Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

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I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! 🙂

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

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I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

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I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. ❤

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I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! ❤

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BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. ❤ You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

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OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

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My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

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PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. 🙂

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!

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Authorly Bucket List

To wrap up my week of tag catching up…

Tag Catch-Up Post #7 (or #8, depending on counting…) – THIS IS THE VERY LAST ONE I PROMISE.

So, a few months back, I was tagged by Sarah @ Light and Shadows for a new tag, created by Erin Kenobithe Authorly Bucket List Tag! (It is also, apparently, known as the the Stuff-I-Need-To-Practice-More-Slash-Stuff-I’d-Like-To-Be-Better-At Tag. But Authorly Bucket List is easier to say, doncha know…) Go check out their blogs, do! You won’t regret it. 😀

Okay, so the the idea with the Authorly Bucket List Tag (Original Post) is to list three to seven things you’re not very good at, and another three to seven you’d like to try.

Shivers, y’all. This looks awesome.

Let’s get this show on the road! (And I may have to steal a couple of your things, Sarah, since I have some similar problems… >.>)

Things I Need to Work On

Actually Writing
Um. Yes. This is my biggest problem. I don’t often actually sit down to write. I procrastinate about it like you wouldn’t believe, I spend a lot of time plotting and thinking and doing little nothings, and basically everything except actually writing. But whenever I try to solve this with goals, or with events like NaNo, it works okay for a bit but then I get major burnout. If I specifically try to write several days in a row, for instance, I get burnt out and sometimes take a couple more weeks to recharge. I tend to write in large bursts (large here having the smallish meaning of like 2k words) with sometimes a couple weeks between. Yeah, it’s bad. But if I’m inspired, I can pound out a whole bunch. So it just depends. I guess I need to get myself inspired and keep it that way, and develop a bit of discipline.

Villains
Ah, villains. They’re what makes the world go ’round — or at least the plot. Usually. I never figure my villains out enough. They like to be kind of flat. And my main problem is that I never know their motives well enough or figure out what their plans are/their timelines. They kind of conveniently do stuff whenever the plot requires it, and… Yeah, enough about villains, let’s move on. I think my villains just don’t interest me much because I don’t LIKE them. I don’t want to spend all this time with them and figuring out their “deal”. I don’t understand people who are fascinated with villains and antagonists. O_O I mean, if they’re lovable/redeemable, sure… But yeah. The bad badguys I just want to stay away from, which does not help my writing since they’re kind of necessary! I guess I need some help in the villain department.

Battles / Fighting
I kind of majorly fail at fighting scenes. I don’t understand the concepts of swordfighting etc., no matter how much I read/watch about it. Much as I would like to! If there is fighting, I will be generally vague about it and move on because… what even are you supposed to do with that? It’s even worse with full-fledged battles. I haven’t attempted to write a battle in years, and I know even then I was horrible at it. How do you do it? You’ve got to focus on mini fighting scenes with individual characters throughout (see above…) and also keep track of all the sides and flanks and attacks and retreats and who’s fighting who and I just get so confused. How do you juggle all of that and make it remotely make sense?? This is probably partially why I’m terrified of returning to writing Epic Fantasy after being so long distracted in the shallower territory of contemporaries… Speaking of which…

Fantasy
So, ever since my first Kedran’s Wood story (The Owl of Kedran’s Wood) kidnapped me and held me captive to work on the adventures of Tare and the Chess Club for the last few years, I haven’t done much in the way of working on anything Epic Fantasy ish, my first love. I sort of popped back to work on my Starrellia series a couple times, and of course wrote most of Heartseeker for NaNo, but the truth is I’ve been away from Epic Fantasy for a very long time and want to get back to it. Which brings me to my thing-I-need-to-work-on: FANTASY. My fantasy is not as imaginative and full of fantastical things as I would like. It just doesn’t often occur to me that I can do whatever I want, and instead I just blunder along with whatever’s right there at the forefront of my brain. What about dragons, fairies, enchantments, intriguing magicalness, totally unique new things…? All the possibilities! My fantasy seems to normally be fairly tame, and I think some exploring of possibilities would not go amiss.

Things I’d Like to Try

Fairy Tale Retellings
Yessss. I actually hope to accomplish this soon, since I’m (currently) planning on writing a Twelve Dancing Princesses story for NaNo this year… We’ll see how that turns out. But fairy tales are awesome, and I adore retellings and they are so fun to read. So naturally I’d like to try my hand at a few! I even recently put together an idea for an epic fairy tale mashup conglomeration, so that might happen someday. I’ve never done a retelling, so it would be interesting to see how to make it similar to the original tales but also fresh and new and… yeah, it sounds like quite a challenge, and one I’m very excited to try at some point.

