Friday, November 30, 2012

Thinking Deep Thoughts about Episode 407

Must be Friday.  I'm thinking deep thoughts about TVD again - sadly, this interferes with the chapter I'm working on, so I'm going to go ahead and get these out of the way.

This was a complicated episode with too many players (not Matt - he can stay forever) and too many plots running through 42 minutes, so I'm not even going to attempt an analysis of the whole thing.  Instead, I'm focusing on two points.

Let's go.

I'm not starting with the obvious topic because, honestly, one short scene impacted me more than any other section of the episode.  Shall we discuss Stefan and Elena's conversation about Jeremy?

Do you even know the real Elena?
The episode opened with Damon making a simple request to Stefan - leave Jeremy out of his "find a cure" plan.  Look for another Hunter, but keep Elena's little brother safe.  Why?  Because Damon understands Elena.  She would never want to save herself at the expense of Jeremy's mental stability.

And what did Stefan do?

He deliberately brought a vampire (maybe more than one - I kind of blurred over that section in my brain because it was painful) to Jeremy in order to make the map grow, simply to find the cure for Elena.

Watching Elena's face as she processed that information....seeing the horror dawn on her was one of the most emotionally resonant scenes in the episode.  Stefan sacrificed Jeremy to bring back "his" Elena - the one he could love.

In this moment, the full horror of who Stefan really is became clear to her.  Early in the series, he referred to himself as a monster.  He was right.  He was so consumed by desire and greed to bring his Elena back that he was willing to destroy the person who meant more to Elena than anyone in the world.  And I think Elena realized she'd never really met the real Stefan.  That's why it was so easy for her to fall into bed with Damon later in the episode.  All this time she'd been faithfully clinging to someone who didn't really exist, and Stefan's actions with Jeremy destroyed the faith she'd always had in him.

I struggle to see how Stefan and Elena could reunite after his actions with Jeremy.

Yes, Damon killed Jeremy in the premiere of season two, but he was acting on blind rage - not that it really excuses his actions.  Stefan's actions are different.  He planned what he was going to do.  He thought it out.  He was deliberate.  He knew what he wanted, and nothing was going to deter him from his plan...even Elena's love for her brother.

The Elephant in the Room
Come on y'all, this is my YA-friendly blog, so just get your minds out of the gutter.  I'm talking about the sire bond.

Or as I like to call it - Caroline's Screaming Banshee Moment.  (Really, that's how I referred to it in a text to my husband.)

I've read the interview with Julie Plec.  (I also read an interview a few years ago where she said we wouldn't see Katherine till late season two or early season three...and that was about a day before Katherine arrived in Mystic Falls.)

Y'all know how much I disliked The Five, but by golly, I'm thankful for it now because we're about to revisit a few scenes.

Anyone remember the first victim Damon pointed out to Elena?  Cute, blonde, had a picture of her little sister (or her niece - something like that) on her cell phone.  Yes?  Y'all with me?  What happened to the young lady?


Damon told Elena to feed on her and she didn't because she didn't want to.  Yep, sounds just like someone who has to do her "master's" will to me.

When explaining the sire bond to Caroline, Tyler says that it makes you want to please the person who sired you.  You do what they want because you believe its the right thing to do.  So...about that....

After Elena has learned to successfully feed, she's pretty effectively slut-shamed by Bonnie for enjoying the process of feeding.  When Damon and Bonnie face off about Damon's attempts to turn Elena into someone like him, he responds that Elena already is.  And then what happens?

Damon takes Elena home where Elena admits that Damon's right.  It would be easier to just enjoy the feed - accept the fact that she's a vampire now and she's changed.  With tears in her eyes, she looks at him and admits that she can't.  Because she doesn't want to be like him.

Yep, sounds just like an unbreakable sire bond to me.

I'll admit it.  I'm confused after this episode.  (And I'm angry that the scene showing Damon and Elena's first time was intercut with the "lightbulb" moment for the Stefan/Caroline brain trust.)  Throughout the season, we've seen just as many instances where Elena's gone against Damon's wishes as the times that she's agreed with him.

