Category Archives: Blog News

AIO Post Delayed

I fucked up. While I was working on the next review I realized it didn’t belong in the stewardship theme, but another category entirely. Naturally, I realized this when it was too late to start another blog.

So, no post today, but there will be one next week to make up for it, then one the week after so we will be back on schedule. Sorry everybody, and thanks for your patience!

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New Youtube Channel!

So, my best friend Sister Mark and I have started a Youtube channel, Lectio Fictina, where we read our favorite lines from our favorite books and ridiculously overthink them. We are very much at crappy-webcam-in-a-bathroom level quality, but hey, we’re both broke. Anyway, we’re having fun making them, and if you want to check them out I hope you have fun watching them.

My favorite so far is our third one. It has a kitty.

Adventures in Odyssey Update: Reboot!

So, it’s been a while since I posted an AIO review. I needed a break to rethink how I was doing these. I kept feeling like the roughly-chronological approach wasn’t communicating the real impact this show had on my life. As a kid, I didn’t listen through once or twice. I was steeped in it. I sampled random episodes while I was doing chores, or crafts, or on a road trip. It’s collective approach to various issues shaped my early understanding of almost any moral question you can think of.

With such a long running show, it was inevitable that they would return to the same themes quite frequently. Every topic they covered had good and bad episodes, naturally, but in retrospect not only were there more bad than good, but the bad ones were awful while the good ones were fairly bland and obvious. That, upon reviewing this series, is my biggest problem; it’s not that they can’t churn out a good message every now and then, but it’s that the morals they emphasize tend to be extremely problematic. Furthermore, I think that sometimes what most impacted my life wasn’t what messages were included, but which ones were excluded. To be clear, I don’t think any show should be responsible for teaching all of the things. That’s an unrealistic expectation. But unfortunately, it’s an unrealistic expectation that Focus on the Family actively encouraged parents to have. So I do think it’s fair to point out that, given how many episodes talk about relationships, none of them even mention the existence of emotional manipulation or abuse. (And don’t tell me it’s just a kids show. They do go to some dark, scary places when it suits their agenda, and plenty of kids shows do find ways to at least introduce difficult topics.) If you’re going to market yourself as a comprehensive moral guidebook for kids, and parents actually take that seriously, like mine certainly did, you get criticized for the important things you fail to mention.

So, during that four month break, I listened to every episode I have. I took notes and grouped them by topic, and cut out some episodes that were repetitive. For the most part, I’ll now be reviewing them by themes, with two exceptions. First, as I listened to all these episodes back to back, I noticed some interesting patterns in how AIO constructs a theme. I picked out some episodes that either didn’t fit neatly into a category (or retread old ground), but were good for showcasing how AIO tries to teach their lessons, for better or worse. I’ll be using these as spacers between the big thematic groups. Second, there are a couple arcs that hang together so much that it’s difficult to tell any part separately. I’ll be using a couple of these to show you how AIO sounds to a regularly listening audience. The last one section I do will be one of these, and it will cover their longest arc; the Novacom saga.

Good lord, I cannot wait to tell you all about the Novacom saga. It’s such a greatest hits of everything the show has ever done wrong.

I’m sorry the delay was so long, but there was a lot to cover. I’m going to be reviewing a grand total of 95 episodes, and as I said, there’s quite a few that I had but opted to skip. Now that I’ve got it all mapped out, I’m really excited to get back into it. I’m also going to start posting them on a regular schedule; every other Wednesday, starting next week.

Thanks for your patience, and look for the next review around noon next week!

July Hiatus

Hi all!

I’ve got three big things going on this month. Number one, I’ve decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo. Normally when I do a NaNo month, I pre-write some blog posts so I can keep up my 4-6 blogs per month. This time I didn’t get a chance, because, number two, I’m going through a big job change. I’m going back to school and switching to substitute teaching for the year. Number three, I’ve decided both this site my Tumblr is due for an overhaul. I’m teaching myself social media management as I go and I think there’s a lot I can do to improve both sites, and use them more effectively to promote each other.

I am prone to getting overwhelmed and burned out when too much is going on. I do put a lot of work into my posts, so I’ve decided it will help significantly to put them on hold for a month.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, and I’ll be back in August. Thanks, as always, for reading.

News for November

Time for a bit of news! First off, I am doing Nano this year, though that doesn’t mean I’ll be entirely absent. Just in case someone comes across and doesn’t know what the deal is, it’s a yearly challenge to yourself to write a first draft of a short novel; 50,000 words in one month. I’ve done it to win a few years now, and that’s fun, but this time I really want to go for quality as well as quantity. So far, every time I’ve finished Nano I’ve been exhausted with the novel I poured myself into, and felt like story problems arose because I was trying to hard to get my word count in and not thinking about the choices that would be best for the story. That’s not an entirely bad thing. Every aspiring writer has a moment when they need to break out of the editing-as-you-draft habit, and for me Nano really did this. But now I think I’ve learned to finish projects, and it’s time to end up with something that I’m proud of and that I can keep working on until I’m ready to send it to an editor.

