24 February 2014

Why The Walking Dead is Better than Doctor Who

Oh come on people, don’t freak out. I love the Doctor more than the zombies, but there’s something too this.

I started Doctor Who while I was dating my now husband. So probably 18 months ago or so. All of my friends kept telling me that I should watch it and that I would love it. Well, the boyfriend finally got me to sit down and watch it.

And yes, I did decide that I like it. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s twisted. And now I’m even more afraid of the dark than I was before. And don’t even get me started on gas masks or those stupid weeping angel statues.

However, it’s been around 18 months, and I’m just now only seven or eight episodes away from being caught up.


Let’s talk The Walking Dead for a second.

A bunch of people I know have also been trying to get me to watch this show. I’m okay with zombies, but I’m not obsessed with them. I’m usually a dragon girl, or at least a wizard, but I was willing to try it.

AFTER I caught up with Doctor Who. Having two shows with a total of 11 seasons ahead of me was too much pressure! Especially since I only watch about 3 hours of TV a week. And that’s on a good week when I’m done with my other chores and have no desire to do anything intelligent on Friday or Saturday night.

But I was weak. I blame my husband.

One Friday night he turned and looked at me (he may have had a treat with him—I’m a sucker for cokes) and he said, “So, since we’re almost caught up with Doctor Who, wanna start The Walking Dead?

Maybe I was in the mood for some horror. Or maybe my brain needed some writing fodder. Doesn’t matter. Like I said, I was weak. I shrugged. “Sure.”

AAAAaaaaaand that was that.

We watched two episodes that night. Then three the next night. I lost sleep over this show! That NEVER happens. In 10 days I’ve inhaled the first two seasons and I’m into season three. (It doesn’t—or maybe it did—h elp that I had the stomach flu over the weekend.)

And why? Why can I say no to Doctor Who and not to the zombies? Because the writers of The Walking Dead are brilliant with both their realistic character development and their stupid end of episode cliff hangers.

I mean really, how can you go to bed after the main character has stupidly ridden into downtown Atlanta (a hive of zombies at this point), lost his horse and only survived by locking himself inside of a tank? Then the radio crackles, and some guy says,  “Hey, dumb a**. Yeah, you in the tank. What do you think you’re doing?” Or something like that.

How was I supposed to go to bed after that???

Doctor Who has the occasional cliffhanger ending (and they are brilliant) but not every episode. I only had to punch my husband in the arm and tell him I hated him once or twice during Doctor Who. I do that at least twice an episode with The Walking Dead. (He’s seen them all.)

I think my husband may have put it best when he said, “Doctor Who takes dark things and brings them into the light, while The Walking Dead takes everyday things and tosses them into the dark.”

I do have to say I like Doctor Who better—it’s more me  ,but The Walking Dead is my obsession for the moment. Like going after the bad boy in school even know you realize it will never work out.

The two shows are different. They are awesome in their own ways, as each story should be.

Anyone have an opinion? Feel free to share, I’d love to hear it!

19 February 2014

Scavenger Hunt!

Everybody loves a little scavenger hunt, right? Especially since Babes in Spyland is a mystery. I feel like this is all coming together nicely. :)

Over the next two weeks, I have five very generous bloggers who have agreed to host the Babes in Spyland ladies.

If you follow each link, and read the post, in March I'll host a giveaway (A copy of Babes in Spyland if you don't have one, and gift card people!) that will include a quiz of the characters.

I promise, it won't be hard.

Today we meet Agent Smith/Agent Sugar Lips

(No, she doesn't have a split personality. You'll just have to read the book to find out what's up with the names.)

Meet Agent Amphibian Queen 

Here we have the practical Agent Milkshakes

16 February 2014

The Sometimes Forgotten Villain

I like plans.

When I make plans, I like to stick to the plans. It makes me happy, makes me feel secure and, it feeds my not so inner control freak.

Let me take you through the events:
Three family members and myself were planning to drive from Utah to Ohio a few weekends ago for our niece’s gymnastic tournament.
We were going to rent a mini-van.
Then we were going to drive one of our cars.
Then my mother-in-law got nervous and told us not to come.
Two of our party panicked about the weather.
Then the weather really turned and the panic was warranted.
So we cancelled the trip.
My husband can’t move or not take vacation days once they are scheduled.
His brother—one of our road trip-ees—has a timeshare, felt bad about the vacation days and got us the weekend up in Bear Lake.
Which was very nice of him. Especially considering the 8th was our 6 month anniversary. Awe…

Now let me interject something here. At this point my sweet hubby said, “Hey, you’re unhappy with the way your current novel is going, why don’t you bring your stuff, I’ll bring a bunch of games or whatever to entertain myself, and we’ll make this a writing retreat for you.” He smiled. “Plus, this year we can count it as a tax ride off.”

