Tag Archives: inspirational

My Inner Daenerys

As some of you may know, I’ve been both reading the Game of Thrones books (finished Book 4 yesterday) and also catching up on the HBO episodes (halfway through Season 5, as of this bloggery). Enjoying it very much, though I’m getting a bit burnt out on all the blood and gore. My favorite characters have always been the Lannister siblings and their witty, cutting banter, and also the gorgeous, dramatic Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, which are now grown and uncontrollable. That’s the thing with dragons ~ they’re cute when they’re first born, but then they get huge and hangry. And burny.

I know the show is affecting me a bit, since I’ve been binge-watching, but I didn’t realize to what extent until the otter day. I was very busy at work when a man barged into my suite with a cart of boxes. Hey, he said, I have some steaks for you.

What? Steaks? No one here ordered steaks.

He was jabbering on an earphone thing and writing on a clipboard at the same time, all distracted, or pretending to be. He said to me, hey, my boss said for me to offer you guys these steaks for practically nothing because your friends next door couldn’t take them all. Three bucks and you get this entire box of frozen steaks! It’s like I’m giving them to you for free!

I was so mad. I knew it was just another stupid scam. In the past, I might have called for my coworker to come out of his office to help me, or threatened this guy by telling him I was going to call security. But the night before I had watched Dany demand that Jorah Mormont GTFO of her sight or she’d behead him for spying on her.

I interrupted the steak man in the middle of his sales pitch.

“Please leave,” I said. “Now.

He stared at me for a second and then packed up and left, muttering about how people are usually happy about cheap steaks bla and bla.

I felt good about all that, but too bad I didn’t have a real dragon who could have breathed fire on the steaks and cooked them right there. LUNCH!

Dany

Doctor Sleep’s Fatal Flaws

spoiler

This is going to be a super duper major spoiler of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I mean, absolutely 100%. Ready? K.

I did enjoy the novel while I was reading it because the main character Dan Torrance (Danny from The Shining, all grown up) was very compelling and I wanted to find out what happened to him. But after a bit of rumination (moo!), I sadly discovered huge flaws in the story.

The evil undead True Knot creatures feast on essences aka “steam” of people who have “the shining.” They prefer young’uns, since the shining is shinier in children, but they’ll take anyone they can get, because food. They can go awhile without eating steam and in the meantime they nom on meatloaf and mac&cheese like regular polyester-clad retirees in motor homes. They aren’t exactly like vampires ~ real vampires nom only on blood, IIRC. King never fully explains how this Knot originated and endured in ye tyme of olde, what they did before they blopped around the U.S. in motorhomes and stayed connected via modern technology, but whatever. He vaguely hints at gypsy caravans, but that’s not satisfactory. They aren’t Roma peeps. They’re almost all Americans, doing American things. These are minor nits though.

A larger nit is the early reference to dogs. The True Knot doesn’t like dogs and dogs don’t like them. Got it. This is a gun placed on a table. And King forgot he put it there. If it was important enough to mention, which it is because normally motorhome peeps have some pooches traveling around with them, then it has to be used later. I’m surprised at King! There should have been a dog in the story later on. Bummer.

But the hugest plot hole of all is as follows. The Knot kills Bradley the baseball boy in 2011. Bradley, age 11, was feeling poorly that day because he was coming down with the measles. A few years later, the Knot begins getting the measles and dying. An half-baked idea is tossed out that maybe the Knot used to have immunity from “rube” diseases and now they don’t, sort of like genes turning off. OH COME ON!  This is totally insulting to the reader. Obviously the only reason this “measles device” is flung into the story two years after the Knot consumed Bradley’s measles steam, is to provide a reason why the Knot has to go after Abra right now. Otherwise, there’d be no compulsion to get going immediately.

Rose, the Knot leader, is already aware of super-shining steamgirl Abra (Danny’s niece) and definitely wants to eat her essence, but has been holding off. Now, as the Knot gets sicker and their steam reserves grow low, it becomes imperative to get Abra now. Abra’s super duper shiny steam will boost them all to fab youth and vigor, plus she’s most likely been vaccinated, so she’ll have the double-effect of protecting any Knots who haven’t caught the measles yet from any measles germies circulating in their systems from lil Bradley. Logical, yah?

Dan used this logic to destroy a big tangle of the Knot in the penultimate battle of the story as he unleashed his dead mother-in-law’s cancerous essence into the room where they were assembled. The creatures were forced to inhale her poisonous steam, at which point they shriveled up and disappeared. Ooh, so clever and satisfying! And the reader was gratified to know that Dan himself wasn’t dying of a weird mysterious stomach ailment that had been plaguing him during the trip to the Overlook (yes, of The Shining), but had simply been transporting Momo. Yay!

But but but…

HOLD ON A MINUET. Let’s back up here. In 2001, the Knot sensed something big was going down at the WTC and lumbered into NJ to watch the disaster. They fed off the “steam” of the terrified and dying people from the Twin Towers. Some of those essences naturally contained souls who had a little bit of the shining, so it was a “good feed” for the evil creatures. That’s all fine so far. (Sorta. Seemed like later on they had to be physically closer to their victims.) BUT BUT BUT. Doesn’t it also stand to reason that some of those doomed WTC souls also had cancer, heart disease, flu, measles, whatever?

