Fun fact: I actually have read other people’s blogs this month, lol. But I mostly did it on my phone because I was out of the house a lot m...

Fun fact: I actually have read other people’s blogs this month, lol. But I mostly did it on my phone because I was out of the house a lot more than normal and I’ve only recently had time to compile them all into a Posts of the Week post. So, to end the year, I’m just going to do a massive Posts of the Month organized by website/blog of all the best things I have read in this final month of 2016. Enjoy!

Wanderer’s Pen by Victoria
Ten Fictional Vehicles I’d Love To Ride In. I soagree on the Tardis, the USS Enterprise, and Howl's Moving Castle! I'm personally not as gung-ho about about the Firebenders' balloons, but I'd probably go if it meant I could spend time with Zuko or Iroh.

Nine Non-Character-Related Obstacles to Make Your Characters' Lives Harder with Avatar: The Last Airbender. I LOVE AVATAR SO MUCH, plus this list is wonderful for conflict ideas if your story’s feeling a little repetitive and you need to throw in a few problems to ruin your charries' lives. :D

Paper Fury by Cait
The Absolute Worst Bookworm Logic to Ever Exist. I was at a sleepover early in the morning laughing so freaking hard about this and trying not to wake up all my friends :p It was A +, though. A freaking plus.

The 8 Types of Book Reviewers Quiz. This quiz was so much fun! I got the Flammable Feels Master (which is often true), but I’m also the All-Seeing Eyeball because I like to analyze the heck out of books. But with feelings because feelings, and deep thoughts, are what make the reading fun and the story worthwhile.

TheWriteGame by C. Lee McKenzie
Thanksgiving And Then What. That last picture from her hike, though. I love that metaphor.

Onions, Lemons, and Apples by Sam.
Christmas: Parts One and Two. I’ve only read the first two parts of this fanfic, but it seems pretty nice so far. I think it was a cool idea, plus I love small Kili.

Sometimes I’m a Story by Heather
Why Does Watson Sleep So Much? A unique look at how sleep influences the character Joan Watson from Elementary and what it means to the Sherlock story as a whole. Deep thoughts.

This Incandescent Life by Emily Morgan
Offense and How it Harms Creativity. I nodded in full agreement through this entire post, lol. Our society is obsessed with being offended about every little thing, and it really is easy to get sucked in and allow those things to run your life; but staying focused on the positive and what wecan do to make life better, that's way more important.

Go Teen Writers Blog
Winners and Excerpts From the Go Teen Writers #WeWriteBooks Contest. These are all absolutely incredible. Seriously. I'm so excited for these writers to finish and publish their works someday.

One Thing No One Told Me About Being My Own Boss by Mrs. Stephanie. I love this so much because it's something I knew I needed to work on, yet wasn't making a commitment to actuallywork on. This post will be the kick that I needed, though, and I'm going to focus a little more on keeping my morale up and taking care of myself instead of stressing and working myself like crazy in the new year.

Hannah Heath Blog
Challenging Writers to Write Honestly. Personally, I think it's okay if writers want to write just for fun (provided they're not writing things that are actually bad). However, if this is where a writer is coming from, then their writing definitely has the chance to be something very powerful and very life-changing for the writer themselves and the readers around them.

Out of Coffee, Out of Mind by Liz
A Day In The Life of NaNoWriMo. This post is strinking brilliant. A retelling of a day in her November, featuring vicious, probably-caffeine-addicted muse fairies.

Win While Young by Chard
You Decide Your Lifestyle. This one is a lot like Emily’s post about offense, but with even more practical applications. It’s hard, but it’s really freeing when you learn how to just let things go and you know that not only have you done your best, but you’re making things better.

Limited. Advice I’d never heard put quite this way, but is so valuable and so true. Limit everything, because you can only do so much. And the limits allow you to focus on what’s really important.
Storylight by Mariella
Being an Introverted Traveler. I love thispost, lol, because I relate so hard. Over the past couple of months, I too have come to accept myself as an introvert who needs her time, but also have fun with others when I’m ready and when the opportunity arises.
Virtually Read by Shar and Shanti
The Book Sacrifice Tag. I laughed so hard throughout this post. Seriously, Shar’s answers are amazing.

Why You Should Be Reading Right Now (and what to do about it). Also, this post. It was hysterical. In fact, let's just talk about that moment when the light switch is all. the way. across. the room. and you are #lazy or #exhausted.

Somewhat Reserved by Grace
When We Collided. I’d been looking at this book for a while, and, though I’m not sure I’m going to read it, I was glad to see her review because it was really thorough and told me what I needed to know to make a decision. If you’re considering this book, you should give her post a read.

