Saturday, March 30, 2013

Asher's Curse

This is just the story of how Asher Charming came to be the Big Bad Wolf.
Kim Bum is playing the part of Asher Charming

It was hard to keep himself from going insane. The hum drum routine of his days ate away at his sanity like a rat gorging itself in a garbage can.

Keeping count of his imprisonment had kept him lean, and it had kept him angry. He had been locked away in his cell for nearly a month. There were twenty-six scratches on the wall directly across from his face. It was his wake up call every morning. That and that damned guard banging on his door about breakfast.

As if he would eat any of the crap they served in a prison.

He was Prince Charming for Godmother's sake!

He had been brought in under the wax of the new moon and now the moon was nearing another wax. Asher had ben beyond furious when the card soldiers had burst into his private party at the Hatbox to arrest him. He had ben roughed up, trussed up and then dumped into a cell like some common criminal. 

All under the express orders of the magical pain in his ass, the Fairy Godmother. The bitch fairy is what Asher had nicknamed her. It wasn’t very original he was sure, but it was an apt moniker.

Asher sat on the thin mattress in his cell staring at a blank expansion of concert. He was cold. He was hunger, but most importantly he was pissed off. No one had told him what he was being held for and worse he had not been allowed to contact his father.

The small panel in the door slid open. “Stand up,” his jailer barked.

Normally no one dared to speak to Asher Charming in that manner, but this was not his normal. After a month looking at grey walls he was keen on getting out. His body was achy and he was sure his hair and clothes were fit for the trash heap at this point. He had started smelling himself days ago. Asher shuddered to think what he was going smell like once he hit fresh air. In the cell everything smelled the same so it wasn’t as offense as he knew it was going to get.

However Asher stood and prepared himself. He had a few choice things he wanted to say to his father and the upstart little Godmother when he got out, but for now he was going to tap dance to their little show.

The guard entered his cell and roughly handcuffed him again. Asher had to keep from rolling his eyes. Honestly, where was he going to go. He was in a prison. It wasn't like he could just stroll down the corridor and then out the front door.

Asher was roughly shoved out the door. He stumbled a few times only to be prodded into moving again by the grumpy guard. ‘He must not know who I am,” Asher theorized. There could be no other explanation. Once he was released he would have this card shredded and he would dance on the pieces.

On the slow walk back to civilization he finally got a chance to take in his surroundings. He had been quite drunk when they drug him in the first time. He was dismayed to find that there wasn’t much to see. Just a long dark hallway with arched wooden doors spaced evenly every few feet. He could hear moans and mumblings coming from a few of them. He dimly wondered how long some of them had been shut away. The guard prodded him in the back once more.

“Do you know who I am?” Asher asked.

“Sure I do. Everyone knows who Asher Charming is.” The guard sneered. He had been on duty with the prince was brought in. his wife still wouldn't believe some of the curses that flowed out of Asher's mouth.

“Then you know that I am going to have your pieced scattered to the four winds once I’m free.” Asher gritted.

“I might prove to be a bit of a challenge for you. Word is you only liked to pick on woman, your grace.” The guard felt Asher stiffen in his hands.

“You filthy commoner.” Asher raged as he started to struggle in the guard's hands. Arthur jabbed the hilt of his sword into Asher's ribs. The prince yelped.

“Oh come off it. Today is your reckoning.” Arthur directed Asher up a set of stairs and out in the sunlight. Asher had to blind as tears stung his eyes. Since he couldn't reach up to wipe them away the rolled down his face freely. He could feel the trail of grime the tears cut down his cheeks.

He could hear the sounds of civilization again as they walked past the windows that looked out onto the prison courtyard. They passed a few other guards who all stopped to stare at Asher like he was some sort of freak at Hatbox.

They were heading toward a set of double doors set into the wall at the end of the long hallway. He could see another set of guards standing watch over the doors. Arthur had an iron grop on his upper arm so there was no espace for Asher. As they approached the pair swung open the doors. 

Arthur pushed Asher through the doors and it took all of his concentration not to fall flat on his face. He looked up and found the entire Bean court staring at him. The court had been assembled for Asher's trial. He blinked back his surprise as he was ushered down the center aisle toward the wooden cage set at the center of the room. The Troll Tribunal was the last time he remembered the entire court being convened. 

He saw his father and brothers sitting on the dais next to the Queen and the Fairy Godmother. Asher glared daggers at them all. Especially his father.

How could his father allow him to me treated in such a manner? As if he hadn't done thing sin his past. There were murmuring in the crowd. None of them had been told why they were to assemble. It was not often they met. 

Asher threw his shoulders back and stuck his nose in the air. He was not going to give them the satisfaction of them seeing him beaten. "We see a month in a cell has not taught you any humility." The Snow Queen announced. All the chatter stopped. "Such a shame Asher. Your father had high hopes for you. And here you find yourself before this court. In chains and disgrace." Asher tried to snatch away from Arthur. The Queen raised a slender eyebrow. "We may have to look at the conditions of our cells if you still have such fight left in you." The queen was not amused.

Arthur jabbed Asher in the ribs again and he stopped struggling. His side was going to be rightly bruised if this punishment kept up."Arthur if you please." The Queen indicated the cage with her hand. The door swung open on silent hinges of its own accord. Asher was roughly shoved inside. The door slammed again of its own accord. "Godmother if you please," The queen nestled back into her throne.

The Fairy Godmother had been called to act as the prosecutor for Asher's trial. She stood up and walked down the steps of the dais. In another setting Asher could have called the Godmother lovely in her pale yellow gown. The bodice sparkled with yellow sapphires and rubies. She was even wearing glass slippers. Asher never could figure out how women wore the things. Though they sure as hell were sexy. "Asher Charming, prince of the blood you have been accused of crimes against women." Several throats were cleared and a few mouths flopped open. 

It was a foul thing to abuse a woman in Bean. Bean was the only queendom in the realm. Women held all the important and political jobs in the country. Men weren't ill treated, but the Snow Queen, nor the Fairy Godmother tolerated caveman antics in their land. If Asher hadn't been a prince of the blood he would have been dealt with sooner.

"On two separate occasions you have taken sexual liberties against minor females." One of Asher's brothers shifted in his chair. Their father looked utterly sick to his stomach. He had not raised his sons to behave that way. 

The Fairy Godmother walked around Asher's cage. He could actually see her blue dragonfly wings shimmering in the sunlight streaming into the court chamber. "You have raised your hand against several woman and abused your position as prince to avoid punishment." She came to a rest in front of Asher. "Do you have anything to say to this court?" She stood back. 

Asher clapped rather loudly and sarcastically. "Oh that was marvelous Godmother. REally it was. I'm so glad I skipped breakfast for this. I have a lot to say to this court." He spat on the floor of his cage. The Godmother glared at him. "Though I doubt you want to hear any of it." He sneered. "You dragged me out of my birthday party for this." He threw his hands wide to indicate everything. "You think this little show was going to sway my feelings. Those woman were trash. Not even of noble blood." He turned around and faced the court. "They weren't even real woman. Whores and cock teases the lot of them." He couldn't believe he was having to explain himself. "Sometimes you have to put a woman in her place." He grabbed at the bars. "I'm Asher Charming. I'm a prince. I do as I damned well please." He could see the color draining from his father's face.   

"We shall see young prince." The Godmother promised. 

"Well that was certainly a performance." The Queen commented. "We are disappointed in you Prince Charming. Have we not treated you as one of our own?" She looked over to her daughters. The princesses nodded in agreement with their mother. "Did we not welcomed you into our bosom when your father petitioned for our help against the Jabberwockies?" The queen stood up. Her ice white gown stood out in stark relief to her milk chocolate skin. Her crown threw rainbows across the marble floor."Did we not help to rebuild The Everlands after the Troll Wars." She stepped down from her dais. The royal guards went to move, but she stopped them with a wave of her hand. The Queen walked towards Asher's cage. "Are we not friends my dear Asher?"

Asher scoffed. "I am not my father." 

