If you remember my last post, it was all about dreaming – dreaming of attaining the goals and successes you want in order to get through the rough times of writing life.  After seeing the extended trailer for this upcoming HBO show Game of Thrones, I was even more inspired and motivated.  I mean this series looks so awesome and if this author could pull it off, then why can’t I?  Could their be an extended trailer for my Children of Epsilon series for HBO in the a few years?  Why not?  Go big or go home, right?  🙂

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Okay, I’ve officially finished watching the entire first season of Spartacus Blood and Sand (Thanks Netflix!).

Check out my initial review!

Before I get into my official review, here is the rundown of the series storyline (without spoiling the fun for those who haven’t watched it:

Spartacus is a Thracian who, along with his countrymen is enlisted to the fight with the Romans.  As a result of an act of rebellion and abandonment, Spartacus is captured by the Romans and sentenced to death in the arena, while his wife is sold into slavery.  Spartacus escapes his execution by becoming victorious in the arena and is subsequently sold into gladiator slavery (as I call it anyway!) at the House of Batiatus.  Though he is very skilled, he proves to be very head strong, not forming too many friends in the gladiator camp.  After learning a few hard (and quite bloody) lessons, he focuses on becoming a successful gladiator with the promise of his wife by his master Batiatus.  Not only does he learn that things aren’t as clear cut as he thought, he soon realizes that the treachery, betrayel, and personal agendas of the gladiators and those who rule over them have proven very deadly.  Spartacus not only has to survive in the arena but in the House of Batiatus as well!

The series showed a great improvement from the first two episodes.  The CGI focusing on the blood and gore still continued but didn’t seem as arbitrary.  In many scenes it was quite necessary to show the gravity of the situation – I mean, Gladiator spectacles were indeed a bloody affair.  I’m such a fan of  sub plots and the ones in this series were great!  The way people and events became entangled with one another to lead to a big act of disloyalty and deception at its resolution kept me entrenched in the story line.  It wasn’t always about Spartacus, having each character have their section of the big story. 

Right off the bat, Spartacus proved to be one of my favorite characters and it wasn’t just because the story was all about him.  His character was well fleshed out, giving glimpses into his psyche amidst the blood and sex of the gladiator life.  He goes through major changes from trying to hold on to his Thracian identity to embracing his title of Champion of Capua, with the love of his wife being the source of it all.  As I mentioned in the brief summary, he is extremely rebellious in the beginning and he soon realizes that being a hot head all the time isn’t getting him anywhere.  When he begins to accept his life as a gladiator, he realizes that complete complacency and trust doesn’t turn out well in his favor either.  So he has to balance the two, to find his true path and calling in this life.  I enjoyed taking that journey with him and pleased that the writers didn’t make just an ass kicking brute!  Other characters I liked in the series included Spartacus best friend, Varro and the villa slaves Mira and Naevia.

The characters that I absolutely loved to hate included Ashur, who was a gladiator once but his physical ailment made him rely on his ability to be absolutely manipulative and vindictive.  I couldn’t stand him, which means the writer did a good job with his character!  Lucretia (played my fav girl Lucy Lawless) was another one who I wasn’t crazy about.  However, I had to admire the way she played the game, being able to play the people around her to whims and help her husband Batiatus achieve the power and glory he wanted.  Which brings me to the next character that I was really glad to see get his poetic justice in the end – Batiatus.  I actually liked him in the beginning, being very sympathetic to Spartacus and vowing to find his wife.  I thought he was a kinder slave master than one would expect, but like Spartacus, I was duped mid season and felt just as betrayed!  On the other side of the spectrum was Ilithyia, an upper class roman woman whose husband was the one to capture Spartacus.  She’s the epitome of an upper class snob and feels her status will protect her from everything and her secrets would never be revealed.  Needless to say, it doesn’t, and she ends up getting played by Lucretia and disowned by her husband.  She redeemed herself in my eyes in the last few minutes of the last episode, where she takes the opportunity to get back at those who walked all over her.  She gained brownie points for that!

