The Magical Wonders of THE SIMS 4

Ad disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualified purchases, so if you make a purchase using the links in this article, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I have not been compensated for my commentary about The Sims 4: Realm of Magic or The Sims 4: Strangerville.

For the past two years, I’ve been in love with the video game The Sims 4, but over the past two months, my copy of Origin must have been dealing with a gremlin infestation because I couldn’t open the game. But now that I can open the game, I realized that they released a new game pack called Realm of Magic, and now I just can’t get enough!

When I started playing this game pack, I fell in love with the concept of the neighborhoods, the outfits and accessories, and the Art Nouveau-inspired designs in Build Mode. I also found the game pack Strangervilleand it reminded me so much of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale that I wanted to try it out. I’ve been focusing more on the Realm of Magic game pack, but I liked the concept of Strangerville being more story-driven, so I’m excited to start and see what’s going on for myself! Who knows? It might inspire some ideas for a new story!

Do you play The Sims 4? Have you tried Realm of Magic yet? If so, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know what you think the comments section below!

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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Meet the Characters: My “Sleepy Hollow” Retelling

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I’ve noticed with fans and writers alike that it’s fun to put real-life actors to the characters in books, and it’s interesting to see why people see the actors they chose as those characters. I like to write my book like I’m making a movie; I want to be as descriptive as possible as well as have a dynamic pacing that keeps the reader engaged and rooting for the characters. As a result, it helps to have actor’s likenesses linked to character names, since it gives me a clearer image of how the scene will appear.

As I’ve been writing my manuscript for The Hollow Bones, a sequel/retelling of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, I’ve been thinking of who I’d want to play the characters of the story, if it were completely up to me. So, here’s my dream cast for The Hollow Bones:

Evangeline “Lina” Van Brunt: Lily James in BBC’s War and Peace 

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Image source: Harper’s Bazaar

Like her mother Katrina in many film adaptations of the story, Lina is blonde, and I mention this because a lot of the reference photos I saw of women in Regency-era films like the Jane Austen movies were brunette (with the exception of Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice). As a result, I ended up using photos of Lily James as Natasha Rostova in BBC’s War and Peace as reference images for Lina.

Runner-up: Elle Fanning in Mary Shelley

Michael von Essen: Tom Mison in FOX’s Sleepy Hollow

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Image source: POPSUGAR

It feels strange “casting” Tom Mison because he played Ichabod Crane in FOX’s TV series Sleepy Hollow, but after listening to his audiobook narration of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (affiliate link), now I can only imagine his voice as that of Mr. von Essen.

Runner-up: Aidan Turner in BBC’s Poldark

Washington Irving: (tentative) a dark-haired version of Jack Lowden in BBC’s War and Peace 

Image source: Wikimedia

For reference, I used a painting of Washington Irving by John Wesley Jarvis dated to 1809, but I wasn’t finding actors that were enough of a likeness of our favorite writer for me to go, “That’s it!” When I saw photos of Jack Lowden as Nikolai Rostov in BBC’s War and Peace, all I had to do was imagine him with darker hair to be satisfied for the time being. I’m open for suggestions on who would be best to play Washington Irving—I don’t want to mess this one up, considering he’s the author of the original story!

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Image source: Pinterest

Sarah Van Ripper: Miranda Richardson in Phantom of the Opera

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Image source: IMDb

Sarah Van Ripper’s household owned Gunpowder, the horse that Ichabod Crane rode on that fateful autumn night, and she likely knew more of the town’s secrets during the time Mr. Crane would have been there—almost two decades before the timeline of The Hollow Bones. Possibly because of her knowledge of the Hollow, I drew a connection to Miranda Richardson’s portrayal of Madame Giry in the movie Phantom of the Opera, due to the similarities in their characters. (Interestingly enough, Miranda Richardson was also in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow as Lady Van Tassel. What a coincidence!)

Katrina Van Brunt (née Van Tassel): Hayley Atwell in Disney’s live-action Cinderella

Image source: Pinterest

While Katrina Van Tassel is eighteen in 1790 when the original story takes place, I had to take some creative liberties to make the timeline work for The Hollow Bones (sorry, Mr. Irving). Even if Katrina is older in my version of the story, I believe she’d still have her charm, wit, and beauty almost twenty years after the events of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.

Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt: (tentative) Oscar Isaac

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Image source: IMDb

Say what you want about the new Star Wars movies (which brought Oscar Isaac to my attention), but in some of the photos I’ve seen of him, it seems like he would be old enough to be Lina’s father, but also would have been young, lively, and handsome when he married Katrina.

Baltus Van Tassel: Donald Sutherland

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Image source: SuperiorPics

I first knew Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (seen above), so that along with his performance as President Snow in the Hunger Games series sealed the deal for him to be who I imagine as playing Katrina’s father and Lina’s grandfather.

Ichabod Crane: Matt Smith in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Image source: Pinterest

When I thought of who would be Ichabod Crane, my mind went straight to Matt Smith as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, because he looked so similar to how Washington Irving describes Mr. Crane in the original story. If you aren’t familiar with the story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, you can find the Amazon Kindle and Audible versions here (Amazon affiliate link).

This is not a list of all the characters in the book, but those are the main characters. Have you done this for your stories? What else would you want to know about the story? Let me know in the comments section below!

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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Edit: I previously wrote that Katrina Van Tassel is blonde in the original story. I have not found reference to Katrina’s hair color in Washington Irving’s story, but in Tim Burton’s 1999 film Sleepy Hollow and the 1949 Disney cartoon, Katrina is shown with blond hair. The relevant parts of this article have been edited accordingly.

 

Hurricane Dorian and CARNIVAL ROW

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualified purchases.

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today is interesting because here in Florida, we have quite the unwelcome visitor coming our way: Hurricane Dorian. As I’m typing this, it’s not supposed to hit our area directly, but we might get the outer edge. We joke that the closer we are to Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel, the more concerned we need to be. Luckily, he’s not super close by, so we shouldn’t be that concerned—not yet, at least. To everyone that may be in Dorian’s path, I hope you all stay safe during the storm!

Earlier this Labor Day weekend, I also binge-watched the new Amazon Prime series Carnival Rowstarring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. After watching the series, I was inspired by the neo-noir Victorian vibes—not necessarily steampunk, but still having the Victorian and distressed elements along with a fantastical vibe from the Fae. I have some ideas for DIY home decor and fashion pieces inspired by the series, but I’m still not sure how to execute them. Luckily, with the hurricane coming, I should have plenty of time to brainstorm ideas and practice the techniques I’d want to use.

What would you want to see for Carnival Row-inspired DIYs? Let me know in the comment section below! Thank you so much for reading! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

Storybook-inspired Vintage Crystal Candelabra DIY (VIDEO)

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I’m so excited today, because I’ve uploaded my first video on my YouTube channel! My video showed how I made over a crafts-store candle holder into a vintage-inspired crystal candelabra.

My inspiration for this DIY experiment came from Lulu Sapphire‘s videos on YouTube. Her style seems to be French Baroque inspired with a whimsical touch, with many of her videos inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Personally, I love the combination of bronze and crystal; the bronze gives an antique feel to it—like the piece has a long, fantastical history behind it—while the crystals give a bit of a glamorous touch. What I also love about this type of project is that you can really make it your own, using different colors or crystals to achieve the look you want. Here’s how I made over this candelabra into a piece that fit the aesthetic I was going for.

I bought my candelabra from Michaels (if this isn’t it, then it’s very similar to it), and because I like warmer metallics like copper or antique gold, I used bronze spray paint (I used this type) to make it the color I wanted. I then ordered crystal strands from Amazon, as well as 38mm (1.5 inch) teardrop pendants. A word of friendly warning: it can be a bit tricky working with the small crystal pieces and connectors, but be patient, and you’ll get to where you want.

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Those of you who follow my Instagram may find this similar to my sneak peek photo!

To keep everything from slipping off the candelabra, I took five links from the crystal strands and linked them together to form a ring. These rings would go around each of the candle holders to hold the strands and pendants in place.