Mind Reading / Telepathy
There’s something really fabulous about mind-things, somehow. Mind communication. Yummy. I’ve always found it interesting to read about, and seeing the different ways different authors do it… I’d like to try it myself someday because it would just be awesome. Now I just need to find a way to do it… But there are so many possibilities! Maybe it’s been done to death, but I don’t really care. I just want to try because it sounds so fun!

Time Travel
Like mind-reading, there is something awesome about time-travel. Or, specifically, Timeslip, which is the version that’s my favorite and tends to involve someone ending up in an older time period with some sort of magicalness involved, I think… As opposed to the sci-fi-ness of a time machine. It’s also much less predictable, more uncertain, which I like. But I’d also like to try a time machine story as well, which I have an idea for, including dealing with the question of how can people go back in time without changing the future/their present… Yeah, it kind of makes the head spin. Which is part of the fun. I don’t have a specific timeslip idea but I really would love to try it someday if an opportunity presented itself. The main problem with time travel stuff is I’d have to do all the research just as if it was a historical fiction book, the thought of which terrifies me. So… we’re shelving those ideas for awhile. 😉 (Unless of course, it’s time-travel in another world…! Which would solve the research problem. I’ve only seen this done in Diana Wynne Jones’s book The Crown of Dalemark and I ADORED it so so much!! So it can be done.)

Cons and Heisty-ness
I’ve recently become obsessed with reading and watching crimey-heisty things, as I call them. TV shows Hustle and Leverage, the Heist Society books by Ally Carter, White Cat and its sequels by Holly Black (despite their ickness). Even milder versions like National Treasure‘s subplot to steal the Declaration of Independence. I just can’t get enough of the Robin-Hood-like (or at least not entirely bad) con-artists and grifters and thieves, and all of the cleverness involved in a good heist/con, especially when it involves giving the badguys what’s due them. I’m an upstanding citizen, honest, but this sort of thing is fascinating to read about. XD There is also a sad lack of such things, especially in the book (YA especially) world! (If you know of any, either books or films or shows, pleeeease do tell me.) I would probably never be able to write a con/heisty story because my brain just isn’t clever enough, but the thought is there and if I ever dared, I would love to try.

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Sooo… There’s my authorly bucket list, or some semblance thereof! What is yours? I guess I should work on these… Slowly… Somehow.

Or… I don’t know, maybe I should throw all of that together and actually sit down to write an epically fantastical epic fantasy full of full-fledged battles and deep villains who time travel (by means magical, scientific, and otherwise), with heroes and heroines from fairy tale stories, who use mind communication and carry out brilliant heists and cons.
. . .
UM. Actually, I would totally read that because it would be awesome. O_O OH MY GOODNESS. *facepalm* I need to stop coming up with story ideas and write some of my current ones.

What have I done.

(This is why I should not brainstorm when my brain is asleep and susceptible to madness…)

*hastily sweeps new plotbunnies under rug, tramples them quickly, leaves a large and heavy safe on top to keep them down, and surreptitiously walks away whistling as if nothing happened*

And I Tag

Abi // Ashlee // Kelsey // Jenelle // Katie/Robyn // Claire // Any writers who want to.

But please!! Do feel free to snag this if it looks interesting! (And let me know if you do! I would love to read such posts. :))

I’m just trying to spread out all my tagging this week, otherwise EVERYONE would
be tagged with EVERYTHING and it would be exhausting. XD

So there’s the last of my tag catchup posts! *queue cheering* I will now leave y’all in peace. 😉

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Do any of you writers have problems like mine, or tips to overcome them?

What would you like to try in your writing? (Different POVs, steampunk, talking umbrellas…?)

ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS TAG?

Do you know any good heisty books/shows??

Tell me all! Let the Authorly chatting begin! 🙂

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

(I really should have titled this post “In Which I Fangirl a Ton”…)

So I’ve been tagged by both Victoria and Tracey for the “Favorite Screen Characters Tag”! So I thought I should do it. 😉 Do check out their awesome blogs! Stori Tori’s Blog and Tracey Dyck: Adventure Awaits!

The rules for this tag are to list your ten favorite characters from movies or TV, and to tag ten other bloggers. We’ll see how this goes…

Okay. Ten is not nearly enough, so these are going to be fairly random, off-the-top-of-my-head-ish, and not necessarily my FAVORITES, but a good selection, and not in any particular order.

