When Your Ship Sails

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It must be nice to have a ship sail. For the record none of my ships ever sail: Aragorn/Eowyn, Rollo/Lagertha, Sebastian/Mary, Motoko/Batou, Finn/Poe just to name a few.

Before I proceed, this is regarding a moment from the season finale of Game of Thrones, so if you haven’t seen it SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT!!!!!

Consider yourselves warned.

For Dany/Jon shippers, last night had a very satisfying moment. To be honest, it was pretty fun to watch for us nonshippers too. I mean, damn, that was a steamy scene.

While I’m undecided how I feel about Dany/Jon (Sorry Aegon) getting together, I do know what ship I’d like to see sail.

So … while everyone is starting to build a boat for Tormund and Brienne, I’m still hoping my Brienne and Jaime ship will sail.

Last night did give me some hope when Jaime left King’s Landing for the North where Brienne of Tarth just so happens to be.

I know people like the idea of Tormund and Brienne and their giant children, but I’ve been rooting for this ship since season 2, damn it. They just have such good chemistry.

Well, since the next season isn’t going to air until 2019, I guess I”ll have to wait two more years to find out if Jaime and Brienne get together.

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What ships do you want to see sail? Which ones would you like to sink?

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Cosplay progress–progress being a generous word

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Ok, I promised pictures. I still don’t have that much to take pictures of besides stacks of patterns and piles of uncut fabric.

So for starters, I made a lot of progress on my son’s Ash costume. The shirt is done, and I vow never to sew pockets again. I also vow not to be as picky; I literally went to five or more stores looking for yellow buttons that were the right size and the right shade of yellow … this might be why this project is taking so long.

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All we need to do now is order a wig, buy some jeans and shoes, a belt, and finish his gloves.

As far as the Wonder Woman cosplay, it will be a wonder if we get anything done. I did almost finish the Hippolyta cape and skirt. Will share pics next week.

Aside from that, I have designed a crown and gauntlet pattern and I’ve started cutting out the bust pieces.

I’d have more done, but this month we had several acting workshops and an entire weekend dedicated to filming. Not to mention getting ready for Gen Con this weekend.

Gen Con will be a much needed break from sewing. I’ll be sure to share pics from the con, as well as more photo updates of my current project.

Getting into Character

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Between firing/hiring a new team member at my work, writing, cosplay, and my son’s surgeries, I haven’t had that much time to go to the gym. I’ve got to make time now so I can turn my body into a warrior bod for the film.

Watching Wonder Woman really inspired me to take my workout to a whole new level. I even do Gal Gadot’s workout on Wednesday (Wonder Woman Wednesday). Feel free to try it yourself. Get on a rowing machine followed by bear crawls, crab walks, burpees (lots of burpees), dead lifts, pull ups, and a bunch of other barbell stuff I don’t remember the proper names.

Getting into character with me is my sister. Since we are both in the same film, we are going for a similar look, which means identical diets, identical workouts. Just like everything else we do, my son isn’t left out. While he goes to the YMCA mainly to play on the computers, he does run and walk a few laps around the track with us as a family.

It’s nice being inspired, but even better to inspire others. Another woman, intrigued by Wonder Woman’s workout, decided to join us. We worked out together and talked. As a woman, one of my greatest joys is to empower other women.

Speaking of woman empowerment. Thursday I started taking a tribal dance class. I’m not very good yet, but I could feel the feminine energy flowing through the room. It was invigorating and inspiring.

Channeling this character will be fun. Figured I’d start on the outside. Won’t be able to channel her internally until I get the full script.

Stay tuned.

 

Don’t Wait: Make it Happen

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We’ve all got a calling: something we feel compelled to do: sing, act, paint, write.

I’m compelled to write, act, dance, sew, draw, play instruments, and save the world.

Of all those things, I’d say my strongest callings have always been to write and act. I started writing before I could read (if that makes sense) and I started acting in High school, taking every theatre class offered at my school and auditioning for every play. Of course, I played elaborate games of pretend with  my sister long before that.