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This picture is getting a little ahead, but it shows how the crystal rings work. It should be noted that at the very last minute, I changed the topmost ring from five crystals to four, but that was at the very last minute, so I didn’t get that on camera.

After I connected all the rings, I then worked on the strands. The strands I used come with connectors that remind me of staples, and the pendants come with jump rings, so I added the jump rings to the strands in order to thread the strands through the connectors. I left one connector open in between where the strands connected, because that’s where I’d connect the teardrop pendants.

 

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This picture shows the technique I had for the strands and the pendants.

After I finished all the strands, I then added one extra octagonal crystal to each of the teardrop pendants that would go on the arms of the candelabra (I left the teardrops that would go on the topmost ring as they were). Then, I attached the pendants to the rings in the same way as I did the strands.

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After I added the teardrop pendants to the topmost candle holder, I called the project complete! I’m so happy with how this turned out, and I’d love to see your take on this project! If you want to see the finished result, please check out my YouTube video!

Thank you so much for watching! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

The hardest part of writing

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I’ve been trying to wrap up the first draft of The Hollow Bones, as well as work on a short story idea that I’ve had for a few weeks, and I noticed something: I hit what I consider the hardest part of writing.

For me, the hardest part of writing a novel or a short story is when I know the order of events, but I’m not sure how to transition between those scenes smoothly and realistically. Climactic battles, poignant conversations between characters, and even typical days in the lives of students can flow onto the page so easily that my pen has a hard time keeping up with the movie screen in my head, but connecting those pieces together? Not so much.

This morning, I was working with one of those transitions for The Hollow Bones, and I had to remind myself that it’s better to be done than to be perfect. I just started writing the transition from one scene to the next, and hopefully it’s not that bad when I go back to read the scene for revisions. Is it perfect? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The point was to just get the words into my computer, and it worked.

If nothing else, this instance is a reminder for me that writing transitions may not be as hard as I think it is, because I may be putting too much pressure on myself to have it be ready for the publisher the first time, when that’s not easily possible (if at all). Writing transitions might be a challenge when I’m writing stories, but the hardest part of writing in general may be to let words just come out with the acceptance that it’s not going to be perfect.

Do you guys deal with this too? What’s the hardest part of writing stories for you? Let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

 

What inspired my Sleepy Hollow retelling

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! It’s been ages since I last wrote, but my day job and relocating had taken up most of my time and mental bandwidth. But now I’m back, and I’m hoping to blog more often in the coming weeks!

As some of you may remember, I participated in NaNoWriMo 2018, and my NaNo had the working title of The Hollow Bones. The Hollow Bones is a historical paranormal fantasy novel that is a sequel/retelling of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Today, I wanted to write a bit more about what inspired me to write this story.

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Still from Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) (taken from HauntedHouses.com)

The Hudson Valley—and Sleepy Hollow in particular—has always intrigued me from a young age, and the fact that I have a personal connection to this area (I spent a lot of time there growing up) only further strengthened my bond with that story. Washington Irving’s story includes a lot of the Gothic literature motifs that I can’t get enough of, so it seems only natural that something so close to my heart is part of what will hopefully be my debut novel.

I tried to write a novel inspired by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” when I was in high school, but I wasn’t able to give it as much depth and attention to detail as I would have liked. For some reason, last September and October, I felt an unexplainable need to come back to that story, do further research on early Regency America, and rewrite the story into what it is now. This need was so strong that the writing streak went from mid-to-late September all the way through most of NaNoWriMo, which may be a record for me.

As I’m writing this, I still have some ideas that I want to research further about the legends of the Hudson Valley and the life of Washington Irving, but most of the novel’s main plot points are written. These days I’ve been reading Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley by Jonathan Kruk, and so far it’s been really helpful. Right now, I’m currently in the process of revising the first draft and finalizing all the plot points before getting into the heavy editing, so hopefully the next steps in the writing process will treat me nicely!

