Friday, April 7, 2017

A New Beginning

Hello, readers!

This blog has sadly come to an end. But like Phoenix, it will rise from the ashes. It is now in the form of a new blog, Fantasy. Literature. Life., which you can find at

I'm leaving Literature. Life. here, but it will not be updated any longer. Please check out my new site for regular features such as "Flash Fiction Fridays" and "Book Reviews and Novel News Tues."

This marks a new phase in my career as a writer, so I invite you to come celebrate with with me by reading and following my new site. You'll not only be entertained, but also will get updates on the progress of my debut novel, which will be published sometime this fall.

Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sky Poetry

I had the occasion to do a lot of traveling lately, which meant being shuffled from airport to airport and being crammed into the microscopic proportions of airplane seats. Yet, in the midst of all of that turmoil, I had a moment of wonder at the beauty of the world...and the poetry flowed.

Photo by A.L.S. Vossler (c) 2016
Sunset at 30,000 Feet 
(c) 2016 A.L.S. Vossler 

am a speck 
in the sky
watching shades
of night

gold fades 
to orange
and orange
to red
into blue
into grey
greying into

flicker on below
bidding farewell 
to the red jewel 
that glimmers
blinks out
on the horizon.

 Share any thoughts in the comments.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Am I Childish?

It's a question that I ask myself a lot.

So, why is it a question that I ask myself so much? Well...I like a lot of stuff for kids. I mean, a lot of stuff. For example:

I collect My Little Pony toys. I reject the appellation of "Brony," though. Not because I have any kind of disdain for Bronies, but because I am not really that into the Friendship is Magic line, which is what Bronies are primarily into. But when I say that I collect My Little Pony, I don't mean I have a few ponies. I have over 350 of them, not counting duplicates. I constantly scout garage sales, thrift stores, and eBay in hopes of finding G1 or G2 ponies to add to my collection. They are all organized in roughly chronological order of release.

After a rough day at work, I like to unwind by watching SpongeBob SquarePants. Yeah. That's right. I like it because it's cute and innocent (for the most part--there are those occasional adult jokes in there). It's mind-numbing and just a great way to unplug my brain for some silliness.

Most of the shows I am currently watching are for children. Star Wars Rebels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir are the three main ones. The only show I'm following which is not for kids is Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And when I watch shows, I get really into them. Like, a lot. I tend to obsess a little bit. Which makes me feel especially childish.

I love a lot of kids' movies. One of the highlights of this year has been going to see Zootopia, which I absolutely loved! I love Kung Fu Panda, I love a lot of Pixar movies, Disney movies, and so on and so forth.

That's a lot of kid stuff for an adult to be into. Furthermore, I enjoy YA fiction quite a bit. Something not exactly aimed at my age group. So, yeah. Does that make me childish? 

A lot of people would say that yes, that does make me childish. Not to stereotype, but most of these people are in the Baby Boomer generation. They see youthful interests as an indication of immaturity. However, I think that immature behavior is an indication of immaturity, not choice of entertainment.

I tell myself that no, I am not childish. I cook my own meals, I clean my own house (sometimes), I show up on time to work and work my butt off once I'm there, and I sit down and do a budget with my husband every pay period. I even stick to that budget--something that took a lot of time and effort to finally convince myself to do. At almost thirty years old, I should hope that I am not childish. I don't have the thought processes of a child, at least.

When I really think about what "childish" means, I think of terms like "selfish," "petty," and "irresponsible." These are characteristics that even the most sophisticated and mature individual displays from time to time, since none of us are perfect. Anyone can have moments of childishness, but being childish means having them more often than not.

So if you're in the same boat as me, wondering if you're childish because of youthful interests, then fear not. You aren't childish.

Neither am I.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Welcome to the New Lamps and Mirrors!

So, you might notice that Lamps and Mirrors is a little different. For example, it is no longer Lamps and Mirrors. Now, it is Literature. Life. 

