Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Why Dracula Untold Is Exciting

In a recent, brief post on summer movies, the subject of the upcoming Dracula Untold came up, and I have to say, I feel like I’m more excited than anyone else about the potential of this film. In fact, I glanced at Coming Soon for a look at the rest of the year to come, and I may actually be more interested in Dracula Untold than anything else on the slate (though Interstellar and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 are in the running). So here’s my version of filtering my own thoughts and explaining why you, too, should be super excited….

Are vampires even cool anymore?

Dracula_1
This is fair skepticism. After all, the Twilight phenomenon is now a couple of years behind us, and even HBO’s True Blood is sort of past its prime. Vampire fiction isn’t quite in the spotlight the way it was a few years ago… but you know what? Both Twilight and True Blood were equal parts teen (or close to teen) romance and vampire stories… Dracula Untold is straight up blood-sucking action! Which brings me to another fair question for skeptics….

Can vampire fiction be dark?

Again, fair question, given that the popular vampire fiction of the past decade was largely fluff. But does anybody remember the Blade series? Somehow over time these Wesley Snipes-starring action/superhero movies landed somewhere between The Matrix and Underworld in comparisons, when in actuality Blade himself was part vampire! This was real, dark, awesome vampire fiction, and it retains a huge following even today. The slots at Betfair, which are known in part for hosting a lot of movie-themed games, even offer a Blade game alongside the popular heroes of more recent Marvel flicks. Popularity in gaming is actually a pretty major indicator of what people want to see, especially in terms of mobile or online gaming. And in keeping with the prominent place of this casino game, the last film in the series (Blade: Trinity) racked up over $120 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo, despite pretty rough reviews. So, yes, vampire fiction can be dark!

So if it’s darker, what’s it about?

Your guess is as good as mine as far as the details go. However, according to the summary at IMDB and judging by the trailers, young prince/soldier Vlad Tepes basically sells his soul to a super creepy supernatural demon/vampire and invites dark forces (like gradually becoming a vampire) into himself. It’s all a way for him to gain the power to save his family and homeland from opposing forces. Ultimately, it looks like a sort of medieval war epic spun into a vampire tale, which actually sounds oddly original—not unlike Greek epic battles (think 300 and Troy). However, instead of intervention from standard Olympian gods, we get dark supernatural vampire demons.

Well, who’s in it?

The aforementioned soldier prince, Vlad Tepes, is played by Luke Evans, whose face is probably vaguely recognizable to a lot of trailer viewers that just can’t quite place him. So far though, Evans is actually on a bit of a roll in his relatively young career. He’s best known as the suave, self-assured villain Shaw from Fast & Furious 6, but he also stole the show (in my opinion) as a young Zeus in Immortals. Additionally, he was terrific as Bard in the second Hobbit movie (he’ll be in the third as well). Sarah Gadon (a relative newcomer), Dominic Cooper (best known as the young groom-to-be in Mamma Mia), and Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) will also star.

So, add it all up and we’ve got our darkest vampire saga in a while. It’s also one that happens to feature an exciting cast and, rarest of all, a seemingly original take on the medieval war film. It could flop, sure, but for now I’m looking at it as one of the major events yet to come in 2014.

Summer Movies 2014

I was just about to order tickets for Dracula Untold and thought about the movies that we saw this summer:

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.05.54 AM

I feel like I enjoyed this summer more than previous ones because the movies were highly entertaining.  Interestingly enough, a large majority of them were really trashed with reviewers.  That really never impacts how I feel about a movie unless I was already not planning to see it and that seals its fate.  Maybe that’s how everyone is?

How was your summer movie dance card?  Did you enjoy it?

 

 

What makes a book a classic?

Towards the end of every year I work on my list on intentions.  I do this no matter what and I work on those lists all year because, well, I just don’t want to be the kind of person with a larger list of regrets than accomplishments. classics

I know that over the next year, one of the things I was going to put on my list was “read all the classics.”  The more that I thought about that though, the more difficult it became to figure out WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?  What makes something a classic?  Is it the time that has passed in direct ratio to it being considered influential?  You can break it up into time periods: Pre-Civil War, Industrial Age, Antiquities, Vintage, Contemporary, Romantic, Greek, and on and on and on.  Is it if it became popular?  Or banned?  What about great YA or Sci-Fi?

See what I mean?  OVERWHELMING.

If you over think it, you can even be genre specific.  For example, a classic horror novel would be The Shining or Carrie, wouldn’t you agree?  Actually, you could do an entire list on Stephen King! the shining

What would be on your list of classic books?