What else do you want to know about this story? Let me know in the comments section! Thanks for reading! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

I have no idea what I’m doing

One of my goals for this year is to start paying more attention to my creative career, including my social media and online presence. This is when one really starts seeing the buzzwords come up like the one that has become something of an arch-nemesis—”branding”. In my quest for advice about how to create a brand for myself and my business, I’ve uncovered a variety of tips and advice, and the process has become somewhat overwhelming. It’d be one thing if I wanted to do one creative outlet, but I’m interested in art, writing, music, podcasting, content creation, performing arts—encompassing all of that into one “brand” can feel like a challenge of epic proportions.

The easy answer for that is, “Well, Morrigan, you are the brand.” Fair enough, but now here’s the question: how do you form a brand for yourself when you don’t really know who you are?

When you and your creativity are your brand, it’s easy to feel pressured into pigeonholing yourself into a nice, tidy category. I know already that will not work for my personality, nor will that work for my creative endeavors. This is not the universe of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. We are multifaceted beings, and we are allowed to have eclectic tastes, evolve, and expand. That said, how can we untangle our kaleidoscopic personalities and describe ourselves in the best way possible with a color palette, mission statement, and logo? I’ve yet to figure that out for myself, and no Internet search or self-help podcast can do the hard work of that for me.

At this point, I’m reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect on day one, and that I am allowed to grow and evolve. I would like to hear from you guys: are you feeling the same way about developing your online presence? What do you wish you knew starting out? Please let me know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading, and stay magical, everyone!

My 2019 Resolutions

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to another article! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, and I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! It’s around this time of year when we start to make our New Year’s resolutions, and I would like to share mine with you!

My New Year’s resolutions for 2019 include:

  • Starting the editing and publishing process (querying, etc.) on my NaNoWriMo novel, The Hollow Bones
  • Starting my music career (with a band, on my own, or a combination of both)
  • Training to get my body stronger, and hopefully get back into aerial silks, ballet, and/or flow arts
  • Starting my YouTube channel and/or my audio drama podcast
  • Developing a self-care routine to start healing from mental illness 
  • Living with more creative expression (DIYs, home decor, art, music, etc.)

What are your New Year’s resolutions? If you don’t make resolutions, are there any goals you’d like to accomplish before the end of the year? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Thank you for reading, and stay magical! Happy New Year!

I made it (A NaNoWriMo update)

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog!

I’m only almost two weeks (!) late, but I made it.

I finished NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words.

It feels unreal that I made it, what with everything that’s happened in the month of November. That said, I’m not done yet. I know a lot of people using the month of December to rest before editing in January, but there is still work to be done on my WIP. I promise that I will take a break between the first draft and revisions/editing, but I still need to finish the first draft. I’ve said before that I have over thirty (!!!) story ideas and I don’t want this WIP to be yet another first draft that’s permanently in WIP mode. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish the first draft before the end of January.

Despite all this, however, I’m really proud of myself that I finished with 50,000 words, so I’ll be over here, ordering my winner T-shirt from the NaNoWriMo website.

 

Were you able to finish NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for reading!

 

Will I make it? (a NaNoWriMo update)

So we have four days left of NaNoWriMo, and as I’m writing this blog post, my current word count is just past 37,000 words. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to win this year, but honestly, I don’t care too much if I lose.

In my opinion, November was not really well-timed to write 50,000 words what with things I had to deal with like my emotional stuff, extra demands on my time for travel, plus my full-time job. On top of that, with all the hype surrounding NaNoWriMo, it starts to feel like if I “lose” (I use quotes, because I don’t know how one can really lose NaNoWriMo), then I’m not a “true writer” (whatever that means). I don’t think that’s a healthy way to look at it.

For me, “winning” or “losing” NaNoWriMo means next to nothing, apart from bragging rights and the ability to wear a T-shirt without shame. Just because I don’t reach the 50,000 words doesn’t mean it’s all for naught. Maybe I’ll only write 46,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, but it’d still be impressive that I wrote 46,000 words in one month. Some is better than none.

I use NaNoWriMo as a writing exercise, and to get into a habit of writing every day, even if it’s just bits and pieces of stories that I’ve had in my mind. If I win NaNoWriMo this year, great—it’s a great jumping-off point to write a full novel. If not, I would be rather disappointed in myself, but that still doesn’t make me any less of a writer.

In any case, I have not declared defeat just yet. Will I make it? Let’s find out.