Quick Update on Witchslayer’s Scion Release Date

4 Jun

I’ve been rather quiet on the subject, and it has nothing to do with work for a change. We’re going to be delayed – I know, as with Tower of Obsidian, due to editing – and I do not have a firm release date at this time. It won’t be a month or two, more like, more; will keep you updated as I know.

Now, last year I promised a new book this year – and I will deliver something, even if I self-publish. Which means me learning how to use Sygil, I guess, but I shall keep you posted. Witchslayer’s Scion is under contract which means it’s off the table, and I’ve been a wimp about the novel I was going to self-publish, so perhaps it’s time to revisit that option.

But, on the plus side, Ron and I have a table at the Highland Festival in Selkirk June 24 & 25. Never been, but looks like fun; I have a conditional day off on the 24.

Want vs Need in Story – Endings

3 May

I got excited when I learned this year’s Rainbow Stage production includes Little Shop of Horrors. I hadn’t seen the film version since Jr. High, but I remembered it enough to decide quickly that I am going, regardless of who is coming with. I wiki’d the film – and now I’m curious – is this stage production going with the original ending, or are they going for something that tests positive with audiences?

This isn’t the only series that the ending changes from the original: I am Legend, The Lord of the Rings, The Witches; to name a few.

This isn’t so much about the necessary adaptation from the various mediums, because what I can take pages describing can be shown relatively quickly on a screen. I’ve seen things work in live theater that don’t carry over so well into the movie. And, if I’m writing a serialized story with monthly installments, it’s probably going to fit into a series better than Hollywood’s three-act system (or theater’s two-act). Personally, I think that you can be faithful to the original in keeping with the spirit.

That being said, I find more than any other aspect, that endings are one of the most important aspects of fiction, so I’m way more upset if the adaptation changes it dramatically, without justification. I think sometimes it is a matter of respecting the audience, namely that if you’re making a movie with a huge budget, you expect a return on the investment, so it’s best to play it safe with the formula that tests well. It’s the reason The Hero’s Journey is seen again and again in fiction.

This doesn’t always sit well with those of us who like our expectations teased. There are certain sub genres of science fiction revels in the And I must Scream, whereas historically, Romances can end tragically, but usually on a high note of hope, such as Tristan and Isolde or the Arthurian Romance of Arthur, Gwenevere, and Lancelot – they may be torn asunder in life, but together in death/exile, etc. Those who don’t read much fantasy assume it’s all wish-fulfillment, failing to recognize fantasy’s long history, and I need only point to the cautionary Brother’s Grimm originals to prove my point, let alone The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Odyssey.

This isn’t to say that all science fiction ends with self-loathing and Nietzsche, but I have different expectations putting on an episode of Murdoch Mysteries as compared to Heartland. In giving the viewer what we want, usually, good prevails or at least solves the problem at hand, but the ending has to fit the tone of the story more than the beginning or middle. If it doesn’t answer a question or satisfy me, even the most casual “I just want the good guys to win” audience member would probably lose interest in the next part. Why is the ending so important?

Even when we have stories of Grey vs. Grey morality, audiences usually pick a side. We might even be with a villain protagonist, who we might subconsciously want to get caught, but at the same time, we know his getting caught ends the romp, so we don’t. We’re conflicted. How long can he pull this off, exactly?

But some of our most well-loved stories end in a loss. The Empire Strikes Back, seen probably as the ‘best’ of the movies by most, ends with Han potentially being lost forever, Luke losing his hand and the rebellion is in shambles, with Luke reeling from a forty-year-spoiler. I wouldn’t call this a win for our heroes– but the story still ends with hope. If this was the first installment of Star Wars, I think it’s safe to say that it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as well-received by the audiences – but there was pretty much a guarantee to a third installment at that time, so maybe it wasn’t as big of a challenge to the audience as I’m making it out to be.

So what are some of the best endings you’ve read? And are there stories that you thought were fantastic, but couldn’t stand the ending?

Is Gaston Dumb?

