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Monday, December 23, 2013

Because I'm too lazy to write a real post...

I'm on Christmas break now (FINALLY) and I have been struck with a disease of extreme laziness. I'm working on another post, but it won't be finished today. Since I have not blogged in awhile, I thought I would post a link to a fanfiction one-shot (short story) that I recently published. :) It's a 'Thor' fanfiction focusing on the title character and my fangirling obsession, Loki.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9804930/1/Dessert-Deal

Hope you like it! :)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I saw the 'Desolation of Smaug' on Friday. It took me until today to calm down and rationalize enough to write a review on it.



I'm not even sure where to begin. I tried to think of some super unique and epic way to start this post, but alas, my writing muse has been in a coma ever since the end of NaNo (Grrr...) so it's just plain old Kaycee writing today. There are SPOILERS ahead.

I decided to simply use pros and cons. Sounds good? Good.

Pros
  • Benedict Cumberbatch's voice. Enough said.
  • The animation, especially for Smaug, was absolutely gorgeous. Smaug looked and sounded exactly how I pictured him when I read the novel for the first time.
  • In the book, the Arkenstone struck me as simply a one-of-a-kind jewel, with no equal any where else in Middle-Earth. In the movie, they seem to imply that the Arkenstone causes others to go a bit mad with greed, forgetting their friends for riches. Personally, I liked this deviation from the novel.
  • The scene where the "Necromancer" morphed into Sauron's Eye. That. Was. INCREDIBLE.
  • New Zealand. Duh.
  • The acting was fantastic for every character, even if they did not necessarily portray the character how I pictured him. Thranduil, for example, was nothing like the image I got from the book, but I like the movie version too.
  • Watching the Ring take control of Bilbo was very cool. I thought it was a nice touch having the Ring attempt to escape from Bilbo while they were in Mirkwood. It was also cool to see how less of a pull the Ring has in this film as compared to the Lord of the Rings films. Dol Guldor is literally right in Mirkwood, and yet, the pull was not strong enough yet to drag Bilbo there or make him succumb to the Ring. I liked the scene where Bilbo relentlessly stabs that insect-like creature to death because it got near the Ring.
  • Bard the Bowman was changed very much from the book, but I found myself liking him a LOT. (After I got past the fact that he looks just like Orlando Bloom's Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean...)
  • The costumes were incredible.
  • Radagast.
  • I like that they added Bolg into the movie. Since they deviated from the book and left Azog alive, I assumed Azog would be the one to slay Thorin in the Battle of Five Armies. However, since they have added Bolg, who is the true killer of Thorin, that means I probably get to have the satisfaction of watching Thorin kill Azog...and then I'll cry my eyes out when Bolg kills Thorin. I also like that, while they made Bolg look similar to Azog, they did not mention that Bolg is Azog's son. That'd be weird.
  • Bilbo's and Balin's friendship.
  • The Gimli shout-out was great.
  • The music was beautiful.

Cons

  • TAURIEL. I knew from the trailers I would dislike her, but she was far worse than I could have ever imagined. And she was in it longer than she needed to be. Honestly, I could (and I am going to) write a blog post on the many, many reason why she has absolutely no place in Tolkien mythology and no place in any Lord of the Rings films.
  • Evangeline Lilly. 
  • The overdone Legolas scenes. Yes, I enjoyed seeing Legolas in the movie, but they seriously overdid it. Having him follow the dwarves all the way to Laketown just cuz his overly masculine crush got some bizarre crush on one of the dwarves? No. Just no.
  • Speaking of that, the Tauriel and Kili...whatever the heck that was. Not only does their relationship start off with a completely inappropriate innuendo that has NO place in a Tolkien film, but it completely eradicates the incredible friendship formed between Gimli and Legolas...or, even worse in my opinion, the respect Gimli gains for Galadriel. So I'm supposed to believe that Tauriel can just abandon the beliefs she has held for centuries because one (hot) dwarf starts hitting on her? And yet it takes Legolas months to get over his hatred/distrust of Gimli? Seriously?
  • The pointless drama with the Thranduil/Tauriel/Legolas "He loves you but I say he can't!" junk.
  • Beorn. They completely messed up Beorn. Why couldn't Peter Jackson have cut the Tauriel scenes and done Beorn right? Couldn't he have at least done the hilarious introduction scene? And speaking of that...
  • The complete lack of humor in this movie. The Hobbit is a hilarious book, yet I can't remember one thing that actually made me laugh in The Desolation of Smaug. 
  • The action scenes! All of them were completely ridiculous and unbelievable. It was extremely obvious that ropes and pulleys were used during these scenes. And most of the fights were simply far-fetched and illogical. I feel like Peter Jackson sat down and thought of every possible thing that would be cooler than Legolas firing arrows while surfing down a shield, and then Peter Jackson tried to cram everything he thought up into one movie.
  • And lastly, why one earth would Sauron leave Gandalf in a cage? Why not kill him? I realize the plot requires Gandalf to live, but Peter Jackson should have really fixed that plot-hole. Maybe he plans to explain it in the next film, but I still think it is sloppy not to explain that in the film in which it happened.

All in all, I was rather disappointed. While a good movie, it barely followed the book. I don't have issues when directors deviate from the book as long as the deviations either add or don't change the quality of the book. Peter Jackson's additions, however, caused the quality to go down much more than if he had simply stuck with the book. I liked it okay, but I will not be going back to the theater to see it again. (I saw the first Hobbit movie three times in the theater).

It simply did not feel like a Lord of the Rings film to me. I have cried in every other film, but not in this one. I'm not saying that's what the problem is, I'm saying I didn't feel anything. I didn't really smile, I didn't really frown, nothing. Emotional character arcs were completely non-existent. There was no humor to be found. The action, while "cool", was laughable. It was just...numbing. It felt more like a summer blockbuster than a film which should be hailed as a classic.

I suppose that is what makes me rather sad when I think about this movie. No matter what happens, it is going to be hailed as a classic. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films are going to go down in history much the same way movies like Gone with the Wind and Titanic have. And yet, this film does not deserve it, much like the New Star Wars Trilogy. I feel like Peter Jackson is taking advantage of everybody simply to earn more money. He knew that these films, especially this particular one since it is wedged in between the two Hobbit movies, are going to last forever no matter what. 

He should have made The Hobbit in two movies.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Characters in Costume: Allies

I'm so sorry this is a bit late! Crazy day. Anyway...

YAY! Another 'Characters in Costume'! This one is focused on 'Allies.' I decided to finally give Klina Rindil, the principal ally of 'Hail Frost' the attention she deserves.

I based Klina on both of my sisters, who I will refer to as Merry (12) and Pip (9) on this blog. She has Merry's kindness and sweetness, while also portraying Pip's spunkiness and curly hair. Since both of my sisters inspired her, I thought I'd try something different for this 'Characters in Costume.'

I asked Merry, a reader, to dress up how she pictured Klina, while I, the author, dressed Pip how I pictured Klina.

I was happy to find that the two were similar, but the small differences were interesting too.

Anyway, here is Pip as Klina.


Klina is the thirteen year old sister of Ember. She was separated from her parents and siblings when she was barely a year old. Her past is a mystery forgotten by everyone...including herself. Flake Frost, another Leverage, found Klina and captured her from her past. Flake used stolen magic to erase Klina's mind and fill it with false memories. Klina 'grew up' believing she was rescued by Flake as a child and raised by her.


Klina was always very playful, and brought up to truly love Elethor (God). She enjoyed running through the wild, untamed hills of Northern Barbaric, playing games of tag and hide-and-seek with Flake and Rime, Flake's younger brother.


And then Ember burst into her life, bringing danger, adventure, magic, and excitement with her. Klina was enthralled by her fiery biological sister, and soon decided to follow her-leaving behind Flake and Rime who she loved like family. Klina quickly realized that Ember was not so incredible on a personal level.


That didn't stop Klina though. She pushed forward, determined to know and help her older sister. Klina becomes Ember's only friend and confidante, the only person able to reach past Ember's flippant exterior and find the hurt, broken soul within.

I pictured Klina dressing in soft, pastel type colors. I dressed Pip in a light gray dress, offset by a pink cloak and embroidered head scarf. I always pictured her dressing girlish and light, bringing to mind flowers and ocean breezes.