HELLOOOO?!?!?! The poor peeps from the Towers couldn’t have all been perfectly healthy and disease-free with pure, clean steam. Why weren’t the Knot getting sick from all kinds of stuff between 2001 and Bradley-time?

And what about the years and decades and centuries prior to that? The Knot never killed a kid who was sick before? They never inhaled “bad” steam? Bradley was the only one? Not believable! All the reader has to go on is this throwaway non-explanation that maybe the Knot’s scyfy genes turned off their protective immunity mechanisms the same way normal humans are programmed to age and die at some point. Meh.

I submit that King’s premise of the Knot staying healthy until Bradley’s measles is a fatal flaw of Doctor Sleep.

I am totally disappointed in him for this.

PS: I’ve searched for anyone else picking up on the fatal flaw I found, and so far have not found any discussion whatever. Am I off-base? No. People are not willing to see it because they are too busy praising King or else they’re criticizing the book for not being “scary” enough, which is just silly. Horror is like porn. If this doesn’t get you going, you’re too immersed in the genre. Take a looooong break.

Jenga Stack of Pain

Jenga

I’ve just finished Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt. It’s a fabulous book, so beautifully written, and I highly recommend it. More and more I enjoy stories that aren’t told “straight.” I want to figure things out with the protag, knowing that what s/he tells me might not be correct at all. Facts get mangled, dialog is misremembered, perceptions fade over time. That’s the way we live our lives, isn’t it? We try to interpret the shadows best we can, and sometimes we hold onto ideas that are terribly wrong.

Last night I fell asleep while reading the book and dreamt I’d finished it. I woke up unable to remember the ending and became a bit upset. Had my memory become that bad? But no. I had about 20% left to read. Whew! The story is so engrossing that I got tangled up in the mommy emotions to the point where I thought I couldn’t bear it. There are some thoughts I simply can’t entertain. But I did finish, for real.

When I began this poast, I wanted to use the Jenga quote for my title, but I couldn’t search for it, since this was a real book. I took my best shot… and it turned out to be incorrect. The quote (found the old-fashioned way) is as follows:

I need him to be strong–not for me, for himself–because I was able to cope, have been coping, but I just can’t add any more weight to my Jenga stack of agony. (p. 396)

This is pure awesomeness.

I was going to blather on about my own life and how I discovered strength when I thought I had none, after people told me I was incapable of doing anything on my own, bla bla bla, how I piled everything on very carefully and it’s holding steady, which is why I can’t deal with any new drama whatsoever, etc., but who cares? Read the book. It’s so good.

Quickie Movie Reviews

These are old, so don’t get excited.

1. Hitch. Wow, what a fun movie! My friend brought it over for us to watch after Passover seder. It’s a typical rom-com, but almost all from the hero’s POV, which was different. Lotsa chemistry between the protags and a great supporting cast too.

2. Finding Neverland. Interesting story of how J.M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan. I really enjoy Johnny Depp, in whatever role. Highly recommend.

3. Pillow Talk. One of my all-time faves and it holds up decades after my first viewing. Love the witty dialog and the chemistry between Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Tony Randall is adorb and Dr. Bellows plays a phone company employee, tee hee.

4. Identity. Weird, scary, violent, exciting, suspenseful, interesting plot twists, and John Cusack. Love this movie ~ and I bought it so I can watch again because I’m still not exactly sure wtf happened there.

5. Stuck in Love. OK, this movie both intrigued me and annoyed me. I found the protag Dad oddly interesting in his obsession with his ex-wife. Annoying how he didn’t appear to be working anymore but had a big beautiful house on the beach regardless. Because having one famous book means you’re set for life, right. I loved his daughter and thought her romance was very well-done. Loved her dude. But it was super-annoying that she wrote a book while in college, tossed it, wrote another one and boom got published at a top house. Ridiculous. Younger brother is still in high school and wants to be a writer, too, natch. Sis sends his story to Stephen King who calls him personally to say he liked it, because THAT CAN HAPPEN. I found the girl’s estrangement from her mother and her boyfriend’s loss of his mom super-moving and believable. A mix of yay and rawr throughout.

More to come. 🙂

How to Suffer Beautifully

Perfect review of the new Cinderella here in the NY Post.

Ella is an orphaned woman who fully expects she is losing her chance to marry the man she loves because of her wicked stepmother. Yet instead of cursing or sulking or weeping, she sings the song her mother sang to her as she fell asleep, all those years ago.

Cinderella never bitches or blames, but continues to be kind, especially to animals. This is not “anti-feminist” as Vox asserts, but in fact Cinderella uses the lessons her mother taught her to find her own inner strengths. She would have been fine with or without the Prince.

Closing Time

Leonard Cohen’s lyrics fit my mood…

I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can’t say much has happened since
CLOSING TIME

Listen to the whole thing. It’s awesome. Seriously.

