Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Helps You Blog Better?

Hey everyone. It is me, Tim Brannan from The Other Side, again!  I am a Role-Playing game author so I use my blog as a platform to talk about my books, but also to share with others in my blogging community to sorts of things I like to write about.  So RPGs, horror and geek-culture.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.


Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.

Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.


I was reading the other day that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

Tell us all about it.

Like what I do?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnie Awards for Role-Playing Games.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!
Voting ends on July 30.

About the Author  
Timothy S. Brannan is the author of The Other Side blog, He has worked on a number of games including the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG", and is the author of “The Ghosts of Albion RPG”, “The Witch”, “Eldritch Witchery” and the upcoming “Strange Brew” which is currently in a Kickstarter Campaign.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Themes That Rocked! Hauntings with Lexa Cain

Please welcome the awesome Lexa Cain, author of Soul Cutter.

You posted about hauntings for the Challenge – what made you choose that theme?

When Julie Flanders was releasing her novel, THE GHOSTS OF AQUINNAH, she did a bunch of blog posts and guest posts about haunted places. I loved those! I was sorry to see them end, so I did my part to take up where she left off.

I think many readers assumed I believe in ghosts and that’s why I did the posts. That isn’t true -- I just adore a good ghost story and like to wonder, “What if…?”

When searching for hauntings, which one surprised you the most?

All of them surprised and intrigued me! Sometimes I came across several for one letter and had a tough time choosing which one to write about.

Which letter was the most difficult?

“X” and “Z” were the hardest, but I’m pretty sure everyone had the same problem, and we all just did the best we could.

What country or area seemed to have the most hauntings?

I think the US had the most hauntings, but I think that’s probably because Americans really enjoy that kind of stuff and promote it. America even has a bunch of reality TV shows devoted to haunted places, mediums, psychics, debunking sightings, etc.

Where did you come across Kutna Hora's 'Bone' church?

I honestly can’t recall. I was surfing the net like the baddest big wave rider ever and whooshed through a lot of sites! All I know is when I stumbled across Kutna Hora -- it freaked me out! Of course, I had to include it. I put up several pictures because the sight of all those bones turned into furniture and chandeliers was just unbelievable!

Did you use any sites or just Google to find the haunted places?

Both. There are a ton of sites that have articles on haunted places. Most only detail hauntings in the US, but some have international places too.

Have you ever been to any of the places you featured?

No, although several people made comments on my blog about visiting the places I wrote about. None had supernatural encounters though. (And they sounded disappointed that they didn’t. lol)

If you participate in the Challenge next year, do you have a theme in mind?

No, but luckily, there’s a lot of time left for me to think about it.

I’m sure it will be just as cool as your theme this year. Thanks, Lexa!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE

Friday, July 25, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy keeps the rubber on the road.

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields

Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind

(Running on Empty - Jackson Browne)

Welcome to leg six of the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!

Stormy the Weather Gnome and I are going to try to hit at least 20 new blogs a week from the Challenge list and tell you about a few of them in each of my posts.

When you go visit these awesome blogs, please make sure you tell them that you're visiting on the Post A to Z Road Trip!

Jeremy Hawkins - [Being Retro]

One of my favorite blogs any month of the year but this past April was especially wonderful!

26 letters devoted to my favorite Marvel movies, shows, characters and actors! I LOVE IT! Thank you, Jeremy! It's a magical place!

In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned onto the road I'm on

Nicki Elson - Nicki Elson's Not So Deep Thoughts

Nicki's theme was a constant stream of awesomeness. 90s Pop Culture Favorites! Books, movies and music to name just a few! And, of course, X for The X-Files!

Mina Burrows

Mina didn't pull any punches with her A-Z: Classic Monsters theme! Dragons, Kong, Orcs and The Thing are all highlighted in her April posts!

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels

Running on - running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Lexa Cain

Lexa scared the crap out of me with her April theme. Hauntings: haunted places around the world! No place is safe!

Really, I don't believe in ghosts.
Well, I didn't.

Spacer Guy - Star Trek - Sci Fi Blog

This one may seem self explanatory, but its not. These 26 Star Trek posts are funny and interesting behind the scenes bits and other pieces of insightful information about all the Star Trek shows.

Thanks for visiting with us today!
Are you finding any great blogs on your trip?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Season of Blogging

Do you know what it's like to sometimes feel like there’s not enough time in the day to post new content? Those of us who have had blogs for longer than a year have likely become broken down at one time or another, for one reason or another, in the struggle to keep our blogs going. Once it starts, the wave of procrastination, doubt and lack of interest in blogging can make us believe that our world doesn’t have room for our blogs at the moment.