Merry, while retaining the dress and head scarf, pictured Klina different. She told me that Klina should be wearing 'dark' colors, giving a more serious vibe to the girl. She also incorporated a satchel because Klina should 'always be prepared.'

The difference surprised me, but I also found it interesting how authors and readers can picture one character in two very different, but connected, ways.

This was a lot of fun! Thank you Gillian Adams for hosting this! Be sure to go check out her blog (click on her name) to see other amazing characters in costumes! :)

P.S. I think my sisters had fun too. :P

PHOTOBOMB! XD


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In which Flake decided that her author was a moron...

Ah November. It always begins as my favorite month of the year, towards the middle it's the most despised time of my life, and then again at the end I hopelessly fall into it's enticing trap. I spend the entirety of the next year longing for November only to begin the cycle anew.



NaNoWriMo is a cruel disease, fellow writers. It's extremely contagious. PLEASE avoid it at all cost unless you want to end up like me; a coffee-slurping psychotic writer with a peanut butter and chocolate addiction. 

NaNoWriMo this year was as merciless as the before years. At least this time I managed not to get the flu. 

Alright, enough of my melodramatics. Here's what happened with Flake Frost this year.

via Pinterest
In earlier posts, I bemoaned my lack of knowledge on Flake. I believed she would become a villain, or as the awesome Miss Jenelle suggested, an anti-villain. I thought she would betray her fellow Leverage and plunge the world into a darkness much worse than anything Valin or Feldryn could concoct. I was positive that the climax would result in her losing her power and being cast out, forced to wander the world as an outcast and scourge to the Leverage. 

Well, let me tell you something- Flake was mad when she discovered my plans for her. She took matters into her own hands and became the most realistic, most driven, most honest, most relentless heroine I have ever written. I assumed Maybelle, a new character, would take center-stage as hero for this novel. No no no. Maybelle, while still crucial, became the "best supporting actress." I also thought Hail and Ember would turn out to be the main protagonists of Flake Frost. 

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. He. Ho. Ha. And I thought my jokes were bad. (Sorry. Joker still on the mind.)

Yeah, they're still there. And while Ember leads a quest separated from most of the other characters, Hail became basically a hidden ally to Maybelle. They only (thus far) have two conversations, but Hail is with Maybelle through most of the novel. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark knight. (I need to stop watching that movie. It's taking over my brain. Le sigh.)

And Valin, the cheeky little devil, weaseled his way into my heart. Again. I had originally planned for him to die in Hail Frost. He didn't like that. Not. One. Bit. So then I planned for him to die in Flake Frost. Nope. He lives...again. Fortunately though, he was NOT the principal antagonist of Flake Frost. He's more of...well, an anti-villain, honestly. He fights for what he wants and he is willing to use any means necessary to accomplish his goals. The interesting thing is...Flake begins the book with this same thought-pattern, but she learns, the hard way, that it is not a good philosophy to live by, even if your goals are good.

The main antagonist is a surprise, but I think he was partially inspired by Benjamin Linus from LOST. I'll just leave it at that. 

Hmm... how about some random fun facts?

via Pinterest and DevientArt

1. Maybelle's story arc is loosely based on the Fairy Tale 'Beauty and the Beast.' She was named after the heroine of the Disney version of the tale, and also one of my two best friends- Mayson.



2. My other best friend got the hero of the upcoming fourth Leverage novel named after her...sort of. Her name is Tori (Victoria), and the hero's name was Victor. However, it just didn't fit him. His name changed to Vidar after some thought. He's gonna be crazy awesome, so just you wait and see 'em, Tori!


3. According to my two guinea pigs (two insightful middle-schoolers who are the only people on the planet allowed to read my rough drafts. I let them do this because they are both incredibly smart and offer good insight into plots, characters, expected v.s. unexpected, etc. I'm serious, I cannot rave about them enough. They are both so intelligent and way beyond their years in literary knowledge. And they are honest with me. Which is always good.) Ahem...anyway, according to my two guinea pigs, the best character is Dray. I'll share a scene with his awesomeness in a moment. 



4. There are Doctor Who references. (always a plus!) There are a group of people known as Threaders, which is essentially dimension/time travelers. Two of the three that appear in my novel make references to Doctor Who, just cuz. One yells "Geronimo!" once, and the other yells "Allonsy!". I'm mentioning this here because I don't plan on ever pointing it out again...so, lucky you! There are also plenty of Disney references, and a reference to the 'Count of Monte Cristo.'



5. Most fantasies are "Medieval fantasies", which are fantasy worlds based on the Middle Ages. 'Lord of the Rings' was a Celtic/Nordic fantasy, with some WWI and II era references. The 'Blood of Kings' trilogy by Jill Williamson is a Hebrew/Jewish fantasy. 'The Leverage Series' is a modern America fantasy. I thought it would be interesting to put modern America in a fantasy world. I'll probably write a longer blog post on this, but I got to insert "modern" monsters into my fantasy. Slender Man makes an appearance in Flake Frost and earlier novels featured zombies, ghost dragons, and hydras. 

Just for fun, here's a meet the main characters. I've found the most accurate pictures I can of them, and used them here along with a brief description. I'm sure most of them came from movies/actors, but I don't know who most of them are. *shrugs*



Maybelle is the former princess of Finsik, orphaned when the Pull took over, and raised by shepherds. She's laid-back, friendly, encouraging, open minded, and accepting. She has a fierce love for her adopted family and fellow countryman, and feels responsible for their safety even though she is no longer the princess. This responsibility pushes her to drastic decisions, which leads to more self-doubt and internal conflict.



Valin has a lot of secrets...more than he even thought he had. He hates the Pull, for a reason only he knows, and he isn't too fond of the Leverage either. The embarrassment of a failed assassination, and Flake's 'betrayal' could be blamed for that. He enjoys manipulating and blackmailing the good guys-even practically forcing Maybelle into a marriage for a vague, mysterious goal. However, he's not the real enemy. There's someone else that even he fears.

If only her skin were a wee bit tanner...

Ember. Oh, Ember. Ember is snappy, immature, overprotective, flippant, and courageous. When an unknown monster captures Klina and Snow, Ember travels with an unstable and slightly crazy magician named Lyle to rescue them. Ember's patience and determination is tested, along with her faith and trust in Elethor. Somehow, she has to save her sister, her friend, and the elusive Ghost Dragons before the world collapses. Fun stuff.



Hail has a lot of problems. Most of them involve spoiled and sassy, Ash. Hail is quiet, strong, distant, and short-tempered, probably the worse set of attributes for a nanny. Didn't Elethor know that? Then why did He decide to pair him with Ash and then give them an impossible task-start a war against the Pull? Hail soon realizes, however, that there is a lot more to people-Ash and Valin in particular- than meets the eye. Sometimes, the real enemy is the person you least expect.



Flake has never been one to 'take the hard path.' She tends to find the easiest and most simple way possible to get a job done, and then do that. An excellent trait when making cupcakes, but not so great when converting your wayward little brother to Elethor's law. She decided to simply erase his mind and fill it with false memories instead. Now Rime knows the truth, and he is seriously ticked off. He leaves Flake and sets off on her own journey, leaving it her responsibility to stop Holdinus from the aforementioned collapsing. She struggles to find the right path to accomplishing the goal-trying to balance her faith in Elethor and her longing to regain the trust of her friends. Flake is loyal, determined, deceptive, and yet, loving. That last bit makes it hard to get over Valin...much to Dray's disapproval.



Dray was Ember's former best friend, but it now a vigilante running from the law and...something else. He can almost match Valin in a manipulative contest, and could probably best Maybelle in a sass-fest. (Okay, maybe not. But he'd be close!) Dray uses his wit and humor to hide the pain and secrets he buries within his heart. He keeps himself closed off in an attempt to keep those who would befriend him away. However, this angsty girl named Flake just won't let the guilt of his inevitable betrayal leave....

Lastly, a short excerpt featuring Dray's first appearance in the story! Enjoy! :)

******************************

“Hey, hey, hey, you. If anyone asks, we were gambling, got it?”

Hail flinched at the voice, inwardly cursing his straying thoughts. Someone was trying to press a sack of coins into his non-existent right hand. Hail instantly grabbed his dagger, but paused when he saw the stranger.

