Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Witch’s Prophecy

Sandstone Formations

Sandstone Formations

The translation of the saying, “Mæg þer portear Alvaro suboard eaw,” is “May Alvaro guide your path.”  This saying is written in the Alvarian language, which is the language of magic in my young adult high fantasy novel, The Witch’s Prophecy.  This is only one use of the language in the novel.  There are many others.

Here’s some more information about it:

Elle Holden lives in the town of Linview.  It’s a small town, where everyone is very close to each other.  Because of this, there are very few things a person could do if someone decides to abuse their power….

Elle is seeing some weird things around town that nobody else can see.  Everyone thinks she is crazy.  The most popular boy in school dares her to knock on the door of a mysterious house on the top of a hill above Linview.  If she does, he will be her boyfriend, and everyone will like her.

The dare sends Elle into a fantasy world that she never would have imagined existed.  She encounters all sorts of magical creatures, and discovers that an evil Witch is being held captive in Evindoore.  If the Witch escapes, she will take over Evindoore and enter the outside world (our world).

An ancient prophecy foretold that Elle could be the one to stop the Witch.  Is Elle the girl of the prophecy?  Will she be able to stop the Witch from the help of her Elven defender and the Alliance?  Can she accept her place in this new world?

Find out in The Witch’s Prophecy, the first book in the Evindoore series.

Coming soon…

© Amy Burney and Amy’s Fantastical Writings, 2013


SUCCESS! My Novel is Written (At Least the 1st Draft)


I was going to post this yesterday, but I got caught up in revisions.  I ended the last chapter of my novel on Wednesday.  It was at approximately 98,000 words.


When that last chapter was written (the first draft of it), I felt so relieved.   I couldn’t believe that I finished a novel!  Wow!  I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I found that as long as I kept myself involved with the plot, and kept a personal deadline (August 1st for first draft), I was able to keep myself going.  I always do well with deadlines, even if I don’t really feel like writing.  I only took a break if I was exhausted, and if I had a splitting headache.  Other than that, I kept moving.  And I’m so glad I did.  I completely agree with this next quote.  If I stopped writing when I didn’t want to write, then I wouldn’t have finished the novel by the deadline.  There were many days when I didn’t feel like writing.  But it’s finished!

So now, my next steps are to revise the novel.  I’m finding that I’m having to work on the ending a lot because I put so much into two chapters.  Yesterday, I broke up one chapter at the end into three.  Yikes!  I’m doing the same to my last chapter as well.

Once that’s done, I’m starting all the way back at the beginning and filling in dialogue, and clearing up inconsistencies and plot holes.  I’m also going to ensure that each scene of the beginning is actually needed, and that it doesn’t drag in some parts.

Meanwhile, I’m also working on the cover for the book.  That’s a work in progress.  I have a good start on it.  I still need to do some tweaking.

I’m going to start sharing information about the book within the week.  In the meantime, here’s a saying that I’ve used a few times in the book.  There is a dictionary in the book relating to this saying, and also the spells used in the book.  I’ll let you look at it for a day or so and try to figure out what it means before I post the translation in English.

Mæg þer portear Alvaro suboard eaw

© Amy Burney and Amy’s Fantastical Writings, 2013

Majestic Mountain Vacation, Estes Park, Colorado


Can’t wait to be in the mountains again!

Jill's Cabana Stories and Travels

Today, I am thinking about mountain vacations.  We have seen many mountains sailing through the many inlets on our Alaskan vacations.  We also saw Mount Rainier when we were in Seattle, Washington before our Alaskan cruises.

My daughter loves the mountains.  The serenity of a mountain vacation, gazing up at the snow-covered peaks, brings her total peace.  That is why mountains are on my mind today.  We are in the planning stages for another trip, and this time we are returning to the mountains.

Our only real mountain vacation was our trip to Estes Park, Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Estes Park was a lovely little city at the base of the Rocky Mountain.  It was the perfect city to stay at because of its close proximity to the national park.  Staying in Estes Park gave you a perfect outlook of the mountains before you went…

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Secret of the Old Clock

Cover Art

Cover Art

It’s 1930 and Nancy’s visiting Emily Crandall in Titusville at the Lilac Inn.  Her mother recently died.  She and her mother had been counting on the financial support of their neighbor, Josiah Crowley, in his will.  However, he gave all his money to Richard Topham, his ESP teacher.  Did Josiah really give all his money to Topham when he promised the Crandalls that he would take care of him?  Did he really have that great of a change of heart?  Or is something else going on?  Find out in this game based on the very first Nancy Drew book, Secret of the Old Clock.


