World Building Part 13: Magic

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Howdy! Another Monday and another World Building blog! I know, sometimes I amaze myself with how much detail one can possibly go into. And while some of it may overlap, I’d rather overlap than miss something. Today we’re going to talk about magic, so let’s get started!

Who Has It?

Who possesses magic in your world? Everyone? A select few? Every tenth person? It can go either way or have other factors determining who possesses magic. In my own world, Alperin, only select races possess magic. The elves, the dragons, and the fae. Any humans who possess magic have the blood of those races somewhere down the family line. In Anne Coffer’s book, Edge of Ridiculous (sorry but I’ve read it recently and I’ll use examples probably from here on out XD), magic is a natural resource like air that’s accessible to everyone, but they have to learn how to channel it properly.

Someone doesn’t have to be born with magic. They could have access to a magical item or it’s learned like any other skill. Determine who has magic or magical capabilities in your world. If anyone does.

Tolerance

Once you know who has magic, is it accepted? Whoever possesses magic can determine that, and vice versa. For example, if only the followers of EVILE GOD MAN THING have magic, then that would make anyone in the normal realm suspicious if they too have magic. Association is an important influence on acceptance. If in the history of your world only evil people wield magic, or in turn only good, it can affect how society perceives and accepts/rejects it. In DB:C, which takes place in the Draak Empire, only the dragons are allowed to possess and use magic. Anyone else who does is tried for heresy because of their suspicions of fae spies.

Authority

Who is the authority on magic? Who determines laws? Who determines if magic users are outcasts or welcome heroes? Who in the religious houses and government determine what magic users can and cannot do? Who’s in charge? In Harry Potter you have the Ministry of Magic. It makes sense for there to be an authority on magic practices and laws as there would for any other branch of government and laws. Is it a council? A group of elders? A single worshiped figure? Is it exclusively magic users or non-magic users? Is it a mixture of both for the sake of variety in points of view?

Schools Of Magic

When I say schools of magic I don’t mean the literal institutions (although that does come later), but the different types of magic. Take a look at the way Skyrim divides magic schools. I quite like there being a focus on specific types of magic. It’s realistic for there to be different types of magic just as there are different types of everything else. It can depend on the individual. Even if you don’t name specific schools, you can have a broad spectrum of variety. Such as destruction, healing, and manipulation. For each school there’s likely a place of learning, books, artifacts, teachers, etc. And there can even be division within the school itself. For example, in the school of destruction there could be a divide between those who believe in using fire spells to destroy their enemies while others only argue fire should be used to save lives in the winter. Are there schools of magic that are forbidden? Like necromancy?

Teachers

Who qualifies to teach magic? If it’s a radical concept is it just Jim Bob down the street who’s dabbled in healing most of his life? Is there a school they graduate from? Are there degrees? Are there master/apprentice relationships? Do magic users go rogue and learn for themselves? If magic is present in everyone then magic would likely be a subject included in the curriculum of the current education system you have set up in your world.

Institutions

If magic is acceptable, what kind of schools are there? At what age do young students begin to learn? Is there a safety concern? This can affect how young or old someone is when they learn magic. And where do they start? What kind of curriculum do they have? If you wait too late to teach someone magic it can get out of control, but due to the nature of magic if they start too young they might could hurt themselves or someone else.

Besides places of learning, what establishments are there? Where does the authority on magic meet up? Is there a government building for it? An office? Is there Jane’s Wizard Emporium where you can rent out magic services? Is there a group of old lady mages who fly around saving the world from mayhem? Where’s their secret layout?

Laws

If there’s an authority on magic there are laws. In fact if there is no authority on magic there are no doubt laws. If magic exists there’s going to be laws made about it. Whether the laws are to forbid magic or to tone down its uses you need to determine what laws there are, who made them, where they fit into your governmental structure, and how it affects everyday people as well as those they’re meant for.

Let’s also not forget that there are laws at the local, state/province/regional, and national level. Depending on your world’s borders and government they’ll extend beyond that. In one town it may be okay to use magic to heal while in another it’s punishable with a fine.