"That much is obvious to us young Charming. You dare to raise your hand against our sisters." She walked right up to the cage to peer at Asher. He had the crazy thought to reach out and wrap his hands around her throat. He could kill her before her guards could get to him. "So this is how our generosity is repaid." She leaned back from his cage and slowly returned to her throne

King Phillip Charming stood up from his chair. He was a wizened man in the latter stages of his life. To see his youngest son brought to such a place was not doing wonders for his health. "Your majesty I would ask that the court be lenient with my son." King Charming asked. 

"We think that your son is beyond leniency." She reached over and patted the king gently on the the arm. "We find no pleasure in this, but justice must be meted. Asher Charming you are from this moment until we deem otherwise stripped of your title. You forfeit all land, holdings, and purses connected with your position." The court were sitting in a state of shock. It was rare for the Queen to strip someone of their title. Asher's brothers were green around the gills as his father looked close to fainting.   

"Asher Charming you have spent your entire life getting into trouble and using the power of your name and position to get out of the consequences of your actions. You have shamed your father and the house of Charming. For this I bestow a curse upon you. From this day until the time you go into the Summerlands." The air in the court chamber dropped. Ice crawled across the glass and lightened arched across the ceiling. Several people screamed. Asher was wrapped in a blanket of seething black light. He writhed in pain. "Beast you are and beast you shall become. I curse you to be wolf in the dark and in the light. I curse you to be prowler of the night. This I will make it soon for wolf you shall at the next full moon." Asher screamed till he felt his lungs pop and his back crack. 

The last thing he saw before he passed out was the sad eyes of his father. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fiction Idea #2

Title: Unknown right now

Genre: fantasy

Protagonist: Nolan Grey is the Chief of Staff for Senator Brooks from North Carolina.

Other Main Characters: Rice Vega. Luca Grimm is the Director of D.E.A

Antagonists: Jack the Giant Slater and various giants. 

Setting: It's going to start off in North Carolina and then move around the world. Its easier to base things in North Carolina since I live here and its less research I have to do. Plus it will do the fantasy world some good to have stories located places other than New York or Los Angeles.

Plot: The Department of Ever Afters collect, monitor and protect fairy tale creatures and objects. They are an off shoot of Homeland Security. The Brothers Grimm were the first protectors of the Ever Afters( fairy tale characters).

Jack the Giant Slayer has popped up on the scene. It seems Jack is trying to regain some of his former glory by slaying giants. Too bad the rest of humanity is paying the price. Its up to Agent Grey and Agent Vega to stop him and bring him back to the reservation. Dead or alive...

Point of View: I am thinking of making this first person from Nolan's point of view. Not sure why. For some reason I am digging the third person point of view. It gives me a chance to tell the book from multiply points of view. A story just doesn't belong to one character. It belongs to them all and I like reading books that explore everyone's story.

Story Notes: I will freely admit that Warehouse 13 inspired this story for me. Well that and The Grimm Legacy. Though the Grimm Legacy was a bit of a letdown for me. It was still great inspiration for me. This plot is extremely rough and it may and most likely change. I had to get it down before I forgot something. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Great Pumpkin Race

Chapter One

It was a blistery day, and Lemon Rose was flying through like the wind on her mountain board. The girl let loose a loud whoop as she jumped a small rock outcrop.

Leaves whipped around Lemon's face like crazed ballet dancers, but still she pushed on. The wind whistled through her hair and in her ears. It was a great soundtrack to her journey. Lemon was on a mission and it was imperative that she get there fast. Speed was of the essence. Well maybe not the speed Lemon was going on her board, but what was life without the barest hint of danger every now and then?

Her heart was racing and her palms were tingling with the exhilaration of what she was about to do flowing through her body. 

Lemon was moving through the Enchanted Forest at a fast clip. 

She wasn't sure what time it was. SHe left the city at the crack of down. It was the only way she could get out to the outer ring of the forest in enough time to make it back before they closed the gates and she was locked out.

And Lemon didn’t want to be caught out in the forest at night. There were things that went bump in the night that were not too fond of humans.
Particularly the daughter of Prince Philip, hero of the Troll Wars. There was some trolls that would have given up their newborn sons for a chance to suck the marrow from her femur. She leaned forward on her board to coax a a little more speed from the board. 

The sun was riding low barely making it above the tree line. It cast a watery haze across the sky not even going through the motions of casting shadows. She pulled her robe tighter around her body. 
Lemon was heading to the one place that was a source of inspiration for her. And Lemon needed inspiration. She was going to embark on a journey that could change her life. 

And for that Lemon wanted her father's blessing. No, Lemon needed her father’s blessing. Her mother was going to have a fit once she found out what her daughter was up to. So Lemon needed the blessing of her father to move forward.

For that she had to venture into the deepest part of the Enchanted Forest and seek him out at the Forbidden Mountain. 

Lemon Rose was a girl that should have had her future all laid out for her. Well she did. In fact her mother Briar had spent many a night up pondering the direction her daughter's life should take. It should also be noted that Briar devoted a fair amount of money to the pursuit of Lemon’s life as well. 
Etiquette classes, dance classes, music lessons, elocution lectures, and of course she sent Lemon to the best boarding school in the city. After all the only daughter of Briar Rose had a lot to live up to. 
Briar Rose, was the princess of Winkie. Heir to Winki crown. Celebrated as the prettiest baby in the kingdom. On the day of her christening she was cursed by Maleficent herself to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep. 

Fulfilling the curse dropped Briar and the entire kingdom into a deep sleep for 100 years. To top it all off she was rescued by none other than the second son of the King of Bean, Prince Philip. 
The Broken Egg Network aired her story for seven straight weeks. It is still the highest rated show in the network’s history. It was going to be the happily ever after of the ages. Nothing in the realm’s history had come close to their love affair. 

Till the Troll War broke out. Prince Philip dashed off for lady and country. He never made it home. Heartbroken and pregnant, Briar stepped down from the throne of Winki. She just didn’t have the heart to be Queen anymore. Her little sister took the crown and Ms. Rose moved to Beanstalk City to live out her days on her family's fortune and her good name. 

Lemon grew up dodging the cameras, slipping through the paparazzi traps set for her at school and home. "Was she and Aldo Charming an item?" was the question that was guaranteed to get someone punched in the face if she heard it one more time. It was enough to make Lemon gag. 
As if she wanted to date that moronic waste of hair gel. The boy had the IQ of a garden slug. One of the fat dumb ones that get salt poured on them.

No one ever asked what she wanted to do with her life. Everyone assumed she would be married off to some prince to become arm candy like her mom did. That was well and good, but she just wasn’t that sort of girl. Lemon wanted to be her own person and she wanted her name to be in the history books for something she did with her own hands and her own mind. 
Lemon was going to step out of her mom's shadow. She was going to Lemon Rose. Not Briar Rose’s daughter.

Lemon’s board crunched through the snow as she picked up the pace. If she were caught out in the forest after the sun set she was in for a rough night. 

The Enchanted Forest was just that. Enchanted because of the fae themselves. It was their territory. In the forest the animals talked, the trees moved and visited their neighbors for a nice gossip session, and the inhabitants were very territorial. 

She was breathing hard and she felt the sweat sliding down the neck of her yellow tunic. She was glad of the bundling she was wearing however as a light snow started and the wind picked up its pace.
Lemon was heading to the Forbidden Mountain. The last place her father walked. Her heart started to beat fast. She wasn't sure why it did that. Why should she be nervous to retrace her father's footsteps? She couldn't answer that, but it didn't help that she was venturing into the most dangerous part of the forest. 

It wasn't called Forbidden for nothing after all. 

With her last burst of energy she crested the last hill. Her breath was now coming in short gasps. In the past it was nothing for the sixteen year old to make the four mile ride through the dense forest, but it had been at least three years since she last visited her father. 

That Penelope Boots had squealed on her during one of her shows and her mother had blew a fuse as usual when Lemon did something that wasn't scheduled in or sanctioned by the Rose image consultants. Frolicking through the Enchanted Forest was number on their lists of things not to do.  
Lemon climbed off her board and slung it across her back. She stood atop the hill to stare down into the Weeping Valley. The name Weeping Valley was a misnomer at best.