After school I thought I’d become a writer and eventually get back into acting, starting with college/community theatre.

I got busy and hit a major writing wall, so I didn’t do much acting or writing for five years.

That was a bad time. I was depressed and lost … I wasn’t me. I was restless. Restlessness is what you feel when you aren’t answering your calling.

Recently I saw a video where Peter Dinklage offers some great advice to his fans: “Don’t wait.”

I am a true believer in learning from others: their advice and their mistakes and successes. This might be some of the best advice I’ve heard from someone who obtained their dream. There is no right time. You just have to go out there and make it happen.

One of my greatest lessons came from my mom. Sadly, she was not encouraging of big dreams. She didn’t take many risk or chances. My mother’s illness and her death inspired me to go after my dreams before it is too late. While I like to think that my mom was 100% satisfied with her life, I know she had unfulfilled dreams like seeing the ocean. How hard would that have been to make happen?

My goals might be a little more of a challenge: publish and act–not in theatre–on the small or big screen.

At 30, I feared it was too late for either, but in his speech, Peter says that he left a job at 29 to pursue acting. So it’s never too late.

While I can’t just quit my job and take off, my first break is just around the corner. A friend of mine told me about auditions for a film. I auditioned with my sister and we both landed rolls.

I can’t give away too much yet. It’s very early in the works, but I can say we are starting filming very soon. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy film. There are several B listed actors in it–one of which my son is a huge fan. It will be playing in roughly 150 theaters.

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First picture of some of the cast. Sorry no costume pics until we start promoting

Now before I get too excited, I’m not saying this film is going to make me red-carpet famous, but it is helping me answer my inner calling. Community theater just didn’t do it for me. But this is the whole experience: green screen, costume, hair and makeup, the whole thing.

I’m one of those people who can’t watch the behind the scenes special features without getting jealous. I’d love to be a part of the film-making process, and this will give me a chance.

The part I’m most excited about is my character. I’m going to be a General. After watching Star Wars and Wonder Woman and seeing my childhood princesses become Generals, I feel honored that this is my first role. I’ve always wanted to be a woman warrior like Lagertha, Antiope, or Xena. Here’s my chance.

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This film could lead to a lot of important networking opportunities as well as future rolls.

As far as writing, I’m still working on book one, but I feel like it finally has direction.

I really feel like this is the defining year of my life. If you haven’t seen it already, go watch Peter Dinklage’s speech.

 

Back to the Beginning

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What’s worse than starting at the beginning? Starting all over again.

Beginnings are hard, usually because they start at the ending of something else.

This year marks the beginning of my 30’s and the end of my 20’s. My original goal was to publish a book by the time I turned 30, but alas, I am only starting–or rather starting over yet again.

How could I not finish a book in a decade? Well, I did, actually. I completed a draft for book one and two. I spent hours outlining, researching, writing, re-writing, falling in and filling in plotholes.

So why is there not a completed MS?

I believe your twenties are for discovery and learning.

What I discovered: There were a lot of plot holes in my writing.

What I learned: This story was good but it could be better. I also discovered that my major supporting character should really be my main character. That changes everything.

So after starting all over on the outline, yet again, I finally began the first chapter for hopefully the last time.

So I didn’t accomplish my original goal. I thought I’d be finished by now, not starting over. I didn’t publish, but I did accomplish something. With diligent research and outlining and planning, I think I will be able to write the best book I possibly can by the time I’m 40.

 

Fight of the Fandoms

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While everyone else on the Interweb is arguing about Batman vs Superman or Iron Man vs Captain America, I’ve been making my own matches.

I keep up with a lot of shows, and one thing I always do, aside from ship (I ship everything), is pair off different people to see who would win in a crossover tournament. I’m not talking about DC vs Marvel or Goku vs Superman (Goku would win–no question). These are my picks for cross-fandom fights.

Let the battles begin!