Laws Of Magic

I’m not repeating myself! When I think laws of magic I think of laws of physics. “A physical law or scientific law is a theoretical statement “inferred from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present.”–Wikipedia. There’s a limit to almost everything and magic is no exception. What are the laws of magic and their limits?

Can magic make someone fall in love? Or only lust? Can the human body only take so much magic use before it’s torn to shreds? Can a mage who’s gifted in fire in the school of destruction manipulate only existing fire? Or can they call it from the air? Laws of magic basically equates to limits of magic. And there will be limits. For the average person at least.

How Is It Conducted?

How do the vessels of your magic conduct it? Do they recite spells in a specific language? Can changing the slightest inflection or accent change the spell? Do they have conduits to focus their magic such as wands? Do they have to do hand gestures? Is it a combination of these things?

If you do decide that they focus their magic through conduits, remember it doesn’t have to be a wand. Wands are traditional and hella cool and even their design makes sense as they come out to a point from the hand. It’s natural to use our hands as direction, especially if you’re directing a force from within yourself. You could use gloves, or rings, staves in place of a wand. If you’re feeling slightly comical there’s always the option of having it focus out of another part of the body…such as the nose. XD

Artifacts

Magic isn’t just limited to people. There are magical artifacts scattered throughout real history and more so in the history of fantasy worlds. The Nazis were obsessed with finding and using magical artifacts during their height of power. In D&D there are entire parts of manuals talking about magical artifacts. Consider what those artifacts could be. Would they be obvious and shining and shimmering with power? Or would they be ordinary objects? Do the artifacts serve as the source of magic power or simply amplify the user’s capabilities? Are the artifacts intelligent? Where did they come from? Who made them? What purpose do they serve? An example of what could be considered a magical artifact is the one ring from the Lord of the Rings. Can anyone use the item? Or does it have to be someone with knowledge of magic? Can a hapless hobbit come across it in a cave and change the fate of the world with it?

Something else to consider, can animals use magic? If so, is it limited by their intelligence? Is it a second nature to them? Does the fox put thought into her ability to turn invisible, or is it a conscience decision?

Texts

I think what I mean is obvious here, but still consider what sort of texts you have on the subject of magic. Are they accurate? Who wrote them? What makes that person an authority? Are there forbidden texts? Are some required for school? Is the book an artifact itself?

Deities & Origin Of Magic

You may already have a god/goddess of magic. If not, consider the religious structure of your world and determine what unearthly force may drive magic. Or magic can be a natural resource like in Anne’s book. Basically answer the question: Where does magic come from?

Until Next Time…

For some reason I’m having trouble thinking clearly, so as a warning I might edit and add more to this post later. Until then, however, I hope it’s helpful in further fleshing out your world. When will these world building posts stop? NEVER! Although seriously I still have more ideas and details for us to go into. I imagine by the time we’re all done with these you’ll have a lively, realistic, and three dimensional world. I hope! ❤ Until next time!

Dragon Bloode: Covet is out everywhere ebooks are sold.

Dialogue

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It’s Monday! Monday! Monday! Today we’re gonna talk about talking! Ba dun tch! Or rather, dialogue. Dialogue is just as important in any story as description, setting, or action. If dialogue is unnatural or long winded it can ruin the flow. If it’s fast and witty you can get some good laughs. Dialogue can affect a scene as much as any other element so it’s crucial to make those words count.

I think the most prominent thing to keep in mind is how believeable the dialogue is.

Listen To Yourself

Next time you talk to someone on the phone or interact with anyone listen to yourself. Or better yet, record your conversation (with the other person’s permission) to get a sense of how people really talk. Do you contract a lot? Do you say “gonna” instead of “going to”? (I do!) Listen to your own natural flow of conversation. A lot of us have different writing voices from our regular speaking voices. Dialogue is the time to be as short and natural as possible. Go to a crowded place and listen to other people talking (without being creepy). What’s the natural flow of conversation?

Read It Out Loud

Once you’ve written your dialogue take the time to read it out loud. Does something feel strange to say? Maybe consider changing it. Do you stumble over a saying or does it feel long winded? People shorten their conversations naturally. I know some common advice is to read your entire novel aloud and dialogue is no exception.

