Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Currently Reading: The Eleventh Plague

Let's Talk Relationships

As a writer, I think it's important to at least keep a casual pulse on what's popular, what's trendy, what's keeping people talking.  While I don't want to write to trends - if I never have a book with a black cover, I'll be okay with that - I do want to pay attention to what it is that's making people invest their time and emotions in a popular television show or book series.  To keep things simple, rather than trying to dissect every single popular book out there, I'm looking at television today.  Next time, I might stop and chat about Code Name Verity (friendship), The Bodyfinder series (friendship that grows into something more), and The Hunger Games (action alongside a "triangle).

Most of the time, what I've discovered, is the characters and their relationships are what move people from casual fans to devoted followers.  Whether it's a brotherly bond (Supernatural) or romantic relationships (The Vampire Diaries), the dynamics between the characters seems to be the key talking point among viewers.

Supernatural has been around for a long time.  While it has occasionally lost its way, the show's always managed to get back on track and find its footing, largely, I think, because of the very nature of the show.  There's always another monster under the bed or in the closet or hiding behind the curtains.  We watch as Sam and Dean (and those friends who repeatedly make an appearance....I'm looking at you, Castiel) fight the "bad guy" and also interact with each other.  Their relationship evolves and changes as they face challenges together - normally winning, but not claiming victory every time.  The one constant is their brotherhood and their determination to make sure the other survives to fight another day.

Supernatural is the Nancy Drew of CW.  There's always another case to solve.  (And I think that's a good thing.)

Now we move into what's kind of a sore subject for me....The Vampire Diaries.  It has several commonalities with Supernatural.  Both have a pair of brothers.  Both are on the CW.  Both have been around for a few years.  But something's intrinsically different about TVD.  At its core, the show's central focus is a triangle.

Which will she choose?

That's all well and good...for a while.  But, when even the main showrunner suggests that the final answer won't come until the end of the series, when does that focus become too narrow, too repetitive?

Personally, I think we crossed that bridge a while ago.

As long as the viewers know there will be no choice until the end of the series (and that's still a long way out), the emotions they have invested in the show become a bit tedious.  No matter how hard a fan roots for a couple, it won't last...a decision can't be made because that's the whole premise of the show. The key driving force is HER decision...and I don't think that's really a good thing.

It can work in a book series with a finite end.  It can be written into a movie.  But when a triangle is the key element around which other plot devices revolve, it weakens the whole show.

I recently suggested to a friend that a decision needs to be made so the show can move on.  The friend responded that it can't simply be a story about "happily ever after" and I quite agree.  However, watching the three main characters push and shove and try to prove which is the most worthy gets laborious and repetitive.  The "happily ever after" needs to only be a side plot among the newer drama...

And what new drama am I talking about?  I honestly don't know.  I keep reading interviews that the story isn't told yet...and the journey in front of the characters is still long.  I hope that somewhere along the line, that journey becomes more than "will she or won't she" and "were her feelings real or not" because I think there's some plot out there to be explored that doesn't revolve around which brother's bed Elena's sleeping in.  (We saw a glimpse of that possibility in the promo for the new "Originals" series - see how cool something can look when the focus is something other than a romantic relationship.)

Because building an extended series - any type of series - around a focus so tight as a romantic triangle really does a disservice to the audience.  Romance is fun (it should be...I write it), but it also need to be balanced - and have a sense that there will be an answer...and not just someday when the book comes to an end.

Sorry.  I just had to get this out of my brain and onto the page.  I've had some medical stuff going of late, and I've had a lot of time to ponder and dissect things while staring at blank ceilings.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Bring it On" - Commentary on TVD

What episode is this anyway?  Sorry, for some reason, this has seemed kind of like the season without an end - even though it's still just March.  I'll admit that while I still find myself theorizing and lamenting the "what could have been" and even probably "what should have been" of TVD (if the Originals hadn't arrived en masse to derail the show), I'm not nearly as invested in the show as I once was.

Which, I guess, is good...considering the fact that I've basically been on deadline for 12 consecutive months.  (That was tiring, and a good lesson in what I can do when I put my mind to it.)  But, it's also sad, because I really enjoyed having a bit of a diversion when times were more than just a tad stressful around here.

The one thing that hasn't wavered for me, though, is my love for watching Damon's love for Elena.  I'm not sure if I can really say it works in reverse...because so much of the time, Elena's love for Damon is muddled - mired in the realities of life as an overwhelmed teen (even when she was a vampire), mixed with conflicted feelings about loving Stefan too, and simply not wanting to be Katherine.

But Damon's love for Elena has never wavered.

He loved her when she was human.

And now he loves her as a vampire.  Just like he told Stefan - Damon loves her either way.  When Stefan's been hell-bent on "fixing" her (even when she really wasn't broken), Damon was still there, rock steady, unwavering in his devotion to Elena.

Now Elena's not really Elena any longer...or is she?