Jim Archer—He’s the local banker in town, and the executor of Josiah Crowley’s will.  His bank is also on the brink of failure, and he’s been meeting with Topham for something.  How far would he go to save his bank?

Jane Willoughby

Jane Willoughby

Richard Topham—He’s a self-proclaimed expert on ESP.  He lives in the house that once belonged to Josiah Corly by the Lilac Inn, and teaches ESP.  Is his ESP stuff an act, or does he really believe in it?

Emily Crandall—She’s only seventeen years old, and she owns the Lilac Inn.  She’s been plagued by mysterious incidents.  Is she “losing her marbles,” or is something going on?

Jane Willoughby—She’s Emily’s guardian.  Gloria Crandall was once her friend, and she asked Jane to look over Emily.  She’s not doing a really good job with guardianship.  Is she really looking out for Emily?  Or does she have other intentions?


Driving and delivering telegrams.  That became so annoying, particularly when I blew a tire on a pothole.  Ugh.

Doing chores for everyone.  I think at one point in the game, I had been running around for two hours getting things for everyone to progress in the game.  That got really old fast.


I liked the William Shakespeare integration, particularly dealing with some of his lines from A Midsummer’s Nights Dream.  Josiah Crowley had a wide range of interests.

I loved playing miniature golf!  I played that a few times.

screenshots (4)

Some Interesting Points

The music in this game really sounded like it was from the 1930s.  It put you in the mood to play the game.

Lilac Inn makes pies.  Lots of pies.  So many, and you had to sort them for the driver.  That made me go cross-eyed.  And it made me hungry for pie.

Gameplay Moments

You fished for a big mouth bass so someone could print off raffle tickets.  The fish was apparently really stinky.

Apparently I’m not a good seamstress.  I botched that part quite a few times.

Overall Impression

After the Curse of Blackmoor Manor, this game seemed so quick.  I think I finished it in 3-4 hours.  I remember the first time I played it, I was really surprised by the ending.  Josiah Crowley was very interesting.

The puzzles seemed really simple.  I don’t think I needed any spoilers.  However, here’s a walkthrough if you get stuck.

I’m glad that Her Interactive made a game based on the first Nancy Drew book.  It was a return to the “classic” Nancy Drew books.  Still, it was so quick, and it seemed so simple compared to the previous game.  Plus I hated driving around and delivering telegrams.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either.  It’s just okay.

Here’s the trailer:

Her Interactive

Secret of the Old Clock

The Storyteller

The Storyteller Book Cover

The Storyteller Book Cover

I was really looking forward to reading Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller.  I am a big fan of her work, particularly House Rules.  Being that this was about the Holocaust, I was really anxious to read it.

I should say to begin with that I’m not very good at keeping up with multiple plots in the story.  I’m talking about more than three or four.  This book had so many plots to it that I got kind of lost in the book.  I had a hard time transitioning between them.  For me, the overall plot of the book got lost between all the mini plots.  I’ve read other reviews of this book and found that many loved it, so it must be me.  Perhaps if I read the book again, I’ll get the plots better.

Having said that, part of the book was gut wrenching with stories of the Holocaust.  The Holocaust is always fascinating to study, but it can be very easy to start crying because of the hardship that people suffered in it.  Of course, this was no different in The Storyteller.  I found myself crying in this book.  At those points, I was totally into the story.  In those moments, Jodi Picoult’s writing style shined through.  She made me cry, just like she did in parts of House Rules.

The book also raised the philosophical question, “Should you forgive an old man who was a Nazi, and who killed people in the Holocaust, but asks for forgiveness?”  As for that, I really cannot say myself.  Part of me believes that all human beings should be forgiven, and another part thinks that some crimes are so horrific, that they cannot be forgiven.  I hope that I never have to face that kind of question in my life, because I don’t know how I would answer.

Overall, I did get lost at points in the book, but I also enjoyed other parts.  The book raised some serious questions for me, which always makes me love a book.  I like it when I’m thinking about a book after I put it down (or returned it to the library).

Based on that, I struggle with how many stars to give it.  Part of me wants to give it lower scores, because I did get lost in quite a few parts of it from the multiple storylines.  Another part of me wants to give it five stars because it was so heart wrenching and it really made you question whether the person should be forgiven.  I will have to settle with giving it three stars.  I love the book, and I disliked the book, all at the same time.  I hope the next book by Jodi Picoult isn’t so difficult to rate.

Perhaps if I read it again, I’ll understand all the plots.  If so, I’ll update the review to hopefully give it five stars.  At this point, it’s at three.