 

Drogo vs Rollo

These men could be brothers from another mother. Just look at the pics. They’re even making the same face. Not only do their names rhyme–well, kinda/sorta, but they both rock that long hair/beard combo, have body paint and/or tattoos, and forgo wearing shirts (possibly to show off the tattoos). And those are just the visual similarities. They both have arranged marriages to prominent women (whom they can’t talk to because they speak another language), hot tempers, legendary warrior status, an interest in power and destiny, and have both been referred to as “savage” while being hailed as one of the finest warriors alive.

So which of these men is really the finest warrior alive?

I don’t think you need a prophesy to predict who wins this match. I’m going to roll with Rollo.

I can hear you disagreeing through the Interweb. I know that Drogo has that long braid that suggest he’s never been defeated, but come on, look how fast man hair grows. He grew that braid in two years tops. In all fairness, we don’t get to see him fight, just a raid here and there and that one knife fight that awards him his lethal boo-boo. Rollo has a lot more on screen battles to base this victory on.

Let’s look at Rollo. Whether he’s fighting with his brother, against his brother, with his brother, or against him, he’s hard to stop. He fights–as Odo puts it–like a wild bear. Jumping shield walls, lifting men on spears, thwarting war machines. He even gets trampled by six horses and thrown off of a wall and still lives.


 

Catherine De Medici vs Cersei Lannister

This has got to be my favorite crossover match. This is a battle, not of brute strength, but of wits. Both are masters of manipulation and poison–and fashion. These ladies look like they raid each others’ closets or shop at the same store. With wavy gold hair in intricate updos and flowing red gowns, they look like they could be mother and daughter. Aside from the fact that they both rock red dresses, they have very similar personalities: they’re smart, cunning, snarky Queens who love to drink wine and get their way.

Their greatest commonality: They would do anything for their sons … anything.

I hate to say it, but once again, my vote is not for the GoT character, but for Catherine. Even when she’s caught, and she’s seldom caught in her own webs, she gets her way out of it. She certainly wins more than she loses. I don’t know that I can say that for Cercei. Catherine gets away with murder, lies, attempted murder, adultery and far worse. She just has a lot more power and influence than Cersei.

And you’d have to be nasty to beat Cersei. I think Catherine’s cut out for the task. I mean, she bought Narcisse’s horse, gave it to him as a gift, and then killed it and served it to him as a steak. That’s pretty cruel. I’d hate to think what she’d do to Cersei.

This next one is for fun of course


 

Jaime Lannister vs Luke Skywalker

Because the one armed thing and the sister thing.

It might not even be a fair fight since Luke has the force and he just has to force stab Jaime with his own sword. With regular blades, Jaime would win, but I think the force and my vote goes to Luke on this one.

So what about …


 

Jaime Fraser vs Jaime Lannister

I didn’t pair these two off just because of the name. No doubt this would be one of the sexiest cross-fandom fights. Two men fighting face to face, smolder against smolder. To be honest, I’d be just as happy to see them kiss. But on a serious note, I do think they would be pretty evenly matched. However, I think due to having more polished skill, Jaime would win, one handed or not.

Ok another one for fun


 

Ned Stark vs Boromir

The resemblance is uncanny. Gee, I wonder why.

Prepare for the greatest meme war–or sword fight.

Let’s look at what they have in common. Both fight with big swords, both are played by Sean Bean. Both die. Really ’nuff said.

I think Boromir would win almost simply for being younger. Not only that, but going off of on-screen battles, look at all the orcs Boromir kills. Ned can’t even get a hit on Jaime.

I know you all think I’m biased against Game of Thrones at this point. So let’s just pair off another and see if he wins or he dies.


 

Samwell Tarly vs Samwise Gamgee

Everyone needs a Sam.

I’m sure Martin wasn’t at all influenced by Tolkien when he invented this character. cough, cough …

This might not sound like a great fight. They don’t look like much and they don’t have a lot in the way of self confidence, but they’re loyal and stalwart. Endanger the ones they love and they’ll show you what they’re made of under that huggable exterior.

