photo of figurines of Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase standing in front of a display of blue cupcakes

Chapter 28: I Throw a Fictional Birthday Party

“Hey.” Annabeth slid next to me on the bench. “Happy birthday.”
She was holding a huge misshapen cupcake with blue icing.
I stared at her. “What?”
“It’s August 18th,” she said. “Your birthday, right?”

The Last Olympian (pg. 372)

This is my third time rewriting this introduction, and this time I’ve decided that I’m just gonna be as weird as I want because this is MY blog and I do what I want.

Anyway, last weekend, my friend Rachel came up to visit and we threw a birthday party for a fictional character.

Now to be clear, this wasn’t just any fictional character, but Percy Jackson, hero and protagonist of the The Lightning Thief (which was recently named as one of Time‘s 100 Best YA Books of All Time), its sequels, and many spinoffs. For longtime readers of Maggie’s Musings, it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series. I grew up with these books, and even now as an adult, I still love re-reading them. They hold a special place in my heart.

I usually don’t remember dates like this, but Percy’s birthday just so happens to be the day after my brother’s birthday (speaking of which: Paul, if you’re reading this, IOU one (1) birthday gift and a cake or other treat of your choice). And since Rachel was already coming to visit that weekend and she also happens to be a Percy Jackson fan, we thought, why not? Let’s live the lives our twelve-year-old selves would’ve wanted us to have.

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Photo of a book titled "Project Quest Book 1: The Prince" in front of a bookshelf

So You Wrote A Book

Here’s what you do next:

You smile. Maybe cry a little, either from relief or joy, or maybe both. You don’t scream even though you want to, because it’s 1:00 in the morning and you don’t want your neighbors to think you’re getting murdered.

You tell the only other person who’s crazy enough to be awake at this hour on a Sunday night (Monday morning?).

You export your document and save it to the cloud because your laptop had a near-death experience twenty minutes ago as you were writing the last three lines and you nearly broke down in tears. (Thank goodness for autosave). You don’t want to repeat that.

You tweet about the book.

And you go to bed.

Screenshot of a tweet that reads: "1.5 years and 93,000 words later, I finally have a completed draft of the first book of my fantasy project. I can't believe it. I need to go to bed now."
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Photo of two library books stacked on top of each other. They are The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen.

Libraries Are For the Bird Books

It’s strange how when the world comes to an end, you focus on all of the big things that change. When the plague (you know what I mean) first started ramping up in 2020, we knew a few things we could expect. We knew that our work and school schedule would be disrupted, we knew we’d have to adjust to a “new normal” (ugh, I hate that phrase) in our daily lives.

But I think as things in the U.S. start becoming more normal-ish, I’m realizing that there are a lot more “little things” in my life that have changed. And while it might seem silly, one of the things that’s definitely changed is my reading habits.

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March 2021 | Month in Review

I have a confession to make: you know how I usually keep a bullet journal to remember things that I do each month? Yeah, I haven’t been so great about keeping up with that the last couple of weeks. So if I miss a couple of things in my March wrap-up, that’s why.

I also have next to no concept of time anymore, so there’s that too.

ANYWAY, March was actually a pretty great month, because it’s spring now and there’s finally some green things (I think it’s called grass?) outside and the weather has been above freezing, so I’m very pleased about that.

And in case you missed it, this month’s blog posts were about:

Click below to hear the rest of my updates from March!

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Writing Character Introductions (Featuring Project Quest)

There’s a lot of things I have a hard time with in writing (see: everything having to do with writing), but starting often poses a big challenge. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to create a memorable first impression, whether it’s the beginning of a scene, the first lines of a book, or introducing a brand-new character to the story.

The moment you introduce your main character(s) to your reader can make or break your story. No pressure, right?

I don’t have any advice to share today, but I was thinking about some of the character introductions I’ve written, why I chose to introduce them that way, and I thought it would be fun to share some from one of my works in progress, Project Quest. Bear in mind that these are still drafts, so it’s probably not my best work… but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

(Also, if this is your first time hearing about Project Quest, visit its page on my blog to learn more!)

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5 Free and Useful Tools for Writing Fantasy

All genres of writing come with unique challenges, but fantasy writing (and speculative fiction in general) usually involves a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Regardless of the subgenre you’re writing, there are plenty of times you need to rely entirely on your imagination. What are you going to call your squirrel-racoon-pigeon mutant hybrids that are terrorizing New York City?

Look, I’ve been there. Over the years that I’ve been working on Project Quest, I’ve found several useful online tools that have helped me generate ideas, visualize, and keep track of things in my fantasy universe. So whether you need a map of an alien planet, a timeline of world history, or you just need character names for your next D&D campaign, these tools can help you out.

In the interest of sharing things that are both useful and accessible, this list only includes tools that are either entirely free (ad-supported, etc.) or have a “free version” that allows use of all key features without additional payment.

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Gotta Catch… Some of ‘Em | 25 Pokémon for 25 Years

“But Maggie, didn’t you write a post listing things from a video game franchise last week?”

I sure did! And I’m going to do it again!

You see, not only did The Legend of Zelda turn 35 in the last few weeks, Pokémon, another franchise near and dear to my heart, also celebrated its 25th anniversary the other day. The Pokémon Company (TCPi) released a delightful retrospective video as part of their celebration:

Anyway, more to the point, Pokémon was my first “real” video game, and it’s a franchise I have a lot of fond memories of, from battling against my neighborhood friends to hunting rare creatures on my college campus in Pokémon Go.

With nearly 900 of these cartoon creatures in existence, it seems nearly impossible to narrow it down to my top 25 favorite, but I’m gonna try it anyway.

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Top 10 The Legend of Zelda Memories

This is but one of the legends of which the people speak…

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

I’m not quite old enough to remember when the first The Legend of Zelda game was released, but I still have many fond memories of the series. The Legend of Zelda series was one of the first video games that really showed me how much adventure and story could be packed into one “little” game. No matter which game I played, there was always something new to explore, and I fell in love with the each game’s world and its characters.

Yesterday (February 21, 2021) marked the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise. Nintendo’s popular adventure series made its debut in 1986 on the Famicom in Japan, before coming to the United States a year later on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In celebration, I’ve collected a list of my favorite Zelda-related memories to share, in no particular order.

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Writing Unforgettable Finales (Featuring Avatar: The Last Airbender and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

We talk a lot about first impressions in our day-to-day lives. You want to make a good first impression when you meet new people, or when you go for a job interview. The same goes for stories – you want your first chapter, first scene, or first episode to be a good one so that your audience is interested in seeing more.

What I think is less talked about is the importance of final impressions. They are just as, if not even more important than a first impression. A bad opening might scare your audience away, but a bad finale can ruin all of the work you’ve done so far. A poorly-written ending will live on forever as a disappointment in the minds of fans – especially in the age of the internet.

But how do you write a satisfying finale? And I mean satisfying – not necessarily “happy” – an ending that will leave your audience feeling like they just had a full serving of their favorite meal.

Today, I’m looking at two of my favorite TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (you’ll forgive me if I use acronyms for the rest of the post). Not only is each series consistently good throughout its run, but they also both end on what I feel is a satisfying note.

I’ve talked about both series before in passing, but since we’re talking about finales, it’s important that you understand each story’s premise as well. BEWARE OF SPOILERS!

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