Christmas Music: How Early is Too Early?

Hello!

So honest question: when is it okay to listen to Christmas music?

Like, December makes sense since Christmas is in December but, especially for people who work in retail, even December seems too long for listening to the music constantly. So like two weeks before Christmas?

See, I’m the opposite. And maybe this is because I haven’t worked in retail seriously until this year. You see, I love Christmas. I’ve chilled out about it a lot more now that I’m older and its got that whole cost thing that comes with being an adult. But that cost thing is true of practically everything. Like video games: costs money. Going to the movies: costs money. Eating actual food: COSTS MONEY. So, I’m still pretty “Christmas fun times”. Enough to the point that listening to Christmas music is actually kind of relaxing for me.

Wait, wait, hear me out. I’m not talking all the time. I am talking about certain times in my life when I am anxious and for some reason the idea of Christmas just makes me happy, so I listen to some Christmas music. In the summer, in the fall, sometimes whenever some of my favorite Christmas songs come up on my iPod when its on shuffle. Now I usually do this by myself. Like I’m wearing a headset and no one has to know I’m listening to Christmas music.

But sometimes I didn’t. And that’s why I know I had some really cool people in my life. Because at least two people that I’ve lived with in my life have understood my strange love of Christmas music. These would be my mother and my first apartment roommate and good friend Carolyne. Both of these lovely women understood my anxiety and appreciated (and still do) my self-care attempts to deal with it. Rather than let it shut me down I have actively try and deal with wanting to sit down and cry.

Sometimes listening to Christmas music is what I need. Both my mother and Carolyne had been understanding and never complained when I play Christmas music out loud. I try to keep it low and not very often, but there were points that I needed what I needed to keep functioning.

Carolyne and I, as roommates, actually sat down at the start of our lease on our first apartment and literally talked about our preferences and dislikes when it came to living conditions. Things like: our rooms are our spaces and the other keeps any negative thoughts to themselves, shared spaces like kitchen and living room are kept neat, if the bathroom door is closed, its in use, things like that. But we also talked about our personal preferences when dealing with our own learning and mental issues. It really helped, especially when we made the agreement that we could always sit down and explain anything new.

So when I wanted to listen to Christmas music in September because school was driving me nuts, I got to calmly explain it to her. Carolyne was super understanding but also didn’t want to listen to Christmas music 24/7 (also understandable). So I was always free to ask if she minded if I put a Christmas CD on and she was free to say yes or “Could you use a headset?” if she didn’t want to hear it. Which was sometimes the answer. Actually, that was sometimes the answer for any music if we were writing papers or working on projects. That’s why are bedrooms were also always private spaces: we were introverts who sometimes needed space from each other. I think that’s why we were such great roommates: we never had a single fight because we were always willing to be open minded and talk things out. We also let each other have our moments: I woke up at 2 in the morning to find Carolyne on the phone with her mother while sitting on our kitchen floor cutting up a pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. Sometimes you just need a time to be weird without judgement. (If you’re wondering, she was having a shitty week, so I asked if I could do anything. She said not right now and so I shut the door to the kitchen and went back to bed. She and her mother spent the entire night baking in two separate provinces because that’s what Carolyne needed).

Carolyne and I learned what the signs of an impending breakdown were in each other (better sometimes than knowing ourselves) and we would try and pre-empt that. Sometimes it was Carolyne who put the Christmas music on without me asking and sometimes I would suggest a long walk in the park. That was just how we worked.

My mother is a lot less involved in the music thing. She just knows that sometimes I need it so if she walks in on me doing the dishes while listening to a Pentatonix Christmas she usually says something like “Oh I like this version” and lets it go. As long as I don’t get invasive then she doesn’t either.

Maybe that’s why Christmas music is so annoying for retail people. They don’t have a choice: it’s invasive to them because they don’t control when it starts and whether or not its interspersed with normal music. They just have to deal with it while, for me, it’s a tool for me to deal with myself.

Man, sometimes honest questions get you to the weirdest thoughts….yeah, sorry about that.

My First Nanowrimo Attempt

Hello!

So November just ended and so did Nanowrimo. If that word makes no sense to you, that’s cool. It stands for National Novel Writing Month: the month when people attempt to write a novel in November alone.

The goal is usually 50,000 words.

This was my first attempt to participate in Nanowrimo and I did run into a few hiccups.

