Marcy Kennedy

Could You Be An Evil Person?

"Water" Battlestar GalacticaWe all have evil within us.

In “Water,” the second episode of Battlestar Galactica’s first season, a saboteur blows up their water tanks, forcing all the ships in the fleet to ration their water. If they don’t find water quickly, the approximately 47,000 people who are all that remains of humanity will die.

They send out pairs of pilots to survey nearby planetary systems for water. One by one, the teams report back—negative for H2O.

Finally, only one team remains. Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer” Valerii and her electronic countermeasures officer, Crashdown, check the planets in their assigned zone.

“Still nothing,” Crashdown says. “And more nothing.”

The screen in front of Sharon flashes the words Positive for H2O. “I’ve got nothing here either,” she says, despite the results on her monitor. She blinks in confusion as her mind can’t make sense of what’s going on.

What we know, but Sharon doesn’t, is that she’s the one who destroyed the water tanks. She’s a Cylon sleeper agent programmed to believe she’s human. During the gaps in her memory, she’s planting explosives and letting other Cylons infiltrate the fleet.

Crashdown notices the strange tone in her voice.

“What’s on your mind, Boomer?” he asks.

“I don’t know. I have this feeling. Let’s run that sweep again.”

The screen flashes positive a second time, and Sharon hesitates. She tells Crashdown, “I’m having trouble saying it.”

You can see the battle between good and evil, human and Cylon, warring across her face. What she knows to be right, the love she has for her friends back on Galactica, wrestles with something deep within her that she can’t name, something dark and hateful and destructive.

Her hand slides down toward the explosives taped beside her seat. Her fingers tremble, hovering over the detonator.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe that humans are basically good or basically evil. When you bring both views down to their common denominator, we all have evil within us.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that, because we don’t steal or abuse or murder, we’re free from evil. But I do things I’m ashamed of. I’ve selfishly put my own desires ahead of someone else’s more than once. In the heat of an argument, I’ve said unkind, even cruel, things. And I struggled for years with a heart full of hatred for the drunk driver who killed my best friend. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to feel the pain that everyone who loved my friend felt at losing her.

Evil isn’t always big and flashy like a Cylon basestar come to blow up your ship. Sometimes it sneaks around in the dark and hides under the seats. And when we refuse to admit we could do something evil, the same way Sharon couldn’t accept that she might be a Cylon, that’s when we’re most vulnerable.

Having the potential to be evil is part of being alive. What matters is that, every day, every second, we fight it.

In the end, Sharon slowly pulls her hand away from the explosives and manages to tell Crashdown they’ve found water. She overcomes her programing—the inherent evil within her. She fought and she won. She’ll face more battles, but that day, in that fight, good prevailed.

Do you think evil is most dangerous when we think we’re immune to it? What helps you win the daily battle between good and evil?

Never watched Battlestar Galactica before? Find out why it’s not just for sci-fi fans.

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Let’s Play A Game

Let's Play A GameI’ve been tagged in two fun games, so I decided to smush them together into one post.

The first is called Eleven Questions, where you get to know weird facts about your friendly neighborhood writer.

The Rules:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions, then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3.  Tag eleven people and link to them.

Since I was tagged by both Coleen Patrick and Karen Rought, and 22 questions is too many, I’m going to take some questions from each.

1. What 3 books would you take with you into your zombie apocalypse/alien invasion bunker?

Only three is cruel, just cruel. I’d have to take the Bible, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The first is to help keep my moral compass on track and to not lose hope while zombies are eating brains out there, the second is to remind me of the usefulness of creativity and teamwork if the zombies find us, and the third is just because I love Jane Austen’s subtle humor and I’m sure I’ll need a laugh and a look back at a zombie-free time.

2. What was your first job?

I worked at a riding stable, mucking stalls and exercising the horses. It’s not nearly as glamorous as it sounds in books.

3. If you were stuck on a deserted island, name three objects and three people you would want with you.

The items are pretty easy to choose. I’d want a solar-powered Star Trek replicator, a fully stocked Kindle with a solar-powered battery and internet access, and a homing beacon that transmits “This Is the Song that Doesn’t End” in the houses of the five most powerful people in the world until one of them rescues us.

