I made a very weird discovery a few weeks ago.

Do you ever get a tingly scalp feeling during a haircut or a head massage? (I thought that feeling was universal, but it seems that it’s not–people aren’t sure what percentage of folks experience it.) I recently learned that the same feeling can be triggered by some incredibly RANDOM stuff. I noticed that when listening to certain people’s voices or even while watching tutorials, I would get a similar feeling. I was moderately weirded out by that, so I did some Googling.

It turns out that that tingle is called autonomous meridian response (ASMR), and it can be triggered by the craziest things–which are different from person to person. I thought this article was rather informative, if bizarre. I sat mesmerized by an 18-minute video of some lady folding towels. Most of the rest seemed too strange for me (not that watching someone fold towels for 18 minutes isn’t strange), but I could’ve watched her fold those towels all day. There is a massive online community of people who make videos solely dedicated to inducing ASMR in other people. But the truly odd thing is that many people can’t feel anything. The video comments are a combination of, “Holy cow, this feels amazing!” and “What is this? 18 minutes of towels? I don’t get it.”

ASMR is almost frighteningly relaxing, and I’ve been incorporating it into stress management with great success, though it’s very difficult to talk about it with other people without sounding perfectly insane. It is the best thing for insomnia, though! When the Hubs is away, it usually takes me an eon to fall asleep, but not since I found towel-lady’s videos.

I went to a lovely movie night at my friends’ farm last night, and we saw The Little Prince, which was sweet and unimpressive by turns. Some beautiful animation in parts, but the tacked-on story felt, well, tacked-on. And not very sensical. Still, it was a delightful evening full of tea and blueberry lemonade and good conversation.

I finished Sourcery by Terry Pratchett recently and enjoyed it immensely. My reading of the Discworld series has been scattered and incomplete–of the 41 Discworld novels, I’ve only read eight or so. My very favorite Pratchett novels are actually his Bromeliad trilogy, but I enjoy a romp in the crazy Discworld universe too as long as I don’t read too many of them too close together. There’s a certain incoherence to some of them that is dizzying after too much exposure. Sourcery held together better than many, though, and made me want to dig up more Pratchett.

Music I’ve unearthed lately:

I once had a professor who said he lets history sift his reading list for him. If a book has been around for 25 years and is still considered good, he’ll read it, because odds are that it’s not a waste of his time. He didn’t have time to read bad books. I am in complete agreement with that strategy (though I don’t follow it as religiously as he did). The result is that most of the time I am woefully unaware of contemporary fiction, and sometimes I miss really cool current stuff because I’m busy reading Dickens.

For example, I was completely unaware that someone had basically already written A Cinder’s Tale, but as a kids’ book! I ran across Interstellar Cinderella online completely by chance, and I’d love to read it someday and see how it compares. It looks amazing, and exactly like the kind of book I would’ve loved as a kid.

And here we have part 2 of intriguing things I’ve found on the internet!


Know this:



Contrary to the impression conveyed during the last couple months of blogging, I don’t actually dress up in costume every week. No madcap adventures to report this week, although I did see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the North Carolina Museum of Art outdoor movie screening last night, which was good fun. I’m also reading Njal’s Saga, which is where the post title comes from. Much wisdom (and weirdness) in those Icelandic sagas!

I frequently used to post cool links I had found on my adventures around the internet, so I thought I’d squeeze in another post like that for the first time in a while. Some of these have been bookmarked waiting for their moment to shine for so long that they’re probably irrelevant, but on the off chance you haven’t seen them…

Know this:






Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a 1920s-themed party! I adore a good costume party and will dress up for any excuse. A good friend came over early so we could attempt some vaguely 20s-esque hairstyles.

The finished flappers:

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As you can see, that Kool Aid hair dye is nowhere near washing out. Looks like I’ll be a semi-redhead for a good while. Blondes beware, if you attempt the same thing!

The party was lovely, and included blackjack (not for actual money, naturally), dancing, live music, and good conversation. Everyone really went all-out on the costumes, which made it even more fun.


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The Hubs is exceptional at accents, and he maintained a great Chicago gangster accent all evening–quite the accomplishment.



My husband went to a week-long teacher development class at Harvard, and I caught a cheap flight out to Boston to join him for a few days.

The flight out was eventful, which is something desirable in stories but not in real life. I was supposed to connect in Newark and then go on to Boston, but as we landed, the pilot told us we were not in fact in Newark, but were in Philadelphia, because there might be a fire in our cargo hold. Fire trucks zipped up to the plane, and we were told to stay in our seats with our seat belts buckled, which is exactly the opposite of what I would want to do if I were on a burning plane. Fortunately, they couldn’t find a fire, so we were taken to a hastily cleared gate. From there, less fortunately, we had to take a bus to Newark, since Philadelphia thought it was nice we stopped by for an unscheduled visit but had no plane to give us to get us to Newark. After a lengthy bus ride to Newark, I finally caught another flight to Boston and got in about 5 hours after I had intended. But the plane didn’t explode, so that was nice.

On my first day, I visited the Longfellow House/Washington’s Quarters in Cambridge.

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Looking good for its age.

Lots of cool history here! For example, the smithy from Longfellow’s poem lived just down the street, and when the chestnut tree in the yard was cut down, the neighborhood children were quite upset. Longfellow had a chair made out of the chestnut tree and invited the kids to come by and sit in it and get a free copy of the poem. Long before Longfellow, Washington occupied this house during the siege of Boston in 1775-1776.

