I am happy to present the cover for the next installation of the Just-Us-League anthologies. So far, we have traveled through fairy tale worlds and been swept off our feet by superheroes (or villains!), but what comes next may frighten your socks off!
"Whispers In The Shadows" is an anthology of horror shorts, due to be released Friday,October 13th, just in time for Halloween season!
Check out the blurb below...if you dare...
I will post a link for purchase when it becomes available! Stay tuned....
Even when we think we’re safe, our biggest fears can be revealed, our worst nightmares brought to life.
For some, death is inevitable: a suspended detective and killer play a bloody game of cat and mouse; a girl risks her life to save her friends from an urban legend; a doctor’s daughter works to uncover the curse on their wayward ship; and an old lady’s cats are hungry…very hungry.
For others, death would have been an easier fate: a reflection isn’t meant to talk, let alone free itself; a priestess must renew her people’s magic, but that ritual carries a terrible price; and a famous boy rejects a lovesick girl…and lives to regret it.
Through life and death, the only constant is our fear of the unknown: bloody footprints continue to walk around a lighthouse; Grandma’s warnings of the Autumn People are finally heard loud and clear; and a girl moves into a new house to find a bloodstained carpet…that no one else can see.
Keep the lights on and brace yourself for ten creepy tales of horror and misfortune.
What a lovely fall we are approaching!
Just swinging by for some updates:
(1) The ever beloved writer's group, Just-Us-League, now has its own webpage! Please visit it and check out author profiles and blog posts. There is always something going on!
(2) Tomorrow 9.16.17 is "Celebrate Holliston Day" in, well, Holliston, MA. For anyone local, please stop by! There will be many vendors, including one by Silver Leaf Books Publishing.
There will be LIMITED COPIES of my novel, The Aeonians, before it's official November release! I will be roaming around there as well.
(3) I'm looking for some basic reader feedback in the form of a survey below (any reader of any genre). This will help me understand a reader's needs on a broader spectrum. I appreciate the time and input!
(4) I've got some exciting content to share over the coming weeks, including information about JL's third anthology. And the theme is.... HORROR! So, please stay tuned!
My wicked awesome writer pal and fellow blogger Heather Hayden has nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award! (When you're done reading this article, click the button below if you want to check out her website!)
The purpose of the award is to answer a series of questions from the point of view of one of my characters. I am completely honored and excited to participate! And judging from the history of this award, I must nominate some fellow writers of mine. [Of which you will see at the end]
Since The Aeonians will be published in November and the entire first draft of its sequel, The Shadow Warrior is complete, I have dragged Bence Brechenhad against his own will to participate in the interview.
Give a warm welcome to Bence! (Ignore the scowl. He doesn't mean it.)
And there you have it, folks. Your one-on-one with Bence the grouch. :)
Thanks again, Heather, for nominating me! I'm sure Bence enjoyed being interviewed deep deep deep deep DEEP down inside. Now, I nominate a few of my esteemed writer colleagues:
They are amazing people I have met through our writer's group. Click on the buttons and check out their website sometime!
Both Cassandras and Matt, if you so choose to accept this, here are the questions for your character (almost all the same questions):
(1)Are you named for someone in your author’s life? If so, why? Do you like your name?
(2)Do you feel confident that you’re going to make it into a sequel (or would, if there was one)?
(3) What would be your ideal pet?
(4)Do you have a sidekick or helper? Who are they?
(5) If you were stuck on a deserted island, which other character in the book would you want to be stuck with the most? The least? (Can answer one or both)
(6)Is your author disproportionately cruel to you, or does she enjoy embarrassing you for comic relief?
(7)What is something you’d like to tell your author?
"The Aeonians", my first full length novel, will be officially published in November; HOWEVER, I'm here to provide a quick update: It's available for pre-order paperback, AND kindle on Amazon!
"The Aeonians" is a fantasy that came to me when I was in high school. I hand wrote my chapters in my notebooks until I took a hiatus during college. It was only until NaNoWriMo 2014 that I resurrected this piece. It's an easy read that I hope you will like it. Here is the blurb below:
Isabel Deran only wants to practice archery with the castle guards, and that is the last thing expected from an elegant Princess. Living in the shadow of her late sister, Victoria, she is next in line to receive the royal armlet that is embedded with four stones: an opal, a sapphire, an amber, and a ruby. It is a revered family heirloom with the power of the elements passed down from mother to daughter.