This new, emotionless (?) Elena is different.  She says what she thinks.  Her filter's definitely set on "off."  She's manipulative, and she's not hesitating to show Caroline exactly how she feels about her friend butting in where she didn't belong.  She's hungry.  She doesn't care.

Damon understands because he's been there.  His words were prophetic when he said she was a lot more like him than she was like Stefan.

Stefan cautioned her about turning into a ripper, but that's not the danger that looms ahead of Elena.

Right now, she's at risk of destroying everything and every relationship that she has left...and Damon knows it, since he's already walked that path.

He knows "his" Elena's still inside her, even though she's buried - at his request.  He's not willing to give up on her.   Unlike Stefan, he loves her because she's Elena, not because she's his favorite version of Elena.

And now we're tiptoeing into the world of spoilers........

Watching the clips of next week is painful.  While Damon resented Stefan's efforts to "fix" Elena earlier in the season, now he's treading those dangerous waters - because she is broken now.  And he's the one who did it.

Looking at the scene on the rooftop, candles are burning.  It looks pretty romantic.

He knows Elena loved him once, and those feelings were deep enough to form the sire bond, even if she'd never been brave enough to voice them.  He's trying to coax those feelings back...because, true or not, he thinks it's his fault that they're gone.

I'm really afraid of what's coming next.  I have a feeling we're entering rocky territory the likes of which the DE fandom has never seen...and that's saying something.  Elena isn't Elena right now.  She's more frightening than Katherine because she's not really holding onto anything - except her switch staying firmly "off."

If she has an inkling of suspicion that Damon wants to cure her, even if she doesn't want it, I'm very much afraid that she's going to do something that will have long lasting effects on Damon and Elena's relationship.

But Damon waited over 100 years for Katherine.  He's not going anywhere.  We're just going to have to wait for Elena to find that out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Project

I have a new semi-secret project.  (Semi-secret, of course, because I don't mind mentioning it...but I'm also not going to reveal too much about it.)

Right now, it's coming along swimmingly.  At four days in, I've crossed the 7,000 word mark.  That's not exactly record pace for me, but I'm pleased with my word count.  If writing as my alter-ego did anything, it taught me how to get a book in on deadline (and I hit wordcounts per day that I didn't think possible).

So, what can I tell you about this new SSP (you know, Semi-Secret Project)?

Those of y'all who know me well, know that I have a different candle for each book.

This book's scent is....Macintosh (from Yankee Candle Company).  Originally, it was going to be a different scent, but I discovered I was very allergic to it.  It isn't easy to type while sneezing.  So, Macintosh it is.

There is one scene that I bought a special votive candle for....True Rose.  Hmm, sounds romantic, doesn't it?  Hint...hint....

My playlist is still kind of evolving at this point.  I'll have to add to the list as the book goes on.  Right now, I'm noticing a heavy amount of Mumford & Sons.  Here are a few of my preferred writing songs for SSP.
-  Holland Road (Mumford & Sons)
- I Will Wait (Mumford & Sons)
- Hopeless Wanderer (Mumford & Sons)
- Kiss Me (Ed Sheeran)
- Shake it Out (Florence + the Machine)
- Just Give Me a Reason (Pink)
- It's Time (Imagine Dragons)
- Till Kingdom Come (Coldplay)
- New York (Snow Patrol)

And remember.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Inspirational Thought for the Day

Our family visited the museum this past weekend.  One room was filled with quotes about dreams and finding inspiration.  I thought it was really pretty cool.  For the next few weeks, I'll share a few of them here.

In keeping with this week's Oscar theme, I'm starting with one from Steven Spielberg.

As a writer, I like to think this is what I do as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review - 33 Valentines

From its opening pages, 33 Valentines lets readers know that it's not going to be the "standard" romance novel.  After all, how many books open with the main character taking a trip to the emergency room?  It only gets more complicated when we learn how she broke her arm and exactly what caused the accident.

Of course there's a knight in shining armor who comes to her rescue (well, in this hero's case, a knight in a plaid blazer).  

Sam and Sophie have been life-long friends.  He knows why she hates February.  He's always been there for her...much like a favorite sweater or comfortable sofa.  He's the guy who she can always depend on - until he starts dating someone else.  Of course, that's exactly when Sophie realizes Sam's more than a friend to her.  

33 Valentines is deeper than most romances I've read.  Sophie covers a lot of ground in this book as she finally admits to herself exactly why she wishes the calendar skipped from January straight to March.  I'm not normally a fan of multiple flashbacks in a book, but Ms. Monahan's work, and they give us insight into Sophie as Sophie's coming to terms with her own past.

Despite the underlying serious themes in the book, 33 Valentines is liberally sprinkled with humor and light moments.  Once I started this story, I had a difficult time putting it down.

I can't wait to read Ms. Monahan's next story.

Rating:  5 out of 5 dog treats

33 Valentines is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

Disclaimer:  I was provided an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I received no compensation - monetary or otherwise.