In January, the prequel Gods of the Arena will air which tells the story of the House of Batiatus before Spartacus’s arrival. As for Season 2 Production of the next season was halted due to Andy Whitfield, (the handsome man who plays Spartacus) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma during the season’s filming.  Though he responded well to treatment the cancer came back and as a result won’t be returning to the series.  I really hope he recovers and I am saddened he won’t be in season 2.  I just hope his replacement is just as good as he is!

I totally enjoyed this series and the last episode just left me hungry for season 2!  I’m really tempted to suscribe to Starz just so I can watch Gods of the Arena and the second season so I don’t have to wait for Netflix!

Photos courtesy of:  entertainmentwallpaper.com, starz.com, dantetv.com

If you’ve read my world building post from last week, you can get a glimpse of the writing frustrations I’ve been experiencing lately.  Because I did my worldbuilding half ass before writing my novel, I’m paying the consequences by having to go back and start from square one.  It’s been three weeks now and though I’ve been working quite diligently, I’m not even close to where I need to be.  Just when I think I’m done with one aspect, another funky one shows itself and I’m like “Aaaah!”  With every new tree I make up, another scene in my book will face the editing ax. I mean, I knew this was going to be work but geez!  It seems like my whole novel might have to be redone – one that took me two years to write in the first place!

Please point me to the nearest wall so I can bang my head into it.

Last night I found myself getting a little depressed about it. The more I seem to work, the larger my manuscript hole is getting and for the first time in a very long time I found myself asking, “Is all of this really worth it?  Did I get in over my head?  Will I ever get done with this thing? Am I even good enough to do this?”  The doubt monster was working crazy overtime last night and my funk was only getting worse.

Please, please show me that wall….wait a minute…

I had to stop myself from engaging in my head banging (followed by a pity party and the temper tantrum of “I’m done with this piece of ****).  I had to do that one thing that has kept me going this far with my book.  This particular “thing” has me attending my 4-hour long writing meetings, reading my favorite writing blogs every day, researching until my eyes bleed, and writing that damn first chapter over and over.

I have to start dreaming again.

Dreaming of HBO, Showtime, or heck, Universal Pictures knocking on my door wanting to option my book for a movie or cable TV series.

Dreaming of people going to MegaCon, ComicCon, and all the other Cons dressed up as my characters.

Dreaming of being on panel discussions on fantasy literature at major writing conventions

Okay, I’ll be a tad more realistic!

Dreaming of seeing my book on the book shelf along side other notable fantasy authors.

Dreaming of showing my future children that their mom set out to do what she always wanted to do.

Dreaming of where I want to be damn sure helps me get through all the frustrations, doubts, and fears that come with the writer’s territory.  And that my friends, is what kept me from banging my head into oblivion and keep it moving.

What has kept you pushing through you tough writing moments?

Photo courtesy of:   domesticdivinity.blogspot.com

Besides writing and books, I’m a huge movie buff!  Though this year had a few notables, such as Inception, I didn’t go running off to the movie theatres much.  Next year, however, looks very promising and here are few movies that I wouldn’t mind spending my hard earned $10 to go see!

Cowboys and Aliens

Though the title needs serious work, the movie looks very good.  I was on board as soon as I saw that Harrison Ford was in it!

I Am Number Four

I read the book (which was awesome!) and I heard Steven Spielburg has his hands in this one!

The Green Lantern

I’m not too sure about the storyline, but the special effects look really cool!

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

I’ve always been a fan of the movies (and of Jack Sparrow) so I’ll definitely be checking out this one with the fam!

Transformers 3:  Dark of the Moon

Yes, I’m still a sucker for Transformers, though if it turns out to be a disappointment I have no one to blame but myself! LOL

Harry Potter:  The Deathly Hollows Part 2

I really enjoyed the first one, which ended with a great cliffhanger!

moviepostershop.com

What movies are you looking forward to watching next year?

thebooksmugglers.com

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads)

Welcome to Urban Monad 116. Reaching nearly two miles into the sky, the one thousand stories of this building are home to over eight hundred thousand people living in peace and harmony. In the year 2381 with a world population of over seventy-five billion souls, the massive Urbmon system is humanity’s salvation.