I think this whole "sire bond" thing is a ploy for Stefan to twist the knife into Damon's psyche.  Elena's in love with Damon.  She has been for a while.  Klaus knows it - and that's what he was referring to when he was flirting with Caroline.

My final opinion on this episode is still to be decided.  I need to know where they're going with this sire thing since it confuses me.  If Elena were sired to Damon, I'm pretty sure she would have picked up the cell phone to call Stefan the minute Damon asked her to, and she definitely would have apologized to Stefan for misinterpreting his motivations for lying to her - because Damon wanted her to forgive his little brother.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Feel free to leave a comment or two.  I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So About that Novel You've Been Working On....

Why not take the opportunity to enter it in a contest and get some feedback?

***Permission to forward granted.***

***Forwarding to all writers groups, loops, etc., requested and much appreciated.***

What: Great Expectations Writing Contest
Who: Unpublished authors (and authors not previously published in that genre)
Why: Because entering a writing competition like Great Expectations can be a great thing for you, your writing, and your career.

Great Expectations encourages inspiration, learning, improvement, discipline, experience, and publishing. 


A writing competition with different categories can encourage you to polish that story you've always wanted to write. Great Expectations offers you a chance to enter the first twenty-five pages of your manuscript in the following romance categories:

• Contemporary Series
• Erotic Romance
• Historical
• Inspirational Contemporary
• Mainstream with Romantic Elements
• Romantic Suspense
• Single Title
• Specialized (Futuristic/Fantasy/Time Travel/Paranormal)
• Young Adult


Every entry will be evaluated by at least five first round judges and scored. Feedback is often provided by those judges. Finalists will then be reviewed by professional editors from a variety of publishing houses. Previous entrants to Great Expectations have found the feedback invaluable to improving their manuscripts.


Writers who apply what they learn from the feedback have the chance to polish their manuscripts for future competitions and submissions. Imagine the chance to know what in your first twenty-five pages really resonated with the judges and where they had questions. Too often, writers don't have access to this kind of information. You have a chance to improve the quality of your writing, your submissions, and your story just by entering.


Like all competitions, Great Expectations has some hard and fast deadlines. From early bird entries to the very last day you can enter. To take advantage of the other benefits, you have to meet those deadlines. Discipline helps writers become more focused not only on their story, but also their method.


Experience is the best teacher. Whether you are a first time pre-published author, a veteran of writing competitions, or an author looking to experience a new genre, Great Expectations can help you achieve experience in that area with valuable feedback, contacts, and learning.


Many finalists in the Great Expectations contest (and even some who didn't final) used the experience, the learning, and the feedback to turn their entries into polished full submissions and publication. Final judges may request full manuscripts during the judging process as well, so just by entering you have the chance to make it to the short-list of authors an editor wants to see more from.

The only question you should have left is, why aren't you entering Great Expectations?

Enter today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

We Have a Lot to Talk About - Commentary on TVD Ep 406

Sometimes this show's easy to recap - here's a list of what I are some things I didn', wasn't this scene great!  This week's episode wasn't so easy - not because I didn't like it - by all means, I thought it was an amazingly strong episode.  But, a lot of what I liked about it came from other episodes.

So, this week, I'll be going with more of a "fireside chat" first today, and later I'll come back with a more thorough review.   Hope you don't mind.  Buckle your seatbelts, because we have a lot to talk about.

First up, while the fast pace of the show lends itself to exhaustion (and multiple rewatches to understand exactly what all happened in a single episode, I think that the sheer volume of things we learn each week can sometimes hinder us from seeing the big picture.  This week, I'm focusing on stringing some threads together that started....well, back in season 3.

Let's talk about Stefan and Elena's break-up.  First off, I'm still annoyed that Stefan got to come across as a saint for tolerating the changes in Elena until it just proved to be too much for him.  But, in the long run, it's likely better that the blame falls on him or Elena would alienate a large portion of the fandom.  Still...I think Elena had a lot of reasons why Stefan was no longer right for her - not just the fact that Damon suddenly makes her heart go pitter patter.