The novel I wanted to work on is the third novel in my Beasts of Battle trilogy (the first book of which I self-published at the start of November). I figured, since it would be the end of the series, I could fly through the first draft because I knew where the book started and where it had to end. Since that was true, I figured I could write the story from the beginning to the end, in chronological order. Of course, that’s a bit of a different then how I wrote the first book of the trilogy. Wolves Rising was written in bits and pieces and not always from start to end. It was a gardened novel rather than a planned one (Gardener writers = plant the seeds and watch it grow, Plan/Architect Writers = make a plan and build it).

The start of the month was pretty good. Since my novel needs to be over the 50,000 words I decided to aim for about 2,000 words a day meaning I would end the month with 60,000 words. The first few days of writing I did manage to keep that word count. I was writing from the beginning. I got about to chapter 7 with the plan on connecting the beginning to the one scene I had written out in the summer which was somewhere at the midpoint of the story.

I got the flu. I got writer’s block. I said “Screw writing chronologically” having found a section at the end that I had written back before I wrote the second novel. I had imagined it would be the very end of the series but that was stupid and naïve and its now part of the climax, the end of one character’s story, but not the end.

Then I wrote the proper end. Was that chronological. Hahahahahahaha, no. But it was getting words on the page.

Then I got the official announcement that I would do my defense for my Masters’ thesis. Anxiety smashed through the wall and I curled into a ball and rode it out. Writing didn’t happen, but I at least survived.

I had to travel back to my university for the defense and on the trip several scenes percolated in my head. When I arrived at my residence/hotel room I sat down and wrote out one scene/chapter entirely. It changed some of the ending and set up some different plot points. I even started writing another scene. Then anxiety and defense.

It was stressful. While they were discussing their decision, I was sitting out in the hall. Evidently, I looked so awful that a student sat down with me and talked me out of a panic attack. She was very nice about the whole thing.

If you’re wondering: I passed. I went out for dinner and a drink with some of the university’s profs. We chatted about my defense but mostly about where I’m living now (which, apparently, is the area one of the profs grew up in so…small world?). I didn’t think about writing then. Or the next day when I got my grad photos taken. Or on the plane-ride home. It was the last quarter of the month and I hadn’t written for like half of it.

In my defense, I also had/have work. And the thesis was a big project that needed my attention. I was doing Nanowrimo for me, not for some arbitrary goal that someone else had set. I pushed forward, typing up what had gotten written on the trip and finishing off several chapters that were only partially written.

It’s not all beginning, and its not all end. There’s two parts floating in the middle right now. But I’m a lot further with the book then I would have been if I hadn’t pushed myself. And I’ll work at finishing up the first draft in the next few months. I would have said in December but I think Book and Page Season 2 (my Youtube show where I read and discuss books) needs some more love at the moment (or at least an increased buffer) and there’s PhD applications too. You’d think, after all the stress I went through I wouldn’t be so eager to jump back onto the horse but here I am.

Crow’s Song is going to get done. Just like Eagles Take Flight (Book Two) will get edited. And both of them will get self-published like Wolves Rising did. It’s just going to take me a little more than a month.

And if you’re curious where I’m publishing things, its on Kindle: https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Angela+Alberry

 

 

In Defense of Tour Guides

Hello!

During the summer I often arrived to work early and so would bring a book to read while waiting for my shift to start. One of the books I read was James J. O’Donnell’s “Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity”. The first chapter of which begins as follows:

“The best way to explore Roman religion is to go to Rome for a few days and spend some time in the homes of the ancient gods. We could take a camera. We’d likely have a tour guide who annoy us in a hundred petty ways, but at least we’d hear stories about what we saw. The good news is that we’d hear a story about paganism that sounded very familiar and wouldn’t tax our attention too much. The bad news is that it wouldn’t have much truth to it”

What was my job for the summer? Tour guide.

Yeah, I felt very appreciated at that moment. And O’Donnell actually keeps on the snide comments about tour guides and “tour guide history” throughout the first chapter. Thank goodness he dropped the topic for the most part after that because it was getting old quick.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that sometimes you get shitty tour guides. Or tour guides who have a script to follow that’s outdated or not well researched. Tour guides who are going to tell you what they know and you’re not always going to see the research and sources behind it.

But you also have to keep in mind that tour guides can’t be perfect experts on everything. They’ve got to be able to tell you the broad strokes of the subjects they’re covering. They usually aren’t PhD professors who are paid to deep dives on very specific subjects. I mean in certain places tour guides aren’t paid at all; they rely on you tipping them after a tour. Which people aren’t going to do if they expect the guide to be an expert on their specific area of interest at a PhD level (and screw anybody else who doesn’t have that interest or you know, just wants to learn a little more about the place?)