However, an evil, once thought to be sealed away in a prison in which time does not pass, breaks free with an army that swarms the castle and wreck havoc over the kingdom in search for the magical armlet. They are known as the Aeonians. When they kidnap Isabel and place their hands on it, the precious stones vanish.
Isabel is now trapped in a race against time to locate her stones of power with the head of the Aeonian army, Bence Brechenhad, stalking her like a shadow. With the help of her trusty weapon, the sai, she fights her way through seemingly impossible trials and fearsome monsters in order to restore peace in her kingdom.
Click the below buttons to start ordering (or pre-ordering)
The rush of adrenaline as you await the publication of your first novel, short story, or poem- there’s nothing quite like it. Your heart flutters, and your stomach squeezes. Yes, that’s how I feel waiting for my breakthrough fantasy, The Aeonians, to come to print, but I’m sure by now you also know I’m affiliated with the international writer’s group named the Just-Us-League. While I have written plenty about myself and boasted the works of The Just-Us-League, I felt I have never really introduced to you who exactly is the “Just-Us-League”. Elusive imaginary kid’s club? NO! Group of professional writers? Absolutely. Band of superheroes in disguise? …Maybe.
Kristen Kooistra, author of Heart of the Winterland, is the founder of this group with the intention to establish a place where every one of its members is benefiting, and being beneficial to one another.
As the Just-Us-League evolved, Heather Hayden, author of Augment, established herself as Queen Bee and led any willing participant into launching a series of successful anthologies.
Part I defines JL and the anthologies it produces, and Part II focuses on a handful of member responses, who were gracious to participate, about their experiences with JL. [Guests, in no particular order: KK: Kristen Kooistra, HH: Heather Hayden, CL: Cassandra Lee, RH: Renee Harvey, MD: Matthew Dewar, EE: Elise Edmonds. *Please note this is not an all-inclusive list of JL members*]
To learn more about JL and their anthologies, you can find them:
The golden question: what is the Just-Us-League?
KK: The JL is a writers group started January 2015 when I couldn’t resist bringing some great people together. I’d been meeting so many amazing writers through my own various networking and I kept thinking, “These people should really meet each other.”
Since then, we’ve grown to a group that averages around 50 members and has daily activity. We’ve done everything from contests, anthologies, brainstorming, book club, monthly activities, to critiquing each other’s work.
We work together, encourage each other, and help each other grow as writers and authors. And more than that, we’ve come to know each other as people. JL is a place for us to practice the art of writing but also for us to build relationships.
More than any other online community I’ve been a part of, the members of JL I feel truly care about each other and they remember what’s going on in each other’s lives.
HH: [Regarding the anthologies] The Just-Us League is a group of friends dedicated to the craft of telling stories. We work with each other toward mutually beneficial goals and help each other brainstorm, learn, and navigate the world of writing and publishing. We all have different backgrounds and different styles of writing. But we all have storytelling in common. We bonded over our writing, and our love of putting words onto a page to entertain is what makes us truly happy. Together, we released our first anthology in December of 2016, and we look forward to sharing many more stories in the years to come.
Approximately how many members participate in the anthologies the Just-Us-League produces?
KK: … I would say it’s safe to comment that the number changes. There are two published anthologies with two more in progress. The first had thirteen members involved and the fourth has twenty-two signed up, though we may have some bow out before the final product.
What publications does the Just-Us-League have?
KK: The JL as a group currently only publishes anthologies. Any other work from the members is done by the individual. Whether that’s self or traditional publishing, the authors are individually taking steps to get to that point. The League serves as a critique group, sprint encourager, and cheer squad for those.
HH: Our first publication was From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings and features thirteen amazing stories of heroes and heroines and happily ever afters (though not for all!) Our second publication, released in June of this year, was Between Heroes and Villains: A Superpower Anthology. It features twelve original stories about people and the superpowers they wield for good...or evil. Both anthologies feature illustrations by our talented illustrator, Heidi Hayden. You can find them on Amazon in ebook or paperback form.
How do you decide on the anthology themes?
HH: For the first anthology, we voted on a theme. Fairy tales just barely beat out superheroes, so we went with those two themes for the first two anthologies. Our upcoming third anthology will feature horror stories in celebration of a favorite holiday—Halloween… We also have a second fairy tale anthology planned, and there will be more themes in the future, depending on the interests of our members.
It’s amazing how a group of people from all around the world collaborate to celebrate their love of writing. How do you all stay organized?
KK: A little bit of organized chaos! Actually, one of my fears with starting a group was previous experience had taught me I might very well end up chained to it. I really didn’t want a fun idea to go sour because I never had the freedom to take breaks or step away or be busy without it all falling apart. I took a gamble and it really paid off.
