Posts Tagged With: harry potter

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Year 1 Review

As someone who grew up with the Harry Potter books, I was understandably thrilled to hear about the new Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile game. Since its release on April 25th, I’ve played through Year 1 (there are 7 years in total), and had a pretty fun time. The graphics are lovely, the storyline is intriguing, and some of the dialogue made me laugh out loud. But the game also has some glaring issues — namely, the energy system. So here’s my breakdown of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Year 1.



The Good

The start of the game is just magical — you get to live out the fantasy of getting your acceptance letter, going to Diagon Alley to buy supplies and get your wand, and then hop the train to Hogwarts to attend the feast and get sorted into your house. I liked that you get to choose your house, although I would have preferred a bit more of a “personality quiz” style of questioning before you make your decision.

The plot wasn’t brilliant, but it did keep me interested. Your avatar (you choose the name and gender) is a bit of a pariah at Hogwarts because your older brother was expelled for breaking school rules in an attempt to find the “Cursed Vaults,” which are hidden somewhere within the castle. The other Hogwarts students constantly bring it up, and the teachers judge you by your brother’s actions, so there’s a thread of “having to prove yourself” that runs through the narrative. As you progress through the first year, you get a mysterious vision of the vaults, along with a quest line to open a door that’s blocked by cursed ice. There isn’t really a resolution to the “cursed vaults” plot in Year 1, but I’m looking forward to finding out more as I progress through the years.

The lessons are very entertaining, mostly because of the dialogue. You complete normal tasks, like “Study” and “Listen to Professor”, but then there are other options like “Pass Notes,” “Gossip,” and “Insult” — the latter always involves Merula, the Slytherin bully whose insults are delightfully relentless. My favorite bit of dialogue comes from Flying class, in which every piece of flying advice that Madam Hooch gives ends with “or you’ll fall to your death.” You have to wonder how many casualties she’s suffered over the years, and why no one has thought to put levitation charms on the hapless first-year students.

There’s lots more I enjoyed–the graphics, the supporting characters, getting to duel other students, and so on. All in all, it has the potential to be a fantastic game that any Harry Potter fan would happily devour. There’s only one problem …



The Bad

The energy system is just plain stupid.

It’s a pay-to-play game, so basically you have an energy bar, and you expend energy every time you do a task. The problem is that you use up your energy bar incredibly quickly, and it takes 4 minutes to replenish one energy charge — a full energy bar is ~25 charges. That means you have to wait ~100 minutes to recharge your bar. Most classes take about 2 full energy bars to complete — sometimes more — and you go through all your energy in maybe 5 minutes, tops. So you’re playing for 5 minutes, waiting 2 hours, playing for 5 minutes, etc.

Now, I get it. The game is free, and they have to make money somewhere. And maybe there are people out there who will happily spend money to recharge their energy bar over and over and over. But frankly, it just pisses me off. I would have gladly laid down $20 as a flat fee to play the game. But pay-to-play is so open-ended, with potentially no end to the investment you have to pour into the game. If you could just pay to get vanity items, like cool robes or a swanky broom, that would be different. But when your actual ability to play the game is impeded by long wait times and prodding to purchase more energy … not cool.

Implementing a flat fee is probably impossible at this point, since that’s not how the game was designed. But I think a very easy fix would be to shorten how long it takes for energy to recharge. Cut it from 4 minutes down to 2, for example, and suddenly people are playing twice as often, getting twice as involved in the game. Get the players to love your game first, then try to cash in, not the other way around.

I’ve been skimming reviews for this game, and most of the reviewers end off by saying “it’s a good concept, but I got too frustrated and stopped playing.” I’m really hoping that Jam City (the game developer) recognizes this as a serious problem and addresses it, because I’ve been dreaming of a Skyrim-style Harry Potter game for years, and if this mobile game fails, it might discourage future Harry Potter games from being developed.



In conclusion …

I love Harry Potter, and when I’m actually able to play the game (and am not just sitting there waiting for more energy), I genuinely enjoy it. So I will keep playing. But I categorically refuse to support micro-transactions of any kind, and that’s not going to change no matter how long it takes my energy bar to recharge. It might take a bit longer, and I might forget about the game after a while if it drags out too much, but for now, it’s on to Year 2! Time to solve the mystery of the Cursed Vaults. Wish me luck!


