Wednesday Randomness: 3 Truths & A Lie

Happy Wednesday, lovelies. I’m taking a break from blowing my nose – it’s a full time job right now, people – and getting this post done. This week, we’re telling three truths and a lie about ourselves.crossed-fingers

To make things a bit more interesting – anyone who correctly identifies which of the following statements is the lie will get their choice of ebook from my backlist. I’ll be posting the answer on Friday (3/15) Good luck. 🙂 

I spent more than one summer traveling hundreds of miles in the back of a VW minibus/van that makes Bron green with envy (See what I did there…)

I’ve only lived in two states – Michigan and Minnesota. Midwestern girl, I am.

I don’t care for chocolate. I could take it or leave it.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Lip Sync Battle.


See what the other ladies have come up with and see if you can spot their lies.
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris

 

Wednesday Randomness: A Few of My Favorite Things: Beauty Products

This is going to be a fairly short post this week. Why? Because I have very few beauty products that are favorites. I have really, really sensitive skin – that has gotten even more sensitive in the past, oh, two years or so. I have yet to find a facial cleanser that does not make me feel like my face is on fire and in danger of falling off my skull – even the so called “for sensitve skin” products. Same goes for moisturizers. Which really sucks because my skin is dry too – I can play pictionary on it with my fingernail. It’s just sad.

BUT there are some things I have found that work for me, though, and have a permanent place in my life.

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Coconut oil – Seriously, I love the stuff. So many uses and I definitely use it because it doesn’t make me hurt or make my skin break out. I use it as a eye makeup remover, hair treatment (sometimes with other things but it’s fabulous on its own), on dry, cracked skin in the winter, as lip balm in a pinch. And there are other uses, too, but those are hte big ones.
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Aloe Vera Gel– Not the kind with any alcohol or coloring or all the things you can’t pronounce. The best is straight from the plant but if you use a good amount, hit Amazon and find some. It’s worth it.  Aside from the wonderful healing properties of aloe vera, there’s a lot you can do with this stuff. Seriously, Google it. The big thing I use it for is “aloe packing”. Since my skin is so sensitive and try this has been a life saver (and you would never use the icky green gel that is full of chemicals and alcohol for this!) and I just started doing it. Basically, you put the gel on your face, and you wait for your skin to soak it all in, then you put on an other layer. You do this until your skin just won’t absorb anymore. It’s lovely and soothing.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.50.39 PMSay Yes to Coconut Lip Balm – This is the lip balm I carry with me everywhere. I love it. And my lips thank me for it.                                      Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.49.50 PMSlow It Body Wash and Lotion – I discovered this whilst getting the hair ripped from my legs. A truely joyous experience. I don’t use this on my face, mind, but I love it for everything else. The first ingredient listed? Aloe. LOVE. It keeps my dry-ass skin hydrated and feeling smooth. And it really does seem to slow hair growth down. So win. These are products sold through European Wax Centers, and I’m not sure you can order online or anything. I just get mine when I endure the torture in the summers. (But I buy enough and still use even when I’m not waxing. It works and I’m not straying from it).

And that is it from me. I don’t really have any fave makeup – mostly because I suck at makeup so I rarely wear it.


Dont’ forget to check out the other gals’ posts. I know I will be…hoping to find some new favorites!
Brownwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jenny Trout | Jessica De La Rosa
Kellie St. James | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

 

Wednesday Randomness: Write What You Know?

Happy Wednesday! Today’s topic is whether we agree or disagree with the old adage “Write what you know” and why.

I didn’t realize how tough a question this was until I settled in to write this post. I actually don’t have a definitive answer to this.

As a writer, I write plenty I don’t know – I don’t know what it is to be a vampire or a faery or a witch or a reincarnated king, and I’ve written every single one of those. Aside from the fantasty aspect, I don’t know what it is to be a man, yet I write from my heroes’ POVs in every book.