The scene of the last battle of the Troll Wars. The last stand of the Bone Crusher regiment of the Troll army. The valley was actually just a bowl shaped indention at the base of the Forbidden Mountain. 
“Hullo dad,” she whispered as she caught the wink of sunlight off a piece of armor. The bowl dip int he earth had earned its named because after the last stand of the troll the bodies were so packed together in a jumble of humanity, blood and death that it had been impossible to go in to retrieve anyone for a proper burial. It had turned into a open air mass grave. Mourners had assembled on the lip of the valley to pay their last respects. Lemon hadn’t been born yet when her father died, but her mother never talked about that day so Lemon could only imagine how hard it had been for her. Her mother was a fragile thing.

The trees of the forest had moved back from the valley in reverence of the blood that had been spilled. 
Lemon shivered, and not the from the nip in the air either. Her brown eyes swept over the valley as they did every time she crested the last hill. 

Broken spears and shattered battle axes still littered the ground. Many were in the final stages of their lives. Some were still intake, blood stains and all. Lemon knew that not all of the bodies had been recovered and that when she walked across the valley floor she was walking on someone's final resting place. 

It was a eerie feeling, but she would not be deterred. She threw her shoulders back and marched down the backside of the crest down into the valley. 

Lemon picked her way through the littered battled gear. Careful not to cut herself on anything. You couldn't be too careful around things that might be poisoned or cursed. She was too far from the city to be rescued if she did cut herself on a cursed object. OR if she upset someone’s darkling and they figured a tasty morsel like Lemon wasn’t going to come around anytime soon. 

Now the grass and moss had reclaimed many of the dead. Including her father. Lemon knew exactly where he was. a kite shaped white enamel shield lay against a small hill near the middle of the valley. It was a strategic defensive point which gave the combatant a good view down either side of the valley. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew the first day she arrived that that was where her father had died. 

It only took her a few minutes to navigate over to the fallen shield. She stopped just shy of the little hill. The shield was a rather ornate affair. It was a kite shaped shield with the House of Valiant family crest embossed across the front. A ruby red heart stabbed through with a golden sword on a stark white background. 

Lemon knelt down, her hand reaching out to stroke the shield. From what she had learned of her father she didn't believe that he would have carried something so flashy. It would have made him an excellent target. He carried as a banner for his house and for his honor. Most importantly for his lady. Her mother would have loved seeing him carrying the shield riding off into battle. Briar wouldn’t have seen how a stark white shield would have painted a bullseye on her husband.   

She had taken the shield and propped it up against the hill above his moss covered bones. She knelt down beside the shield. “You’re looking better.” she said. Now that she was there she was nervous. It wasn’t that she was nervous to talk to her father. She had come to his grave many times to just simply be near him. She had to swallow down the sob that had climbed up her throat. "It's been awhile huh," 

She let out a soft chuckle. "Mom has been impossible as usual. She actually talked to the Queen yesterday about my brothel to Aldo. Can you believe it? I can't stand him," The last statement burst from her mouth in an angry huff. "I don't want to be a trophy wife dad. I couldn't stand it. All Aldo wants is a pretty face. I know I can do better than that dad, you know. Plus he is so stupid.” She stopped to catch her breath. She wasn’t there to tell her dad about Aldo Charming. That would have taken more time than she had. 

"I want to race in the Pumpkin Games dad." There she had said it. For the first time, out loud. She wanted to race. 

Lemon had seen her first race when she was seven years old. She had to sneak out of the house to see the last leg of the races which took place through the Queen's Gardens. It had been the first win for Piper Peep who would go on to win a unheard of five consecutive races before retiring. Lemon would dream of nothing else since that first victory lap Piper took. 

"Dad I don't want to do anything else. There is nothing else for me to do. If I have to take another embroidery class I am going to burn the city down. I sweat it.” She took a deep breath before her anger bubbled over again. "Will you give me your blessing dad? Will you let me race?" She sat back on her haunches in anticipation of his answer.

Lemon knew her father was dead and very much gone from this life she was not crazy. However she had often gotten answers from him, not always what she wanted to hear, but she trusted his judgement far and above that of her mother. 

A harsh wind kicked up. Dust and dirt swirled around her face. Lemon coughed and tried to protect her ryes and mouth from the sudden maelstrom of debris. It was over faster than it begin. It took Lemon a few moments to wipe her eyes, but when her vision was clear a single dewdrop rested upon her father's shield. 

A symbol of his blessing, Lemon's favorite flower. A single tear rolled down her cheek. "Thanks dad." she whispered as she stood. Her knees creaked. Lemon was really too old to be running through the forest.

She kissed her hand then dropped the hand on top of the shield. "See you after I win." She promised. 
Lemon quickly made her way back to the city. She had a team meeting to get ready for.

Book Babblings

Eleventh Elementum by Val Richards and J.L Bond 

The Nitty Gritty: Skylee is a girl that is given her destiny by her long dead father on the day of her mother's wedding. I would call that a great inheritance, but the young heroine struggles with the responsibility of having a destiny and the power. Not everyone can have a Uncle Ben like Peter Parker to help guide them.

So with her S-Men (shameless Big Bang Theory fan. If you are too you will get the reference) she is stepping into a world that she didn't know existed and that is a steep learning curve. Two forces go to battle for control of the world and magic and Skylee has to get in where she fits in.

Opening Line: Time had run out.

What's the 411: So this the first book that I was given for strictly for my review. And I have to say that I feel supremely special. I'm even wearing my little Minnie Mouse ears I got from Disney World just for the occasion.

Hmm wish I could say that this was going to be a good review. Well no let me rephrase that. I wish I could say that I really enjoyed this book. Mildly entertained would be a better assessment.

Usually when it takes me more than 50 pages to get into a book I put it down and that's the end of the story, but since I was given the book and asked to give a review I put on my big girl panties and finished the book. Its never a chore to read a book so all in all it was an enjoyable experience. I must say that the book teasing the authors did was borderline frustrating. Sure you don't want to give everything away on page one. What's the point of going to page 500 in that case, but at the same time even a good burlesque dancer knows when its time to remove the big feather and show us the goods.

Teasing can be fun, it can be titillating. It can pull an audience to the edge of its seats and have it panting for more, but when that 'more' just keep slipping from their fingers that audience can turn violent. While I would never get violent with a book I can certainly get peeved.

I just wish the authors would have found that perfect balance between titillation and revelation a little sooner.

The Good: I love a good elemental story. Even if it takes you a moment to realize that is what the story is about. I am a rabid Avatar: The Last Airbender fan. So much so that I've dressed up as Toph on more than one occasion. Those pictures will never see the light of day so don't bother asking.

I thought this was going to be a dystopia sort of book and though I loved Hunger Games and I tolerated Divergent I'm sort of over the dystopia genre right now. Maybe next year I will get back into but right now its not my favorite fantasy genre. So kudos to Elementum for not going down the route.

The book is a fairly easy read. Almost like the shallow end of a pool when you don't want to get your hair wet. Well maybe that's just black women, but sometimes all you want to do is paddle around in three feet of water just to cool off and not get your hair wet. Eleventh Elementum is that book. Something to cool you off on a hot summer day. Or even the perfect summer by the pool book. Nothing hot and heavy or utterly superficial.

The Bad: Well that first thing that really irked me was the main character name Skylee. First she should likes one of those annoying little girls on Toddlers and Tiaras. The reason for her name is to commemorate her father and The Event. Which is well and good, my sister was named after my dad. She ended up with Jacqueline. One of the finrest First Ladies in the history of the United States carried that moniker.

I really feel that a lot of these new YA books are doing a real disservice to the teenage population. Now I know its been awhile since I was a teen, but I still remember what it was like to go through that age and I don't really remember being that...hmmm chaotic. The only emotional default that Skylee has is mistrust. She doesn't trust anyone so she keeps secrets from everyone. Even when holding onto those secrets is destroying her life.