Life in Urbmon 116 is highly regulated, life is cherished, and the culture of procreation is seen as the highest pinnacle of god’s plan. Conflict is abhorred, and any who disturb the peace face harsh punishment—even being sent “down the chute” to be recycled as fertilizer.

Jason Quevedo, a historian, searches records of the twentieth century hoping to find the root of his discontent with the perfection of Urbmon life.

Siegmund Kluver, a young and ambitious administrator, strives to reach the top levels of the Urbmon’s government and discovers the civilization’s dark truths.

Michael Statler, a computer engineer, harbors a forbidden desire. He dreams of leaving the building—of walking in the open air and visiting the far-off sea. This is a dream he must keep secret. If anyone were to find out, he’d face the worst punishment imaginable.

The World Inside is a fascinating exploration of society and what makes us human, told by a master of speculative fiction.

Favorite Parts of the Book:

One thing I really liked about the book was how the author went about telling the story.  Each chapter focused on a major character telling his/her life in Urbmon 116.  It could have been a short story on its own, while maintaining the book’s continuity by the interweaving of characters throughout the chapters.  Silverberg took care in developing each of his characters, creating an instant connection with all of them, including the  hippie like musician Dillon Chrimes (who plays instruments I have never heard of).

The concept of the book was phenomenal!  That’s what drew me to the book in the first place.  I wanted to know how a bizzillion people could live in one building, with each floor named after a present day city, where everything down to bodily waste is recycled, and sleeping with every and anyone is not only okay, but encouraged!  Man’s sole purpose in this book to have plenty of babies, by any means necessary. Yeah, I really wanted to know how this works! (and if you want to know too, you’ll have to read it! :))

Favorite Characters:

One of my favorite characters was Michael Statler, the computer engineer who dreams of going outside.  In the book he called himself a “throwback”, which refers to humans that live like I do, free to live wherever I want rather than confined to a building.  So naturally I was able to relate to him the most.  Through his thoughts of swimming in the sea, frolicking in the sand, and having the sun tan his skin made me want to leave the confines of my two story Urbmon and take a vacay!  I’m not going to give away what happens to him in this chapter, but I will tell you that you do root for him the whole way and the ending was very surprising.

Speaking of surprise endings, my second favorite character, Siegmund Kluver, whose story doesn’t come into play until the last chapter.  Throughout the book, Siegmund is seen as the Urbmon’s golden child.  He’s young and his climb to the top of the career ladder (and the top of the building!) to be an Administrator was an ambitious one, and he is admired by all.  Throughout the whole book he is seen as the perfect Urbmon dweller, however when you finally get to his story, you see it’s quite the opposite.  Instead of a confident young man, you find a very insecure one, which was a nice, little surprise.  After all, perfect characters can be a little boring!  He finds that what he dream at the top wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be and he has a pretty hard time dealing with it.

Overall Review:

This is an awesome read and I highly recommend it!

en.gigazine.com

After my weekly meeting with my publishing team/business partners over at Visual Adjectives, I received a very hard lesson in world building – a lesson that is practically making me start from scratch.

You see at my first world building go around, I delved into the social histories, came up with some noteworthy customs, and covered things like climate, vegetation, and animal life.  I had a ton of fun, thinking of things on a whim and taking real world things and twisting them to my own fancy.  My work began on the ground, so to speak, starting with my hand drawn map and taking a region at a time.  I spent about a good two weeks on my research and then went back to my novel , tailoring it to my findings.

That was a few months ago.  Now numerous meetings and a professional editor review later I’m told that my story is great but my world needs work.   After going through my friend SM Lawrence’s epic fantasy novel series the Endaeria Chronicles that is so detailed I’m almost intimidated, I had to agree.  She covered things I hadn’t even thought about and if I had, I probably wouldn’t have made my novel go under the serious re-constructive surgery I’ve been putting it through this past month.  It hit me that I wasn’t as far along with this story as I thought I was and my deadline of having the professional editors have my entire manuscript in their hands by next month was clearly out the window.