I’m sorry I’m getting heated but getting snide remarks thrown at you like this is frustrating. It’s the thing that sticks with you. I’ve guided so many people who have thanked me for the tour, for my knowledge, for doing my best to answer questions. The first guest I think about: the old man who called me a member of the German army for following a script that considered Sir John A. MacDonald to be a flawed man. Yeah, I think about being called a Nazi because I mentioned that the first Prime Minister of Canada used to drink a lot. I also mentioned speculation that he had an affair with a local tavern owner which he really didn’t appreciate despite the tour being about “Ghosts and Mysteries” and the fact that this speculation is so wide spread that Wikipedia mentions it. If you didn’t want a speculative tour then maybe don’t take the one literally advertised around ghosts and mysteries?

What I’m trying to say here is sometimes you’ve got to pick and choose. If you know the subject really well then maybe don’t take a tour designed to be introductory. Most tour guides are working on the assumption that, while you might be interested in the subject matter, you don’t know much about it and that’s why you’re taking the tour. They’re entire thing is give you a basic overview of the subject or place with the understanding that, if something really piques your interest, you can then delve into the subject on a much deeper level. That’s why we have books on the subject (and as a side note, I doubt a single book of a total 273 pages including the index can explore the topic to the depth and degree that every single thing is explained and there are no more questions. O’Donnell here is giving the tour guide version in book format).

But there is a major difference between reading a book and being in that place itself while someone tells you about it. A trip I took to Germany, Austria, and the Czech in highschool showed me that. A lot of the places we went to weren’t guided; you were literally looking at things with no context whatsoever. And it sucked!

I wanted to know more. It didn’t have to be expert “I’ve studied this one particular building my entire academic career” guiding, but something, anything would have been preferred. That trip formed my interest in guiding during the summer and my interest in guiding is attached to me goal of becoming a professor.

I love history. I love learning something new and then teaching that to someone else. I love watching my tours light up when I joke about military planning gone wrong and cringe when I mention the explosion of a gunpowder warehouse. I like keeping history light and dark and shades of gray and most importantly: keeping it alive. The moment you become an automated machine explaining things, even in extreme detail, then history is dead. It doesn’t matter anymore because there is no passion on passing it from person to another.

Sometimes you got to lean into the mysteries, the speculation, and inability to know for certain what thoughts caused what actions because people are difficult and complicated and flawed. Half of our history is made up because it’s written by the victors and you’ve got to point that out too. History is stories. And finding the truth in stories is really hard. Because stories always change.

When O’Donnell snarks about the “tour guide history” he highlights something deeply important: this is the history we’ve known up to now. It’s changed. It’s different now. And the tour guides will change their stories too as that development comes to light. But to kick down at the guides is to forget that the world of academia wouldn’t exist if history was static and known by all.

We’re all trying to learn and we’re all trying to teach others (even if we don’t realize that). So, don’t get snarky with the guides. Learn something you love and become a guide yourself.

My Switch and Me

Hello!

I’ve had my Switch for over a year now and I’ve really enjoyed it. The strange thing I recently noticed though, is that I only have four games for it. That’s not a lot. Especially for having it for a while. Altogether I have the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, and Stardew Valley.

And that’s the order I got them in. And two of those were actually Christmas presents. You see, for a long time my brother has lived on the opposite side of the country from the rest of the family. So last year, when he got a chance to, he came to visit in October. Since was a cook in a major hotel, Christmas break isn’t really a thing because of all the winter tourists on their Christmas breaks. So October is when he had the chance to come and visit. We decided to have a family Christmas while he was down: do the gift exchange and everything since there wasn’t going to be another chance that year. I literally carved a pumpkin the day before he arrived and the day after he arrived we were all unwrapping Christmas presents. That’s when I got my second two Switch games.

I got Breath of the Wild when I bought my Switch that…August. Give me a second, I’m actually going to check my Youtube channel because I did an unboxing of it. Yep. Middle of August. Because work was driving me mad. I think I’ve gotten a little distracted…

So from August to October I played Zelda exclusively because 1. Only game I have. And 2. Massive game that I absolutely loved.

