The Centaur Mentor


This time last year I was a novice cosplayer. Honesty, I’m still a beginner by most standards; however, turns out, I’m just experienced and knowledgeable enough to offer advice on the subject.

A friend of ours invited my sister and I to talk to her club about attending their first con. She was very impressed with our Mirkwood Elves cosplay and wanted us to share our experience. This time last year we were in their shoes. We told her we weren’t professionals (not that there are professional cosplayers) but that was part of the reason she chose us. Our first cosplay was a big success by any standard. We received a lot of praise and photo requests–not to mention a $200 cash prize in the costume contest.

So I arrived at the school in my centaur costume to mentor the kids about what they should know to attend their first con.

the centaur mentor

the centaur mentor

I’m not a stranger to the class room or guest speaking. I’ve given presentations to students before; I’ve just never given one in a centaur costume. The topic was a first too. Usually I talk about auto insurance and the importance of maintaining insurance and a clean driving record. It was nice getting to talk about something I’m passionate about. I felt like I got to take my hobby to the next level by sharing my passion and knowledge with others.

We talked about what to bring, how to plan and budget a costume, what to expect, etc. We showed them my latest cosplay along with pieces from last year’s Mirkwood elves cosplay. They enjoyed trying on the ears and the Thranduil crown.

My sister even snuck in a little shameless marketing for her books.


It was a very rewarding experience, and a great networking opportunity. Many of the kids came to the con. Several even bought my sister’s books. We even connected with another librarian interested in scheduling a day to have us talk to her club about cosplay.

Book sales, networking contacts, new friends. You don’t need a ruler to measure that success.

When I made this costume, my expectations were to wow and amaze people. I never thought it would lead to opportunities to network, guest speak, inspire, and teach.

I’ll get to mentor as the centaur again in the near future since the librarian at Eastern wants us to guest speak and the theatre director at Northwestern wants me to make a costume for his production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’m looking forward to it.

For those of you who have been following my post about creating the centaur costume, I will be posting a very detailed how-to very soon, I promise. Just got to get caught up on a little housecleaning, book outlining, and rest–lots and lots of rest after the play and the con. I’ve also got to get my receipts and notes together so I can give an accurate account of how many hours it took to make, the cost, and all the materials that are required.

Stay tuned.

Let the Online Scavenger Hunt Begin! And May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor . . .

Featured Image -- 1802

Toni Betzner:

It’s not too late to join my sister’s online book launch party. Join us for some virtual cake and a chance to win prizes, including a copy of her latest book.

Originally posted on Kylie Betzner:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 75th Annual Hunger Games–wait, what? I mean, welcome to the opening of the online scavenger hunt! Whoo hoo!

For a refresher on rules and prizes click here.

The Questions:

#1. Where is the most unusual place I’ve had a book-signing?

#2. Name all 4 song titles my editor thinks should be on my novel’s playlist.

#3. What song best describes me?

#4. Which character in The Wizard’s Gambit is my favorite?

#5 Who is the main character in The Wizard’s Gambit?

symbol color Need a hint? Remember, the information containing the answer will be marked with a sword, axe, and bow crossed over a ring   just like the image to the right. Each one will note which question it pertains to, just to make things a little easier.

So, what is the significance of the image, anyway? Does it have anything to do with the story?…

View original 87 more words

I’m going to build a butt


For those of you who don’t already know, I was cast as the Centaur in The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

I’m sure you all know what a centaur is, but for those of you who don’t …


A centaur is a mythological creature that essentially has the head, arms, and torso of a human attached to the torso of a horse.

Let’s see . . . I already have the torso and arms of a human, but I don’t have horsey parts, which  means . . .

I have to build a butt–a horse butt.

I’m starting to suspect that this casting decision was made more for my cosplaying abilities rather than my actual acting talents.

(and with the lines the centaur has, it’s going to be hard to show off my acting abilities, so this costume is going to rock)

Most people would be daunted if given the task of creating a centaur costume.


On the contrary. It’s actually quite doable, even without CGI. So when I was offered the role of centaur I said


And where did I go to research concepts for my costume–why, the internet of course.

Female_Centaur___ centaur-on-the-hill at-avrat-silah_522556 centaur_huntress_by_janiceduke-d5grw9q Centaur_Danaan


Oops, sorry, that’s not a centaur. That’s Kim Kardashian. I guess I could just sit on my ass until my booty is big enough o glue a tail on.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with this guy


He pops up a lot if you Google centaur. His name is impossible to pronounce and equally challenging to spell, so I’m just going to call him that cool, muscled guy from Narnia.

For those of you who remember Xena: Warrior Princess or Hercules, you might remember these dudes–er horse guys, or whatever.


Not bad special effects for their time … considering Xena had some of the best–and worst–CGI I’ve ever seen.

But alas, I will not be using CGI or green screens. I will be doing this the old fashioned way.