It’s like a blogging breakdown happens, especially when writer’s block has reared its ugly head….again. Yet, it’s rarely noticeable as dirty dishes are piled mountain high in the kitchen sink because all the time spent working for the man required overtime this week. Plus, laundry needs to be done, dinner must be served and little Jimmy has baseball tryouts this weekend. Then there’s that sudden feeling technology overload once the cell phone starts ringing, alarms go buzzing and social media notifications pop up on the little screen. Oh wait…“The Real Housewives of Orange County” is coming on tonight and, well, the mere thought of blogging just elicits one big sigh, or maybe even a sense of sheer panic. 

Updating ones blog used to be a fun activity but now it just seems sooo last season. If this sounds like you and if you ever find yourself neglecting your blog or letting it fall by the wayside because, hey, life happens after all, remember this…
There is no right season or special sauce that determines when the time is right to get back into the swing of blogging.

As bloggers, we have to constantly work at putting out fresh content, out of respect for our readers, the platforms that we’ve built and for ourselves. We must find a way to make blogging fun again. This can be done by approaching our blog in a way that is hassle free, given our schedule and interests.

Maybe time and life duties won’t allow you to write that epic blog post today but what’s stopping you from posting a photo and a simple caption? Or perhaps, a roundup style blog post containing links to other bloggers that may be of interest to your readers? Or, maybe list style posts describing all of the things/people/places keeping you from blogging like a rockstar?

Blogging is never out of season, so we must do what we can to make sure that our corner of the web is always trending.

What are YOUR blogging struggles that YOU would like to overcome?

Nicole Ayers is an A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host who operates The Madlab Post and chats on Twitter. Her short narrative drama film “ABYSS: THE GREATEST PROPOSAL EVER,” is available on DVD (Limited Sneak PreviewEdition) as she works further relief efforts for disaster survivors including U.S. Military Veterans. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Does Your blog mean to You? #blogging

A to Z Challenge is about promoting the blogging community-- we're all bloggers here-- a friendly, supportive bunch, who would like to help each other grow.

That's the purpose of this A to Z blog-- to give voice to other bloggers, to promote their work, to give advice and support, to feature guest bloggers, and foster a sense of community.

This clarity of vision is very important when blogging-- bloggers need to clearly understand what the goals of their blogs are. Their mission statements, if you like.

It could be random, it could have a niche, but every blog needs to mean something to its owner, in order to thrive. Both my blogs, six-years old each, are my playground-- Amlokiblogs is all about writing and reading, whereas Daily (w)rite has become about questions and answers-- I often have weird or useful questions, and I look to my audience to educate me, give me answers.

So what does your blog mean to you? What is is about? Fire away in the comments!

Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Super Results of Visiting A-to-Z Challenge Blogs in the Summer #atozchallenge #roadtrip

Whether slow and steady, or fast and furious, we road trippers are racking up lots of blog-visiting miles on the A-to-Z Challenge signup list. It is a wonder how many of us have noticed some unexpected payoffs along the way.

Of all the blogs you've visited so far since May, it’s easy to find yourself in the following scenario:
  1. Reading and commenting on more blogs than you normally would during the A-to-Z Challenge off-season.
  2. Learning about topics of interest you didn't even know you had.
  3. Meeting or exceeding the amount of blogs you visited back in April, during the actual challenge.
  4. Being motivated to update your own blog with new material, more often, to keep it fresh for potential visitors.
  5. Interacting with more bloggers on social media.
Which of the scenarios described here apply to YOU? What are some additional results or perks that you've noticed while visiting blogs during the A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host Nicole Ayers writes about making movies at The Madlab Post. She is currently supporting U.S. Military Veterans with her short narrative drama film ABYSS: THE GREATEST PROPOSAL EVERAvailable on DVD (Limited Sneak Preview Edition). 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: 500 New Fairy Tales Found - The Scoop

Anyone remembers the article from The Guardian that has been going around on social media sites since 2012? (Yes, it really has been 2 years, and I still receive the link from well-meaning friends and acquaintances at least once a week). The headline read "Five Hundred New Fairy Tales Discovered in Germany," and was enticing enough to permanently stick in the Internet pipelines.
Here is some related news you might not have heard yet: 150 of those legendary 500 are now available in English translation, as part of a bilingual publication called Original Bavarian Folktales: A Schönwerth selection (translated by Charlotte M. Wolf, PhD). Brand spanking new, this book came out in March 2014, and received a lot less of the well-deserved attention than the Guardian article. Go figure.