But (you knew that was coming, right? The big “but”), when it comes to writing, say the fantasy stuff, I do know it, because I make it up. It’s my creation, my worlds. I write notes (lots and lots of notes), I make sure everything is consistent and don’t change willy nilly. The rules of those worlds are concrete and remain so through the book and/or series.

As for writing from a male POV… Well, conversations in this house do get interesting. I’ve been known to ask the hubs and any other male foolish enough to hang around how they would react to a situation, etc. Not saying I write how a typical man would react, think or feel, but again, I build the character and him consistent thoughout.

See how it’s complicated? Yes, write what you know, but if you don’t know it…

1) Research the crap out of it – a profession, a specific event, a locale, a time period, etc.

2) Make it up, create something, but make sure it’s consistent.

And here comes another BUT… When it comes to making it up? That works when it comes to fantasy and paranormal. Even when it comes to building an individual character, but I’ll be flat out honest here, there are things I won’t write because I don’t feel I have the perspective or knowledge, even with research, to do it well. There are some things, I believe, that without firsthand experience, I can’t write effectively. And I’m okay with that. I’ve enough to work with, and plenty of fantasy/paranormal stuff to keep me busy. LOL

So yes, write what you know. Research. And feel free to make stuff up, but FFS, be consistent. There, that’s my answer. LOL

And that’s all I’ve got this week. It’s been a rough one, a tad stressful so far. So this is me tonight….

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Okay, that MAY have been averted by channeling Olivia Pope (from Scandal)

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Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa
Kellie St. James | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

Until next week!
Hugs,
~J

Wednesday Randomness: I Spend Too Much Time…

I have many things I spend way too much time doing – I can procrastinate with the best of them, believe you me. But I don’t think my list of things I waste my time on is going to be much different than anyone else’s.

Reading – A constant my whole life. Best form of escaping, then, and it’s no different, now. Whether it’s a good novel, and interesting non-fiction read or a filthy fanfic, reading is a big part of my life. You won’t hear me say often that anyone can spend TOO much time reading, but for me… Yeah, sometimes, I’m reading when I should be doing something else – like finishing a book. *hangs head in shame*

TV/Movies – More TV than movies, really, but I’ve been known to marathon some good films. But I definitely watch too many TV shows. I very rarely watch episodes when they air on TV. No, I wait until later when I can watch and watch and watch…

netflix-marathonYeah, Merlin, Dr. Who, Broadchurch, The Fall, The Walking Dead, Arrow, The Flash, Friends, Psych, Supernatural…. Honestly, the list goes on and on. I have to be super strict with myself not to start watching a show when I should be working, because, despite my best intentions…

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Social Media – Twitter and Facebook? I look at the clock and realize waaay more time has passed than I thought. And anyone who knows me knows I spend more time on Tumblr than I ever should. it speaks to me. In so many ways. But mostly in this way

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or this way…

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I could keep going but… Well, you see what I mean about spending too much time? I’m trying to finish a book! I’m on a tight deadline and pretties (aka the life ruiners) keep distracting me! 🙂

And that’s where I’ll end it. Those are my top three time sucks – reading, watching TV/movies, and social media…


Go and see what the other ladies spend too much time doing!
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa | Kayleigh Jones  |
Kellie St. James | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

Until next week!
Hugs,
~J

April Song Writing Prompt – “I Will Possess Your Heart”

songprompt1I had a whole other story in mind for this song – “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie – which is a favorite of mine, btw.

But, I realized that idea…was something that would be much, much too long for something like this. So I switched gears.

Right now, I’m firmly entrenched in my Albion Circle series – writing like crazy on a story and characters I love. So, I decided to stay on that path with this month’s song prompt. Well, mostly on the path. Tthis is a slight detour as it’s a glimpse inside the head of Mordred – the not-so-good guy. o.O


~Mordred~

We belonged together.

Why didn’t Annwyl see that? Why didn’t she understand that Merlin wasn’t her other half? I was. I always had been, from the very beginning. He just got to her first.