6 Apr


I’ll start out with stating that I refuse to go and see the live action remake of my favourite Disney Animated Feature. It’s probably inevitable that I will see it, but my FB feed is full of nothing but how the live action movie is better than the original, because of the ‘problematic content’ (Stockholm syndrome, Belle’s supposed snobbery, etc). If you know me at all, I happen to be a fan of animation and puppetry in general, and, while I don’t think it’s wrong to be critical of something, I think there is something to say for, “That’s obviously not what they were going for, but mmmkay.” This is my quiet bit of rebellion, talking about the original.


The town’s calling her odd, but she’s not trying hard enough to win them over. *SLOW CLAP*

But we’re here to discuss… Gaston isn’t supposed to be bright, but is he dumb?

Gaston, among other things, doesn’t come across as brilliant, but that doesn’t mean he’s a basic bro jock. Making him stupid diminishes his threat factor somewhat. What’s my argument, other than that perhaps there’s more to this character than meets the eye (as per the theme of the film, dur hur).

1) Maurice suggests that Belle should try talking to him
When Belle mentions there’s no one in town she can really talk to, Maurice suggests Gaston. Child me thought it was because he was an important character and Disney with your average Disney film, this counts as character development. Grown up me suspects Maurice isn’t a complete nitwit – he’s an eccentric inventor ahead of his time, but still – if the pickings in town are slim, Gaston isn’t the dullest knife in the cupboard.

2) If you’re not with us, you’re against us
The actual biblical quote is along the lines of, “Whoever is not against us is for us”. I’m not saying you have to be brilliant to twist something out of context to get it to suit you; but it’s a quick bit of rhetoric when he’s already got the town riled behind him.

3) Mount your Courage to the Sticking Place

MB.Quote appears in Beauty and the Beast
This, to me, is more about good writers hiding things rather than really alluding much to Gaston. However, he must have heard it from somewhere…

4) “It’s not right for a woman to read… soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking…”
Small girl-child knew this mindset was backwards and meant to make the audience dislike Gaston. Minutes later, he thanks Belle for calling him “Primeval” it’s probably assumed that he doesn’t know what this means… but, what if he does, and he takes it as a complement? For all we know, he’s fully aware of a world out there that’s more, but he represents the sure thing – he’s a practical hunter, afterall.

5) The Plot against Maurice
He tells Le Fou that he has been thinking – a dangerous past time. HOWEVER, he downplays it. He’s downplaying his threat – society likes manly biting, losing at chess Gaston.


Gaston knows this, and he wants approval and everybody to love him. He’ll get what he wants, but he plays the game. He’s strong enough to put a boot to Maurice and force Belle down the altar. He’s not doing it that way. Why? (Other than that it’s a Disney movie…) Because in his own mind, he’s the good guy, the hero – he’s a product of the world.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here?


And for the record, I don’t hate the town. This part of the song is comedy gold, y’all.


Kudos to whoever was principle animator on Gaston, I love his expressions.

Why do We Ship?

21 Feb

I’m going to start by saying I’m okay with someone having a preference for a non-canon couple.  Heck, there’s lots of times when most of the audience agrees that the wrong people got together, and I’m not innocent of such opinions either. This isn’t about arguing who needs to hook up with who, but why do we, the reader, like what we do, and why it’s such a contentious issue between fans who like the same work.

But this doesn’t come from literature but from hanging out with my coworkers when they were in the middle of a marathon of Rookie Blue.

I’m not going to talk about the accuracy of first responder shows (I haven’t seen many episodes, but I rather like Chicago Fire) but how much one of my co-worker ships a couple – Andy and Sam.


This series has like, five seasons, between exploring their feelings and general drama, they hook up with a bunch of other people before they eventually end up together. My one co-worker, well, let’s just say she’s an adamant supporter, calling everyone else “Gross” or “She’s crazy, stay away!”

She’s not alone. I recall that in the Twilight craze, fans were on Team Edward or Team Jacob.  In a marketing move, this tried to extend to other series as well – such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Even if you didn’t like Twilight, people would point out that they hated X – but Bella should pick Jacob because it’s less weird, somehow.

One of the longest-running series is based on Archie Andrews not being able to decide between two girls. And we, the audience, all have opinions, even if that the ‘choices’ should murder the hypotenuse and move on.

Back in my Uni days, one of my friends didn’t care much for the LotR films, asked me, “The ranger guy – he hooks up with the dark haired girl, not the blonde one, right?” This friend has since been put right and has sat through all the films with her husband, so she can learn first hand that yes, that scene on the bridge with the jewel had a point.

