2019: Year In Review

It’s the end of another year, and also the end of another decade. If you’re worried that I’m going to make you endure a ten-year retrospective like every other content creator on the internet seems to be doing, let me put your fears to rest: I’m not. I can barely remember what I did ten days ago, let alone ten years ago. And while you might be entertained by a cringeworthy look back at my pre-teen years, that’s a trip down memory lane I’m gonna pass on.

As is tradition though, I am going to wrap up 2019 with a look back at my favorites from the year. I promise you I’ll keep it concise, so without further ado, on to the lists!

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Dear Blog: 4th Blogiversary Celebration + A Party Favor for YOU!

Read on to the end for details on a special thank-you project I’m doing in celebration of 4 years of Maggie’s Musings!

Every year, it’s time for a blogiversary post and every year, I panic because I feel like I need to one-up myself from last year and do something EPIC in celebration. And why shouldn’t I? Four years of blogging is nothing to sneeze at, if I do say so myself. The problem is that despite my writing skills, I am not the best when it comes to party planning.

But never fear! I’ve decided to write a letter to my blog, reflecting on the past four years we’ve had together. Thank goodness my blog is not a real person though, because it would probably be throwing a toddler-sized tantrum about celebrating its birthday a week late.

And be sure to stick around to the end! I’ve got a special surprise to thank all of my lovely followers for four awesome years, so keep reading!

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Fictional Festivities | 12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the season to curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book and a big mug of hot cocoa. Snowflakes are falling outside of your window, and the only sound you hear is the crackle of the fire and the crinkle of pages being turned. It’s just you and the book, no one else around.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it’s a big challenging to get into the “Christmas spirit” when you’re a student. My school wrapped things up particularly late this year, so I didn’t get to go home until December 19. Between research papers on medieval and Renaissance literature and politics exams, it was easy to forget that Christmas was right around the corner.

And so I thought, what better way to get ready to celebrate Christmas than crank up my favorite Christmas music and participate in a Christmas-y book tag? This is the 12 Days of Christmas book tag, created by Falling Down The Book Hole, though I learned about it through Paper Fury’s post a few weeks ago. I did my very best to limit my answers to books I read this year, though you’ll see I bent the rules a tad bit…

Without further ado, let’s celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas!

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Imagination & Impact | Why The Game Awards Matters

Listen, I’m not here to bash on anyone’s favorite pastime or anything like that, but I have to confess: awards shows have absolutely zero appeal to me.

I can see why they would be interesting. If you’re a film or fashion aficionado, there’s a lot for you to see at say, the Oscars or the Golden Globes. The Tony Awards and the Grammys often feature performances from nominees or the big artists of the year. Beyond that, I think anyone who follows these awards shows would argue that they are meant to celebrate the accomplishments made in a particular industry, whether that be film, television, music, or theatre.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that our culture can come together to celebrate creative projects. In a society that increasingly emphasizes STEM fields at the expense of the arts and humanities, it’s nice to know that there are still people who appreciate things like this.

The struggle I often have – and this is not an original criticism in the slightest – is that these award shows tend to focus on a specific subset of people within a very broad industry. Awards often go to the productions with the biggest budgets, or the actors with the most recognized names, the shows that were hyped up by audiences and critics alike. To be blunt, I couldn’t care less about seeing an actor/actress who makes more money in a year than I will ever make in my life win an award.

That’s the kind of mentality I had when I first started following The Game Awards about a year ago. As the name implies, it is an award show for video games. Aside from being an industry that I care more about and follow more closely, I think there’s something that really sets The Game Awards apart from its more well-known counterparts. Having just watched the 2019 show a few days ago, I thought I’d take a look at what makes The Game Awards work well.

7 TGA

 

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November 2019 – Month in Review

My rule these days is keeping things short and sweet. It was November. It’s now December. I’m cold. I can’t believe the year is almost over and if one more person talks about it being the end of the decade I’m going to collapse on the floor and have an existential crisis.

So anyway, let’s focus on November for right now, because that seems slightly less threatening than focusing on December.

This month, I blogged about:

Also, you can watch my 1SE compilation for November 2019 via Google Drive this month. I don’t understand all of the COPPA stuff happening with YouTube, and while I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making it out to be, I want to wait until I understand everything before uploading anything else there. But here’s the video!

As for the rest of the month…

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Writer’s Life: A Year of Writing (2019)

With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.

I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.

All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!

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How to Make Me Read Your Book | 6 Story Tropes I Live For

Let’s saw we go to an ice cream parlor. My treat. I order my sundae, which is chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce, cookie dough chunks, whipped topping and rainbow sprinkles (no cherry). You open your mouth to order yours, but I cut you off and say, “We’ll both have the same thing.”