Between Google, YouTube, forums, Pinterest, and all other forms of social media, I found a lot of pictures of finished centaur costumes … but very little on the step-by-step process.

So it seems no one wants to share their methods. No problem.

If you’re interested in making a centaur costume (or just want to see how mine turns out), keep in touch with me via Facebook, twitter, and my blog for tutorials, production updates, as well as reveals of the finished project.

Allow me to be your “Centaur Mentor.”

Next post–building the skeleton.



Look to the left of my blog (right below my photo, title, and tagline). See it? Notice anything different?

That’s right, I now have a newsletter.

For those of you who want to stay informed about book releases, promotions, events, etc, just click on Gandalph to sign up.

And because my sister and I share almost everything, we will be sharing this newsletter, so it’s really a two-for-one deal. Sign up for one newsletter and get updates for two authors.

At the risk of continuing to sound like an infomercial–Wait, there’s more!

The first 20 followers will be entered to win a copy of my sister’s debut novel The Quest for the Holy Something or Other or her upcoming fantasy parody (your choice).

So go ahead, sign up. It’s free and easy.There’s no hidden print, conditions, fees, terms, or  clauses. Just important updates about your favorite twin authors.


How to set up a mailing list on


Toni Betzner:

You’ll all notice I have a newsletter sign up form on the left side of my blog. While I’d love to write a blog post about how to use MailChimp to create a newsletter for your blog, Dylan says it all in his how-to post. I had a little trouble linking the sign up form ot my blog until I followed his advice word by word. It’s so easy a caveman could do it.

Originally posted on Suffolk Scribblings:

Mailing lists are a key tool to help any author build an audience, and for fans of the author’s work to have access to exclusive content and information about new releases before anyone else. These are not to be confused by your blog sign-up, which informs those signed up of new blog posts.

At the end of last week I announced to the world that I’d set up a mailing list to inform people about any future releases. While the mailing list has proved popular (getting a free book may have helped) by far the biggest question I was asked was: how did you set up your mailing list?

Sadly, unlike on self-hosted blogs, there isn’t a specific widget available to link to a mailing list service. However, there is a workaround you can use. I set my mailing list up with MailChimp, an excellent free-to-use service. There are many other services available…

View original 370 more words

Are You Going to Read Go Set A Watchman?


Harper Lee is no longer a one-hit wonder. Fifty years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, the long-anticipated sequel Go Set a Watchman is available in bookstores.

Was the fifty-year wait worth it? So far, the book has received mixed feelings from critics and readers alike.

The sequel has been labeled a poor stand-alone, that it would not have even been published if not for TKAM. On the flipside, it’s also been  praised for being more ambitious.

I’m not in a hurry to read it, but I want to know your thoughts. Please take the poll or comment below. Let me know what you think.

Sound and Fury: Fantasy’s Best Fight Scenes


From spectacular choreographed sequences to outright reality-defying stunts, fantasy fight scenes have always stood out in literature and cinema. What other genre gives you battling robots, monsters, giants, and rats of unusual size? I figured it was time to put together my list of best fantasy fight scenes ever–according to me.

Firstly, let me just say these are not in any particular order. It’s hard enough to choose which fights make the list without having to rank them. Secondly, this list is based on my own preferences, so if I left out some iconic fight or your favorite, please feel free to disagree in the comments below. Considering this is a post about fighting, I feel like that would be appropriate. Thirdly, what constitutes a fight? Basically not a battle. It doesn’t have to be mano o mano or a one on one duel, but it can’t be a full-scale battle. Fights usually focus more on the inner conflict or personal investment of a couple of characters–not entire armies.

Gandalph vs Saruman: The Lord of the Rings

Who doesn’t like to watch wizards or old people fight? What could be better than both. This is a great fight because they wipe the floor with each other without touching. They are seemingly slapped, thrown, dragged, pushed, and hurled by magic–that I assume is coming form their staffs. What really makes this wizard war fun is the fact that the characters are played by Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Christopher Lee. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles. The head-to-head (or staff-to-staff) fight between Gandalph and Saruman is certainly a highlight of the first film, especially after Lee’s death.

Hector vs Achilles: Troy

This movie has a lot of downfalls–fight scenes not being one of them. The best one is the death match between Hector and Achilles. To say I’m not a fan of Brad Pitt is a huge understatement. He ruined Troy in the same way he ruined Seven Years in Tibet with his bad acting and poor attempt of an accent. Even his face can’t act. It doesn’t help that this flopping fish was thrown in a sea of wonderfully talented actors: Eric Bana, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Orlando Bloom (even at his worst can out-act Brad), Sean Bean (doesn’t die in this film believe it or not), and Diane Kruger. Back to the fight scene. This one stands out not only for it’s well-orchestrated choreography, but also because this is before the overuse of CGI. My younger followers might be asking what did they do before CGI? Train the actors to fight of course. They didn’t use stunts for the fight scenes either. If you thought their characters were obsessed with honor, Pitt and Bana had an honor system of their own where they paid each other for any accidental blows. Pitt paid out $750 to Bana. Bana paid out nothing, proving who is the better actor and fighter. Sorry had to make one more dig at Pitt because he’s the pits. Anywho, aside from the fact that there is almost more at stake with this one on one fight than any of the full-scale battles in the film, it’s just exciting to watch. It’s high powered, action-driven man-on man action.