Girl, Stolen. Another great review of another book I’d been thinking of reading. Might take me a while to get around, but her post helped me decide whether or not I wanted to give it a go. :)

Keturah’s Korner by Keturah
Thy Will Be Done--Even If God Says No. I 100% agree with this post. It is never weak to say, “God’s Will Be Done.” It’s one of the best, strongest things we can do, in fact, releasing control to The One who holds it all and is ultimately working everything out for the good of the universe. Even if we can't see it.

The Book Sacrifice Tag. I loved what she had to say at the end. Like I mentioned above, I am of the opinion that, within reason, authors should write what they like and we shouldn't put down the people themselves. But. If the book promotes ideas that are just plain wrong, then it is okay to step up and warn others, especially those vulnerable to be influenced by those ideas.

Jessi L. Roberts, Author
Movie Review: Rogue One. I hadn’t really planned on watching Rogue One (I liked the Star Wars universe the way it was and didn’t really want any additions. :p), but her review has almost convinced me to watch it. I actually think I will when it comes out on DVD. (warning: there are spoilers in this review, but they didn’t feel like major ones).

Stream of Unconsciousness by Vanessa
Identity. I honestly don’t know how to describe this post, but it is so well-written and so thought-provoking, and I really related to a lot of what she had to say about feeling static for so long and then slowly discovering the you who'd been dormant for most of your life. Warning for language, but I think it's super good. :)

And that is that for Summer Snowflakes in 2016! Tell me about which posts you’d read already and which ones made you think or made you laugh. And share some of your favorites from this year in the comments. :) Hope you enjoyed and that you all had a merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Also, before I forget, my blogoversary is next week! *throws limited amounts of confetti* I have nothing planned, lol, but hopefully something interesting will be up to on Thursday to commemorate the event. :) See you next year!

For the last few years, every time December rolls around, I haven’t really... felt it. You know, the Christmas spirit. That rising glee as ...

For the last few years, every time December rolls around, I haven’t really... felt it. You know, the Christmas spirit. That rising glee as December 25th approaches, that spark of excitement every time you see an evergreen, the delight of hearing all the radio stations suddenly change their tune—literally—to speak of Santa and shepherds and all the other things that make up this holiday. I haven’t felt any of it. And it wasn’t a slow waning either: in 2013, I was an adorable small, skipping to the radio the second Thanksgiving was over to be the first to hear Feliz Navidad. 2014 rolled around and I couldn’t stand half the songs I used to love; the other half, I didn’t hate, I just wasn’t in the mood for them at the time (I did randomly crave them in July, though, so go figure).

A part of me was depressed at all this. I wanted to be excited about the holidays, the gifts, the vacation time, the music, the food (you know what, scratch that; I’m actually still excited about the food), but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually feel it the way I used to. As 2014 wrapped up and that Christmas was only a day or two away, I gave up and chalked it up to growing up; but every year, I still kind of waited. A part of me accepted it, but each year after Thanksgiving, another part of me paused, eyes squinted and fingers crossed, to feel that childlike thrill shining its way into my soul as Christmas loomed into sight.


So I sighed, went through the motions of enjoying the holiday as best as I could, got my biggest high on the actual Christmas Day (though it was quick to fall the day after), and moved on.

But this year, as I realized that yet again I wasn’t going to feel all “Christmasy,” I had a sudden realization: I might be growing up, in an unfortunate and inescapable way, but the Christmas Spirit isn’t what I’m missing.

In spite of finding less excitement in the season, I wasn’t going through the motions when it came to the holiday; I was going through the motions when it came to the traditions. The decorations, the parties, the carols, that sort of thing. In my opinion, some of it is pretty (read Pentatonix Christmas compilations and the Christmas tree), but a lot of it is... almost tedious (read basically everything else with a few exceptions I’ll think of as soon as this post goes live).

I enjoy getting gifts for my siblings, seeing their faces when they open them, and watching them play with the gifts throughout the year, but there’s not a whole lot I want for myself. There are things I’d like, of course, and I won’t argue if someone wants to give them to me, but if I don’t get them, I know I’ll make it to December 26th, lol. I don’t have the same desperate need for EVERYTHING ON MY LIST that I did when I was a kid.

Some people go all out with their decorations and it looks really good... but I have no interest in being a part of anything beyond a tree, some lights, and maybe a nativity scene. As for the parties, they’re nice and I actually don’t hate them, but I’ve realized that I go more for my extroverted friends who want to see me and less for meenjoying the party itself. Plus, I’m busy, and whether it’s a good thing or not (I’m super Type A), I don’t really want to stop for anything.

In all honesty, food is the only thing about Christmas that I get really excited about (as bad as that may sound). Because for some ridiculous reason we’ve decided to only eat this good once or twice a year. Pfft. Silly people.