His head was turned away, glancing fearfully over his shoulder. But Hail would recognize the close-cropped black hair and tan skin anywhere. Not to mention the utter obnoxiousness that seemed to radiate off of the stranger's very being.

“Dray?” Hail asked.

The person jerked towards him. The desperate look vanished and was replaced by a huge white grin. “Hail, buddy, how ya been? What are you up to? Need a... hand with your little mission?”

Hail glowered at the last comment. “Who's after you, Dray?”

Dray's smile vanished. “Oh yeah, right. Them. It's not good. Very extremely not good. Can you hide me? Do you have a house or apartment or basement or pot you can hide me in?”

Hail smirked. “Nope.”

Dray crossed his arms. “Are you serious, or are you just being a jerk?”

“Both.” Hail chuckled. He glanced away from Dray and scanned the marketplace for Ash. Shouts and curses resounded a few blocks away, echoing through the crowded streets. Dray swore beneath his breath and began spinning desperately, searching for an escape. Soldiers shouted Dray's name, their footsteps pounding through the streets.

“Darn you, Rime. Darn you,” Dray murmured. He began to dash for an empty alley.

Hail grabbed Dray's arm, dropping Cloudy's leash. He yanked Dray back towards him. The renegade stumbled and tripped on the cobblestones. “Rime? What's wrong with Rime?”

“Be more than happy to chat with ya Hail. Actually, no, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But if you haven't noticed, my life is in jeopardy at the moment, so now's a tad inconvenient.” Dray said, pulling his arm out of Hail grasp.

Hail groaned and relented. “The library is two blocks down. Go hide in the tunnels.”

Dray stared at him, his amusement, mockery, and fear replaced by disbelief. “Have you been in the tunnels recently?”

Hail opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the nearing shouts and calls of the soldiers. Hail swore and grabbed Dray's shoulder, pushing him towards the alley. “I hate you. Come on!”

***************************

It's a rough draft, so cut me some slack, okey dokey?

Oh yeah! My novel is currently at 90,061 words. I expect there to be at least 40,000 more words before it's all said and done.

Hope y'all had a great November! I, for one, am completely ready for Christmas. :)


Monday, December 2, 2013

Why So Serious? Part 3

This is the final post in my 'Joker' character analysis. This post is not so much about the Joker's character, but more how he affected the other characters in 'The Dark Knight', particularly Harvey Dent.

As always, I've never actually read a full superhero comic, much less a Batman comic. I have read PDF excerpts on the Internet, but that doesn't count. I'm only discussing Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger's take on the Joker. And there are SPOILERS ahead.

Now, onto the post!



The biggest (and basically only) complaint I ever hear about The Dark Knight is Harvey's transformation. Many found it unrealistic and out-of-character. I admit, it does seem a bit odd, but I do not think the writers or Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent actor) are to blame for this. Personally, I think the blame for the oddness of it all lies with Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel Dawes) then it does with anyone else. I'm sorry if this offends everyone, but she's a terrible actress. I don't understand why they could not keep Katie Holmes as Rachel. Gyllenhaal always seemed to have a goofy grin on her face, and her line delivery and emotional continuity were simply painful to watch. One of the worst/best scenes in the entire movie is the one scene Ledger and Gyllenhaal share. It's the scene where the Joker crashes Harvey's fundraiser. The Joker's larger than life character makes Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Rachel even more ridiculous.

Okay, rant aside, I think the blame lies with Gyllenhaal because it was impossible to understand why Harvey loved Rachel so much. Rachel was unlovable to the audience, therefore, it's difficult to comprehend why Harvey would change so drastically when she died. I actually found Harvey's transformation difficult to swallow until I read the script for 'The Dark Knight.' As I read the script, I tried to imagine Katie Holmes as Rachel and how she would have portrayed her, and it was FAR more effective. There was nothing wrong with Rachel's writing, but with the actress.

Now that I have finally ranted and settled that the blame lies with Gyllenhaal, I want to explore what exactly the Joker was manipulating in Harvey. Throughout the movie, James Gordon and Harvey Dent have been subtly slicing at the other. Harvey accuses Gordon of having corrupt cops on his 'special team,' and Gordon does accuses Harvey of being to brash and arrogant. Harvey thinks he's being brave and just, while Gordon thinks he is making the most of what he has.

Harvey's brashness/bravery brings him to the attention of the Joker. The Joker sees a man with no known weaknesses. As district attorney, Harvey holds a lot of sway on the city, and many of the citizens have seen him as a beacon of hope. He's liked even more than Batman, who uses shady means to accomplish good deeds.

Instead of simply killing him and getting him out of the way, thus creating a martyr, the Joker decides to twist Harvey's mind into playing into the Joker's game. The Joker is trying to create an anarchy, to show the world that humans are nothing more than beasts. Harvey represents everything that is democracy; justice, order, mercy, and fairness. The Joker targets the part of Harvey that loves fairness and decides to make that his one and only mantra.

So he kidnaps both Harvey and Rachel, placing them both in separate rigged warehouses, and tricks Batman into saving Harvey. Rachel dies. With her dead, Harvey sees no reason to continue being Gotham's "White Knight." He wants justice. He wants revenge. He wants fairness. He becomes consumed by his anger and self-blame. The Joker is quick to direct Harvey's anger to the "schemers," effectively lying, and manipulating Harvey's confused mind into fighting Gordon and the police. If the Joker can make Harvey publicly go against everything good that he stood for, then Gotham will despair and the people would "eat each other."

Lots of people, even after explaining my Gyllenhaal theory, still think the transformation is unbelievable. I like pointing them to a scene that takes place about halfway through the movie. Harvey has captured one of the Joker's henchman, a mental health patient, who wore a badge that read 'Rachel Dawes.' This was the Joker telling the world who he would kill next. Knowing this, Harvey took the man to a deserted section of the Narrows and emotionally tortured him to find information. Most people discount this scene, saying, "He had the coin with two faces on it. He knew he would never actually hurt the man." True. But he was still emotionally torturing the henchman, without knowing or caring that the henchman was already mentally retarded. Personally, I believe physical torture is just a step up, and in some cases, a step down from emotional torture.

All in all, the Joker proved that he could indeed manipulate one man into falling from goodness. That is part of the reason why I think 'The Dark Knight' is so gritty. It's not the violence or the darkness of the city. It's the fact that the Joker was right. Some men are monsters. And if you can turn the right man into showing his true face, you can destroy a city. Batman had to take the blame for Harvey's fall. People aren't surprised when something dark gets darker. But when light turns to darkness? That's when the chaos begins. The Joker knew all of this, so I think that is why he did not manipulate Batman as hard as he did Harvey. Killing Batman wouldn't do anything except spoil the Joker's fun. Killing the White Knight, on the other hand, would do nothing but add more pawns to the Joker's side of the game.

Hope you enjoyed this series on the Joker as much as I enjoyed writing it! :)


Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaNo is DONE



90,061 words later I have finished NaNoWriMo! In honor of this, I have decided to grace my blog with a blog post.

Okay, this blog post doesn't really count as an actual blog post. I just thought I should assure everyone that I am alive and I have lots of ideas for blog posts in December. Here is the tentative schedule...

December 1st- Why So Serious: Part 3
December 3rd- Flake Frost- NaNoWriMo 2013
December 6th- Characters in Costume- Klina Rindil
December 8th- My Writer Peeves- Damsels in Distress
December 13th- My Writer Peeves- "Warrior Princess"
December 15th- College Planning for a Teen Writer

There will probably be more, but that's as far ahead I can actually plan. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Soundtrack for Flake Frost

Title says it all. Here are the songs that are helping me write Flake Frost.

"Let it Go" from Disney's upcoming movie Frozen, sung by Demi Lovato

I know this song is about Elsa, from Frozen, but it perfectly captures Flake's thoughts and feelings. It really helped me get inside her head.

"Once Upon a Time: Orchestral Suite"

The music just captures the feel of the novels really well.