Striding in to my study, I tugged my tie off and threw it on my desk before sitting in on of the armchairs in front of the fireplace. A few murmured words had flames springing to life, illuminating the darkening room. Another muttered spell, and a tumbler of brandy floated through the air into my waiting hand. I knocked the liquor back, relishing the burn as it worked it way down my throat to settle warmly in my stomach. I sent glass back toward the decanter to be refilled. Then, simply held the drink in my hand as anticipation flowed through me.

All day, I’d been waiting for this. Suffering through keeping up appearances, pretending to work for the bumbling idiot of a governor. Of course, he was firmly under my control, as was most of the staff. If I were to be successful this life, in this time, I needed to have power in the non-Magical world. The job was a means to an end, nothing more. But it kept me from maintaining contact with Annwyl. That required focus and concentration, and I couldn’t spare more than a few pockets of time through the day. And that wasn’t nearly enough. I needed more. She deserved more.

What Annwyl and I had, what we shared—no one else could understand that. Not Arthur and his followers, not Morgana, even when she was on the right side of the battle, and certainly not fucking Merlin. Even Annwyl didn’t fully understand. How could she? With Merlin in head? Well, this time would be different, because I was the one in her head now. I would have the time I needed with her, the time to show her the truth.

I know she thought I hated her, but my hatred never touched her. It was solely for Arthur and Merlin. I may feel anger at some of her choices—in this life and lives past—and lose myself in that anger, at times, but that was only because I cared too much. I loved her. More than Merlin ever could. It wasn’t a love born out of attraction and sex, but because she and I were of a kind. Underneath it all, Annwyl and I were the same. And it was up to me to make her see that.

I lifted the glass to my lips, thinking of what I’d have to do if I didn’t succeed. I never enjoyed taking her life. It hurt me to do so, and the guilt of failing weighed on me. But it was always a last resort, when it was clear she was too far gone to accept the truth before her. I regretted that her deaths were never easy, but if she couldn’t make the right choice, she needed to be used in a way to further the cause, to send a message to the Circle.

It wasn’t too late, this life, though. I still had time to make her see, to make her understand. I placed my brandy on the end table and settled back in the chair, closing my eyes, reaching out into Annwyl’s mind. Ready to spend some time with her and show her how things truly were. I would do everything in my power to succeed where I’d always failed.

And if she were too far gone, if Merlin and his king had corrupted her completely, I’d do what needed to be done. As painful as it would be, I’d reset things for her and start fresh in the next life.


Head on over and see what these awesome ladies have been inspired to write after listening to “I Will Possess Your Heart”…
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

MERLIN CLUB: The Diamond of the Day, Parts 1 & 2

 

MerlinClub1MERLIN CLUB: THE DIAMOND OF THE DAY, PARTS 1 & 2
OR THE END OF IT ALL
OR #MerlinClub? More like Merlin’s Sub…or at least Jess Is (Because @Tamsin_Frost tweeting this made me laugh so hard it gets to be part of my final Merlin Club post title 🙂 )

I have put off writing this all damned week. It really is, as the lovely Merlin Clubbers said, like leaving summer camp… I’m not ready to say goodbye to Merlin Club. But alas, no more avoiding. It’s time to get to it.

RECAP – We open with Morgana, with Mordred by her side, having a druid, Ari, demonstrate his magic. She then proceeds to take away that magic by having some big booger looking thing attach itself to his face. Bam, magic gone. She plans on using this on Merlin.

But now we know the war can be won. For Arthur is nothing without Emrys, and Emrys is nothing without magic.

One of her minions sneaks into Camelot and leaves the giant booger in Merlin’s room—after knocking Gaius out. Meanwhile, king and manservant are in the tavern, playing dice. Merlin manages to win every time with his magic. After, he sneaks back into his room and is attacked by the booger. (The creature is actually called the Eancanah, but it’s a booger, people). He throws it off and a now conscious Gaius clobbers it. But the damage is done—Merlin has lost his magic.

Morgana and Mordred attack an outpost of Camelot—magic fireballs flying through the air and everything. During the fight Gwaine saves a pretty girl, Eira, from being taken by a Saxon. Leon calls a retreat as they are vastly outnumbered.