A red flag should have gone off.

Please read the adventure of my last writing retreat.

I feel like calling something in my life a writing retreat (in which I am mostly in charge) is like uttering the lines, “Piece of cake” or “I’ll be right back” while smiling at the camera in a movie. These words should not be voiced.

Well, my hubby and I took our time getting out the door. We stopped for food, air in the tires, and supplies for the condo.  The rain had started to fall down here, but no snow.

Now I’ve driven to Bear Lake in the winter a few times during snow storms. I don’t recommend it, by the way, but it can be done. Especially in a 1984 tank of a Ford Taurus. And probably help from on high—really, we’re all lucky to be alive.

Anyway, we got through Sardine canyon with only a skiff of snow and a bit of slush on the roads. Logan valley was being hit with rain, so we went for it.

Right at the base of the canyon, a guy in a Civic blew past us and I was like, “If that car can make it, we can. If we see him on the side of the road, it’s a sign.”

Well, the canyon started out fine—a little rain and wet roads. The road got windy, and soon got snowy. But we still had tire tracks down to the pavement. I could tell my hubby was getting nervous by his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

We saw two or three tow trucks bringing other trucks down off the mountain. But still no little Civic, so we pressed on.

I do have to say that Logan canyon is beautiful in the snow.

I also have to say that my brother-in-law may be trying to kill us.

There’s this stretch of Logan canyon that’s a pretty steep hill. It’s about the halfway point of the drive. We came up the first bit of the hill and turned through a little canyon where they had to blast away the rock to get the road through. And on the other side of it lay the Civic.

In the middle of the road.

Spinning out.

By now we had 4-5 inches of slushy snow on the road, and because we had to slow down for the stupid Civic, we lost momentum.

Yeah, well, apparently we’re only a little dumb. We tried to get up the hill for about a minute with about ten feet of success. My hubby pronounced our efforts “good” and we turned around.

By now the poor guy was stressed out, and wanted to drive back home. I talked him into stopping in Logan for food. Mostly because driving while upset isn’t the best idea.

During food (Jack’s Firewood Pizza, or something like that, is awesome, by the way) I suggested that we should at least spend the night in Logan. The canyon may be better in the morning—we could at least call and see what was up. And I really didn’t want to go home.

So, in proper writing retreat fashion, we were thwarted. However, and this is also a trend, we found an adorable little manor house that’s been converted into suites. I think it was called Alta Manor or something. The brochure is way in the other room and I’m totally not getting up to find it.

The place was awesome. We got to cook the food we’d brought. I got to write and my hubby got to sleep and go to movies. Plus bring me Diet Coke and ice cream. He’s so good to me.

In the end, it all worked out.

And yes, the roads all the way to Ohio were pretty terrible the whole weekend, so we were all glad we didn’t decide to fight that battle. I’ve found some leverage on my brother-in-law so he won’t try to kill us again, and I’ve revamped my plot and started the rewrites on the sequel for New Sight.

As this was happening, I remembered that I was supposed to write a few blogs in villains. Then I thought, “What better villain than Mother Nature herself?”

Seriously, if she’s against you, you’re in a lot of trouble. Or, as it happened for us, she might lead you right where you’re supposed to go.

Or not.

11 February 2014

Babes in Spyland

This story has a strange history.

And I don’t just mean because there are a bunch of odd names and bizarrely evil masterminds in it.

No, it all started a long time ago. In our galaxy—it is not a Sci-Fi story. My friend (the awesome and creative “K”) actually created the world of the Super Secret Agency at least fifteen years ago.

One year for Nanowrimo I decided I wanted to play too, so I got permission to enter, tossed some new characters and silly situations together and had more fun than I’d ever had writing 65,000 words. I didn’t want to stop!

At this point (maybe five years ago now) I decided that I wanted to get a little more serious about writing. Because I’d had so much fun with the world of SSA, I figured that it would be a great place to start.

One caution I’ve heard over and over in the writing world is that you probably shouldn’t start with your “baby”—the story that you’ve been dying to write ever since you had a dream about it when you were six years old.

No, start with something you don’t care about, because you’re going to suck as an author for a while, and sometimes it breaks people to have their “baby” suck too.

It can all be fixed, I promise. But it takes time.

Anyway, I fixated on my SSA story because it is supposed to be funny, cheesy and more than slightly ridiculous. I figured I could do that.

So I did research. I plotted each set of agents, their timelines, their destinations, how long it takes to drive through Texas and about a hundred other things. I re-vamped it, re-wrote it and declared it finished the next spring.

Over the next two years, I vowed to write a YA fantasy novel that I would get published. I did that. Well, I wrote it, then tried to get it published. That didn’t go very well for a while.