So what does that mean for this blog? In brief, it means that I won’t be going full-on Nano and I foresee periodically needing breaks, during which I might well post some brief reviews or writerly thoughts.

Now for the big news. I’ve been working on a project that I’ve been hinting about since this summer. I love stories that come in serialized formats. Part of that is the anticipation that is created as the audience waits for each next piece. Also, I like the way ongoing stories can explore the way stories and arcs in a persons life overlap; just because one part of your life has wrapped up, other stories may be ongoing. Some relationships might seem over for a while, and then start up again. You might learn a lesson, and then have to learn it again a few times before it sticks.

So, I’ve been wanting to publish a story in regular installments. Honestly, with work right now that isn’t going to be something I can do year around, but I can go in “seasons” like a TV show. The first season will start next Sunday. I’ll be posting one short story/chapter/segmenty thingy with a self-contained arc that ties into an overall plot every other week until mid-January, after which I will be likely moving the whole series to its own site. I am really nervous about putting my work up here but also very excited. I hope you all enjoy, but (constructive) feedback is welcomed even if you don’t.

Thanks for reading!

Blog News and the Villain Problem

I’ve decided to devote this summer to a writing project. I had a couple of weeks off from work to get a start on it. Unfortunately, my job does include working summer school, so to free up my time I’ve prewritten several posts. At the end of August, I’ll have news about what my project is and how it will be published, so stay tuned.

July’s posts have a theme. There is a problem writers often talk about, typically called the Villain Problem (obligatory Writing Excuses link). It’s the tendency of villains to be more interesting than the protagonists. Villains are fun, while good guys are boring.

When I was a kid this bothered me a lot, because it was a sign of how people were overly obsessed with sinfulness or something. Young me was a bit zealous at times. Now I think its important to note that there are cases where this is simply what the story was supposed to be. There is a very common story type, arguably a megagenre, where the hero is an ordinary person, and the villain’s presence somehow disrupts their comfortable status quo. It is the hero’s job to bring things back to normal. In this case, the villain has several natural advantages, as far as interest goes. They are proactive, while the hero is reactive, at least for most of the story. The hero is familiar, the villain, as the deviation from the norm, is often more interesting. This story type includes classics like Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz and The Phantom of the Opera.

However, there is a difference between Luke, Dorothy, Christine, and the innumerable forgettable protagonists we encounter every year. If a story does feature the protagonist as proactive from the start, if there isn’t an interesting and well-crafted villain to overwhelm them, and the hero is still boring, there’s a problem. I’m going to post this month about the ways protagonists can be boring in a bad or unnecessary way.

The first of those will be up in a couple of days. Until then, thanks for reading!

Happy New Year’s Eve

This is the last day of 2014, and I’ll miss it. It was a really great year for me, and furthermore broke a streak of really awful years that started back around puberty. I’ll remember it well.

I’m planning on making some changes for the blog this year. My New Year’s resolution is to get it better organized (I’ve decided the secret to successful New Year’s resolutions is to make them a self-contained task that can be completed in the post New Year’s burst of energy, not something along the lines of “instantly become a better person forever”). I want to update the about page, index my Screwtape Letters reviews and get my tags and categories more streamlined.

Speaking of Screwtape, I’m only two posts away from the end of that series. I’ve enjoyed doing them, and they’ve easily been my most popular posts. My childhood was a cornucopia of Christian books and movies, so I’ve decided to continue reviewing religious themed media from an atheist’s perspective. I’ll be starting with Veggie Tales and Adventures in Odyssey, and probably get to the Chronicles of Narnia and Lewis’ Space Trilogy. Reader suggestions are welcome.

I’ve also been thinking that this blog would benefit from having a more narrow focus, so  from now on I’m going to be using this exclusively for reviews, with an emphasis on reviewing religious materials. For those of you interested in my writings on gender, writing and other ideas, my sister and I will be resurrecting an old sibling blog, The Brunette’s Blog. It’s primarily run by her but I’ll be posting regularly as well.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading, and I hope 2015 is as wonderful for you as 2014 was for me.

Surgery and October Updates

Hello, dear readers,

Today I’m in Ohio, to get my top surgery done. The procedure went well, and I’m feeling woozy, yet satisfied. Hopefully this won’t mean a stop to the blogging. I’ve got some first drafts of the next several Screwtape blogs, including one with a special guest writer, and one about my method for fixing the problem of discovering that despite thinking of yourself as a progressive enlightened writer you’ve once again started writing a book with an all-white cast.

I feel incredibly lucky right now, to have so many supportive people in my life. My coworkers have been very understanding and helpful in accommodating my leave. My best friend drove me up here, through some really awful weather, and is taking great care of me. My boyfriend is also coming to help take care of me and to drive me home next week. They’ve all been awesome, so I’m thanking them here, because who doesn’t want to have their awesomeness recorded publicly? Hooray awesome people!

Hopefully our regular blogging schedule will be resumed shortly. Take care, y’all!