Tag Archive: Lego

New Lego SHIELD Helicarrier

This blog is usually about writing and stories, but it’s also about geek stuff too. Being a bit of a Lego fan, I like it when I find an excuse to bring out that particular part of my geek life.

Well, here’s a great excuse: this gigantic new Lego set modeled after the SHIELD Helicarrier from the MCU.


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The Reason for the Silence

So, another long period of no posts? Oh, I’ve been around. You just can’t see me . . .

Actually, a large part of the reason has been that I got an offer on a full-time job that has morphed from being simply a managing editor for a new journal to . . . well, a lot more. My skills as an editor are a large part of it, but my new company is also interested in using me in other ways. It’s really very exciting. I won’t be working with fiction, but it’s really surprising how many ways my creative writing experience is helping to move their project forward.

So what does that mean for this blog, and the Novel Ninja Freelance Editing business? Well, the blog is still going to continue, and I’m still going to accept manuscripts. Odds are, though, that I’m going to be even more picky about what I take on. The new job will mean that I won’t depend on income from NNFE, but I still want to continue with my passion for stories.  Continue reading

As I noted before, AwesomeCon is much bigger this year. I forgot my camera and didn’t want to just use my phone, so I’ll take pictures tomorrow; but I found myself looking around the dealer hall in disbelief. That room alone would convince anyone who didn’t know better that this was an established con, and not something in its second year. The staff and other volunteers were doing a top-notch job, and the convention center staff were extremely helpful to everyone.

Also, I was amused to hear one of the screens playing “Everything is Awesome” (from The LEGO Movie) on continuous loop in the library. Despite its ultimate meaning in the movie, I was still appreciative! Continue reading

Readers of the blog know I like Lego. It’s a great toy, arguably the best single toy investment you can make for a child. Unlike a video game, its operating system doesn’t go obsolete in three years; every Lego brick you buy today is compatible with the same company’s products going back decades — and they’re not going to change that in the future. It rewards creativity, teaches spacial and structural awareness, and can be combined in so many different ways that you can never say you’ve beat the game.

And then, as an adult, you can stick with it and turn it into a genuine art form. Years of experience, an adult’s funding and patience, and that little kid inside of you that still shouts “THIS IS SO COOL!” — all joining together to show kids that art can be fun, and their fun can be true art.

Well, there’s a movie out this weekend that’s based on the toy. I got to see the press screening last weekend with Wamalug (the Washington Metropolitan Area LEGO Users Group), so I’m here to give you my review. Continue reading

In a rare public appearance, I appeared for a TV interview this last Monday.

And I managed not to break the camera!

And I managed to not break the camera!

Having attended a press screening of The LEGO Movie on Saturday, I and fellow brick enthusiast Bret Harris were invited on Let’s Talk Live for a quick appearance to give our impressions of the film as well as show off the sort of thing you can do with Lego bricks.

As you can see in the interview, I went in expecting to be underwhelmed and wound up impressed. (That’s right, I expected a movie based on one of my hobbies to suck.) It deserves its own review, but I figured I should at least put up the interview so you can see what your friendly neighborhood novel ninja looks like and sounds like.

Yeah, I’m sorry, I should be kinder to my fans rather than subject them to me in living color. But hey . . . Lego!

What I’ve Been Doing Lately

So I’ve had another period where I haven’t been posting anything, and I haven’t even been updating on the Facebook page (which you should totally like). Well, this is a major part of what’s been occupying my attention:

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Now, just to be clear, that is not me in that photo. I’m the one taking it. And the radiant beauty in white is my dear friend, mutually-adopted sister, and future co-author Elizabeth Amy Hausladen.

Er, wait. Elizabeth Amy Hajek. Yeah. Got to remember that. Fortunately, she likes hearing people repeat themselves on this subject.  Continue reading

Browsing for Books

I live in Montgomery County, MD. When I was a kid, there was a Crown Books just up the street. It was small, but I could walk to it and throw my allowance and odd-jobs money at new books. Then Crown went out of business.