For people, I’d obviously want my husband. I’d also take my friend Meighan because she likes camping, we can talk for hours, and she and Chris get along well. For my final person, even though I have a lot of other loved ones I could take with me, I’d like to have Survivorman Les Stroud just in case my brilliant plan of the replicator and homing beacon fails.

4. If you could be any animal, what would you be?

My cats have a pretty good life—eat when they want, play when they want, sleep when they want. They have someone to clean up after them and cuddle them. I don’t think it’d be a bad life to be a cat in my house.

5. If you could get on a plane right now to a foreign country, where would you go (all expenses paid)?

Italy. I went once when I was 19, but I didn’t get to see the Blue Grotto, Tivoli, or the catacombs in Rome, so I’ve always wanted to go back. And yes, I do know it’s a touch morbid that one of the places I’m dying to see (no pun intended–okay, maybe a little) is basically an underground cemetery.

6. If you decided not to be a writer, what would your other dream job be?

I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a zookeeper, but I’m not sure I’d like it as much the first time one of the baby animals died or had to be moved to a new zoo.

7. What song is stuck in your head right now?

“King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles

8. What is one talent that you’re hopeless at, but you wish you had?

I’d love to be able to paint with oils. Or create glass mosaics. And juggle. Not all at the same time.

9. If you could go back in time for one day, what time would you revisit and why?

I’d like to go back to my wedding day so I could enjoy it a little more. We had amazing food that I barely got to eat, and by the time we did the cake cutting and first dance, I was asleep on my feet. Plus, I’ll never get to wear a dress like that again in my life.

10. What is one trait or physical characteristic that you are proud of/love about yourself?

I really like that I have green eyes, which is strange because when I was a kid, I desperately wanted blue eyes.

11. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done in your life?

I did a high ropes course (going close to 66 feet above the ground) outside of Brisbane, Australia, and I’m absolutely petrified of heights.

I was also tagged in the Lucky 7 Meme by Debra Kristi, Emma Burcart, Nova Lovette, and Melinda Collins. Even though I normally have a policy against posting unpublished work online, this game seems like a lot of fun so I’m going to play along 🙂

The Rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors.

My co-writer already posted a snippet from page 77 at Girls With Pens, so I’m posting from page 7. Each year the Amazons and Scythians meet for the sole purpose of producing warrior offspring (an ancient version of a one night stand except that they actually want to get pregnant). The Amazons keep any girls, and they’re supposed to return any boys to the Scythes, but they claim no boys have been born in years. Kaduis, heir to the Scythian King Over All, has been commanded by his father the attend the Rites…

“Forgive me, my lord,” Jadon said, “but I do not understand why this causes you such unrest. Surely the Amazons will not kill your child if they know they risk war with Scythia.” 

“The Amazons love war as much as Scythia, but their numbers are few now. They will not risk war.” Kaduis tipped up his cup and drank. “But what would your Adonai say of our Amazon Rites?”

“Adonai forbids sexual relations outside of marriage.” Jadon’s words were quiet yet firm.

“I believe your god is the Most High God, more powerful than all others. I believe that your god can preserve my people, and yet my father commands me to defy your god’s laws. Do you understand my dilemma now?”

So I get to tag others who might like to play. Your choice whether to play both games, one, or neither. (If I haven’t tagged you but you want to play, consider yourself tagged and I’ll stop by to check out your answers/snippet if you link to me so I know.)

Rebecca Enzor

Jess Witkins

Lena Corazon

Liz Schulte

Reeta Raitanen

Samantha Warren

Jennette Marie Powell

Jennifer Jensen

Here are your questions:

1. If you could have one magical power, what would it be?

2. You have to give up one of your five senses. Which one would you choose and why?

3. What’s your super-secret Hunger Games survival skill?

4. If it wasn’t illegal and/or cruel, what exotic, wild animal would you want as a pet? (If Lena answers these, I bet she chooses sloths. You should see the adorable videos on her site.)