Aragorn vs the Nazgul: The Lord of the Rings

Yup, another from the Lord of the Rings. I know there are a lot of fights in this trilogy, but this one stands out in my memory. Firstly, it’s the Hobbits’ first fight, which they epic fail. Again, as with Troy, all the actors were trained to fight. Sean Austin (Sam) was really disappointed because after learning elaborate fighting sequences, he was told by Jackson to pull back. In an interview he stated being worried no one would know he was good at this “sword stuff.” The best part of the fight in my opinion is where Aragorn fights with a sword and torch in a display of epic badassery.

The Man in Black vs Inigo Montoya: Princess Bride

If you were afraid this one wasn’t going to make the list, fear no more. How could I exclude this epic sword fight complete with witty repartee, hilarious commentary, ostentatious bravado, and swashbuckling badassery. Elwes and Patinkin were both trained by coaches to master the sword right and left handed. Did I mention their coaches also worked on Star Wars. That means not only could Westley fight with Bonetti’s defense and Capa Ferro, he could also easily master a lightsaber. What really stands out in this fight is the fact that these two have no beef with each other, which actually makes it really funny. No vows of revenge, threats of pain or torture, just compliments, heart-to-hearts, and playful banter.

Jen vs Yu Shu Lien: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Yes, some ladies finally made the list. Probably one of the most memorable fights, not just between women, but in cinegraphic history. When I refer to the fight between Jen and Lien, I’m actually referring to the rooftop chase as well as the final showdown; however, the clip is just the final showdown. This fight is just marvelous. Probably one of the most spectacular fight sequences ever. It’s as exciting as it is beautiful. They are impossibly graceful and agile, not to mention they can fly.

Neo vs Agent Smith: The Matrix

This is a classic. What television show hasn’t referenced this iconic battle. One of the reasons this fight stands out in my memory is because I just remember thinking, there’s no way Neo can win. The odds are stacked so heavily in Agent Smith’s favor. Another reason is the variety of fighting styles from gun fights to karate. It’s almost Dragon Ball Z-esque with all the rapid fire punches. Partly the time the movie came out helps. A fight scene like this would not stand out anymore in a world where we’ve seen it already. But for the time, this was cutting edge. I think most fans agree though. This fight still stands out even above the final showdown because of the tasteful use of CGI. The more they tried to top this fight in later films, the more this one just comes out on top.

The Black Knight vs Arthur: Monty Python

This is the funniest fight to make the list. It’s probably even more iconic than Princess Bride. It’s just clever and silly. Not to mention the black knight is played by my favorite Monty Python comedian, John Cleese. I really like the humor, from the moment Arthur tries to pass him, exclaiming that he “makes him sad” to the point where he literally has to disarm him. This fight as well as the entire movie is extremely quotable. I’m sad to think that there will be a generation that won’t understand references from this film.

The Mountain vs Prince Oberyn: Game of Thrones

Of all the fights in A Game of Thrones, you might be wondering why this one? Let me explain . . . No, there’s not enough time . . . Let me sum up. This fight had an Inigo Montoya feel. You could easily replace Oberyn’s lines them with, “Hello my name is Prince Oberyn. You killed my sister. Prepare to die.” I loved his emotion and energy tied in with his desire for revenge. I was really wanting him to win. It was a pranciful revenge–had only it ended in revenge. Don’t watch to the end if you are squeamish or don’t want spoilers. One of the things I liked the most about this fight was the variety and contrast. They pitted a nimble, handsome spear fighter with a large, ugly man with a long sword. What you get is a fight of skill vs strength. It’s just visually stunning.

T-Rex vs Raptors: Jurassic Park

Ok, credit goes to the first movie, not Jurassic World when it comes to memorable dino duels. Let me start by saying, I loved Jurassic World, so my preference isn’t based on a bias. I just really liked that short-but-sweet final battle between the T-Rex and the raptors. It looked more realistic than the final fight in JW,  Also, in comparison, it wasn’t over the top. It had that great finisher. T-rex hurls the raptor into the bones and roars while the banner is falling. Great stuff, great stuff..

Per my sister’s request, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make my cut.

  • Flynn Rider vs Maximus: Tangled
  • Moon vs Flying Snow: Hero
  • Tristan vs undead Septimus: Stardust
  • Elsa vs guardsmen: Frozen

There you have it. Please agree or disagree in the comments below.