There is a great Tumblr called Teaching Literacy and if you aren’t following it you should be.  They had great suggestions and a link to a starter list that you should check out.

King novels

 

But what if you are a book person?

My biggest issue is most of what people would recommend, I have already read.  I was lucky to have teachers for grandparents so a love of books was instilled early.  Growing up overseas, I got to visit so many inspirational places that many writers frequented all over Europe.  There is nothing like going to Stratford-Upon-Avon to study Shakespeare or reading The Prince before visiting Florence, Italy.

I am very, very lucky.

But I know there are things I have missed.  While I have only finished sections of it, one of my first to finish this month is The Art of War.  There are a number of political theory books I want to revisit and Shakespeare plays I want to go through. I am thinking of going back through Rice’s Lestat series and then move on to more traditional things I may have missed.  When you have read most Steinbeck by the age of 13, it’s hard to find things to put on the list.  No matter how hard I try, most of what has ever been on Oprah’s lists, I just don’t care for.  Same for the Nobel Prizes…just didn’t love The Goldfinch the way I hoped I would.

 

leather bound

So tell me, what is on your list?  What is a book you continue to recommend to people?  Has it changed, as you have gotten older?  My tastes have always been crazy eclectic.  If you like horror, I again and again recommend The Historian.  I devoured that book.

In case you are interested, here are a couple of lists I found.  Enjoy!

Cult Classics

25 American Classic Books to Read

100 novels everyone should read

30 Books you should read before you’re 30

23 Books You Didn’t Read in High School But Actually Should

The 30 Comic Books You Should Have Read

Web Round Up

loki laundry

 

There is entirely too much going on and I have not had enough time to put any blog up as I intended.  I was sidetracked on Easter by a big Twitter jerk from doing the “what the hell is wrong with people” blog so that didn’t happen.  I might get back to that as soon as I get past spring which seems to be the time of year that is the busiest.

Or I won’t.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

I honestly have had very little time since moving across the country WHILE finishing graduate school to do much of anything because awesome stuff keeps happening.  I was lucky enough to get invited to Alaska and then before I knew it, I was off to do other things in other places.  It hasn’t stopped.  It would be maddening if it weren’t preferable to doing nothing.

I finished a book.

Truthfully I always do that, and if you are here even semi-regularly you know that about me.  I am a really big advocate for NaNoWriMo and I participate every year since 2008-ish even if I don’t finish.  I have finished a total of two novels in the process and one novella and as much as it stresses other people out, the type of writing it requires seems to suit me.  Very well.  So this year, I am taking it up a notch.

Enter stage right.

I decided partially through November’s effort last year that this one would go a step further.  Post-editing and query letter phase, I am going to turn this story into a screenplay.  It’s not that I haven’t thought of doing that before but there was something about this particular story that made me think I need to try that.  It is different from what I have done before and likely it is different from what I will do in the future and there is something to be said for that.  I am freaking out a little but trying to make sure that I am learning the CORRECT way to screenplay the shit out of a story in hopes that it leads to another awesome adventure.

Ridiculous and Awesome.

Its been an insanely long time since I have done a web round up so while I am taking a break, I figured this was as good a time as any to do one because I like talking about random stuff.  So here we go:

Nerd Freakout – I completely lost my mind when I saw this.  I mean “lost my mind” in a good way here.  I am a huge Wonder Woman fan and any time something comes up that adds to that universe in general, it makes me happy for DAYS.  This announcement sent me to YouTube where I watched Shazam, Isis and Wonder Woman videos all morning.  Yes, I am busy, but this is RESEARCH. It is research for something right?  Whatever.

Hogwarts Online – Equally had a freakout over this.  (Yes, I do that a lot.)  This wasn’t a “lost my mind” one as much as text everyone I know that would care about it, sign up for a log in and seriously debate the reason I need to take charms and potions.  I mean, I haven’t DONE anything with it but its totally okay for adult to do that for RESEARCH.

Rorzen – This made me laugh a lot and then made me kinda sad.  I am a Doctor Who nerd from way back.  I mean WAY back.  Further than David Tennant.  Further than McCoy.  Okay, move on.  It has to be hard for these guys to end up in something amazing but never being able to shake it off.  I wish fans were better about articulating stuff like that to people they look up to.  I think sometimes they are making them feel awful, not flattered.

Villain Awesomeness – I literally have no idea who I would put on a fictional preferred list for this role.  I have a strong suspicion whomever it is will not necessarily seem like who you would expect.