Merlin is overwhelmed as the wounded pour into the city—without his magic he feels useless. Gaius tells him he still has skills as a physician and puts him to work. Merlin helps Eira. Gwaine already has it bad for the woman who has lost her whole family in the attack.

In a meeting around the Round Table, Arthur proposes going on the offensive—rather than just waiting for Morgana’s next attack. It is decided they will make their stand at Camlann. Merlin is freaked hearing that name as it’s there the prophecy says Arthur will die. Merlin prepares Arthur’s things for the journey but tells Arthur he will not be joining them—giving him the excuse that Gaius needs him to gather supplies for the wounded. Arthur doesn’t react well. (and the crying begins)

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Merlin is determined to get his powers back and enlists Gwaine’s help in getting to the Crystal Cave. We see Eira in the dark woods, meeting with Morgana and Mordred—she’s a spy! Dammit. Poor Gwaine. She tells Morgana that Arthur plans to ride to Camlann and that Gwaine is traveling with Merlin to the Valley of the Fallen Kings before he goes to the battle. Mordred mentions the Cave and it being the birthplace of magic. Well, Morgana isn’t going to risk Merlin getting his powers back.

In the Cave, Morgana taunts Merlin then traps him inside with a—SURPRISE *Jazz Hands*–rock fall that blocks the entrance.

Defeated, Merlin is visited by Balinor’s spirit, who encourages Merlin…

Merlin, you are more than a son of your father. You are son of the earth, the sea, the sky, magic is the fabric of this world, and you were born of that magic. You are magic itself. You cannot lose what you are.

He tells his son to rest. When Merlin wakes, he finds he’s regained his powers. Through one of the crystals, he sees Arthur sleeping and speaks to him—telling him of Morgan’s plan to outflank and ambush them. Arthur wakes and trusting what Merlin told him—even mentally—orders Gwaine and Percival to take men to meet Morgana’s. He gives a rousing speech to his forces…

Tonight…we do battle. Tonight, we end this war; we end a war as old as the land itself. War against tyranny, greed, and spite. Not all will greet the dawn – some will live, some will die. But each and every one of you fights with honour, and with pride. For not only do we fight for our lives, we fight for the future. The future of Camelot. The future of Albion. The future of the united kingdoms. For the love of Camelot!

…and the battle begins. Merlin magically busts out of the cave—full on Emrys/Dragoon—and rides for the battle.

The battle isn’t looking good for Camelot—Morgana’s up on some cliff using magic and Aithusa is raining fire down on them. It’s not good. But then, Merlin/Emrys shows up. Brings down freaking lighting and stuff and turns the tide. Sadly, though, Mordred has found Arthur and runs him through with his sword—the one Aithusa breathed upon—but Arthur returns the favor and kills Mordred with Excalibur. Merlin finds Arthur passed out on the battlefield, but he’s still alive. He carries him off. When Arthur comes too, Merlin is young again and the first thing his king asks is “Where have you been?” Oh God, my heart! Merlin apologizes and then reveals his magic to Arthur. Who doesn’t take it very well at all, and pushes Merlin away.

Here….watch. It’s… just…SOB

Back in Camelot, Gwen waits for word on Arthur from patrols searching for him. Gaius meets Merlin and Arthur in the woods. They tend to Arthur. When Merlin goes to see to the horses, Arthur tells Gaius that Merlin is a sorcerer, and quickly figures out that Gaius already knew this. Gaius tells him that Merlin is the only one who can help Arthur and he is loyal only to Arthur. Arthur’s reaction is lovely though. tumblr_mfkb29TrFw1qirafjo1_250 tumblr_mfkb29TrFw1qirafjo2_250

Gaius tells Merlin that a piece of Mordred’s blade is still inside Arthur and traveling towards his heart. That only the ancient magic of the Sidhe can heal him. He must take Arthur to Avalon. Arthur gives Gaius the royal seal to give to Gwen, and Merlin and Gaius hug and say goodbye.