So who Sams better?

To be Frank (or should I say Sam) I think Samwise would win. Look how brave he is in Mordor, especially when he takes on all those orcs alone to rescue Frodo. I don’t think Samwell could survive Mordor. I do, however, think Sam could handle the black, though I think he’d miss the taste of strawberries and Rosie.

It’s time for a three way


 

Katniss vs Hawkeye vs Legolas

These are the most notorious archers in all of fandom. Let’s see who’s the most bad-ass bowman–or woman.

I haven’t seen all the Hunger Games movies, but I like Katniss, from her braid to her rebellious, independent nature. She is a survivalist, but can she survive this three-way match?

Well, Hawkeye does have those massive forearms, some awesome moves, and he does shoot Loki out of the sky–even though Loki does catch the arrow before it explodes (crying foul on that one). Surprisingly enough, he does run out of arrows. Could this cost him the win?

Legolas runs out of arrows too, but look how much better he compensates. Legolas doesn’t even need his bow. It just makes him look good. Who needs a bow when you have batshit badassery. Everything Legolas does is awesome and sometimes just plain ridiculous, from taking down an oliphant like it ain’t no shit to riding a bat. Whether stupid or awesome, no one does it like Legolas.

I really think the odds would be in Legolas’ favor.


 

Eowyn vs Lagertha

I put these two together for the obvious reasons. For starters, they’re both shield maidens. That alone makes them worthy opponents. They’re both also amazing fighters who don’t let any man hold them back. Not to mention they both have awesome blond hair and are loyal to their families.  I’m really not sure who would win. Eowyn does kill the Witch King, which no man can destroy, but Lagertha has killed … a lot. To be honest, this one I’m leaving as a draw.


 

Oberyn vs Rey

These two are very different, but I picked them for their fighting styles. They both fight with staffs or spears. The scene in Star Wars where she’s bashing those guys with the staff reminded me of Oberyn fighting the Mountain.

So I thought, which of them would win in a battle of staff vs spear.

Even though Oberyn uses poison to his advantage, Rey still has the force, and a natural fierce fighting style.

So … in this case, even though he’s a master, I’d say Rey. She seems to share Oberyn’s passionate temper, and could easily be one of his daughters. Being a sand snake would certainly suit her considering where she lives. She’d easily fit into the Game of Thrones universe sans force.


Daenerys vs Hiccup

I know, I need a Daenerys show down. I couldn’t think of who to put her against. In all honesty, she doesn’t fight for herself so much as she has an army and dragons to fight for her, so I’m going to put her against another dragon user. Let’s just do Daenerys vs Hiccup.

Since the dragons do all the work, technically this fight should be called

Drogon vs Toothless

Named after Drogo, he’s the troublemaker in the bunch. He’s also larger and more aggressive than the other dragons.

Even though Toothless has a history of taking down larger, stronger dragons, I think Drogon could take him. He certainly doesn’t stand a chance if all of her dragons join in the fight.


Merlin vs Gandalf

For obvious reasons: they’re wizards.

To judge this fight, let’s look at their powers.

Most of Merlin’s spells seem to be like a force push. Other times he moves objects, often to make them fall on his enemies. He can also disguise his appearance and summon a dragon.

Alot of Gandalf’s spells are similar from the force pushes to the summoning animals. Though Gandalf summons eagles. He can also emit light from his staff to light a path or fight shadow foes. He can also … perform exorcisms?

Wizard powers seem to be a little confusing, but I’m going to bet that Gandalf is the more wizardy wizard.

This last one is just a tease


Stormtroopers vs Vogons

Here you go, the worst shots in the universe will come face to face to … miss each other entirely.

The win goes to whoever lands the first shot.

Well, looking at the on-screen bullseyes … the Vogons have one hit in the entire movie. The stormtroopers have made a few more hits, and just like the Vogons, nonefatal

So the worst army in the universe goes to the Vogons.