5. You’re given a chance to co-write a book with any author (living or dead). Who do you choose and why?

6. An asteroid is barreling toward the earth. There’s nothing you or anyone else can do to stop it, and it’s large enough that it will pulverize the planet so that no one survives. It strikes tomorrow. How do you spend your final day?

7. We all have one way that we’re terrified of dying. My husband is afraid of drowning, and I’m afraid of being burned alive. What’s yours?

8. You can only have one dessert (including candy and all salty snacks) for the rest of your life. What’s the one you have to have?

9. If you could bring one fiction character to life, who would you want to meet?

10. Favorite kind of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

11. And because I loved this question–what are the three things and three people you’d want stranded on the deserted island with you?

(Is it weird I want to answer my own questions?)

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How to Keep Strong Female Characters Likeable

A few weeks ago, I asked “What Do We Mean by Strong Female Characters?” and argued that a female character doesn’t have to deny traditionally feminine qualities to be strong.

But what if you need to write a physically strong woman with few of those traditionally feminine qualities?

Sometimes a story does call for this type of female character. In the novel I’m working on with my co-writer, Lisa Hall-Wilson, our main female character is an Amazon. She’s been raised to hate men and to see all signs of femininity as weakness. If we allow her too many feminine qualities (at least in the beginning), we’ll undermine the believability of her society and her character.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games is a great example of this as well, as is Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in Battlestar Galactica.

Katniss doesn’t want children. She’s more at home in the woods hunting than she is helping her mother nurse others. And she’s placed into a situation where it’s kill or be killed.

Starbuck is a fighter pilot who needs to be tough in order to get respect and survive. Her commander assigns her emotionally grueling tasks like interrogating (i.e., torturing) prisoners and assassinating a dangerous superior officer.

So how do you make sure this type of female character is still likeable?

Unfortunately, most of us can’t relate to this type of woman. She’s not like us. She’s not like our mothers or our best friends or our significant others. And when we feel like we have nothing in common with someone, it makes them difficult to like. If your reader doesn’t like your main character at all, that spells death for your story.

As writers, we have to do a little extra work to give that common ground if we’re creating a strong female character who denies traditional feminine qualities.

Answer the question “What made her this way?”

When Katniss’ father died in a mining accident, her mother sunk into a deep depression. Katniss had to feed and care for herself and her younger sister. She had to be the “man of the house.” She didn’t really have a choice. Her world dictated how she feels about motherhood as well. Why would she want to have children when they could be reaped for the Games and killed?

The writers of Battlestar Galactica also recognized the need to explain how Starbuck became so hard. We get glimpses of Starbuck’s abusive mother, one who told her daughter that she was weak and a failure, and who beat Starbuck so often that she came to believe pain was a way of life.

In showing how Katniss and Starbuck became who they are, the writers allowed us to sympathize with them, even pity them. And as the old English proverb says, “Pity is akin to love.”

NOTE: I’ve had to remove the rest of this post because it’s now a part of my book Strong Female Characters: A Busy Writer’s Guide. You can buy a copy at Amazon, Amazon.ca, Kobo, or Smashwords. They’ll be available in more places soon!

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The Evolution of the Phoenix by Alica McKenna-Johnson

Alica McKenna-JohnsonToday I welcome guest poster Alica McKenna-Johnson. Alica writes about snarky girls, kind boys, and the adults trying to keep them alive. After day dreaming for the first thirty years of life, Alica finally began writing her stories down, much to the delight of her readers. As Alica sits in her armchair at home dreaming of traveling the world, her diverse characters explore for her, listening to music, seeing the sights, and eating exotic foods.

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Marcy asked me why I choose phoenixes for my YA paranormal Phoenix Child. I’ve loved phoenixes since I was a child. It went along with my love for all things Russian. Not only are phoenixes beautiful, but to me, they’re one of the most magical and regal of the mythical creatures. Not to mention how fun it’s been researching all of these myths from around the world.

The myths include a lot of variety. The phoenixes they talk about come in different sizes and colors, and their powers vary, which gave me a lot of freedom while not having to veer too far from the myths. I also looked for ways the stories matched up. For example, in China and South America, there are similar stories about four brothers, but only the Chinese tale includes a Phoenix. The South American story simply mentions a “red brother,” so I made him a phoenix.

