Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dark is the Night: Blog Tour + Interview with Mirriam Neal

I came to the Urban Fantasy genre rather late. Growing up, it wasn't on the list of accepted literature in my family's house. After a while, that relaxed, but I still didn't just jump wholeheartedly into vampires. I explored a little—I'm always curious, but nothing really grabbed my attention. I'm a 90s child. I grew up in the era of Twilight books and movies, and come on, to someone like me, that was NOT incentive to jump on the vampire bandwagon.

And then I read Mirriam's Monster and told her I'd like to read more of her work. She sent me copies of everything she had at the time, which included the very beginnings of Dark is the Night. I don't remember if it was the first beginning of the book or the second, but it was verrrrrry early on. (Many of Mirriam's books have a few starts before the rest Sticks™ and DITN had more than most.)

But I got busy and didn't actually start reading it until she re-started the book for another draft.

And then I got sucked in. I'd found vampires I could love.

At the time, it was set in London (*heart eyes*), called This Mortal Coil, and had a rather posh Victorian Gothic setting. I loved it. I wanted more. I NEEDED more.

 But that version too languished and died. Time passed, January 2014 arrived, and Mirriam went on a vacation which involved South Carolina. When she got back, she wrote the first chapter of the New and Improved book, still titled This Mortal Coil at that point. Excitedly, she sent it out. Like most of the regular beta team, I was hesitant. I really loved the London setting. But the South Carolina setting sang like the other one hadn't, and I fell in love quickly.

And the rest is history. The book changed titles, but South Carolina stuck, these versions of the characters stuck, and the book flourished. She finished writing it, set it aside, went back and revised it later, and now at last it's publishing time.

So it makes me very happy to help bring you Dark is the Night in all its Southern Gothic glory, starting with an interview about not just DITN but the Salvation series. Oh yes, there are more books coming. You don't have to leave the world forever when you finish this book.

Skata only has one goal in life—to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it. When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself. He's going to need help—and that help may come in many forms. Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.

Salvation series' aesthetic in three words?

Sarcastic, lethal, spooky. 

What were the first sparks for this series? 

I actually began this book as something completely different and much more pseudo-Victorian gothic. I was in my mid teens. It was inspired by the members of my favorite Japanese rock band at the time, but only one of those characters remains the same as he did when I started the book. I shelved it for a couple years, until a drive through South Carolina shot me full of new inspiration. I changed almost everything and it came together so quickly and beautifully, and to this date it’s my personal favorite book of mine (or at the very least, a tie). 

Where are you in writing the series? 

I’m about 1/3 through writing No Dark Disguise, the second book in the series.

Favorite character/s in the series?

That’s completely impossible for me to answer, but if I had to choose a HANDFUL of favorites, I would say Angel, Skinner, Skata, and Baylor (who doesn’t appear until the second book. I have big plans for him). 

Character/s in the series who are most like you? 

This is always a hard question to ask myself. I can pinpoint who I am in any kind of fiction I didn’t write, but when I write the characters they all feel ‘most like me’ depending on the moment. If I really had to pick, I’d probably say some unholy mixture of Colton + Angel.

Favorite canon ship in the series?

I CAN’T ACTUALLY SAY. IT’S A SPOILER. I can say it involves 1 human and 1 supernatural creature. 

(It's going to be EPIC. ~ Arielle) 

Any 'non-canon' ships you have a soft spot for? 

I have a soft spot for the concept of Easton + Colton, now that I think about it. Do they have any romantic chemistry in-novel? Absolutely not. But if I had chosen to take that route, I think it would have gone Pretty Darn Well.

So far, what's been your favorite part of the series to write and why? 

Building up the relationships between characters and their different dynamics is absolutely my favorite part. I live for it.

Have you had a LEAST favorite part to write? 

Honestly I adore writing everything except action scenes. I no longer struggle with them, but I for me, action sequences are actually the most boring to write. I prefer dialogue, interaction, or introspection.

Are there any scenes that you loved writing that didn't make it into the final draft of any of the books? 

Fortunately, no! More than ten years of NaNoWriMo has taught me how to avoid writing full scenes that won’t make it into the final cut. It was too painful, so I e v o l v e d. 

Are there any easter eggs in the series? 

Honestly the only real easter egg is the fact I named my vampire Angel (it’s not his real name) before I knew about the Buffyverse Angel. I’m often asked if I named my vampire after Joss Whedon’s and the answer is: not intentionally!

Yep, this question is totally going to get me glared at, but that never stopped me. People Want to Know.
At this point, how many books does the series have/might it have? 

THIS I honestly have no answer to. I expect the series to continue for as long as I’m writing, honestly—there are too many characters to leave alone. If I’m not writing a novel based in Salvation, it might be a spin-off for one of the other characters. There are too many threads to pull, but if I were to take a stab and guess, I’d say eight to ten.

What can you tell us about where the series is going in terms of other 'inhumans' we might see or big plot points to look forward to? 

I plan to expand the ‘inhuman’ count for each book. The second book in the series brings us not only more werewolves, but a couple more exotic supernatural beings as well. Particularly one creature from the other side of the globe with a potential for havoc I don’t often see in fiction—but that’s all I can tell you.

For a taste of the Salvation world, check out this playlist.

Mirriam Neal is an author frequently masquerading as an artist. When she’s not scrubbing paint off her hands, she’s thinking about writing (actually, if she’s being honest, she’s always thinking about writing). A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time—while drinking black coffee. She’s a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists. When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters.

To learn more about her fiction and art, visit her website:, where you can find a full list of all her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter:

Here's a look at what we have coming up on the tour:

FRIDAY, October 18 = Mirriam Neal - release post + blog tour schedule

SATURDAY, October 19 = Katherine S. Cole - interview

SUNDAY, October 20 = Erudessa Aranduriel - book spotlight + book review

MONDAY, October 21 = Eli Carnley - book review + interview
+ Christine Smith - book review

TUESDAY, October 22 = Deborah O’Carroll - book review

WEDNESDAY, October 23 = Elizabeth Salvador - book spotlight

THURSDAY, October 24 = Rachel Rossano - book spotlight

FRIDAY, October 25 = Carolyn Hamborsky - book spotlight

SATURDAY, October 26 = Angela Watts - interview
+ Ashley Hunter - interview
+ Arielle Bailey - tour wrap-up


MONDAY, October 21 = LoriAnn Weldon - book spotlight
+ Heather A. Titus - book spotlight


Mirriam will be posting regularly with quotes and other information about the series.