I hope you enjoyed the list. Let me know if you agree/disagree. What are some more awesome cross-fandom fights?

 

The Non-Biased Sister Review

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It’s obvious why friends and family shouldn’t leave reviews. They over complement, they aren’t the target audience, and they’re totally subjective. I like to think this doesn’t apply to me. I’m very objective, and I don’t sugar coat my opinions, especially when I edit. I want my sister’s books to be awesome, which means sometimes I have to be cruel to be kind. Not that I make her cry or anything. If anything, she thinks I could be harsher.


 

In light of today being the start of the Kindle Countdown Deal for The Wizard’s Gambit, I’ve decided to post my totally non-biased sister review.

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Story

I’m not going to give a synopsis. If you want, it’s here on Amazon. What you want is my opinion, so here goes.

To sum it up it’s like if Hunger Games meshed with the Lord of the Rings. Representatives from every race and Kingdom battle to the death in search of a hidden item: an item that will give the champion power over all the other races. The competition is the result of a wizard’s last ditch effort to make everyone get along. However, a solution is only ever as successful as the plan–and considering he didn’t give it much thought …

I like the story, personally. It’s based around just enough fantasy tropes to be familiar, but it’s not overly predictable. You might think it is at first: a man with a mysterious background, a blacksmith, a prophesy, wizards, etc. I know what you’re thinking, a blacksmith with a mysterious past must fight to win the competition. After defeating all of his enemies he is found to be the one true king.

Trust me, it’s not that predictable. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if you think you have it all figured out by the end of book one, just wait for book two to pull the rug out from under you.


 

Characters

There are a lot of characters in this series. Not quite as many as Game of Thrones, but pretty close. This is not a complaint of mine, as main characters and major supporting, minor supporting, and so forth seem to be clearly identified. Also, there aren’t too many POV’s. Only main and major supporting get POV’s.

Even though they derive from tropes, they are all her own creations and not borrowed from the bookshelf.

For those of you who thought Pig was a funny name, meet Mongrel. Mongrel is the main character. My sister worried he would be annoying and “too nice,” but to be honest, I think he’s dorky and fun, kind of like Chris Pratt. I’m bored of reading about dark, brooding, bad-ass anti-heroes who seek revenge and murder without emotion. This isn’t to say that Mongrel isn’t flawed. He’s not your traditional good guy either. He isn’t noble, wise, and always right. He’s a relate able good guy, the kind that wants to help and do right, but blunders and missteps along the way.

Following Mongrel on his quest are some familiar and like able characters mainly based around your typical trope fantasy quest types.

  • Elves: Instead of the noble, wise, magically gifted archer, we get a cowardly social climber who is inept at fighting and using magic.
  • Dwarf: Little Hammer is almost your standard issue dwarf: she’s stubborn, gold-hungry, elf-hating, and booze-loving. But I can’t imagine a dwarf being any other way. This is what we’ve come to love. Nuances make Little Hammer original. For once we get a woman instead of a man. The name system is interesting too. And she doesn’t carry the standard issue ax. In fact, most of the dwarves carry their own special weapons.
  • Humans: We actually get a variety of humans in this parody, not just Caucasian. The characters skin tones range from the very light to the very dark.
  • Ogres: What can I say? To summarize: Not like an onion. Not like Shrek. More like Ludo.
  • Wizards: Not so much like Gandalf, but more like Radagast or Merlin from The Quest for the Holy Something or Other. They’re in charge of keeping order, but sometimes they need to pull their heads out of their hats.

As far as my favorite character, I’d have to say it’s Margo, the apprehensive wizard in training. She’s shy and unsure, but she is certain of one thing: Mongrel is the only one who can unite the seven kingdoms. What I think I like about her (aside from the fact that she’s my secret ship) is how much I related with her when I was her age. She’s awkward and undecided about her future while the future of the world hangs in the balance. She’s just noticing boys and missing home and worried she’s made the right career choice. Who wouldn’t relate with that … except for maybe that bit about the future of the world hanging in the balance. But to be honest, I related with that part too. I was in my teens when the two towers were attacked. After that, even though the entire world seemed to be at war, I still worried about my own problems: family, college, leaving home, boyfriends. That’s how the mind of a teenager works.