My pity part didn’t last too long though because my team came to my rescue.  We started from the very top – the planet.   When you think of your world, especially if it remotely resembles Earth, you have to think about your planet’s relation to the sun,moon (or moons in my case), and in what geographical biomes your continents exist in.  For instance, my planet Epsilon has three moons which are relatively the same size.  Having three moons means that the tide changes along the coastlines will change more frequently, which affects the way of life of my coastal cities.  My main city Epsilon is located very far from the planet’s equator, so that place has to be very cold, almost tundra like (so there goes my scenes of lush green grass, tropical fruits, and Romanesque dresses!)

Yes, I did take the easy way out when it came to my world building, placing everything neatly into what I wanted it to be.  The way I had, though, didn’t make any sense, especially to those die hard fantasy and sci-fi fans that would probably tear me apart if I left the world how it was!

So the moral of the story – when you begin to build your fantasy/sci fi world, start from the very top of your planet by asking yourself these few questions:

  1.  How many suns and/or moons are there?  Where are they in relation to your planet?
  2. Where is your equator line?  What land mass does it cut through?
  3. Your continent(s) position in relation to that line will determine its biome.  What type of climate does each region of your world have?

By taking the time out to answer these few simple questions, I was already on my way to a more believable fantasy world by providing real world anchors my readers can relate to! 

The next step is filling out your World Building Table of Contents, which my friend Ms. Lawrence lays out brilliantly in her blog post today!

Have any of you writers experience some world building hard knocks like I just did?

moviepostershop.com

The day before Thanksgiving I took my sister (aka the die hard Harry Potter fan) to see the Deathly Hallows.  To prepare, I watched the Half Blood Prince the night before, because those of us who have kept up with the movies, you have to know what happened before in order to appreciate the movie.  Before I went I already heard great reviews of the movie, so my expectations were high and I was totally psyched.

I have to admit, I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, which is such a shame because my brother and my sister have read them all!  But I’ve followed all of the movies, with each one giving me just a little more of the plot.  I think if someone didn’t watch all of them, they would be completely lost and wouldn’t enjoy them as much.  I expected them to be a little slow, more info than action, because it was all leading up to the final showdown between Harry Potter and Lord V  (I dare not say the name! LOL).  Before this movie, the Order of the Phoenix was my favorite and the most action packed in my opinion.  So, with all that said….

Deathly Hallows made watching all of the other movies totally worth it!

It was action packed from beginning to end and started tying up the loose ends from the other movies.  It confirmed that Harry Potter is indeed the one ( to everyone and himself).  Yes, Bellatrix is psycho.  The Ministry of Magic is up to no good.  I still can’t stand Snape.  Draco is all talk.  Ron is an awesome friend (who has more courage than even he knows) and Hermione is a witch that cannot be messed with!  It was great seeing the three of them maturing and finally coming into their own.  Though Dumbledore is gone (and I’m still upset about that from the Half Blood Prince), he still had a significant role so I didn’t end up missing him too much.  Then again, I guess it was necessary because I always saw him as Harry’s training wheels and if JK is going to end the story the right way, Harry needs to handle this on his own.

I don’t want to give too much away but this was indeed the best movie of all of them!  What a way to bring in the final act of the story!

funrose.com

 

After coming back from an emergency trip out of town, I thought my writing schedule that I had perfected to a T so I could enjoy my weekend would be shot.  I thought my heart wouldn’t be in it.  My mind was wandering all over the place.  My motivation for sure was done and thought trying to play catch up would be the ultimate chore.  Instead of starting out with my initial to-do list, I decided to work on some short stories I promised my Visual Adjectives colleagues awhile ago.  I stared at the blank screen, not having a clue what to write about.  I typed a few words and it was all she wrote.

I ended up doing two short stories in a few hours (while starting on a third).  I felt awesome not only because I finally got those stories done (and thought they came out rather well).  I felt awesome because it was a great release from all of the stress I encountered with my novel and my personal life that just went batty in a matter of days.  I was able to forget things for a little while by letting my mind stretch and take me wherever it wants it to go, not where my heart was taking it I found myself taking stock of all the little things around me that life can make me ignore.  Things such as the way the leaves blow in the wind ,how my husband makes that crazy face before bursting into laughter, or how soft my pillow feels when I finally get to bed.  Suddenly my deadlines weren’t so pressing and I was able to get up today and knock out so much of my neglected to-do list,

It’s moments like this one that I am thankful to be a writer.  Putting my words to a page is my therapy, making me appreciate everything that is around me right at this second and thoroughly enjoy it.