Why the change? Well, I honestly felt that I had pigeonholed myself with Lamps and Mirrors. I had nothing to write about because I couldn't think of anything sufficiently literary or writing-related. Plus, I have The Lonely Young Writer for stuff about writing, so I thought I would broaden the focus of this blog so that I have more to write about. Things are going to have a bit more of a personal touch to them.

What are the kinds of things you'll see on Literature. Life.?

I'll be blogging about books that I'm reading, cinematic literature, and various things about my life.  So, actually, this blog is now pretty much game for any topic whatsoever. I know "they" say that you're supposed to have a blog with a narrow focus, but obviously I've had a hard time doing that.

There's more material to come, so stay tuned. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Overhaul in Progress

So, you may notice that things look a little different around here. If you were looking for Lamps and Mirrors, don't worry! You're still at the right place! Stay tuned for more updates, and in the meantime, enjoy all of my old posts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Six Reasons I Won't Water Down My Vocabulary

Almost consistently, the first thing I’m told when any given person critiques my work is that the vocabulary is too advanced, or that they had to look up some of the words.

Apparently, this is a bad thing.

While it makes sense not to use advanced language in children’s books and most young adult books, books which are aimed at high school upperclassmen and older should be free to use whatever type of vocabulary the author wants.  Here is my reasoning:

1.  Just because a word is uncommon doesn’t mean it should not be used.

 The only way we learn new words is by being exposed to them. By refusing to use ‘big’ words because many people don’t know them, writers are purposefully limiting our audiences. We are basically assuming our audience is dumb, and that is a grave insult.  Reading is supposed to expand the mind as well as entertain; writers are in fact in the position to educate. We should embrace this power, not fear it.

2. Sometimes the bigger, more uncommon word is the best word.

Hemingway once famously said that you shouldn’t use multiple words where one word will do. If a ‘big’ word replaces a concept that takes 10 smaller words to describe, the big word is obviously superior.

3. Readers are not idiots who need to be sheltered from the evils of big, scary vocabulary words.

People who read for entertainment are already most likely of a higher education level. When people come across a word they don’t know while reading, they do one of three things: look it up, guess the approximate meaning based on context, or ignore the word.  The first two options allow you to help broaden your reader’s horizons, and who doesn’t want to do that?  The third option isn’t bad either. People skip over stuff all the time when they read, and usually, a handful of words they didn’t know isn’t going to prevent them from understanding the tale at large.

4. Looking up the meanings of words is literally easier than ever.

It used to be that if you didn’t know a word, you would have to haul out a dictionary and leaf through the pages to find it. Nowadays, we have dictionary apps that allow you to look up words in less than sixty seconds, and almost everybody has a smart device with them at all times. If you don’t have an app, there’s  Nobody has an excuse anymore, and pausing your reading to look up a word is not the end of the world. Yes, it might temporarily ‘jolt’ somebody out of the story for a minute, but if it allows them to learn something, that’s not such a bad thing. Most people will figure it out from context or just ignore it, so it actually doesn’t make much difference in the long run.

5. E-Readers have changed everything.

If you have a Kindle or a Nook, all you have to do is tap a word and the built-in dictionary tells you what it means. Let me say that again. All you have to do is frickin’ tap the screen. It could only get easier if you had dictionary software implanted in your brain!  As more and more people are switching to eBooks, the excuses for purposefully limiting vocabulary become more and more ridiculous.

6. If somebody dislikes my writing because of my use of ‘larger’ vocabulary words, then they weren’t part of my target audience to begin with.

This is not to say that I write only for elite, erudite audiences. I write for people who are okay with expanding their minds. Heck, My Little Pony frequently uses words that kindergarteners wouldn’t know – like precipice, for example. If My Little Pony can do it when their audience is little children, then certainly I can do it when my audience is high school upperclassmen and older – or do you give more credit to little kids than you do to adults? Entertainment can expand our minds. Why should we try to curb that? The highest indicator of student success is teacher expectation. I see no reason why that can’t apply to readers and writers, too.