And, I’m not innocent in this, either. Once upon a time, I joined a forum waiting for Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. I joined a group that preferred Cloud x Tifa to Cloud x Aerith. And let’s just say, I made some online friends to whom I still chat with everything other than things FF related, but let’s say, between the clubs, things got heated.

There were people dedicated to how much Cloud really hated Tifa. In hindsight, we were pretty secure in our ship and didn’t have to do much other than make fun of the other side’s webpages of craziness. And FFVII isn’t the only story to have it’s share of crazy-shippers, it is among the more legendary, because of a dating mechanism midgame that doesn’t really effect the ending because, Cloud’s motivations aren’t as important as him saving the planet from the Bad Guy who’s really been dead all along, [/spoiler for 20 year old game. Feel old yet?].

So why do seemingly sane and rational people argue about who the better love interest for the hero is?

Is it to do with the romance genre – different than the love story – (Tristan and Isolde and Romeo and Juliet are love stories, not romances) or is it something else? I think this has two parts – one of which is cultural, and then, looking at it from a childish angle to a more mature angle.

I’m not saying that Christianity has any onus on the love story, but I think there’s something culturally going on here. Because so many of our stories have been lost over time, the ones that were saved over time had themes that people in the past found important. These were the works of the virtuous pagans that various monks viewed important enough to transcribe to survive the dark ages, such as the works of Homer and Aristotle.

My theory is that in the Book of Revelation, Jesus returns to his Bride, the Faithful Church. This is why so many of our stories end with marriage and happily ever after, as opposed to stories that originated elsewhere, and we saw virtues in married characters remaining faithful (The Odyssey – well okay, Penelope was faithful) or not (Tristan and Isolde).  It was only the more complicated stories that we see stories generally exemplify virtues – such as resisting the forbidden fruit as exemplified as virtue in stories such as Gawain and the Green Knight. I think a mistake I often made was that simple stories were of lesser value to more complicated stories – but we’re a story telling species, and some times, when we can’t express an idea, we do our best to tell that story in whatever media we have – song, dance, art, and the written and oral tradition.


Sir George and the Dragon. No parallels to anything in the Bible here. Nope.

The other aspect of shipping is where we see ourselves in characters – we identify with someone, and we want them to ‘win’ – and when I was younger, it was more or less that my preferred character got the object of their affection. We get introduced to Snow White and her Prince Charming, they’re a designated couple, even if, let’s be honest, they’re boring, because WINNING.


My official emblem when I was a kid; never mind that I preferred chocolate.

It’s funny listening to my niece talk about Archie Comics, and she says something along the lines of “Betty always wins” when I seem to recall Veronica usually being the first choice, although he’d dodder back to the blonde if other guys were paying attention to her. I too was a Betty fan, if only because I wanted the underdog to win, plus she was nice – don’t make me use that vanilla picture again.

Now, as a grown-up who let’s be honest, doesn’t read Archie; I do prefer the Archie x Veronica ship – the main reason why is that Veronica might not be the healthier choice if I was a marriage councilor, but demands his respect. She may be high maintenance and scheming, but in a way, it’s also because I meet girls like Betty – and to you I say, you can do better. Betty would probably be the supporting wife who puts up with too much – with Veronica, you don’t need crazy goings on to happen, she brings the drama. Exhausting in real life, but for fiction – entertaining. Plus, a potential cautionary tale.


Because after you spend all the money on botox, she’s still going to be a handful.

So what’s your opinion on shipping, at least, why do we get so up in arms about it?


Should I Write my Epic… Before I Sell Book 1?

17 Feb

After much dreaming and research, next week I’ll be heading down to Costa Rica for a little over a week for some adventure. Not enough time to do Australia – right now, that’s a 2018 goal, but we’ll see how we do finance-wise, as I’m hopefully also about to become a house owner this year as well, but if all goes well besides learning how to surf I’ll finally be using my PADI certification.  I if we’re friends on FB, I’m sure you’ll see some pictures.


Today’s Topic has been on my mind for a while. I’ll start with saying that aspiring writers come from different walks of life, skill levels and expectations.

