When Do You Know You’re Hooked?

bait-2026318_1280Happy Thursday the 12th to you.

I’m in good spirits this week because my favorite TV shows are finally back on. I’m a huge fan of CWs The Flash and Arrow and they just started back this week (as opposed to two weeks ago, when most networks started).

My daughter decided to binge watch Arrow on Netflix in anticipation of its return, and I told her to give it through episode 3, because I remember being uncertain about whether I’d continue with the series until episode 3. It was at that point that I said, yep, this one is a keeper. Interestingly, as I watched episode 3 with her, I realized that is the first time Felicity Smoak appears (hmmm). She is such an integral part of the show now, that I hadn’t realized she wasn’t in the first couple of episodes.

For the TV show This is Us, which premiered last year, I fell in love on episode 1, and at the “twist” at the end of the episode, I knew. I just knew. It’s such a good, heartfelt, show that it had that quality immediately for me.

Switching over to books, some I’ve loved from the first pages (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was child; Room or Maze Runner more recently), while others I had to slog through until a switch hit, and I was all in. Don’t hate me, but I really didn’t like the first Harry Potter book. I read it after it was quite popular through books and film, thought, meh, and didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. But as I constantly saw stuff about them, I thought, I have to be missing something. So, around book seven’s release, I decided I would read the entire series. I was deep inside the Chamber of Secrets, reading the section that explained the Tom Marvolo Riddle anagram, when I said to myself, “Oh, I kinda get it.”  And for a while, book 3 was my favorite, because it was the first time I relly looked forward going in, and was truly delighted. And now the rest is history. While I love the series, the first books are still my least favorite.

While the hook for me can happen later, I have to see something intersting at the outset to stick with a show or a book long enough for the hook to grab me and reel me in. And when I’m hooked, that means, I just totally want more. I am in love with the story and am waiting for the next episode (or page). I think the things that hook me most are just a compulsion to know more about these people, about who they are and what’s going to happen to them. For me, that means the characters have to be likable (yes, I need likable protagonists, generally; I have made a couple of exceptions) and compelling. But, I don’t know what magic formula makes it work. Of course, everyone is different. Some people hate stuff everyone loves and vice versa.

How long do you give a book to hook you? What about a TV series? What makes you decide to go back if you were on the fence? Is it easy to point out or more nebulous in your own mind?

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Call me crazy, but does anyone else watch kids show without their kids?

Gotta go with the pic that includes the original Marina.

Gotta go with the pic that includes the original Marina.

Just the other day, I had a hankering to watch The Fresh Beat Band. I know some parents hate it, but I loved that show. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s like Glee, but for kids. They don’t do cool covers, though. It’s all original songs, and most are kind of catchy.  It’s the show that if, I’m flipping through the channels and I see it, I’ll stop and watch a few minutes. And now, it’s just me watching it, as my kids have totally outgrown this show. I think, too, it just makes me feel happy, as their theme song, Great Day, just picks me up. I love the enthusiasm with which they greet the day, and the notion that hanging out with good people will make any day great, makes me feel happy. I would love to interact people on a regular basis who approached things with joy. Fun fact, I was writing Scented when my daughter was heavily into this show, so I named the mother Marina because I heard the name so often from my daughter. (Not so fun fact: while I adored Shayna Roses’ Marina [pictured in the photo], I absolutely hate her replacement. I’m sure she’s a fine actress, but she doesn’t do it for me. And that’s just a personal preference. I’m sure there are lots of kids who like the 2nd Marina.)

I also like KC Undercover, which stars Zendaya, and also features Kadeem Hardison, who I grew up watching as Dwayne Wayne on A Different World. The Ninjago movie came out on Friday, and that’s a show I liked to watch with my kids, but I don’t actually watch it if they’re not around.

My writer’s group friend Michelle mentioned that she likes to watch Austin & Alley if it’s on. While her children are grown, she saw it at a relative’s house who had kids and now she watches it if she’s flipping channels. So, is it just me who will watch the kids shows without the kids? Or do you do it, too? And if so, which ones are your guilty pleasure?

So, do you have kids shows you like to watch without the kids? If so, which ones are your guilty pleasure?