Subject  & Conversation Partner

The subject being discussed can affect conversation. If your characters are discussing a recent death there may be more hesitation as they’re trying to find the right words. They may use a different selection of words than they would in everyday speech. For instance, if someone died that term is usually changed to “passed away” in the presence of someone mourning that death.

Also consider who they’re speaking with. You talk to your boss differently than you do to your spouse right? (I hope XD) And in turn you talk differently to your children than you do to your spouse. Consider each character and how they would talk to the other person. I do a sort of MPD thing where I consider each character’s point of view while writing their discussion. Also, how does the character feel about the other person? Do they dislike them? Are they scared of them? There are many factors to consider when building a dialogue.

Accents

I’m a little particular about accents. This is purely my opinion so you do what you want, but something I’ve run into are accents that are like another language. First thing, I don’t want to have to read a sentence five times to try to figure out what someone is saying. My opinion is if you want it to be known someone has an accent, say so in the other parts of character description. “His southern accent is thick, “Hey there. How’re you doing?” I think that’s much easier than “Heeeey thar. How y’all doin?” Or you can say, like my friend Anne Coffer did in her upcoming book, “she speaks with an emphasis on the “s” and it’s drawn out.” Rather than writing out, “Ssssssso what have we here? Sssssomeone unexsssssspected.”

Another thing to consider is stereotypes. Not everyone from that land or country or ethnicity is going to have the stereotypical accent. If they’re from the same area they will likely speak the same as your characters. Otherwise it can really be offensive.

If you must put something unique in to put emphasis on the accent, I suggest replacing a single word. Like in the example above you could say, “Hey there. How y’all doing?”

The one exception is when you want your character to have a hard time understanding someone. This creates realism for the reader as well. Neither of you have any idea what they’re saying. XD

This is just my opinion. If you want to accent that up you go right on ahead. I only mention it because I’ve had to put down a book or two because a main character had an accent that was difficult to understand.

Dialect

Consider how nonnative speakers might talk. I’ve noticed that when learning a new language we have a tendency not to take short cuts that native speakers do because we want to be accurate more than quick. We also don’t use as many contractions or idioms or sayings. If someone who is nonnative is told an idiom there might be confusion as well to its meaning.

Consider what part of the land they’re from and they may have a varying dialect. For example, in the U.S. in the north everyone says “soda” or “pop”, but here in the south we say “coke” for everything. It doesn’t mean making up a new or different word. I know what sodas and pops are, but I call them coke. We always say, “Do you want a coke?” “Sure, I’ll have a Dr. Pepper.”

Shorten It

In real life we shorten our words constantly. We speak in the most effective way possible. Instead of “I’m going to the store for some bread and I might pick up some milk while I’m there.” you’re more likely to say, “I’m gonna go to the store. Be back later.”

Here’s an example of the difference taking out a few words can make:

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just cleaning out the fridge.”

“And why are you doing that?”

“Because I spilled a bottle of V8 and I don’t want the shelves to get sticky.”

VS

“What are you doing?”

“Cleaning out the fridge.”

“Why?”

“I spilled some V8.”

To me the latter reads more naturally both out loud and on paper. Then again it’s entirely subjective I suppose.

Etiquette

Something that has always bothered me in movies is no one says “hello” or “bye” when talking on the phone! In real life consider when greeting someone, on the phone or for the first time that day, there’s an etiquette. Introductions, saying hello, asking how someone’s day is. And in turn it’s polite to return the questions and answers. It’s just a little extra something to consider. In real life you don’t just stop talking to someone either. You end the conversation with a parting goodbye. Unless you’re angry I suppose, but that’s another example of how you can use dialogue to increase emotions.

Until Next Time…

I hope, as always, this helps to fix any dialogue problems you may be having! Until next time keep on keeping on!

Dragon Bloode: Covet is out everywhere ebooks are sold.

Market to Book Or Book to Market?

motivating-money-books-2015-1940x1293Warning! Warning!

