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Tonight is it. The last episode of Game of Thrones. It has been one heck of a wild ride. Eight seasons, 72 episodes and only the gods, both old gods and new, know how many hours.

All I have to say is that it has been a shame that GRRM didn’t finish the books in time for the two Ds to finish up the series. They are clearly just rushing to burn the whole thing down and finish up their work so they can move on to wreaking havoc in the Star Wars franchise.

I have no idea how they are going to wrap up what happened last week in one episode. Whether it is 60 minutes, 80 minutes, or 90 minutes, the task they have in front of them is immense. And from what I’ve seen this season, I’m not sure they are up to the task.

As a writer, I know how difficult it is to tie up loose threads and bring a story to a satisfying conclusion. I do. And I’ve not written anything as complicated or intense as GOT. This season was always going to be a daunting task, especially since the source material is incomplete. Even if GRRM shared his thoughts and plans for the books with them and they based their story on those notes, I don’t see how they can leave the audience with anything other than an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Dany going all mad-queen and burning everything to the ground on us. I think given that she’s a Targaryen and has had a difficult rise to power, it is all too believable. My problem is that is not the ride we have been taken on for the seven previous seasons. For seven seasons, she has been:

Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Lady of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.

She freed the unsullied, freed the slaves in Mereen, broke their chains, and won their loyalty by standing up for the downtrodden, innocent, and powerless. That is an honorable and powerful list of accomplishments and titles.

And now she’s the Crazed Killer of the Innocents? Fire Queen of the Westeros, and Destroyer of King’s Landing?

I do not buy it.

Like I said, I could buy that she could snap and turn into the mad-queen. There were hints enough in the book that she could head in that direction. The problem I have is that the creators of the show did not do the deep-dive into her psyche to make it believable. She has stood as a paragon of leadership for seven seasons. And the rush to the mad-queen feels just that, rushed. Moping around Winterfell for two episodes because nobody loves her is just not enough.

The fans of the show, both the readers of the books and casual viewers, have lived through seven seasons of betrayal, death, war, rape, madness, and cruelty. The characters, both protagonists and antagonists, have been complex and layered. And the story has been compelling. Yes, it is a grim-dark tale that could go bad, absolutely. This has not been a hero’s tale of overcoming all odds to defeat evil. Evil has won at almost every turn.

Nonetheless, throughout the books, and the show, there was the promise of something better. The promise of Azor Ahai, the Lightbringer, who will arise to fight against the darkness.

“There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”

So, I don’t think it unreasonable that fans of the show would hope for a hero’s ending.

They defeated the darkness of the frozen north with the help of Dany and her dragons. And Arya. Gods love Arya! The White Walkers are finally, and hopefully, forever defeated. Now all they needed to do was rally support to defeat evil in the hearts of men, (and women), to come together and truly unite the seven kingdoms.

And maybe that’s the problem. The evil in the hearts of men can never truly be defeated. It will always be there. I guess I had hoped that in the fantasy world at least, they could overcome it enough to keep it at bay, to push back the tides of fear, distrust, and hate.

It is clear that this is not a hero’s story. Possibly never was. At this point, to try to create a happy ending out of the ashes of King’s Landing will feel false, and to end with the Mad-Queen on the Iron Throne will not have been worth the investment of time the fans have sacrificed.

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My First Critic

I have fallen behind and I’ve lost track of my word count. Not unexpected with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and my crazy work schedule, but I am stressing out for sure.

Midnight Friday. That’ is the deadline.

Current word count 40,994.

I am over 4,000 words in the whole. And I have to write almost 9,000 by Friday.

The race is on!

Bad news, I work a lot between now and then. And this past weekend, I had to pick up two extra shifts I was not planning on working.

Good news, I did some writing this morning. I have tomorrow off.

I work today, but I have some time to get writing done tonight. Between tonight and tomorrow, if I focus, I feel that I can not only get caught up, I can maybe get a little bit ahead.

Wish me luck!

Just keep writing…

 

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Are you done yet?

I announced a few weeks ago that I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year to finish my novel which I have been working on for just over a year. I just wanted to give a quick update as to my progress.

Before NaNoWriMo I had about 74,000 words written and had reached some pretty crucial parts of the story, but just could not focus to really write them. I had a few setbacks, like when my laptop died a week after I bought Scrivener. September and October were busy times at work this year, which kept me very busy. But really, while some of my setbacks were legit, most of them were really just excuses to justify not writing.

I think the idea of finishing this book kind of scares me. I’ve never written anything this big. Or more to the point, finished anything this big. It is a daunting thought to think I’ve written a book. I am friends with a lot of writers who write many, many books. They write articles, short stories, novels, novellas…I could go on. I’ve written short stories and essays. I have blogged. I have started novels. I’ve gotten over 25,000 words into novels and then just stopped writing them. Finishing a novel? I never have.

