Current Tunes

For a bit of a smaller post this Friday, I thought I’d take a moment to list some of the songs that feature on my current playlist and have helped to boost my motivation lately.

Lauren AquilinaFools 
I only recently discovered this artist and am super bummed she doesn’t make music anymore (performing-wise, anyway), but I love all of the songs she has put out and appreciate all the thought that seems to have gone into them. Her lyrics are amazing and so incredibly evocative! And I think Fools is my favorite; it’s such a great song, though Oceans is a close second.

Beth CrowleyBattle Cry
I love all of her songs, and Midnight is my overall favorite, but Battle Cry is probably the one I’ve listened to the most over the last few weeks. The fact that she’s inspired by YA novels is such a cool concept to me, and even if I’m not familiar with some of the series she writes songs about, I find it easy to connect with and be inspired by her music.

I PrevailAlone
Back in high school, I was a dedicated follower of hard rock, but kind of fell off that wagon and onto a more indie/folk-based wagon, though I’ve maintained and kept up with a few staples. However, I’ve been getting caught up with some bands I’ve missed out on, and when I caught this song on the radio I was hooked. I love the sound and it’s helped reignite my appreciation for this type of music, so I look forward to re-exploring more of it.

Lady GagaMillion Reasons 
I love Gaga, and though nothing will EVER usurp Bad Romance in my eyes, Million Reasons is my favorite from her recent hits. It’s pretty clear in all of her songs that she really feels the music, which comes through in her performances. It’s a song that plucks at the heartstrings, and I never skip this one when it pops up on my shuffle.

NickelbackSong on Fire
I have always been a fan of Nickelback, and genuinely don’t understand the hate that they get. Song on Fire is a nice addition to their repertoire; it’s not as “hard” as some of their music tends to be, more in the vein of Photograph or Gotta Be Somebody. It’s got a nice message and is an overall pleasant listen.

AdnaNight
Adna has a unique, folksy sound that really makes her music stand out; I’ve only just recently stumbled upon her music and I’m super glad I did. Night is a pretty chill tune; kind of haunting, but very evocative.

WILDBack To You
Probably one of my favorite recent finds, I’ve just started following WILD but I love everything I’ve heard so far. Back To You is my favorite; it’s just a nice, catchy tune with an uplifting, folk sound, stellar vocals, and lyrics that flow. I eagerly anticipate new music from them in the future.

KarminaAll The King’s Horses
I enjoy music with a sort of “fantasy” type sound, and I had this song on repeat for at least a full day after I first heard it. The lyrics are great and it has a powerful, serious sound that helps provide some motivation while I’m writing, especially since my current project is in the fantasy vein.

ValleySoldier
After the first time I heard this song, it was stuck in my head for approximately 7 hours; and I didn’t even mind or get annoyed by it. It’s got an infectious tune and great lyrics, and it’s the kind of song that sounds “fun,” if you know what I’m saying.

Fall Out BoyThe Last of the Real Ones
I have clearly been living under a rock for the last few months because I had no idea that FOB had new music out until last week. And this song IS F*CKING GREAT. I’ve loved just about all of their discography ever since the beginning, but they’ve really been hitting it out of the park with their more recent albums, and this song is no different. LOVE IT, LOOK FORWARD TO MORE.

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What Could Have Been

As I’ve mentioned before, my debut novel I’m With You underwent many changes from inception to publication. The original story I envisioned was vastly different from the final version, and, just for funsies, I thought I’d list some of the things that “could have been” had I kept on along the initial route…

Minor spoilers ahead! You have been warned!

1.) Ciarán did not exist.
Ramus was originally intended to be the narrator, but his role was also different than his final incarnation (see below). I added Ciarán because I wanted to show the main characters through the eyes of a different party, and did not want Ramus’s perspective to paint the narrative. I thought the themes and the lessons would be better portrayed through the eyes and in the voice of a teenager, especially since I was aiming for a YA audience, so Ciarán was created to fill that role. And I’m glad it was his voice that told the story.

2.) Ramus (and Valkyrie) were hit-men.
The original plan had Ramus and Valkyrie serving as hit-men from the same nefarious organization. Ramus is hired to eliminate Remiel by her paranoid grandfather, but Ramus ultimately turns against his employers and decides to save Rem instead, and he recruits Valkyrie to help him get her to safety with some family members across the country. So, there are some similarities, but I nixed the hit-man idea when some other plot elements were changed and new characters were introduced. Also, there would have been a lot more violence and fighting. The Ramus/Valkyrie relationship was mostly the same, however, though instead of being established before their introduction, it would have been over the course of the narrative.