And I'll be posting character spotlights every day, highlighting the main cast from Dark is the Night.

 Have you read Dark is the Night? Are you interested in reading it?


Saturday, June 1, 2019

That's the Best You Could Do? ~ Rapunzel Prompt

A day late, but here is the prompt for Intuitive Writing Guide and Fairy Tale Central's Rapunzel writing prompt.

“Hey, Rapunzel, let down your hair.”
Christopher could feel the woman’s scalding glare from across the room, but Brendan looked unfazed.
Rocking back on his heels, Brendan pulled one hand out of his pocket to gesture to the woman’s elaborate blonde braids. “Please,” he added, his tone bored.
Her chin went up as she sniffed. “Show me some credentials. I don’t let it down for just anyone, you know.”
“Credentials? Seriously?”
Her look turned decidedly frosty.
Chris leaned back against a doorway, trying not to snicker. Technically, he was lead for this mission, but if Brendan wanted to dig himself into a hole, he wasn’t about to stop it. Work hadn’t been this entertaining in weeks.
Although...Brendan was often careless but rarely rude, so that was odd. None of them had slept much last night, but each member of the team was used to going without sleep, so it wasn’t likely to be that. He made a mental note to talk to ask about it later.
When she didn’t give in, Brendan sighed. “Captain Arthur Griffin of Pendragon Security? My boss? You may have heard of him. That’s all the credentials you’re going to get.”
“Oh no, I had no idea who had been hired to guard me.” She rolled her eyes exaggeratedly. “Yes, naturally, I’ve met your boss, who was a sight more polite than you.”
Brendan shrugged. “That’s his job. Mine is to protect you.”
The woman’s eyes sparked wrathfully, but before his teammate could irritate her further, Chris stepped forward.
“Miss.” He bent his head respectfully. “We have orders to check and make sure you weren’t bugged. I understand that you were careful, but someone could still have dropped or slipped something onto you. Bugs can easily hide inside hair. Please, will you remove your jumper and take your hair down?”
She regarded him with a frown for a minute before shrugging. “Fine.”
Brendan crossed the room to take Christopher’s place near the door. “Suckup,” he muttered as he handed Chris the scanner.
“It’s all in how you talk to them,” he retorted in the same undertone.
“Rapunzel? That’s the best you could do?” The woman shot Brendan an irritated sideways glance as she began taking down her braids.
“You deserved that,” Chris informed Brendan, his tone as smug as he could make it. He turned the scanner on and began calibrating it.
“Piss off,” Brendan grumbled. He wiggled two fingers in the air mockingly and leaned back against the doorframe. “You don’t look like a Cinderella.”
Her fingers didn’t slow but she rolled her eyes again. “How about Aurora? Cinderella wasn’t the only blonde princess.”
“You want to sleep that much?” Chris motioned for her to turn around so he could begin scanning.
“I would,” Brendan interjected. “I might actually get caught up for once.” He ran a hand over his face and blinked a few times, as if shaking sleep away. “I got two hours last night and had weak coffee this morning.”
“Well, why didn’t you say you needed coffee before?” the woman demanded, turning in place as Chris ran the scanner over her hair. “There’s strong black coffee in the kitchen. But don’t think it lets you out of having been a nob,” she called after him as he made a beeline for the other room.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, miss. His boss won’t let him forget it.”
She turned so she could see him over her shoulder, her face thoughtful. “I can see that. He…” she hesitated long enough that he looked at her to see if she was going to continue. She was smiling a little.
Another Arthur fangirl. At this rate, the boss would have as many as a celebrity in no time.
“He makes an impression,” she said at last.
“Try living with him.” Brendan came in from the kitchen, sipping from one mug and set another on the table for Chris. “Our glamorous captain is as human as we are.”
“Really. You don’t say. I’m not––”
The scanner beeped, cutting her off. Chris extracted the bug and held it up. He gave it a cursory glance and moved to drop it on a nearby table but then stopped and did a double take.
Brendan tensed. “What?” He reached out and took it from Chris, examining it closely. Muttering a stream of swearing under his breath, he looked at the woman and grinned. “Well, you’re about to see your paragon again, Rapunzel.”
Chris reached out and shoved him toward the hallway, motioning for him to hurry. “He has to call Arthur. We have a problem.”

Did you take part in the Rapunzel prompt?

Hop back over to IWG on Monday for the Aladdin prompt!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

No Originality: Rumpelstiltskin Flash Scene

When Christine, Faith, and I all started Fairy Tale Central, one of the things we were most excited about was hosting writing prompts based on the featured fairy tale of the month. We're all writers, I love writing prompt-inspired scenes, Faith and Christine do too, so win-win.

The prompts go up on the third of every month over on Intuitive Writing Guide, and here, finally, is my scene for April's Rumpelstiltskin prompt. As usual, it started out supposed to be 600-800 words and clocked out at something like 1,500 words.

This scene fits into the Pendragons and Pimpernels universe, which I'll be back to talk about later.

This was the prompt:

What had her father been THINKING?
Well, it’s plain he wasn’t thinking at all.
Mary looked around at the workshop. There was very little hope that this monumental—and impossible—task could be accomplished with anything here at hand, but she looked anyway, methodically picking up and examining every tool, every material, every piece of plastic and straw and metal. Every pot of paint, including the ones she'd brought.
Nothing. Not even her vague plans had prepared for this large a job.
Just to be sure, she repeated the process, looking under and behind everything in the workshop.
Still nothing. I knew it was impossible! But if I don’t, Father will be evicted. What had possessed him to say such rubbish? How pissed out of his head was he?
Groaning, she crossed her arms on the table and buried her head in them, giving in to tears. It’s no use. I tried. How am I supposed to fix this?
“Come now, mädchen, certainly it is not hopeless yet.”
With a scream, she leaped up and back…or she tried to. Her hip bumped sharply into the edge of the table, and she lost her balance, falling flat on her butt on the floor. Staring wildly around her, she finally located the speaker by the door.
The door that was theoretically locked.
No, it had definitely been locked. She’d checked, no less than four times.
“Who are you?” she snapped out, trying to sound like he hadn’t just scared her so badly that her heart was still beating frantically and her breath came in gasps.
“I think the bigger question is why am I here, Madame, would you not agree?”
“Madame? I’m not…I’m…where are you from? Who talks like that anymore? This is 2017.”
“So many questions! Would you not be more comfortable asking them from anywhere other than the floor? Well,” he amended. “I do not recommend the ceiling either.”
Getting up sounded like a really good idea, and she scrambled to her feet, looking around her for a sharp or heavy object. Being armed also sounded like a good idea.
“Come now,” said man placatingly, for man he definitely was, she could see, now that she was standing. “If I were here to injure you, I would already have done so, before you could be up or arm yourself. Far less danger to me to do it quickly, while you were still surprised and off guard.”
Well, that was reassuring.
“Who are you?” she asked again, or rather, demanded.
He sighed and finally came out of the dim shadows by the door into the full light of the center of the workshop, limping and leaning on a staff taller than either of them.
By the harsh light of the overhead bulbs, he looked old. Old enough to be her grandfather at least. Shorter than her even, he was thin, but not bony. Just lean. When she looked at his face, he seemed old. But looking straight into his eyes…that impression faded. His wizened face settled in lines of quiet, and he cocked his head to the side, studying her as if she was something fascinating.
“What?” she huffed finally, as much from curiosity now as from wariness or caution. “I’m not an alien.”
“Aye, that you are not, Miss Mary Miller.”
“You know my name! How do you know my name?”
The man sighed heavily, the same way her father did when she asked too many times about their finances that month or the same way she did when the answers were unsatisfactory. An irritated sigh.
“It was not hard to fathom. A rather boring name. Did your parents have no originality?”
“My parents…what? Why are you here?”
“So many questions.” He cocked his head at her, studying her as if she was some kind of specimen. “But so little consistency in them. I am here to do what you deem to be impossible.”
She snorted. “It is impossible. You’re cracked out of your head if you think it isn’t.”
With another sigh, this one sounding exasperated, he limped over to a stool and sat down on it, leaning his right leg out in front of him. She could see now that it was rather twisted, and she looked away, trying not to stare.
“You British humans are so factual,” he said, both hands clasped around the staff as he leaned forward, looking around the workshop. “Is there no belief left in you?”
“British humans? What, other humans are better?”
He raised his eyebrows at her, and she felt as if he was about to scold her. But his voice was mild as he said, “Better, worse, these are just words which are hard to apply to degrees of belief. The French still believe. The Americans do not. The Russians cast a curse over one shoulder and a charm against witches over the other. The Germans…” he paused. “Well, it has been many years since I met a German.”
That made something click in her head. “Did you speak German earlier? Madken?”
“Mädchen,” he corrected. “You can at least recognize German when you hear it. Good.”
If she had thought that his answers would make anything clearer, she was obviously mistaken. He was just another crazy old man who had somehow picked the lock from the outside and was here to yarn on with old stories. She should feed him, and then he’d go away and leave her to her impossible task.
As if he’d heard her thoughts, he tapped his staff lightly on the floor. “Now, about this task of yours.”
She laughed shortly. “You mean the insanity my father’s drunken boastings led me into? The impossible one that will become a viral video tomorrow? ‘Girl Tries and Fails to Turn Straw into Gold’. That task?”
“The very same, Miss Miller.”
“Right.” She’d heard enough. “Here, sit down. I think there’s a beer or two in the fridge; I’ll get you some.”
Moving around the table toward the mini fridge, the question stopped her so suddenly that she bumped her other hip into the table. She winced. Great, another bruise. At least they’ll match.
“I just thought you’d want some,” she said. It was a lame reason, and she knew it, but how did you tell a person they were crazy without telling them?
“You clearly don’t think I can do this. Children these days. And no use telling me you are already an adult,” he chuckled wryly when she drew herself up to do just that.
Getting up, he limped over to the workbench and picked up a single piece of straw. He held it between his fingers for a minute, just held it, as far as she could see. Then he reached his hand out to her, the straw on his palm.
Gingerly, she took it. It looked like gold. It felt like gold. It even smelled like gold.
But…how? “You did…did…it,” she stammered. “How?”
“A good alchemist never reveals his secrets save on his deathbed, and that is yet far off for me. Do you believe me now?”
She had to be dreaming. Had to be. There was no other way this was actually true, that this man—wizard, charlatan, fake, whatever he was—had actually turned this straw into gold.
“You’re actually here to help me,” she said slowly, trying to make sense of it. “You’re really going to turn this straw into the gold that will help my future father-in-law become a jewelry millionaire?”
“Yes,” he said simply, and then his mouth twisted as if he’d smelled bad food. “But you can do better than him, child.”
She shrugged, bypassing that and going straight for the question that seemed to matter the most. “How?”
“Give me your necklace.”
“My what? Why?”
He shook his head, turning back to the workbench. “So many questions. Because it’s gold, that’s why.”
Blinking, she shook her head, wishing she could get rid of the feeling that the entire thing was a dream while knowing it wasn’t. “Wait. Aren’t you going to make gold for me?”
“That is the bargain, yes.”
“Then why do you need my gold?”
This time, his sigh filed the entire workshop. “Do you want my help or not?”
“Well, yes, I do.”
“And as I understand it, it was this very necklace that started this whole shoddy business?”
“Well, yes.”
“Then you should have no qualms in handing it over to me.” He held out his hand expectantly.
“You still haven’t told me why you want it,” she insisted, making a last effort to figure out what rabbit hole she’d disappeared down.
“Bah.” He snapped his fingers in irritation, but as she came closer, his face changed, settling into lines she hadn’t seen in years.
“My guardian angel,” she whispered, her voice hitching in shock.
“Yes. Now can we at last set to work?”
Wordlessly, she handed the necklace over and sat on the stool he indicated, drawing a deep breath and settling in to watch closely. There were a lot more questions she wanted answered before the night was over, and if silence now would make him more amenable to giving her those answers, she would barely even breathe.

The prompt is still open here, if you want to write your own scene and add it to the comments.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Interview with Faith White and...Fairy Tale Central is Live!

I'm beyond excited. It's still surreal to me (and I think to my fellow site authors), because I've spent the last few weeks pushing so hard to get everything ready that I'm still in that phase of wondering if I've left anything out, have I forgotten something, is there something I'll remember in three days that was important that got left off a list?

BUT IT'S LIVE NOW. And we are beyond happy and excited.

To celebrate its launch, today I have one of my co-administrators here to answer some questions about her love of fairy tales!

Welcome, Faith!

What draws you to fairy tales; what is it that you love most about them?