Every YA books highlights the worst of the teenage mindset and tries to make that out to be the redeeming quality of the character. Sure everyone has flaws and faults and thats what makes a character great. No one hates a Mary Sue more than me but there needs to be a balance struck somewhere. Hermione Granger fro all her know-it-allness still had her faults, but her faults were used to humanize her. Her intelligence and her faithfulness were the driving forces for her. In this book it seemed like Skylee's trust issues were the thing that we were supposed to identify with. Yes I have reservations about new people that I meet, but I trust people till they give me a reason to mistrust them. Not the other way around. Skylee operated under the impression that the world owed her something before she would extend her trust. That gets annoying surprisingly quickly.

The little group of heros...though not sure that is the correct word, but there it is, took a little long to gel. Still not sure if they even really did. If Skylee is supposed to be the ultimate savior, still not sure on that front, then she is going to need a good support system and I'm just not sure if she has that. Or even if she if she is going to trust them enough to allow them to be that for her.

The writing is a bit clunky. The same phrases are repeated in several places on the same page. almost like the authors created the perfect phrase that sounded so pleasing the ear that it made sense to just keep using it over and over again. Believe me I understand that elation that happens when you get the perfect sentence. Its a high that as an author we keep chasing. Sometimes that chase leads us down a dark alley and some pirate with a eyepatch beats us up and all we can remember is our name. Still as wordsmiths I think we can do better than just repetition because it sounds good.

My Final Say: Not sure if I can get into the series as this is the first book, but maybe just maybe I would read it to see if Skylee can work herself out and be the girl the authors are hailing her to be.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Babblings

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter 

The Nitty Gritty: This is a mighty big hole Alice has tumbled into. After a horrible crash that claims the life of her entire family, little Ali realizes that her crazy alcoholic father, may not have been as crazy as she thought.

Those monters he raged about, are real and they are coming for her.

If Alice has any hope of surviving the new reality she finds herself in she has to learn to trust Cole Holland. The bruised and battered sex god that glowers at her from across the hallway. Not only does Alice had to learn how to navigate a new high school she finds herself in the crosshairs of high drama. High school. steamy kisses, and zombies oh my.

Opening Line: "Please, Alice. Please."

What's the 411: I was sort of dreading reading this book. The title and the book cover caught my eye. Usually I'm not moved by ditzy looking white girls sitting in a field of black, but couple that with Zomebieland and I'm hooked. I'm a sucker for a good zombie read.

The first few pages started off sort of slow. I was in danger of getting bored and shelving the book to come back when I needed to be distracted from an impending root canal or mammogram. Sure Emma was more entertaining than Alice and that keep me coming back for me. However the action slapped me in the face pretty quickly and I have to admit I find violence kinda hot. No seriously I like for the action to get going pretty quickly. I mean I don't have all day to invest in a bad book. So I like to know right off if I am going to like a book or not, and I usually figure that out within the first couple of pages. I know some people give a bad book 100 pages, but honestly life is too short to waste on bad literature.

The action when it happened moved at a fast clip, but the scenes between the action slowed down the pace of the book instead of enhancing it. A zombie book that promises zombies in the title should have at least 60% zombies and 40% filler fluff. Now I know this is the first novel in a series and Showalter needs to lay a foundation for the characters and the plotlines to come, but I just wished there had been a bit more zombie carnage and battles.

I do believe that this book title was a misnomer. Wonderland was an unforgettable place filled with some of the most fantastic and beloved characters in literature. To invoke those feelings in readers with your title and then not deliver on that promise is a punch to the gut. The only thing that hinted at a Wonderland connection was the chapter titles, Alice's name and rabbit shaped clouds. I'm sorry but that just isn't enough for me. You can't reclaim one of my favorite books as inspiration and then dropped the ball.

The Good: Actually Alice was one of the more delightful teenage narrators that I've read in a good while. To be sure she wasn't an adult in a 17 year olds body doing and saying impossible things for a teenager. yes I am talking about Hermione Granger. Yes it was possible for her to be intelligent, but for an eleven year old she just had too much insight into human nature for me to like her, and I never did to be honest. *whew* There I said it. That is a load off my mind. Alice was happily still a teen but she was being thrust into a very adult world and she bucked when she could but she stepped up to the plate right and properly.

Thankfully Alice didn't suffer from low self esteem like all the recent teen heroines. I don't know when that became a trend and I'm not sure who started it but they should be tired to a stake and horsewhipped at high noon in front of a roaring crowd and a man selling hot meat and mulled wine.

The Bad: I pride myself on being a true Zombie connoisseur and like Twilight Alice sort of pissed me off. I have a fixed idea about what zombies should and shouldn't be, not that something new wouldn't pique my interest, but it just has to make sense for me. I'm not sure if I'm buying Alice's zombies. Just yet. Maybe Through the Zombie Glass will convince me that these zombies deserve mention in my Zombie Preparation Plan.

Dr. Wright. Her development just wasn't there. From where she was at the beginning to where she ended up just didn't make a lot of sense. There wasn't any bread crumbs leading up to her revel. It just sort of happened and we are left with Alice worthy questions and that just infuriates me. Just enough to get me to the next book to see if my questions are answered. Though if I'm strung along much further I might have to walk away. I don't like authors who without hold information for the sake of keeping me entertained for another book. Write a good story with awesome characters and you have my attention and my money.

My Final Say: Curl up with this book on Sunday night after the Talking Dead. It will help your work through your feelings for the Governor (the dirty rotten bastard) and if will keep your need for zombies sated till next Sunday night.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Confessions of a Novel Planner

The Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland
So there are two methods writers use when they sit down to write their stories. They either go the planning route or the pantster route. Pansters just sit down and let their fingers and imaginations fly. I envy them. Planners like myself are methodical and precise. We get an idea, then we take it, expand on it, create characters, plan out their entire backstories down to their first kiss or favorite song, then and only then do we start to write our novels.

Let me tell you my journey to becoming a planner.

When I first attempted to sit down and write a full fledged novel it was November of 2010, and I was studying abroad in Manchester, England. NaNoWriMo started during Reading Week. Its the British version of Spring Break during the fall. My flatmates and I had planned a trip to Ireland and since I had never been I certainly wasn't going to pass up the chance to go.

I had an absolute blast. I mean I grew up in Europe so I've traveled a fair amount in Germany and Sweden and other places, but this was the first time I was doing it an an adult and on my own. It was much sweeter the second time around. Well except for getting drunk, but that is neither here nor there.

So back to my original point. Since I knew I was going to be on vacation when NaNo started I didn't really plan out my novel. I just had a basic concept with a few key characters. I felt that was enough to get started and carry me for 50,000 words and 30 days. So the clock struck midnight and I started writing. I felt good. This was my first time attempting an actual novel and boy was I excited! The world was a wonderful place and the Yellow Brick Road was beckoning me onward.

The first day went swimmingly. I hit the work count and everything. The next day we were off to Ireland. I brought my laptop so I could have a working vacation. It worked out wonderfully. I hit my word count every day. I got back from my Ireland trip and I went to a few write-ins at the KroBar and things like that and still everything was going good.

Then I hit a snag. My main character Dasher Lemon, hey I still like that name thank you very much needed a backstory with her nerdy neighbor and I couldn't come up with it. The rest of the story as I soon found out depended on this backstory so I couldn't just  push past it or write around it. So I had to stop and try to figure out their past relationship. Well a few minutes turned into hours and those hours turned into dancing the night away at Tiger,Tiger to find inspiration. I went to bed thinking I could come up with something in the morning after a good night's rest. Well that didn't work out so well. To make a long story short I and my novel stalled out at 15k words.

I learned a lot from that first NaNo experience. I learned that above anything it frustrates me to the gates of Hades when I don't know something about my characters or my stories. That blank hole mocks me and distracts me. When I'm frustrated and distracted am about as good as the Buffalo Bills in the Superbowl. And for all you non-sports fans that is about as good Sheldon Cooper battling a chicken.