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Character Battles: Who Would Win – Katniss or Oliver?

katniss oliverI was having breakfast with my daughter yesterday, when she asked me, “Who would win – Katniss or Oliver?” And my mind exploded because I didn’t have a good answer, but I absolutely loved the question.

For the unanointed, my daughter is referring to two fictional characters. One character is Oliver Queen from the TV show  Arrow (which she’s been watching via Netflix, starting at season 1, in preparation for the upcoming season) and Katniss Everdeen, the main character of the Hunger Games book/film series (which my daughter is re-reading). Both characters are archers, trained in combat and clever. In short, they’re both total BAMFs.

I know fandoms like to do this a lot in the superhero universe. We even got a crappy movie out of it (yes, I HATED Batman vs. Superman; and I also hated Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, too [this video describes my feelings to a tee]). However, I really like both Oliver and Katniss, and feel like I’ve seen them through so much. It’s so hard to choose.

I think they’re equal as archers, though my daughter mentioned that Katniss shoots squirrels (who are moving) in the eye while hunting. I’ve never seen Oliver do that, but his archery skills seem absolutely awesome.

In hand to hand combat, I’d have to give it to Oliver. He was trained by the League of Assasins, as well as others. In the books, Katniss avoided hand-t0-hand combat and focused on her strengths of cleverness and archery.

In terms of cleverness, I’m going to give Katniss the slight edge. She survived 22 people wanting her dead, as well as the games makers. While Oliver has some clever ideas, it’s really a team show, and he’s often leaning on others for help. Not that Katniss doesn’t have help, too, but I feel like Team Arrow really is about teamwork in most situations. Katniss is often, particularly in the first book, relying on her own wits.

Even with those things given, I’m still not sure who would win.  I find myself unable to root for a particular one, as I really adore them both. I did note that Seam Katniss would one hundred percent kick day-one stranded on the island Oliver’s butt. Prior to his training, Oliver was mush. And any post-island iteration of Oliver would kick the tail of end-of-book-3 Katniss (after the trial). She was desolate and in no condition to do anything, let alone fight.

However, the two of them, in their prime, fully trained, and fighting, I haven’t a clue who would win. (And I still have no idea why they’d be fighting; it seems more likely these two would grab a beer than fight. Maybe a friendly archery competition, but no knockdown, drag-out fight.)

So, if you’re an Arrow fan and a Hunger Games fan, do you have any thoughts? Who would win the Katniss-Oliver battle?

 

 

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Prophecy of Light Series at All Vendors

Happy Monday to you. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was pretty mundane, which is a good thing. In the mind of a writer, excitement tends to equate with destruction, death and mayhem. Perhaps in real life, excitement is less perilous. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the last Prophecy of Light series book that was exclusive with Amazon is finally done with that deal. So, the entire prophecy series is available on all retailers now. I’ve posted links below.

01prophecyoflighttrapped_200300

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play

prophecy-of-light-unleashed-ebook800

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play

prophecy-of-light-foretold_200300

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play

Prophecy of Light - Fulfilled

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Play

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Prophecy of Light Series Going Wide (Halfway There!)

01prophecyoflighttrapped_200300Just a quick post to let you know that my Prophecy of Light series is being released wide, rather than just on Amazon.

The series has four books, and previously three of them were in the Kindle Unlimited program and could not be available on other vendors. The term for books one, two and four is over, and the term for book three ends Sept. 11. I decided sometime after the release of book 4 that I was going to take the series wide. However, each book is required to stay in the Kindle Unlimited program for 90 days after you sign up for the program. That’s why book three is actually in the program longer than book 4. I’d just signed up for a new term prior to publishing book 4.

prophecy-of-light-unleashed-ebook800Because books one and two are finished with their Amazon exclusivity term, you can grab them at all retailers. I’m going to post links for books three and four next Tuesday. Even though book four is finished with its Amazon exclusivity, I didn’t want to confuse new readers by publishing books 1,2 and 4. So, both books three and four will publish next week on the other sites.

The four books in the series are: (1) Prophecy of Light: Trapped, (2) Prophecy of Light: Unleashed, (3) Prophecy of Light: Foretold, and (4) Prophecy of Light: Fulfilled.

Links to the book purchase sites are below.  The entire series will be enrolled in the Kobo Plus subscription service, as well as the Playster subscription service.

