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Author SL Dooley

If you were traveling through a moss-ladened forest surrounded by majestic pines, thick with overgrown fern and came to a fork, would you take the wide, well-worn road or follow me on the narrow, overgrown, off-shoot?

The adventure, the thrill, the discovery of what's just over the hill will always spur us onward. A two-day jungle hike, or a quest between the pages of a book, both delight and inspire imagination. So join me on the journey. We’ll search for the secret path or the hidden cove.  But more than that,  I believe we’ll discover the wonderous parts of ourselves along the way...my journey

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Fantastical Trees
BY SL Dooley

Trees that could whisper, talk to each other. Even move.
– Meriadoc Brandybuck, LOTR

Merry hits close to the mark. Except for the moving part . . . maybe. Trees play a big role in the fantasy genre, even if they don’t all talk. From tree-dwelling elves to tree-healing wizards, trees either serve as the backdrop or the center of hundreds of stories. But talking trees aren’t entirely the construct of fantasy worlds. Trees do, in reality, whisper and talk through the mycorrhizal network.

Without getting too technical (you can find a basic explanation here) they transmit messages through fungi connected to their root systems. They send warnings to neighboring forests when nutrients are low, or infestations are spreading. They even fancy species similar to their own. Like tree cliques.

Trees of varying ages make up forests, both ents and entlings you might say. The oldest trees are called “ mother trees.” These matriarchs scuttle off the fungi to the younger trees so they are connected to the network. (Are you thinking “ Borg” too?) It’s fantasy and science fiction combined!


So the next time you are strolling through the woods and you think you hear a whispered chatter, it might not be your imagination. Or you find a gathering of seedlings beneath a giant oak, you can be assured the oak is seeing to it the new sprouts are healthy. We haven’t always been kind to our forests, but it seems they’ve been given a means to take care of their own.


In the book Portal Slayer: Path of Deceit the forest of Alnok has been corrupted. Most avoid the nearby land altogether. You can find out how the forest weaves into the story here.

QOTD: What’s your favorite fantasy forest or tree? Leave your answer in the comments.

12 Suggestions For Life
BY SL Dooley

1.) Get off social media. Ironic, huh? But we all know by now, it’s at best a waste of time and at worst toxic. Set a time limit. And then cut it in half. Decide you’re main purpose for being there, do what you came to do, and then get back to real life.

2.) Stop giving advice. You don’t have someone else’s answer, and you’re probably making it worse. Give insight, suggestions, anecdotes, but let others come to their own conclusions. It may not be the way you would have done it, or even the right way. But as Gandalf said when speaking about Pippen’s pilfering the Palantir: “ The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart.”

3.) Every work of fiction is fantasy at heart. You’re entering someone’s made-up world, whether it contains elves or espionage or friends who become lovers.

4.) Keep a notepad handy. Even if you’re not a writer. Your best thoughts often happen when you’re not trying. (Most of this list came to mind whilst ironing.)

5.) Write in pencil. Erasers are a good thing. Jesus has a giant one. You just have to ask him to use it.

6.) Every story idea has been taken. Sorry. But the good news is you can re-tell them in beautifully unique ways.

7.) If you can’t do something, let someone else. You’ll never really get that good at something you’re bad at. Allow someone else to use their gifts. Everyone will thank you in the end.

8.) Make space. In your schedule, your relationships, your kitchen cupboards. This can be done by following suggestion #1. Those in marketing know the benefits of “ white space” when it comes to designing ads. Take a look at this list and see how many principles you can apply to your life.

9.) Don’t waste time. If there is wisdom in the old adage: “ When on your deathbed, what activities will you look back on with regret?” wouldn’t the opposite also be true? What would you look back on with contentment? Satisfaction? Pride? Make sure you know what those things are and do them. This is not the same as a bucket list, more of a one-and-done wish list. I’m talking about the every day. The small things that make a big impact over time.

10.) This is not all there is. Hence, why I wrote my book and created the universe from which most future books will be set. There’s more to what our five senses can discern. It’s a mistake to behave as though this life is the pinnacle of existence.

11.) Give more. Fear less. The two are in direct opposition. Whether time, love, or money, giving is risky. But fear is paralyzing. *Advice is not included in this suggestion. See #2.

12.) Forgive. Always. This includes yourself.



X Marks the Spot
BY SL Dooley

Have you ever considered using a map to get lost? Yes, counterintuitive but hear me out. I’m not talking about turning off GPS during rush hour through an unfamiliar city. In fact, just the opposite. No cities. No appointments. No insistent Siri voice recalculating your next turn.

Just you and Rand McNally.

Close your eyes, put your finger on the map and hit the road. The goal? Enjoy the journey as much as the destination. With no specific end goal, adventure becomes the objective.

With a desire for discovery balanced with sensible discernment, you might find your next favorite hideaway. Following are just a few suggestions to get you started . . .

Fantasy-inspired eye-spy:

Dragon nests

Fairy gardens

Haunted houses/barns/structures

Cosplay the car:

Milennium Falcon

The Tartis

Gypsy caravan

Steampunk carriage


Inspired playlist:


Star Wars Remix

Fantastic Steampunk


Nerdy snacks:

Lembas bread

Thermos of Raktajino

Berties Every Flavour Beans

Let your imagination take over and enjoy the ride. It doesn’t much matter where you end up.


Feeling Abandoned
BY SL Dooley

Castles, warehouses and train stations, abandoned places are a treasure trove for inspiration,. And more than a little bit spooky. There’s no denying, for lovers of fantasy, elaborately constructed buildings, unused, crumbling, maybe even haunted, are, well, fascinating.

As the surrounding plant life encroaches on these oftentimes remote locations it’s easy to imagine magical creatures just around a corner or fairies flitting from tree to tree. Always get permission before venturing out, but spending a day hiking through a forest of abandoned mines or into an old ghost town is like passing through a forbidden land.

In County Kerry the Cahergall Stone Fort,
overlooks waves of grassy fields and crumbles
as it slowly loses is fight with the elements.

In the Pyrenese mountains of Spain,
the Canfranc train station was built in
1928. Today it contines to stand stately
and impressive, but lonely and empty.

Majestic and moss covered, the
Baker Hotel takes up a block in
downtown Mineral Wells, Texas.

Do you have a favorite abandoned location to visit?
Or one on your bucket list? Send a comment and let me know!