JL is full of self-motivated or people-motivated members. Not leader-motivated. The anthologies are headed by Heather Hayden who took initiative. The rest of the group is very much self-sufficient. We have discussion forums with different threads for anything such as writing questions, to critique swapping, book club, events, contests, social media, blogging, reading, and sprinting.
As a member, what do you enjoy most about being a part of this group?
KK: I would say there are three things I appreciate the most about the JL.
I love the freedom. Part of that is the freedom to come and go as I please. The freedom to take a hiatus without it all falling to pieces. And another part is the freedom to work, question, sprint at any time.
The quality standard. Quality over quantity. I learned that for my own personal journey as a writer, I prefer to work with a few people who will be with me through the entire process and who I respect their advice. That’s more important and useful to me than having everyone and their cat give me feedback and only stop by for part of the journey.
Last but not least, the people. What really makes the JL special is the people who are there. The people in the shadows who work quietly and help out behind the scenes. The people who are there on the front lines calling orders. You know what I mean? The people who are there late at night when you need to talk. The people who let you know you are crazy, or aren’t (as the need may be).
HH: The Just-Us League has become like a second family to me. We all work together to improve our writing and we’re always ready to help each other out (with critiques, beta reads, hugs, tea, the occasional threat-of-katana...) We support each other in our successes and failures. I love how friendly and caring everyone is. I also love the enthusiasm everyone brings to projects like our anthologies. Planning and executing multi-author projects is a lot of work, but in the Just-Us League, it’s also a lot of fun.
CL: The support here is amazing. The feedback I receive from other JL members helps me improve my stories, but more than that, we also share our writing and non-writing burdens, and we can always, always, always expect considerate answers.
RH: I enjoy the friendships. I like seeing how everyone's doing, cheering for them when they succeed with something they've been struggling with, and crying/ranting/praying with them when things don't go as planned. They do the same for me all the time, which definitely helps me feel like one of the team.
MD: I enjoy being part of a group that is constructive in their feedback, encouraging with support, and overall a good bunch of people that I wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting otherwise.
EE: What I like most is that there are people here who enjoy writing and think its important. I don't have many real life friends who I can talk to on the same level about writing.
Also I like that people here listen and comfort and don't judge and genuinely try to be there for each other. It's a rare atmosphere in an online forum. I feel I have real friends here, not just passing acquaintances.
How have you developed as a writer while working with the Just-Us-League?
KK: I would say I’ve grown more focused. When I first started writing, I kept backtracking and hopping all over because I had SO MUCH random feedback that I thought I had to sift through for any gems that I couldn’t make any forward progress. I kept reworking the same few chapters over and over.
I’ve grown more confident in my strengths and aware of my weaknesses. There’s nothing like having a group of people whose judgments you trust looking through your work. You hit those points where you have people all loving the same spot or pointing out the same errors without seeing what each other said.
I then get to be like, okay, four people pointed out this fact without conferring with each other and I’ve worked with them long enough to know they’ve got sound judgment.
HH: Definitely! Since I joined the Just-Us League, I’ve had two short stories published and my second novel is on its way to completion. I’ve learned a lot from critiques and just chatting and discussing various topics with other members. We all have different areas of expertise, and we’re always willing to answer questions or bounce around ideas if someone has hit a snag (or a wall).
CL: I may be ethnically Chinese, but my first language was English. I wrote stories as a child -- not particularly well-formed ones -- but my parents and teachers know that I loved writing, and my teachers encouraged me to join writing contests. I didn't win, but the one that really launched my "writing career" was the Maths in the City competition, to which I submitted an article on the Hong Kong Space Museum. The competition website is no longer there, but I have a copy of my article on my website. My article at Maths in the City. When I first joined Scribophile in December 2016, I kept editing my work according to what people thought at whim about it, without the assurance that my work was indeed better than before. However, I came to learn the differences between good and bad feedback, so I am now free to reject damaging writing advice.
It's interesting that when you're a newbie in writing critiques, you want to nitpick every technical error people make, as if an academic essay should have been their end goal. However, as you gain more exposure to good stories which don't necessarily follow established rules, you learn that storytelling is much, much more than being grammatically correct or rigidly "showing, not telling." It's about giving an unforgettable and meaningful reader experience, and JLers strive for the latter.
