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Flightless Fan Art #2 – Daniel Bennett

When I first made Daniel, he played a crucial part in the original draft of Flightless. 

In spite of this, there really wasn’t anything to him. He was his girlfriend, Elizabeth’s, arm candy, and my main character, Christopher’s little brother. Daniel filled any exposition holes, but he wasn’t really “his own man”. He only existed to benefit others not because he belonged in the story.

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Original artwork

 

So he was chopped from the final draft, but I realized I had a great opportunity to add him to a different book that exists in the same universe as Flightless.

I rewrote him, created a well rounded character, and wow, the art that came from the changes to him turned out incredible.

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Daniel & Elizabeth Commission by Maddy

Daniel grew up in an abusive household. While it wasn’t intentional abuse, his mother thought she was doing the right thing, it was abusive none the less. Unlike Christopher, who shouldered all the problems and saw it as his job to take the brunt of the pain, Daniel grew resentful.

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Anthony, Elizabeth and Daniel by Kennie

Even after he was taken out of the situation, he still acted like the world owed him something after everything he went through. When he was forced to move away from his brother, and in with an able bodied “flock” (a, yes, very cheesy word I use for my avian family units), he was crushed.

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Nap Time by Maddy

At the end of the first book, there’s talk of Daniel coming to see his brother again, after years of being apart, but when he arrives in the second, Christopher is already gone. Forced with another abandonment, he spends time with Elizabeth, and the two work through both of what’s happened in their past, while growing closer through mutual respect.

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Church Meeting by Jillian

I can’t wait to tell his and Elizabeth’s story. It’s going to have a heavier romance plot than my other ideas for the Flightless universe, but one that’s a slow burn compared to a whirlwind of emotions.

If you’d like to see more of my own Daniel art, here’s some below! Hope you enjoyed it.

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Want more artwork? Check out my last art share, for Anthony Ortega.

 

 

Obligatory Disclaimer

All above artwork was posted with permission given by the artists, so long as credit was linked back to above accounts. If you’d like to use any of the above artists, please contact them directly through links to ask before posting images. 

 

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Aesthetic Sunday – “Flightless”

Hello all Aesthetic Sunday folks! Today I raided my Pinterest for everything related to Flightless and slammed them together for some aesthetic fun!

Enjoy! 

Kaitlin Harris
One of the two protagonists in Flightless, and definitely the most important, Kaitlin is an art history major who spends more time in libraries than she does in malls. After her sister’s kidnapped, she’s forced into a world she spent her whole life running from, and come to terms with not being entirely human. 

Christopher Bennet
My second protagonist, Christopher is a disabled winged character (avian), who’s trying to help Kaitlin better understand the avian world. While he too is more of an introverted character, he’s inspired by the way swans act in nature. Christopher knows he’ll never be able to fly, but he hopes he can still protect those who matter most.

 

 

Credit for pictures in the links on my pinterest. Should you see an image that belongs to you that you’d like removed from the post, please contact me and I’ll take it down immediately.

2018 Reading List – Call for Books

Well it’s that time of the year again. Time to get my reading list stacked up.

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As you probably remember from my past posts, I stopped reading back in 2012. I was going through some stuff, and am finally feeling like myself again. Now I have years of not reading to make up for.

Here’s the start of my reading list. If you’ve written a book, or if you have any suggestions based off what’s on this list, please let me know. I can always use some help.

 

Listed Above

  1. And Then There Were None – Suggested by unknown person on instagram
  2. Imager – Picked up the first 3 in this series at a thrift store.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Everyone seems to like this, so why not try it?
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Found in a free book bin
  5. The Third Twin – Found in a free book bin
  6. Dead Heat – I’m just a huge Patricia Briggs fan, so she was bound to be on here.
  7. Lexicon – Found in a free book bin
  8. Feast of Souls – Was supposed to be on my 2017 reading list but I never got around to it.

Needs to be Bought

  1. Borne – Suggested by esktasy on Twitter

 

That’s it for now! I’ll be adding more to this as I get more suggestions.

Stranger Things Review – Season 2 Episode 1

I stayed up way later than I should with how crazy my life is right now to catch season 2 of Stranger Things. Like most people, I’m in love with the first season. The nostalgia vibes, the Stephen King like story, and the great acting all had me hooked.

I was pretty excited to see the next season, in spite of mixed reviews, so here’s my take on how the second season is going.

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Just as a fair warning, spoilers are whited out between the !! !!.

The first thing I want to point out is my love of the writers ability to introduce characters through conflict. They did this every time they needed to introduce someone in the first season, and they followed it up with the same formula. You might argue, “Doesn’t this get old?” But they do it so seamlessly, you barely realize it’s happening until someone points it out.