Among the many reasons I'm drawn to fairy tales, I absolutely LOVE imagery in fairy tales. One of my many favorite fairy tales is Snow White, just for the richness of all the motifs - from magic mirrors to poisoned apples to seven dwarfs. Many of the tales have specific numbers they reuse, with three being the most common number. It's storytelling at its purest form. I mean even today you will see that in writing: the first-time fail, second-time fail, and finally third-time triumph. It's just a stable foundation in the hero's journey.

With straw into gold, coins dropping from girls' mouths, giants and princes, dragons and princesses, there's this whimsical, magical side of our imagination that is drawn out through fairy tales, and I love that it can reach that childhood place of wonder for us.

What fairy tale theme/moral really speaks to you personally?

It's the most common theme there is (I think) but it honestly is to me the most powerful - good overcomes evil. It doesn't matter how much the evil stepmother stole from Cinderella, or that Rapunzel's prince's eyes were blinded in the thorns, or that Snow White is lying dead-like in a casket.  Ultimately, there is a happily ever after for all those that overcome in these tales.

And a very similar theme in relation to that is: authentic/true love overcomes. Ultimately, true love broke the spell off of the beast, true love united Cinderella and her prince and set her free from her past, the true love in Rapunzel's tears healed her prince's eyes. It's a message of hope amidst often dark tales.

I find it amusing that people say life isn't a fairy tale - while I know they refer to happily ever afters, if you look at fairy tales, they are often very dark and difficult with impossible obstacles and evil villains destroying lives. But hope and love save the day in the end, and I think believing in that in our own lives is a powerful thing.

What fairy tale retellings are you writing or specifically planning to write in the future?

I currently have a Regency Beauty and the Beast retelling (Beauty’s Beast) that I'm in the process of writing. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale and I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, and I thought a combination of the two would be a lot of fun.

I'm also working on a trilogy about three royal sisters (Princess of Gara series), one who tries to outwit a dragon prince, the second who must save their father from a vicious shapeshifter fox-woman, and the third who must find a way to escape a palace where seven prince suitors live.

Last (but not least, lol), I'm in the works of a superhero series (The Warriors) that will be soft fairy tale retellings, including Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pinocchio, and more. I've been a superhero geek since I was a kid, so it's a lot of fun dreaming up a superhero team myself.

You can follow Faith on:
Her blog

Visit Fairy Tale Central here.

Also, check out Christine's blog to continue the tour and see my answers to the above questions and Faith's blog to read Christine's answers.

Which of Faith's retellings interests you the most? Are you excited about the launch of Fairy Tale Central?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Coming Soon to a Site Near You...


...that someone was offering you the key to a big old castle library that felt both old and new at the same time and was specifically full of fairy tales and fairy-tale-related things, including but not limited to:

~ lists of fairy-tale retellings
~ reviews of fairy-tale retellings

~ essays and blog posts analyzing fairy tales and their themes

~ writing prompts inspired by specific fairy tales

~ interviews with fairy-tale-retelling authors

~ mini galleries of fairy-tale art and products made by fairy-tale artisans

~ commentaries on fairy tales
~ links to other interesting fairy tale articles, including tips on writing fairy-tale retellings

Imagine you could have access to all that, in a website/blog form, with a full complement of social media to also follow.

Welcome to Fairy Tale Central, coming April 1 (no joke) to a website near you.

Friday, February 8, 2019


When Mirriam and I sat down to do our latest prompt, I knew I wanted to twist something. Browsing my prompt board, the first one that jumped out at me was a quote I've loathed since I first heard it on the TV show The 100. The second is a random quote I saw while scrolling further, liked, and decided to add in. I mean, obviously.

“What we are inside, the good and bad of us, that’s not affected by what we have to do in this war. The deeds we do to survive. To win.”
Count Juveni raised his head and looked from Zia to Tancorix. “I beg enlightenment?”
Tancorix could have cheerfully hefted him into the nearest watering trough, bitter winter wind or no, but they needed the alliance this man would potentially bring. At the very least, his knowledge of the war college would be helpful.
Zia raised an eyebrow, and Tancorix shook her head, seething too much at the moment to rebut that without chance of magic erupting in an embarrassing or troublesome way. How dared this military peacock prance in here and presume to tell them how to run a rebellion they’d been doing just fine with for five months? And especially how dare he, someone who’d never seen active war service—border bandit skirmishes didn’t count—attempt to lecture them on battlefield ethics? As if he’d ever seen people under his command die at his side, felt their bodies fall limply never to rise again, reached out desperately with everything they had to attempt to heal the wounds taking the life from that person, smelled the blood staining the greedy earth beneath them…
She jerked when Zia’s fingers slid around her wrist and nodded once, quickly, before crossing the room to stand by the door.
“My lord,” few but Zia could make a formal address sound so much like an insult, and Tancorix almost cackled aloud with glee, “I’m not entirely sure I follow. I believe I missed the lecture the day that chapter of ethics was being taught. Perhaps it was before I joined the war college. How do you figure that what we do is different from who we are or who we become?”
The man, not entirely believing her studiously neutral question, nevertheless didn’t pass up the chance to pontificate.
“It’s quite simple really, and it goes back to the lessons on detachment.”
What a dull teacher he must have been. The wizard touched the fingertips of one hand to the palm of the other, murmuring an ancient poem about balance, and concentrated on guiding the sparks that leaped up into different shapes. It was the first time that she’d practiced it indoors, and had not the count irritated her so much, she may have waited another week.
Pompous, pretentious, know-it-all ass.
“…a two-step process,” he was saying now, delighted at his captive audience of one.
Of course, he had no way of knowing that Zia was signing sarcasm behind her back. And…oh. She hid a smile at the other thing Zia had just signed. Oh, excellent. She could do something with that.
“I understand detachment from emotion when making some military decisions,” Zia interjected, to keep the man’s attention from wandering to what Tancorix was doing.
“Like I said, it’s the same principle, just being applied differently…”
Then she heard no more as she slid out the door. A piece of juniper bark from the pouch at her side, a drop of red liquid, and a twist of wormwood. One spark to set it alight. She held her breath as she manipulated the spark; one wrong nudge of a finger and it would blaze too fast, the signal too brief to be seen.