Novels are big and scary things to write. I said it was a daunting task. It feels like an insurmountable goal. Improbable even that I could write one. An unattainable goal.

But once I had my story firmly in mind and I made some basic notes on it. I slogged away at it several times a week until I had written 74,000 words, suddenly finishing it felt…possible. And that is an exciting feeling.

Over the course of this past year, I have been listening to podcasts about writing. I listen to Grammar Girl, The Writer Files, The Moth, and my current favorite, I Should Be Writing. I have read books about writing and listened to a couple on Audible about writing. My favorite is of course the classic On Writing by Stephen King. And I’ve made attending my writer’s groups a priority. My work schedule makes going to them difficult sometimes, but I change my schedule or do a shift trade so that I can make it more often than I had in the past. I have even joined another writer’s group that meets once a month to discuss long-form writing. That group is really just me and one or two other friends, but it helps keep me motivated.

Basically, I have fully immersed myself into this project by thinking about writing, talking about writing, strategizing about writing, and finally sitting down and doing the actual work of writing.

So, the promised update on my NaNo progress…

We are 11 days in. Just over the 1/3 mark. My current word count is 17,828. I still have a little over 500 words to write today, but I will get that done. I began the first week of November a little bit in the hole. But I wrote my way out of it and caught up. I try to stay a little bit ahead of 1,667 daily word count. I have the day off today, so I am going to try to get a day ahead so that I do not lose my momentum.

By the time I finish the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, I will have written right around 125,000 words. My goal is that the first draft of my novel will be done by then.

Then the fun begins…rewriting!

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Naomi plotting world domination.

I have been working on a novel called Avenging Angels for about a year. In that time, I have written just over 74k words. One would think I am nearly done, but I feel like I am nowhere close.

I need to finish up the first draft of this novel. I know it will still need a lot of work once the first draft is complete, but I need to just finish putting the idea down on paper.

I have had a lot of setbacks including my computer completely dying on me two days after I downloaded Scrivener. My MacBook just died. I thought it was the battery, but when I took it to the Apple Genius, they told me the hard drive was caput. It would cost $475 to fix. I just moved and spent all my money moving and did not really have $500 to throw at fixing my MacBook. Furthermore, the Apple Genius said that since my computer is a 2014, it was probably best just to buy a new laptop. Well, if I don’t have $500 to throw at a laptop…do I really need to finish that thought?

So, I saved up my pennies for a month and cashed in some work bennies to get some gift cards and scraped up enough to fix my laptop. I took it back to Apple, plugged it and bing! It booted up.

WTF, seriously?

I could not get logged in using my password and the system would not let me use my Apple ID to change my password. FFS.

The Apple Genius tried everything to circumvent the password problem, but finally after two hours, we just had to wipe the whole computer and reload it.

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, after I freaked out inside my head, I calmed down as I had very wisely listened to my brother who had told me a year previous to back-up everything on the cloud, including, thank heavens, my novel.

So, I held my breath and let him wipe my computer. Miraculously, it still works. I do not know how long I have, but a friend of mine has offered to help me replace the SSD card which should give me some more time on this laptop.

See how easy it was for me to get distracted from my novel? I am writing this post to tell you about my novel and Nanowrimo and instead I fell into the laptop hell I experienced.

So, here it is. I am going to use Nano to finish up my first draft. I may not reach the 50K mark on Nano as I am not going to include any of the stuff I have already written. I probably have 25k-30k left to write. But who knows, I may just go ahead and keep on writing and get started on the 2nd installment of the novel just to get me up to 50k. I have already decided the story is going to be a trilogy.

If you are on the Nanowrimo site and participating in National Novel Writing Month, my user name is morgaine84. Add me to your buddy list and follow my progress. I’ll follow you back and maybe we can encourage each other to keep on going through the month.

Good luck and see you in November!

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Hello Blogosphere!  It sure has been a while since I’ve written on this blog.  A couple of quick updates…

  • I have been doing a ton of writing this year.  Several essays, a couple of short stories, and of course, my middle grade novel.  I may not reach my yearly goal of 12 personal essays, but I’m not too far off.
  • I am finish up my children’s novel for Nanowrimothis year and I am almost done!  I will finish Nano successfully for the first time this year.
  • My weight loss blog is doing very well.  I have lost 127 pounds with only 46 more to go.
  • My overall health is great.

Now, onto what I really wanted to write about today…

catching fire

I saw the new Hunger Games movie last night.  I am a huge fan of the books, which I re-read in preparation to see this movie.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows that I am definitely an advocate of reading the book before seeing the movie.

That said, let me start my review.

