Friday, November 26, 2010

Falling Kingdoms on the Web

A couple of months ago I did a post about web series. Well, great minds think alike, because the same subject was on the mind of the NY Times a few weeks ago. The writer, Mike Hale, did a review of several series--none of which, by the way, were ones I mentioned, so our mind meld was only partially in synch.

The article reviews 6 different series, but I'm only one belongs in the Otherworld Diner: Riese.

This Canadian-produced show airs on and has a lot going for it. First off, it's a pleasure to watch--it's professionally shot with good production values. Second, it's a kind of a steam punk infused fantasy, with the fate of kingdoms at stake. If you can imagine steam punk Tolkein, you'll have an angle on Riese (although there are no hobbits as of yet). To give you an idea, here's the villain, Herrick, half human, half machine:

And here's our heroine, Riese, her trusty wolf by her side:

She wears the requisite goggles, along with sexy leather getups. She can fight with the best, and though she shouldn't, she's a sucker for a damsel (in this case, mother) in distress. Every episode is narrated by Amanda Tapping of Stargate SG-1 and Sanctuary fame, and because the heroine is on the run amid a myriad of strangely-named lands, there's always a handy map (I love maps) to show viewers what the hell the narrator just said (What? Did she say Ass-wad? Oh, Asgard..). There's a dasterdly religious group called the Sect, an evil Queen, and, of course, a ragtag bunch of "heretics" known as the Resistence.

The acting is decent but not terrific. I love watching the actress who plays the Queen do her cold, evil thing. It's so one note, it's a lesson for all would-be villains. Riese, herself, is played by Christine Chatelaine, who Santuary fans may recognize as the "Invisible Woman" in an arc of episodes. Most of the cast has sci fi creds, but the only one I recognize is Alessandro Julian who played Gaeta on Battlestar Gallactica. Despite the shallow characterizations, the story is fun and hey--it's only 10 minutes out of your day. Besides, how many steam punk shows are out there?

Certainly Riese proves that given enough money and talent you can make an entertaining and watchable show. What I find really intriguing, though, is what the series represents. Is this the forerunner of a real format change? Will the next generation find 30 minutes a hardship and only sit for 10 minutes at a time? Or will web series go the way of the Edsel?

I don't have a clue. But it will be interesting to see the future unfold.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Well Wishes

This Thanksgiving we want to thank you, our readers.

We wish you:

  1. turkey,

  2. gravy,

  3. stuffing,

  4. sweet potatoes,

  5. cornbread,

  6. green bean casserole,

  7. cranberry sauce,

  8. pumpkin pie,

  9. or maybe pecan pie,

  10. whipped cream,

  11. family,

  12. good friends,

  13. and well, all the best.

Monday, November 22, 2010

No 'IT' Factor Today

I downloaded a debut author's book with the best intentions of reading it for today. But then the home remodel project got underway and hit some major roadblocks. Make that fill dirt and groundwater--right where the support posts for the bumpout and new deck need to go. Now the bobcat is sitting broken in our backyard, with its drill bit stuck 7 feet down in the ground. Oh, happy joy.

On top of all that, I'm trying to get my manuscript in decent shape for the Golden Heart contest (yes, I'll be one of many paying $18.30 for Express mailing next week.) So, there was no reading for me this past week. Hopefully I can read the book in time for my next post. It sounds like a good one. Oh, wait...I just heard one of the contractors cussing. This can't be good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder
HarperCollins, March 2010

Book Blurb:
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

First, a caveat:
This is a Young Adult romance and I don’t read a lot of YA. The last one I read was TWILIGHT just to see what all the hoopla was all about. Before that, it was probably a Judy Blume way back (we won’t say how many years) in junior high. For the most part, when I was a young adult I was reading Steven King, John Saul and VC Andrews. Yes, I was very into horror back then.

The Romance:
The author nailed the crazy emotions of teen romance without going overboard on the angst. Maybe it was because I’ve walked in Violet’s shoes and this book brought back all those old feelings again. I can remember having a goofy guy as one of my best friends and then waking up one day and feeling something more for him. It was confusing and scary and thrilling all at the same time. And, like Violet, I also had to contend with half of my class suddenly realizing he was something pretty special too. Then there was the dilemma: Do I let him know how I feel and possibly ruin our friendship? I never had the chance to find out. He moved away before I got the guts to tell him.

The Paranormal:
Violet’s paranormal gift is quite unique. At least, I’ve never run across it before. When an animal or person is murdered, they leave an echo. It might be visual, as in a color, aura or sheen. Or it could be a taste, or sound, or odor. Whatever it is, the sensory detail imprints on the victim and their killer and, like fingerprints, no two are alike. Violet can see, smell, hear or taste these echoes when she’s near a body or their killer. I thought that was brilliant. And the way the author hid the killer’s identity was a nice twist, too.

The Downside:
The main thing I had a problem with was this book was a little heavy on the romance side of things. *Gasp* I know, I’m a romance writer so how could there be such a thing as too much romance? But the suspense part was sooo good, I wanted more. The peeks into the villain’s psyche via brief scenes in his POV were quite creepy and the moments where Violet senses death and is closing in on the killer are gripping. I’d say the suspense to romance ratio was something like 40/60. It would have been a much stronger book if it were reversed. Hopefully the second book will be.

Oh, and the ending had the heroine going to a school dance on crutches. Sound familiar? Of the two YA romances I’ve read in the past 20-odd years, they both have a similar ending. What are the odds?

The ‘IT’ Factor:
In a world glutted with high school vampires, Derting came up with a very unique premise in Violet’s paranormal ability. Combine that with page turning suspense and a love story many of us can identify with, and this book has the IT Factor times three.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Search of Ideas? A Site to Visit: Especially if you’re a NaNoWriMo Participant

Happy November and happy National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I’m busy pounding out my yearly 50,000 word novel as a NaNoWriMo participant and, three days in, I’ve gotten to the point where I need a little plot help, some idea of where my story is going.

You may be in the same boat. If you are, I have a site for you, Seventh Sanctum. It’s full of idea generating links that are sure to get your inner creativity fired up and maybe give you a good chuckle on the way.

Header by Samulli

Here are 13 ideas from the fantasy plot generator.
1. A bitter stableboy offers to help a clever queen, resulting in chaos.
2. A brash sorceress has a question for a young demigoddess, resulting in true love.
3. A helpful stableboy and a shepherd seek a legendary spell in this tale of danger.
4. In this story, peasants and gypsies clash with a mild-mannered beggar stuck in the middle.

5. A lonely sorceror has tea with a wicked merman, resulting in true love.
6. In this story, wolves and pirates clash with a bashful troll stuck in the middle.
7. A mysterious farmer learns a secret from a wicked satyr, resulting in true love.
8. A peasant raised by merfolk talks to a foolish troll.
9. A pixie raised by pirates has an argument with a cantankerous mermaid.
10. A tinker raised by pirates spies on a mild-mannered sorceress.
11. In this story, circus performers and robbers clash with a scatterbrained troll stuck in the middle.
12. This tale of an epic struggle begins when a devious midwife betrays a proud queen.

13. In this story, fairies and robbers clash with a cowardly griffin stuck in the middle.

I hope the Seventh Sanctum ignites your imagination as it does mine. Check out the site and let me know what you find. Happy Writing.