Archive for December, 2012

2012 Prime Time TV Reviews – Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season

I don’t watch much TV but I do need a mental break every now and then. Besides, sometimes sci-fi / fantasy television shows or movies inspire my creativity. Even the bad ones can ignite a spark. There are a few new sci-fi / fantasy shows on prime time TV this season and a few recurring ones that I’d like to mention. Here they are in no particular order:

Fringe, FOX, 5th Season
Fringe is a sci-fi television show on FOX. It was set in present time with the sci-fi elements being unexplainable but supposedly scientifically based events. I liked this show in its beginnings. It reminded me of X-Files. However, I always felt the two main characters Olivia Dunham and Peter Bishop were weak. I like Walter Bishop and Astrid better. Their quirkiness, especially Walter’s carried the show. However, I think the show has gotten way off base. It all started with the alternate universe and has now progressed in this fifth season to an alternate future. It’s been like starting out watching Lord of the Rings and suddenly finding Iron Man coming to save the day. It just doesn’t fit the original direction this TV show was going.

Arrow, CW, 1st Season
Being a huge fan of Batman, Spiderman, and other DC and Marvel comics, I really liked the idea of Arrow. But the backstory is too much like Bruce Wayne’s. I have to admit that the man who plays Arrow/Oliver Queen, Stephen Amell, is really hot but his character is not at all believable or even likable. I hate the love story too. All the characters are flat, but I am a bit intrigued by the character John Diggle and Walter Steele. I do like the darker aspect of Arrow as compared to the older Batman and I love the action, but the drama doesn’t entertain me.

Beauty and the Beast, CW, 1st Season
I loved the original Beauty and the Beast, especially Ron Pearlman, the man who played the beast. This version is different, but I like it too. The backstory is interesting and the plot just keeps getting better, especially with the recent twist of his violent blackouts. I do not care for Kristin Kreuk who plays Catherine. She is not a bad actress, per se, but I keep associating her with Lana Lang in Smallville who I got very tired of in that television series. Also, she is not really a believable detective. She is much too pretty and young-looking. Then again, Kate Beckett in Castle is a hot female detective too but she is a more mature woman and carries her role well. Jay Ryan who plays Vincent Keller makes a great beast. His character is more believable, although I think his on-again/off-again relationship with Catherine is wishy-washy.

Castle, ABC, 4th Season
This is not really sci-fi or fantasy but I brought up Kate Beckett in Castle so I thought I would mention this one too. Detective shows are not usually my thing but because the character who plays Rick Castle is also the same character who played Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly (Nathan Fillion), I had to watch it. All the characters are wonderful and I love how the show can be both funny and serious depending on the situation. It is really the character interactions which make this TV series interesting since the murder cases follow much the same themes as any other detective TV show.

Once Upon a Time, ABC, 2nd Season
Once Upon a Time
 is my all-time favorite prime time show this year. Although the characters are all the same character’s from Grimm’s fairy tales and Disney movies, the story is very original. Even when they do a flashback to the original fairy tale, it is different. Snow White was an outlaw, the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk was actually a good guy, and the evil character Rumplestiltskin has a few redeeming qualities. In fact, I would say that Rumplestiltskin is my favorite character in the series. He is such a complex character that contradicts himself by doing both good and bad, but those contradictions do not make his character any less believable. Prince Charming’s character is a bit wishy-washy but he doesn’t ruin the show. And I don’t care much for the character Mulan either.

Elementary, CBS, 1st Season
This is another one that doesn’t really fit into sci-fi or fantasy. But I mention it because I want to compare it to a far more brilliant Sherlock Holmes show called Sherlock. Sherlock is a British television show that is much more dynamic and the characters far more interesting. This detective show is nothing like any detective show you have ever seen. So even if you don’t like detective shows, I highly recommend Sherlock, which is currently showing on Netflix, and forget about Elementary. Unless the plot of Elementary gets more involved, it will not last long. I wonder if they will introduce Moriarty soon. That might spice things up a bit.

To read about more about what the TV shows are about, find more information on Wiki.

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The Dragon and the Lion Prologue Revision

Posted in Book 3 - The Dragon and the Lion, The Dukarian Legacy - Fantasy Novels with tags , , on December 8, 2012 by Dawn Ross

DragonLion

Back in November I introduced a portion of the prolog to the third fantasy novel of the Dukarian Legacy: The Dragon and the Lion. I said I had trouble making the scenes more vivid. Well, I have done a bit of a revision, but I’m not sure it is enough. Read the following and tell me what you think:

            Death lingered over the land.  Black withered leaves clung precariously to the twisted limbs of old trees.  The ground, littered with decay, struggled to hold on to what little was left of the fading plant life.  But it was a fight that would soon be lost.  The war of man was over for a season, but the coming winter brought its own battle of death.