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Pro Editing Tip: Remove Filter Words

Today’s editing tip is courtesy of the glorious Nicholas C Rossis, who was kind enough to beta read Chasing Nonconformity. (Note: Yes, I’ve finally started revisions! Book should be out by summer’s end! Huzzah!)

In his excellent beta reading notes, he mentioned my overuse of “filter words”. These are, essentially, words that make the world seem as if it’s being filtered through the character’s eyes.

So, for example:

With filter: Gabby felt her heart shatter into 1,558,309 pieces.

Without filter: Gabby’s heart shattered into 1,558,309 pieces.

Another example:

With filter: Humphrey heard someone squawk violently.

Without filter: Someone squawked violently.

One more:

With filter: Olivia saw the duck transmogrify into a treble clef.

Without filter: The duck transmogrified into a treble clef.

Removing filter words will both tighten up your writing, as well as help to remove that extra layer of distance between you and the character. And removing distance is always a good thing. Not removing distance leads to separation anxiety, which leads to my roommate’s dog literally crashing through the screen door to reach her owner.

To learn more about filter words, the extraordinary Nicholas C Rossis recommends this article. Seeing as I’ve now described him as both “glorious” and “extraordinary”, I’m confident we can trust his good judgment.

To infinity and beyond!


Unrelated media of the day:

Random Harry Potter jokes, because my roommate has been marathoning the HP movies and it seems appropriate …



Reminder: Imminent Danger is free to download today (July 6, 2015) — grab it if you haven’t read it yet!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Chasing Nonconformity Update

As of yesterday, I have officially hit the halfway point in my exhaustive edit of Chasing Nonconformity. Huzzah!

Mother and I started off our editing “SHWOOP” sessions, as we call them, back in February. We meet on Google Hangout every few days and spend an hour or two working our way through the book. This was very slow going, as it usually consisted of mother reading a sentence, staring at it, deciding she didn’t like it, and then telling me to re-write it with very vague directions on what she thought should change. This might repeat four or five times for a single sentence before we moved on to the next and started the whole process again.

You may think I’m joking, but I’m not. It was taking forever.

Then, a few days ago, inspiration hit. More like common sense. If both of us go through the chapter separately before we meet, we’ll have already ironed out all the wrinkles and the SHWOOP session itself will be smooth sailing!

Has your brain exploded yet? Because mine did.

Anyway, our SHWOOP sessions over the past week have been going phenomenally well. We get at least a chapter done a day–two yesterday!–and we’re practically flying through the book now. It probably also helps that we’ve hit the halfway point and the action’s really picking up, so we may or may not be getting through it faster as a result.

I thought I’d share some random facts about the book with you now, since you’ve all waited so patiently and deserve a teaser. Please note that everything listed below might change–I still need to do my uber-beta-reading round, and comments from that could easily shift things around. Anyway, as promised …


An insider look at the current draft (not final, but getting close) of Chasing Nonconformity

  • # of chapters = 42
  • Current word count = 98,997
  • POV characters = Eris, Varrin, Miguri, & Sebara (new character!)
  • Planets/systems visited = 6
  • # of times Varrin smirks = 14
  • # of times Grashk hisses = 17
  • # of times any character sighs = 66 (oh dear)
  • First sentence in the book = “Sebara paced outside the bronze double doors that led into the private chambers of Trystan Gara’dar, second son of the emperor of Rakor.”

The end.

Unrelated media of the day:

Okay, this is a fun one: Harry Potter quotes taken out of context … (Source)

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

New blog/website layout! Check it out :)

Hi all! For anyone who saw my last post, I was very perplexed about the best way to host my website. After sorting through some excellent advice and doing some research, I ended up mapping my domain name over to this very site (WordPress). So now my blog is also my website! Huzzah!

I changed the theme and added a bunch of pages and stuff — feel free to wander around the site and check it out. I clearly know nothing about web design, so if you see anything you don’t like, or think should be done differently, by all means drop me a comment and let me know.