Then we hit middle/end of October and this family Christmas. On the gift day I unwrap Mario Kart 8 from my parents. Aka, my mother took me to the game section of the local Wal-Mart, I pointed out a couple of games that I wouldn’t mind having, and she picked on. This is actually a relatively consistent thing when it comes to me having a game system I’m actually playing. I’ve done this a couple of times with my Wii, and 3DS, so the Switch was just normal.

As much as I enjoyed the races in Mario Kart, and the battle mode, its hard to play it for a long time when you are the only player. It really is designed more to be a multi-player thing that you do with friends. And at that point I didn’t really have any.

Actually, now that I think about it I could pick up some extra joycons and through a Mario Kart party since I have people I might actually be able to talk into playing with me. Suddenly I have a new plan. Especially since the new Mario Party released back in October. I could just throw an actual Mario Party. (Okay, off topic I know but this is one of the reasons I’m literally writing this blog. I figure out so much more when I’m writing it down and the things I’ve figured out about myself and my relationships has actually been fascinating and helpful).

Needless to say, and don’t tell my parents this, but I played Mario Kart for all of a week as I tried all the races and battle modes. Then the game got shelved. It kinda just reminded me how lonely I felt.

Skyrim though. Skyrim was different. I didn’t unwrap Skyrim on that family Christmas day. The Switch version wasn’t out yet. I opened a Christmas bag to find a pair of socks from my brother’s work place (Side note: BEST SOCKS EVER. THEY ARE SO FUZZY I LOVE THEM!) and a receipt. He had preordered the game for me. It came out that November. I was so excited.

And I sucked at it.

It turns out I’m pretty bad at video games.

I kept dying.

I had to cheese things just to get anywhere.

I never even found the actual main storyline (the civil war one, yeah, that’s how bad at this I was).

Exploring scared me. I didn’t want to do it because I just kept dying.

I gave it a try and then went back to replay Breath of the Wild. I never told my brother how badly I failed at a game I wanted so badly.

The thing is, I don’t know why I reacted so negatively to Skyrim. I had the exact same problems with Breath of the Wild and the weapons constantly broke in that one.

Looking back on it, I think I was more prepared for Breath of the Wild’s difficulty. I had heard about it from a lot of reviewers and so I just told myself that I was going to go in, die a lot, and have fun anyway. Skyrim was different. It’s an older game: a lot of people were mad that they rereleased it on Switch rather than making a new Elder Scrolls game entirely. Since I had never had the systems for Elder Scrolls Skyrim was just this cool sounding fantasy game that I had heard cool but vague things about. I thought it was more about role-play which I couldn’t do well if I just constantly kept dying.

I’ve recently given Skyrim a second chance: nearly a year after I first got my hands on it. Why? Well it’s a combination of things. First and foremost was my friend Rachael playing it with her boyfriend. She would tell me about some of the funny inside jokes they made because they did crazy things like walking on water and turning a guard into a sweet roll right after he said the line “Let me guess, someone stole your sweet roll.” Skyrim sounded like the game I actually wanted to play in those stories. I started to figure out that I had been playing it with the wrong mindset. The other reason? Well, that would be game number four: Stardew Valley.

You might be wondering, what does the passion project of a farming simulator that is Stardew Valley have to do with my willingness to try again with Skyrim. Well, I played it. I’ve always loved farming simulators in the vein of the original Harvest Moon games so I finally figured out how to connect my Switch to the Nintendo E-Shop and snatched up Stardew right when work was pushing me to the edge again. (August. It’s always August). And I really enjoyed it. It was nice to get back to the simple side of things, growing crops, taking care of farm animals, mining, and the like. And the new twists of combat, artisan products, and more and more people, well I couldn’t stop playing. I binged it right through and completed the Community Centre.

Then things slowed down. Don’t get me wrong, I use Stardew Valley to unwind but suddenly started craving a game where I could control that speed of action myself. Where I could decide to participate in action packed sections of the main quest at one point then go off side-questing to slow down and get little things done instead. It was a feeling a lot of the Legend of Zelda games used to give me, but I had already played through most of those multiple times. I wanted something different. I wanted to retry Skyrim and have fun this time.

And I am. I care less about dying now. I’ve got a different build going and its working better this time. I’m exploring more and talking to more people. I’m trying new things and killing more dragons. I still accidentally cheese some things (like a troll that got stuck behind an invisible wall so that it couldn’t hit me, but I could totally hit it and come on guys let me have this one). I’m listening to the random dialogue and looking in the out of the way places. I’m trying to climb mountains and oh god sudden dragon—!