So, what's all the hoopla really about?

Let me burst the bubble first: The "Five Hundred" are not, in fact, all "new" fairy tales. They were collected by a wonderful gentleman called Franz von Schönwerth in the 19th century, and they have been preserved in his estate along with hundreds of pages of linguistic notes and other interesting information. And when you read them you can find many that have very close variants in other collections of folktales - and I am not even only talking about Grimm. So, strictly speaking, the 500 are not as mint-shiny as you might have thought they are.

With that said: They are awesome.

We learn from the introduction to the English translation that Schönwerth was, in fact, a very thorough collector. He gathered all his stories from one specific region (the Upper Palatinate of Bavaria), and mostly listened to what the everyday people of the villages had to say. The result is an amazing kaleidoscope of stories that paint a world full of magic: Spirits of Earth (dwarves and giants), Water (nixies and mermaids), Fire (will-o-whisps), and the Forest (Forest Maidens and Gnomes); legends of the Sun and the Moon, of the Mountains, lore of Witches and Wizards, and even remnants of German mythology. You will have to read the whole thing for yourself, but I'll give you some of the highlights that stuck with me:

1. A folktale where the pretty girl is the mean one, and the homely girl is the kind one, and it doesn't change in the end.

2. A "prequel" to a Czech folktale I included in my book, explaining the origin of all the superpowers of the Extraordinary Helpers of the hero (traditional folk superhero origin story? Damn right!)

3. A folktale about a human family that befriends the mountain dwarves; the women end up being midwives to each other's children, the human lady even breastfeeds a baby dwarf, and when one of the dwarves asks for a human girl's hand in marriage, he is politely refused, and the friendship does not suffer from it at all. I was reading it, waiting for a conflict that never came.

4. A funny folktale about what would happen if flour fell from the sky instead of snow.

5. Two haunting variations of the Melusine legends where a mermaid marries a human man.

There are many, many more that I could mention. Most of these tales are less "elegant and sophisticated" than the Grimm tales - in exchange, they have a local flavor and a world teeming with magic that makes you love them. They show a lot more compassion and harmony between people and nature, vivid imagination, and a deep love for storytelling.

Next time you see the Guardian article pop up, link the book to others that might like it!

As usual, you can find Csenge (@TarkabarkaHolgy) at:
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...
Her book, Tales of Superhuman Powers, a collection of folktales that feature superpowers, is available on

Monday, July 14, 2014

Themes That Rocked! Insightful Writing Tips from Chrys Fey

Please welcome Chrys Fey, author of Hurricane Crimes and the upcoming 30 Seconds!

You posted writing tips – what made you choose that theme?

I post writing tips all the time on my blog, so I decided to stick with that theme for my first A to Z Challenge, but I used topics I wasn’t planning on blogging about anytime soon.

Which letter was the most difficult?

Surprisingly enough, it was letter “S”. At first I planned on blogging about song writing, but came to realize that topic is vast and that not many writers may want to know about song writing. I chose the supernatural genre as the topic for “S” a few days before it was to go live.

Which tip was the hardest for you to learn as a writer?

The hardest tip for me to learn actually had nothing to do with grammar or how to make my writing better. It was about having patience. I was so ready to publish my first book—at a young age—that I was rushing toward that goal before I was really ready. Then when I was in the querying process, desperately trying to get anything published, my impatience doubled. I soon learned that it’ll happen when it is meant to happen.

Which one do you think most writers miss or ignore?

I always say a writer should do A LOT of research about their story, and about publishing. Many aspiring writers ask me what they should do to get published, but that’s a hard question to answer because the process differs from person to person. There are some things that all writers should know to do, such as the importance of building credentials, how to write query letters, and where to look for agents. Except countless aspiring writers don’t know they need to do those things, because they didn’t do any research before diving into their dream.

That really is a great question though, Alex. I would be interested to hear what everyone else thinks.

Which letter got the best reactions?

In regard to the number of shares, that’s a tie between my posts Quotes about Writing and “Z” Words to Add to Your Writing, which also received the highest number of comments. All of my posts got wonderful comments, though.

Which one was your favorite?

I love all of them, but the one that is most special to me is the one I wrote about my mom, Inheriting the Writing Gene. I truly believe she is the reason why I am a writer today.

Are there a lot of vegetarian writers out there?

There are certainly more than I thought there were! I was amazed at how many bloggers commented on my “V” post to tell me they are also vegetarian or vegan.

If you participate in the Challenge next year, do you have a theme in mind?