Well, actually, I get excited about food and one other thing.

Many of you probably noticed that I haven’t talked about the actual reason for the season yet: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have not lost my excitement about Him. It doesn’t show in the obvious ways, because I don’t always show real emotions in real life; but I know that I know that my love for my Savior, the thrill over His first coming, is still very much alive in my heart. The thankfulness that He deemed you and me not worthy but still worth Him giving up all His majesty and all His glory and coming down to us in the form of a child. So that He could grow up among us, be tempted the same ways we are yet never sin, to show us His understanding and His love, deeply, truly, genuinely (Hebrews 4:14-16).

And then to die. Because He knew that we needed to be saved and He loved us enough to do it at the cost of such incredible pain (Philippians 2:5-8). That is something I have not forgotten and never intend tonot during Christmas or any other time of the year.

To be clear, I don’t write this post to toot my own horn about how steeped the world has become in pagan traditions and how we’re all focused on the wrong things and I’m so spiritual for focusing on the Lord instead. In fact, if you do feel really “Christmasy,” I think that’s wonderful! I kinda wish that I still did.

But I write this post for anyone experiencing the same thing as mea kind of jaded, out-of-touch feeling with all the traditions but maybe not with the Savior—so that you would know that, one, you aren’t alone. And two, you’re okay. You don’t have to get excited every time you hear a Christmas song or see a lawn decked out with elves and reindeer. You can even groan inwardly the next time someone invites you to an ugly sweater party. So long as you keep the true spirit of Christmas, the Holy Spirit, first in your heart all year long, you are 100% okay. You have a hope deep down in your soul that will never alter, no matter how you feel (Hebrews 6:19), and because of this, you’re good. Truly good. And not just in my eyes, but in the eyes of our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Savior of Humanity.

Remember, dears, that you are amazing, cherished, and loved. Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, whether you’re into every piece of the holiday or not.

It's the argument people often use for including things like graphic violence, language, or explicit sexual content in their st...

It's the argument people often use for including things like graphic violence, language, or explicit sexual content in their stories, that they have to portray their characters accurately, the way they truly are. After all, who wants to read a book full of sunshine and rainbows and streams of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate as common as water? Obviously, that would be boring. The gritty isn’t excess. It’s necessary, so that the reader can feel understood as they wade through the stinking cesspool that is everyday life (particularly in YA fiction), to make the emotions powerful enough for the readers to feel them as deeply as the author desires.

On the other side, you have those who wish to portray life in a more ideal sense. Not that there's no conflict in these types of stories, but it’s toned down a little for the sake of the audience. There are no Hershey’s Dark chocolate streams (to which I call foul), but there are rainbows and sunshine and fluffiness; only a taste of darkness seeps in with the light, just enough to give the story a well-rounded conflict, but not enough for the reader to feel that their soul has been tainted and their worldview obliterated.

And then of course there are the stories that balance the two: they have a lot of darkness, but light still shines through in the end. The characters are beaten and bruised, but every once in a while, a little fluff dabs their wounds and everything looks okay.

So, which side is right?

I see some truth in both: on the one hand, honesty is vital to a good story. Some part of it must ring true to the reader, something about the characters, the plot, the setting, the theme, something must be true or there is no hook to pull us into a world that is ultimately fictional, to convince us to suspend disbelief for a few hours and pretend that what we read is real. Without truth, there is no way to portray fiction.

On the other hand, I personally prefer not to be bombarded with mental images of things like graphic brutality and sex (language kinda depends, because I have uncommon opinions on that, but still, I don't want it to overwhelm my brain). I understand that those things often have to be part of the story so that the hero/heroine can have the opportunity to RISE UP, but I also have no desire to read about them in explicit or unnecessary detail. I know that these things exist; I don’t need to be assailed by them in every book I read to be aware of that. Plus, my biggest reason for reading is entertainment of some kind; I want things to turn out good in the end, and frankly, there's a limited amount of crap that I'm willing to wade through while trying to lose myself in an otherwise good story. Sometimes, the characters grab me and I find it nearly impossible to stop, but there's a part of me that's still squinting and squeamishing through it all. I'm in it for the characters, but when those other elements go overboard to my senses, they do, to some extent, take away from my enjoyment of the tale.

Then again, where would the story be in a story without conflict, a hero without a villain, a victory without loss? It might be good, even temporarily satisfying, but I think there's an important element that would be missing, that would keep it from being truly memorable. We humans, particularly us hardcore nerds, are often melodramatic, masochistic creatures when it comes to our fiction: we want to feel things, all the things, because the happiness becomes euphoria when the sadness was formerly despair.