Writing, while having properties I can analyze syntax and make just about any topic uber-boring, is an art.

I can watch and copy someone else’s work, but I have no idea how to make it flow and, if you and I were to get an impression on any sculpture or painting, we might come to different interpretations as to what we notice. The same goes with writing.

But a question that interests me is, what if I envision a longer project? Perhaps the novel stands on its own, but I’ve envisioned it in parts, and I’m really motivated to keep going. This is tackling book 2 or even an entire trilogy (or more, I know which genre to which I belong!) striking while the creative iron is hot, before book 1 is really refined, much less accepted.

Only to realize maybe by the time I’m finished, the market is oversaturated with say, Zombie Unicorns, and I’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort with that one series no one will touch.

This isn’t about why we write and who we write for. This is about using one’s time wisely, so any fans aren’t bored while you take a three year break working on something that will never see the light of day.

There’s pros and cons to dedicating yourself to a large project, so I’ll use the same analogy as the visual artist above. If I only do oil painting and only do nature scenes, I’ll probably get very good at it – no matter how hopeless I start, if you were to line up the earliest attempts to the latest, you’d see general improvement over time. That being said, if I were to also study figure drawing via conte or attempt sculpture, my scenic oil paintings might take longer to improve, but my general skills from composition, depth and lighting, might not translate necessarily from one medium or subject matter to another, but it can help me rethink a problem.

I’m a bad example because I started writing very young – I did start out writing a series of novels, because it was easy to revisit the world and characters, and continue on with what I had already established.  I had some vague epic plan, but I had no idea what I was doing. Characters got to visit new locations and I got to put the focus on background characters – not so much a day in the limelight so much as “this would be cool from this perspective – huhuh, I know Blink 182 isn’t really epic fantasy music, but I could totally see this song right here”. *Sings to the radio, wonders why not much writing happened today*

The thing that is unfortunate that, even if I were to approach writing with a much better mastery of the English language, was that my first novels were bad. Not creatively – when I find my old stuff, I kind of enjoy how free the stories were. Beyond that – well, no reason to be a self-loathing artist here; use your imagination. I became a reasonably fast typist because I wrote, but it took first year University to knock me down a few pegs that, no, I’m not as clear and concise as I think I am.

But I wrote passionately and I studied everything I could.  And while I had it in my heart that the series needed me to catch up skill-level for the epic story, I wrote other shorts, novellas and eventually, once I graduated I started to write novels as well – but not set around the same characters or subgenre.

It was only just recently I revisited and wrote a sequel for a novel I hadn’t submitted yet.

Why put in all that work and effort for a genre (YA) I find extremely hard to get any attention for?

Because I was having a hard time getting the first novel the way I liked it. I wrote the first knowing full well that it stood on its own but I wanted to write a sequel, but I had lots of ideas. The novel in question is a wacky YA steampunk, and the first novel is really fast-paced. I felt that to get the first novel right, I needed to explore it from another angle.

We see this all the time as “writing exercises” where you interview your character or put them in a situation, and write a page or two of fluff so you get to know them better. Stuff that helps you, as a writer, but isn’t meant to be seen by the reader – necessarily. But was it necessary for me to write an entire book?

This is where I think it’s a good idea that, if you do have an idea for book 2, don’t just send book 1 out and forget about it, because given my experience how long it takes to hear back, if you’re writing a novel a year, I’m usually 2 books ahead before I’m at the “Send me more” phase. Hash some rough chapters out. Make yourself notes. If you have a source to familiarise yourself with the material, do it so you can go back. It doesn’t seem like it’s important when you finish a book, because you are supposed to know details. Immerse yourself in another universe, maybe a leaving yourself notes for a refresher doesn’t hurt.

Flex your authorial muscles in ways beyond reading and writing non-fiction. I learned how to imitate other authors by stealing their voices for shorts. I’m not saying that if you only write hard- science fiction you have to write a middle grade western, but try to make it different, even if it adheres to your brand.

But what about a true epic, that requires absolute planning, and is meant to be one whole, and needs to be split into parts for the sake of a physical copy?