Any time a book is adapted for the screen, there will be changes in how the story is told.  Film is a completely different medium, after all.  Events that can take pages or chapters to describe in a book can be done more effectively with imagery and music in film.  Conversely, a character’s inner dialogue, which can be so revealing in a book, can often be lost in film. Some film makers often use voice-overs to fill that gap, but done poorly, voice-overs can ruin an otherwise good movie.  Francis Lawrence did not use voice-overs, thankfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was a good adaptation from book to screen.  There were changes, of course, but I thought they were very true to the source material.  I think anyone who is a fan of the books will love it.  Anyone who hasn’t read the books but liked the first movie, I think will like it as well.  But be prepared, this is not your typical feel-good, holiday movie.  This movie is very emotional and has a very mixed ending.  Some good, some bad, a lot of heart-break, and a cliffhanger. Overall, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

*******SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!**********

Some things that I thought were lost in this retelling:

  • Katniss’s inner dialogue and the way she analyzes each situation or thinks through the problem at hand.  Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job, but it’s hard to translate that inner struggle sometimes.
  • A sense of time.  The film sometimes felt a little rushed.  There was no sense of the time that had passed between events.  In the book there were 6 months between the 74th Hunger Games and the victory tour, A couple more months between the tour and the announcement of 75th HG, the Quarter Quell.   Then a few more months until the actual games themselves.  In total, between the 74th HG and the 75th, there was a full year.
  •  We lost the wedding dress montage.  Thankfully.  In the book, a lot of prep goes into Katniss & Peeta’s engagement and wedding.  The citizens of Panem have the chance to vote on her wedding dress and there is an entire episode where she is filmed trying on dress after dress.  Thankfully, unlike the citizens of Panem, we were spared that spectacle.
  • We lost the preparation Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss did before the games.  We also lost learning more about the other tributes through the research Peeta & Katniss did ahead of time.

That said, I do not think any of this distracted from the quality of the movie, particularly if you have not read the books.

What I loved about the movie:

  • Nothing was sugar-coated. Katniss is clearly suffering from PTSD from the last games throughout the movie.
  • The emotional connection she feels towards her family, Gale, Peeta, the other tributes, Cinna, and other people she cares about is palatable.   This keeps the movie from being just an action film.
  • I love the inclusion of showing events from Snow’s p.o.v. and Heavensbee’s p.o.v.  I think that adds a real depth to the film and ratchets up the tension.
  • Conversations with her sister.  They are few and far between in the movie, but when they do happen, you can see the connection they share.  You also know that her sister is quite clearly becoming her own person and does not need Katniss to protect her any more.
  • The friendships she begins to form with the other tributes during the games.  They work together and save each other over and over.  At one point she turns to Peeta and asks, “How are we ever going to be able to kill these people.”
  • The scene in District 11 when Peeta & Katniss speak about Thresh & Rue.  Very emotional.

I really enjoyed the movie.  That said, I was not jazzed with the ending.  I know that it was pretty true to the book, and it was a hook to get you into the 4th movie, whenever that is released, but I still found it unsettling.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy had cliff hanger endings as well, but they always ended on a somewhat hopeful note.  Francis Lawrence could take a page out of Peter Jackson’s playbook and give us a little more to hold onto.  I’m not saying have a happy ending, but this is the start of the revolution.  Ending the Capitol’s stranglehold on the districts, while complicated emotionally, is a good thing.

Yes, the movie ends with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee being rescued from the arena, while Peeta & Johanna are captured by the Capitol.  District 12 is in ashes.  Thousands are dead.  Everything is in disarray.  But the revolution has begun and there are hints that the citizens of Panem can really hope they are able turn the tide and take control of their own fates. That, at least, is something to hold onto.

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What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!

 

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A member of my writer’s group has a book release today.  The Bubble Gum Thief was released today through Thomas and Mercer.

 

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The Arlington Writer’s Group has been waiting a long time for this book to be published.  Several years ago, Jeff shared a couple of chapters with us.  We have waited patiently for this release as Jeff slogged through the arduous task of finding an agent, editing, re-writing, re-writing again and then finding a publisher.  The release of this book is the result of years of hard work.  We are all so excited for his book release and the obvious success that will follow.

I did receive an ARC from Jeff, which I regret to say, I’m not finished reading.  I should have it finished tonight and a full review up in a day or two.

I will say this, however.  I am loving this book.  Jeff is a fantastic writer and storyteller.  The story is complex and exciting.  There are many twists.

It is a police/FBI thriller.  The story begins with a minor crime and the perpetrator leaves a card that says, “This is my first crime.  My next one will be bigger.”  The crimes escalate in violence in severity until it comes to the attention of the FBI where Agent Dagny Gray becomes involved.

I do not want to say much more than that yet.  I want to save that for my full review.  I do recommend The Bubble Gum Thief.  If you like thrillers, books with interesting characters, good stories, you will love this book.  Buy it.  Read it.  Pass the word on to all your friends!

Happy Reading.

 

 

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