"Vanilla Twilight" by Owl City

I love this song. It's so sappy and sweet. This doesn't really apply to any particular character(s), if it did, it would apply to Ember and Hail, and possibly Snow and Nyle. I just love the feel, tone, lyrics, everything.

aaaaand "Not Gonna Die" by Skillet

This is for the more intense parts of Flake Frost. That's the thing about Flake Frost, at times, it feels very cute and sweet, and then it can suddenly change to sharp and intense. This song probably represents Hail and Ember, but especially Hail, best.

The song that overall encompasses Flake Frost is 'Rescue Me' by Kerrie Roberts


Friday, November 1, 2013

It has begun

I've finished my word count for the first day of NaNoWriMo! I plan on writing more. I'm at my grandparents house right now, so I've got plenty of time. And there's always the writers block that hits me around the end of November, so it's always good to get some extra words in. 

Last year, I posted the first scene that I wrote. And I'm over here procrastinating and thinking, "ah, what the heck." It's a rough draft, so cut me some slack, okay? I'm still pretty excited. Hope you enjoy! :)

*****************************

Sometimes, Maybelle wished she were a Five. Then, in awkward situations, like, oh, now for instance, she could dunk her head in a bucket of water, drown, and wake up on some island in the middle of nowhere. 

But she wasn't a Five. And she was right here. And there was not a bucket of water in sight.

With a resigned sigh, Maybelle shoved a curl back under her wide-brimmed hat, crossed her arms, spaced her legs apart, and raised an eyebrow at the messenger. He brushed a hand awkwardly through his mass of fluffy hair and stumbled back under her intense gaze. Maybelle grinned at his discomfort-served him right-but then frowned when she spotted her parents shaking slightly. Perhaps she should back off a bit. This was the Pull, after all.

Maybelle licked her chapped lips and thought through the best response. She didn't usually restrain herself with thinking, but her parents could be in danger.

“Lord Valin truly did send you?” Maybelle asked, trying to keep her tone decisive but respectful. Haha. Respectful.

The stocky soldier nodded quickly, reminding Maybelle of the feathered woodpeckers who lived outside the hut. A sudden pang of longing shot through her mind. Her legs felt wobbly and her arms ached, like they often did after carrying a crippled lamb all day. She couldn't keep this up.

She collapsed in a rocking chair and threw her legs onto the table. The soldier frowned at her lack of decorum. Whatever. It would emphasize her next point. “Ya know,” Maybelle began, again trying not offend him. “There's no point to being a princess nowadays. The Pull saw to that.”

The soldier nodded, causing his hair to go whoosh whoosh whoosh. “Valin is not the Pull.”

“Oh, riiight how stupid of me. He's only the Lord of the Pull.” Her father flinched. Maybelle bit her lip. She glanced up at the soldier. He didn't seem too offended, only vaguely disgusted with her. Maybelle chuckled and began picking at her fingernail.

“What is your answer, miss. Yes or no?” He asked.

Maybelle was about to snap 'no.' But she was determined to think about it first, so she could at least assure her parents that she did. They ought to be so proud of her right now. She was actually thinking about the answer that could determine whether they lived or died!

But no. Even through her tired, foggy mind, Maybelle knew a decisive no would surely end in her death, and her parent's death. And again, she was no Five. But yes? Yuck. Just...yuck.

An idea struck her. What was it Mister Blom had been saying the other day? You can drag a goat, you can leave a goat, but sometimes the best thing is to coax a goat. Give it something they want, and you might just get something you want.

She glanced up at the fidgety, plump soldier. Well, Mister Blom hadn't been wrong before. At least not when it came to goats.

Maybelle swung her feet off the table, her boots slamming on the ground. Her mother jumped at the noise. The soldier scowled. Clearing her throat, Maybelle began, “Well, sir, as a princess.” Maybelle couldn't help but snort at that. “I intend to postpone my reply until I make Lord Valin of the Pull's acquaintance. He is welcome to visit me at my...” Maybelle burst into laughter. The soldier's scowl deepened and her parents grabbed each other, casting fearful glances at Maybelle. “Okay, okay, I can't keep this up. What's a fancy word for shack? Hovel? Cabin? I guess 'abode' is a good neutral word.” Maybelle crossed her legs daintily and folded her hands in her lap. “He is welcome to visit me at my abode. We can discuss further negotiations when or if he arrives. Until then...” Maybelle plopped her feet on the table again and waved her hand airily. “See ya. Have a nice day. Don't let the door hit your rear on the way out.”

The soldier glared at her. “Your impertinence will be noted!”

“Im-per-tin-ence? That's a mouthful.” Maybelle swung her legs off the table again and strode forward until she was staring the soldier straight in the eye. “I thought I was the princess and you were the soldier. Wait!” Maybelle gasped and took a step back, placing her hand on her chest. “Are you a princess too?”

The soldier glared once more at her, grabbed his cloak off a peg by the door, and stormed out. Maybelle kicked the rickety door harshly as he left. It slammed into his back. Maybelle chuckled at the string of curses from outside the hut.

Maybe it wasn't so bad being a normal human. A Five would have missed out on a good laugh.  

*************************

Excuse the rough-draftness of the excerpt. I'm liking Maybelle a lot right now. I can't wait to delve deeper into her character!

Hope everyone else is having a good NaNoWriMo! Keep writing! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not a Hero

 (Warning! This blog post is an author rambling about a frustrating character. It has not been proof read. It is not cohesive or logical in any way. There are possible spoilers for all three of my novels. This blog post was written to try and label an obnoxious character. Honestly, it is more like a writer diary than a blog post. Read on if you want to see the frightening, unorganized mound that are my thoughts, or if you want my novels spoiled. Seriously. Just ignore this post.)




While I'm really excited about writing Flake Frost in November, I'm also a bit nervous. Why? Because Flake is not, and I don't think ever will be, a hero. If anything, she's an anti-hero, but even that is generous.

In the past two Leverage novels, Ember Flame and Hail Frost, the title character started as a hero and ended as a hero. They were more than just the protagonists, they were truly good. Yes, they had their major flaws and yes, they messed up. But both of them listened to their conscience and tried to do what they thought was the right thing from the beginning. Sometimes they were wrong and would select the wrong thing, but it was never out of any sense of malice or hatefulness.

Ember was selfish, to a degree. She liked surviving. But when confronted with people who, she thought, deserved to survive, she would try to help them too. That's good. From the very beginning, Hail knew he was a bad person and he strove to fix himself. He found out later that he cannot fix himself and that he needed Elethor's mercy, but the fact that he was trying to make things right shows that, at his core, he was always a hero.

Flake is not like them. She's selfish, and knows it. She twists and manipulates people in ways to gain her own ends. She constantly chooses the easy path. She'll do the brave, righteous thing occasionally, but only when there is an audience evaluating her. That, in itself, is manipulative.

Flake is angry, even more so than Hail. Hail hated himself, Flake hates her circumstances. In 'Ember Flame', Flake does change into a zombie during the final battle because of her distrust of Elethor. It is only because of Hail and Ember that she got her soul back.

Of all the Leverage, she is probably the one with the least terrible backstory. And yet, her past is the one filled with the most darkness and lies.

Yes, Flake does have some good qualities. She has a soft spot for kids. She is more than capable of love. She knows when something becomes too dangerous and she will tear herself away, even if it breaks her heart.  She is a Leverage, and she doesn't want to change that.

Flake loves to play the hero. But she just isn't one. And no matter how much I think and outline and plot the story in my head, I can't force her to be the hero. I can't create a story that matches her personality, and that also sets her as the hero.

I thought that maybe she would be an anti-hero, someone who acts as a villain throughout the entire story then changes to hero at the end, but even that didn't seem to fit. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong and she'll surprise me in the end. Flake has been the character to surprise me the most.

When I wrote her originally, I wrote her to be a "filler" character. I did not intend to focus on her very much, and thought she would be a good "mother" type character to the Leverage. You know, the character that will pop up every now and then with some good advice, and then disappear for the rest of the book? Yeah. All in all, Flake was very...flaky. And that was how I planned her.

But now I realize that Flake has been behind almost everything that has happened in Holdinus since the Leverage parents were murdered. She's the most masked, most sneaky, character I have written. She's a paradox of raw emotion and stoic coldness. She's a conglomeration of innocence, love, hatred, anger, manipulation, darkness, ice, softness, sharpness, and lies. She's hard to figure out, and yet, she is so very simple.

She reminds me of Sicreet. Maybe I should follow that theme in my novel?