I gave a game a second chance because I wasn’t in the right mindset when I originally played it. I’m ready for more of a challenge and to have fun with that challenge. Maybe I’ll get the Switch Dark Souls next. Or maybe I’ll stick with the Mario Party idea first and have some fun with some friends. There’s also Mario Odyssey I haven’t played, Captain Toad, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and tons of indie games. There’s plenty of life in my Switch yet, even if it takes me some time to get to it.

 

Books for the “Shut In” Season

Hello!

Since last week I made a shameless plug about my own novel, I thought this week I ought to shamelessly plug some other fantastic books!

We are currently heading into the winter here in Canada even if the season doesn’t officially change until December. If its not cold enough to snow, it sure is cold enough to make the rain hurt like hell. Besides, winter doesn’t conform to the arbitrary rules of humans; take a look at the massive snowstorm Alberta had at the start of October! Usually though, October is relatively nice to still get out and enjoy the fall weather. November…November is the start of what I call the “Shut-In Season”. It’s the time of the year when its best to shut the curtains, get a sweater and like five blankets, and read. A lot.

Since this season is now upon us, I thought maybe I should go ahead and throw out some recommendations for possible reads this season. I’ll try and vary up my choices, giving you some shorter reads, some longer ones, and a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. And none of this is in any particular order. It’s really just how it came to mind.

  1. Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

Starting off with the totally expected one just to get it out of the way. Harry Potter is a wizard, a wizard with a great destiny. Too bad it involves a madman trying to kill him and take over the wizarding community and horror of horrors: school! Seven books, seven years, and Harry will have to survive them all with a little magic and some great friends.

I’ve become more critical of the series and the author has I’ve gotten older (its impossible to study something and not become aware of the faults) but this is still an important piece of my childhood. Of many peoples’ childhoods. And sometimes, when its dark and cold and gloomy out, a little childhood nostalgia goes a long way.

  1. Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them (Nancy Marie Brown)

Talk about something small: a few ivory chessmen on which nothing significant rests. Well, except for the opinion of what countries can produce such pieces and what people too. Brown does an excellent job of explaining the strange arguments surrounding the so-called ‘Lewis Chessmen’ by exploring the pieces themselves and the theories of their origin in extreme detail.

I picked this one up because I was curious at the thesis put forward in the title. I never thought I would care so much about random chess pieces. Brown does an excellent job in making the Lewis chessmen matter because of the stories they tell. I really enjoyed this read and it went super quick!

  1. The Table of Less Valued Knights (Marie Phillips)

The Arthurian tropes told from the perspectives no one previously cared about: knights too old and useless to make the Round Table, the squire following him, and, of course, the damsels themselves. Too bad no one is good at simple communication.

This is a fantastic comedic read all the better for knowing the Arthurian stories and stereotypes. Includes representation not just of the characters who are on the fringes but what puts them there: loving people they shouldn’t (gender or class wise), who your parents were, and past mistakes no one will forgive you for. A nice book to laugh with and find yourself hopeful in the end.

  1. The Iliad (and the Odyssey I guess) (Homer)

Yeah I’m digging out the ancient works this “Shut-In Season”: going back to the Trojan War and Greece! The Trojan war has been happening for ten years now and the warriors are getting restless. When the gods start interfering and Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, removes himself from battle, its up to the rest of the army to figure out how not to die. And once the war is over, its up to Odysseus to figure out how to get himself home.

I’m more of a fan of the Iliad than the Odyssey, just so you know. The epic war novel with a deep-seated anti-war message is adrenaline pumping and heartbreaking. Skip the second ‘book’ (chapter) of it if you’re just reading for fun: it’s a catalogue of ships that’s just there so the people telling the story orally can show off their impressive memory and endure themselves to the higher ups in the audience by including their ancestors, families, and countries in the count. Don’t judge the whole text on that chapter. More people like the Odyssey more: a high seas adventure where Odysseus is forced to use his brains and brawn to escape many monsters and make it home. It’s pretty good, I just like the first one better.

  1. Any Series by Rick Riordan (Rick Riordan)

Pick the Greeks, the Nordics, or the Egyptians and have yourself a fun romp through the modern world if the ancient gods still existed and kept having kids. The demon gods and their ancestors aren’t having a great time as they try and navigate a world full of monsters, gods, and normal people who just don’t understand them.