Gaius returns to Camelot—tells Gwen that Arthur is in the best care with Merlin and hints that Eira should not be trusted. The girl is caught sending a message to Morgana—with false information as it was all a trap—and is executed. Gwaine—poor, poor, heartbroken Gwaine—and Percival head out to find Morgana. When they do, they fail in capturing or killing her and are taken themselves. Morgana uses the nathair serpent on Gwaine, and Percival hears his screams as he is tortured for information on where Arthur is. Percival breaks free and finds Gwaine who is dying. He says he has failed his king; he’s told Morgana where Arthur and Merlin are going. Then he dies.

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As Merlin and Arthur journey to the lake of Avalon, Arthur begins to see what Merlin is capable of and understand that Merlin has been protecting him all these years. Here come the GIFs en force, because these are some of my favorite moments…tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o1_250 tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o2_250 tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o3_250 tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o4_250 tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o5_250 tumblr_mfq85tduP11qdoo05o6_250

 

and this…

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and dear God THIS…

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Morgana catches up to them, and throws Merlin back with magic. She taunts Arthur.

What a joy it is to see you, Arthur. Look at you, not so tall and mighty now. You may have won the battle, but you’ve lost the war. You’re going to die by Mordred’s hand. But don’t worry, my dear brother, I won’t let you die alone. I will stay and watch over you, until the wolves gorge on your carcass and bathe in your blood.

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He then turns his attention to Arthur and getting his king to the lake, but without the horses—that Morgana scared away—their progress is slow. Arthur can’t go on any longer and collapses. Merlin holds his friend, who acknowledges what Merlin has done and accepts him before he dies in Merlin’s arms.

Here…join me in my pain.

Merlin calls Kilgharrah who brings him to the lake. The dragon tells Merlin there’s nothing he can do, but he must have faith—when Albion’s need is at its greatest the Once and Future King will return.

In Camelot, Arthur’s death is announced.

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Merlin throws Excalibur into the lake, returning it to the Lady of the Lake. He places Arthur on a boat and magically sends him to the Isle of Avalon

The show ends in modern times—an old Merlin walking by what was once the lake—clearly still waiting for the day Arthur will return.


 

If I’d written this episode, I would have changed… There’s not much I would change, honestly. And the thing I thought I would change, I’m not so sure anymore. It’s when Morgana is killed. When I first watched it, I thought it was way too anticlimatic. I wanted a huge magical showdow – Emrys v. Morgana. 

But now, after watching several times, and listening to the commentary, I like the way they did it. Merlin holding her as she dies beautifully parallels when he poisoned her in season 2. So I’ve changed my mind about that.

OH OH! I do have something I’d change! WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T HE CALL KILGARRAH SOONER??!!?!?! Have that dragon fly your ass to the lake and save your man, Merlin? I get that Arthur had to die – I was expecting that from the beginning of the series but it doesn’s make sense for Merlin to put off calling Kilgarrah for so long. It actually is pretty out of character for him, the man who is will to pretty much do anything for Arthur. So I’d have him call the dragon earlier or give a freaking reason why he doesnt.

Thing(s) I loved about this episode—I already put a lot of gifs of some of the scenes/moments I loved, so I won’t repeat myself. But here goes…

Arthur’s reaction when he learns of Merlin’s magic. Notice he didn’t say “Get away from me, evil sorcerer” or anything like that. When Merlin first says he has magic, Arthur’s reaction is:

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The first response is utter disbelief because HE WOULD KNOW. He would know something that important about Merlin. Even as they are journeying, as Arthur processes all of this, the anger he shows isn’t about the magic. It’s about the fact that Merlin lied and kept this from him for so long. He feels betrayed (again) by a person he loves. 

I love that the episodes focus so much on Merlin and Arthur – not just because of my mad Merthur love, but because this has always been their journey. Watching Arthur process everything and finally come to accept Merlin just as he is…. beautiful.

And Arthur’s first words to Merlin when he wakes after being wounded?