We start the episode with a bank robbery, introducing a collection of characters that are almost cliche 80’s punks. Spiked hair, piercings, mohawks; they looked like cut outs from the British punk scene. After a quick chase scene with cops, !! it’s relieved one of these girls shares something in common with Eleven, proving many a fan theory true that there are other numbers out there. !!

From there, it’s basically a run down of how everyone’s life has changed since the first season. The one thing that was clear about this episode was that everyone’s still suffering from the aftermath of the demogorgon.

Each character is suffering from the loss of something, and most of them have some serious PTSD. I really loved the way the writers handled it, too. No one character was the same in how they handled stress. Some broke down in tears, others froze completely, and with the use of Dutch angles, some people’s worlds literally tilt.

One thing that the first season didn’t touch on that episode one promised was showing the other families in the town. There wasn’t a lot that went on with Barb being missing, and the absent parents of Lucas and Dustin, but it already gave us a glimpse of Dustin’s mom and Barb’s parents, so here’s hoping they keep that going.

The one thing I wasn’t thrilled about was Dr. Martin Brenner’s replacement. Paul Reiser takes up the coat as Dr. Owens, after Matthew Modine, and while he’s not horrible, he lacks the charisma Modine instantly brought to the screen. Maybe it’s because I’m only used to him playing comedy roles? Unlike Sean Astin’s addition to the cast, an actor I’ve seen wear many different masks, it was hard to think of Reiser as anyone other than Paul from Mad About You thanks to my mom. Sure he was in Aliens, but still.

Speaking of additions to the cast! One character I wasn’t sure I was going to like was Max, the sulky red head played by Sadie Sink. I always approach new characters to a franchise I like with a little bit of caution, especially young female characters. Writers usually write them very one sided. Preteen girls have to be flowery and rainbows, or bratty and annoying in adult shows.

I shouldn’t have doubted the Duffer Brothers, however. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I was plenty annoying as a 10-12 year old, but it’s nice to see them portrayed as something other than those two tropes. While she wasn’t much, she showed some promise. Overall, she’s talented.

So was it an episode to rival season 1’s first season? No, it wasn’t as great as the introduction to this universe was. Did it answer some questions and show serious character development? Definitely.

All in all, I don’t think fans of this show should write it off as some message boards have. There’s a lot of promise and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Book Review #4 – The Megarothke

I was six years old when I was inexplicably allowed to watch Alien. I say inexplicably because I grew up in a strict house, where science fiction and fantasy weren’t always allowed. When I ask my mom how I was able to watch this film, and so young, she usually scoffs and says, a bit disdainfully, “Don’t look at me, your father liked that crap.”

Whatever the reason for me getting to watch Alien at such a young age, it sparked a love of science fiction horror in me. While I still watch many movies and short films in this genre, I’ve strayed from reading it. I have to admit, I haven’t picked up a book that wasn’t high/urban fantasy in years and it wasn’t until fellow writer and friend, Robert Ashcroft contacted me asking if I’d like a copy of his first book did I get back into reading sci fi horror.

And damn, after such a long drought from this genre, “The Megarothke” welcomed me home with open, bloody, mechanical arms.

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The Megarothke is set in 2048, seven years after “The Hollow Wars”, and follows Theodore “Theo” Adams as he and the last 50k people claw their way through a war with machines just to stay alive. There’s a beast lurking just below the city of Los Angeles, and the small team set out to search and destroy the Megarothke will do what it takes to save the last of humanity.

Through a series of time jumps and unsettling quotes at the beginning of each chapter, the story of how The Hollow Wars” came to be, how the world has changed and just who or what the Megarothke is, unfolds with every spine tingling chapter.

What did I love about this book?

Ashcroft’s ability to build a solid, believable world, interwoven with a complex timeline is well above par. He doesn’t waste time going into too much depth, or leaving things out, and avoids flowery language to try and get some of his more complex ideas across. Not only does this make the reader fall into the world of The Megarothke, but it makes it easy to relate to Theo. While Theo is intelligent, he’s an average guy and he explains things as such. This trait also creates a great conflict later, when you’re introduced to his wife, and you get an amazing clash between characters.

I also enjoy how believable everything is. It’s not too much of a stretch to see certain aspects of Ashcroft’s world coming to pass, and since I’m a firm believer in “science fiction could one day become science fact”, it’s an unsettling black mirror held up to today’s society. There’s a fine line between too much technology and just the right amount, and Ashcroft makes the reader ask “How far is too far?” And let me be clear to note here, I don’t mean when it comes to a more accepting transworld, as there are several trans characters in this novel, but the use of technology until it swallows everything that makes us human.