            Prince Tristan Belanus of Trusca headed home with a feeling of uncertainty.  He thought he was on the path to peace, but everything around him looked ugly and violent.  A vast army of battle-worn and tired men followed in his wake.  Blood and dirt stained their armor and weapons.  Gloominess was borne on their faces.  Although the soldiers were heading home, war would begin anew in the spring.  It seemed the cycle of death would never end.  When, Tristan wondered, would the promised peace come?

            The cold gray sky brought a bitter wind and a biting chill to his bones.  The leather of his gauntlets were stiff with the cold.  If, for some reason, his horse decided to break from his slow plodding and bold, Tristan would not be able to grasp the reins to control him.  But nothing could bring the horse’s head up from its melancholy saunter any more than it could the soldiers.

            Tristan knew King Haban Dukar would not stop until all of Ungal was under his control.  This ruler of Lower Ungal rode beside Tristan on a black Hunarian stallion.  Even while the rest of the soldiers were dirty and tired, King Haban clothing was immaculate right down to his polished black leather boots, and he sat tall and proud in his saddle.  The angular features of his face held a constant scowl. His dark brown hair and trimmed beard framed his face, emphasizing his sharp nose and the dangerous fervor burning in his eyes.  Tristan was reminded of a bird of prey on a lethal hunt.  But he was no bird.  He was a beast, descendant of the ancient Duridian clan of the Dragon.

            King Haban was a man to be feared and Tristan greatly feared him.  The man was a tyrant with a cruel hand and an infinite greed for power.  But fear was not the reason why Tristan had sworn allegiance to him.  He was truly interested in the King’s two sons.

            Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan not only had their father’s blood of the Dragon; but through their mother, they also carried the blood of the legendary King Mitas Renlo of the Lion clan.  These two young men were the sons spoken of in the Prophecy of Peace.

 

The ancient land will heal

When the blood of Dragon and the blood of Lion freely combine.

Two sons will be born to continue the family line.

            Their legacy will live on,

As these descendants of the Duridians grow into power.

The new blood will rule in peace and their kingdom will flower.

 

            Useni, Tristan’s trusted companion, told him the Prophecy of Peace was invoked by the red moon and the eclipse of the sun several years ago.  Even though Tristan believed Useni at the time, he was now finding it difficult to keep his faith in this Prophecy.  It was hard to believe Prince Kamil and Lord Jofan were the ones it spoke of.

            The brutality and bloodshed of the past several moons lingered in Tristan’s thoughts.  He reluctantly recalled how he had watched with horror as the two sons ruthlessly slaughtered helpless peasants and even innocent children.  Out of simple anger, the brawny Prince Kamil once beat one of his own men to death with his bare hands.  The terrible grin he wore on his chubby face at the time made Tristan’s skin crawl.

            Lord Jofan was worse.  Although physically weaker than his brother, Lord Jofan was truly the stronger of the two.  Men did not fear him for his brutality; they feared him for his absolute wickedness.  Tristan felt a wave of nausea whenever he looked at him.  The young man had the sharp facial features of his father, but his hair was red, his face pale and freckled, and his eyes were full of cunning.  Those dark eyes held a deathly darkness even deeper than those of the King’s.  Lord Jofan killed just as mercilessly as his elder brother, but he seemed to particularly enjoy torturing his victims before allowing them to die.  Tristan shuddered at the memory of the young lord licking the sticky blood from his fingertips after he had butchered his last victim.

            Tristan broke from his thoughts as a group of soldiers rode up from the rear.  Nothing about their dirty traveling clothes identified them as soldiers or even men of the house of Dukar.  But they had the hard, fierce faces of men who knew how to kill.

            “My King!” one of the larger, more muscular men in the approaching group called.

            Tristan gritted his teeth in revulsion towards this man who spoke.  It was Gavin, the King’s most sadistic tool of war; the same man who had tortured and killed Tristan’s father, Prince Nolan Belanus.  Horrible scars from fire warped Gavin’s face.  One particular scar above his right eyebrow turned a deep red whenever the man was filled with blood-lust, which was much too often.  No one deserved to die as much as this man did.

            “Gavin,” the King replied.  “Did you find him?”

            “No, my King,” Gavin responded with a hint reluctance.  “I even went into the city of Nagad, but I heard no news of him.”

            King Haban’s face turned red with rage but it was Prince Kamil who spoke.  “Perhaps if you hadn’t spent all my father’s money carousing at local taverns, you would’ve found out something useful,” he said contemptuously; the pointed nose, out of place on his round face and head, wrinkled into a snarl..  Tristan was actually pleased with the Prince’s tone this time.  Perhaps when Prince Kamil took his father’s place, he would rid himself of this dangerous man.