Today is a little bit of a rant rather than an informative blog. XD

As someone who’s been reading advice about writing for years on the internet (an article is what triggered this post) and before then receiving it (whether I wanted it or not) from other people, there’s a common theme floating in the sea of free advice that’s bothered me: what to write to make money. So, let’s be serious a moment. I would love, love if my novel landed on a New York Times best seller list and I was able to pursue writing as a career for the rest of my life and retire off of it by the time I hit 40. I would love to roll in the money and finally see a physical manifestation of my life’s pursuit in my bank account. That being said, I have never written a story in my life with money in mind. In fact, my process is quite the opposite.

I consume stories. I’m a reader, rabid music fan, and an avid movie goer. I have persistent depressive disorder and anxiety. I love escapism in its many beautiful forms and those very stories, whatever their medium, have gotten me through some tough days.

I’ve been writing and concocting stories and playing make believe for as long as I’ve been a self-aware human being. When I publish my work, it’s not just for hopes of monetary success, but also sharing the world I’ve turned to in tough times. I want to do for readers what other writers have done for me. I want them to see the struggles of characters and overcome their own real life problems with encouragement from my worlds and stories. My books and stories are encouragement from me. I want someone to read my creations and find relief, even if brief, from the everyday trials of life. I want to inspire.

I don’t think I’m unique in this aspect, at all. I don’t think I’m unique in this as both a reader and a writer. Millions of people enjoy escapism and millions more suffer with the same issues I do, that’s not what I’m getting at here.

I write to write. I write for passion and I write because these people and places and ideas are bursting from me. I know it sounds cheesy, and really it is, but I can’t contain them sometimes. A story won’t let me rest until I write it, or at the very least begin the process of writing it. When I read articles suggesting that people write this or that to sell more titles I can’t help but to think that a lot of successful writers did the opposite. I suppose it’s always possible that they did, but would never admit it. There’s always the dreaded “sellout” word in the artistic community. At what point do you become a sellout then?

Do I think there’s something wrong with someone who writes purely with money in mind? No. Everyone has to eat. We all would like to fluff the bank account. Money provides opportunity and could pave the way for your real passion if writing isn’t it. Writing is technically cheap. Time consuming, yes. But cheap. I suppose if you include the cost of a computer and word processor it can still be costly to start up but, who doesn’t have a computer anymore?  And you don’t need a computer. You can use a typewriter, paper, and writing utensils. You just need the time to dedicate. I’m of course aware there are millions of people who don’t have a computer or even electricity, but writing for a fat check is usually the last thing on someone who is trying to survive’s mind.

Do I think I’m better than those who write with money in mind? Nope. And really I don’t have a problem with those giving out this advice, but stop giving it out as though it’s the end all be all.

What I don’t like, or have a problem with, is people telling writers to think only of the market. And so comes in my title for today. Do you write your book to fit the market? Or do you create a marketing strategy to fit your book? To say I entirely disregard what others will think of my work while writing would be inaccurate, but at the same time it’s definitely not all I think about. If I love what I’m writing, why wouldn’t someone else? And I suppose another difference is to not let yourself be utterly disappointed if not everyone is as passionate about your work as you.

My thoughts are really scattered (sorry!), but back to the point. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t advise writers to write for a specific selling strategy in mind, but offer that advice in addition to other motivations. Don’t say it is the end all be all to success, because it isn’t. We know this. J.K. Rowling wrote her first book at six years old. We know that Stephenie Meyer penned Twilight because of a dream she had. Stephen King shares his passion for writing and even says, “there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.” Does any of that sound like someone writing to market?

The writing to market strategy might work in the short term, but I think if you write for passion as opposed to money, it bleeds through.

Until Next Time…

This entire thing is just my opinion and as mentioned above I don’t think less of people hoping to make some money off of their writing (I certainly wish to!). I just don’t think it should be preached to budding writers to create their stories around marketing and not vice versa. I think what should be done is write the story you want to write and create a market strategy around it. Don’t write a specific formula or genre because you think it will sell. I say write the story and you can figure out the genre when you’re done. You can always alter a market strategy to the current trends, but a great story, a passionate and well thought out novel is timeless.

Dragon Bloode: Covet is out everywhere ebooks are sold.