In writing news, I’m still editing Chasing Nonconformity — I went through and did all the major structural edits, so now I’m going through and doing line-by-line stuff. Once I’m done that, it’ll be another round of beta readers, another round of edits … and then, hopefully, time for publication! Fingers crossed we get this puppy out by the end of 2014 — although at the rate I’m accomplishing writing-related tasks this year, we may be looking more at an early 2015 date. Alas.


Unrelated media of the day

These are taken from 29 Times Tumblr Raised Serious Questions About Harry Potter — click the link if you want to see more.


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So I got my first 1 star review …

That’s right — Imminent Danger has officially acquired its first 1 star review. I won’t post the link here, but if you hop over to the Imminent Danger Goodreads page, you can check out the review for yourself.

As you can probably imagine, it makes me sad that someone out there paid money for my book and didn’t enjoy it. It also sucks because no one likes to hear their work merits a mere 1 star rating — essentially, that if the book were graded as a test, it would get a measly 20% and flunk the course.  And I’m not going to lie — it kind of crushed my emotions when I first saw the review. But then I remembered that I’ve weathered much worse than this — namely, receiving a bad review in person to my face — so I think I’ve calmed down. More or less. Mostly.

Now, it’s not very classy to go line by line through a bad review and dissect it, potentially shaming the reviewer in the process, so I’m not going to do that. The only thing I’m going to bring up is this — that I really don’t understand why people feel the need to leave nasty reviews when they haven’t even read the entire book. The reviewer admits they stopped at chapter 10 … which is like reviewing a song when you’ve only heard the first 45 seconds. I just don’t get it.

I mean, yes, if the book is truly so horrendous that you literally can’t bring yourself to read any further, and feel it’s your civic duty to warn off other readers before they spend their hard-earned free time and money on a disgusting and despicable piece of literature … sure, go ahead and leave a review without reading the whole book. But I’m pretty sure (like 90% sure … maybe 85% …) that Imminent Danger isn’t a hate-filled, vitriolic piece of filth.

Okay, fine, I’m a little upset. But I guess that’s what happens when you get a bad review. I’ll get over it! I had some gravy-smothered mashed potatoes and watched an episode of Chuck, so I’m well on my way to recovery. Just needed to vent a little bit. I’m better now. I just need to remember that different people are different, and that there’s no such thing as a book everyone likes.



Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 97 Comments

Vlogs on hold while I find my video camera …

I’m really annoyed by this. I brought my FlipCam to the Argyle Arts Festival, where I had a booth back in August to sell Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, and I got a decent bit of footage from said event. I don’t remember if I mentioned the Argyle festival on my blog, but basically it was a medium success. I only sold 3 books, but I did trade one book for another local author’s book, and then I traded another book for some handmade soap and body butter. So not much in terms of sales, but lots in terms of swag!

Anyhoo, I’ve since misplaced my video camera, hence the appalling lack of vlogs. There are few things in life I enjoy more than babbling into a camera (Note: that was a blatant lie), and now I can’t even do that! Horror, thy name is my inability to replace objects from whence they came!

So that’s essentially why there haven’t been any vlogs for a while. Ah well.

On the writing front, still working away at Chasing Nonconformity. I’ve got the timeline worked out properly now, so at least my characters will be in the right places at the right times. Now to just get everything slotted into place.

I’ve also been toying around with a new short story concept, which would be called “The Dusk Bugs”. It would be based off my recent walking trip through the “Banana Kingdom”, a long stretch of pavement in a swampy area that someone has spray painted a bunch of bananas on. I made the mistake of walking through the Banana Kingdom at dusk, and there were … well, not to ruin the ending, but there were a fair amount of bugs. Terror ensued. I think it will make for an underwhelmingly thrilling tale. Stay tuned!


Unrelated link of the day:

The Harry Potter-themed series of gifs is titled: “No … no no no, I wasn’t ready for feels today!”

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My Poem: “A Toothbrush’s Tale”

I was going through my old file folders yesterday, and I discovered this absolute gem of poetry. It’s rather terrible, quite absurd, and has a moral which is totally incorrect and should definitely never be learned by any child ever. Cringe and enjoy!

A Toothbrush’s Tale


Fred the toothbrush was a sorry sight,

For his toothbrush friends knew not his sad plight.

This young little toothbrush was unhappy, you see,

His plastic casing oppressed him; he sought to be free!