I met my husband and some of his coworkers for lunch at Darwin’s Ltd. (yummy) and spent some time in Goorin Bros. Hat Shop. I puzzled out the subway system enough to get myself over to Brattle Books, a book store established in 1825 featuring rare old books. The interior was great, but my favorite part was the outside book lot:

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Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I bought an Ellery Queen mystery for $1 and read it in the grass at Boston Common before meeting my husband for dinner in Chinatown. Lovely day!

The next day I met up with my mother’s cousin, who is a nun with an infectious laugh and an impossibly upbeat attitude. Together we toured the Robert Shaw Memorial, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel and King’s Chapel Burying Ground, and the Old State House.

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We took a Boston Massacre tour, walked around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, and had a lovely time. At one point, someone doing interviews on the street asked us if we would share our thoughts on the feud between Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian. I said, “She’s a nun and I’m a bookworm, so we don’t really have an opinion.” He turned on his heel pretty quickly.

That evening, we met up with my husband for dinner at Warren’s Tavern, a favorite watering hole for many a founding father, which was named after Dr. Joseph Warren who was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill.

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Looking a little worse for wear after a long, hot day of walking, but happily full of good food!

My flight home on Friday morning was uneventful, but my husband’s flight that evening was terribly delayed, so I picked him up from the airport after 2:00am. Tired folks! See you next time, Beantown.

My husband and I believe very strongly in taking full advantage of Chik-fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day, so on Tuesday we dressed up as cows–twice–in order to obtain free chicken.


Go big or go home.

We enjoy costume themes, so this year we were city cow and country cow (Aristocattle and Cowntry Bumpkin, specifically) for lunch.

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And high society cows for dinner. I particularly enjoy the disparity in facial expressions in this one.

These two bovines are headed to Boston next week (my husband has a week-long teacher development thing at Harvard, and I’m joining him for a few days), so with any luck I will have further adventures to relate after that.

In the meantime, here’s my review of Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s new book, A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold:

I  am in love with Stengl’s characterization. While there were many aspects of this book that I savored (it’s certainly the best retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that I’ve ever read), the characters were my favorite part. Heloise is brilliant, and the interactions between all of the characters are incredibly lifelike. The contradictory nature of the love-hate bond between the sisters was spot-on, and even the character who initially seemed relatively bland (Evette) turned out to be multi-faceted and intriguing. I confess, as a result of my love for the characters and their interactions, I preferred the parts of the book that dealt more with the character development/Near World and less of the sections that dealt more with allegory/Faerie. As with Golden Daughter, there were a few parts that felt wordy to me–I liked the more pared-down prose of Starflower or Dragonwitch–but my affection for the characters easily carried me through the slower parts. I ate this door-stopper book right up in just a couple days and couldn’t put it down!

Speaking of books, there are a couple days left on the giveaway for The Battle of Castle Nebula, so don’t forget to sign up!

If by some dark miracle you have not yet read Five Glass Slippers, here’s your chance to get a taste of the anthology for free. The Moon Master’s Ball by Clara Diane Thompson is currently available for free on Smashwords, Nook, Kobo, and Kindle. After reading the story, you’ll immediately want to pick up the whole collection in Five Glass Slippers, which also includes my book, A Cinder’s Tale.


This post makes me really happy. I haven’t shared music I like in a really long time, so most of these songs are no longer remotely new, but they’re still songs I enjoy and would like others to hear if they haven’t already had a chance to do so.

Making time to do things I enjoy has been the theme of life lately. This past spring was so hellacious that I vowed I would never have another season like that again. I wrote 5,000 words per week on The Star Bell for months at a time and was too tired to enjoy any of it. I managed five conferences in five weeks (the same time that edits were due on The Star Bell), and flying home from one conference in San Francisco at the end of April, I was so tired I just wanted to cry. But I couldn’t because my seatmates on the plane would’ve been weirded out, so I wrote a newsletter article and worked on formatting for paperback for hours because I had to.

I decided that something had to change. I’m going to start exploring other employment options with less stress and travel, starting this fall. I’ve also promised myself a whole year of no writing. I have to get to where I can enjoy it at least a little bit again. I’ve cut back on my editing work, and I’m cutting back on social engagements that I don’t truly enjoy as much as possible (those pesky “I should go…but I don’t want to” events).

June was lovely. I implemented a lot of cut-backs, did nothing with writing other than marketing my books, and took a week off work to celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my amazingly patient husband. I read books again and listened to music again. Blissful. July is already busier (this July 4th weekend involves dinner with friends, cookout with more friends, fireworks with more friends, and a second cookout with more friends), but I’m going to try to hang on to this healthier, happier pace of life.

Happy Independence Day, and enjoy the music!

Friends of ours threw a medieval Scottish party last weekend, and costumes were encouraged. Even if they weren’t, my husband and I would’ve dressed up. Any excuse to bust out the medieval gear! We decided to go as Thane and Lady Macbeth.

I’ve always wanted to try temporarily dying my hair red and Lady Macbeth seemed like a good excuse, so a couple days before the party, I spent some time with my head in a pot of hot Kool Aid. My husband obligingly helped ladle the stuff over my hair.

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This is a totally normal thing to do.


The end result of the Kool Aid experiment. Not bad!

I made my husband a quick kilt, and we reused other pieces from old costumes. We each won best costume for our respective gender!


The party was a lot of fun and gave us a chance to fight with swords, throw knives and axes, and practice our archery skills. My husband also ate haggis, because he’s a brave, brave man. I decided I was okay with not being brave.

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And it was a good chance to take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.


“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the other.”


“Out, damned spot! out, I say!”



The couple that kills kings together stays together? Pretty sure that’s an incorrect interpretation of the play.

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

my read shelf:
Stephanie Ricker's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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