Where have you been?

Because despite Merlin saying he wasn’t coming, Arthur expected his friend to be there and wanted to know where he’s been. SOB

Colin Morgan and Bradley James – OMG, these two. They played this perfectly. Absolutely perfectly, IMO. Betrayed!Arthur is a fave of mine…always, and Bradley does it so well. But espeically in these episodes. And then the subtle changes, his expressions as Arthur begins to realize exactly what Merlin has done… FOR HIM. Truly brilliant. Another example…as Arthur is dying, he starts to fade, Merlin calls out to him and there’s a brief moment when he opens his eyes and focuses on Merlin…the look on Merlin’s face – that glimmer of hope – and him whispering “Don’t leave me”… KILLS ME EVERY TIME! it’s just perfect…and that line? Not even scripted. It was all Colin.

Thing(s) I hated about this episode—That Arthur died, but knew that was coming. The headache I get after the constant flow of tears that happen every time I watch these episodes. That it is the end of Merlin Club. 

Something I never noticed about this episode before—I’ve seen these episodes so many times – they top the Jess Rewatch List. So nothing about this episode, but it was something I noticed from an episode WAY back, and have been holding on to until this very post. From S01E09 Excalibur – Arthur counseling his knight: 

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And fast forward to this episode and…

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For once, I’m praising the writers. Well done.

Proof of some head canon I’ve created— So we have Arthur dying and he says: 

I want to say…something I’ve never said to you before… Thank you.

Um no. That is not what you were going to say, Arthur. No. Because you’ve thanked Merlin before and you damned well know it. And it wasn’t just one other time you said thank you to him, either… Let’s just take a look, shall we? 

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That’s at least 14 times you’ve said thank you to Merlin, Arthur! I don’t believe that’s what he was going to say. I think he was going to tell him he loved him. The way he looked at him, the way he cupped the back of Merlin’s head, it all makes sense that he would say I love you. But realizing that he was dying and leaving Merlin, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. And I will hold on to that head canon for as long as I live. 

Favorite costume—BAMF!Gwen’s outfit during the battle

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What would Bron steal from Camelot Camlann in this episode? Arthur’s tent and everything in it. Seriously…I would camp all the time if it were like this – and it included people setting it all up.

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What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in this episode? That Gwen put it all together and worked out that Merlin was the sorcerer in the battle – from not believing Merlin would leave Arthur’s side for something like gathering herbs, to seeing the sorcerer at work… Well, I think she loved everything about Gwen in this episode but especially this. 

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Bron’s Take on “The Diamond of the Day” | Jen’s Take on “The Diamond of the Day”

And that is it, friends. The end of Merlin Club. I was almost as weepy doing this post as I was watching the episodes.

Special thanks to Bron and Jen… This was awesome in every way. 🙂 I’m so glad we decided to do this.

And thank you to everyone who watched along or read our posts  – especially @volcat, @Tamsin_Frost, @TayciBear, @practicalstyl & @dylanbim, who watched and tweeted along regularly. As much fun as it is to just hang and talk with Jen and Bron, having more people along for the ride made it even more so! 

So, what’s next? Well over the summer, we’re going to do some move watch-alongs. It won’t be every week, and we won’t be doing blog posts about the movies. We’re going to take it a bit easy over the summer – at least as far as this kinda thing goes. 🙂 But we’ll announce when it’s happening on twitter so you can join us.

Then, in the fall (September), we’ll be back to watching and posting weekly. We are going to be watching Rome. We’ll have more details about that later, but it’s going to be fun as hell. 🙂

Goodbye, Merlin Club.

Good with Pie

Hugs,
~J

Wednesday Randomness: 5 Words or Less – My Blog, My Fiction, My Creative Process

5wordsorless

My Blog – Challenging, fun, growing

My Fiction – Sexy, fun, entertaining, I hope.

My Creative Process – Maddening, Exciting, Always Evolving


Check out how the other ladies described these things!
Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa
Kayleigh Jones | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris

Until next week!

Hugs,
~J