In Phoenix Child, my heroine, Sara, is a Child of Fire—a modern girl descended from a phoenix king and queen who lived on Earth 4,000 years ago. The Children of Fire have different abilities evolved from the phoenix king’s original powers. For example, in myths, the phoenix has a magical voice. I turned this into his descendants having the ability to influence people with their words. They’re also talented in singing and understanding foreign languages, and are able to read and write in any language.

I did this with all the various phoenix gifts of healing, fire, immortality, and psychic abilities, which gives my characters a rich variety of powers. So with a little tweaking and artistic creative license (or what I like to call amazing writing 😉 ), I’ve created a world based strongly in legends from around the world that works for my novels.

And one of the great things about writing a series is I get to have tons of magical creatures in my books. Book one takes place in California, where Sara meets unicorns, fairies, and beings from Native American myths. In book two, which I don’t have a title for yet, they travel to Argentina and Peru, which have some really fun mythical creatures to play with such as shape shifters, different types of fairies, and dwarf-like creatures, and the gods and goddesses of Aztec stories. In book three, which I just started, they will be in Great Britain. While I don’t know all the magical creatures I’ll use, there will definitely be selkies. Maybe even selkies in kilts 🙂

When you read a fantasy do you prefer a story that sticks closely to the original mythology or do you like when the writer adds a twist or reinvents the original myths and legends?

Phoenix Child by Alica McKenna-JohnsonPhoenix Child—Sara’s dream is to find her family but she doesn’t count on discovering magical creatures or catching on fire. On her fourteenth birthday a surprise inheritance changes her appearance, abilities, and identity. Welcomed into the family of the Phoenix she is taught to use her new powers. Will Sara embrace being a Child of Fire or will the evil that killed her parents destroy her as well?

You can buy Phoenix Child on Smashwords or Amazon, and connect with Alica on her website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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Why I’m Changing Up My Blog

Marcy Kennedy's BlogI’ll be making some changes to my blogging schedule starting April 1, 2012.

As many of you already know, I think Kristen Lamb and her WANA (We Are Not Alone) methods are the smart road for writers to take when it comes to balancing the load of writing and platform building while still making time to live your life.

In her post Sacred Cow Tipping – More Common Blogging Misconceptions, Kristen points out two pitfalls we often fall into as new writer-bloggers. We feel we need to have separate blogs for separate topics and we give all our energy to a group blog at the expense of our own. I did both these things, and I was burning myself out, leaving little time for my novel or my life away from my computer.

Lisa Hall-Wilson and I have absolutely loved the year and a half we gave to Girls With Pens, and we don’t regret a moment of it. But it’s time for us to take the next step. We will no longer be blogging at Girls With Pens. (We’re also not getting rid of it entirely—read on.)

So with Girls With Pens shutting down, instead of posting here Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (which I have been), I’ll be posting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Instead of having separate blogs for separate topics, I’ll be loosely grouping my topics into days. If you’re only interested in one of the topics, I won’t be offended if you ignore the others 🙂

Mondays will be where fantasy, science fiction, and real life collide in posts like Who’s Your Unicorn and The Lie of Helen of Troy.

Wednesdays will be devoted to posts on writing, editing, platform building, and blogging like 6 Grammar Mistakes that Will Cost You Readers and What Do We Mean By “Strong Female Characters?” If you’ve also been following Girls With Pens, you already know what to expect on these days. I’m simply moving locations.

Friday will be the new day for interviews with fantasy and science fiction authors to help you pick your next weekend read, behind the scenes looks at the worlds within the books (like my Bertie Botts posts), v-logs, and mash-ups.

I’ll still be bringing you excellent guest posters, but they won’t have a set day.

What about Girls With Pens? Even though we’re shutting down the blog, you can sign up for our monthly Girls With Pens newsletter where we’ll be bringing you interviews with industry professionals.

I hope that you’ll sign up for my blog here, and if you’d like to hangout online, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I’m also on Pinterest, and would love to have you follow my boards and get a chance to see your boards in return.