Who did she call?  When Elena was at one of her low points (because there really were a lot of them in this episode), she called Damon for help.  He's always been there to help her with Jeremy - we've seen his interaction with Elena's little brother all the way back in season one when she needed to make Jeremy forget about Vicki.

This time was different, though.

She chose him over Stefan.  She didn't want Stefan to be there - at all.  She wanted Damon there at the house when the hallucinations forced her to do something she'd NEVER do.  Just the day before, Jeremy had told her that he knew she'd never hurt him, and now he was lying dead on the floor.  And Elena called Damon.

I thought he'd understand.  In episode 401, Elena tried to confide something in Stefan - the animal blood made her sick - and he blew her off.  I was totally appalled at how little attention has been paid to that moment, until I realized that was the final time she'd confided in him.  From that point on, whenever she needed help, she's gone to Damon.
- She confessed her problems keeping animal blood down to him.
- When she was sick in the basement of the church, she called Damon for help.
- After she'd killed her brother, she called Damon.


She doesn't trust Stefan any longer.  Stefan even commented it on their porch discussion, and it wasn't just that Damon was able to get through to Elena when she was at her most confused....when Jeremy, Matt, and April were being held hostage in the Grill, Stefan told Elena that she just had to trust him.  He couldn't explain what was happening, but he'd never asked her to do anything that was more important than trusting him right then and there.

And she didn't.

I killed him because you told me to.  For Stefan, I think the nail was in the coffin when Elena stood next to Connor's body and said that she'd killed Connor because Damon told her to.  She wasn't blaming Damon for her actions - she admitted to Connor that she killed him because she was angry that he'd staked her.  Her words showed just how deeply she trusted Damon - and didn't trust Stefan.  After Stefan had begged her...pleaded with her to just trust him...she couldn't.  Something had changed along the way, and as the three of them stood over Connor's body, their relationships would never be the same.

So we're back on the Gilbert porch...the place of so many spectacular relationship scenes for this show. It was on this porch that Damon had his first hero moment.  Stefan and Elena broke up.  Damon and Elena kissed for the first time.  It was also where we learned that Elena could be like Katherine.  And Elena lost all the sense of self she'd developed over season three as she begged with Stefan to show that he cared for her again.

Stefan needs to talk.  Elena's feelings for Damon are becoming stronger - she's trusting Damon instead of Stefan.  Damon is connecting with her in a way that Stefan can't.  When she was possessed by Connor's spirit, she could still see Damon, but with Stefan...she only saw her tormentor.  I think Stefan's lying to himself a little bit here.  His issue isn't simply that he can't overlook Elena's love for Damon any longer - it's that he no longer loves her enough to do it.  Damon's question cut deep last week - did Stefan want the cure for Elena, or did he want the cure because Stefan couldn't love Elena as a vampire?  "Katherine" asked Elena the same question while they were locked in Klaus' room.
Stefan loved human Elena enough to overlook her love for Damon.  He doesn't feel the same way about vampire Elena....and that's okay.  Elena's been changing too.

Elena's feelings for Damon have been magnified since she turned.  Why not her feelings for Stefan?  Honestly, I don't think they've been the same since he left with Klaus.  They reunited and seemed happy (even though we haven't seen them between the sheets), but they never really dealt with the issues that came from Stefan's "I'm a jerk" phase or the time he tried to drive her off Wickery Bridge.  She stayed at his side because that's what she was supposed to do....she chose him that night because it's what her friends expected her to do...but I think somewhere deep down, she knows she hasn't really loved him for a very long time.  She just hasn't been able to admit it.  She's wanted to, but something in their relationship broke - and Damon had already snuck up on her to fill the void left by Stefan.

So where do we go from here?  I don't think Damon and Elena have an easy road ahead of them.  Elena's already rejected him a number of times.  Damon's still trying to mend fences between Stefan and Elena.  I hope that Damon and Elena are able to take the risk and give themselves a chance....I guess only time will tell, though.

