Don’t Go It Alone: Four Great Blogging Events

Part of what makes your blog a “blog” instead of a personal diary is the way it connects you to other people: when you’re blogging, you’re part of a global network. Hopefully, you’re already making the most of that by reading other blogs, leaving comments, and engaging with your own readers.

Participating in community-run blog events is another fantastic way to connect with other bloggers. Along with The Daily Post‘s daily prompt, weekly photo challenges, and Blogging U. courses, there are many more blogger-run events on every topic imaginable, like:

Friday Fictioneers

A long-running and ever-popular event, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields‘ Friday Fictioneers brings together hundreds of writers from all over the world to share 100-word stories based on a prompt or inspirational photo.

Not only is Friday Fictioneers a way to try your hand at a new kind of storytelling — or a low-impact way to try fiction writing — it has a large and incredibly supportive community of participants who are always ready to visit fellow writers’ interpretations and leave both praise and thoughtful, constructive feedback. It’s fascinating to read the variety of quick takes on the prompt, and motivating to see how this community of writers lifts one another up.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

Photographer and blogger Cee loves the art of photography — and loves sharing it with people almost as much. On Cee’s Photography, this community-minded shutterbug runs five different photo events each week to inspire and connect photographers of all levels.

We particularly love Thursday’s event, the Black and White Photo Challenge for helping budding photographers look at their subjects in new ways. Weekly themes as varied as “Shoes and Feet,” “Glass,” “Fences,” and “Faraway,” push you out of your photographic comfort zones, and her helpful tips (and the feedback of other participants) help you improve your eye.

The Blacklight Candelabra

Interested in giving in-person events a try in 2015?’s new conference series by and for bloggers, Press Publish, kicks off next month.

If you spend time on The Daily Post you’ve probably seen Bumblepuppies, writer of a blog by the same name, commenting or helping other bloggers in the Community Pool. Never content to rest on his blogging laurels, he now runs The Blacklight Candelabra, where he offers a new writing challenge each Monday.

Recent challenges invite participants to listen to a piece of music, sketch out a character based on your impressions of the music, and write a post involving the character; or to re-write a famous quote and then describe a world in which your new idiom is true. If you’re missing The Daily Post‘s weekly writing challenges, you’ll find some familiar faces and ideas to provoke and inspire over on The Blacklight Candelabra.

Around the World Reading Challenge

Challenges can go beyond the blog, too. On Booking It, blogger Debra shares her twin passions, reading and travel, and invites you to join in, with the Around the World Reading Challenge. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to read and blog about six books in 2015: one book by a writer, living or dead, from each continent.*

We’re barely more than a month into 2015, but the challenge page is already filling with links to bloggers’ takes on books by Nadine Gordimer (Africa), Haruki Murakami (Asia), Hilary Mantel (Europe), and more. It’s a great way to broaden your own reading horizons, get recommendations for authors you might never have stumbled across, make some new friends, and grow your blog — a win-win if ever there was one!

Been thinking about starting your own event, but not sure where to start? Try our step-by-step guide to being the perfect host.

None of these floating your blogging boat? These four are just the tip of the blogging iceberg (bliceberg?). There are dozens more options in our Community Event Listings (and many, many more just a Google search away).

Is there a blogging event you love, or do you run one? Share! (And why not submit it to the Community Event Listings page?)

*There’s no requirement for an Antarctic author, but if you find a long-lost Emperor Penguin memoir, I’m sure you can petition for bonus points.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.