have the opportunity - should they wish to take it - of being inaugural members of The Order of the White Raven. So this is yet another awesome thing that's happening at Ice & Fire Con 2013, April 26-28 at Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, Ohio.
Don't have your Ice & Fire Con ticket(s) yet? That's okay, because we still have several options available!

1) Copper Star Tickets - These are our Saturday only tickets, good for admission between 10 AM and 10 PM on Saturday April 28th. They are priced at $30 each.

2) Copper Sword Tickets - If you are a gamer, this partial-weekend option is the ticket for you! The Copper Sword tickets are $45 each and grand admission on Friday April 26th from 4 PM until 10 PM, and on Saturday April 28th from 10 AM until 10 PM. Our gaming tournament starts Friday night, so if you want to play the Game of Thrones board game at Ice & Fire Con, this is the ticket you need to buy.

3) The very special THERE IS LITERALLY ONLY ONE OF THESE AVAILABLE "Hosted" Package. You *must* contact me directly if you are interested in this option - by emailing taralynne1213 (at) gmail (dot) com :) This package starts at $215, is the *only* way to get a full-weekend ticket to Ice & Fire Con, and includes the following:

- Full weekend admission to Ice & Fire Con  
(first unofficial event begins at 11:30 AM on Friday April 26th; registration starts at 3 PM that day - and the convention runs until 1 PM on Sunday April 28th)
- Accommodations for Friday & Saturday night in my cottage
 (You will have roommates - myself and my friends - but you won't have to sleep on the floor, we have plenty of beds! This is the reason we are calling the package a "Hosted" Package - you'll be staying with me, one of the organizers, so I'll therefore be hosting you all weekend :D )
- Breakfast on Saturday & Sunday mornings
- Friday night pub dinner
- Saturday night feast
The ticket amount of $100 would be due immediately; the remaining $115 would not be due until just before the convention :)
(Also, as I have the cottage booked for Thursday night as well, for an additional $35 you are welcome to arrive that night - making the three-night accommodation package total $250, with $150 of it not due until just before the convention.)

*** JUST 42 DAYS UNTIL ICE & FIRE CON 2013!!! ***
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Why I'm a Hufflepuff

I've literally had those who love me best argue with me about believing that I'm a Hufflepuff, but that just made me want to explain to them why I belong in this House - and why I'm proud of that :)


Now, I'm not the type of person to brag, but admittedly...I'm smart. I know that I'm smart. So when I first started reading the Harry Potter series, all I could think was, "I'm a Ravenclaw". Mainly because I knew that I wasn't a Gryffindor - I may be brave and reckless in my own ways, but not in the ways that are associated with that Hogwarts House.

And when we first learn about the Hogwarts houses, it's hard for *most* people to think "I want to be a Hufflepuff" or "I want to be a Slytherin". That isn't because there's anything wrong with most people - it's simply (and probably sadly) because of the way J.K. Rowling portrayed those two houses.

When I was younger I took all sorts of sorting quizzes, and most of them placed me in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. I was - to be completely honest - happy with both of those results.

But that doesn't mean that they were correct. At least not in regards to how they pertained to me as a person.

Many years later, I was sorted into Hufflepuff via Hogwarts is Home on LiveJournal. And to be completely honest, I wasn't too psyched about this decision. I received a lot of  Gryffindor/"Gryffinpuff" votes - yet in the end, I was overwhelmingly voted into Hufflepuff.

With not a single Ravenclaw vote, mind you.

Later, I *was* sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore, but to be honest...I've never felt like a Gryffindor? (Question mark on purpose.)

All that said, once I was "sorted" into Hufflepuff, I did a lot of research on that house.

And the more I read, the more I became proud of - and, to an extent, almost obsessed with - the fact that I am a Hufflepuff through and through.

Let's not lie - Hufflepuff gets the short end of the stick in the Harry Potter series, and that's just a bit depressing. Because many of the best people I know are Hufflepuffs through and through.


The thing is, to be loyal the way that Hufflepuffs are loyal, you often have to exhibit that courageous Gryffindor trait. You also have to be hard-working to be a Hufflepuff, which also proves that in their own ways they are intelligent - just not necessarily in the Ravenclaw ways of focusing on education and loving riddles and puzzles. I've had my courageous moments, sure, and I certainly value education, but I've never defined myself as brave or witty. As for Slytherin - well, no matter what people say, they do value loyalty, and they do foster close friendships - the difference possibly being that Slytherins will stick with their friends no matter what, while clearly - based on what happens in the series - the Hufflepuffs have such a clear definition of right and wrong that they aren't loyal in that somewhat biased (for lack of a better word) way that Slytherins are. When Hufflepuffs know that something is wrong, they side with the "right" side.