“But Maggie,” you protest. “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. And I’m allergic to peanuts! I’d much rather have vanilla ice cream with fudge and oreos on top!”

“Well, you’re wrong. My sundae is the best kind of sundae, so you’ll just have to learn to like it,” I say.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that my sundae would probably lead to me having a heart attack someday soon, it’s not gross or detestable. Neither is yours. Neither sundae is right or wrong, we just have different tastes in ice cream and its toppings, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes though, I think we get a certain idea about stories – we think that they have to be a certain way, and anything that doesn’t fit that mold is morally reprehensible. Granted, there are a few things that any story should have: your characters should be well-rounded and the plot should be coherent. Just as you wouldn’t put pickles on your strawberry ice cream, you wouldn’t write a story without those important elements.

But from there, who’s to say what the rules are? All audiences have different tastes when it comes to character and story tropes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work and hoping that the right person finds your story.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to stories, but if I’m being honest, there are a few tropes that just get me, you know? Like, if I see one of those tropes in a story, and it’s being done well, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites today – maybe you’ll agree, maybe you’ll disagree, but hey, that’s the fun of it!

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Sunshine Blogger Award: The Sequel

Approximately a million years ago (actually, more like three years ago), I was tagged in the Sunshine Blogger Award by my dear book blogger friend Paige Turner. More recently, I’ve been tagged again by The Story Sponge! I figured we were due for another round of random questions, and they had some pretty great ones, so that’s what I’ll be participating in today.

Since it’s been quite a while since the last time I did this, here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them. (Did that above, but in case you missed it – thanks to The Story Sponge for nominating me!)
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts.
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions.

Like I said, i got asked some pretty interesting questions, so without further ado, here we go!

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Climbing My Mountain | Thoughts on Celeste

A year ago, in the midst of final exams and papers, I gave myself a few hours off to watch The Game Awards, the Oscars of the video game world (but with less gowns and more t-shirts). I remember that night, huddled on my bed in my dorm room, seeing Celeste win the Best Independent Game and Games for Impact awards. I was intrigued, because the Games for Impact Award generally goes to games focused on emotional storytelling and/or social issues. Not only that, but the developer, Matt Thorson, spoke about mental illness in his acceptance speech. I kept the game in the back of my mind.

5 Celeste 2

Later that month, I was visiting family in North Carolina, and saw that my cousin was playing Celeste. I learned then that Celeste is a platforming game that relies on quick reflexes and precision to make it from one “room” to the next. I really wanted to give it a try, because the music was catchy and the retro graphics were cute, but I’m horrible at platformers. Even Super Mario games with all of their fail-safes are a challenge for me. I had a feeling that Celeste would be a frustrating waste of money for me, so I shelved the idea of ever playing it.

That is, until the Epic Games Store gave it away for free this year. Knowing it was considered one of the best games of 2018, I “bought” it and decided to give it a whirl when I was itching for a new game to play.

As I suspected, I sucked at it. In the first chapter (or “level”) alone, I died hundreds of times. I would die hundreds more in the chapters to come. But what really drew me in to Celeste was its story and main character, Madeline. I found myself identifying with Madeline a lot, and in a way, her quest to reach the summit of Celeste Mountain became my quest too.

5 Celeste 5
Madeline begins her quest to reach the summit of Celeste Mountain.

 

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Writer’s Life: Senior Seminar Progress

If you see a scattered pile of computer paper and hear muffled noises coming from underneath it, I promise it’s not haunted. It’s just one of us senior writing students, buried underneath our overwhelming major projects.

Truth be told, my senior seminar project is actually going pretty well. I’m on track in terms of my word count, and it seems like the story is moving along at a nice pace. I covered what my major project is about in my last Writer’s Life post, but here’s a quick recap: I’m writing an “alternate history” novel set in 1968. It features two young women (a college student and a journalist) as they investigate several U.S. soldiers who have mysteriously disappeared in their home country.

As of this writing, I’m at 26,783 words just over halfway to my word count goal 50,000. I’m also a little more than halfway to my deadline of November 30 (remember, I started mid-October). In other words, things are right on track and as long as nothing wild happens (knock on wood), I should reach my goal no problem.

Big-picture-wise, it looks like things have been smooth sailing, but this project has been more complicated than that. I’ve fallen behind a few times, though I always manage to recover within a few days. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of great help – I have a writing program that keeps me organize, fellow writer who encourage me, and music that keeps me motivated.

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