So Nano 2011 came rolling around. I told myself that during October I would take then time to plan out my novel and see how that went. I had tried to pansters route and it had slapped me around like a redheaded stepchild. It stood to reason that if something doesn't work try something else.

I plotted and I planned. In 2011 I won my first NaNoWriMo. I ran across that finish like three days before Nov 30 and victory was oh so sweet. Like cookies and cream sweet. I found my groove and his name was Planner.

Now you might be asking, 'How do you plan.' And that my friend is an excellent question *hands you a cookie*

I start with a simple one line plot and a main character. My main characters are always black females. I'm a black female that loves fantasy and I'm getting fed up with all the main characters being white. Since I'm the author I can write what I want. So there it is.

Then the real fun starts. I expand on my simple one liner and I make it a proper plot. I like to know the beginning and the end of my book. I have to see where I'm going to know how to get there. Once the plot it settled. Well it can change but I like it to be as settled as it can be to help my anxiety. Then I create my cast of characters.

Two of my plotting composition books
I always start with a name. A rose by any other name just wouldn't get the job done if anyone bothered to ask me. For me a name either makes or breaks a character. I've been know to put a book down when the character names just aren't doing it for me. Modelland by Tara Banks is a prime example. Tookie De La Creme has got to be the worst name for a character that I've come across in a good long while and that includes Mindy the Model (sorry Stan Lee). I like to have unusual and rememberable character names. I can't name my character Elizabeth or Jessica or Sarah. Those names are just so vanilla. No offense to anyone with those names. They just don't do anything for me and I would never use them. My latest creation is August Eden Grimm, and I am in love with her already.

I create families and backstories for all my characters. I don't know if I will use that, but I have to have a character's backstory. I mean their past is what has created this character. I may use their family or I may just mention them. Either way I need to know these things. Sometimes it takes a lot to get that out of my story or my characters.

Sometimes they don't want to talk to me.

After I get all of that done then I'm ready to start plotting out the story. Yes I have the simple one liner and then I have the expanded plot, but I like to have my actual chapters planned out. I do what some would call summaries. I do one or two scenes so that I know what's going on in that chapter and how it connects the chapter before it and after it to each other and then overall plot.

This is the most exciting part of the ride for me. Surprises pop up around every corner. New characters and plot twists pop up. My plot may change or it might expand. I never know what's going to happen when I get to this point. This is the most crucial part of the planning however. I'm plot focused and I have characters that enhance the plot and not characters who drive the plot if that makes sense.

I'm one of those people that love essay tests because it gives me a chance to write down everything that I know about any given subject. I'm that annoying kid that uses an entire blue book for the exam. So if I just sit down and write I will write and write and write without an end insight. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes its not. When you need to get to a point and get to it in 320 pages while entertaining someone you have make every word, every page count. So to rein in my rambling imagination I have to keep it in check with my planning.

There are some out there that swear by worksheets, character sketches and all that jazz. I mean if that's how you plan then do you honey. Writing is personal and what works for me might work for you or it might not. Don't think you have to do exactly what I do. I'm a uniquely created woman. One of a kind. how I get to the mountain top should not be the only trail that is blazed. You feel me? I don't use worksheets because I don't want to try and fit myself, my novel, my characters, my plot into someone else's mold. That's just not me. I like my method of panster planning.

Now I can just hear you saying, "But that sucks the soul out of writing." I can see where you are coming from if you as a panster sort of person, but I feel like my writing comes alive once I start writing. I take all of my plans and my pages and I use my computer to bring them to life. When I plan out a chapter and a scene comes up that I like I can't wait to get there so I can finally write it. That anticipation makes for a better scene for me. They say sex works the same way but I still can't see it.

I hate looking at that blinking cursor and making plans helps me battle that foul beast. So I am a novel planner hear me roar!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Babblings

The Submissive by Tara Sue Me

The Nitty Gritty: Its a spanking good time as a timid librarian finds her way through the dark and salacious world of BDSM. Just a simple tale of a submissive trying to find her way.

In The Submissive we meet mild mannered librarian Abby King. Seriously this is the worst characterization of a profession that I have ever seen, but that is neither here nor there.

Back to my review.

Something is simmering below the surface however. Abby has a desire to put her sexual pleasure in the expert hands of Nathaniel West, billionaire CEO and sought after Dominate. Ms. King offers herself up as his latest submissive, and she enters the mysterious world of whips, chains and diamond encrusted collars.

She spends one weekend with him before she consents to being his submissive. While this works for her sexual kicks, Abby finds she needs more in the emotional department and Nate isn't ready for that sort of thing ( as if we didn't see that one coming). She falls further down the rabbit hole before she realizes that Nate maybe beyond saving and her own heart might need repair after her trip on the whipping post.

Opening Line: “Ms. King," the receptionist said. "Mr. West will see you now."

What's The 411: The Submissive started off as Twilight fanfiction. I actually read the entire trilogy on Don't judge me, I was bored and waiting for NaNoWriMo to start.

And I have to admit that The submissive was a better written book than Twilight ever could have hoped to be. And that's really saying something.

The Submissive is also the book that E.L James liberally ripped off for her garbage 50 Shades series. Though how James managed to corrupt what started out as a good story into what it ended up as is beyond the laws of nature and someone should ban her from publishing ever again. Though she does give me hope for my literary endeavors.

I am all for fanfiction. I really am. I have 13 stories on myself. But I would never take one of my stories on FF and turn around and sell it as my own original work. I just think that is dirty and underhanded. And its just as bad as if Tara had kept Abby as Bella and Nathaniel as Edward. Which is basically what she did, but she just changed their names. The mannerisms and characterizations as exactly the same as Twilight. Apparently Stephanie Myers doesn't have a problem with this book nor 50 Shades of Grey. Which doesn't mean much to me because I hated Twilight as well.

I just find it abhorrent as a budding author that someone could rip off another's work and get a book deal. While I am spending every waking moment pouring myself into creating my own stories, characters and settings, then writing said novel only to worry myself sick trying to shop it around to agents and publishing houses as I pray for a book deal.

Something is broken in that system and I hope someone is looking to fix it.

The Good: The sex scenes were actually sort of inspiring. After trudging through the yawn worthy sex in 50 Shades. I mean good lord how many times can we read about a gasp or how big he is before we just want to grab a pint of ice cream and curl up with a stack of Jackass DVDs just to watch something intelligent. In The Submissive the sex is actually note worthy. Tara actually takes the time to give us different sensations and experiences with each sexual encounter. Its not just the same thing over and over again in different locations.

There is a bit of a story here. Its pretty hard to find, but if you click your heels three times and wish for a storyline you can find it. So its a little better than actual porn. Not much, but there it is. Though the book doesn't claim to be an actual story. It tells you right on the cover that Abby is seeking out a role as a submissive. So all we expect is some good sex and better spanking. And that's what Tara delivers.

The Bad: Tara didn't bother trying to hide the source of her characters Its painfully easy to see Bella and Edward in the title roles. Abby is a self proclaimed clumsy oaf with a tendency to compare herself to everything and everyone and find herself coming up short. I am so tired of female characters with self esteem issues I'm going to jab a sharpened pencil in my ear if I have to read another book with that sort of female lead. Its just feeding the machine of low self esteem for women.

The first punishment scene is a tad brutal and since we don't to see Nate response and how he feels about it we are left with the dark hole that Abby falls into after her fist punishment. We are meant to see the BDSM world through her eyes as the submissive, but I wish there could have been some sort of discussion between Nate and Abby afterwards so we aren't left with a bad taste in our mouths. REading that scene as squares we only see a severe beating. Not the psychology behind it. Though this trilogy does a good job of introducing us to the actual psychology behind the BDSM lifestyle. Thanks to that hack EL James there are a lot of ignorant people out there and maybe this series might clear up a few things.

Not that Nate is anymore of a man to run after than Christine is. Both men suck, and I would run from them like my name was Flo Jo.

My Final Say: If you are wanting something to read to pass the time between True Blood seasons and you are having steam vamp/werewolf sex withdrawal. Yeah I meant that pun. Then this is a viable option, but only if Game of Thrones is on hiatus as well.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Babblings

The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke

The Nitty Gritty: The Queen is Dead is the literary version of 5 Hour Energy drink with a Redbull chaser.