Another thing is that I became more verbose. I wasn't able to express myself very well in the beginning as I had had a mathematical training, in which every idea had to be boiled down to its essentials all the time. If someone asked me how I felt, I would utter "busy", "bored", "tired" and other one-word answers. As I joined more JL activities and discussions, I allowed myself to be in touch with my emotions so that my ideas could unfold themselves more elegantly, no longer sounding too stiff or stilted.
Let me give a few shout-outs: I enjoy Elise's debut novel Where Carpets Fly -- it's even better than some traditionally published stories -- and Matthew's stories, which are downright hilarious. Corinne's tales are quite surprising even in their early stages. At first I didn't like Heather because she snapped at me for being ignorant of the publishing business, but as I got to know her, she's actually friendlier than I expected.
RH: I've jumped into the anthologies, so my biggest leap as a writer has actually been in becoming an author and learning how the publication process works.
I have also learned how much other writers really need supportive friends to lean on. We encourage each other to keep trying and to find ways to succeed in whatever we're doing. It takes me a long time to develop friendships, and I love being able to do everything all by myself anyway, but I can't, and these people are some of the ones who will help me when I ask for it.
MD: I've had the opportunity to work with and learn from some very talented writers. I can definitely see huge improvements in my writing, but also in my idea formation, plot development, language diversity, character growth, and a whole other range of skills that I've worked on over the last few years. I've also relearned some all-important grammar rules!
EE: I've found many awesome crit partners and people who I know I can bounce ideas off. And I've received loads of encouragement and help throughout my publishing journey.
You dreamed the storyline of the century. You lovingly write your book. You painstakingly edit it. Again and again. Then, you're FINALLY published. But that's far from the end.
With a focus on self-publishing or authors working with a smaller, independent publisher, you have to work harder than ever to PROMOTE your book. Without properly executing this, your book will collect dust (or virtual dust), and not receive the attention it deserves.
I have spoken with three amazing authors who have lived through the grueling process, and I wanted to share their true, honest, and unfiltered opinion. I hope by sharing their experiences, you can learn a thing or two as you begin the process of promoting YOUR book.
Three authors interviewed will be abbreviated as such:
Elise Edmonds: EE.
Matthew Dewar: MD
And their information is after the interview. I highly recommend checking them out!
Congrats on your publication! Was promoting your book a priority during its release?
EE: Yes, [Where Carpets Fly] was my first book, I wanted to make a bit of a splash to announce myself to the world as a published author! And since then (I published in February), I've been trying out various promotion methods. First and foremost, I have ensured that I have: a professional looking cover, an error-free Look Inside, a decent blurb, and appropriate Amazon keywords and categories.
HH: Yes, definitely. I’ve released three books so far (two of them anthologies in collaboration with other authors), and for each one I’ve done a variety of promotions to support their release.
MD: Thanks! Promoting my book was—and still is—a bigger challenge than I thought. After the initial excitement of friends and family wanting a copy, sales died right down, and it really hit me that if I want to sell this book to other people, I’m going to have to put some effort in.
Would you mind sharing a few methods you chose to promote your story? Was it more social media focused, or hitting local book shops?
EE: I am focused on online marketing and pushing my ebook, although I do also have a paperback. I've tried a lot of different methods of promotion and marketing, and my current method is to give everything a go and treat it as a learning experience. Then, even if I don't get good results, at least I've learnt how to do something.
Things I've tried:
- Blog tour surrounding the release; regular blog posts including an author interview series, plus learning about improving the SEO of the blog (that's a work in progress)
- Social media: Twitter and Facebook, [including] Facebook promotional group[s]; Facebook author/writer groups, involving graphics and interaction with others, and also Instagram
- Giveaways: Goodreads, Rafflecoptor both solo and group. I haven't tried an Amazon one yet.
- Kindle Select Promotions: I did a 99p promo linked with paid promotion services, I've got my first free promo planned for next month, and also tried out Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
- Entering competitions to gain exposure/win marketing (awaiting results!)
- Reader magnet linked to newsletter/mailing list.
- Paperback: provided free copies as prizes in local raffles
J.E's note: You have to keep us posted on the competition results!
HH: For Augment, promotions were done mainly through social media. I also did an author talk at a local library and spoke with a local bookstore to see if they would stock my book (they did!)
For From the Stories of Old, myself and the other authors did a lot of promotion on social media, including a Facebook launch party which was a lot of fun.
For Between Heroes and Villains, we did some promotion on social media and also teamed up with another anthology (as well as other authors) to run a joint promotion.
I’ve also started to do more author talks and recently spoke with some bookstores about stocking all three books—two were very receptive and I’ll be doing book signings there later this year!