Prophecy of Light: Trapped (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboGoogle PlayApple

Prophecy of Light: Unleashed (99 cents)

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboGoogle PlayApple

 

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Who’s Your Protector?

thorcarSo we were out and about the other day, when I noticed the car in front of us had this sticker on it.

I adored it. Protected by Thor. How awesome.

While I love Thor, I also think other gods and super heroes are cool. Could I be protected by Poseidon, Ra, Isis, or Zeus. If we head into the Marvel cinematic universe, could the Black Panther protect me?  I have been loving the pictures coming from that set.

So, if you were to make up your own decal, who would you be protected by?

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Truth is Stranger than Fiction: The Talking ATM

No one can be trapped in an ATM, can they? (Image source: Pixabay)

No one can be trapped in an ATM, can they? (Image source: Pixabay)

When you write books, and weird stuff happens, people will sometimes say, this is too much. I can’t suspend my disbelief. Generally, as writers, we don’t want this to happen.

Oddly enough, the stuff that’s the weirdest, the stuff people call you out on, is often the stuff that actually happened and you thought would be fun to include in a fictional setting.

So, I thought I’d occasionally share an article where the truth sounds like fiction no one would believe. First up is the man trapped inside an ATM. Yes, ladies and gents, people trying to get money out of the ATM heard a faint voice begging for help, and got slipped a note saying, Help Me, please. I’m trapped. Naturally, assuming they were on Candid Camera or some type of show, they ignored it. Luckily, one person didn’t and our erstwhile ATM repairman (locked in while changing a lock), was rescued. You can read the full story in the Miami Herald.

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What good stories and good circuses have in common

Last weekend, I attended the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, which focused on the ways of the people in circuses. It was very cool and I learned a lot.

One of the cool things was they set up a big top circus tent and had hour-long circus performances. The one that we saw was excellent. As I thought about it, the more I thought about how much a good circus was like a good book.

It started off really well, with a dazzling act involving a man twirling flames.  He was doing a traditional Samoan dance and dressed accordingly, twirling batons lit with flames. At certain points, he would transfer the flames to his body and then back to his baton. It was just amazing. The second act was also amazing. Not as fiery, but very cool. Two contortionists performing on the lyra (a contraption that looks like a hula hoop, but is sturdier and dangles several feet above the air from a cord). These ladies Luna & Storm were amazing. I couldn’t wait for the next act. Oddly enough, the next two acts were just OK. Not awful, but the pace slowed a bit, and I was getting a little restless. Well, the final act. That was wow. That was showstopper. That was everything good about storytelling and circus combined.

Why? Because it was the ultimate in storytelling and showmanship. It was a smaller than normal circus arena, because it had been erected temporarily on the National Mall. So there was only one ring, and in it wasn’t the most robust. The ringmaster starts by telling us this is a death-defying act, and it starts just by getting the apparatus in the ring. Immediately, I’m thinking, how hard can it be to put the apparatus in the ring, but then they wheel in this piece of equipment, a huge wheel at the bottom, a long shaft, and then another smaller pivot wheel. The thing, truly, barely fits in the arena. They’ve got tons of staff handling the thing, and trying to get it upright. Wires break loose and this pendulum wheel thing starts to rock back and forth on it’s own, and people are grabbing it to try to steady it, and looking relieved when they finally get hold of the thing, to get it in it’s right  position.

And this is all part of the showmanship, because as you watch all this, you’re thinking, that does look dangerous. Why would anyone get on this thing? The entire time they’re setting up the aparatus, they’re playing ominous creepy music, which just makes you think no one would be foolish enough to get on it.

Then, the gentleman who was going to get on this contraption comes out. And he’s, umm, not to be indelicate, but not a young flower. He’s at least 50, which is a great age to be athletic, and by no means old, but certainly an age that is mature enough and wise enough to not climb on this thing. Yet, this dude comes out with brass and swagger. He has an assistant who is a sturdy looking girl, and her job, appears to be to grab the thin wheel opposite the large wheel, and give it a big push so the thing spins around the pivot point.

The assistant stands beneath the wheel, as the daredevil stands inside it at the midpoint of its spin. Later he would stand atop the wheel as it spun around.

