Archive for September, 2013

Fringe Season 1I’ve recently dipped my toes into Fringe, which is a show about a small group of people that investigates the unexplainable. The cool thing about this show is that it hovers somewhere between magic and science. It seems unbelievable, and yet you can’t help but wonder if, one day, the things they’re doing may just be possible.

Fringe was one of those shows I had heard good things about but hadn’t paid much attention to. It sounded good, what little I knew about it, but I didn’t pay it much mind. More than likely I had plenty of other things to keep myself busy while it was on air. But now that it’s on Netflix in its entirety, I can go through it as quickly or as slowly as I want.

Spoiler alert: If I had the time, I’d sit down and marathon all 100 episodes in as little time as possible.

Fringe actually had one of the best pilots of any TV show I’ve ever seen. Pilots are, unfortunately, very give-or-take, with a lot more taking than giving. You can’t really blame them, as they’re there to set up the story. There’s a lot of exposition, you have to establish relationships, and you have to set up an entire season of a series within the usual 45 minutes or so.

It can be tough for any show, even those with big names attached to them. You need to hook your audience, but you also have a lot of information to slog through. It’s a fine balance, which is why I usually give a show a couple of episodes before I decide to drop it or not. (Unless that show happens to be called The Cape. I had trouble getting through even one episode. It was TERRIBLE.)

But Fringe  was different. Granted, it was nearly a two hour premiere, so they had a bit more room to get the story rolling, but that doesn’t matter. The pilot was good, man. Like, really good.

It started off in a slow and intimate scene that did not feel like it was dragging on. You immediately wanted to know who the characters were and what kind of relationship they had. And that was established through minimal dialogue and a lot of action, which as any good writer knows, is an excellent thing.

The mystery was set up fairly quickly, as well as the whole the-under-dog-is-our-champion-so-we-immediately-connect-with-the-main-character thing. Or at least that was how I felt.

And from then on it was a bounce between mystery, action, and the relationship of those characters. There was a HUGE twist that I didn’t see coming, too. It actually caught me off guard, which doesn’t usually happen, so I really appreciated it.

But even beyond that, beyond the main focus of the mystery, we get introduced to some other characters that quickly become leads in this story. They’re set up perfectly, and there’s just enough animosity and humor to keep things interesting.

I may be a bit biased here because I love complicated shows with a lot of heart, which Fringe seems to have in spades, but this show really is excellent, and I would advise you — if you haven’t already — to definitely check it out. Report back and let me know what you think!

Potterheads accepted the end of Harry Potter. The books were over. The movies were finished. Sure, there was a Wizarding World theme park, and exhibitions here and there. And, let’s face it, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

So, no. Harry Potter was never dead. It was never gone. It was still alive and well, albeit pushed to the back shelf, to be visited regularly, but to never experience anything new.

Until. Now.

I’m sure you’ve been camping out on a mountain peak if you haven’t heard the news yet. There will be more Harry Potter. (Kind of. We’ll get there in a minute.) Within thirty seconds of the announcement, people all over the world were like this guy. If I owned a set of robes, *I* would have been like that guy.

But that didn’t stop me from freaking out. All day. My mind was like a sieve. Work? Screw work! WE HAVE NEW HARRY POTTER.

*ahem*

The basic rundown is this. J.K. Rowling is going to be writing a new series of films based on the life of Newt Scamander and the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s going to be set in 1920s New York, and it’s going to be awesome.

That last bit was my commentary. But still fact.

So, no. It’s not Harry Potter, per se. But it’s set in the same world. And I kind of like this idea better. For one, it’s written by J.K. Rowling. She’ll have exclusive rights over the scripts. That means everything will be accurate according to what’s in her head. It’s every fan’s dream realized. Secondly, this won’t touch what we already know. It’s not a remake, a reboot, or a re-anything. It’s not even a prequel, really. It’s its own entity, and it expands the universe.

Like I said. Every fan’s dream.

All we needed was a reason. We were waiting on the sidelines, happy with what we had, grateful for the time when the entire franchise was still developing. You could never get rid of the Potterheads, but we quieted down a little bit. We stopped walking the streets in our robes. (Well, most of us, anyway.)