Time To Let Go

I stumbled onto this great article by Anne R. Allen. She discusses some of the protagonists that readers hate. We all know about the villain we secretly (or not so secretly) root for, but it’s important as a writer also to understand the kind of protags a reader does not want to see.

1. The Mary Sue. I never heard of this before ~ the term comes from fanfic (which could explain why). Basically it’s an ordinary person who has a massive amount of strength or wisdom to save the planet and/or attract the hottest supermodel. She (or he) is the author’s fantasy self. Boring!

2. The Special Victim. This protag endures all sorts of horror, but can never do anything about it because that would wreck the storyline. The reader sits there frustrated, urging the dumbass to walk out the open door. (This could also be called “revenge fiction” if the protag is really a stand-in for someone you want to torture in writing.)

3. The Perfect Pat. This is another fantasy writer self ~ a protagonist who does everything perfectly and never has an incorrect or repulsive thought. It’s basically a gilded memoir. More boring than a boring boring thing.

4. The Looky-Loo. Like the annoying non-buyer of real estate, this protag wanders through the story, looking and feeling and hearing and thinking. The writing may be profound and beautiful, even deep and poetic, but NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.

5. The Literal Larry. This is the star of a memoir, where no detail is omitted, no matter how mundane or irrelevant, because “it really was just like that.” Gah.

I will give you one guess which protag is the one I’ve been writing for the last twenty-five years in my fabulous epic novel Motion Sickness.

MS began as a short story where I was mocking an old boss (RIP Tony G) for his goofy dietary prefs. It was a pretty fun story called “Broccoli.” Then I decided to enter a novella contest, so I expanded Broccoli to 25K words. I overlaid it with a theme of drowning and called it “Water.” Later on I decided to squish a couple of new ideas into Water and make it novel-sized. At that point I renamed it “Motion Sickness.”

Never satisfied with the story, I kept tweaking it. Start in a different spot, use new themes such as synesthesia and depression, add in imaginary characters, throw in some hookers, create a love triangle, have a happy ending, no! change it to a sad ending…

But the problem was that my protag simply floated through all this, unchanging. She is an observer, not an actor. She is not a compelling heroine. She watches and snarks, she loves mildly and hates dispassionately. She is detached from everything, including her own neuroses and fears. She is way too much like me ~ i.e., boring as hell.

It’s time to let this go.

Composed

I read Rosanne Cash’s wonderful memoir, Composed, given to me by a friend. Rosanne’s life is at once lonely and sad and joyful and creative… I relate to so much of it. Well, except for having the mega-star father, fortune, and fame, of course. Rosanne’s writing delighted me ~ she skips around in time, which some may object to, but I found charming.

I have abandoned my reliance on the external facts to support an individual truth, and everyone is entitled to his or her own. [pg. 3]

 

That was her unapologetic intro, and it was awesome. Don’t we all do this really? Our fundamental truths are subjective.

A lonely road is a bodyguard. [pg. 60]

Rosanne wrote that at age 12 (so amazing!) and kept returning to this theme in her writing and her life. She expresses her thoughts about creativity, music, family, love, parenting (both sides), brain surgery, and ultimately death in such an accessible style. I felt so close to her through her words that I ordered her book of short stories, along with a CD.

Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong. [pg. 206]

 

Yeah.

Fruit & Nuts

On the recommendation of a friend I bought and read Pears and Perils by Drew Hayes. What a fun book! The plot was zany and unpredictable; the characters fresh and humorous. The story veers from philosophical to just plain wacky. While the protag was great, I totes loved “Thunder,” a hybrid hipster/surfer kinda dude who had his own language.

The best part was of course that a kitty had a starring role in the book.

Here are some cool quotes to possibly get a few of you interested in reading further:

Cats are already experts in freeing themselves, and ones with a bit of divine blood move into the realm of supernatural. For an instant Clint felt like he was trying to keep his grip on a shadow dunked in mercury; then it was over and the cat was racing across the field away from him. [P&P]

April might not be as good at reading people as she was at reading books, but even she could tell that beneath this peace and love mentality there was a basement of something more complex: a place that was shut away from the world, where armor and axes were carefully stowed and just beginning to rust. [P&P]

OooOOOoo. Read the book. 🙂

I’m Famous!

Check out my interview on LitCentral O.C.

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the Author Spotlight of this fine publication. Tomorrow there will be an excerpt from Fiona’s Fling to tempt new readers into making a purchase. But you can do it now, if you haven’t already! Plus there’s super-hot promo happening as we speak ~ FF is on special for 99 cents. Soon that deal will go poof, so hurry. 🙂

Also, if you’re in the mood for a quickie, I’ve made Gracie’s Gamble FREE for a few days. This is also a limited time special offer.

I will be poasting in excruciating detail how these promos translate into actual sales (or um not). Right now there have been 63 downloads of the free GG, but no one has bought anything since June.

Yes, I’m still generally keeping the two ‘nyms separate, but I don’t have to here, on my blahg. Or in interviews. It’s just a Good Thing to stick to one name/one genre for branding (gak) purposes. Anna writes romance/erotica, while Paula writes serious fiction and poetry, but those lines are pretty blurry. Not really. I have it all on a list. LISTS FTW!

Buy books