Then there was Bonifant Books, a large used-book store a bus ride away. I expanded my collection considerably using that place. And then they went out of business too, while I was off at college. The same went for all used-book stores in my area save one. (At least, those which carry stuff I’m interested in, which is mainly SF&F.)

While I was in college, downtown Silver Spring got built up. It’s pretty much the only thing the county government has had a genuinely good idea about since, well, ever. (I don’t have a high opinion of them, but that’s a separate topic.) It had a dinky mall without a bookstore, but the area around it got beautified and expanded, with a better movie theater, more parking, great restaraunts . . . and a Borders! Their cafe was my favorite place to go work. And then, of course, they closed down.

So, basically, from where I live, I have to drive half an hour to get to a decent bookstore. I live in a major metropolitan area, and I have to drive half an hour to browse shelves. I have a choice between three Barnes & Nobles and a Books-A-Million. Go figure, the one that’s easiest for me to get to is the B&N in Virginia.

Of course, said store is at Tysons Corner, which I pass by semi-frequently to go to meetings with Chesterton Press or visit friends. It also has a Lego Store. (Granted, the Books-A-Million is at Arundel Mills, which also has a Lego Store, but I almost never drive up there anymore.) The problem, of course, is that since I usually only go there on trips with other things to do, I rarely stop in at Barnes & Noble and usually I’m in a hurry anyway.

This last Saturday, I had a chance to actually browse while waiting for someone. I’d literally forgotten how much fun it can be to just go through the shelves and see what catches my eye, pick it up, and try to decide if it’s something I might be interested in. I found a bunch. Probably more than I can afford (not just financially, but in terms of time as well), but I took down a lot of titles to look at later.

It was nice to just be able to pick up a real, physical book. Something I can hold, flip through — and yes, smell. I like ebooks. They’re cheaper and more convenient for me, particularly since I’m in front of the computer all the time and am one of the lucky people who never gets eyestrain or other ill effects from staring at a screen all day. (Actually, my energy-efficient lightbulb lighting my workspace is the only thing that gives me eyestrain. I need a different lighting method. Probably LED or full-spectrum.)  But there’s something about the feel of a book in your hand that just can’t get replicated by any other method. It’s a tactile experience that, while not vital, still adds something.

Plus, considering my preferred ereader is actually my laptop, it means that a dead-tree book edition doesn’t come with email and Facebook popups. Unplugging is necessary from time to time.

I did wind up buying one book: Graceling, by Kristen Cashore. I can’t remember the last time a book swept me up while still in the bookstore. I read the whole first chapter there, and had to stop myself from reading more. It was an excellent price for a trade paperback (even considering that mass-market YA novels are usually priced slightly cheaper), so I decided to splurge even though my reading list is already full.

The thing that grabbed me wasn’t the action sequence or the magic system, though both were interesting; it was the introspective young girl, gifted with a supernatural talent for violence, and how she viewed the world. That first chapter painted a picture of a young girl with a talent that made people afraid of her, that trapped her in a life she didn’t want, but who still tries to do as much good with her abilities as she possibly can.

I hope to have time to finish it and write up a review this week. In the meantime, I have a book to write, manuscripts to evaluate, marketing releases to craft, a workshop to teach, and a Lego display to prepare for the National Air & Space Museum next month.

Probably a good thing I don’t have a bookstore to browse in all the time.


Not really.


Well, BrickFair is over for this year, and it was pretty good. Actually, it was a blast. I met some new people, and plan to collaborate with some of them next year on the Castle theme. I like displaying “civilian” stuff; most people who build in the Castle/Knights theme build, well, castles and knights. I like adding in the peasants, the market town, etc.  In fact, here’s my modest display.


Because every medieval Lego minifigure needs a place to shop, listen to music, and have a bar fight.

Random trivia: a town could be, and often was, smaller than a village. A village is where most of the people in an area lived. A town is where the market was, and people from different villages would go there to buy and sell. That’s why the phrase “go to town” means spending a lot of money.

This particular scene had a lot of little details, but my favorite was the barfight in the inn. On market day, a town’s population would swell, often causing tensions to flare.