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The Missing Hunger Games Line

The Hunger Games movie posterEven though I loved The Hunger Games movie that released Friday, I couldn’t help but notice that the screenwriters left out one of the most important lines in the book.

The night before the Games begin, Katniss finds Peeta on the roof of their hotel, watching the Capitol celebrate.

Peeta tells her, “I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.”

This makes no sense to Katniss. In the book, she replies by telling him to care about staying alive, and in the movie, she explains that she can’t afford to think that way. Although that particular line wasn’t in the book, it was a perfect addition because that’s the way things are in District 12, where Katniss lives. Thinking of what might be only leads to disappointment. You have no chance of bettering your situation, nothing you do changes anything significant, and the best you can hope for is to survive.

And that’s the best she hopes for from the Arena as well. Only one of the twenty-four who compete comes out alive. To Katniss, any expectation that something might change this year would be futile.

Yet it’s Katniss who, by the end of the book, thumbs her nose at the Capitol and forces them into allowing two winners of the Hunger Games for the first time ever. And over the next two books, it’s Katniss who, without even meaning to, ignites a revolution and changes her world.

She learns one person can make a difference.

I’m not sure whether the scriptwriters missed this theme running underneath all the books or whether they didn’t catch the line that brings out the deepest facet of it, but in Chapter 7 of The Hunger Games, Peeta and Katniss are arguing about which of them has the better chance of survival and of getting sponsors. Each believes it’s the other.

Peeta turns to Haymitch (their mentor) in exasperation and says, “She has no idea. The effect she can have.”

They left this line out of the movie, and without this line, part of the message is missing.

Not only can one person make a difference, but sometimes we make a difference in others’ lives without even knowing it.

Katniss didn’t set out to change the world. She just did what was right and change followed. She had no idea of the chain of events her seemingly small actions would cause.

It works the same way in real life.

When I was twelve, the boy who sat behind me in class would ask me to explain all our school work to him. I dreaded feeling that pesky tap-tap on my shoulder. When I finally lost my temper, he confessed—he couldn’t read. Somehow he’d slipped through the cracks, dismissed as either stupid or lazy, when he wasn’t either.

So I taught him (and felt guilty about snapping at him). At the time, I didn’t think it was anything important, but a couple years later, I overheard him telling a teacher how much I’d helped him and how much it meant to him.

I treasure that memory. So often I struggle with feeling insignificant and like nothing I do really matters, and that memory helps remind me that I won’t always know how something small I did positively affected someone else. If I hadn’t overheard, I would never have known I made a difference.

We’re not all destined to be famous leaders or world-changers, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making a difference in the individual lives we touch, sometimes when we least realize it, often just by doing the right thing. And that too is important.

Do you ever struggle with feeling like what you do doesn’t matter? Has someone made a difference in your life, probably without realizing it?

(If you’re looking for a movie review of The Hunger Games, Karen Rought at The Midnight Novelist has a mostly spoiler-free version, and Jessica O’Neal–the sexy little nerd–does a great job of analyzing the actors and the flow of the movie.)

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Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy My Little Ponies

Rebecca Enzor fantasy authorI’m excited to bring special guest poster Rebecca Enzor to you today. She’s a nuclear chemist who writes young adult and new adult fantasy and magical realism, and each Sunday has a Custom Pony of the Week feature on her blog where she highlights customized My Little Ponies based on books, TV shows, movies, or comics. Because of how much I love these customs, I asked her if she’d put together a Top 10 list of her favorite science fiction and fantasy My Little Ponies. We’re getting an extra treat because some of these ponies haven’t even been featured on her blog yet!

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First, I’d like to thank Marcy for asking me to guest post! It’s always nice to know someone loves the Custom of the Week feature on the blog 🙂

To give you a little bit of background information, My Little Pony is what originally got me into writing. When I was in fourth grade we had a city-wide competition in which everyone wrote and illustrated a book (my spelling and grammar might have been worse than my artistic ability at that point!). The book I wrote was called “My Life with Pone” and was all about a My Little Pony who was my invisible friend. Years later, in college, I started collecting ponies again and found a nifty little RPing community that allowed you to play as a pony in Dream Valley. I was hooked. I haven’t stopped writing since (I have sold my pony collection though – I had to pay for my wedding somehow!).