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m Thankful to be a Writer.

bellevuepublicschools.org

After fighting my POV monster, I must admit that my manuscript is looking so much better!  I’m still going through and chopping, rewriting, and reordering scenes and chapters and all of them are going pretty smooth.  But this wasn’t so bad, at least not as bad as writing the first chapter.

Why is that first chapter so freakin hard?  You would think the middle would be an issue, due to the fact that it’s where your climax dwells.  The end I thought would be hassle only because if my book ended on a sour note, it would make reading everything before it a waste of time.  But no, the first chapter has been the bane of my existence ever since I started this novel two years ago.  At this point, I could probably make a novel out of my chapter 1 rewrites! 

After thinking about this for a little bit, I have come up with a reason why the first chapter can seem like the hardest:  It’s called:

Chapter 1 Pressure

What is this pressure exactly?  It’s the pressure to hook your reader in the first three pages.  It’s the pressure to introduce your main character, your setting, and the conflict, while making your reader actually care about your story.  It’s the pressure of not dumping back story but give your reader just enough information to keep them reading.  As a fantasy writer, it’s the pressure of not boring my reader with tons of details about my new world but letting them know that this story doesn’t take place on planet Earth BUT not confuse the mess out of them either!  First impressions are often lasting impressions and this is my first novel.  If the first chapter totally sucks, the rest of it doesn’t even matter.

So how do you get over this Chapter 1 Pressure?

Well after you have a glass of wine (or mixed drink of you prefer), just write the damn thing.  Write it knowing that it will probably stink the first go around and it will take you a few tries to get it right (and you still may not like it!).  You have to get over that hump and take your novel to the end of the line, i.e the end.  When I finished my first draft and saw where my story ended up, it made rewriting the first chapter a lot less painful.  That’s because:

I knew where my destination was.  I knew where my main character Damaris would end up plot wise as well as in her emotional development.  As for plot, I have already written the climax and resolution of the plot of this book by finishing it.  Now I can go back and make sure the first chapter doesn’t start too far away from the climax.  That alone helped me eliminate a ton of back story.  When it comes to my main character, Damaris is on the verge of being a total bad ass at the end of this book, so I have to make sure she’s the naïve and sweet little girl in the first chapter. 

I know more about my world now. In the beginning, you can do all of your world building to a T, but I learned firsthand that during the course of writing the story, certain things have changed.  I also took opportunities to introduce new things about my world Epsilon through other chapters, scenes, and character exchanges.  Therefore, I had a better grasp of how much the setting I need to explain without a massive info dump – which is a chapter 1 no-no.

Have any of you writers had this much trouble with your first chapters?  I would love to hear how you dealt with it!

myseveralworlds.com

This day has been absolutely hectic!  Holding down a day job and trying to establish yourself as an author can be downright bananas (oh yeah, I forgot I have a thing called a “home life” too!)

So before I run off back to the million things that has kept me from writing like I want to, I thought I would take the time to share some great reads I’ve come across reading some of my favorite blogs.  Developing my secondary characters is something that I’ve been doing a lot of lately during my editing  and these blog posts have been SUPER Helpful!

Structure Part III–Introducing the Opposition from Kristen Lamb’s Blog (Awesome read on crafting your Big Bad Troublemakers, as she calls it!  I also suggest reading Part I and II as well!)

The Flip Side of Our Character from Mystery Writing is Murder (A great way to take different approach to your character’s flaws)

The Dark Side of Your Novel Hero   from Publetariat (my hero definitely has a real dark side so this came around just in time!)

Five Steps to a Strong Main Character from Scribe Sisters  (this is a new blog I just discovered and so glad I did!)

Bringing your Characters to Life series from Visual Adjectives  (this is a great series that my friend and mentor Ed Stinson has put together and has helped me put together the fundamental groundwork for all of my characters)

Hope these posts help! Happy Writing!