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 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 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....