My best suggestion is start at the beginning with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. That’s the Greek world and you have to read that one if you want to read about the Romans in the Heroes of Olympus follow up series and the still being written Apollo series. The Magnus Chase (Norse) and Kane Chronicles (Egyptian) can technically stand on their own but there are some references back to Percy Jackson so reading them as they were published might be a good plan. Full discloser: I have only read the first Kane and Apollo books and haven’t read the last Magnus Chase one yet. In my defense: Rick Riordan writes a lot of books.

  1. The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance (Paul Strathern)

Strathern takes the Medici family and explores the powerful members and their effects on Florance, the Papacy, the Renaissance artists, and even France, with a flair for the dramatic. His writing style offers a living history rather than a dead one: exploring the politics of the era in understandable and enjoyable way. Artists throwing busts off of roofs, people getting assassinated, and popes fucking shit up are all just part-and-parcel of this fascinating family’s history.

Not for everyone I recognize but the Medici’s, for being a semi-recognizable Italian family in the historic records, does not always get the attention it deserves. I learned so much about not only the Medicis but the renaissance and its artists as well reading this book. This one may take some time though. Better to go slow and enjoy yourself.

  1. On Beauty and Being Just (Elaine Scarry)

Yep, through some philosophy in here. Just because its “Shut-In Season” doesn’t mean your brain should be rotting. What is beauty? Why do we find certain things beautiful? What is stirred up inside ourselves when we see a beautiful person, scene, or object? And does understanding and appreciating beautiful things make us better humans?

I read this book in university for a class called Philosophy and Art. It has stuck with me ever since. Philosophy and thinking about justice and art can be hard, but Scarry offers an understanding of the world that is hopeful so don’t let the surface ‘high language’ discourage you and throw you off. Scarry sees beauty in everything, even if its flawed.

  1. A Dreamer’s Tale (Lord Dunsany)

A collection of short stories that helped build the genres of fantasy and sci-fi. Lord Dunsany takes his characters and readers on quick strolls through beautiful, frightening, and imaginative environments that are almost like a dream. Short, often sweet, sometimes horrifying, and always thought provoking.

I have this book thanks to Extra Credits and their offshoot Extra History which led to Extra Sci-Fi. They put together a reprint of these short stories which weren’t available in a positive edition. I’ve never been so glad of a Youtube project: I seriously enjoyed these short stories that I never would have found without James and his passion project.

  1. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Mary Beard)

A concentrated history of the great Roman Empire in one book. Spanning from the first kings of Rome, to the republic, to the empire Beard shows the critical moments where history changed drastically and where it teetered on the edge. While not going in depth on every moment (impossible when trying to cover such a broad time period in a single book of manageable length) this text is an excellent starting point to figure out where you might want to dig into the history further.

Another one to take a little slower in order to let history speak to you. I enjoyed Beard’s writing style and her ability to show the actions and their consequences was an absolute joy. Why not spend the wet and cold days inside exploring the rise and fall of one of the world’s massive empires?

  1. The Duricean Trilogy (Rachael Arsenault)

Fae are real and will snatch humans in order to keep their species going: something they’re legally allowed to do. However, Ainslee Saunders’ snatching goes wrong from the beginning and her adjustment to her new fae life and powers doesn’t go as planned. Thankfully she’s got some good friends to help her try and figure things out, and hopefully avoid dying on the way.

This is a personal plug for sure but deserves to be on this list for its own merits. Rachael is my best friend and her fantasy world is similar and yet different from our own. She provides as story where you cheer not just for the main character but many of the side characters who come into their own throughout the story. And you can even get all three of the books in a single collection! Visit here if you’re interested:  https://www.amazon.ca/Duircean-Trilogy-Collection-Rachael-Arsenault-ebook/dp/B07F3CRX5F/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1530541380&sr=8-2&keywords=duircean

 

Well, that’s a pretty long list. Or not nearly long enough if you’re a devourer of books like I am. I think I better cut myself off from writing more though, unless you want to see some more recommendations! Let me know if you have any books I should be reading as I get settled into my nest for this “Shut-In Season”!

My Self-Published Novel!

Hello!

And yes, you read that right: I self-published a novel!

As of November 1st my first novel is up on Kindle!

cover

Wolves Rising is the first book in my Beasts of Battle Trilogy.

)()()()()(

Elayne Tintagel is the daughter of Gorlois and Igraine Tintagel who have been reincarnated again. The world is now full of heroes and warriors reincarnating from the mythic past and the Arthurian realm will not be left behind.