I also had two thieves, a bakery, a blacksmithy, a group of musicians entertaining a crowd, merchants with stalls, and little things happening all over (like a minotaur fighting another minotaur . . . okay, it’s not 100% historically-accurate). The piece of paper you see hanging off the table was a list of things for kids (and adults) to find. It was to let them have a fun little game and feel awesome when they found everything — and it also meant more people would stop and look at what I did instead of moving on immediately to see the more impressive stuff right next door. I’m sneaky that way.

This was next to me, making me look bad. It was made by a fourteen-year-old-girl. I feel completely inadequate. *sob*

This was next to me, making me look bad. It was made by a fourteen-year-old-girl. I feel completely inadequate. *sob*

But as I said, next year I’ll be teaming up with some others to work on a collaborative medieval display, hopefully with a focus on towns and medieval life. One guy in particular, Charlie (there with his kids because he’s an awesome father), plans on coordinating to the extent that we have matching styles for buildings in our landscape. We’ll have more buildings, more people, more activity, more landscape . . . I don’t know what it’ll look like just yet, but it should be fun.

I’m adding at least a chapel and a stables next year. I might even be able to add a watermill, but we’ll see how things work out. I still need to reorganize my collection into a new space in my house. Right now, it’s hard to remember where I put things!

I’ll be adding more pictures later on. Hopefully that means “soon,” but I haven’t even posted last year’s photos on Facebook yet. I may add some to Flickr, and I’ll definitely be posting to the Novel Ninja Facebook page.

Right now, though, I need to prepare for New Jersey tomorrow, at the Catholic Marketing Network; and after that, I go demonstrate the Fate Core RPG system at Labyrinth Games on Saturday. After that, I need to write a book and prepare to teach a non-credit workshop at my alma mater this fall.

Oh, and edit. And maybe post more about writing for you guys. Yeah. Lots of stuff to do!


Quick Update

Not all of you are on my Facebook page (or follow my personal page), so I probably seem more silent than I actually am. Even so, I do seem to keep neglecting my blog, don’t I? I thought I should let you know what I’ve been up to.

  • Co-writing two novels for Chesterton Press — one with Regina Doman and the other with Elizabeth Hausladen — in a new YA contemporary fantasy series called The Chronicles of the Ruahim. (Both due for publication in the spring.)
  • Preparing for an expansion to the series, with at least two more novels after that (one co-authored with Lori Janeski, who does not as of yet have anything for me to link to).
  • Editing and reviewing books that I either can’t tell you about just yet or will hopefully do so in the near future.
  • Preparing for a non-credit creative writing workshop this fall at Christendom College, in Virginia.
  • Preparing a one-shot RPG adventure for Taste of Fate on August 10th at Labyrinth Games with my friends at Evil Hat Productions. (A sci-fi story heavily influenced by Babylon 5 and Schlock Mercenary.)
  • Having too much fun posting quotes from Babylon 5 as I re-watch the series. Y’know. Research. Honest. *nods* (In fact, I should really do a blog post on the show as it had an enormous influence not only on the sci-fi genre but on television as a whole.)
  • Preparing a display for BrickFair VA, a local and very large Lego convention (yes, I do non-writing things — check out those photos and tell me that’s not both impressive and genuine art). The show’s this weekend and I am not yet ready. Weee!
  • And then between BrickFair and Taste of Fate, I’m off to a conference in New Jersey for elbow-rubbing, card-exchanging networking.

All in all, I’m pretty booked between now and mid-August.

In the future, I need to do some more updates. I’ve been writing stuff down, so I just need to actually sit down and write blog posts. I’m a very naturally talkative person, but I’m also a perfectionist — which is good in an editor, and kind of bad in a blogger. Alas! I’m much more active over on Facebook, especially on my personal page — but my personal page covers far more than my opinions on writing, so that doesn’t really count.

Oh, one other announcement: my above-mentioned co-author (and mutually-adopted little sister) Elizabeth is getting married, probably before our book comes out. She’ll still be Mrs. Nathan Hajek.

Now I just have to make certain her fiance earns the honor of her hand in marriage. (*evil laugh*)

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