She didn’t have long to wait until the answering flash of flame came.
When she ducked back inside, Zia was rising from her chair, leaning over the count, all pretense of being amiable gone. Grinning in pleasure, Tancorix joined her, playfully sending smoke to curl around Zia’s face in colors of dark blue, dark purple, and dark green.
“I could set this world on fire and call it rain,” Zia snarled very quietly, her voice the more menacing for being so tired. “I could rip your life into tiny shreds, and I could drag the king from his throne and feed him to the people he’s currently imprisoning in that white monstrosity he calls a flower garden. And when I was done, do you know what I would be, Count?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but Tancorix wafted smoke into his nose, and he coughed instead.
“Intolerable. A tyrant. Petty. Vindictive. Uncaring of the bigger picture. Taking justice into my own hands…”
Tancorix reached over and tapped her foot against her friend’s. Hurry up. They’ll be along any minute.
Breathing in slowly for a moment, Zia straightened, waved her hand at the wizard, and left the small house, closing the door firmly behind her.
“As she was about to say,” Tancorix perched on the edge of the table and swung one foot idly, her heavy-soled boot knocking rhythmically against one of the legs of the table, “the idea that the choices we make and the actions we take don’t affect our characters and spirits to some degree is the most ridiculous thing you could have said or taught.”
The man laughed.
He actually laughed. Granted, it was the laugh of someone who has finally realized just how far out of their depth they are but refused to give up their position, still believing implicitly in the doctrine he preached.
“My dear gir––” his voice choked off as Tancorix snapped yellow binders on his wrist and twined a length of compressed yellow air around his mouth. Tugging him up and pulling him with her, she stepped out into the chilly night, a clear sky spangled with peaceful stars an odd counterpoint to the twisted philosophy that had tainted the last hour.
Four masked people waited, and silently, Tancorix handed the count over to them.
“How is this not taking justice into your own hands?” he hollered in the brief moment when his magical gag was exchanged for a physical one.
“This?” Zia smirked and shook her head pityingly. “This is mercy. Toward you. And protection of my people, of course. You’ll be well taken care of and ransomed soon enough. Once there is no one who believes your stories of the rebel leaders.”
Grinning as they turned down the street toward a tavern whose lights still glowed yellow, Tancorix snapped her fingers and whistled. “Mead?”
“Mead. On me.” Zia briefly gripped the wizard’s shoulder, the only reference either would make for the rest of the night to the Count’s ridiculous assertion.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Bringing a War

I've always liked this quote prompt, and I finally wrote something for it.
Set in the same world and with some of the same characters as the last two prompts, written to 30 Seconds from Mars' "Vox Populi" and inspired by the prompt:

“Are you sure about this?”
“Oh yes.”  Emerenzia’s eyes danced as she gathered her hair behind her back and secured it.  “Let’s set this brush pile on fire.”
Stepping regally from the tent, she paused until her eyes found the broad form of the opposing captain.  She waited until his eyes locked onto hers, and then she strode forward, alone but supremely confident, clasping her capacious cloak tightly enough together in front that it kept her fully covered.  Behind her, she caught the faint whisper of the back of the tent opening and letting out the Cats for their part in the game.
The band of people towards whom she walked was mostly male, with a couple of females behind the leader.  Scouts, her own head scout had assured her.
She halted ten feet in front of them and inclined her head slightly.  The other leader raised his eyebrows in answer.  Smiling, she took a step closer.  “Commander Engelier.”
“Commander Emerenzia.”
“It’s actually General now.”
She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen any man’s eyebrows go so high before. 
“Is it now,” he said flatly.  “You won’t receive that title from me.”
“Very well.”  She lifted one shoulder insouciantly and let it drop again.  “As I see it, you’ve been sent to persuade me to lay down arms and relinquish this—what did you call it?  Crusade?”
“I believe that was the word of my captain, not me.”
“Oh yes, your captain.  Basbrun, is it not?”  She let her eyes travel to the shortest man of the three foremost figures and rest there.  He frowned, presumably over the fact that she knew his name, but stared back for the space of several seconds, until his eyes dropped.  It was a brief hesitation, but it was there, and she smiled to herself.  She’d taken his measure correctly.  Brave, but didn’t have the stamina to go up against her people.
“Well, Commander, it would certainly benefit us both if this went smoothly.”  Transferring her attention back to Engelier, she saw a minuscule hope flash through his eyes and then die as he replayed her words in his head and caution reasserted itself.
“Yes,” he said warily.  “It would.  Milady,” he added.
She almost smiled again.  The honorific would do nothing to help his case.
“But you see, Commander,” she continued, “there are more than just me to consider.  I have a score of people here who would need protection.”
“We can offer that,” Basbrun spoke up.  “We’re authorized to give all your people clemency.”
“Hmmm.”  She tipped her head thoughtfully, eyes narrowing as she feigned consideration of the offer.  “You see, sirs, I’m not sure you really understand what you’re offering.”
The captain started to speak again, but his commander stopped him with a shake of his head.  “How so?”
“Do you know who I am, Basbrun?  For that matter, does your commander?”
“Lady Emerenzia of — City, teacher of foreign culture at the war college, probable minor strategy analyst at the same college.”  Basbrun rattled off the description as if well memorized, and Engelier couldn’t or didn’t choose to stop him this time.