MD: I created a few social media posts leading up to the release, with a few teasers, promotional images, and links. I also approached a few local bookstores and libraries, and there have been talks of doing author events. I would say my approach is rather minimalist for now. I’m a statistics person. I wanted to establish a baseline of sales with no promotions so I can then compare different promotional and marketing strategies to see which are the most effective.
What didn’t work for you?
EE: Facebook promotional groups seem pretty useless. Writers stop by, post a link to their book, and disappear again. Barely any posts get reactions and I'm pretty sure no actual readers go in those groups.
HH: For From the Stories of Old, we had a massive launch party planned. It was a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a great learning experience, but ultimately I don’t think the amount of effort we put in was reflected by the results it gave. It did give us a nice boost in page reads that month, though, so I’m not saying it was a complete waste of time, just that we’ll have a better idea of what to do in the future.
MD: Doing nothing! I can clearly say that putting one book out into the world of millions (billions?) is not going to generate sales. You thought writing and editing was tough? Try marketing and promoting!
What have you learned through this process?
EE: I have learned EVERYTHING! And I'm still learning. Every promo method I try is new, and I'm constantly improving what I'm doing, doing more of it, and learning how to do it more effectively.
For example, this month I've spent time focusing on improving my blurb with some other writer friends. And I've learnt a lot there. But I'm sure I'll need to redo that exercise when I get around to writing my next blurb.
HH: Marketing is HARD. It’s worth it, but there’s a lot of knowledge out there to learn and understand and adapt, and the market is always changing so what might work one year could fail the next.
MD: Have something to compare it to. Is spending a few hundred dollars on a certain promotion really worth it? How will you know if you don’t have baseline data to compare it to? Keep a record of all the sales information from each promotion so you can save time by avoiding the duds, and return to the better tactics in the future.
Elise Edmonds: Magic Carpet Weaver
Elise Edmonds is a new writer from the South-West UK. Reading and writing have always been her doorways into another world—a way to escape and spend time walking with wizards, flying with fairies and dealing with dragons. By day she is a finance professional, and in her spare time she pursues writing as a creative outlet, to put the magic back into everyday life. In addition to reading, Elise enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and going to Zumba classes. Her greatest loves are God, her husband, her family and friends, and her two beautiful cats.
See her Author Spotlight interview, which includes links to all her social media:
Heather Hayden: Queen Bee Extraordinaire
Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden's not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015, she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. Her second publication was the short story "Beneath His Skin," released in December 2016 as part of a fairy tale anthology titled From the Stories of Old. Her latest release is another short story, this one titled "In a Breath," which was published in June 2017 as part of the anthology Between Heroes and Villains. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog, her Twitter, and her Facebook page, all of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.
Matthew Dewar: Everyone's favorite Aussie author
Matthew’s passion for reading and writing developed at a young age. Fascinated by all genres, enthralled by the endless creativity of imagination, and captivated by foreign worlds and intriguing characters, Matthew makes time in his busy schedule to write every day. If he’s not reading or writing, you might find Matthew working as a physiotherapist, teaching group fitness classes, entertaining his dog, or dreaming of travelling to an exotic destination.
In May 2017, Matthew published Nightmare Stories, a collection of young adult horror fiction where twelve young teens discover that happily ever afters only exist in fairy tales. His short stories have appeared in From the Stories of Old, Between Heroes and Villains, The Seven Deadly Sins Anthology: Gluttony, and The Seven Deadly Sins Anthology: Wrath.
You can connect with Matthew on twitter (@WriterDewar), Facebook (Matthew Dewar Author), or at his website: matthewdewarauthor.wordpress.com.
I've always been a fan of fantasy and adventure in all forms of media- whether in books, movies, music, and yes, video games. Disclaimer: I'm not a hard core gamer, but there is one franchise that I hold near and dear to my heart: The Legend of Zelda. Why this topic and why now? Well, the Legend of Zelda is my muse. It has become the cornerstone of all my inspirations, including my future novel, "The Aeonians" [set to be published late 2017].
My love for it all started with Ocarina of Time, when my cousin would play it, and I would watch on in wonder. Then, when I got my own N64, I immediately ventured to the nearest GameStop to buy it.
From then on, I followed the franchise- mostly the 3D console games. Now that I have waded deep into the weeds of Breath of the Wild, I wanted to take a step back and look at all the 3D console Zelda games I had played. So, due to my infinite love for The Legend of Zelda, here are my personal rankings of the 6 console 3D Zelda games: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and Breath of the Wild. The listing will be based off of numerous factors from playability, themes, boss fights, dungeons, storyline etc.
