#MondayBlog – Mapping Out Your Novel’s #Fantasy #World

When reading fantasy novels, the world created needs to make sense.  The reader needs to be able to picture where the action takes place.  Here are examples from my favorite books.

Hogwarts – J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series


Camp Half-Blood – Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series


A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin’s series


Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien’s series


Vita Post Mortem Academy – my (after)life lessons series

Map of Vita Post Mortem Academy

To vote for Vita Post Mortem Academy to be published by Amazon, click on The Light of Supremazia Kindle Scout page book #1 in the (after)life lessons series.

How do you map out your novel’s #fantasy world? See what author @alanasiegel thinks (Click to tweet)

Maps from your favorite #fantasy #books – check out @alanasiegel ‘s post (Click to tweet)


Borrowed from @orsonscottcard ; The Enemy’s Gate is Down #EndersGame

Perhaps there are tests to complete and qualifications to earn before you can call yourself a fantasy fiction writer.  I felt compelled to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I loathed the details of physical battles, but I appreciated … Continue reading

Japanese Onigiri and Elvin Lembas, the same thing?!

Yesterday, I ventured to a new lunch spot and tasted onigiri for the first time. As I bit into the delicious sushi-like sandwich, I couldn’t help but think about Lord of the Rings and their Elvin bread, Lembas.


ONIGILLY [Oh-Knee-Ghee-Lee] is a traditional Japanese fast food known as onigiri, or rice balls, that dates back over 2,300 years. Samurai carried these rice balls with them during war for a quick meal…sound familiar?

Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.“—The Fellowship of the Ring, “Farewell to Lorien



Guess I live in a real-life fantasy land.

Dedicated to the Girls Who Used to Stand in the Back Row in Dance Class

Don’t be mad. I just googled the band, Mötley Crüe. I know its a heavy metal band formed some time in the 80s, but why were they a “motley crew?” One picture solved the mystery for me:


Don’t be surprised, but this is where I relate Mötley Crüe to young adult fantasy books.

I’ve been doing lots of research on character introductions and came to the realization that most of my favorite books have some sort of motley crew – a group of underdogs who beat all odds and save the day.

The obvious one is Harry Potter.  Wasn’t Luna a little looney?  Neville Longbottom accident-prone? And Ginny Weasley just a little girl? But you loved the ragtag bunch.


Percy Jackson wasn’t any better – his best friend was a satyr and his brother was a cyclops.


Don’t even get me started on Lord of the Rings.


How about the New Directions in Glee?  Definitely your standard geeky bunch.


Well, my next book series starts the same way – a mismatched gaggle of kids, looking for a brave leader, getting into trouble, and of course, attending a school taught by famous ghosts.  Look for it soon, called (after)life lessons.


I feel like real life isn’t so different.  Didn’t everyone in San Francisco cheer for the 49ers?

I take jazz classes with a talented teacher named Ann twice a week.  There are a group of us who joined about a year ago.  We started in the back of the class, our own version of a motley crew, tripping through combinations and embarrassing ourselves.  Through dedication and hard work, we improved.  Most recently, the teacher suggested we stand in the front of the room.  I felt like my own personal underdog, able to keep up with her challenging routines and perform next to beautiful dancers without missing a beat.   [Perhaps I’ll attache a video soon!]

Say Yes, Raise My Hand, and Floss My Teeth

Today’s quote on Goodreads reminded me of my goals for the season. In case you were confused, this is birthday season, aka post-wedding season. It lasts until the holiday season 😉
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
With more time to think about myself, where I am in life, and where I want to be, I put together a list of things I want to work on.
1. Say yes more often. When a friend asks me to grab coffee or join a Zumba class, say yes.
2. Raise my hand. When someone suggests an idea at work, let them know why I agree or disagree.
3. Floss my teeth. Yup, you read that right.
Ok, so these are tame goals, and definitely not that scary, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We can’t all be Eowyn from Lord of the Rings and launch into the battle of Pelennor Fields and fight the evil Witch-King of Anmar.
Or Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games and face 23 death-hungry kids in a man-made hell for the pleasure of the viewing public.
Or Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, the mother of dragons, and marry Khal Drogo, the Dothraki khalasar, in order to take back the iron throne for her people.
But I can start here. And besides, I already consider myself a mother of 1 dragon…my ragamuffin cat named, Zeus.
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The Ultimate Superpower

As a fantasy fiction author and reader, I am constantly thinking about superpowers.
Speed. Strength. Invisibility. Magic. Charm….
All terrific abilities to have and useful when defeating the big bad enemy, but none of these traits are the supreme reason for the hero’s success. The way I see it, the ultimate superpower is optimism.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world,” said the King of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, who recognized hobbits were the true heroes, doing good for the sake of doing good, without further goals or desires.
While I agree it is their selflessness that should be revered, I also think it is their optimism. There is something to be said about persevering with a positive outlook as you helplessly stare your enemy in the eye.
It’s the same “Can-Do-It” attitude the unsung hero, Neville Longbottom, portrays when he grabs the sword of Gryffindor and takes down the Dark Lord’s snake.
Although applied to fight a different type of enemy, I watched the power of optimism in action last night. I attended a jazz class taught by a fabulous women named Ann, who’s mother had just passed away. To add insult to injury as if to mock her and say ‘try being happy now,’ it was also the teacher’s birthday.
Ann, with the help of her friends in the class who dressed in animal print to show their support, was an optimistic superhero and beat down the enemy. The class became a joyful tribute to her mother, and we danced our hearts out with glee.
I was truly touched with her parting words for the night. “Create your own happiness, and keep dancing.”  — Ann Barrett