So in the end, I don't know what Flake is supposed to be. I don't think Flake Frost will have one protagonist; I have several characters I am going to be regularly jumping POVs between. Hail and Ember will be the heroes of the story. A newcomer, Feldryn, is the principal villain, but he is backed up by other villains Valin and Felicta. Snow is Ember's mentor. Ash teaches Hail some important lessons, so I guess that makes her a mentor. Dray is what I like to call a "messenger" character. (I'll probably do a blog post on that...) Klina, Rime, and Nyle are allies.

That leaves Flake and Maybelle. Maybelle is a fascinating character, a lot like Flake, and yet, the exact opposite of Flake. At first, I thought Maybelle would be the character with the largest character arc. I thought she would turn from good to evil. But after delving deeper into her character...I don't know. Maybelle has such a hidden strength within her. I think she can withstand the darkness.

Flake? I don't know. I just don't know.

If anything, I think Maybelle will end up being that "theme encompassing" character.

Flake plays the hero, and she plays the villain. She plays whoever is necessary at the moment, meanwhile, only working for herself.  She sorta kinda wants to change, but she's not willing to put in the work to do it. She's lazy.

I don't know what is going to happen to Flake. I love her to pieces. I don't want anything bad to happen to her....but knowing Holdinus...

I don't know. I just don't know.

All I know is that she is not a hero.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

15 Days till Nano!!!

I am so excited!

Only fifteen more days!

Thought I'd give a bit of a "sneak peek" at what I am working on!

I will be writing the third book in the Leverage Series titled 'Flake Frost.' This novel will take place several weeks after the end of 'Hail Frost.' It will end the trilogy.

Oh yes. I haven't mentioned this, have I?

The Leverage Series is going to be cut into two parts, two trilogies actually. The first trilogy- 'Ember Flame,' 'Hail Frost,' and 'Flake Frost' all take place within the same basic time. 'Hail Frost' begins about a month after 'Ember Flame' ends, and 'Flake Frost' will begin several weeks after 'Hail Frost' ends. The second trilogy will take place possibly up to five years after 'Flake Frost' ends. Maybe more. Maybe less. I'm still fuzzy on those details. 

But the end of the trilogy. It's a daunting and looming task, yet one I am extremely giddy for! 

I'm counting on 'Flake Frost' being about the same length as 'Hail Frost,' around 120,000 words. 

Boy, have I got plans for those 120,000 words. >:)

I can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why So Serious? Part 2

Yay! More Joker! :)

Today, I would like to blog about why I think Mister J chose "The Joker" as his pseudonym. 

Just a quick note first though...

This is based off of the Christopher Nolan trilogy. I have never read a superhero comic, much less a Batman comic, in my life. I have scoured the wikis, however, so I think I know enough about the Joker to write a decent character analysis on him.

Okay, now let's get started!



When you think of the word "joker", what do you think of? (Other than the illustrious clown prince of chaos, of course.) Personally, the first two things that pop into my mind are the joker cards and the Medieval jester. Which one was the Joker portraying?

Well, the immediate answer would be the card. They are used in the movies, after all. I'm going to follow that train of thought and then get back to the Medieval jester.

In games that use the joker cards, the card is never considered good. It could possible ruin the entire game for you. Often, the goal of the player is to get rid of the joker card as quick as possible...usually by tricking another player into taking it. It's chaotic and causes people to panic. It doesn't matter how many aces or kings you have, you don't want the joker card.

I think the Joker was portraying the card because he was trying to force people to show who they really are. When people panic, you get to see their true colors. The Joker says as much in the movie. He is taunting a security guard by arguing that he knew his friends better than the guard did because he got to see them in their last moments...panicking. And of course, there is the ferry "social experiment," which ultimately fails. The Joker was trying to prove that people only care about survival and that, without rules, they will destroy one another.

When playing a game with the joker card, players try to trick their friends into taking the card away from them. They arrange it in their hands so it would be the most likely to be picked if the game allows that, they trade it for another card, anything to get rid of it. All because they want to win. Of course, card games are just that...games. Life is different. Most people will not just shoot their friends so they can live.

But the Joker doesn't realize that. He looks at life like it is one enormous game, filled with hypocritical cheaters and rule breakers. He's a depressed, sadistic, and proud human, who believes he is above the rest of humanity, above the game. He believes he has the power to change the rules. So he makes himself a card, a morbid twist in the game, to try and prove that no human can truly play the game.

So where does Batman fit into this immense, complicated, and simple game? Batman is what caused the Joker to emerge, after all. Before Batman, I believe the Joker was someone who "played" both the mob and the police, manipulating them both so that he was the only winner...but he remained anonymous about it, spending his time contemplating the "game." When Batman emerged, I think the Joker saw a chance to become a visual image of his game.

I think he saw Batman as an "Ace of Spades", if you will. The Ace of Spades can often help you win a battle in a card game, and possibly the entire game, if you play your cards well. But the Ace does not usually determine the outcome of the game. The Joker usually does.

So in conclusion, I think the Joker chose the "Joker" because of the card. He wanted to personify chaos so that people would panic.

BUT, there are some interesting correlations with the jester too.

In Medieval times, a jester or "joker" would often travel from court to court, entertaining. If people liked him, he would be rewarded. If they didn't like him, he would often be thrown out of the castle, or occasionally, beaten or even killed!

Comedians, modern day "jokers", often say that they want to make people laugh because it helps them. Tim Hawkins, one of my favorite comedians, has talked about how much he likes making people laugh because it's good for them. He has spoken about how touched he has been when people come up to him after a show and say things like, "I have cancer and I haven't laughed since I heard the news, so thank you!"

One of my favorite little nuances in the movie is the Joker's truck. It's stolen from a fairgrounds of some sort, and the side reads, "Laughter is the best medicine." Except the Joker has painted a bright red "S" in front of "laughter." He honestly believes that slaughter will help him, and other people, see the light. It will help them play the game.

So am I arguing that the Joker is just a confused guy trying to help people? Absolutely not. I don't believe there is a speck in his brain that is insane or confused. The Joker thinks he's better than the rest of humanity. He thinks he can break the rules and mold the game. But in the end, he is simply an angry, proud, immature, bratty human. He's not so "untouchable" when put in those terms.

Back to my Medieval point...the Joker tested different people, manipulating them, seeing who would laugh and join him, and who would beat him and throw him out. Harvey joined. Batman didn't. I don't know if that was done on purpose or not, but it is an interesting correlation that I thought I would bring up.

Next Joker post will be on how and why he affected the different characters in the film, namely, Batman and Harvey Dent.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Once upon a time, a fangirl watched Once Upon a Time...

No, seriously, I swear I will get back to Mistah J. I'd just like to see the movie again first, so it might be a bit. But I WILL get back to him! There is no way I'm leaving such an incredibly awesome villain un-analyzed! (Gosh, when did I get so nerdy? When I was in elementary school and looking forward to being a teenager, I did not plan on being this nerdy. Gosh...)

And un-analyzed is a word. If "selfie" and "twerk" are being added to the dictionary (No, I'm not kidding. When is Jesus coming back?) then un-analyzed is a word. Geez, at least I'm trying to be intelligent. Twerk...hmph...

Ahem. How about I actually begin writing the post? Sound good? Good.

SPOILERS AHEAD! If you have not seen the episode and you do not want it ruined, do NOT read on!



For all those who didn't know, ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time began it's third season on Sunday. Now, disclaimer, I am the most insanely addicted fan to ever walk the planet. I might be a bit biased. You have been forewarned.

Well, I watched the first episode and it was extremely exciting, well-done, and well-written. Everything about it fully satisfied my ideas for it, plus more. I'm now going to write a list to keep myself from going on a fangirl tangent. You're welcome.