Once again, consider if you think you’re done after draft 1, 8, 20. It’s not a bad idea to take a break from that epic, and work on something else, especially if you have writers block.  Back to the painting analogy – I might be inspired to do something big and epic – and let’s use oils because you can build onto them – but it might be a slow, arduous process on my massive canvas, and occasionally, I’ll do other commissions or sketch when I’ve had enough because I just can’t get the sunset just so. The beauty with writing on a screen is that you can make multiple tiny changes to the manuscript without having to rewrite an entire page, removing entire scenes or moving them around. You can always keep adding to a story (and some of us seem to be in that endless cycle, but letting go is another post).

The best way for me to get my story in its best shape, ironically, is to give it a break and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. Knowing more about it is helpful – but remember, even some of the most beloved classics have a bit of continuity problem. I’m not going to point and jeer, so stop worrying and write, okay?

Thoughts? I’m mostly curious from the, “I sold book 1… now I really have to hurry and finish book 2!” when they’ve promised a trilogy camp.

Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

17 Jan

Despite the name (thanks, dad) I’d say I’m like most people when it comes to Star Wars: I enjoy it. Enjoy the Lego sets. Sort of aware of all the old EU stuff that’s now become obsolete. Never watched the Clone Wars or Rebels cartoons – but aware they exist. Was pleased with The Force Awakens, but isn’t going to say it’s the best thing evaaar. Saddened by the recent loss of Carrie Fisher, though my thoughts and prayers go to her family. We’ll get to thoughts on her later on in this post.

Can’t say I hated the prequels, but Star Wars wasn’t my childhood the way I can see it being some people’s.

I’m not opposed to supplementary movies, but I think while I don’t mind expanding on the universe in new stories, to leave the classics alone. I was very sceptical about Rogue One in general, because I had questions like, “Even if we pretend Princess Leia isn’t involved until the last minute – what about the staff on the Death Star?” I’m not a purist, but, what about Tarkin?

To add to the drama, people on FB mentioned they were conflicted to taking some of their kids because, while it was a Star Wars movie, it felt darker. Darker wasn’t the word I’d use to describe Rogue One, I’d use the term mature. But then I decided to watch A New Hope again. Yeah, I’d say it’s not a darker tone – the original Star Wars isn’t gory, but doesn’t shy away from adult ideas, albeit ones simplified.

Mature stories, on the contrast, explores what’s going on and are generally less idealized. From the writer’s perspective, the path of those who aren’t the chosen ones – and while obviously the hero still needs to eat, usually the focus is on the fate of the world, not the fall out because of mutiny because people are losing heart. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy something that’s aimed at kids – when you’re more discerning, you may question what was going on throughout the galaxy for the Empire’s 20-year reign, but you don’t over think it.

I saw Rogue One with family, and my seven year old nephew said he really liked it, he also asked me questions about what was going on, who was that guy and why didn’t they just X. He doesn’t do that when we’re watching The Hobbit movies or other Star Wars films. I think sometimes people mistake complicated for good – but I find that complications can slow down a story and, while it might be accurate to history, as creatures who really like stories, we want the motivations to be clear, and have a certain expectation as how we want the story to go. Hercules can fall during a trial, but not forever.

Was Rogue One entertaining and well done? Based on one viewing as a casual fan, I think so. No complaints about special effects, costume and setting, as well as casting. I suppose I could go on about the ideology portrayed – but it is my experience that when you have a project that goes across to different writers, that will be a reflection of what they thought of the media as well as how it relates to the world about them, as well as a reflection of social issues that pervade our society. That being said, you could tell it was handled by people who loved the source material.

Certain people, at least online, were complaining about bringing women into powerful roles in the forefront of the conflict, whereas the story is essentially a male fantasy.  I would protest this, because I thought Jyn was passive and more or less along for the ride and, while the mission happened because of her, that Cassian was a more interesting and relatable character. While we’re on the topic of characters, I’d argue that Cassian and K-2SO, among the heroes, had the best personalities (I also liked Orson’s portrayal) but, like the planets we got exposed to, it seemed to be throwing a lot in very quickly. Fine for me – but my nephew won’t catch nuances. I know it’s hard to go back when the original movie is going to be 40 this year – and if this wasn’t part of the Star Wars canon, I wouldn’t say boo. But Rogue One seems like it’s there for the older kids who already know what sort of film to expect.