World Building Part 12: Names

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Happy Monday! And Happy New Year! I know that was last week, but at least now I’m able to think clearly. XD Today’s blog is World Building with names. It will be shorter than my normal world building blogs, but names are an important factor in your story and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Where To Start

Begin by making a list of what names you need. How many characters or places? If you’re world building you can do this before your story begins. Otherwise, you may have already named your character and where they live. Jot down what names you lack and consider how important they are to the story.

Simple, But Unique

I love fantasy and science fiction, but sometimes even I can be put off by a name that seems like the author smashed the keyboard. I try for names that are simple, but unique. For example, in my own novel I use the names Arik, Malik, and Raerik for the dragons. The “ik” ending actually has to do with their culture, but otherwise those names aren’t overwhelming. Some would say Arik is common like Eric, but it’s pronounced differently. More on that later, the point is to try for something that’s different, but not so unique readers stumble over it while reading. Of course, as always, if you want your names to be the number one used name in the world or something impossible to pronounce, it’s your story! This is just a suggestion.

Main Characters

The name of your main character(s) is probably the single most important one in the story. If you choose a common or average name, maybe look into its meaning. If you choose a new name, or something truly unique, go for something that’s still easy to say. Think of your own name! Ask your parents how they came up with it. Take as much time to consider the name of your main character like you would a real child. Because that character had parents who did the same. Derived from the name can come the difficulties of childhood like nicknames and trouble spelling and so on. Which in turn leads to further character development. Were they named after another family member?  Who picked the name? Were they named after a religious figure? Are they a junior? Do they have a middle name? What about surnames? Do they have both of their parents’? Names will vary by language, culture, country, dialect, and even religion. For example, if the mother picked the name and she’s extremely religious she’s more likely to have chosen a name out of a religious text. Take the time to think about who named your character as much as the name itself.

Supporting Characters

I suggest going through a similar motion with your supporting characters as you do the main. Perhaps not as in depth, but you never know when a minor character turns into a major player down the line.

Minor Characters

These are the characters who are the shop merchants and brief mentions in your tales. I did a blog post on them last year and you know me. I like to go into depth. However, I personally give my minor characters average names for my culture. I live in the United States in the south. So I will use names such as Thomas, John, Sarah, Mary, etc. By those names you can see common names in the south are taken from the Christian Bible. I do, however, name everyone. Even if I don’t mention the name in the book itself, everyone who interacts with my characters has a name, a brief background, and even a family tree. You never know when you’ll need it.

Country, Language, Cities, Etc

When naming a country, or language, or any location or cultural staple consider its origin. Who founded the country? What’s the legend behind it? Take a look at this Wikipedia article about places named after people. See some you recognize? Think of your own town, country, and language. What are the origins of those names? Be ready to explain that of your own world.

Holidays/Festivities

When naming your holidays and festivals and other celebrations, remember it doesn’t always have to be complicated. Holidays in our own world are usually named after the religious figure it celebrates or the event in history it’s to remind us of. If the holiday is based around a hero or recent event it’s not overly complicated. For example, Independence Day, Bastille Day, and Boxing Day. As for festivities the real world keeps that simple too. How many times do we simply tack the word “dance” after the holiday name? Valentine’s Dance. Christmas Dance. Festival of Lights.

Pronunciation

After you’ve named all your places and people and languages think of how to pronounce it. Not just how the locals and natives do, but how do foreigners? An example I can think of is the small town of Ruidoso in New Mexico. It’s pronounced Roo-ee-do-so, but a lot of Texans call it Riadosa. It’s a bit of a joke by now and you can even buy bumper stickers in Ruidoso that say “Riadosa”.

Take a moment to make a list of your names and put a phonetic pronunciation down next to them. Say them out loud in a casual conversation…with yourself. But trust me! If it’s awkward or difficult to say you may reconsider. These are names that are supposed to be spoken commonly. Then again, if the culture of your character and place is very different from your own native language then hey, maybe the more difficult it is for you to personally pronounce the better. XD

Inspiration

If you have no idea where to start you can always try online baby name books. There you can find unusual names with specific meanings, or if you’re going for an average name you can still find out its brief history and meaning. And I personally will use Google Translate to put in a word and use that for names. For instance, if I want to name a character “horse” I’ll put that in the translator and go down the list until I find a translation I like. So the name will still literally mean “horse”, but it will be something different.