But we’re back and in full force. There’s going to be more Harry Potter. New Harry Potter. And if I wasn’t excited for anything in the upcoming years (and there’s a lot in terms of films, in just 2015 alone), this was the cherry on top of an already extra large sundae.

Harry Potter was, and still is, a phenomenon. It’s a world event. It was my childhood. I already had the spark of an avid reader and a writer inside of me, but Jo fanned that flame and made that fire burn with a vengeance. I owe her a lot. Many people do. And we get to continue to bow down in her presence for many years to come.

To say I’m excited would obviously be a bit of an understatement.

What do you think, friends? Yay or nay to more Wizarding World? Do you care about Newt Scamander’s story? We’re covering all the news on Hypable, with plenty of featured opinion articles as well.

Steelheart Cover Brandon Sanderson

Back for another quick book recommendation! This time I’m suggesting Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.

The superheroes came, but they weren’t exactly what everyone thought they’d be. They’re called Epics, and they might have superpowers, but they’re definitely not heroes.

David is just a human intent on joining the Reckoners, other humans who fight the Epics. He has information they’ll want, and they’re his only chance to see Steelheart’s reign of terror end.

I really loved this book! Every conclusion to a chapter was a cliffhanger, and I had a lot of trouble putting it down. The world is detailed and complex, but readable and understandable. It’s funny, heartfelt, and action-packed. I truly think there’s something for everyone here. I highly recommend it!

You can read a more in-depth review in my article on Hypable.

Steelheart came out yesterday. Add it to Goodreads or buy it on Amazon. You can check out Brandon Sanderson on his website, his Twitter, and his Facebook.

Atlantis Rising Cover TA BarronOne of my all-time favorite authors is T.A. Barron. He wrote the Lost Years of Merlin series, and it is — both figuratively and literally — on the shelf next to my Harry Potter books. That should give you a pretty strong idea of what I think about him as a writer and his books in general.

He has a new book out called Atlantis Rising. It is, as the title suggests, about the creation of Atlantis. I’ve been excited about this book for quite some time, especially considering I was sent an ARC a while ago. It’s due out this week and I’m just cracking it open, mainly because I’ve been busy reviewing other books for Hypable.

However, now that it’s next on my list, now that I have a deadline, now that it’s in my hands and there is a bookmark between the pages, I find myself not sitting down to read it.

It’s strange, what I’ll be willing to do to not pick up the book (writing this blog post, for one). I mean, I love this guy. Both as a writer and as a person (he’s an amazing conservationist, and a very, very good human being). I love his books, his writing style, and his messages. I know Atlantis Rising is going to feel very much the same. It has the same vibe the other books have. I know I’ll enjoy it.

So why do I keep putting it off?

I think I’ve built of The Lost Years of Merlin series in my head so much over the years that I’m not even sure it’s as good as I remember it is. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a fantastic series and I’d recommend it to anyone. But you know how you can watch really terrible movies when you’re a kid and love them later on even though you know they’re bad? It’s the nostalgia.

I guess I don’t want to be let down by Atlantis Rising. I don’t want that image of The Lost Years of Merlin and of Barron to change in my mind. Do I honestly think it will? No. But I do think that’s why I’ve been hesitant to really jump feet first into this novel.

But I’ve got deadlines I need to meet, and they are the best form of motivation. I will be reading it prior to the release and doing a review on Hypable. And I’m sure I will love it once I take that plunge and really sink my teeth into the story.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you remember reading a book by one of your favorite authors and being thoroughly disappointed? Did it put you off their other books, or are you always willing to give them a try?

Here’s the next post in this series where I discuss TV shows and movies and the knowledge that we can gain from watching them. We can apply that knowledge to our writing. As always, I never pretend to be an expert. I just like exploring my own thoughts on the matter as I write these blog posts! I welcome all comments and would love to hear what you think about this topic.

Make sure you check out my previous post, titled, “How to be the strong and silent type, with Chewbacca from Star Wars.”

Veronica Mars Season 1 Kristen BellAs writers, it can be difficult to create a flawed character. I think this comes from the fact that we put so much of ourselves in so many of our characters. And who wants to admit they’re flawed?

The truth is, however, that we are. And our characters should be too. “To err is human,” and all that. The more flawed our characters, the more believable and relateable they are.