Elayne, like her family, has a soul weapon — a sword which serves at her will — but she’s more interested in training with Magic through her once-sister Morgan Le Fay. However, when Arthur rises and her father becomes frustrated with her, Elayne is sent to the School of Damocles for more training.

Here many young warriors learn tactics, training, and how to fight. Until a Shadow Beast, a horrifying approximation of a wolf, begins to attack the school. When students start dying Elayne must overcome her own anxiety and pride to take down the Wolf and maybe discover the real threat.

Too bad she’s never been good at making friends and trusting other people!

)()()()()(

Yep! It’s an Arthurian tale set in a more modern magical realism genre.

I am pretty proud that I got to the point of actually putting it up for other people to see. I hope people enjoy it (or at least read it haha). Currently I have the sequel written (its just in need of more editing) and I’m writing the final book too!

If you’re interested at all, it’s only $2.99USD ($3.92CND) on Kindle. You can find it here:  https://www.amazon.ca/Wolves-Rising-Beasts-Battle-Book-ebook/dp/B07K36MDXD/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1541438077&sr=1-1&keywords=Angela+Alberry

 

We Summoned a Demon?!!

Hello!

With Halloween just two days away, I thought I would tell you about the time that I think my friends and I might have accidentally summoned a demon or something. Yep, it’s ghost story time!

In regards to the supernatural I’m not sure I really have like a strict set of beliefs but I certainly do believe there’s something else that we humans cannot always directly perceive. I’ve had too many weird and frankly uncomfortable/frightening moments not believe that’s there’s something going on.

Why am I telling you about this particular incident then? Two reasons: 1. It was by far the most terrifying account that I currently have and 2. Three other people experienced parts or all of this incident with me so I’ve got more confirmation about it then the other bits. For everyone’s privacy sake I will be referring to these other people as C., D., and K.

Now before I start there are some things I should make you aware of. I have been told that I am an energy dump: I give off a lot of energy that feeds people in apparently both positive and negative ways. C., a self-reported practiser of pagan earth-based spirituality told me that I was a wonderful grounding source of energy and thus nice to be around on her worst days. Another friend who wasn’t involved in the incident told me she had to pick and choose the days she hung out with me because I unknowingly fed her negative emotions and energies, that and that I should never try to control my output because I’d probably make everything a whole lot worse. It kinda hurt.

I also am extremely empathetic which makes normal life with normal people really hard because I get emotional over everything and will swing wildly from emotion to emotion if I’m around people with varying emotions. It’s also kind of scary when I start sensing more emotions than are in the room or when I’m alone. It’s happened before and both C. and that previous friend say I tend to draw those spirits or entities to me which is why it happens so often.

So now with my personal energy/spiritual involvement stated let me set the stage: quite literally a stage. The incident occurred when I along with C. and D. decided to put on a production of Christopher Marlow’s the Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. For anyone unaware the play is about Doctor Faustus who summons a demon and sells his soul for like 24 years of unlimited power and demonic assistance. In the end he gets dragged to hell. Well, since I was directing we put on some auditions in one of the auditoriums of the university we were all attending at the time. In the play Faustus has several parts spoken in different languages, mainly Greek and Latin. So I printed off the largest chunk, the Latin summoning of Meph the demon, so that any student auditioning for Doctor Faustus would be aware of the difficulties of the part. Then C., D., and myself settled in to wait.

No one came. For like an hour. So D. and myself hopped up onto the stage to put on a show and thus draw attention to us for any student who might have been looking for the audition spot. I even got up on a chair on the stage to make a big show of it all. I was jokingly reading from a Shakespearean play that C. and I had for another class (killing two birds with one stone, you know?) while D. was flipping through all the audition scripts I had printed off. She found the Latin section and got really excited because she had another appointment coming up but just enough time to try and read some Latin before she left.  I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that so I, still standing on the chair, shut up and listened to her.

  1. was the first one to realize something was wrong. Later, when I asked her to recount the incident she remembered getting the same feeling when summoning spirits in pagan groups, except the feeling turned uneasy and then downright scary.
  2. finished her Latin and ran off, already late for her meeting but also, she said, uneasy herself.