The assistant stands beneath the wheel, as the daredevil stands inside it at the midpoint of its spin. Later he would stand atop the wheel as it spun around.

Again, this is all great showmanship. He could’ve had your typical paper thin assistant, but that wasn’t the point. He needed someone who could deal with this enormous piece of machinery.

Next up, the guy gets on the inside of the metal mesh and the assitant sends the enitre thing spinning around. It was quite daring. Very cool. He’s running to keep from falling out of it, and you’re thinking, cool. But, next, the guy, goes on the outside of the metal ring, standing on top of it. She spins him around while he’s standing on top of the outside of this thing.  He was running to make sure he dind’t fall, and he always looked like he was one step from toppling to his death.

Then, the assistant throws him a jump rope. She spins him and he attempts to jump rope on top of the thing, while it’s spinning in a circle. I say attempts, because he stumbles on the rope, lurches forward and amazingly catches himself from falling but drops the jump rope. There were universal gasps. The assistant gasps, too. The man clutches his heart, and looks shaken. The wheel comes to a stop after a couple of spins. He looks down at the assistant. “Should I try it again?”

She nods.

Oh, yes, and that’s the best part of the showmanship. Someone in the crowd when we were leaving said the trip was staged. Whether it was or wasn’t. That’s story. Because there were calls of no, you don’t have to, and Yeah, try it again, you can do it. The audience was utterly invested in him. He had failed, but he was about to try it again. The assistant tossed him the rope. He caught it. He mouthed to himslef, I can do this. He jumped in place a moment, getting up his confidence. The assistant, looked up at him, asked if he was ready. He nodded. She gave the apparatus a push to send him spinning again. He was spinning and pulled out the jump rope. And this time, he did it. Three jumps over the rope on top of this wheel that was rotating 360 degrees and very fast.

Standing ovation. Huge cheers. He’d conquered the beast.

And it was an absolutely awesomely satisfying end to a show. I loved it.

It reminded me of the best elements of story telling.  Overall, like any good book, the circus started out strong, with really exciting, visually lovely acts that got me saying how glad I was I was there. And I admit, it flagged a little bit in the middle (and while this is not ideal in a book, the reader can be OK with it, if you’ve started out so strong), and then by the end, it was everything. The last act was the epitome of story. An underdog faces a huge obstacle, he succeeds at the simplest part, but as it gets harder, he flags (the jump rope). However, he doesn’t give up. He gives it another try. And this time we are so rooting for him. When he does it, when he executes it flawlessly, we give the standing ovation because we wanted it so bad for him.

Yes,  great storytelling at its best. And I was so glad I got to see it.

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Final Prophecy of Light book Available

Prophecy of Light - Fulfilled
Howdy folks. Hope everyone is enjoying their week so far. My kids are finally out of school and I’m trying to get a few things done with little people afoot daily. It’s not working so well. But, the little people and I are having fun, so it’s worthwhile, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to drop a quick note on the blog to let people know that the final book in the Prophecy of Light series is available. Fulfilled wraps up that four-book series. I sent a note to my newsletter subscribers last week, but got busy with some other things and forgot to alert the blog readers.

As such, the book was 99 cents for release week, and I was supposed to raise the price today. However, because I forgot to post it on the blog, I’ll leave the book 99 cents through the weekend, and up the price next Monday.

I hope everyone has had a great week so far. I’ll catch you all soon.

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Sci-Fi Anthology FREE today

expandinguniverse

The science fiction anthology I have a short story in is FREE today and tomorrow. If you like sci-fi and want to check out several authors with no risk, this is the anthology for you. Grab it today at Amazon.

Here’s the book’s description:

Lives submerged in cosmic war… civilizations standing on the brink of destruction…
Technologies that far surpass our own and ethereal beings of untold power…
Immerse yourself in The Expanding Universe.

Worlds collide as nineteen talented authors contribute their best short fiction to expand and explore the Science Fiction genre. Travel dystopian worlds and discover the possibilities that lie within the unknown. Experience the touch of metaphysical occurrences and enjoy the rush that comes from love deep enough to rattle the stars.

With contributions ranging from best-selling authors to debut works, you will fall in love with this exciting new anthology – The Expanding Universe!

Featuring a Foreword by Michael Anderle

 

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