**PLEASE NOTE. THIS IS JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION. EVERYONE'S LIST WILL BE DIFFERENT, SO BE KIND** Also, potential spoilers**
(6) MAJORA'S MASK
I know I'll catch a lot of heat on this one. But let me defend myself: I love ALL these games, but I just enjoyed the other ones slightly better. Pros? The plethora of side quests and music. That eerie melody on the third day still haunts me. In fact, when I work, I listen to Legend of Zelda soundtracks, and Majora's Mask is one I play often. However, this game had only four dungeons and the four bosses weren't that impressive to me...especially ...Gyorg? I had to Google that to remind me of the spelling. It's a big fish. That's it. Though I can't deny fighting Goht in the Snowhead Temple was epic. Also, while some find it fun, I was NOT a fan of the three day countdown. There was always an invisible pressure bearing down on me like a Goron on my back. Again, not a bad game, I had a lot of frustrating moments and it falls just short of the next one...
(5) SKYWARD SWORD
Ah, the "origin story". The storyline is both a hit and miss for me. I loved the concept of knowing what started the Ganon cycle, but other than that- the Link chasing after Zelda didn't wow me. It has a little bit of a love theme woven into it, which I would normally love, but it wasn't something...novel. The game controls weren't the best and the game-play was extremely linear (Though you may hear me contradict myself with this comment later). The theme of flying in the sky with a Loftwing was cool--- but there wasn't much in Skyloft. I think there was so much opportunity to expand the exploration factor. Oh, and Fi? Not my favorite side-kick, although the end of the game had me in tears. Her music theme was my favorite. The dungeons were "ok" in my book, although what won my heart in this game was: Ghirahim (I love that freak), the concept of the Timeshift stone, and the badass boss: Koloktos. This boss was challenging, and the ability to rip his metallic limbs off, grabbing his giant sword and going ballistic on it was SO satisfying. Overall, great game, although along with MM, I don't find the replay value as great. I would've considered placing it higher on my list if the game didn't make me fight the Imprisoned 3 times....
(4) TWILIGHT PRINCESS
Okay, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way: the large and very empty overworld. There really wasn't much to do in this version of Hyrule. Also, most would agree the amount of backtracking was a real pain. But with that out of the way, there were some extremely redeeming factors (again, only in my opinion). The dungeons were winners for me, especially the Temple of Time, SnowPeak Ruins, Arbiter's Grounds, and the Lakebed Temple--YES, I said it, a water-based dungeon, blasphemy! Which leads to my next favorite thing: the bosses. Well, most of them. Who could forget Stalord, Blizzeta, and Argorok? The bosses were made to impress. Even Fyrus, whose theme and presence was intense, even though the battle was pretty easy. Midna was one of my favorite guides. And while many fans are divided on Zant and Ganondorf's role; I personally liked it. Wasn't expecting Zant to be nutty at the end, but the story made sense. Finally, the overall dark theme and realism was a home run for me. And this adult Link happens to be one of my favorite versions of Link <3
(3) WIND WAKER
I'll admit it- of all the games listed here, the Wind Waker was one of the last ones I played. I avoided it at first because of the cell-shade graphics and seemingly childish game-play- but boy was I wrong! As I played it, I actually grew to like the graphic style and appreciated the animated faces Link could make. The soundtrack is fun, and the open concept of sailing through the ocean was wicked cool. The storyline is refreshing, I loved this version of Ganondorf, and the bosses/mini-bosses were fun (Helmaroc King, anyone?). There were some aspects that were a little grating, most notably finding the Triforce shards, but I really had a hard time coming up with criticisms for this game.
(2)...... OCARINA OF TIME
YES. Ever since I purchased Breath of the Wild, I've held an internal struggle between the nostalgia of Ocarina of Time and the completely redesigned Breath of the Wild. While I prefer to make it a tie, it wouldn't make much of a countdown, wouldn't it? First of all, let me state there is little to NONE of anything I disliked about this game. Hm. Wait. Yup, none. HOLD ON-- just one. The Water Temple. Come on, you can agree with me on this one. THAT ONE DAMN KEY....