I’m keeping a one-character-per-movie rule so that I don’t end up with only Lord-of-the-Rings-and-Hobbit characters and Avengers… >.> Also I am keeping it down to live-action because that’s how it ended up. (Even though I love Hiccup and Toothless and Flynn Rider and Jack Frost and Howl and… yes. *cough* I will just stop now. TEN IS FAR TOO FEW. *wails*) And somehow this ended up entirely a list of guys. Whoops.

Um. Yes. Anyways, I had to make some rules, otherwise I would be here all day — or possibly not here at all because I would be trying to wrestle it down to ten and would be at it for the next several hundred years… Ahem.

(Fortunately this isn’t a BOOK characters tag… Because then I’d really be doomed. XD)

On with the show!

(…Get it? Show? *cough* Okay I’ll stop with the puns. >.>)

Eliot (Leverage)

First of all, we just need to take a moment to talk about how amazing Eliot Spencer is. He’s from Leverage, a super awesome crimey-heisty-con-artist-robin-hood-ish show, where each member of the team has their expertise. Eliot’s? He’s the fighter. You know that whenever Eliot’s around, everything will be okay because he always wins. (Or… Almost always.) If I was on a quest and could pick sidekicks, I’d want me an Eliot to keep me safe. You know you can trust him to do the best thing and do it well. I love his interactions with the other characters in the show who I love too. But Eliot can basically do any kind of fighting and is just beyond awesome. (Plus he can cook. Like, really cook. Like, we’re talking gormet, and he’s really passionate about it. Which of course is splendidly awesome because of how much it doesn’t go with the rest of him. Except they both can involve knives. But still. And he can sing too. Really well. I mean, is there ANYTHING this guy can’t do? Pretty much: no.) I only “met” him this year, but he’s definitely one of my favorite screen characters ever. He’s a very distinctive kind of hero.

Thranduil (The Hobbit films)

Do I even need to explain this one? For real, now. He is THRANDUIL and is just entirely awesome. His sort of grand aloof grumpiness, his hair, the way he talks with his flowing speeches, his elegance, fighting skills, general reclusiveness, the way he tilts his head, his MOOSE… Can we just talk about how awesome his moose is? ❤ Plus he’s the Elvenking of Mirkwood and Legolas’s DAD for goodness’ sake. (Thranduil is, not the moose…) Thranduil is just all around… well… FABULOUS. ‘Nuff said.

Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings films)

Don’t die of shock that Faramir isn’t listed here… Faramir is definitely my favorite Lord of the Rings character, book and film, hands down, BUT since they did mess up his character somewhat in the films I’m just going to have to go with Aragorn because of his sheer wonderfulness. I almost don’t need to even say anything about Aragorn, since we all know (or should!) how awesome he is. But he’s like the ideal hero, a great leader, and so so so noble. I think he like defines “noble heroic leader”. Seriously. And a super good fighter and the best Ranger ever. If I ever end up in a fantasy world, I need Aragorn. Plus he’s super nice, and understanding, and superbly kingly. And he never gives up even when he’s fighting against insurmountable odds and I just… More people need to be like Aragorn. Plus he’s just epic.

Hawkeye (The Avengers, etc.)

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HAWKEYE IS JUST THE BEST AVENGER OKAY. He was my favorite even in the first movie, where, let’s face it, he didn’t get a lotta screen time. But even then! I love superheroes the best when they don’t have actual superpowers, and instead have talent and gadgets and skill. He’s just a really clever/intelligent guy, who is super well trained in everything. Plus he’s a super skilled left handed archer with fantastic arrows that do anything. Awesome, much? The extra screen time he got in Avengers 2 just killed me with happiness. All the humor and epic! I feel like he was the heart of that movie. ^_^ …Of course, that could just be me… *cough* But Hawkeye is just the absolute best.

Mal (Firefly/Serenity)

So Captain Malcom Reynolds can have his problems, but overall he’s a really great, determined guy, who always looks after the best interests of his crew on his spaceship Serenity. He’s technically something like a thief, but he’s generally an honorable one… Just one man trying to make his way in the galaxy and keep his freedom. I don’t know why, but I just really really like Mal! He’s kind of amazing. But watch out if you try to do anything to his ship or his crew. You don’t want to be on his bad side… Oh, and I love his interactions with all the crew members. He’ll surprise you all the time with his unexpected heroism and awesomeness. And he can be pigheaded, and stubborn, and blunt, and sometimes hilarious. And once he sets his mind on something, he will never ever ever give up until he’s carried it out, no matter the odds. In the end, he can be the most surprising hero of all. Mal’s just awesome. Just try to come up with anyone more awesome!