So now, my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy inspired My Little Pony customs:

#10: Harley

Harley Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m cheating just a bit with Harley, because I’m the one who customized him, and as you can see, my artistic talent has not evolved much since fourth grade (those yellow dots are stars, by the way). I added him to the list because Across the Universe is one of my favorite books ever. It’s definitely the best book I read last year. And the author, Beth Revis, is a huge My Little Pony fan! When I found out she would be coming to town in November, I had to make a pony for her, and Harley was born. I can’t think of a character that deserved to be immortalized in pony form more than Harley.

#9: Doctor Whooves (by Jill Baguchinsky)

Doctor Hooves Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of a cheat again, because Doctor Whooves is actually a character in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series. But that doesn’t make him any less of a custom pony – he’s just customized by Hasbro! And who could resist snuggling up to the Doctor in plush form? Not me. Plus the customizer won last year’s ABNA in the YA category and her novel, Spookygirl, will be hitting shelves soon!

#8: Madam Em

Madam Em Medusa Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t guess who this pony is based on then you don’t know your mythology very well. With her mane full of snakes, Madam Em is Medusa-inspired. The detail that went into this pony is amazing, and if you visit the customizer’s DeviantArt page, you’ll see that she puts just as much detail into all of her beautiful customs.

#7: Deadpool

Deadpool X-Men Custom My Little Pony

 

Oh Deadpool, you have my silly little X-men loving heart. There was a time, in fact, that I played *coughownedcough* an X-men/MLP crossover RP. And one of my very best RP buddies played Deadpool. So to find a Deadpool pony custom was a real treat. And one that I think Deadpool himself would appreciate.

#6: Neytiri

Neytiri Avatar Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a biologist, I thought the Avatar films were really interesting. As a writer, the storyline was decent. And as a person who loves colorful, pretty things? I thought the film in IMAX 3D was amazing! So when I found this Neytiri pony, it immediately became a favorite of mine. And guess what? The customizer has published a novel too! You had no idea there were so many authors who loved MLPs did you?

#5: Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I admit it. It’s the colors that really do it for me in this custom. There are at least a dozen other Mad Hatter customs that I’ve seen on Deviant Art, but the color scheme on this one sets it apart. And all those curls! And the tiny Doormouse! I am in so much love with this pony I can’t even explain it.

#4: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pony is absolutely amazing. From her sculpted clothing, to her fur coat, to her wolf mask and other little accessories, this twisted version of the Red Riding Hood fairytale has all the details just right for the wolf-as-the-victim twist. Since I first saw her, she’s been a favorite of mine.

#3: Howl

Howl's Moving Castle Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, it could be the fact that Christian Bale voiced the role of Howl in the film adaptation that makes me love this character so much, but I think it’s actually the beautiful story arc that really does it. And this gorgeous half-pony/half-bird Howl does him so much justice. The detailing on the feathers is amazing, and the little Calcifer so adorable!

#2: Aragorn

Aragorn Lord of the Rings My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You didn’t really expect me to make a list of my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy customs without a Lord of the Rings pony, did you? Plus, have you ever seen a pony with a beard? The customizer even went so far as to put a magnetic wire in the sword so that Aragorn could “hold” it with the magnet in his foot! Now that’s dedication to your craft. (This customizer has also made a Legolas pony, and has plans to continue with the other characters as well.)

#1: Starbuck

Starbuck (Kara Thrace) Battlestar Galactica My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would think with all the stunning custom ponies out there it would be hard to choose a favorite, but ever since I saw Starbuck, I knew she was my all-time favorite custom pony ever. This pony is the reason I started the Custom of the Week feature on my blog. The character is one of my all-time favorite characters ever, with one of the strangest character arcs I’ve ever come across, and I think this custom captures her perfectly – right down to the thick eyebrows that give her the perfect Starbuck expression.

I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy custom ponies. You can find all of the story-based custom ponies that I’ve featured on my blog by clicking on the Custom Pony link in the sidebar.