When it all comes out, I think this issue ultimately depends on one, the genre, because not all of these things are even accurate for every genre, and two, the person, whether reader or writer. Some writers feel the need to express the deepest depths of the darkness in the darkest way possible; others would rather shine a more hopeful view; others balance somewhere in the middle; and each should write their stories the way they see fit then find readers who agree with their take on life. I guess I'm presenting the idea that perhaps readers shouldn't get so upset with an author when that author doesn't portray their own story the way the reader thinks it should be portrayed; but instead we as readers should acknowledge that that particular portrayal wasn't for us, yet that doesn't make it any less true, any less meaningful, or any less needed by someone else somewhere else.

There's room for it all. Not everyone's going to like it all; using myself as an example, there have been many stories that were absolutely brilliant yet I couldn't stomach because of the horror and brutality (looking at you, Code Name Verity) and there have been many others that were cute and fun and adorable, but they didn't really stick with me (case in point, I know I've read some and enjoyed them at the time, but I can't think of one to name right now). But does that make those stories wrong? Does that make them bad?

It makes them wrong for me. In most cases (there are of course some that don't fall under this post), I don't think that makes the stories wrong in general. Just not what I wanted to read.

However, it was what the writer wanted to write. And (again, except in a few extreme cases), I think that's the author's only actual responsibility. To tell the story that they desire to tell and then hope the readers who desire to read it, find it. They can't worry about every reader in the world, just the ones that they and their unique perspective can touch and make a difference for. They should be aware of the readers and the influence that they as writers have, but there is some element of art and creative license that shouldn't be restricted. And just as the author can creatively write the sunshine or the darkness, I can respectfully reject it if it's not what I'm looking for.

Both are okay.

For my reading, I like stories that balance both perspectives, that both pain and provide joy in a unique and beautiful, accurate yet hopeful way. In my own writing, I want to do that. To write stories that portray life as it is, in all of its lovely, ugly glory, so that we can make a way for it to become what it ought to be.

So what about you? Do you prefer stories that portray life even in the dark and ugly parts, or ones that show a more idealistic point of view? Something of a balance in between, leaning one way or the other? Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section!

So, as you are all aware, I can be shockingly late to tags because I am a strange hermit who--though I definitely love you all--has difficu...

So, as you are all aware, I can be shockingly late to tags because I am a strange hermit who--though I definitely love you all--has difficulty keeping up with what is actually going on in the blogosphere. :p It’s a fault, I know. But though I have often been 2, even 3 months late, I think this is the first time I have been almost a full year behind on something like this.

Allow me to explain.

Back at the beginning of the year, the lovely Ally from the Scribbling Sprite did a linkup called Title Tangents, in which another blogger, Eugenia, picked 5-10 book titles and each person linking up had to write a flash fic using those titles. I thought it was a wicked cool idea, so I wrote it down in my blogging document under post ideas heading.

Enter Completely-Forgetting-That-This-Idea-Exists. :p

While trying to think of a post for this week, I stumbled upon the link again and went to the original website. It didn’t seem like she’d done the linkup a second time, but by then, I was set on doing Title Tangents this week yet I also I have to give credit where credit is do. Enter my compromise: I’m doing the post because I can, even though it was originally linked up 11 months ago; I am giving credit to the original creator of the tag; and I am picking the books myself from various reviews around the blogosphere. All links go back to the review I found the book on (except Star Wars, which I threw in because I could, and Infinity, which goes back to my review blog).

Shall we begin?

Original Rules
  1. There will be a list of 5-10 books whose titles you have to somehow integrate into a paragraph of ~ 200 words. (Yeah... I don’t think mine’s actually that long. Whoops.)
  2. Highlight/use a different colored font for the titles.
  3. The fun thing is it can be as whimsical or realistic, serious or downright hilarious - these titles have endless possibilities. The characters, settings, and whether there's dialogue or not are entirely your choices.
  4. Take a screenshot/type up your paragraph.
  5. Link back to Genie In A Book with the blog banner on your post.

Ze Titles

Wow. I did not make this easy on myself. Oh well.

My Title Tangents
They have named me The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Our leaders, the Iron Cast, fear the Star Wars even More Than This season of famine and drought, the lack of Apple and Rain. They say Providence has decreed that I must go in search of the Sign of the Green Dragon, hoarded by the Amish Vampires in Space, with which to appease the ruling Inkheart tribe before they attack and destroy us all.

And so I go. Beyond the Gateway into Infinity.

I feel like it’s really good except for that vampires in space bit. But I also can’t bring myself to erase it. :p

So have you done ever taken part in something like title tangents? Come up with your own paragraph based on these titles and post it in the comments! I’d loved to read your ideas :)

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