Zia wasn’t given to gloating for long.  There were usually far better things to do, and satisfaction was better taken in bites over a period of time.  But his ignorance would enable her to save an entire patriot camp, display for these men the falsity of the so-called facts they’d been told, and possibly gain another ally, or at least create some neutrality towards her people.  That she got to show off her Cats was simply an extra bonus, like sunlight breaking through a cloud to illuminate a snow-covered peak.
So she smiled.  Slowly, small at first.  “Correct, Captain.”  Her smile widened.  “But only partly so.  My dear Vanora?”
Too busy looking around them for another person to approach, the captains missed the small, striped cat climbing out of the hood of her cloak and perching itself on her shoulder.  Engelier did not, and to his credit, he frowned, no doubt suspecting a trap of some kind.
He was quick.  Good.
“A cat?” someone said from behind Engelier.
The cat heard the words and stood up slowly.  At her full height, she still didn’t top Zia’s head, but her hiss was impressive, startling several people along the opposing line.
In response, six people filed out from behind the nearest tent, some forty feet away, and advanced single file on their general, who waited with a face set mostly in blank lines, though the suggestion of a smirk tugged at one corner of her mouth.
Reaching her, her Cats and captains fanned out behind her, Tancorix and Mirabelle alone stepping up to her right and left sides respectively.  Tancorix wore the long iron-grey cloak of a low-level wizard, and Mirabelle had donned light armor, her right hand resting on her sword.  Behind them, the other four people stood, two on each side of her position and, depending on the person, glaring across at Engelier’s people or regarding them with indifference.
“Impressive,” Engelier said when everyone was still.
“This?  Oh my dear Commander, not yet.  Master Tancorix?”
Basbrun startled, and his face darkened at the title she accorded the wizard.
Obviously, you still believed her a journeyman.  Or was there some other reason for his surprise?
Tancorix pushed back her cloak, raised one hand slowly, and then paused before snapping her fingers once. 
Emerenzia could have been more pleased at how dramatically it was timed.  Dark red smoke swirled around the cat on her shoulder and in the space between her left side and where Mirabelle was standing.
When it cleared, the cat was gone and in its place stood a petite woman in full battle armor, her silver-grey hair glinting in the sunlight, her hands on her hips, and an extremely unamused look on her face.
The opposite commander couldn’t help grinning.  “Okay, milady, that was beautiful.  But I still see no one to whom we cannot offer clemency.  You have a wizard, a shifter, a...” he squinted at Mirabelle and the others behind her, “and several rogues, all of whom are on wanted posters, yes.  But did you think we didn’t research you before setting out?”
Zia permitted herself a small chuckle, not condescending enough to be pitying but too short to be sympathetic.  “Ah, Engelier—I may call you that, may I not?”  Waiting for his nod, she continued through a smile.  “I stand, as do all of these with me, in opposition to an extremely corrupt, tyrannical, evil regime, for which you call us rebels and others call us patriots.  But did you think we came this far without a greater knowledge of you than you possess of us?  Every person you see here has fought through fire and blood and stands here today bearing more from their pasts than most of your people can imagine.”  Pleased, she noted the flicker of his eyelids at not being included in her accusation.
Moving down the line, she indicated the person furthest to her left, a tall man with shoulders like a bull.  “Deserter, betrayer of military discipline, saver of three villages after he himself razed two.”  She flicked her fingers at the woman next to him.  “One of the best and brightest of — City’s foremost military college, stole state secrets, personally holds the record for largest number of people recruited into the rebellion.”  She smiled at Mirabelle.  “Once the most industrious healer in — City, she’s aided more medical supply raids than any one person in the last three rebellions combined.”
“I don’t—“
With a shake of her head, she cut off whatever Basbrun was about to say.  “I hardly think the names Black Jade Fox and Snow Moon Tiger need explaining.”  With a flourish, she pointed to first Vanora and then Tancorix.
Shocked murmuring ran through Engelier’s band.  Who didn’t know those names?  She could almost hear the murmurs of the soldiers re-evaluating the threat level of the rebels.
Nearly done; just two more points to make.  She nodded at the man and woman who stood behind and to the right of Tancorix.  They yanked down the black masks that covered the lower portions of their faces, disclosing features known in eleven lands.
The entire front file of Engelier’s people reached for their swords.
“Stand.”  Their Commander’s firm order restrained them just in time.
“Oh.  That’s right.”  Zia turned around and gave him a bright smile.  “One last thing.”  She shed her cloak so it dropped on the ground, revealing her ranger’s uniform and the sigil for royal inspector.
She knew the precise second the knowledge of who she had been entered Engelier’s mind; it was reflected in his eyes and the long, careful breath he drew.
“Ranger Meren,” he said with resignation.
“Even so.”  She crossed half the distance before them and waited.  Moving cautiously, he took the step still separating them and stood toe to toe with her.  Finally.  Time for the games to end and this regiment to be sent home. 
With a gesture that encompassed his whole force, she said clearly, “Believe and follow your king still, it makes no matter to me.”  Her eyes narrowed, but her lips turned up.  “But know this, Commander.  My so-called rebels would crush your regiment.  I would keep you alive, and when we were done, I would take you and lay you before the gates of the city, trussed like a dead boar as a message to your king.”
She let the words sink in, waited until their meaning was known by everyone on the front lines of both groups.  Then she lowered her voice slightly, slightly emphasizing each word.  “You want a fight?”  Raising one eyebrow, she smiled.  “I’ll bring a war.”