A friend of mine (the slightly insane “T”) had a friend of hers get involved with BigWorldNetwork.com. They were brand new, and publishing stories on the web serial style (one episode at a time per week, like a TV series). “T” asked if I wanted to write a series with her. I declined, because she writes romancy stuff and has a totally different voice than I do when I write. So she wrote her own and I decided (because “T” pressured me) to send them a different SSA story. One I’d just written the November before.

I figured that BigWorldNetwork.com would politely decline it. After all, the point of the Super Secret Agency is to make people laugh.

To my shock and surprise, they accepted. Said they loved it and would like as much as I would give them.

So I signed up for five seasons, plotted it out (loosely) and went to Chicktopia.

Special thanks have to go "K" for allowing me to romp in her world, and to R&R for coming up with the name “Babes in Spyland.” I think I still owe them dinner.

That’s a brief blah, blah of the history of Babes in Spyland. All five seasons are now available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.

Seriously, if you need a laugh, check it out. It’s supposed to be cheesy nachos with more cheese on the side.

06 February 2014

Suffer the Consequences!

Last time we talked a little about the string of violent, public attacks that have been going on in our country and around the world over the past decade or so.

Like I said before, myself, my husband and one of my best friends were chatting about it. Someone put in the idea that the media shouldn’t even give these people’s names out. If any of their motivation was 15 minutes of fame and “Sympathize with the sad story of my life” this would thwart it.

Just an idea, but we played with it.

So the media doesn’t ever mention the killer’s name. Which means that their family may be spared a great deal (not all) of humiliation, heartache and public grief. Especially on a national scale.

One of us talking said, “I think they should say horrible things about the shooter. Call them stupid, they’re idiots, find every dumb thing they’ve done in their lives and point it out.”

Someone else said, “Uh, no. What about their family (who is already going through hell about this)?”

Good point. Not a great idea.

Then we started talking stories. And we discussed what if when someone did something so bad that a police force of some sort would then go back in time and completely erase not their existence, but every reference to it? Could be magic or technology or whatever.

A story idea. I like those. J

The anime “Death Note” came up. In it a death god gives a teenage kid a notebook in which the kid can write down anyone’s name, and they die.

At one point in the story the kid is so powerful that no one in the country dares even break a law, because somehow this kid sees them and then kills them.

Extreme consequences. They can make pretty awesome ideas for stories.

It’s important to remember to have some consequences for your villains, both good and bad (from their point of view). They are a character in your story, and as such, they have the same right and need to progress, have good and bad days as your good guys.

Sometimes it makes things very interesting.

02 February 2014

Sympathetic Villains?

Did anyone hear about the kid who set himself on fire in his school’s cafeteria in Colorado?

Yeah, as so many other things in the world, that’s pretty messed up.

What’s more messed up, is that I went to that school. I attended Stanley Lake High School the first year it was open. I’ve been in that cafeteria. I’ve trolled those halls. I marched their football field at 6am. I spent a year of my life there.

It’s strange when these things happen so close to home. Not that I live in Colorado anymore, but I did, and I know people who still do, and it feels ugly to have something like this happen so close to the place I at one time called home.

Yesterday myself, my husband and a good friend of mine were talking. I brought this up, because I was freaked out about it, and we transitioned to the too many acts of violence that have happened in schools and other public areas.

Like, who thinks that’s okay? In what state of mind does someone’s brain said, “Let’s go kill some people?”

One theory that we came up with is that these shooters (or whatever they decide to use as their weapon) want 15 minutes of fame, even if they’re dead. And the horrible thing is, that the media gives it to them.

Instead of saying, “These kids are messed up, and idiots. Don’t be like them.” The media delves into their lives, finds out who bullied them, if their parent’s made them eat brussle sprouts when they were little, what series of events took place to guide them to this horrific end for both them and whomever else they got close enough to, to take out.

Let’s face it, I don’t think that any of us want to think that our friends, neighbors or children/family members are capable of going into a school or a mall and shooting people. So we look for the reasons behind the actions. In some ways I think we want to or try to excuse the shooter because of their circumstances.

Okay, now don’t get all crazy on me here. Everyone is going to have a different opinion on this—which is fine by the way—and you’re welcome to leave comments below.

My brain got going yesterday, and started to wonder if that’s why so many people like sympathetic villains in stories. A bad guy with a dang good reason to be doing what he’s doing. (Magneto from the X-Men comes to mind.) It can make the actions of the bad guy somewhat excusable. Or at the very least understandable.

Does that make a better villain, or worse? Which would you rather read about?

I have friends who argue both sides of this line, which I think is great.

Personally, I like to understand where the villain is coming from, but I then like to have the villain do something so horrible that I’m like, “Uh, no. Someone has to take care of that guy no matter how mean the other kids in his 8th grade chess club were to him.”