I’ve said it before – there have always been female fans of the traditional “boy” genre. I don’t worry about representation as much now as I did when I was a kid, but that’s because I write my own, and often times it feels that when you’re introducing a heroine, there’s the need to make her ‘badass’ or whatever – it can feel shoe-horned in. Not saying don’t do it, but I can like something and still think about it critically. Despite Rey and Padme being added to the Canon (as well as Phasma and now Jyn) I still think Leia Organa is the best female character in that series, so I suppose I should move on to the CGI aspect.

Carrie Fisher has recently passed away, whereas the character of Tarkin way portrayed by Peter Cushing, who passed away in the 1990’s. Especially to the family of Fisher, it seems cruel, but people are talking about the politics of what they’re going to do, especially considering Leia Organa is an iconic character and was set to play a major part in the new Star Wars Trilogy, with VII out last year and VIII in post-production, apparently Fisher had all of her scenes filmed.

Honestly, one of the concerns I had with prequels and that is to explain away the appearance of characters who would have aged. Given that there are enough people to look the part with makeup and a bit of CGI, it’s not that we can’t have someone who really looks like the character running about. It’s that their being portrayed – especially an iconic character, like Leia Organa – by someone else. Especially when that actor recently passed away.

A question like this came up in WWC this summer, when someone asked us on a panel about series, “What do you do if you realized you killed a character you needed?” I say you improvise, and there’s no reason the show has to stop because you realize you needed Billy. Obviously, the character of Leia could be portrayed by someone else, or CGI, or she can explained away. You get criticized regardless of what direction you take, because there’s no way you can make everyone happy. Writers bring their own biases into a story, but so do the viewers.

I can’t answer this, but I can’t say that I like the idea of CGI Leia or Tarkin, although Leia’s role was greatly reduced and had less than a minute of screen time in Rogue One. Tarkin fooled my dad, but I say bring in a live actor, and if it’s not like a prequel where they must appear in a future episode, give the character a fitting farewell and respect the actor’s legacy in which they brought to the screen a character that we could relate to.

So Long, 2016

2 Jan

Hope you and yours are having lovely holidays– as for me, I’m working and looking forward to four days off following tonight’s shift. Let’s just say, locally, we got a heck of a lot of snow, with apparently more on its way tonight.

I didn’t post online my goals for 2016, and artistically there weren’t anything specific other than continue with writing and drawing, and I did get quite a bit accomplished. Absolutely zero feedback on the younger YA and Middle Grade stuff I’ve written, but I did sell another novel to Champagne Books. As soon as they get back to me on the Gothic Steampunk novel, I send in the next book in the series. Don’t want to flood the editors, but I think my goal is to get these YA steampunk books out. I just finished the second book, written because I wanted to go deeper into the characters, several of which I felt weren’t as developed in the first book as they could have been.

The nice thing is this year I paid off my student loans. I have saved up and am officially able to go and look for a house. I still have a bit of consumer debt, but I need to take a vacation – even if it’s not going any where, but I am thinking that I have a passport, just have a bit more stuff to do around here, and then I will use up my equivalent of two weeks and go somewhere – I was going to go last year, but the winter was honestly extremely mild. I have to figure out what I want, and I’m supposed to start editing my new novel under contract next month. My best guess is I should go away for about a week, and take another week off to get the editing done.

So did I get as much as I wanted accomplished in 2016? Nope – honestly, it feels like I’ve become a bit boring. I have been working a heck of a lot to get ahead, and honestly, sometimes I wonder for what. It would be nice to take up a martial art or do archery more regular or even get back into my high angle rescue stuff. The Rec Center on the base has opened up a climbing wall, so I’m hoping that I can go and get some certification in repelling (I have totally lost my gloves from when I was in fire college, my ziplining instructor certification is mucho expired). The other goal, after I find a house, is get me a kayak. Which is strange, because this summer I think I kayaked the least since my dad made his purchase about three summers prior. Then again, the OT has dried up since November and I really can’t complain as I’m enjoying the seemingly ‘normal’ hours. Then I accepted a shift tonight. Weee. Ah well – it’s in MacGregor so I’ll probably get a chance to write and edit. I’ll figure out what sort of personal reading challenge I should do, as right now I’m listening to non-fiction audiobooks and then another non-fiction book on loan.