If you had asked me two or more years ago, I would have said I was a Ravenclaw...maybe a Gryffindor. I am [sadly?] lacking in the "ambition and thirst to prove myself" that Slytherins require. And I suppose that, with the Sorting Hat taking my own choice into consideration, I would have - at 11 years old - been sorted into Ravenclaw or Gryffindor (most likely the former).

But clearly that would have been based on mere prejudice.

So why am I a Hufflepuff - through and through and through?


I'm loyal, though to be truthful my loyalty has bounds. I'm honest (though maybe not always in the "kind" way that Hufflepuffs seem to be honest). I'm hard working, in that even when I don't care for a task (or, in school, a subject), I will do my best to excel at it. I may be reckless, but I have to admit that most of my reckless decisions aren't necessarily brave...and therefore I don't think that I would fit in Gryffindor.

I'm essentially Neville Longbottom without his bravery. I'm the person that would have said "put me in Ravenclaw" - but the Sorting Hat would have known that was wrong. And obviously a person's choice - especially at such a young age - was sometimes the right case(s).

And as for all of that House Cup nonsense...

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that the chances of my actually finishing my Cersei belt before leaving for Orlando (and MegaCon) on Wednesday are looking pretty slim :( Part of the problem is that I had to work Friday *and* Saturday nights, so I just didn't have the free time that I needed to work on the belt this weekend. Ugh.

I confess...that in my excitement for how late it stayed light yesterday, I forgot that pushing the clocks forward would also mean it staying darker for longer in the mornings. Waking up to not a bit of light in the sky threw off my morning, that's for sure (probably doesn't help that it's also a Monday, and all).

I confess...that I'm [probably inordinately] proud of myself for finally finishing my NaNoWriMo novel. I wrote over 50,000 words in just 25 days back in November...and then it took me just over three months to write an additional 30,000 words! Oops. But not only did I finish it, I finished my preliminary edits as well. And sent it to several friends for read-throughs. I'm not even sure it's worth bothering trying to publish, but whatever, I'm just psyched that I *finished* it! :D

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Author Spotlight: Tyffani Clark Kemp

Back in November when I was participating in NaNoWriMo, I had the great luck of being part of our local NaNo group. I met some awesome people and had a great time at the kickoff party and the write-ins I attended - and I can't explain how great it was, after years of not being involved in what could be considered a "writing group".

One of the fellow writers who I met was Tyffani Clark Kemp, who, along with participating in NaNoWriMo 2012, already had one novel published and was in the final stages of readying her next novel. Tyffani has been writing since, when she was in sixth grade, she realized that she didn't just want to read about fantastic places and characters - she wanted to write about them as well. Since then she has been weaving parts of herself into all of her writing, be it science fiction pieces featuring aliens or a romance story fraught with conflict.

Tyffani's latest novel is A Beast Within, the first installment of her Beasty Series. It's a paranormal/supernatural romance tale published through Greenville SC's - and Tyffani's - own Side Street Cookie Publishing.

Now, if you'd asked me a few years ago what my favorite type of romance was, I probably wouldn't have had an answer for you - but in recent years I've realized that I am definitely partial to Beauty & the Beast themed stories...and that is exactly what A Beast Within delivers - the popular Beauty & the Beast theme with a modern (and more grown-up...) twist :)

You can find Tyffani and A Beast Within at the following links:

(Tyffani's website)

I also suggest checking out the book trailer for A Beast Within! If it doesn't draw you in and make you want to read this book, well, then...I'm not sure what to say ;)

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: A Hobbit-Themed Questionnaire! (part 4)

Well, here we are at the end of all things...

Nah, just kidding, it's only the end of this questionnaire :) Originally posted on tumblr by user jmrichards, I shipped it over here to this blog because I thought it was different, interesting, and...deserving of being somewhere other than tumblr, I guess?

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 all had 5 questions each, but this week I'm rounding off the series with the last *6* questions...

Gollum: What is one of your most precious material possessions?

Once upon a time my answer to this would have been "my photo albums"...but I haven't printed a photo out and put it in an album (or even a photobook) for several years now. I guess I'd say that my most prized possession is therefore my computer - not because of WHAT it is but because it has all sorts of important things stored on it. Photos, of course, but also a lot of my writing.

(Of course it probably helps that I do actually love my MacBook Pro and it's awesome orange cover.)

Thranduil: Tell us about your most fabulous feature.

Umm...I guess this question wants an answer in the form of a physical feature?

I like my nose a lot, but sometimes I can't get past the fact that it's a little too pointy ;) And beyond that, I'm not really sure that a nose can ever be considered "fabulous". I guess in the end I'll go with my eye color - my eyes are technically green, I suppose, but they're more of a blue-green/Caribbean sea color...their color is just different, and probably the only truly striking thing about me.

Elrond: Would you rather invite people to your place, or go to someone else's house to hang out?

Honestly, it depends. Generally I do prefer to invite people to my place simply because I enjoy entertaining (and I also hate driving…haha). Buuuut I will admit that I’m way too busy for my own good sometimes and therefore the cleanliness of my house suffers…soooo if I don’t have time to give at least the common areas a once over before having a get-together, I guess in that case I’d rather go to someone else’s house.