I was going to mention some of the jerks that have done crappy things the past week or so but screw them.  I am not about to give their negative crap.  If there is negativity to dish out it will be all mine.

More to come.

So new town, new adventures, busy, busy, busy, geek out, busy, busy…you get the picture.  I am looking forward to some interesting things coming up and for sure, you will hear it from me first.  🙂

Peace and Chicken Grease!

 

 

 

 

Work In Progress

I envy writers that stick to the same genre for their entire career.  I don’t know how they do it but it must get annoying after a while trying to only be that one thing.  I am not good at that. Some days I am a super nerd, others I am a political activist.  Once in a while my family really pisses me off or my kid makes me super proud.

If you follow me on Twitter, this is no surprise to you.

I get nasty messages and drop followers pretty regularly as a result.  I wish I had a way of imparting instantly on any one that comes across me on the web (or IRL for that matter) how cool I am but it’s just not possible.  Some days, depending on how I wake up, it makes me feel terrible.  Most days, I just don’t care.  I have had a crazy life and if there is one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t try to be everything to everyone.  There will always be someone who doesn’t like me.

Really, it’s their loss.

This week I started my next novel.  Although I have several things in the works, none of them are the same genre and this current project is a memoir.  ::collective gasp::  While it seems a little weird, it’s not really if you hang around me long enough.

It started with one NaNoWriMo.

My first NaNo I didn’t finish.  My second one I did and that is the one that really sent my mind into overdrive.  I have written since the fourth grade, poetry mostly, and often felt I could never tell a LONG story, much less write a novel.  I mean WHO DOES THAT?  But once I finished my first novel (it is chick lit) suddenly there where a million stories I wanted to tell swimming around in my head.

Next it was short erotic tales that found a publisher and a loyal fan base. I don’t even remember how they found me or I found them but one became seven or eight.   And I made MONEY!  Later came short stories for kids because I wanted to do something for my littlest monkey that I posted to Amazon. And I made MORE MONEY!  The next NaNo effort resulted in a Young Adult Sci-Fi book that I didn’t finish but still intend to get back to after a while.  After that, one of the characters from my erotica stories became another finished NaNo project because she just wouldn’t stop talking to me. Then this past year, my newest novel is a dramatic military-veteran-returns-for-one-last-mission ball of awesome. It is with my long time editor now and I already have a couple of competitions where it will be headed after that.

Now a memoir.  Is that weird?  Probably.

I am doing it not really because I am important to other people.  I mean, I KNOW I am important to some people but for the most part, I don’t seem special.  It’s mostly because I happen to be blessed with one of those really messed up lives.  I have never read a book that shows what my kind of messed up can be or how it can shape a person.  Sometimes there is a chapter or two that I can identify with but not a whole book that says, “all the bad things are bad but you can be better.”

That’s mostly what it’s about.  You can be better no matter what.

Everything I have written was the story that came to me at the time.  Its unconventional but 100% me.  (We covered that already, remember?)  I am totally okay with it too.

So tell me…

What about you?  Do you pursue multiple creative adventures or do you stay in one lane?

Monster of the Week: Everything in Pacific Rim

 

pac rim

I have a long, documented history with monster movies.  Also, similar to my mind classifying all martial arts movies into a Kung Fu category, I also lump all scary and awesome creatures into the Monster category.  If that irritates you, just stop reading now and don’t feel the urge to send me any hate mail.

I just don’t care.

I am not the person that dissects a movie to pieces and tend to sit back, let it unfold and judge it as a whole.  I also don’t let public opinion sway my own, for example, I didn’t like Bridesmaids and I HATED Vanilla Sky.  But I digress…

This week, I have to explain why my favorite monsters now are basically everything in Pacific Rim.  Yes, I am including Jaegers in that.

I was pretty sad to see a lot of discussion on the movie from people had not even gone to see it or folks immediately dismissing it.  Is it loud?  YES.  Is it considered a “blockbuster”? YES.  Does that mean it’s not worth the hype?  NO.

With Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro does a beautiful job (as always) with making his “creatures” feel real.  They move with purpose and logically as an animal would.  You can observe different animal movements in each one as they become larger, more fantastic and impressive.  My personal favorite was the one that tore through town moving like a silver back gorilla…TERRIFYING.  In this movie, what those of us that grew up watching Godzilla vs. Mothra saw these Kaiju was a return to the childhood that movies can bring back.  What I say in Jaegers reminded me so much of the great Japanese serialized defenders of the people.  The things that feel fantastic and surreal but also have you rooting for the “good guy.”  For me, aside from my Dad, I will say again, this is all Ted Turner’s fault.  The same person that brought me Shock Theater also brought me Ultraman and Ambassador Magma.  Never heard of these?  Well you should have because they are precursors to the Transformers and Jaegers.  For me, it was so much more awesome as a kid growing up in a tiny Southern town dreaming of running away!