Did I miss one that was your favorite? Which ponies make your Top Ten list?

Wrath of the Titans

Set to release next Friday, March 30, Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to Clash of the Titans (2010) starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson.

Ten years after he defeated the Kraken, Perseus is trying to live in peace with his young son. Unfortunately, the gods have been so weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion that they’ve lost control of the imprisoned Titans. Perseus’ grandfather, Kronos, one of the Titans, plots to capture Zeus (Perseus’ father). Perseus must go on a quest to rescue Zeus, defeat the Titans, and save the world.

Does anyone plan to see Wrath of the Titans when it comes out next weekend? Do you think it will live up to Clash of the Titans?

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Does Thank You Mean We Forget? – Dealings with Fairies

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies.”The Little White Bird (1902) by J. M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)

Disney has fairies all wrong.

Disney and other modern renderings make fairies young, tiny, beautiful, winged. They’re playful and sweet. In the game my best friend’s daughter plays, they care for plants and animals. Every little girl wants to meet a fairy.

But it wasn’t always that way. In ancient Ireland and Scotland, fairies were feared. They stole babies, misled travelers, and kidnapped people, only to return them years later, after all their loved ones were dead. Fairies belonging to the Unseelie Court enjoyed causing misfortune to humans, including paralysis and mysterious illness, simply for the fun of it. Even the more-benevolent fairies of the Seelie Court were still dangerous if angered or offended.

Folklore focuses more on protection from fairies than it does their appearance. The most common means of warding off their malice were decorating with cold iron like a horseshoe, planting rowan bushes (small mountain ash trees) by your doorway, and keeping charms made of gorse, rosemary, dill, and St. John’s Wort under your pillow or around your neck. You didn’t seek fairies out. Instead, you avoided places where they might congregate and all chances of giving offense.

And if a fairy did you a good turn, you were never, ever, under any circumstances, to thank them. Fairies believed that, if you thanked them, it meant you’d forget the good deed they’d done for you.

I wonder if they weren’t at least partly right.

I’ve done it—said thank you, moved on, and never thought about the help I received again. But if I so easily forget, I have to wonder if I was ever truly grateful at all. So even though I think thanking people is still important and polite, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to put the meaning back into it.

Revive the Art of Thank-You Notes

I’ve heard this advice over and over again, but I’ve often dismissed it as old-fashioned—until I thought about why thank-you notes are perfect…and why they’ve largely fallen by the wayside.

Writing a thank-you note costs you time, money, and effort. It takes longer to select a card, write out a message by hand, address the envelope, and take it to the post office than it does to send off an email, Facebook message, or tweet. True gratitude should cost us something.

Writing thank-you notes properly is also an art form unto itself. My mom was mortified when I hadn’t sent out all the thank-you notes for my wedding gifts within the month after my wedding, but I wanted to take the time to do them right. For each gift, I wanted to choose a specific reason I appreciated the gift and what I liked about it rather than sending out a generic “Thanks for the glasses. I’m sure we’ll use them.” In writing a good thank-you note, we’re forced to think deeply about what the other person has done for us.

Praise Publicly

Public praise gives something back. I don’t believe in doing favors just so someone will do a favor for me in return (that’s selfish). I do believe that, if someone has done something lovely for me, I should try to help them out as well, even if it’s just through putting a smile on their face by letting others know what a great person they are.

Pay It Forward by Doing a Favor for Someone Else

Hold open a door. Bring your co-worker a coffee. Call up a friend and offer to run an errand for them. Each time we do something for a new person, it reminds us of the times others have done something nice for us too. In a way, it makes their good deed immortal.

Do you think we sometimes say thank you by rote and too easily forget what’s been done for us? What other creative ways can you think of to express true gratitude?

One Thing Magneto Got Right

I’m very excited to have Jessica O’Neal visiting today. Jess’ blog, The Sexy Little Nerd, is one of my absolute favorites. From her Harry Potter series, to her more recent posts on Robin Hood, fantasy book reviews, and vlogs on everything from The Hunger Games to Game of Thrones, visiting her site is like going to a friend’s house. Please help me welcome Jess…..