The entire theatre went cold. It was like storm clouds had filled up the entire room and there was static in the air. I froze, unable to move from the chair on the stage, just staring at C. still in the seats. She shook her head at me when I went to look behind me. There was a back wall to the stage and then a small back stage area: pits on either side and a hall behind the stage connecting the two backstage wings. The terrible feeling grew and C. later described it as a “malignant energy that is every woman’s worst fear walking down a dark alley at night”. We were in trouble. It wanted to hurt us.

In the hall behind the stage footsteps began to sound. Walking slowly back and forth behind us. I could hear them clearly but so could C. 15 feet away. I remember just staring at her desperately because I couldn’t move. The emotions I was feeling was wanting to hurt someone. Wanting to hurt myself. I started feeling sick to my stomach.

Thank any god listening that C. was there that day because I couldn’t move. She jumped up and yelled “STOP!” but the footsteps kept pacing. She began to tell it to go away, that we didn’t want it to come, that we didn’t want to hurt anyone, that we didn’t want it there. Then she started calling on positive spirits and energies to protect us. She climbed up onto the stage and looked at me deliberately. I didn’t know how to summon things: I had never tried. But I knew how to tell someone to go away. So I did. I started just yelling that the thing backstage needed to leave. That it wasn’t welcome. That we were deliberately rejecting that which we had accidently summoned it. The footsteps stopped but it still felt like there was a dark presence in the theatre. I stepped off the chair while C. went backstage, calling on good spirits and turning on all the lights. There wasn’t anyone back there and the only door was locked. No person had been making the footsteps. We had seemed to have cornered it, made it small and less frightening but still there and the room was charged with energy. The lights backstage were dimmer than they should have been. I’ll quote again from C. because she had been backstage with it:

“So I’m back there and speaking to this entity and it’s very clearly a strong, distinctive, self-aware entity that is there. It’s not a shape that I see, it’s not a picture that I see, but I can feel the being’s self-awareness and that they are not from a good place. Like if they try and do anything it will be something bad, or at least it will have a negative impact on myself and my friends. Everything is slow. Myself and [the writer] are both calling in good spirits and calling on good energy and making over very firm rejection of the negative presence that we are not open to it. We are not willing to work with it. We are not going to give it a body in which to work. It starts to not be as solid. It was like the storm cloud when it came in and it’s taking on the presence of deep dense smoke, like you’re in the middle of a house fire that keeps smoking so that it’ll choke you if you don’t dispel it right away. It’s starting to dispel, so that I can breathe again.”

Then the fourth person in the story, K., stepped into the theatre. She was there to try out for the part of Meph the demon but she is a firm Christian believer and wore a crucifix under her costume the entire performance because of this incident. She described it as hitting a heavy and suffocating wall. Then the thing was gone. K. is just looking at me from the top of the auditorium and says “What was that?!”

I burst into tears and sit down on the stage and C. comes out from backstage pale and a little shaky and just starts thanking K. for coming in when she did. K. admits she hit this suffocating feeling and immediately prayed that she’d be kept safe from it, she says its her reflex when she’s in frightening situations. So she comes fully into the theatre and sits down with the two of us as we just shake and I try to stop crying and C. explains she knows it left not vanished. All three of us are really shaken up and it’s the end of the audition time anyway so K. decides she’ll come back the next night and we pack up and walk together to the bus stop. When C. and I get home (we were apartment mates at the time) C. lights up some incense and does a purging ritual on both of us.

The next day D., comes to the auditions looking really tired and pale. She tells us she had really terrible dreams the night before about this dark storm cloud like presence. C., K., and I then explain what happens and then the four of us are freaking out because the thing left and apparently went to find D. but C. brought more incense with her and offers to do the purifying ritual on her so they go outside to do that. C. offered it to K. as well but K. wasn’t comfortably and said she hadn’t had any problems so she stayed with me. That night we had more students come for auditions so all four of us forced ourselves to set aside the incident and focus on the actual auditions, but D., was forbidden from speaking Latin for the deration of the show to avoid any other problems. To make up for the summoning the last performance we did we had Doctor Faustus call out for forgiveness and mercy and thus escape getting dragged to hell. It made me feel better at least.

So, there it is. The time my friends and I accidently summoned something that was probably a demon or at least a menacing entity and then had to tell it very clearly to f-off. This is why I will never use a Ouija board or anything like it. That shit is terrifying why would you ever do it on purpose?! Like I said, the worst of my supernatural experiences so far but certainly not my only one. Maybe I’ll write up some more if you are interested in something like that. Also, feel free to share your own accidental/on purpose summoning incidents; we might as well all get a little freaked out together!