In her sophomore outting Alexander Varden as been fired from the Royal Guards. Only "halvies" can be Royal Guards and since William outed her during her knighting ceremony everyone knows she is The Goblin Queen. Even if Xandra doesn't.

During this tale Xandra's older brother Val has disappeared In the midst of a trail of vanishing patrons from the devilishly funhouse circus, Freak Show. Its up to Xandra to find her brother while wrestling with the fact that her world and her life has been tossed into a blender and set on high.

Opening Line: "There was a dead rat nailed to my door."

What's The 411: If goblins and Drag Queens get you hot under the collar well then look no further than The Queen is Dead. The pulse pounding sequel to God Save the Queen will leave you panting for more. Weather its for a certain Alpha wolf or his mate the Goblin Queen is up to you. I opt for hte wolf, but that is just me.

The Queen is Dead is a wonderful followup to God Save The Queen. Locke seemed more sure of herself and the storyline in this book. There was a sense of convection beween the pages. Locke was critized for hailing God Save the Queen as a steampunk urband fantasy when the only thing steampunk was the bustles and corsets. Well ladies and gents she took the criticism to heart and managed to flip everyone the bird while weaving in more steampunk into The Queen is Dead. London is another character in this book. There are few authors who can use their story setting so masterfully that it becomes a living part of the story, but Locke manages to accomplish that swiftly and soundly in this book.

All the while she managed to give us a female lead that is both vulnerable and able to kick butt and take names with the best of them. Now Xandra does whine. She is after all trying to come to terms with finding it she is the queen of the things of nightmares. I mean everyone fears the goblins, and for good reason. Xandra quibbles about "gobbing" out and eating a human heart, but she doesn't skip a heartbeat in protecting the humans of her neighborhood. Even as they nail rats to her door and cry out for her head.

As badass as Xandra is, enough that her sister likes to keep a gun within reach when Xandra is around, she feel fear. True gut wrenching fear. Fear for her family, fear for her Alpha and fear of the warmongering humans hell bent on getting her head. Its refreshing to see this side of the warrior woman archetype.

The Good: As an avid urban fantasy reader I am pleasantly surprised that Locke fades to black on the sex scenes. I think writers are using it as a writing crutch instead of focusing on a great story. Yes there is sex in the book, but do we ever see it? Nope. Does it make the sex seems any less hot and steamy? Nope. I used my cheap little hand fan a few times reading this book. I think the not knowing it a lot hotter than reading about Vex pulling on the little blue strings between Xandra's legs. *puke* Thanks E.L. James for that horrifying experience....

Xandra seems to be less whiny in this book which I think is wonderful. God Save the Queen seemed to be a YA book with a fake ID card trying to buy a six pack. Xandra was so wrapped up in angst I was afraid Bella Swan was going to swoop through the pages and dance the Stanky Leg. However Locke shows us the evolution of Xanrda. She finally steps into her own and finds the proper voice for the character.

I am loving the relationship between Xandra and Vex. Its great to see a functioning leading man that doesn't have any glaring character flaws like he was beaten as a child or a friend of his mother's tied him up in her Red Room of Pain (I just finished 50 shades of grey on a dare :( my brain cells are still pissed at me about that), anyways. I like that Vex is letting Xandra be who she wants to be or not be. He is taking her as he can get her and he is giving her all of him. He's also just loving her without expecting anything in return. He is letting her have her own space when she needs it, but he is her anchor when she needs it.

As a woman of color I am often dismayed at the lack of colorful characters in fantasy books. So I am enjoying the different characters that Locke is introducing in her story. They don't always have to be African American, but it would be nice. The God is Dead gives us We have her lesbian sister Avery in a wonderful relationship with a great girl, Emma. And we finally get more of Penny Dreadful. A delight vixen drag queen with a flare for the sexy and dramatic. I would give anything to hang out with her at Freak Show. I am a total Rupal's Drag Race fangirl and I hope that we get to see more of Penny in the coming books. I don't think enough authors are taking the risk to introduce the public to different characters as they should be. Not everyone in the world is a straight white man or a straight white woman, and we would like to see ourselves reflected back at us in our literature.

The scenes with the goblins are exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. We get to see their fierce loyalty and their utter savagery. And somehow that waxes poetic about their nobility. They aren't out to kill for sport or for fun, but they do enjoy the simple things in life like a good shag and a proper smoke. I love that Locke is giving is little slices of life from the goblins and the more we learn about them the more I like that Locke choice to use one of the red headed stepchildren of the fantasy world. Everyone is so quick to jump on the elves, vampires, werewolves and leave it at that. Fantasy is supposed to be no holds barred and anything goes and I like that the goblins are keen on taking us on a fantastic voyage.

As a political science minor at UNCG I do love the political maneuvering and backstabbing going on in this book. Its just enough to have you shouting at the book in frustration and glee, but not enough to confuse you into praying for an appendix just to keep up. Though I love George R.R. Martin for giving us one. I wouldn't have made it though a Game of Thrones without it.

The Bad: It seems like every adult in Xandra's life made it their personal mission to screw her over. Chuchhill was trying to mold her into the perfect machine. To be used for what we may never know since the goblins made a buffet of his offals. Her stepmother makes Cinderalls' stepmom seem like Mrs. Brady, and her father just stands by while the aristos use his children as their genetic playground.

My Wish for this series: I am really looking forward to a Xandra/Victoria showdown. I hope that Vex and Xandra's relationship continues to develop. It doesn't seem like Vex is going to let anything get in his way when it comes to Xandra, but I have a feeling she might try to be noble and break up with him to keep him from harm.

My Final say: Get yourself a copy of this book! Long may she Reign!

ML Guide to Going to Camp in the Triad

If you haven't figured it out yet camp nanowrimo isn't an actually camp. *cue violin music* Much to my dismay trust me on that one. I would love nothing more than to pack up my bag and head off to parts unknown with nothing but a desire to get my novel down on paper. However since I am a Municipal Liaison during NaNoWriMo I can't seem to turn off my piloting instinct. So here is a nifty little guide to surviving camp nano in the Triad

The Triad region of North Carolina is home to the furniture capital of the world. High Point. which just happens to be my current home, thank you very much. We are smack dab in the middle of Raleigh to the north and the east and Charlotte to the south, and while we may not be as glitzy and glamours as our state capital and the home to the Bobcats we have a few things going on here in the Triad.

The Triad region rundown:

Best Local Writer Fuel — During camp sometimes we forgo the traditional food pyramid for a more shall we say sugar centric diet, and thats ok. That 8 am run around the lake should work off the late night munching. You are in luck North Carolina is home to one of the world's best regional barbecue epicenters and it just happens that Lexington (the southern tip of the Triad) has one of the best places to get BBQ. The BBQ Center, which has been featured on the Travel Channel, Food Network and UNC TV, has the best banana split in the business. And who doesn't like sitting by a lazy river chomping down on a expertly made banana spilt.

The BBQ Center marquee, much like the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is the threshold for Lexington. Taking you from the hustle of city life, into the gentle embrace of a bygone time. The down home friendly atmosphere will leave you warm and fuzzy all over. It's almost like having tea at your grandmother's house. Everyone is happy to see you and over the moon about making you smile for no reason at all. And many of the regulars get a kick out of NaNoers descending on the place with our army of laptops and our need for pick their brains about the good ole days.

Best Way to Beat Writer’s Block — The best tavern in Greensboro is Natty Greens. The atmosphere is perfect for letting yourself sink into your novel like an old man into a hot bath. Big picture windows that allow you to people watch without throwing off that creepy, serial killer vibe, low lighting, exposed brick walls, frothy beers and lots of people to cheer you on as you cross the finish line. gorgeous art on the walls, mismatched tea cups that you to choose from, and old wooden tables. If you can brave the high temperatures and the air conditioning in your car is working, Natty Greens is the quick fix to the all stop on your brain and your novel.