Del Toro knows about those little kids…it would be impossible for him not to!  Once you watch Pacific Rim, every single image tells me he spent an incredible amount of time to get it right.  It is magical and delicious and I can’t get enough of it!  (Yes, I already pre-ordered my Blu-Ray).

I highly recommend you drop the hypercritical lens and overly academic view of movies and sit back and enjoy a throw back to a simpler time.  Our world would be a better place if people could do that a little more.  🙂

Great Comic Mashup

If you are ever here, you have probably seen my nerdy kitchen or know how much I love Halo (the artist, not the game).  When I saw this Kickstarter come across my dash, I immediately went into fan girl mode.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of those cartoons much like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers, that you were either really into or didn’t watch at all.  I admit, I am a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan.  I was pretty upset when I heard about the changes to the story line in the upcoming movie.  I will watch it because I want to see how they pull it together but in those changes, they completely removed the teenage and mutant part.  It will be whatever it is and we will love or hate it.

Let me just say, THIS I love:

Mike

The artist J.Q. Hammer came up with a FABULOUS idea of a conventional Western mash up with the TMNT that I can’t stop talking about.  Of course, my prints are going in my nerdy kitchen but you still have time to get your own!

Check it out:  TMNT Western Concept Redesign Project

30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon!

 

Okay peeps!  How many of you are doing this?  This will be my fourth year participating and hopefully my second win!  I know life gets in the way and you end up with a messy draft at the end but I can testify to the fact that it is a great accomplishment to finish!  I still have last year’s YA novel I intend to go back and finish but another project has caught my eye so I am diverting for the month of November to flesh that out and see how it feels.  I have a feeling it will take me into doing a Script Frenzy as well so I am trying now to become accustomed to working under pressure!

So let me know, are you going to Nanowrimo?  What does your main character look like?  What are you most excited/fearful of?

 

My Nerdy Kitchen

BEFORE Kitchen cabinets and Little Monkey being goofy
BEFORE Kitchen
BEFORE Kitchen wall

Living in a 100 year old tiny house is difficult.  There is always something breaking, not working or needing updating.  While I have advocated down sizing before (and still do) it can pose quite a problem for a cook.  There are many things I don’t need in other rooms of the house but the kitchen is one of those where I still don’t have every thing I need, much less every thing I want.  One of the problems posed by this little space was where to hang our nerdy artwork.  Because there was an empty wall in the kitchen placed where nothing could go against it if you wanted to maintain any sort of emergency exit plan (read here:  between two doors) it ended up this was the art wall.  From there the kitchen project began.

For most people, I am sure I don’t have to explain the importance of paint colors. You CAN use dark colors in small spaces but it has to be the right dark color (see my bathroom below).  This tiny house was painted on the main floor in awful pink tinted beige with dark burgundy accent walls.  The result was a house that was dark and depressing at best.  Marry this with really badly done mint green cabinets and it just got worse.  When we first moved in, we weren’t really sure where to put all our pieces because clearly cooking had to take place but there was so little prep space that it became a chore.  We tried several configurations, none of which helped.  We finally started a couple of months ago, one project at a time, until we finally arrived at the finished project this weekend.

AFTER Kitchen wall

Yes those are comic books and Daleks.  You don’t have to like it but it is quite representative of our household. While the old table we gave a facelift isn’t quite Tardis blue, its close enough for you to get it.  Someone, solely the fault of Halo, we went down a deep rabbit hole into very specific nerdy art with candy and/or cupcakes involved.  It’s sad.  I have added a great print from Amy Houser and I fear I will never stop looking for them.  Currently paint and glittering a sign to hand that says “Make Cupcakes Not War.”  See what I mean?

As a side note, the master tiny bath was redone as well.  It was previously a God-awful shade of blue that did not “brighten” anything.  Combined with a poorly hung mirror and a light fixture above it hung 8 inches too far to the right made for a depressing bathroom.  Though I went with a darker color, it ended up looking much richer and simply repositioning the light and mirror properly, results in far more light reflecting and a happier room.

AFTER bathroom, Darby approved

Shades of orange, chalkboard paint, take some cabinet doors down, add Big Foot fabric and BAM!  Shouldn’t all rooms be happier?