Things I did not like:

  • I don't usually care about CGI, but I think it could have been better during the scene where the Jolly Roger is going through the portal and re-emerges in Neverland.
  • There's a scene where Regina and Snow begin fighting, and David moves to go and help Snow. Hook tries to get him to go back to helping with the helm, and David gets mad and begins fighting Hook. I get the whole "boys will be boys" deal, but that seemed a bit out of character for dear old Charming. He would have gotten away from Hook and rushed to Snow as fast as he could, not get caught up in a stupid fist fight, thus letting Regina continue to wail upon Snow.
Things that were "meh":
  • Mr. Gold's wardrobe change. I get it, I really do. It would look weird and make no sense for Mr. Gold to go traipsing through the jungle in a suit...especially when he has magic that could quickly get him a change in outfit. I just...I dunno...with him wearing that it made me want Rumpelstiltskin back. Emma's face would be PRICELESS!
  • The "what do we do with the stupid mermaid" scene. It was well-acted and well-written, even if all the character's personalities seemed ridiculously amplified. I think that was the point though. I think the storm was getting inside their heads, making who they are come out even stronger-namely Regina's dark side and Mary Margaret's snow white goodness. I wish the episode had made that clearer though, instead of leaving you wondering why these five adults are squabbling like a pack of middle school brats.
  • NOOO BELLE!!!  I get it though. It would have been wayy too much, and the trailer for next week makes it look like Belle will get the proper amount of attention. But still...no Belle means no Rumbelle. :(
  • Emma giving birth to Henry. It was a great beginning to the episode and set up the emotional drama perfectly...I just don't like birth scenes. 
Things I LOVED (no I don't have a "like". When it comes to OUaT, I either didn't like it, meh, or LOVED it.)
  • The acting was, of course, EXCELLENT!
  • Mr. Gold's anti-pep talk. I laughed so much during this scene...mostly because I was trying to picture him as a therapist and Emma as a patient. It would be hilarious. I'm going to propose a headcannon that Mr. Gold is the inventor of the demotivational poster. What else did he have to do those twenty-eight years?
  • Captain Swan! Yeah, I like Neal and everything, and I know him and Emma ending up together would be the best thing because Henry is their son...but I think Hook and Emma just fit so much better together. They just seem to "get" each other. Me likey, me likey...
  • I liked how they handled the Mulan/Aurora/Philip bits. Just enough to make you wonder what happened there, but not enough to be obnoxious. I honestly don't care much for all three of them, but I have to admit, I am now quite curious as to how they rescued Philip. Somehow, I think that information will play into the Shadow ripping deal in Neverland. Which leads me too...
  • THE DEATH OF TAMARA AND (sort of) OF GREG!!!  I kid you not, I clapped. Not so much that they were dead-I don't get that involved-but I just love it when good writers become better writers. I love it when writers who I already love learn from past mistakes. I'm talking about Juliet Burke who managed to survive for three freaking seasons of LOST before they finally found a way to kill her off. It was depressing that such excellent writers could make such a dumb blunder as keeping a plot character. However, in Once Upon a Time, they have fixed it wonderfully. Tamara and Greg have served their purposes-they got Henry and co. to Neverland. We get to see Mr. Gold do some good ol' fashioned revenge on Tamara, AND we have now seen the Shadow rip a "shadow" from a person. This sets up the Philip arc to be explained- how do you get the shadow back- and it also produces dread because we know that the shadow ripping could easily happen to any of the other characters. It was such fantastic writing, I wanted to clap. So I did.
  • The new Robin Hood. Robin Hood was recast for season three, and I must say, I like this new guy much better. I think he just "fits" the look better. I'm now curious to see what happened to Marian and the baby though. 
  • Neal using magic. Pretty darn awesome. 
  • The Biblical allusion. Emma had to jump overboard to make everyone stop fighting, thus stopping the storm. Jonah had to jump overboard because he was running from God, and when he did, God stopped the storm. Pretty sweet.
  • The LOST references. "Welcome to the Island!" "You can't beat this island." "We need to get to Echo caves." (In Lost, Mr. Eko was killed outside of some caves.) The references made my heart happy.
  • The mermaids. I really like what the writers are doing with the mermaids. It seems like a fascinating mix of Pirates of the Caribbean mermaids, Peter Pan mermaids, and The Little Mermaid mermaids. They are cruel and ruthless like the POTC mermaids, but at least they aren't (as far as I know...) vampire mermaids. They seem more obnoxious and bratty, which is reminiscent of the Peter Pan mermaids. "We were only trying to drown her!" (One of my favorite Disney lines ever!) And they remind me of The Little Mermaid mermaids because they wear bras. Good for them.
  • This one could go in the above paragraph, but I decided to put it here. I like the set-up for the Ariel arc of the story. All the mermaids seem to be nasty and mean, but Ariel is obviously going to be different. I like what my little sister pointed out. She said she thinks Ariel will be a "Serena." When I asked her what she meant, she said that Ariel will be that "one different mermaid" like Serena in Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Which, if you think about it, is also true of the Disney Ariel. I can't wait to see what they do!
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean references were pretty great too. "Is it a kraken???"
  • The costumes
  • The acting. Yes, I can say that twice!
  • The writing
  • "Bring back the mermaid!" "So what, you're gonna win her over with your rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers?"
  • "You either help me find my son, or get out of the way!"
  • Peter Pan. Oh gosh, Peter Pan was awesome. I love how he is cocky, in-your-face, and mischievous like the cartoon version, but in a very dark, devilish way. I like how he appears to be the youngest in the gang, but I get the feeling he is far older than the rest of them. Can't wait to see more of him. 
  • And last but not least... Hook's one liners.  "What are you doing?" "Getting ready" "For what?" "A fight." "I thought that was you all the time." and... "Oh, this is how we're spending our time now. A wardrobe change." 
And my favorite line in the entire episode....






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Agents of SHIELD Pilot Review

Don't worry, I promise I'll get back to the Joker! I simply wanted to give a brief (HA!) post on my feelings regarding ABC's and Marvel's new drama "Agents of SHIELD."

Let's just make a list shall we? Perhaps then I won't ramble and end up chatting about pink bunny peeps dipped in chocolate. (Hmmm...gross....)



The Acting

Meh. No seriously, that's the best I can say about it. Meh. Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) was incredible of course. He's a fantastic actor. She wasn't in very much, but Ming-Na Wen (Melinda May) seems to be an excellent actor as well. Brett Dalton (Grant Ward)played his character well enough. All the other actors ranged from tolerable to terrible.

The Plot

Let me begin by saying that I have never liked the idea of Coulson coming back to life. Don't get me wrong, I love Coulson. I sobbed at his death the first two times I saw The Avengers. (Mean old Loki!) But that is exactly why the idea of him coming back bugged me. It felt like "cheating" somehow, like his return cheapened the affect of his death and making the awesomesauce of the Avengers moot.

Well, after watching the episode last night, I still don't like it. But I am mildly curious to see how they explain it. The Pilot sets the explanation up to either be incredibly awesome or seriously disappointing. It could go either way.

That's about my feelings towards the rest of the plot as well. It could either be incredibly, or lame, depending on if they can get the majority of their actors to shape up and if the writing quality can be bumped up a notch.

The Connection to the Marvel Movies

I would get really excited whenever they would mention a reference I understood during the Pilot. (Dr. Erskine, Extremis, the "New Mexico incident", etc.) However, I also found myself expecting the Avengers to show up somehow. It felt so much like a Marvel movie, that it felt weird without there being any real superhero.

Overall Impression

It was good, but not super. Most TV shows can get by with just "good." But with the connection to The Avengers...I don't know. I'd like to see if ABC and Marvel can pull it off. If they can, it could possibly be an AMAZING show. If they can't, I won't be surprised, which is kinda sad.

Either way, I certainly hope it becomes good. I just don't know if the connection to the Avengers will help or hurt in the long run. Even though the title clearly says that this is about the agents of SHIELD, not the superheroes, I still couldn't help but be a little disappointed when the episode ended last night and not a superhero was in sight.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Characters in Costume- Maybelle

Yay! 'Characters in Costume' is back!

This month, the awesome Gillian Adams challenged us to dress up like an "obstacle character."

I'l be honest, I had no idea what an obstacle character was until I agreed to do this challenge. An obstacle character is basically a character that causes obstacles for the protagonist but is not the villain. An obstacle character could be a villain's henchman, a random thief who steals something valuable, or even the hero's best friend.

It was really fun to think about what obstacle character to use since it really could be any character. However, I felt that Maybelle best fit the description.



Maybelle is an upcoming character in my novel 'Flake Frost' which I will write during NaNoWriMo this year. She is a foil to Flake, the heroine, and has probably the most dramatic character change throughout the novel.