Best Place to Camp Out — If you are looking for the best place to pitch your tent for the summer then the Bicentennial Gardens is your destination. The city of Greensboro has taken great strides to return the city back to its natural state before the industrial revolution rolled through town and razed the wooded backroads trail to make room the grand dames of the south. There are several gardens to choose from all offering a slightly different feel. Hiking, walking and biking trails snake their ways from one end of the gardens to the other offering panoramic views of budding tulips and wading ducks.

If gardens and nature aren't your thing and beating the heat is the only thing on your mind. Because let's face it when it gets up into the low 100 your novel waves bye bye and seeks relief from the heat like all sane novels should. Then the only cure is Wet n' Wild- Emerald Pointe. The best water park in the Carolinas. From the lazy river to the raging rapids Wet n' Wild will help your mind get out of that fetal position and get you on your way to crossing the finish line. And if nothing else it will be a great distraction and a fun time.

Regional Genre of Choice — Fantasy seems to be the drug of choice for the Triad region. From fairy tale remixes, to relationship break up inspired zombie rampages our Wrimoers take fantasy very seriously. We have a few literary fiction writers, but they always forget their sunblock so I doubt they will see the light of day during camp.

The Can’t Miss Triad Camp NaNo Event

We’re planning something new this year. Normally during camps its a more relaxed atmosphere without any planned events, but as the ML I want to get as many of my NaNoers inspired and involved as all NaNoWriMo activities So we are working on a Picnic in the Park write in that we are really excited about. Let's face it as writers we are solitary home bodies. Give as a quiet corner and a pot of anything with caffeine and we will write till our fingers bleed. As humans one of our basic needs is to have other people and that doesn't happen sitting in a corner. So getting out of the house and going to a gorgeous sitting befitting Scarlett (O'Hara that is) herself seems like a grand idea if I do say so myself.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo Survival Kit

Camp NaNoWriMo is a month long online writing challenge that takes its participants on the fantastic voyage to NaNoland. This year the Offices of Letters and Light have scheduled camp for April and July. Perfect beach weather in July by the way. Well Camp NaNo is inching closer and closer and I've got my bag packs and I'm ready to go. Well you don't just jump into the car and race off to camp without packing some essentials.

Like any epic challenge its brave participants needs the basics to survive. So these are the things that I bring along for my month of literary abandon. And this is my kit….

Writing Essentials 
my laptop, Appa :)
my plotting notebook
fancy and funky pens
my iTunes NaNo Playlist and Spotify
Doctor Who, Avatar The Last Airbender, Dexter, and Big Bang Theory DVDs

Writer Fuel
peanut butter M&Ms
Sour Cream and Onion Multi- Grain Pringles
Lucky Charms and Vanilla Silk
Wal-mart soft chocolate chip cookies
Nutella and texas toast
Ben and Jerry Greek Frozen Yogurt Banana and Peanut Butter flavored
Strawberry Fanta
Cherry Poptarts
hot chocolate

Camp Essentials 
Bug Spray
Mosquito Nets
Good walking shoes
Walking Stick

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Babblings

A Deeper Love Inside: The Porche Santiaga Story by Sister Souljah

The Nitty Gritty: This is being herald as the sequel to the Coldest Winter Ever. Which is is, but the way they are marketing it its almost as if its going to be starring Winter with her little sister Porche along for the ride. However this is is Porches story of her trials and tribulations after her father Ricky Santiaga is locked up and Porche is shuttled off into the system despite her best efforts to allude the authorities. 

In theory this is the story of what really happens after Winter's tale, but I look at it as a parallel story. While Porche is locked up Winter is out galavanting as if she didn't have a care in the world. 

What's The 411: If I had wanted to sit through a sermon I would have gone to church and I am sure I would have enjoyed the experience better. Sister Souljah has fallen for the trap that many celebrities and the like fall victim too. She had begun to believe her own hype. 

She is under the delusion that is is the savior if black people and this book seems to be her attempt at living up to that ideal. But I am here to let Sister Souljah know that organic foods and vaccines aren't going to help the African American community and neither is this book. 

When I read Coldest Winter Ever for the first time I fell under her spell. I was transported into the gritty life of Winter and I loved it. Then I happened to listen to a lecture by Bell Hooks. She explained that as black people and as black women we must look at everything the media produces and look at it critically. We can't just sit back and allow a world that we aren;t apart of spoon feed us our own identity without saying something. 

So I went back and read the Coldest Winter Ever and I was startled with what I found about that book and more importantly Sister Souljah. Now I won't get into the CWE because this is about A Deeper Love Inside. Which I felt wasn't as bad as CWE but it was certainly trying. 

The book starts off with Porche's love affair with her family who are gods in her eyes that can do no wrong. S.S tried extremely hard to work Winter into this book to draw in her readers without actually having her in the beginning of the book. Its a personally pet peeve of mine when authors do that. Its not really a bait and switch its more like "I need Winter in this book to get you to read it," and I don't like that. I'm not a idiot that needs to be drawn in my the lure of more vulgarity from Winter Santiaga to read the book. I was more intrigued by hearing Porche's story than I was about learning more about Winter. I had enough of her in her own book. 

Porche wasn't as lucky as her sister and she was shuffled into the system. S.S critical view of the prison system and its workers come across clear as a sledge hammer to the head. While I do agree that the DOC is slanted against minorities I don't think its face to categorize everyone who works in the system as vile, nameless thugs who take the job to torture little girls. Her characterization of the warden and the guards pissed me off. Now I don't believe that everyone is an angle, but I also do not believe that prison guards are horrible human beings.  

Now this is where we have to suspend disbelief a little bit. Porche at the beginning of this book is a ten year old girl that pees on herself at the drop of a hat, but yet we are supposed to believe that she is a young hustler just looking for her come up. Within a few months of being locked up she managed to pull together a crew, work an angle and get the respect of her fellow prisoners. Well that one's that are trying to kill her because she is just so beautiful and they are oh so jealous of her. 

Her scathing review of the behavior and attitude of black women comes through loud and clear. 

Porche is also adult enough to stab a case worker in the neck with a pencil for as she claims "running her mouth about her family." As if the Santiaga family is above reproach. 

We are also introduced to Suri. Who is Porche's best friend and her anchor to reality. Only later do we find out that this character is just a figment of Porche's imagination. Nothing out of the realm of reality from a child. We expect children who have been through a trama to react that way. What we don't expect is for the people around the child to see what is going on and do nothing about it. 

Sister Souljah gives Porche a parade of mental illnesses and never addresses any of them. None of the other characters mention them either. Its almost like she uses mental illness as a plot device, but then never mentions them. She makes a point to cram the organic lifestyle down our throats at every turn of the page, but we never hear her thoughts on the mental health system. 

Sister Souljah is aware of how powerful words can be. She started out life as a hip hop artist before she moved into the realm of fiction. So she should be taken to task for simply overlooking something just to move her story along. Its sloppy writing. Especially for someone who is claiming she is trying to uplift her people. 

The Good: There is very little that I can find good about this book to be frank. I only read the entire thing because it was a book of the month for a book club I was in and there were some heated debates going on and I never miss a chance for a good debate.

Though I will say that Porche seemed to thrive in all the areas that her sister failed in. Where Winter auctioned off her vagina to the highest paid bidder Porche protected her with a daily ritual of smelling herself to see if someone had touched her. A gross past time for any child I am sure. When Winter walks away from her mother Porche fights everything and everyone to pull her mother out of her addiction. While Winter fails to find a lasting source of money Porche falls in love with a boy destined to be a moneymaker from jump street. While Winter wheels and deals people like disposable tampons Proche manages to make lasting friendships and even learns a thing or two about a thing or two from people. 

The Bad: This book fails to deliver on all fronts. We don't get a coming of age story. We got a grown woman in a little girl's body. We don't get a proper catch up with the characters from Coldest Winter (if that was what you were looking for). The get honorable mentions to whet out appetites  We don't get a realistic slice of life story either because Porche just isn't a realistic character and nothing that happened in her life is at all realistic. Don't get me wrong I love fantasy books and Harry Potter is one of my favorite stories, but J.K never claimed that she was trying to portray real life.  