Hope you enjoyed it!  I'd love some comments.  I'd like to discuss how you perceive their break-up.

I'll be back with an actual review of 406 - probably sometime Saturday.  Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tag! You're it!

I've been tagged by Molly Kate Gray.  You can read about her WIP here.

I'm excited to be part of the game.  I'd love the chance to share a little about my current work in progress.

What is the title of your book?
The working title is currently Playing by the Rules.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
The first chapter opens as Ava is traveling on an airplane to go stay with her aunt for an uncertain amount of time.  Her flight is more than a little bumpy.  I started writing this story on a flight that could probably have set a record for "most turbulent flight" as a way of distracting myself.

What genre does your book fall under?
Playing by the Rules is a young adult romance (with a hint of paranormal).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Dream casting is so much fun.  I think I'd go with Emma Stone to play Ava.  I'm a bit undecided on Tanner.  A young version of Alex Pettyfer would work, but I'm not finding exactly the right person for him.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Moving from San Diego to a tiny east Texas town would be difficult enough, but Ava Thatcher also has a that Tanner accidentally finds out.

Will your book be self-published or agented?
At present, I'm not agented.  However, I will be seeking representation for this story.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This story has earned its "work in progress" title.  I'm about 2/3 finished with it right now, and I started writing it in August.

What other books within your genre would you compare your WIP to?
I think you could easily say my books fall in line with The Bodyfinder series (by Kimberly Derting) or the Wake, Fade, and Gone trilogy by Lisa McMann.

Who or what inspired this book?
A bumpy plane ride, my fondness for all things paranormal, and a visit to California all played an equal role in this story's birth.

What else about your book might pique the readers interest?
I think the dynamic between Scarlett (Ava's cousin) and Ava is really a fun element to the story.  I'm trying to keep this as a "light" paranormal, so even those who don't typically enjoy the books with black covers should enjoy this one.

Thanks for letting me play.  Now you can go visit Emm Cole's page.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Plans

So, like so many other writers or hopeful-writers, I'm making my yearly attempt at NaNoWriMo this year.  That word is enough to throw fear into the heart of my computer...and make me wonder what odd illness will strike one of my children this time - because I haven't had a NaNo yet without some drama on the health-front.
This isn’t my first attempt.  I’ve even “won” more than once.  I'm mixing it up a little, and even adding to the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month.  I'm working on two distinct stories.  While I’m hoping to complete my first draft of my YA novel I started back in August, I’m also beginning a new project from scratch (which, to be honest, is the basic intent of NaNo).
Some Nights (the contemporary romance) explores Ella Miller’s arrival in a town she visited while growing up.  When she inherits her aunt’s house, she discovers that fresh starts aren’t easy to come by, and she has more baggage than just her cat in tow.  Thankfully, there’s a helpful handyman named Jake McPherson who’s looking for a fresh start of his own – he just doesn’t know it yet.
For the first time, I’m bringing in some of my experiences as a first grade teacher into a novel.  I’m staying in my comfort zone of writing about a fictionalized version of a small Texas town that I love.
So far, the outline of the story has:
- 1 pretty sexy first grade teacher
- 4 blue eyed brothers
- 1 deadbeat cousin
- 1 jealous ex-fiance
- an assemblage of townspeople who are pretty much like people I’ve met in the towns I’ve lived in…but I might have taken a few liberties to make them a little more fun
- 2 cats

My YA story is still a little harder to describe.  Also a romance, but with a paranormal twist, Ava Thatcher has to leave her home in San Diego and go live with her aunt in a small east Texas town two days before her senior year begins.  This story contains:
- a jealous cousin
- a landlocked lifeguard
- a teen heartthrob who's already dated all the girls in the senior class
- a secret that Ava isn't allowed to tell

So, are you up to the challenge of participating in NaNo?  Tell me a little about your story.  We can do this!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ten Things about TVD: The Five

Ok.  So....welcome to what will likely be the last TVD recap/reaction post you'll see on this site.  I have to say that I'm really disappointed.  I've always felt I was more of a show fan, and "shipping" was just a fun side activity.