“But Fred,” his mother said, “That’s quite absurd,”

“All toothbrushes are plastic, haven’t you heard?

I love you, my son, but to be quite frank,

Your mental skills I couldn’t take to the bank.”


Disheartened and miserable, Fred looked away,

And resolved to leave town the very next day.

Away from Toothbrushia little Fred would fly,

For hope gave him wings, much like a pie.


Far past the Cheesecake Mountains he flew,

Dodging the cavities, root canals, and goo,

Then to Toffee Lake, that abominable mess,

Delight of little children, but alas, I digress.


Finally came our hero to a castle on the sand,

Where, waving from the window, was a tiny old man.

“Come, little toothbrush, I can help you!”

Cried the old man, sitting on the loo.


Eagerly young Fred alighted at his side,

“I hate being plastic,” the poor toothbrush cried.

“Don’t worry!” the man said, “That form’s such a joke!

Soon you’ll metamorphize into an oak!”


“An oak?” Fred stammered. “But what can that be?”

“Why, you silly toothbrush, an oak is a tree!”

“But I don’t want to be wooden,” the toothbrush said.

“Don’t worry,” the man chuckled, “it’s like being dead.”


Terrified, poor Fred ran for the door,

But the old man pinned him via two-by-four.

“Abracadabra!” he cackled with glee.

And just like that, Fred turned into a tree.


The good folks of Toothbrushia soon forget Fred had left,

They cried for a while, but they weren’t very bereft.

So you see, little children, the point of this story,

Don’t complain, and don’t whine, or you’ll be sorry.


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Random, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 21 Comments

“Seven Harry Potters” Scene – Re-written

Once upon a time, Harry Potter was about to turn seventeen. He knew that the second the clock struck midnight, Voldemort and his Death Eaters would arrive to capture him. He also found out that a corrupt Ministry of Magic official had made it an imprisonable offence for him to use Floo powder, portkeys, or Apparition to escape.

All seemed hopeless, and Harry thought he would have no choice but to let six of his friends use Polyjuice potion and pretend to be him. With these seven Harry Potters, the Death Eaters wouldn’t know which Harry was which when they made their daring escape — although this would also put his friends in great danger, and might very well end in their death and/or dismemberment.

Then Harry remembered that he wasn’t a complete idiot, and that he didn’t care about being imprisoned since the Ministry was already under Voldemort’s thumb. So he told Moody and the Order of the Phoenix to call off their ridiculous plan, and he waited more-or-less peacefully in the Dursley’s house right up until his birthday.

At three seconds to midnight, he Apparated to some random field in the middle of nowhere. He knew that the Death Eaters would follow him, but he wasn’t worried, because he remembered that he wasn’t playing an online game, and that the Apparate spell doesn’t have a cooldown.

So Harry immediately Apparated again — straight to the Burrow, this time — and the Death Eaters had no idea where he went because by then it was past midnight, he was now seventeen, and the trace spell that the Ministry used on him to track his underage magic usage had stopped working.

Harry Potter therefore arrived safe and sound at the Burrow without putting any of his friends in danger, or getting anyone’s ear blown off, and everyone was very happy to see him and they all ate treacle tart to celebrate.

The End.


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Which book would you bring to life?

I’ve been thinking about The Pagemaster a lot recently, mostly because I think the idea of a library coming to life is just about the coolest thing ever. Here’s the movie trailer, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about:

Right. Everyone on the same page now? Hahaha. Get it? Page? Because … Pagemaster?

Never mind.

Anyway, what reader hasn’t dreamed of getting sucked into a book … or better yet, bringing the contents of a book into our world! Here’s the premise I set for myself: If you could bring one aspect of one book into our world, which would you choose? By one aspect, I mean a character, or an item, or a particular setting — bringing an entire book to life might be a bit overkill.

I think I would bring Harry Potter’s magic wand into this world. How awesome would it be to be able to do magic? Then again, I would be the only witch, since I would be the only one with a magic wand, which could get lonely. Or dangerous. And then if the government found out I could do actual magic, they would either recruit me forcibly to their cause, or steal the wand for themselves, or just kill me outright as a threat to national security. So maybe not a magic wand after all.

