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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! :)