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I Have to Try

My random scene from last night's writing session with my writing partner, written to 30 Seconds From Mars' "Closer to the Edge" and based on this prompt:

Everyone assembled in the tent looked up as the wizard poked her head in.
“She’s not here,” a silver-haired warrior said, standing up.  “Isn’t she in Command?”
Shaking her head, the wizard backed out of the tent, striding to the nearby rise with irritated steps.  Where under sunrays was the general?  She’s got an op to lead in less than an hour; she should be triple checking her plans and briefing her team.
“Cori?  Should we be worried?”
Tancorix spun around to see the silver-haired warrior had followed her, as had their chief healer.  “I don’t know.  I’ll let you know.  Search the lower tents again, please, maybe I missed her?”  She knew she hadn’t, but she needed solitude to listen. 
“I’ll check the healer tent,” Mirabelle said, eyes narrowed in an attempt to keep her concern from showing too openly.  “She has two lieutenants in there now.”  The healer went off down the rise at a speed that would have been called a fast walk…but only by someone seven feet tall with a long stride.  Anyone else would have called it running and would have been entirely correct.
“I’ll check Command again.”  The warrior’s copper necklace threw back a flash of sunlight as she spun and hurried off, her braid bouncing and slapping against her neck.
Left alone, the wizard closed her eyes and breathed deeply, centering herself.  Then, her eyes still closed, she reached out, searching for that wisp of dark purple.
In the barracks?
What an odd place for her to be at this hour.
And what an odd vibe coming off of her.
The wizard, to her credit, didn’t run toward the barracks, but those who passed her could tell she was bent on a purpose and merely smiled or called hellos instead of trying to stop her for conversation, as they otherwise would have.
She caught up with the general as she exited the barracks.
“General, please!” a young man scarcely old enough to grow a beard tumbled out of the barracks on Zia’s heels.  “Please, I…” he trailed off when he saw the wizard.  “Milady Tani.”
Tancorix raised her eyebrows at the boy, one she recognized as a promising scout-in-training.  He sent her a pleading glance, and then his eyes fell before the general’s uncompromising posture.  The wizard nodded, mutely promising to try to find out what was going on, and fell into step with the general, heading toward their tent.  Zia was closed off to the point that the chill coming from her was alarming. 
The warrior and the healer, both in the middle of the camp on their quest to find Zia, stopped upon seeing her, and Tancorix waved for them to wait nearby but leave her to talk to the general.
The instant the tent flap dropped behind them, Tancorix circled around to stand in front of Zia.  “Talk.  What did you do?  Why does Meysu look like you kicked him?”  Her voice was sharper than she’d intended, but even trying to soften it didn’t quiet the worry bleeding into it.
Sliding a hand over her eyes, Zia was silent until she’d removed her cloak and flipped it onto a cot.  “I took him off the strike team.”
“Did he do something?”
“What?  No.  I just reconsidered.”  Zia sat down and reached for her combat boots.
Tancorix stared at her.  “I’m confused.  I thought you expressly added him to this team because it was as safe an induction as he could get.”
“I made a mistake.”
“Okay, now I’m getting worried.”  Clenching her hands tightly didn’t calm the power sparking under her skin but tucking her arms behind her back did at least keep Zia from seeing the orange glow.  In this strange mood, her general might well decide to simply shut down, pull rank, and leave.  “You, we went over the lineup of that team four times.  What mistake?  When?  What happened.”
Zia finally glanced up, briefly, but it was enough for the wizard to see the iron determination in her eyes.  “It’s too dangerous for him.  There will be another chance soon.”
No less befuddled, Tancorix blinked at her.  A rustling on the roof of the tent announced that the wind had made good on its promise to pick up pace.  Which was exactly what they were waiting for, because moving upwind, they’d surprise the garrison they were going to reclaim.  Time was running short, and the general continued dressing in light armor as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
“He’s good.”  She shifted and sat down, cracking her knuckles as Zia tightened her belt.  “He’s been waiting for this.  I don’t understand what’s going on.”
Abruptly, Zia wrenched her belt off and flung it onto her cot, startling even more tension into the wizard.  “I’m not losing him on his first mission,” the general said in a voice so stiff it was hardly recognizable as human.
This was about L.  The chief scout who was still missing.
Of course.
“So you don’t give him a chance to prove himself even?” Tancorix said gently.  Carefully, so carefully this had to be done.
“His time will come.  It’s just not today.”
“But another good mission might not come along for weeks, and he’ll be losing valuable hours he could have spent gaining field experience in the meantime.”
Tancorix had had enough.  In a single stride, she came up off the cot and wrenched Zia around to look at her.  “You can’t protect everyone,” she snapped, and the words held equal measures worry, understanding, and frustration.
Zia didn’t look at her, a surer sign than anything else that she knew she didn’t have a strong position from which to insist.  “I have to try,” she said in the weary tone of someone who knew they were stepping into an argument.
“No, you do not.  You think you do, but you know better than any of us that you can’t and sometimes you shouldn’t try.”
“I am his general!”  Zia flung her head back and matched the wizard’s glare.  “You can talk all you want to about how I need to give them a chance and how he’s suited for this mission.  I know all of that.  I gave him the chance in the first place.  But you know and I know that we could be walking into something more dangerous than I originally anticipated.  You dreamed darkly last night too.”  Zia chopped the sentence off and closed her eyes, muttering a calming word rhythm under her breath.  “I do need him.  But he’s not the only one I can take.  And I think that right now, for this sevenday, I have sent enough young people into death.  I don’t want one more.”
Tancorix sank back down, this time onto Zia’s cot.  Absently, she shoved the cloak under her off to the side.  “You don’t get to choose,” she reminded the general quietly.
“I know that!”  Zia’s words were little more than a hiss now.
“Then why aren’t you acting on it?”  The words were still quiet, searching.  “You’ve barely slept in a week.  This isn’t even battlefield unhealthy, it’s near-insanity unhealthy.”  She regretted the choice of words when Zia flinched and rushed on, “I didn’t mean insanity.  Well, I kind of did, but you’re not losing your mind.  Just your…you…you’re too tired, Emerenzia.”
Silence filled the tent, the general standing stone still, her eyes fixed on the single candle on an overturned box next to her cot.  Projection after projection spun through her eyes, racing to assure her that she’d found a way to accomplish the mission and not lose any more people today.
Then she sighed and sat down hard on Tancorix’s cot.  “Fine.  Yes.  I know.”  Reaching behind her head, she yanked her hair loose and began rebraiding it tightly.  “I know,” she added again.  Standing and picking up the discarded cloak, she swung it over her shoulders and started for the tent door.
“So?  Where are you going now?”  The wizard furrowed her brows deeply.  How exhausted was the general if she didn’t even give a proper conclusion to the argument?
“To tell Meysu he can come after all.”  Zia ducked out of the tent and then half turned to put her head back inside.  “Rixi?”
The general searched her friend’s eyes, and Tancorix let trust and faith shine for her.
“Thank you.”
“Always, my general.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Just For One Day

Now and then my writing partner and I feel like writing something random.  I find us several prompts, we scribbled something, sometimes it goes on to become more, sometimes it's one scene and then done.

My scene from tonight's session, based the prompt below and written to the soundtrack of David Bowie's "Heroes", The Script's "No Good in Goodbye", and Shiny Toy Guns' "Somewhere to Hide".

I never understood: why me. Why of all the people she could have chosen, why me to follow, to befriend, to love.

It was not an uncommon question for me to ask silently of any of them.  But it’s unimportant right now, in this moment flying too fast.

Her breath catches in her throat, and I press her hand harder, trying to hold back the ebbing life.  “Rest,” I urge, and my voice catches in a strangled sound like a rusty blade being pulled from an old sheath. 

Her eyes flash open, and I shove my feelings away so the worried look will leave her eyes, so that she won’t worry about me in these moments. Her last moments.

She is hard to fool, and her indigo eyes tell me that she understands. But then, she always did. “You did your duty,” she whispers. “We all did.”

Diola was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever met. Hailing from southern lands, her dark skin was highlighted with a dusting of gold freckles that always seemed to make her eyes glow like a lake under the noon sun…or so her second always used to describe it, especially when under the influence of too much tangerine wine after a long battle. 

He wasn’t wrong. 

Her black hair was always in five braids that represented each member of her family no longer living. Those braids are stiff with blood now, seeping from the wounds on her torso. The wounds no healer or wizard can close. 

She gasps, her fingers scrabbling in my hand, signaling for me to bend closer, to listen. I don’t want to turn my head to put my ear closer to her mouth because I want to hold her eyes as long as possible. I want to be the last thing she sees; I want her to know how sorry I am.

But who am I to deny the wish of a dying woman to salve my conscience? I tilt my head and lean closer, my ear level with her mouth.

“I wish…I wish we’d had more time to…gether,” she croaks. Her breath hisses through her teeth as she fights for one more breath and then another one.

“I wanted to turn to dust with you.” Her lips seem barely able to form the words, but she keeps going, and I can hear each one as clearly as if they cost her no effort. 