Furthermore, using ‘big’ vocab words does not limit my shot at becoming a successful writer. Best-selling author Stephen R. Donaldson is notorious for his use of ‘big’ words, as well as archaic words.  And, as you might guess from the fact that I called him a best-selling author, he turned out to be a best-selling author even though he uses ‘big’ words.

I’m not going to water down my writing. Yes, most people don’t have higher than a sixth grade reading level. But it’s not like I hunt through a thesaurus trying to find the biggest word for everything. Most of my writing scores no more than a fifth grade level, according to the Flesch-Kincaid rating system. Yes, that’s even my works that have the big, scary vocabulary words in them!

So, no. I’m not going to cut out all the advanced vocabulary from my work. I’m going to fearlessly continue using whatever words I think are best for the situation, whether it’s a three year old character saying, “Mama, bells go ‘ding, dong’!’” or a wise old Oxford professor saying that he remembers the tintinnabulation of church bells. I don’t care if you didn’t know the word before you read my work. I don’t care if you choose to ignore it.

But if I both found the perfect word and helped you learn something new, then I don’t think any writer could ask for more. 

What do you think? Is using 'big' words elitist and snobbish, or is it beneficial both to the writing itself and the readers? Sound off in the comments. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Flash Fiction: The Parlor Alexander the Great

So, I did another writing exercise to loosen the bonds of writer's block. Luckily for you (or unluckily, depending on your perspective), I decided to share it here! I did this one using the same title generator as last time.

"The Parlor Alexander the Great"
© A.L.S. Vossler 2015

Rae sat down in the luxurious armchair in Mrs. Mulway’s house. She always loved coming here; Mrs. Mulway had a constant supply of delicious cookies. Currently, Mrs. Mulway was in the kitchen boiling water for Rae’s tea.

“Are your parents still fighting, dear?” Mrs. Mulway’s voice came from the kitchen.

“Yeah,” Rae said. Mrs. Mulway didn’t know the half of it, but Rae didn’t want to talk about it. She hadn’t come over here to talk about her parents; she’d come here to get away from them. For just a little while, she could look over the nifty things in her elderly neighbor’s parlor. For just a little while, she could forget her parents’ screaming. For just a little while, she could forget the sound of her step-dad beating up her mom. She could forget how much she hated him.

The room was filled with all kinds of curios, some of which were under a considerable layer of dust. As Rae’s eyes traveled across the mantelpiece, she saw something new: a glass dome display case containing an 11-inch figurine, a little man who was dressed like he was from ancient Greece. Rae got up and stood on her tiptoes so that she could peer at the inscription that was on the base plate: Alexander the Great.

Rae tilted her head from side to side. He would have made a good friend for one of her Barbie dolls. Barbie probably would like his fancy armor. Rae glanced over her shoulder. Mrs. Mulway was busy in kitchen still, but the kettle was beginning to whistle. It would be less than a minute before she would come back into the room.

No. Stealing was bad, and Mrs. Mulway was nice. It wouldn’t be right.

Rae turned back to look at the figurine again. She almost screamed when she saw that the little man was pressed up against the side of the dome. “Help me.” His voice was muffled through the glass. “You have to help me.”

“What will you do if I help you?”

“There is nothing I cannot do, young mistress. I conquered all of Asia Minor ere my eighteenth birthday!” He put his hands on his hips and struck a confident pose.

A sense of power swept over Rae. She wasn’t sure what Asia Minor was, but she knew what Asia was: it was the biggest continent in the world. A man who could conquer Asia was the most powerful thing there was, especially if he was so tiny. Forget not stealing. Forget right and wrong. “You’ll do anything I ask you to?”

“By the gods, I swear I will.”

Rae gritted her teeth. “I want you to kill my step-dad.”

Criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome in the comments.

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