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I want to give a huge thank you to Marcy for having me over today. As a sister nerd, her blog has always been one of my favorites to visit. She leaves some pretty big shoes to fill and I hope that I am able to do them justice.

One Thing Magneto Got Right

Mystique X-Men First ClassWhen most people first meet me, they’re surprised to learn what a gargantuan nerd I am. Whether it is my obsession with Harry Potter, my affinity for all things fantasy, or my new found obsession with archery (which started from a desire to live out some of my favorite stories), people are always left gaping. For whatever reason, I am an unexpected nerd. Recently, attention has been called to another one of my nerd proclivities: comic book movies.

I’m a HUGE comic book movie fan. I am convinced that if I had been born a boy rather than a girl someone would have introduced me earlier to the wonder that is comic books, but alas that never happened. Instead, I was left ignorant of these fabulous stories until they started to take over the cinema. One of these movie franchises that I have particularly enjoyed is Marvel’s X-Men.

When these movies started to come out, I knew very little about the X-Men. I had, of course, heard of some of them before, such as Wolverine, but I didn’t really know much about the story. After the first movie, I was in love. As movie after movie began to come out, that love did nothing but grow. I was enraptured by these characters and the relationships they had with one another as they struggled to come to terms with who they were, what they could do, and what they should do. There were so many lessons that could be taken out of the lives of these mutants.

My favorite of the series is, without a doubt, X-Men: First Class. The history between Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto had always fascinated me, so getting to see that history unfold with the brilliant acting of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender was very nearly a cathartic experience. I am not ashamed to admit that the break between them brought me to tears. And not just a few tears. When I tell people that one of the most heartbreaking movies I have ever seen is a comic book movie, they look at me like I’m crazy. That’s okay. The understanding of others is not a necessary component to my enjoyment.

But there was the development of another relationship in X-Men: First Class that really struck a chord within me. I am referring to Magneto and Mystique.

Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence who is also starring in the upcoming The Hunger Games movie) is different than a lot of the other mutants in that the evidence of her mutation, her true self, does not allow her to blend in with *normal* society. Mystique has the ability to change her appearance at will to look like any other human, but when she is in her natural form, she has blue skin and yellow eyes. In order to feel accepted she, therefore, chooses to spend the majority of her time in a different skin.

This is something that I think a lot of us do – I know I do. We are afraid to show our true selves to others for fear that they won’t like who we are, so we morph into the person we think they want us to be, the person we think they will accept. This is an exhausting task that will gradually wear us down.

There is a scene in the movie when Mystique, in her more *normal* human form, is lifting weights. Magneto startles her by manipulating the weights to float in the air above her. He says to her, “If you are using half of your concentration to look normal, then you’re only half paying attention to whatever else you are doing. Just pointing out something that could save your life.” He then releases the weights and, in order to catch them before they fall on her, Mystique has to release her shifted form. Magneto then says, “You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself.”

This brief scene really resonated with me. When we figuratively put on whatever skin we think certain people want to see in order to accept us, we are actually achieving the opposite. We can not be truly accepted by someone when we prevent them from seeing who we really are. Yes, when we do reveal the real us, flaws and all, there will be some people who judge us, but are those really the people we want to be close to anyway? Wouldn’t we rather be surrounded by people who know and accept the real us?

The really amazing thing is, when we learn to love ourselves for who we actually are, people can sense that and are drawn to it. People can sense when they’re being shown a false or incomplete version of someone and are turned off by it, whether they consciously realize it or not. So by accepting ourselves, we make it easier for others to accept us as well.

In spite of the path that Magneto and Mystique eventually choose, I believe in this moment Magneto has the right idea. Self-acceptance may not be easy, but the best things never are.

Do you agree with the lesson Magneto gives Mystique? Does one need to first accept herself before she can expect others to?

Jessica O'Neal fantasy authorJessica O’Neal is a fantasy writer with a BA in Psychology with a minor in English. Alongside her writing, she co-hosts Glee Chat and Smash Chat. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and crazy Jack Russell named Moses. Check out her blog The Sexy Little Nerd, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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