Ashcroft’s military and philosophy knowledge also extremely evident. There isn’t one scene that makes me go “Wait a second, how real is that?”. It’s evident he’s a man with a military background, as well as being someone who knows what their talking about when it comes to philosophy.

Lastly, I loved the dark humor salt and peppered in throughout the novel. I even laughed outright at a few parts and scared my dog as I read this into the long hours of the night. And yes. I did in fact stay up past midnight just to read this.

What might not work for other readers?

While I don’t mind a story that starts at one point and then jumps back a few years, I know a few readers who have a problem with this form of storytelling. I think Ashcroft handled his timeline beautifully, and if people who don’t like “7 years earlier” trope can get over this, they’ll have a great time.

Overall Rating?

I would most definitely buy this book in hard back, and go out of my way to get it signed.

 

You’ll like The Megarothke if…

you’re fans Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson, Westworld, Blade Runner/it’s source material Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Black Mirror, or if you enjoy the of the work that comes out of Oats Studios (in fact, I’d be the biggest supporter if they made a film adaptation of this with Ashcroft).

Keep your eye out for this fantastic novel, coming out in February 2018. You’ll be up all night just to try and finish this refreshing addition to the Science Fiction genre.

Inspired by the Strange

After taking a walk around some museums this week, I realized something. I’m am entirely too inspired by dead birds.

Flightless, for those of you new to my blog, is my work in progress that revolves around people with wings. It’s no secret that I love birds, and I’ve taken a much deeper interest in ornithology since I started my novel in order to build a believable world and a realistic species.

As much as live birds inspired me and my writing, walking around a museum and seeing still life paintings of hanging pheasants, ducks with broken necks, and small song birds laid out on tables, I realized that was more the mood of my novel than the live birds I’d been studying. Heck I was more inspired by those paintings than I was holding an a hawk a couple weeks ago.

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You can always tell when I’m way too happy. I smile so much, I wind up squinting so bad.

After I made this discovery about my sudden love of dead bird imagery, I whipped up a quick banner with a picture of some of these classic oil paintings and decked out my Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and even my Deviantart page.

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Yes. I have a Deviantart page. I know.

It got me wondering though. . . .

What’s something strange that you find yourself inspired by? Comment below and let me know! I love hearing what inspires others.

Favorite Spooky Buys on Etsy

It’s time for Personal Post Weekend! This is where I write non author related things and share what I’m looking at online, or what I’m going through in my everyday life.

I’m particularly excited about this one, as it falls on October first, the start of my favorite month!

I’m the type of person who prefers going to curio shops to get my Halloween decorations, and I can admit, some of them stay up in my art room year round. While my husband doesn’t mind it, for the most part, I keep the creepier items of my wishlists on just that, instead of having my house turn into a natural science museum.

That being said, I’ll be sharing them with you today just to spread some love to Etsy artists and sellers.

As a quick disclaimer, some of the images below can be a little unsettling for the squeamish. Viewer discretion is advised.  Post contains taxidermy art, big leather books, and somewhat occultish curios.

Continue reading Favorite Spooky Buys on Etsy

Why I Loved Fantastic Beasts

I put off watching the latest instalment to the Harry Potter world up till a few days ago for a number of reasons.

Bad reviews, lack of interest, and no time to go to the movies all contributed to the time gap between release and my viewing. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m kicking myself for not jumping on board sooner.

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I mean, Eddie Redmayne was just so perfect, how did I doubt that I’d like this movie?

Now, I’m going to praise this movie and the actors quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws (No Mag…I mean…). That being said, you can find plenty of negative reviews on this movie. This one is why I enjoyed it.

First off, Newt. Most reviewers complained about this character. He wasn’t outgoing enough, he didn’t look like a “strong male protagonist” and he lacked the extroversion from previous Harry Potter characters.

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He even admits that most people don’t like him, and are even annoyed by him. 

Now, to interrupt my own blog post, as I so often do, I’m not someone who has a problem with overly masculine protagonists. In fact I like a great deal of “traditional strong men” characters.

That being said, it was refreshing to see the portrayal of an introverted male protagonist, and so well done! Newt is shy, doesn’t like looking people in the eye, and closes up when pressed for personal information. He doesn’t give long winded exposition about his past, or try to be some sort of hero. If anything, he’s just trying to get back to writing a book and when the female lead falls for him, she doesn’t do so because he’s physically strong, instead it’s because of how gentle he is.

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Plus, I feel like there’s a lot to be said when it comes to that romantic sublot. They don’t fall into each other’s arms after only knowing each other for three days, which is definitely refreshing. 