“I wanted to be your captain for a long time. To see your new kingdom. To grow old watching the children we all saved.” 

I want to tell her to save her strength. I don’t want her last words to be about her loyalty. About what she would have done for me. I don’t want to be reminded of the weight that is settling crushingly over my shoulders, never to leave it now. The weight of her death.

There have been so many deaths, so many people I’ve sent to die. That is a reality of war. But some sit more heavily than others, as hers will for time and an age.

I lift my head enough to meet her eyes again. They are starting to flutter closed, but they lock onto mine one last time. I bend to kiss her brow and as I straighten, I draw the sign for peace lightly on her forehead, clammy with deathsweat. 

She can still feel enough that she knows what it is; she has drawn it on enough foreheads in the aftermath of battles. Her lips twitch, and I know she is trying to smile.


I stare into her eyes for a long time, but she doesn’t see it. She’s gone, fled with the echo of her last word to me. 

I wanted her to turn to dust with us too, my band of cohorts who have spilled more blood for this land than it would ever know, than the people we’d saved would ever realize. 

“Goodbye, Diola,” I whisper, folding her arms over her chest, and then, squaring my shoulders, I rise.
There is another battle to fight, and it will be won in her name.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Myers Briggs and Why I'm An Adherent (mostly)

The Myers Briggs personality test.

You’ve heard it talked about, you’ve heard it screeched about; you may embrace it, or you may denigrate it.

It’s fraught with controversy (what great thing in life is not?) from those who say it’s bogus to those who put it on a pedestal and act like it holds all the secrets of the universe.  (Little hint, people: very few things hold all the secrets to the universe.  Very.  Few.  And this isn’t one of them.)

I’ve posted before about what it is and some of the positives and negatives of it, and you can click here for those posts if you're curious.

I loathe systems and labels and boxes, personally.  So why do I 'patronize' and endorse a ‘system’ that has ‘only’ sixteen types?  Why do I grin in glee when someone confirms their type, especially if I analyzed their type correctly?  Why do I find it relaxing or fun to make lists like ‘if MBTI was mythical creatures they would be….’?

Why do I personally love the MBTI and spend a fair amount of time reading/thinking about it? 

Because MBTI is less a ‘box system’ than it is a language.  One that makes it easy for people to understand other people and behavioral psychology.

I love psychology.  I love the science of how brains work and how people think.  So do many other people.

What I don’t love is how much of even practical psychology (as in psychology principles that are applicable to everyday life) is couched in terms that most people can’t understand without a Ph.D*.  What’s the point of figuring out how people think if you can’t explain it to others?  Or if you can't avail yourself of what knowledge others have compiled?  When you sit for fifteen minutes hunting all over the internet to figure out what in the name of common English a specific term means?  When you have to have an elite dictionary on standby to read any psychology paper?

What is the point of learning more about people and how they think if that knowledge is then restricted to the scientists and professionals?  When you have to (basically) have a degree to explain a term or a concept, you can’t disseminate that knowledge to a wide variety of people.  Knowledge can’t spread beyond the elite.

And really, who needs to know more about people than those other people who live with them and interact with them in real life on a day-to-day basis?

*I’m not knocking psychology, clinical psychologists, the science, those who train thousands of hours in it, or those who practice it.  Just pointing out how hard it is for most people to understand the science on a practical level.

MBTI, when you break it down into practical terms, makes it easier for people to understand how other people think and feel.  Why Person A reacts to X news by crying but Person B reacts to the same news by leaping into action and making plans for how to solve the problem and Person C already has backup plans in place because they guessed X would go wrong.  (And Person D freaks out and looks for an escape route.)

It’s the ‘oh, NOW I get it!’ light in someone’s eyes or their tone of voice after they hear/see that the reason they ‘usually react that way’ is not because they’re a flake, it’s because it’s a default emotional reaction and it’s okay as long as they don’t allow it to become a bad habit and as long as they then go beyond it to still deal with the situation.

It’s the realization that they don’t have to have a purely negative relationship with another person because now they understand how and why that person thinks and feels the way they do and knowing means they can now ‘work with it’.

It's the willingness and eagerness in their voice when they realize that their default needs to be overcome, needs to be worked with to make them a better person, more balanced––an eagerness that was formerly stubbornness because they couldn't understand WHY it was their default or why it was a problem in interactions with others.

It's the bittersweet tone in a person's voice when they face the fact that they've allowed something that's a natural reaction for them to become an excuse for immature behavior, but now that they've faced it, they can do something about it.

It's the shine in their eyes when they finally understand that a certain behavior of theirs isn't BAD just because other people don't understand it, it's just too different from most people or from modern perception that said people have to work much harder to'understand it.

MBTI makes it easy to explain and understand that yes, ENFPs are ‘all over the place’ with the way they think, and a) that’s not inherently bad, b) that’s an advantage sometimes, c) yes, while that is their default, they do need to accept that if they want to mature as a person and move forward in life, they do sometimes need to set specific goals, make some lists, and work on tying their brains down to a few things.

It makes it easier to communicate that yes, most ISFPs are sensitive people who don’t want to believe ill of anyone and loathe conflict, but sometimes they need to stop being so nice/timid/sweet and step up to the plate to stop a cycle of bad behavior—theirs or someone else’s.

It simplifies explaining that yes, you know what, a lot of INTJs seem like standoffish jerks, but frequently they don’t realize they’re coming across that way because what they are doing is trying to figure you out and how you fit into their world and how they need to approach you when they try to connect.

It’s like a code.  One which you don’t need a degree to understand or use, just common sense and an open mind (and learning it from the right sources).

Yes, it's true that MBTI is easy once you know what it's talking about (and I don't mean Fe and Fi and whatnot...feefifofum, I smell the blood...). 
It's also true that it's easily misunderstood.  Like any language, sometimes you have to try a few different learning styles before it clicks and you really understand how it works.**

People are hard to understand.
People are confusing.
But people are also fascinating and intriguing and amazing.
(Most of them; I mean, let’s be brutally honest here: some are just…jerks, and no amount of explanation or understanding can make that better.)

So I love the MBTI classifications because every little thing that helps us understand people makes the world a better place, since the instant you understand yourself and those around you even just a little, the more equipped you are to being able to choose behavior and actions that make a better world.

That's why I personally love it.

**Stay tuned for Part 2: Myers Briggs and Misunderstandings

What are your thoughts on the Myers Briggs 'system'?  Do you know your Myers-Briggs type?