Radagast: If you could have any ability, what would you choose and why?

Can I say better/proper/perfect concentration? Is that even an "ability"?

If not, I suppose that a more proper answer would be something like "the ability to just. get. shit. done." Which involves more focus and concentration than I usually have, unfortunately. Hence why I leave for MegaCon a week from today and still need to sew my Starbuck belt together, make my Cersei belt, *and* paint my Master Fay tabards. Hence why I still need lyrics for almost every song that I sing when I perform with a band - any band - even if they're songs I've been singing on a regular basis for months. (Though that's probably more of a memorization problem, I guess.)

I don't know, I'm sure it sounds boring to want something like this, and maybe it's just that I don't try hard enough. But hey, if I had such an ability, I wouldn't have to try as hard as I do, or harder, right? ;)

Galadriel: Is there anyone in your life with whom you can communicate almost without words?

My sisters, Steve, and probably Jenna to an extent.

I mean, my sisters are my sisters and they've been in my life for 28 and 25.5 years, respectively. Not to mention the fact that we lived together until I was, you know, nearly 18. You pick up on stuff in those long amounts of time.

Steve...we've just...always had that sort of connection? And we generally have the same opinions about everything, or at least about 99-ish% of things, which helps as well.

Jenna, well, she's been my BFF for nearly 12 years now. It comes with the territory.

Smaug: If you could trade places with any villain for a day, who would it be, and what would you do?

Ohhh that's a difficult one! Partly because I feel like it would be hard to choose, but also partly because some of the characters I'm thinking of may not *technically* be referred to as villains. Plus, I mean, villains [almost] always meet their demise in the end, right? At least in literature/movies/etc.

So for this one, I suppose that I have two answers.

My first would be the Wicked Witch of the West/Elphaba/Evanora/whatever else she's been referred to. Mainly because there have been different versions of her, and I'd want to spend my day figuring out what's what. Plus maybe hanging out with those Flying Monkeys.


My second would be HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don't even like that movie (whatever, don't hate), and yeah, HAL was the bad guy...but come on. I want to see if he really felt it. (You know what I mean.)


And that's the end of the questionnaire! Sadly...because now I need to come up with something else for Writer's Block Wednesday next week. Or hey, maybe I won't have writer's block and therefore won't have to do that at all :D
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review: The Twisted Sisterhood (Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships) by Kelly Valen

To be quite honest, I finished this book a while ago and have put off writing my review because, well, I knew that it wouldn't be an easy review to write. The thing is, what woman out there hasn't dealt with a toxic female relationship in her life? I certainly have, and so I had high hopes for The Twisted Sisterhood.

Unfortunately, I can't say that my hopes were realized.

My first complaint upon completing this book was the fact that the "article that started it all" - the article about a horrific experience in her college sorority, the article that inspired Kelly Valen to write The Twisted Sisterhood - was conspicuous only in its absence. I know that Ms. Valen wanted to keep this book separate from the article, but as one stemmed from the other this really did more harm than good. Even if she didn't want to include it at the beginning or quote it throughout, it really should have been added as an appendix at the end.

And speaking of appendices, the survey from whence Ms. Valen took so much information for Twisted Sisterhood really shouldn't have been tacked on to the end of the book. Instead, it would have best served at the beginning, with encouragement that women take it before reading.

While I'm on the subject of that questionnaire, to be honest it was the most interesting part of this book, and I personally would have liked to have seen more direct quotes from it, rather than just the statistics that Ms. Valen seemed to think it necessary to include over and over and over again. Instead of using her own survey and the answers from it, the author consistently quoted other authors who have written similar books. This left me wanting to put this book down and move on to reading some of the other books that she mentioned, as their authors were clearly more coherent and presented better - and better worded - arguments and opinions than Ms. Valen herself did.

Part of the issue with Ms. Valen's own writing was that it was incessantly repetitive - to the point of being obsessive - and fairly bland. In conclusion? The Twisted Sisterhood presented an interesting topic and a good message, but the delivery was severely lacking. 2.5/5 stars.
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I kept meaning to post an entry these past few days, and kept putting it off. Not even for good reason...I certainly could/should have MADE time to do so. I just didn't. Oops.

I confess...that the entry I *should* have posted was a 101 in 1001 update, but I didn't because I didn't get much done last month, and I was SO CLOSE to finishing one specific goal that when I didn't actually do so it made me very blase about posting a February 101 in 1001 update.

I confess...that I'm in the midst of the worst experience I've ever had with an Etsy seller. To the point where today is the last day I have to file a case with PayPal and try to get my money back, and sadly I think I'm going to have to do just that. I've bought a LOT of stuff on Etsy over the years, and it's always been an awesome experience, so this is just...disheartening.

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