Another thing that I like is that there are multiple villains. The problems aren’t caused by one person, but by at least one rep from every kingdom. Most of the leaders of the kingdoms are pretty villainous, especially Empress Eiko, Lord Lindolyn, and Walder. my favorite villain is probably Gwyndor–or Gwyn for short. He’s pretty determined to win the competition and doesn’t let anything stand in his way.


 

My Favorite Scenes

There isn’t a scene I don’t like. If there was, she would have cut it.

I think one of my favorite scenes is where Mongrel enters the city. It’s told through the viewpoint of Jared the gatekeeper.You truly get an idea about how odd Mongrel is through the eyes of this average Joe. For some reason this scene is just dripping with humor. One of my favorite lines is where he notices Mongrel is barefoot (I told you he was odd) so he decides to “bypass the customary “‘oo goes there” to confront the issue at the forefront of his mind, “Ain’t yer feet cold?”

Another favorite is where the kingdoms introduce their competitors and they all start arguing and bickering about what’s fair and who is breaking the rules. It just really shows how petty they all are and how easily situations involving everyone get out of hand.

I also like many of the battles, especially the show down between Eiko and Walder and the North tribe vs the elves where they start summoning their animals with their amulets. It’s like a pokemon battle gone awry.


 

The Humor

My sister and I have very similar taste in humor, so naturally I’m going to like the humor. Heck, I wrote some of the jokes. I’m even mentioned in the acknowledgement section of the book where she credits me for the “horrible insurance jokes” that either “saved or ruined” her story.

The humor isn’t in your face or slap stick. Most of the humor is situational or from the dialogue. The style is definitely reminiscent of Monty Python or Terry Pratchett though I would say more American and modern.

I like that the humor is often used to make a point or poke fun at a trope. For instance, we’ve all read fantasy books where it seems wizards and other magic users have incredible power, but don’t seem to utilize it to defeat the villain. Margo summarizes it well:

“The problem with wizards is that they never fully utilized their powers, at least not when it came to something important. Levitate a chair, transform an inanimate object, gift human speech to a cat–useless tricks for no purpose whatsoever! What good was magic when it couldn’t be used for something meaningful, like stopping a war, perhaps?”

One of my favorite humorous lines:

“Consider these events: the crowning of a king, the dethroning of a dark lord, and the invention of the fish taco; what do they all have in common? … All of these events occurred, by the will of destiny, with the help of a wizard.”


The Cover

The Wizards Gambit ebook cover

They say never judge a book by its cover, but come on, this cover is awesome. I’m going to take a little credit for this one. I doodled the idea on a piece of paper and gave it to my sister, who explained what she wanted to her cover designer–and BLAMO–she got an awesome cover.


 

Flaws

All books have flaws. The book’s pace might be a little slow, but to be honest, I wouldn’t call it slow. I would call it comfortable.

They say a book should start when the action starts, but you do need to understand the character and their world before it’s threatened by the conflict.

I get that readers are becoming impatient, but I’m sorry. I want some setup. I’ve read too many books where I’ve just been introduced to the main character and by paragraph two–BAM–they’re being attacked, a dog dies, or something explodes . Too much.

This was a concern of ours during the editing phase, but to be honest, I’m not sure what to cut that wouldn’t detract from the story. I’d say, like Quest, the main quest doesn’t get started until about 20-30 percent of the book, but that doesn’t mean the story isn’t moving forward. In all fairness, it does follow the traditional formula: introduce main character, show their world and what’s at stake, introduce conflict, main character refuses the call, something happens to make character follow the call, and action.


 

There you have it. My honest opinion. If it sounds like a story you’d like, now ‘s the time to order your copy. Better hurry, because the countdown has already begun. Just three days!

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