I am definitely planning on participating next year, and I do have a theme in mind. I don’t want to spoil it just yet, but I will say I’m borrowing the theme from my (future) Disaster Crime series. ;)

Disasters would be cool! Hopefully not disasters in writing. Thanks again, Chrys!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE

Friday, July 11, 2014

#atozchallenge #roadtrip - Stormy sails the Road Trip seas!

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride, as the cities fly by
And the tail-lights dissolve, in the coming of night
And the questions in thousands take flight

(Big Log - Robert Plant)

Welcome to leg five of the Post A-to-Z Road Trip!

Stormy the Weather Gnome and I are going to try to hit at least 20 new blogs a week from the Challenge list and tell you about a few of them in each of my posts.

When you go visit these awesome blogs, please make sure you tell them that you're visiting on the Post A to Z Road Trip!

Damyanti Biswas - Amlokiblogs

Co-host extraordinaire Damyanti's April theme?
Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing.

So many inspirational quotes and brilliant advice from great people that we all admire. Complete win!

And it's you once again
Leading me on - leading me down the road
Driving beyond - driving me down the road

Smurfin' The Web Movie Reviews & Other Stuff 

Smurfin' The Web chose some of their favourite movies of all time and gave a movie review for every letter of the alphabet, like...Hot Fuzz, Platoon, and The Usual Suspects!

Julie Flanders

How much fun is this? Julie shows us around Martha's Vineyard with her 26 letters for April with some great pictures and cool facts!

Sensing too well when the journey is done
There is no turning back - no
There is no turning back - on the run

Carrie-Anne - Onomastics Outside the Box

Her theme was invented names which were so popular in the early decades of the Soviet Union. Some of these names are really epic and her blog is full of all kinds of great names, not just Russian. Great for the writer's out there!

Katie - The Cyborg Mom

How to Keep Busy While Recovering was one of my favorite themes. Katie has some shitty bones (Bad ankle, bad!) and she has spent her fair share of time immobile. She lists 26 great ways to keep from going INSANE while healing and she's got a great sense of humor while she does it. 

Thanks for visiting with us today!
Are you finding any great blogs on your trip?
A to Z Challenge Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing - See more at:
A to Z Challenge Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing - See more at:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Time to go travelling

Yes, we're well into July now, and it's time to go travelling - and not just on the #atozroadtrip.

One of the things I enjoy most on the #atozchallenge are the travel blogs.  I don't know why I don't take more notice of them through the year, but it seems to me that picking a travel theme gives you a great opportunity to show off your holiday snaps AND engage with people who have been to the same places, or would like to go to the same places, even from their armchair.

Last April I had a chance to do a little of that because my theme was the NATO phonetic alphabet, which offered me Hotel, India, Lima, Quebec, Sierra and Zulu.  I had a tale or two to tell about some of those, and I hope people enjoyed them.  I am tempted to do a travel theme next year, but I really haven't got enough photos of places beginning with.. well, the usual difficult letters.  But my next holiday (vacation) is to somewhere special, to do something special, so I decided to fit my theme around that and I'm already considering what to put against the other letters!

Are you holidaying (vacationing) somewhere nice this summer (or winter, in the Antipodes)?  I'm thinking hot summer days with a pleasant breeze to stop me melting; shady beaches with waves lapping, palm trees waving, good food and pleasant company.  Nice countryside to walk in would be essential, and a few interesting buildings to fulfil some cultural yearnings would be nice too.  Sounds like I ought to be back in Goa, or somewhere else in India - or maybe substitute the palms for pines and do the Mediterranean - Knossos would be nice, I've always wanted to go there.  Or is Disneyworld more your thing?  How about the Harry Potter world?

My next holiday?  I'm going to the arctic circle to see a total eclipse of the sun - next March.  So that's E for Eclipse sorted out!

Did you miss these travelling posts on the @AprilA2Z?
Natasha's eXpress -
Reflections En Route did Lithuania
A Taste of Travel did a restaurant tour:
Bob Sanchez is one of many who did G for Grand Canyon!
and Jennifer Garcia did Florence, among other places

My 2p in the Blogger or Wordpress for following blogs is solved by pinning them to a Pinterest page for A to Zs  :)

See my blog at and follow the news of my Princelings of the East series at  The sixth book, Bravo Victor is FREE 9th and 10th July on Amazon worldwide (last chance!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Here's An Idea!: My Vacation Scrapbook (#atozchallenge)

English: Northern terminus of California State...
Northern terminus of California State Route 23 outside Moorpark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            So how's your summer going so far?   I'm on the road right now.  Actually I've settled in for a few weeks at my mother's house in East Tennessee.  I'm enjoying time with family and hopefully will have a chance to see some old friends.   But the main purpose of the trip is to spend time helping my mother and just hang out with her.   I don't get to see her very much since I moved to California 23 years ago.