Next off, the creatures. I’m a bit of an American Folklore fan. I’m not nearly as well read as I’d like to be, but I’m working on learning more the older I get. When I first read Rowling’s take on American creatures, I was disappointed. For as much research as she put into European folklore, there seemed to be a disconnect when it came to her American studies. One of my main reasons for being so hesitant to watch the movie was because I wasn’t sure if the creatures would turn out, well under written and cheesy. I’m sure someone might say they weren’t up to par with the creatures in the original Harry Potter books, however, I found them extremely enjoyable.

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In fact, the subplot of chasing down these creatures was one of the more enjoyable ones in the films. 

Lastly, the secondary characters. Newt’s best friend, Jacob, wants to be a baker. Gnarlack stole the show with the fantastic raspy voice of Ron Perlman. Porpentina makes bad decisions, ones she has to atone for, and eventually sees the error of, and her sister Goldie gets to be a hero in her own way, even though she’s a fairly typical feminine side character. They all had a chance to be in the spotlight and with such a big cast it was great to see everyone behave so much differently from one another.

As for the complaints people had against the movie. Was the movie racially diverse? No.  Was the plot line completely cohesive? Not exactly, there were a few holes I noticed. And was Newt an “outgoing protagonist”? No, like I already said, he was pretty introverted. But I’m still a fan of this movie. It was well acted and well made, and I hope they continue to make more movies along this timeline, with Newt as lead.

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What did you think of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”? Were you a fan or were you disappointed? Let me know below!

The Dark Mother in Books and Movies

Just as a warning, this post contains dark imagery and unsettling pictures. Viewer discretion is advised. 

 

I love tropes. I know other people have mixed feelings about this, but I find them fascinating. While diving too far into tropes can become cliche, every writer uses them. Just one look at tvtropes.org, and it’s almost impossible not to.

So to celebrate tropes, I’m picking a few of my favorite to highlight in my Writing Wednesday posts. I’ll do one a month until I get tired of it, maybe more if people have suggestions for tropes they enjoy.

Today’s trope is….

The Dark Mother

With every trope or archetype, there is a dark side, and if there’s one archetype I love the most it’s that of the Dark Mother. She’s a force to be reckoned with and can be any caretaker or mother figure with dark intentions.

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Patron Saint of Last Nights Tears 5×5 oval oil by Jasmine Worth

 

Examples in Literature –

The Other Mother – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Evil Stepmother/Queen – Every fairy tale ever
Cathy Ames/Kate Trask – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Norma Bates – Psycho by Robert Bloch
Margaret White – Carrie by Stephen King

Examples in Movies –

Alien Den Mother – Aliens
Stephanie Smith – 8 Mile
Mary Jones – Precious
Queen Bavmorda – Willow

Why do I love this trope so much?

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Mother Catrina by liransz on Deviant Art

Mothers are supposed to be loving and caring. They’re our caretakers, who we learn love from, and when we have nothing, we’re supposed to be able to count on them to be there for us. As someone who’s a fan of flipping tropes on their head, the idea of a Dark Mother, one who gives life, but also takes it, has always been fascinating. She’s strong, but in a wicked way, and is morally compromised at every turn.

I hope to do her justice in some of my future novels, both as an antagonist, and as the powerful female figure she is.

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Aura by Lourdes Saraiva Art https://www.facebook.com/l.saraiva.illustrator

 

Which mother do you prefer in your movies and novels? The Light or Dark? Who’s your favorite example of a Dark Mother?

What’s your favorite “How To” writing book?

I’ve been picky about what “how to” writing books I buy lately. Most of them are less about story structure, and more about the nitty gritty parts of writing.

Here are some of my favorite books on writing, but I’m in the market for more. Have any suggestions that improved your writing in any particular area?

16681583_1300483536656800_6852415959332937314_n1. The Emotion Thesaurus
Good for – writing character feelings through their body language.
Lacking in – For a thesaurus, it doesn’t list off as many emotions as I’d hope.

2. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits 
Good for – Nailing down Character behavior regarding their mental status.
Lacking in – It’s one sided and stereotypical at times.

3. Writing from the Senses
Good for – Writing more expressive and meaningful scenes.
Lacking in – It’s a little “How To” and repeats what I’ve read in other books.

4. Plot Vs. Character
Good for – Helps see things from a plot/character writer’s perspective.
Lacking in – Not sure. I really enjoyed this one.

5. Bullies Bastards and Bitches
Good for – Creating fun, deep, well rounded villains.
Lacking in – Can read a little Creative Writing 101.

6. Word Painting
Good for – Explains writing descriptively better than Writing from the Senses.
Lacking in – Not a whole lot. I really don’t have any complaints about this book.