But then we had tonight's episode.

1 - If my book's cover copy was as misleading as the promotion for this week's episode, I doubt any of my readers would ever trust me enough to buy a book again.  Over and over, we heard teases of how "steamy" and "fun" the scene between Damon and Elena would be.  The promo talked about Damon teaching Elena...and he did.  But then judgement from Bonnie and the lingering comments from Stefan took their toll and what we watched was simply a plot line that could have been recycled from any number of earlier episodes.

2 - Once again, we see Stefan being put in a situation where he's mirroring a scene that was very popular when Damon did a similar activity.  Stefan's trying to show Elena how to survive an attack from a hunter.  (Hmmm....hints of finding a way to a vampire's heart anyone?  Damon did it better.)  Even after Elena explains (thank you, writers) that she literally can't consume blood that isn't fresh - Stefan's still making sure she feels as badly about feeding from people as possible - giving her an epic guilt trip while the pair fails at appearing sexy and romantic.

3.  Sorry Elena, continuing in the pattern of "wrong assumptions about your fellow vampires," Elena comments that Caroline can't teach her how to feed because she's "too controlled."  Caroline hasn't established control either.  She feeds from blood bags.  We have no way of knowing if she could control herself feeding from people or not.

4.  Did I mention Stefan giving Elena grief over feeding from people....when it's the only way she can eat?  That's like telling a baby to feel bad about needing milk from a bottle.

5.  I'm going on record here.  I didn't like the vast majority of the Damon/Elena interaction during the dance.  BUT - I loved Elena going after "roofie dude."  She might have felt badly about feeding on a co-ed with a little sister, but surely there are enough jerks in the world that she'd be happily fed for quite a while.

6.  I didn't like the dance scene.  Elena and Damon were too out of it.  Yes, we were supposed to be seeing that Elena was having fun, but having THAT much fun was going to push her right over the edge, especially when they have Bonnie in tow to provide judgement at a moment's notice.

7.  Have I mentioned that Stefan made Elena feel guilty about the only way she eat?

8.  Bonnie.  She was in the episode.  That's enough for me.  Y'all know how I feel about Bonnie.  She was at her ultimate-most-judgy here.

9.  Exactly how many times are we going to watch Rebekah get staked?  Yes, I saw the tears in both Stefan's and Klaus' eyes.  But the writers have gone to this plot line one too many times.  I didn't feel anything when Rebekah dropped into Klaus' arms.

10.  Damon was right.  The only way Elena's going to survive being a vampire is by not letting the guilt get to her.  For that, she needs to embrace the fact that she's not just like Damon - she's like Katherine.  She has the Petrova fire.  Now she's a vampire.  If she allows the guilt to weigh on her each time she feeds, then she'll turn into Stefan - a mindless Ripper who doesn't care who or what she kills.  She was happy at that party (arguably, maybe a little too happy).  She was proud of being able to feed on someone, leave them standing, and compel him to leave without remembering what happened.  All of that self-assurance disappeared in an instant with one look in Bonnie's direction.

And one more thing.....

I called this whole "let's turn Elena human again" thing.  I said it way back in the middle of season three.  While I love spunky-vampire Elena, the Elena we met at the end of tonight's episode was no better than the lackluster human Elena we've seen in countless other episodes.

Stefan's at his best when he's not with Elena (he actually was kind of amusing with Rebekah and Klaus).

Elena's at her best when Stefan's at least a half-hour's drive away - the next state is probably better.

But sadly, I don't know if we're going to ever see these two at their best.  The show just seems to be recycling old storylines, giving them just enough of a twist that they can call them "new" while trying to find ways for Stefan to overshadow Damon.

It's getting boring and tired - and that's really sad for me since this season got off to such a great start, at least where episode 402 was concerned.

On a 1 to 10 scale - this one probably deserves to be ranked in the negatives.  I'll settle with giving it a 1.

I'd love to see a few comments on this post.  I'd happily chat with y'all.