            Gavin’s lips curled in a sneer and his eyes glittered darkly.  King Haban appeared not to notice but Prince Kamil did. He responded with a smirk, glad that his goading had an effect.

            “You are supposed to be a great hunter, Gavin,” King Haban said bitterly.  “Surely, if you were as good as you say you are, you would have found some trace or heard some word of him.  I don’t pay you to fulfill your own selfish pleasures.”

            “I swear, my King.  I have spent the entire time looking,” Gavin replied roughly, trying hard to mask the ire from his voice.

            “Then why haven’t you found him?” King Haban challenged with a growl, raising his voice as he continued, “Do you have any idea how important it is that you find him?  He must be stopped.”

            “I am quite aware of how crucial my task is, my King,” Gavin said with a nearly imperious tone.  “I will find him.  I swear it by my own blood; I will find the boy and I will kill him.”

            Even though Tristan did not know whom Gavin and the King spoke of, he heard the conviction in Gavin’s words and it frightened him.  Who was this ‘boy’ and why was it so important that he be killed?

Writing Exercises for Motivation

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on December 1, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Now that I am done with school until the spring semester in January, I feel like I have more time for my writing. I am self-studying now and reading a book called “Writing Fiction” from the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. I just read chapter 1 and have completed most of the writing exercises in that chapter. One of the writing exercises is on finding writing motivations.

“Writing Fiction” says that story ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. You just have to look. The exercise says to draw story ideas from things that happened to me over the past week or so. Thing such as people, emotions, thoughts, or situations can count. It can be big things or small things. The exercise says to write down 10 things so here is what I came up with:

1. We took a road trip which ended up taking us 3 hours longer than it should have. Traffic was awful. The trip was boring. I wished I could read in the car.
2. We bought a new (used) car and are now trying to sell our really crappy car.
3. I got in touch with an old friend on Facebook.
4. I am working hard at trying to revive my online business which was really hurt by the Google Panda update.
5. We saw my family for Thanksgiving.
6. I completed a work of art, drawing a friend’s beloved dog.
7. I finished the fall semester early because it is an online course and I can work at my own pace. Yay! I’m free!!!
8. I talked to an SEO telemarketer yesterday. I HATE telemarketers and so lost my temper.
9. I helped sell dog calendars to benefit the Lawrence Humane Society and Lawrence Community shelter for two hours in Downtown Lawrence and saw a lot of interesting people. One thing which bugged me was a woman who was promoting her dog training and had a Dachshund dog with both a pinch collar and shock collar. I train dogs and don’t use either harsh methods, especially not on a little dog.
10. I finished watching all the Farscape episodes. Loved it, especially the ending.

Once I write down 10 things, the exercise from “Writing Fiction” says some of these might inspire a story idea. And they are right. Several ideas blossomed in my head. I think the first one is the best idea for a story. My road trip was boring but with a bit of imagination, I could invent a story where all sorts of things happen on this long road trip. Perhaps when we got stuck in traffic we could take a detour which led us to this strange small town. Although it was a small town, the people were odd. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it at first. But after stopping for gas and speaking with the store clerk, we learned a lot more about this interesting little town and what was wrong with its people. See where I’m going with that? Perhaps later I will expand on this story idea some more.

I think something could come of the 5th one too. We had a normal Thanksgiving but imagine how some family dynamics could really get out of hand. I could write an emotional short story from my 6th and 8th one too. The 8th one reminds me of when I answered the phone as “Lucy Loucious Whore House” once. It was hilarious! And imagine a short story or poem where it starts out simple and boring. Then little lines on the paper come to life. Colors combine to bring warmth and excitement. The story progresses, as does the artwork, and ends with an overwhelming feeling of fulfillment and joy… just like how it feels when you finally finish that book you’ve been writing. 🙂

The 9th and 10th ones didn’t come out so much as story ideas but as ideas for blog posts. The 9th one inspires a dog training article on my American Dog Blog while the 10th one can be a sci-fi review on this blog. If none of you have ever seen Farscape, most of it is available on Netflix right now and I highly recommend it. I love Ben Browder’s character, John Crichton. Bed Browder has also been on an episode of Dr. Who and Chuck! And he has been on several episodes of Stargate SG1. (I can’t wait for SG1 to come back on Netflix.)

Anyway, I will get back to that review later. For now, try out this exercise for yourself. It sounds like it could be especially helpful if you are in a writing slump. And check out this great book, “Writing Fiction” from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. I’ve only gotten through chapter 1 so far but I plan on reading more, doing more writing exercises, and sharing with you.