The Curse of Blackmoor Manor

Cover Art

Cover Art

The Curse of Blackmoor Manor is rated E for Everyone.  This is Nancy’s first international adventure.  It takes place in England.  This has been called by many as one of the scariest games that Her Interactive has ever made.

Nancy is called in to visit Linda Penvellyn at Blackmoor Manor.  She has been struck with some mysterious maladies.  She will not allow anyone to see her.

Your mission is to figure out what’s keeping her ill.  Is she just sick?  Is she having mood swings?  Has she been cursed?  Is she turning into the Blackmoor Beast?  Find out in Nancy Drew:  The Curse of Blackmoor Manor.


Nigel Mookerjee—He is a historian doing research on the Penvellyn family in the library.  He has much to say on the Penvellyn’s scandalous history, including the Penvellyn family treasure and the Blackmoor Beast.  Why is he so interested in the Penvellyns anyway?  Is he truly interested in their history?  Or is it something else?

Jane Penvellyn—She moved to Blackmoor Manor from the United States, and she is very unhappy.  She loves to play games, and she’s kind of lonely.  She knows a lot about the mansion and its secrets.  Does she know so much that she’s creating mischief?

Ethel Bossiney

Ethel Bosinney

Linda Penvellyn—She married Hugh Penvellyn and moved from the United States to Blackmoor Manor, his home.  What is really going on with her?  Is she hiding something?  What does she mean by, “There are some doors that should never be opened?”

Mrs. Drake—She is Jane’s Great Aunt and Blackmoor Manor’s housekeeper.  She doesn’t like talk of magic or curses, but she can be superstitious herself.

Ethel Bosinney—She is Jane’s tutor, and she teaches Jane a variety of subjects, some that seem inscrutable.  She seems nice, but she has a mysterious side to her.  What is her story?


Having to make cake constantly for LouLou and playing games with Jane to get glowsticks can get frustrating.  Especially when you’re at a pivotal point in the game.


This mansion is so huge!  There are constantly new places to explore.  Lots and lots of snooping!

The game is long and complex.  Even though I’ve played it many times, it still took me three days to play the game.

There are many many puzzles, all of which seem to fit in with the overall plot of the game.  Some were more difficult than others, but a walkthrough is always helpful.  Score!

Rich history, plus alchemy.  I love the Penvellyn family history.  It’s so mysterious.  I also really enjoy learning about alchemy.

LouLou!  She makes me laugh.

You get to go on a ghost hunt!  Fun!

Some Interesting Points

I can see how people may be uncomfortable with parts of the game, including alchemy, strange rituals, and the Lady in Black.  It is rated E for Everyone, but people should ensure that they are comfortable with these features before they install the game.  I found it fascinating, but that was just me.

I had fun with trying to figure out the Cockney from Tommy in the Boor’s Head Pub.  You had to guess what you would get for dinner.

screenshots (1)

Gameplay Moments

There are many moments in the game where something “supernatural” comes up.  Some examples include when you first arrive, and during the middle of the night.  This can be kind of creepy, but fun at the same time.

*Tip*  Get an Easter egg by clicking on something in Jane’s room quite a few times.  Then set your alarm clock at night to say…9 AM holding the Easter egg.  Get ready for spookiness!

Watch out for the carnivorous plant in the conservatory!  *Shivers*

Overall Impression

This is probably one of the more controversial games in the Nancy Drew series (with the alchemy and whatnot).  Still, this is one of my favorite games.  It’s very long, with lots of snooping and great puzzles.  You learn quite a bit in this game, which is always a plus.  I also love the creepiness.  I didn’t find it that scary, probably because I’ve played it so many times.  However, the playing it the first time would definitely creep you out.

Great game!

Here’s the trailer:

Her Interactive

Curse of Blackmoor Manor

Our One Night Stay at the Polynesian Resort


Love the Poly!

Jill's Cabana Stories and Travels

When we were driven up by Disney’s Magical Express to the Polynesian Resort, we were greeted by cast members that had hula necklaces for us.  They said, “Aloha,” and placed a necklace on our neck.  That immediately put a smile on our face, and was just a preview of the night to come.

We had been at the Polynesian Resort before to eat at both Ohana and Kona Café.  When we had visited the Poly, we just knew that we wanted to stay there one night.  On this vacation, we got our wish.

We walked into the Great Ceremonial House and saw the familiar sight of the grand waterfall in the entrance.  It smelled crisp and fresh, just like we had always remembered.  We checked in, and we able to go to our guest room.

We had a guest room in Samoa.  That proved to be a wonderful location as…

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