Now that I shook off the terrible memories of that, let me tell you all that what makes OOT one of the best games of all time. The storyline: from your friendship with Saria to discovering Sheik's real identity. The vast sense of adventure when you first step onto Hyrule field. The concept of the Ocarina and the different melodies you learn. (Koji Kondo, you are a musical mastermind). The dungeons (again, except the Water Temple). My personal favorite being the Spirit Temple. Most of the bosses, namely Bongo Bongo and Twinrova. Finally, the concept of "growing up". There is just something amazing about pulling the Master Sword from its pedestal and waking up grown and ready to tackle some serious business. I also have a slight bias because it holds a lot of nostalgia. It captures the true essence of my childhood and the inspiration for a lot of writing that I do (hence putting this in my writer's blog).
(1) BREATH OF THE WILD
Once again, it's essentially a tie because both OOT and BOTW are mammoth home runs- just in different decades. Breath of the Wild stole my ...well, breath, when the trailer came out. I can't tell you how many times I watched the damn thing. So, what makes Breath of the Wild so special to me? The WORLD. It's massive. I've been playing it since its release and I'm still discovering new places. There is so much detail put into it, ranging from the wildlife to the weather. I can tame wild horses! And it's realistic too. While I grind my teeth when I try to climb and it starts to rain, I love this version of Hyrule. It almost combines traditional Zelda to exploratory games such as Oregon Trail (Bad example, and now I'm SERIOUSLY dating myself). THE CHANGE-UP. Meaning, there are only 4 "temples" but 120 "mini temples", also known as shrines. The puzzles are fun--consisting of more than block puzzles (YAY!) and increasing your hearts and stamina from completing them is extremely rewarding. THE COOKING. Yes, I LOVE to throw random stuff in a pot, listening to the kooky yet catchy music, and making my own culinary master piece. THE MEMORIES. I loved watching the cinematics, and while some have differing opinions, the use of voice actors didn't bother me at all. THE SOUNDTRACK. Not sure if they will come out with an official one, but it's my most played LoZ soundtrack (via Youtube) next to OOT. THE STRATEGY. This game makes you use your brain. A lot. You start off incredibly vulnerable- like, one hit by a measly bokoblin would kill you. I died so many times at the beginning. Once I got stronger, and with the help of Mipha's grace, I was able to tackle the fun overworld bosses like Stone Talus and the feared Lynel. The frustrations? Well, I actually miss having a side kick, but that's minor. While the idea of weapons and shields breaking makes sense, it has caused me plenty of frustration. I also miss the variety of dungeons and bosses. Everything was a "XYZ-blight Gannon". That was one of the few major let downs for me. And while the "hugeness" of the game is what really catapulted it into the spotlight, finding 900 korok seeds was intimidating, and after I completed all shrines, 4 divine beasts, beat Gannon, accomplished a good handful of side quests...I am currently at 34% completion!!!! It's still up in the air for me on whether that's a good or bad thing, but I'm wondering about the replay value as compared to OOT.
And there it is. My list. Again, please respect that this is just my humble opinion. The whole Zelda franchise has been quite successful, and I never found myself sorely disappointed by anything. I would love to hear what your list looks like, especially since the release of Breath of the Wild!
This had been a lot of fun geeking out- so stay tuned for more :)
Also, side note, I went to an orchestra dedicated to Legend of Zelda! I never heard of such a thing until I saw it randomly on a Youtube comment. I THINK this year will feature BOTW as well.
Here is the link for more info. You're welcome.
-----> https://zelda-symphony.com/ <-----
I'm proud to announce the launch of the Just-Us-League's second anthology:
Between Heroes and Villains: A Superpower Anthology.
In this volume, we meet fresh faces with fantastic powers! As you immerse yourself deeper into its pages, you may discover that the line between good and evil isn't always clear...
To celebrate the launch, I posted an excerpt from "The Fate of Patient Zero"-- my short story featured in this anthology. The story follows a doctor that is forced to make a decision: save his career...or save his patient.
"THE FATE OF PATIENT ZERO"
“What thoughts have you been having?”
Silence filled the air. I could feel Lana straining to hear everything. Grayson’s lips tightened into a thin line.
“Grayson. Grayson?” I clasped my hand over his and squeezed. He jumped.
“Sorry. Do I have to?” he asked, and nodded towards Lana.
“Yes. She is your doctor as much as I am now─”
“Fire,” he blurted. Sweat shined on his forehead as strands of golden hair clung to his face.
I motioned for Lana to come forward. “Fire? Please explain. It’s okay. We’re all friends here.”
When Lana arrived at my side, she handed me a thermometer. I twirled the thermometer and slipped it under Grayson’s tongue. His crystal blue eyes widened.
“It’s okay, Grayson. Just checking to make sure you’re healthy.” I breathed through each word to avoid the tremor creeping up my throat.