The book is extremely wordy and long winded. Almost as if Souljah had a word count she had to hit before they would publish it. I figure 200 pages of writing could have been cut out of this book and it still would have been an ok story.

Souljah seemed to have an internal battle with Proche in this book. On one hand she tried to keep the hard, street edge that we loved Winter for, but on the flip side she wanted to make Porche her own, unique character. What we are left with is a little girl with spilt personalities that would have left Sybil confused. 

My Final Say: Don't think I will be buying this book at all. I am so over the Santiaga family and I doubt I would even go see the Coldest Winter Ever even if they managed to get the movie made. One trek through the ghetto was enough for me. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Plot many of us have them?

There was a time....that is the start to one of my favorite movies, Lucky Number Slevin. If you haven't seen it I recommend you spend your Saturday night with a loved one and a pint of ice cream and Slevin.

Hopefully this post won't end the same as the movie.

Anyhoo back to my post, there was a time when I couldn't get a single idea to smack me across the face and tap dance across my plot book. I mean I could sit for hours trying to get anything to come anything to happen and it never did. I took all the advice I could stomach from everyone that I know that was a creative person.

None of it worked. I mean I felt like a balloon with no air. I know I wanted to be a writer. I know I had the skill set to be a writer, but I didn't have any plot ideas and I felt unused and unloved basically. What was wrong with me? My family was no help. They are still convinced I hang out with white people too much. Like only white people make good fantasy writers. I will be sure to lose their invites to my book launch.

How could I hope to be a writer if I couldn't come up with anything to write? It was that thought that plagued me as the 2012 NaNoWriMo loomed overhead, and to make matters worse I was a first year municipal liaison  So I was in charge of the success of my entire region's NaNo experience and chief among them was completing my own 50,000 novel!

I was in full panic mode under my calm, cool exterior. I mean my mother always told me never let the children see you sweat and I've taken that tidbit of advice to heart.

Once the initial plot came and I started writing I got inspiration from everywhere in everything. So much so that I had to start carrying around a little notebook and a pen in my purse so that I could capture my ideas down before they snuck out in the middle of the night without so much as a Dear John note. I tried keeping track of them on the little notebook app on my phone, but it just wasn't large enough and sometimes I can't type that fast on that little keyboard to get out everything that I want to get out before the idea dries up. My ideas can be that fleeting sometimes. Other times they linger for a day or two to make sure I write down everything.

Now I've got more plot bunnies than I know what to do with. The little buggers are everywhere. They keep multiplying and spreading, and I can never predict when they are going to give birth. In the shower, on the phone, at work, at church, at the gym (doesn't happen as often because I don't go that much), while I'm elbow deep in cutting up chicken breasts for dinner and can't possible dash to my computer to bang out the idea. They even invade my dreams, which is freaky beyond measure. Its like seeing a movie of my book in my head before its written.

Wonder if screenwriters have that problem....

I've managed to fill up six composition books with possible plots and story outlines. Not to mention I have a old school notebook that I have repurposed as a plot binder that is now filled with story notes and folders crammed with slips of paper and stray receipts scribbled with all manner of random plot notes.

You would think that would be enough plots to keep my fingers moving till the Second Coming and that is true, but a lot of the plots are just single lines from something that inspired more. Or a rehash of an earlier idea with a different spin. Like a vampire plot with a steampunk setting. Or a werewolf hunter plot with a hint of Cinderella thrown in for good measure. Most of them are full blown plots with characters and experimental plot outlines done.

Does anyone else have this plot bunny problems?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fireflies, S'mores and Rope Swings oh my!

So we are 3 weeks out from the start of the first Camp NaNoWriMo session! I am a tad excited if you can't tell! I never went to camp as a kid because I grew up in Germany and surprisingly they don't do the camp thing during the summer. We traveled and went to amusement parks over the summer. Which was fun but I would have loved to have gone to a creative arts or science camp during the summer. Something about being in a nerdary with other geeks just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside

This year the sessions are in April and July. There was a furious debate about the feasibility of having the camp sessions during April and July.

I personally love the new months. Last year it was June and August. For most kids they are still in school in June and during August families are trying to cram in their vacations before they have to rush back for school to start back. I think april works well for everyone all around, and it gives an opportunity for the Script Frenzy people to have something official to do since OLL canceled Script Frenzy.

I was sad to see it go, but I just never participated because scripts just aren't my thing.

There have been some upgrades to the Camp NaNo site and I have to say I love them. First and foremost you have the ability to set your own goal. Which I think will really work for the people that want to participate but know going in that they are going to be too busy for 50,000 words. It allows them to get that accomplishment in the midst of  the chaos of real life. It also helps those overachievers who know they can blaze through 50,000 easy. Last November my NaNo novel went better than I could have ever imagined. I crossed the 50k mark on Nov. 16. Once that happened the energy just drained out of me. I was able to limp along and win with 62,313 but I felt like I cheated myself in the end. So I'm happy that I can set my own goal because it will keep me pushing and I might just be able to finish an entire novel during the camp. Which has me as giddy as if I had eaten an entire box of red velvet cupcakes.

The next upgrade I think that I am going to like is the expanded option package for the cabin selection. Now we have the ability to set the cabin activity level. Last June I lucked out and got most of the people I requested in my cabin and we worked great together. We created a facebook group simply because we weren't that active in our cabins and in the August session only two of us were active. I like a lot of activity and talking. Especially when I'm stuck and I need help on something. I like having someone as a sounding board or just someone to shoot the breeze with when I need to decompress for a bit.

So I am looking forward to using the site once camp starts.

I was teetering back and forth between two different plots. One was a steampunk, fairy tale inspired throwback noir book. I had all the research done and I thought that was what I was going to do, but then my Castle inspired book kept calling my name. When the sight went live everything just clicked for me and I decided to go with my Castle muse.

Title: Inventing the Grimm

Genre: fantasy

Protagonist: August Grimm. She is a twenty something NY best selling author. She is funny and sarcastic. A real child at heart. Though she doesn't believe in the fairy tales she is writing about. They are just stories to her. She is still in the honeymoon phase of her stardom. Not really believing that its all true, but loving the fact that people love her books.

Other Characters: Ezra is going to be another voice of the book. She is the Fablehaven police chief. Or I may just make her an inspector and make someone else the chief. Not sure if that will change just now or never. Balthazar, the Big Bad Wolf is going to be the love interest in the novel. Not sure if I want it to be a Bridget Jones love interest sort of thing because I am so bad at writing romance or if I'm just going to wing it. There is going to a steady cast of re-imagined fairy tale characters so this is going to be a fun ride for me. :)

Antagonists: The Queen of Hearts and the Sheriff of Nottingham. both of them I am thinking of them as Bonnie and Clyde. They thrive of the psychotic vibe from the other, but the Queen is going to be in charge and the Sheriff is just her knife man. the Queen is going to be a disgraced and penniless monarch living on the outskirts of the city. Sort of like the crazy cat lady with a murderous streak.

Plot: August Grimm is living the high life. She is a celebrated best selling author of the popular Apple White series. A fairy tale detective series based on Snow White. Does August think fairy tales are real? Of course not. Unfortunately for her in Fablehaven fairy tales are real and someone is killing its citizens. Just like in her books. And if these murders are going to get solved Fablehaven is going to need her help...if she can get passed the flying monkeys.

Setting: The initial setting is going to be Neptune, NC, but the majority of the story is going to take place in Fablehaven. The fairy tale capital city. There are going to be some border countries like Oz and the land of the Trolls, but I haven't come up with the name just yet.

Point of View: Third person limited for August and sometimes Ezra and other characters as need be

Story Notes: I am planning on this being a novel series and I've got 4 books plotted out already and I am thinking its going to be seven books so I have to take in account how the books are going to bed from the very beginning. So I can drop little hints and tidbits along the way throughout the books. I want each book to be a stand alone book but I want a natural progression from one to the other. If that makes any sense.