Rename

After you’ve named all the names and have your people and places figured out, take a second, third, fourth, and fifteenth look. Rename if you must. Rename if you even suspect. I personally have a name bank. If I find a name I really like but have nowhere to put it, it goes in the bank for later use. If a name just doesn’t seem right, rename it. If you still like the name you replaced put it in your bank! I renamed Alperin six times before I settled down. It’s worth it.

Until Next Time…

That’s it for today! I hope this helps with your world building as always and I only make suggestions. It’s your world, you do what you want! Something else to remember (before I forget) is that when real holidays or names are long we as humans have a tendency to abbreviate. So if you think of a long name for your country or character, shorten it so that it fits into the natural flow of language.

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Dragon Bloode: Covet is available everywhere ebooks are sold.

Mystery Blogger Award!

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I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by jrose88! In the sea of blogs, thank you so much for considering me! 😀

The Mystery Blogger Award…

  • is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get.
  • is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.
  • was created by Okoto Enigma.

Guidelines:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

Three Things About Me: 

1.) I’m directly related to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I use it as an excuse to be a writer all the time! 😀
2.) I’m looking to learn how to play an instrument to help with my anxiety and to give me something positive to focus on. I haven’t decided what to play yet. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
3.) I speak intermediate Mandarin (mainland China), Japanese, and beginner Russian. I dabble in French as well. Although to be fair it’s been five years since I was in college, so I think I’ve lost a lot of it. XD I can’t wait to go back. I love language. Whether to write, read, or interact with other people. I’m on Duolingo often.

My Nominees:

1.) Lavendar Thoughts: One Woman, One World (http://lavendarthoughts.annlavendar.com/)
2.) Hello Jagger! (https://hellojagger.wordpress.com/)
3.) Author Anne Coffer (http://distinguishedbananaheart.tumblr.com/) (Although I don’t think hers is up and running yet)

I know! I know! I need to get out more, even online. XD

The Questions I Have To Answer: 

1.) What’s the book you always wanted to read (or should have read) when you were younger but couldn’t because you never found it/it didn’t exist? Like, what would you have felt truly represented you?

A book I regret not reading is 1984. It wasn’t due to difficulty more than simply finding the time. I read so much, but every time I start something new I never think of it. Now that I’m using it to answer this question maybe I’ll remember. I’m a monogamous reader. I only do one book at a time very intensely!

2.) Are you good with directions? (I’m not.)

Yes! I usually have a sense of which way is North and I have no trouble following directions. Unless the person giving them is vague. O.o I’m definitely the person who can beeline for their car in the parking lot.

3.) Starbucks, yes or no? Explain why. 

For writing? No. I do much better in a library or my own home. I get self conscious very easily in public and I find I can relax much better when tucked away. Plus I sometimes stick out my tongue when I concentrate. XD As for their products, I don’t do coffee (I know, only writer in the world who doesn’t drink coffee or wine), but I do enjoy their cream based frappacinos.

4.) What are you the most hopeful about for 2017?

It’s hard to say. I’m hopeful about everything, but expecting the worst in some things. I suppose I’m hopeful for some inner peace. As strange as that may sound.

5.) Weird question: Do you have a favorite airport? (Mine’s SeaTac.)

That’s a tough one! I love SeaTac myself, but I think that’s more in connection to my love of Seattle as opposed to the airport itself. I do like the way DFW is set up and I’m most familiar with Denver. Dang, hard to say! I guess if I have to choose it’s DFW.

The Five Questions I’m Asking:

1.) Who has influenced your life the most in a positive manner? Someone you know like a teacher or mentor.
2.) Where have you always wanted to travel? And why?
3.) What was the make and model of your first car?
4.) Do you play any instruments? If so, what?
5.) What was your first word?

My Best Post: World Building Part 2: Religion

Until Next Time…

I have a case of holiday hangover! I can’t make myself do hardly anything productive. Oh dear, but fear not! A regularly scheduled blog is on its way next week. Thanks again jrose88 for nominating me for the Mystery Blog Award!