“Fire,” Grayson croaked. “I think of fire. A fire that has been burning for seven years, roaring for release.”
I scribbled his answer down and tapped the edge of my pen on the last question. “Do you feel safe here?”
Beads of sweat dripped from Grayson’s face onto the floor like a leaky faucet. It even began to soak through his shirt. Ripping the thermometer out, I bit my tongue. I had to assess the situation before I set off any alarm bells.
The thermometer fell to the floor with a clack. “It’s time…” I whispered to myself."
For more information about the anthology click the button below!
The Just-Us-League will be releasing their second anthology, and it's super hero themed!!!!
Release date set for June 17th.
Cover reveal coming soon....
Please follow the Just-Us-League for daily excerpts from each story until publication! Facebook and Twitter links below:
It's been a while- so I appreciate your patience. I've been hacking away at a few projects that I will be excited to show you... but that's for another day.
During the period between my last post and this one, I thought a lot about how I landed in the world of writing. I certainly didn't fit the mold of a potential author: I didn't read a lot of books. I have horrible grammar skills. And I certainly don't have the fanciest vocabulary.
But... isn't that what it takes to be a writer?
Ever since I could remember, I loved to draw. I blew through sketchbooks monthly. I drew mostly portraits, but when I entered high school, ideas for storylines popped into my head. It was like a never ending blossom: every day my brain would create new ideas with minimal effort. But at that time, I lacked confidence in writing. Literature and Grammar were my worst grades. More importantly, I couldn't translate my ideas into words. But, I could with drawing.
That is when I starting drawing graphic novels (at the expense of being called a dork). I poured my ideas into pictures. Each frame told an emotional story, many times without even needing words. By the time I was a senior, I created three different series, one complete with fourteen issues! My friends were my only audience, but they encouraged me to go professional. So, I inked my work and bought some software to help with patterns and shading.
But the dream came crashing to an end as I applied for college, and with extreme pressure from my parents (I love them dearly), I chose to go to pharmacy school. Thoughts whirled in my head like a storm during one of my last English classes: Will I still be able to draw when I go to college? Is it even worth it? I can't make a career out of it. Doubt drained any bit of confidence I had left because I was convinced it was "just a hobby" and that I needed to focus on "reality".
Thankfully, my English teacher interrupted my thoughts with a final assignment: write your own satire. I remember groaning in my seat and heat rising in my cheeks. Another writing assignment, and likely, another dismal grade. To make a long story short, I shut up, sucked it up and just started writing.
And sometimes, that is all that is required to become a writer....
I stumbled upon a topic I was interested in and let it be the flint that ignited my passion. Despite my inability to "write fancy", I not only scored an A, but I received amazing feedback when it was my turn to read it out loud. And right before graduation, the teacher presented me with an award as one of the most promising writers. Me. The person who so blatantly told her once: "I'm a science girl, not a writer."
The rest was history. I fell in and out of drawing and writing during my six years of pharmacy hell, and when I entered the work force, I stopped completely. That was until NaNoWriMo. Then, it hit me. I had easily over a dozen storylines from high school collecting dust in my brain, and I decided to give it a shot. I put my pen to paper (literally. I was old school. My first draft was handwritten) and wrote 100,000 words. Once I started writing again, I couldn't stop. I wouldn't. I refused. Because once I gained the momentum, adrenaline rushed through my fingertips, excited at the opportunity to bring my ideas to life. This didn't change the fact that I still didn't read much, still had terrible grammar, and a pathetic vocabulary. But, that's okay. Sure, it took me twice as long to edit my novel because I was an amateur, but that didn't change the fact that I wrote something. To this day, I have one short story in a published anthology, one privately published novel, one soon-to-be published fantasy, and one soon-to-be published short story in another anthology.
While I'm no New York Times Best Seller (yet), and I don't have any grand wisdom for the art of writing, I'm still a bona fide writer. I am an author. And if I can be one, you can be too.
So what does it take to make a writer? Sure, it would help to read a lot. It would help to know your tenses and POV. And it certainly would be great if you had a never ending vocabulary list. But it's not a requirement. You just need an idea. And you need to start writing.
I once had a friend bemoan the fact she "wished" she could write. She asked me "how I did it", and I gave her that advice. Now, she is well on her way to writing her first novel. Most of you reading this probably are already established authors, but I hope this sends a message to everyone from the novice to the experienced: start writing. You can only be a writer if you write.
The rest can be fixed later.
And by the way, I still intend on publishing graphic novels in the future. ;)