Maybelle was born as princess of Finsik, one of the largest countries in Holdinus. Her parents loved her very much and were excited to raise her as the future queen of Finsik. However, when Maybelle was two, the Pull conquered the world and subjugated it under a unified dictatorship. Maybelle's parents, like Flake's, were murdered.

Her parents had foreseen this and had sent her into the cold mountains of Finsik to be raised like a peasant. Her adoptive family loved her, but they always told Maybelle stories and tales of her kind and heroic parents, hoping one day Maybelle would help defeat the Pull and return Finsik to it's former glory.

Maybelle, however, was never all that interested. The Pull never truly bothered her, and she didn't like the idea of starting a war or killing anybody. To her adoptive parents horror, Maybelle agrees to marry Valin, the current Lord of the Pull, who is trying to soften his citizens to a dictator by marrying a former princess.

Through a strange twist of fate, Maybelle ends up having to travel through a mystical realm called the Tapestries with Flake Frost, Valin's ex-fiance, who left him because of his cruel and heartless deeds. Flake immediately berates Maybelle for her grand ideas of "reforming" Valin. Maybelle points out that Flake never tried to reform him. She just left like a coward.

Yeeeeah, they're pretty much best buddies after that. :/



The mountains of Finsik are freezing, so Maybelle typically wears warm leggings, sweaters, and boots. She might seem a bit of a tomboy to the more "noble" society, but she was raised to be strong. She might not seem like a very fashion conscientious person either, but she just has her own styles (that usually involve floppy hats...).

This character in costume was really fun, especially because I've never actually written Maybelle. I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but she and Flake change each other in very drastic ways throughout the novel. Maybelle morphs from a country-ish dreamer into a rather cynical lady, while Flake changes from a despairing wanderer to a confident Leverage.

I hope Maybelle doesn't stay cynical and uncaring. I've kinda gotten attached to her snappy rural attitude. And I think Valin will too...guess I won't know until I write the story! When is November here???

Thank you so much Gillian for hosting this challenge! It was so much fun! :)

P.S. If you want to find out more about Valin, here is the Characters in Costume I did for him back in March. :) http://thepinkcave.blogspot.com/2013/03/characters-in-costumes.html


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why So Serious? Part 1

In this and the upcoming post, there will be SPOILERS for "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight", "The Dark Knight Rises", and several other films. I suggest reading only if you have watched those movies or if you don't mind having them spoiled.



A few weeks ago, my brother finally managed to coerce me into watching the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. They were FANTASTIC! I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them, but "The Dark Knight" in particular stood out to me. Something about it just made it seem superior compared to the other two. And I LOVED the other two.

It did not have any slow or boring parts like "The Dark Knight Rises." (My brother and parents say they did not find Rises boring, so maybe I'm just strange. However, there were a few times that I found myself rather bored. Just being honest.) And it just seemed like a larger story than "Batman Begins." All three movies are incredibly made, but I just had to know what made "The Dark Knight" better in my opinion.

It took all of two seconds for me to figure it out. If you've seen the movie and read the post's title, you probably already know where I'm going with this. And in all likelihood, you probably agree.



It's the Joker. The Joker made that movie. Oh, not entirely by himself of course. We need Batman, we need a good plot, a good theme, good supporting characters, and good character arcs; all of which the movie has and more. But in the middle of ALL of those entwining ideas and subjects, you have the Joker.

It seemed so simple, then, why The Dark Knight was the best of the trilogy. It was Heath Ledger. It was the Joker. Yet, my writing half just had to go and make life difficult. Why is the Joker more compelling than the other Batman villains? Why was the Joker so much more of a struggle to Batman than Bane or Crane? Why is the Joker so incredibly demented, yet he, at times, feels incredibly sane? Why is he so much more fascinating and real, yet more twisted and evil than other villains?

Typically, the eviler you make a villain, the harder it gets to create a compelling and complex character. I believe people are born inherently bad, but it takes either a brain deficiency or something seriously traumatic or dramatic to turn you into a murderous killer. When writers need to create a villain capable of mass and emotionless murder, we tend to (and rightly so) find a way to "justify" the villain's actions. Oh, not to the reader; a villain is a villain for a reason. But the villain needs to feel justified in what he is doing.

I started with that theory in mind and came to an immediate and surprising conclusion. The writers didn't even go that route. Oh, The Joker feels justified in what he's doing, but it's not because of anything in his backstory. I'll get to why he feels justified later.

The writers completely broke the knee-jerk reaction all writers with any training subconsciously know. They didn't create a backstory for the Joker's evilness. They addressed it in the film; the Joker practically mocks the backstory trope.

The first time, he is confronting a few mob dealers. He asks the famous "Do you wanna know how I got these scars?" and then launches into a detailed and traumatic backstory. He claims that his father was a drinker, killed his mother, and then sliced him, giving him the famous Glasgow smile. Like the postmodernists we are, anyone watching the movie and unfamiliar with the Batman comics instantly feels sorry for the poor Joker. "With a father like that, it's no wonder he is so demented!" (Ahem...this is exactly what I did...)

So we continue to watch, waiting to see how his horribly traumatic backstory will affect the story. We watch, riveted, as the Joker crashes Bruce Wayne's party. Personally, I cringed when the Joker asked Rachel if she wanted to know about his scars. I didn't want to hear the story again.

But then of course, the Joker launches into another story, complete with details and apparent emotions, about how his wife was a gambler, got in with some bad people and got her face cut up, they couldn't afford surgery, so good ol' Mr. J cuts his own face to let her know that he doesn't care about the scars. And then she despises him and leaves him.

Equally heartbreaking, except now we're confused. Which story is true? Is either story true? Why does he take the time to invent these awful backstories?

Took me awhile to sort through this one. There are a lot of different theories on the Joker. One is that he has a brain deficiency that causes him, everyday, to "remake" who he is. He doesn't remember his true backstory, but he honestly believes that the stories he is telling are true. Personally, I think this is wishful thinking on the part of Joker fangirls (Yes, they exist. I know, weird. But then again, I do like Loki, sooo...).

Another theory is that the Joker has an abnormally high intelligence, allowing him to sort through problems and create strategies way faster than the average human being. This might be true, it would explain how he pulled off that absolutely flawless bank heist at the beginning (not to mention the rest of the movie...), but it still doesn't answer the question as to why he tells false stories about the scars, and why he brings the scars up at all.

The Joker hates humanity. At the end of the movie, it doesn't seem like the Joker hates much. He laughs a lot, he smiles a lot. We never see any scenes of him pacing, brooding on his hatred of Batman. We never see him lash out in anger. Yes, he explodes hospitals, steals cars, murders people, and attempts to force people to commit mass murder, but he doesn't seem angry as he does it. He seems to find the whole thing hilarious.

Alfred's line at the beginning kept coming back to me. "Some men just want to watch the world burn." It takes an entire movie to convince Bruce, and the audience, that this is true. (Alfred is always right people!). Some people don't need a scarring backstory (pun totally intended), or a motive, or a terrible childhood. Sometimes, people just like watching others suffer.

I love that such a famous movie was willing to try a risky villain like this. Sympathetic villains work. Totally evil ones don't. And yet the Joker more than worked, he made that movie!

Why do I think the Joker hates humanity? Several reasons.

I actually believe the theory about the Joker having an abnormal intelligence. Since Batman has an abnormal strength and fighting ability, it would make sense for the Joker to be extremely smart. The classic brain versus brawn scenario. I think the Joker hates humanity because he sees himself as above them, higher than them, better than them. He knows he's different, and he is proud of it. Shockingly enough, Bruce Wayne feels the same way. He shows a disdain for the average peeps too. (See: The beginning of the movie where Batman stops the copy Batman. Copy Batman 'Brian' asks "What's so different between you and me?" Real Batman arrogantly replies, "I'm not wearing hockey pads.")

Anyway, both of them separate themselves from the rest of humanity. Batman dresses as a bat, stays in the shadows, and doesn't deign to speak or affiliate himself with anyone unless they are useful to him. (Gordon, Harvey Dent, etc.) The Joker smears extreme make-up on himself, making him look like a hideous, gothic clown. Clowns themselves wear extreme make-up to mock the funny side of humans; how we all will try to cram into one car instead of take two, oversized shoes, baggy pants, falling on ourselves, etc. So in a sense, the Joker is mocking, not only the funny side of humanity like a clown, but he is also mocking clowns who mock the funny side of humans, thus mocking every aspect of humanity.