           I'll also be visiting my daughters in New Jersey and Houston and have some special times with my grandkids.  Don't get to see any of them nearly enough either.  The family is scattered and that means a major vacation trip in order to see everyone.

           So what's all this have to do with the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?  Well, since I'm doing a series about coming up with theme ideas for the 2015 Challenge (visit Part 1 here), I thought why not use this summer's activities as a basis for your blogging theme in April.  It's kind of like the "What I Did During Summer Vacation" essays you probably had to do back when you were in school.  Same thing for your month long A to Z theme except you can get super detailed and add pictures.

          Travelling affords so many inspirations and opportunities for good blog post ideas that you can not only use them now, but you can still organize them later for your April A to Z theme.

Here's a Few Ideas:

  • I Spy Travel Game--This is always a good way to entertain the kids if you're in the car for a long ways.  Have them look for something that starts with the letter A and so on through the alphabet.  And while they're playing the game find some inspiration of your own for your April theme.
  • Places A to Z--When you're traveling you come upon all sorts of place names that will range through the alphabet.  Towns, streets, rivers, mountains. and all sorts of other place names will give you ideas for every letter.  Make a list as you go for reference later on.
  • Business names--This is one I've been tempted to do.  Use the restaurants you eat at, the places you stay, stores you shop in, or just businesses you pass by.  Take pictures of them if you can.  If you have time you can even interview the owners or customers to add some dimension to your blog post.  There are plenty of businesses from Aamco to Zaxby's and you can fill up your theme fast.  And you don't even have to leave your home town to do this one.
      This is just to get you started.  Get your creative mind to working and I'll bet you can come up with a lot more ideas that will keep you busy while on your vacation.  Have fun with it!

          Be sure to visit Wednesday's post with more on this idea and some links that might inspire you.

          What travel games did you play as a kid or do your kids play now?     If you're traveling during the summer, where will you be going?   What are some other A to Z themes you can think of that relate to travel?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July to our American Readers!

We are so glad that the A-Z Community is a global one, with bloggers from all over the world.

However, most of the co-hosts are from the US, and today we are celebrating the independence of our nation.

We will be back with "real" posts on Monday. Meanwhile, enjoy whatever today brings you.

~Tina, for the A-Z Team

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Storyteller's Perspective: Something old, something new...

I like old stories. I think most of us do. During the month of April A to Z, I especially love finding blogs that choose themes like mythology (Greek, Norse, or anything else), folklore, or even ghosts. It always makes me happy to see that people still read, share, and cherish these tales.
Of course, I am a storyteller, so I might be biased.

Today I would like to share with you a game that I have been playing. It is useful for me, both as an author and as a storyteller, to know what the stories that are the most popular these days (anything between Captain America and The Fault in Our Stars) are doing right. And I especially love to find old, old stories in new costumes, sometimes so masterfully re-done that it is a challenge worthy of Indiana Jones to recognize them.
(How many of you realized the Hunger Games is a version of the myth of Theseus?)

Here is how the game goes:

1. Pick a film, a TV show, or a game that is popular (and you have needed an excuse to watch or play)

2. Give it a chance. It might end up being boring or generally not your thing, but hey, gotta try it before you criticize it, right?

3. Make a list of things - characters, places, visual elements, plot points - that you especially liked. This can be anything from Merida's archery skills to Loki's mischief (There Shall Be No Storytelling Post Without Trickster References!)

4. Go scour the Internet for other people's opinions - what did the good people of the Web find especially awesome or memorable? (you can make a safe guess based on fan art, if everything else fails)

5. Now that you have a handy list, go on a quest: Try to find old stories that have the same things. Search in Google Books, or story collections, or even the very handy Thompson motif index for folktales. See what you can dig up. If you want to see a few examples, you can check on the StorySpotting blog.

The more you play, the easier it gets (and, also, you find more and more intriguing bits). It is not only fun to play with the idea of "nothing is ever new," but it can also provide tremendous help and inspiration: It teaches you about what values, characters and motifs remain popular over the ages and across cultures, and have the constant power to amaze and inspire modern readers and audiences.

Have fun!

As usual, you can find Csenge (@TarkabarkaHolgy) at
The Multicolored Diary - Adventures in Storytelling
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...