I’ve been watching Veronica Mars with the crew for ReWatchable, a podcast we put together to rewatch oldies but goodies — those shows that aren’t airing anymore, but were so amazing we have to watch them again. In some cases, we’re introducing the show to people that have never seen it before, and they get to talk about their experiences with the superfans.

This is my role for Veronica Mars. I’ve seen bits and pieces before, but definitely not the whole thing. So far I’m loving it, and part of that has to do with Veronica Mars — the character.

Veronica is a complex character, and she’s got tons of flaws. That might sound like a bad thing, but I think it keeps her real. If she always solved the crime by dinnertime (50 points to Gryffindor if you know that reference) she would feel more like a superhero then just a plain old super sleuth.

Veronica gets things wrong sometimes. Sometimes she’s duped. And sometimes her life really, really sucks.

All of that adds up to make a three dimensional character. It’s important to remember that when building our own characters. Veronica is a little arrogant and a lot cynical. She doesn’t usually see the good in people, and sometimes that can ruin her relationships with others.

But people are really like that, and the more human they seem, the more the viewers or readers will be invested in that character. They want Veronica to be right. They want Veronica to grow as a person. They want Veronica to finally trust other people.

And when it inevitably happens, it’s going to be that much more rewarding.

Have you seen Veronica Mars? What other characters can you think of that have a lot of flaws but eventually learn and grow because of them? Do you usually have trouble writing flaws into your own characters? (I know I do.)

My understanding of English grammar is, strangely enough, purely innate. I don’t remember learning a lot about the rules of grammar in school. Perhaps I had a great teacher at a young age, but I definitely know that once I hit middle school and high school, all the teachers assumed we knew everything we needed to know. They focused more on literature and writing instead of the rules of the language.

Considering I do a lot of writing and a lot of editing, my grammar muscles get flexed every day. For the most part I know what’s right and wrong, but I can’t always explain why. It just sounds right to me. That doesn’t always cut it, though, and lately I’ve been wondering how right I actually am on some of the corrections I make.

To make a fairly short story even shorter, I want a good grammar book. Maybe even two or three of them, eventually. But for now I want your suggestions, dear readers. What’s your favorite book on grammar? Are there any that you’ve heard of that come highly recommended? I’ve got my eye on a few, but I want to know what the general consensus is.

I don’t have many requirements other than it has to be easy to understand and to the point. It can be funny or completely dry. I just want a book I can use on a daily basis to look up rules in case I get stuck or want to know why my Spidey senses suddenly go all tingly when I read a sentence.

Any help is appreciated! *hands you a virtual cookie*

The power of ‘Doctor Who’

Posted: September 16, 2013 in TV Shows
Tags: , ,

Doctor Who Ten and ElevenThe other day I finally sat down and watched a couple Doctor Who specials that I had somehow missed the last two times I watched the series. These were “The Waters of Mars” and “The End of Time,” both parts.

The Eleventh Doctor is my favorite. I love David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, but Matt Smith’s childlike personality endeared me to him in ways that Tennant could not. They are two different people, really, even though they’re the same Doctor. But whereas Ten was a little deeper and a little darker, Eleven made you want to wrap your arms around him and tell him everything was going to be okay.

So even though “The End of Time Part 2” was that transition from Ten to Eleven, I definitely got teary-eyed. When he said, “But I don’t want to go,” something inside me broke, both for the character and the actor.

And that got me thinking. Doctor Who is an incredible show for so many reasons, but one in particular really stands out to me. Our favorite characters come and go — and that includes the Doctor. What other show sees the main cast change so frequently, and yet it still remains very much the same show?

There was Rose and Martha and Donna and Amy and Rory and Clara. All of them are gone now, save for the last. Maybe not permanently, but definitely on the whole they’re out. All those wonderful characters, the people we’ve fallen in love with, are gone.

And yet we’re still here, watching the show.

I think that’s a testament to the writers, to the actors, and to everyone else involved in the show. It’s such a high-class production that you can steal away character after character, and yet the show remains loved because it still has the same feel to it. When actors are replaced or characters are killed off — main characters, I mean — sometimes the show can flop right then and there.

But not Doctor Who. This show is in a category all by itself.

I wish I could explain it better. I wish I could put my finger on why it works so well, but instead I’m going to toss the question over to you, because I’d really love to know your thoughts.