Duchy (Sea Patrol)

I don’t know what he’s doing here… But I somehow ended up watching part of an Australian TV show called Sea Patrol. I haven’t seen a super large amount of episodes, and I’ll be honest: I mostly watch it for the accents. I am shallow like that. But what can I say?? Australian accents are just awesome! (As are British, Scottish, Irish, etc…) I love a bunch of the characters in the show, which is about the crew of an Australian Navy ship, but Duchy somehow turned out my favorite, even though he replaced my previous favorite so when I first watched him, I wanted to hate him. But then he became my favorite. Yeah. So that didn’t quite work out… But he is just super loyal and brave, to the point of rash stupidity at times, and has some problems but he also knows how to have fun and I don’t even know. He’s just kinda great.

Micky (Hustle)

So let’s talk about my other favorite crimey-heisty-con-artist-robin-hood-ish show. Hustle is one of THE best BBC shows ever and it is sad that nobody ever notices it. (And it is also sad that I can’t watch it anymore because the whatsit stopped carrying that channel. Allow me to go sob in the corner for awhile here…) I love each and every one of the characters in this show SO MUCH, but I had to pick Micky as my favorite. He’s the brains of the group and makes everything work, and you know there’s nothing he can’t work his way out of. I just love how SMART he is! This whole show is so clever, and Micky’s the main reason for that. He comes up with the cleverest cons to take down these horrible snobby nasty rich people, he adapts to problematic situations, and he leads the rest of the team so well, plays his roles to perfection, and can even have fun while doing it. I just… Gaaahh, he’s awesome.

Zorro (Zorro [1975])

I pretty much love almost every version of Zorro I’ve ever seen, but my absolute favorite is the film Zorro from 1975. Mostly because this particular version of Zorro (played by Alain Delon) just defines the character for me. One thing I really love is how well he pulls off the double-identity. His foppish self, the flighty-headed Governor, is so well handled and silly and hilarious. You would never guess that he is also the epic, serious (but with a great grin when he uses it), totally awesome bandit Zorro who is like the best sword-fighter ever. I just LOVE Zorro. He’s the best. (Also this may contain my favorite onscreen sword-fight ever, with the possible exception of the one with Darth Maul in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.) He is my favoritest Zorro in the history of ever, which is saying a lot. This Zorro is basically the ultimate masked-man for me.

Mr. Thornton (North and South)

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Okay, I’ll be honest: this is probably just because he’s basically like a Mr. Darcy played by Richard Armitage, which I’ve ALWAYS wanted ever since I knew about the actor… But still. Mr. Thornton is just awesome. And misunderstood. And has some fabulous lines and a great accent. And is actually super caring once you get to know him. He’s really NICE beneath that gruff exterior and deep voice. Plus, y’know. Richard Armitage. ‘Nuff said. (I still wish he’d played Mr. Darcy. Then Mr. Darcy could have made it to this list. XD) And certain moments like the notorious proposal scene and “look back at me” and when he fell asleep on his desk… and just yes.

Dastan (Prince of Persia)

I just love Dastan. He’s entirely relateable and adorable and nice and awesome and funny and epic. He’s basically like a scruffy puppy. I don’t even know why but he’s just one of my favorite screen characters, which is no doubt partially why Prince of Persia is one of my top favorite films… But he’s also kind of humble, and kind, and entirely endearing. You just want to be friends with him, you know? And he just goes through so much! And loves his brothers and family and is hilarious with Princess Tamina. And he does so many cool things, especially the parkour scenes — gaaahh, I wish I could do that. So. Much. Coolness.

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So there they are! Just scratching the surface, you know, but it’s a start… There are so many others I wanted to include! But there are some of my favorites. 🙂

Tagging:

I’m notoriously bad at tagging, but let’s see what I can come up with here… You obviously only have to do it if you want, otherwise ignore me! And do feel free to snag it if I didn’t tag you as well!

I tag these stupendously awesome people:

Jillzy @ Writing in the Rain
C.B. @ The World of the Writer
Sarah @ Light and Shadows
Cait @ Paper Fury
Abi @ Rambling Writer
Shantelle @ A Writer’s Heart
Lisa @ God’s Daughter 4 Ever
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook
Jenelle @ Jenelle Schmidt, Author
And YOU if you’re reading this and want to. XD

(Okay, yes, I cheated… but that’s sort of 10!)

How about you? Agree? Disagree? Love any of these characters, or even heard of half of them? And who are some of your favorites? 🙂