Don't follow? There's more. With his extremely high intelligence, I believe the Joker could string together eloquent sentences without all the "umms" and "ahhs" and pauses. His peculiarly awkward way of speaking gave me the feeling that he was purposefully inserting the pauses and stammers to mock humans even farther.

I'm sure you see where I am going with this. I think the Joker invents the backstories to mock the compassionate side of every human being. He believes humans are gullible and stupid, and he knows that they will attempt to, at least partially, excuse his evilness because of his terrible past. Not that the Joker is trying to get himself excused. He is simply mocking humanity because he finds his own jokes at their expense funny. He likes watching humans scurry about, trying to fix things, trying to understand him, trying to live in Gotham, but ultimately finding themselves more backwards than a truck flipped over by Batman. He likes watching the world burn. It amuses him.

I find it interesting that the Joker invented backstories that would be more likely to tug at the person he is telling them too. The first story about his abusive father he told to mob dealers. Statistically, most felons have been found to have daddy issues. Even though he was telling his backstory to heartless mobsters, an evil father would probably be the most likely story to tug at their souls.

To Rachel on the other hand, the Joker told about his wife who never appreciated him and hung out with gamblers, then got herself hurt, and then left the Joker when he tried to show her that he didn't care about the scars. Rachel, being a woman, would probably be slightly more appalled at this and would ask herself if she would be capable of doing that to someone. It's a fascinating power-play.

So why does the Joker feel justified in plummeting Gotham into chaos? He knows he is more intelligent than the average human being, and he, like Batman, is arrogant enough to believe that he is correct about everything. Since he sees humanity as a self-shackled community of weaklings, then it must be true. And since he thinks the solution to this problem is a survival of the fittest/anarchic society, then that must be the solution. He even tells Batman, "I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."

In the next post, I'm going to talk about why I believe the Joker chose "The Joker" to be his pseudonym. :)

P.S. Sorry it has been SO long. School is killing me, 'Ember Flame' is killing me, and I'm a lazy bum. Those are my top three excuses for everything. I need to make up some new ones...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dialogue as a Battle

Ahh...my poor little blog! You have been sorely abandoned over the summer. But with school having started, I think I will find more time for you!

This is going to be a very brief blog post about a trick I learned from Jill Williamson when writing dialogue.

One of the many ways I like to think of dialogue is like a battle. Two or more people all want something. They all have different personalities, goals, ways of speaking, and feelings.



Think of two medieval soldiers meeting in a ring during a tournament. Soldier A, we'll call him Alan, has just had a few drinks to celebrate a victory during the jousting tournament. He's cocky, overconfident, and feeling very good about himself. His wife he recently married is sitting in the stands, prepared to watch him fight. His personality is naturally outgoing and proud. His goals are to win, but to make a good show out of it to impress his wife.

Robert the knight is a different story. He's a bit older than Alan, but his estate is about to be taken from him by an overbearing lord. His son just got grievously injured during the archery tournament (how that happened, I do not know), so there is no chance of counting on winnings from him. Robert is naturally a bit grumpy, harsh, though exceedingly practical. He is always practicing his skill with a sword, and never takes time for fun. He needs to win so he can get the prize money.

What happens when these two meet in the ring? Well, they are going to clash. At first, Alan might mess around, try a few fancy moves, act a bit reckless to show off. But when he sees the determined and fierce Robert's unrelenting intention to win, he'll probably shape up pretty fast. Robert will likely get annoyed at Alan's lolly-gagging, but he will not act on his frustration other than to more firmly determine to win.

Who wins? I honestly don't know. That's the fun of writing! I'd put my money on Robert though. He has more incentive and experience to win. However, Alan might be young and quick enough to beat him. Like I said, I don't know who would win!

Dialogue is the same way. Writers should think of dialogue much like this to create strong, decisive action through speaking. Even in scenes where it is one character comforting another. Both want something. Character A might want Character B to feel better, while Character B is determined to wallow in self-pity.

And just like a tournament fight, there needs to be a winner. You might have a draw here or there, but then you'll have to return to the conversation later to find a winner then. Here is an excerpt from the rough draft of a new novel I'm writing to demonstrate my point.

The narrator, Star, has been trying to have a conversation with her friend Maggie, but keeps getting distracted by this guy who is unabashedly staring at her. On top of that, he reminds her of something but she can't figure out what.

***********************************

“Always about what you want, isn't it? You could at least have attempted to be polite...”

“I could have. I didn't. Sincere apologies. I won't ever do it again. And for heaven's sake, how long has that creepy stalker been standing there?”

She finally relents. “The whole time, I think. I don't tend to pay any attention to leather-clad idiots unless it's you.”

I toss her a cheeky grin. I turn completely around and face him, crossing my arms defensively and leaning back, rocking on the heel of my boot. I shove my shades farther down my nose and raise an eyebrow at the weirdo.

No reaction. He just continues staring.

That's it. I've had it with this game. I stomp towards him, ignoring the warning hiss from Maggie.

“You got a problem, buddy?” I say, as I near him. I position myself directly in front of him. He doesn't shift or make room. Just continues staring directly at my face.

“I do not believe so.” His reply is quiet, but thick, and spoken in some semi-English accent I can't place.

“Then why are you staring at me?”

“Would I need to have a 'problem' to stare at you?” He asks.

“Yeah, you'd have to be a pervert to be staring at me for fifteen straight minutes without looking away or coming to say something to me!”

He waves lazily and I notice that his hands are completely covered by a black leather glove. Motorcyclists, perhaps? “You seemed thoroughly occupied with your friend. And I did not stare at you for fifteen minutes. It was more akin to twelve and a half.”

I grit my teeth and glare at this man. He's not flirting. He's not acting particularly creepy-other than the whole staring thing. In fact, he's acting rather bored by the whole ordeal. But I cannot shake this feeling of remembrance...he reminds me of someone... I blink to stop the fog from returning to my vision.

I slam my sunglasses onto the top of my head. “Have we met somewhere?”

He shrugs. “Perhaps. The humanities portion of this campus is not particularly large.”

“So you're a student?”

The Ringwraith wannabe finally stops leaning against the wall. He stands, straightens, and I get a brief glimpse of a pale chin. He nods towards the road. “You're blocking my view.”

My brows lower dramatically and I can feel my face heating up. “Oh, apologies, I thought I was the view!”

“Sorry to disappoint, but no.”

“Who are you?” I growl, willing my hand not to seek comfort in my necklace.

He seems to notice the movement, or rather, the lack thereof. He raises an eyebrow, nods, then turns his back and walks up the sidewalk. I stare at his retreating trench-coat, gaping. Who does that?


“I do not believe you are currently ready to know that,” He calls over his shoulder.  

******************************************

(Please excuse the rough-draftness of the excerpt)

So who do you think won? Personally, I believe it was a draw since the leather creeper just walked off. However, Star probably saw it as a loss. She did not find out who he was, why he was staring at her, and she did not get him to stop staring at her.

Leather creeper probably thought he won. He was obviously trying to figure out if Star was "ready" to know who he was, and he found out that she was not. Or maybe he saw that as a loss. We (myself included lol!) won't know until we meet him again and know his goals.

Do you see how personality played into it too? Star is naturally independent and headstrong and has no qualms confronting strangers. If she were timid or weak, this scene would have never taken place because she would not have confronted him.

We don't know anything about leather-man, but he seems to know how to keep his cool, something Star is not so good at.

And the feelings they had before entering into the conversation played into it too. Star was irritated with her distraction, and with the conversation she was having with Maggie.

So there ya have it! This thought pattern really helped me and I hope it helps you! Again, I apologize for the rough draft excerpt. I would have picked something from Ember Flame or Hail Frost, but this was actually the first dialogue "fight" I've ever written with this tip in mind, so I thought it was more appropriate to use it. :)

Also, here is one of my favorite scenes from The Avengers. Who do you think won? What do you think the goals for each character were? Was it draw because of Iron Man's interruption, or had there already been a winner?