Perhaps I should choose something less conspicuous. Or maybe I’m in the wrong genre altogether. I could think of worse things than flying around the galaxy in the starship Enterprise. Although again, that would involve leaving everyone I know and love here on Earth, since “Hey, want to come fly away forever with me in my interstellar spaceship?” probably won’t do much convincing.

Or I could be more practical. I could pop into one of the hundreds of fantasy books that has a philosopher’s stone / holy grail / eternal-youth-and-health-contraption and grab that up. I could live forever! But again, loneliness. Awwwwwwww.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that being too special means you’ll be lonely. Alternatively, the lesson here is that I suck at hypothetical exercises.

Your turn! You can bring one aspect of one book into this world. What do you choose?

Unrelated video of the day:

Tee hee …

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The Worst Fanfiction Ever Written

In my continuing quest to bring to you, my dear and beloved readers, the many and varied gems of the internet, I present to you today’s offering: The Worst Fanfiction Ever Written.

The story is My Immortal, by Tara Gillesbie (username “XXXbloodyrists666XXX”). Here is a quote from

“My Immortal is a fanfiction that became infamous for being, what many have called, “the worst fanfiction ever written”. It contains a large number of spelling and grammatical errors and sudden unexplained sex scenes. Many of the titles for her chapters were inspired by the bands My Chemical Romance and Evanescence. The story has been the subject of several parodies and dramatic readings.”

No one is sure if this was meant as a joke, or if the author actually intended to create something so unbearably awful. I shall present to you the first few chapters (they’re extremely short), and then provide a link at the bottom for those wishing to further enjoy its magnificence.

Presenting: My Immortalby Tara

NOTE: This excerpt contains curse words. Also, “AN” means “Author’s Note”.

Chapter 1.

AN: Special fangz (get it, coz Im goffik) 2 my gf (ew not in that way) raven, bloodytearz666 4 helpin me wif da story and spelling. U rok! Justin ur da luv of my deprzzing life u rok 2! MCR ROX!

Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to Gerard Way but I wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie. I’m a vampire but my teeth are straight and white. I have pale white skin. I’m also a witch, and I go to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m in the seventh year (I’m seventeen). I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it and a black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots. I was wearing black lipstick, white foundation, black eyeliner and red eye shadow. I was walking outside Hogwarts. It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was very happy about. A lot of preps stared at me. I put up my middle finger at them.

“Hey Ebony!” shouted a voice. I looked up. It was…. Draco Malfoy!

“What’s up Draco?” I asked.

“Nothing.” he said shyly.

But then, I heard my friends call me and I had to go away.

AN: IS it good? PLZ tell me fangz!

Chapter 2.

AN: Fangz 2 bloodytearz666 4 helpin me wif da chapta! BTW preps stop flaming ma story ok!

The next day I woke up in my bedroom. It was snowing and raining again. I opened the door of my coffin and drank some blood from a bottle I had. My coffin was black ebony and inside it was hot pink velvet with black lace on the ends. I got out of my coffin and took of my giant MCR t-shirt which I used for pajamas. Instead, I put on a black leather dress, a pentagram necklace, combat boots and black fishnets on. I put on four pairs of earrings in my pierced ears, and put my hair in a kind of messy bun.

My friend, Willow (AN: Raven dis is u!) woke up then and grinned at me. She flipped her long waist-length raven black hair with pink streaks and opened her forest-green eyes. She put on her Marilyn Manson t-shirt with a black mini, fishnets and pointy high-heeled boots. We put on our makeup (black lipstick white foundation and black eyeliner.)

“OMFG, I saw you talking to Draco Malfoy yesterday!” she said excitedly.

“Yeah? So?” I said, blushing.

“Do you like Draco?” she asked as we went out of the Slytherin common room and into the Great Hall.

“No I so fucking don’t!” I shouted.

“Yeah right!” she exclaimed. Just then, Draco walked up to me.

“Hi.” he said.

“Hi.” I replied flirtily.

“Guess what.” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, Good Charlotte are having a concert in Hogsmeade.” he told me.

“Oh. My. Fucking. God!” I screamed. I love GC. They are my favorite band, besides MCR.

“Well…. do you want to go with me?” he asked.

I gasped.

Click here to continue the story!

Unrelated Image of the Day:

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

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