3.) I’m With You was intended to be a trilogy.
Back when I had very lofty ambitions for the layout of the story, I figured it would take about three books to tell the whole tale. However, there were several different sub-plots going on that were eventually discarded. Valkyrie was going to become a “villain” of sorts, and there was an arc that would feature a “world war” type of event… but in the end, it was way too convoluted and confusing and I couldn’t quite scrape up enough plausible detail to weave all the events I wanted together into a cohesive tale. The main story was supposed to be “get Remiel to safety” and as I kept adding more and more, it strayed further and further from the point. After I sliced down the scope of my ideas and shuffled the remaining elements together, I was left with enough content to fit within the pages of a single book. And I’m super glad that it ended up as one novel instead of 3.

4.) Kaz and Kia were originally twins…
…and both were villains. Kia was originally envisioned as an acrobat in a circus, and Kaz, her brother, was still a fire-juggler. They were to be villains in the second main arc of the story, enlisted by the second main antagonist. That is why their names and origins are similar; both got an age-change in the final version, as Kaz is 30 and Kia is 25ish.

5.) Dahlia was the main villain.
She was also known by the moniker “The Boss,” as she ran the organization that the hit-man versions of Ramus and Valkyrie were involved in. Markone also did not exist in the original plan. Dahlia and Valkyrie also would have ended up having a child, though they weren’t in a “relationship” – Valkyrie was more or less forced into a liaison with her. Long story. Obviously, that changed quite a lot.

6.) Most character descriptions were changed.
Camilla originally had black hair and brown eyes, but ended up blonde and blue-eyed. Valkyrie had two-toned hair; brown and red, but he ended up with auburn. Kaz was bald, I believe, and Dahlia was a little older and had red hair. I think the only characters who kept the same exact appearance/physical description were Remiel and Ramus, though Remiel was younger in previous plans.

7.) Mitzi was a minor character.
The original “party” for the story was Ramus, Remiel, Valkyrie, and Camilla – as previously mentioned, Ciarán didn’t exist, Kaz was a villain, and Mitzi was a minor supporting character in what I envisioned to be the second book of the trilogy. She had a very similar temperament, but was employed by a government organization and would end up working against her employer to help the main crew. When the plot shifted around, I decided to include her in the main party because her personality added a bit more balance to the rest of the characters.

Shameless plug: My book tour for my YA novel, I’m With You, is still ongoing! Check it out here: LINK! Plus, the ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) and paperback is $9.99 on Amazon Amazon UK. 

 

Writing Rewind #11: Wings of Fate Chapter 7 Part 2

It’s been a few weeks since our last jaunt into the world of my hideous past writing, and I was only just starting to recover… but it’s time to go back and knock out the rest of chapter 7.

Last time, we were introduced to two new major players in Major Leiter and Major Tango, and, after being busted for hiding Shirotaka in his room, Heiwa has been led to meet with General von Schneider. What suffering is store in wait for him? Let’s find out, in pat 2 of Chapter 7: The Mission Revealed!

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe
Green highlight – switch/move

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Starting strong, as always.

Verbose, verbose, verbose. Much like my hair, this selection is in need of a good trim. And a good re-work.

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Also, for a man who is meant to be so cold and intimidating, General von Schneider’s dialogue does not lend itself to that idea. He needs to be less wordy, more cutting. And also, the build up to the big reveals in this chapter is way too long. It draws out the suspense, but not in a good way.

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Same ideas conveyed in a more efficient manner. Moving on, Heiwa gets taken to Dr. Black’s quarters, which are covered in pictures of a mysterious woman…

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Ugh. I really fail at descriptions. Admittedly, I still struggle with it, but I do like to think I’ve gotten at least a little better since these dark days.

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I do wonder if I can go an entire chapter without mentioning eye color. Somehow, I doubt it…but that one red bit in there is certainly overkill.

Also, this section is just wordy and awkward. So it’s time to trim and tame!

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Now, the set-up to Dr. Black’s motivations is a bit more streamlined, without losing any of the actual content. Less clunky, and with improved flow, so it doesn’t drag… at least, not as much.

Moving on, Heiwa is reunited with Shirotaka, and Dr. Black starts to get into the real nitty-gritty of what the mission is about. He shows the pair some artifacts, and the explanation begins…

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*sigh* This… is… awful.

I guess because I thought the explanation was going to be confusing, I had to cram every little detail into Dr. Black’s little monologue. But really, it’s not necessary to bog the explanation down so meticulously.

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Really, that entire block is a massive cringe, and needs a massive overhaul. Other than that, it’s just the usual nit-picks and recurring problems. Also, Heiwa doesn’t need an overload of “How can this be?” “Can this be true?” “How is this possible?” wondering every single time he gets an info-bomb dropped on him.

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Look how much shorter this is! And, at least on my end, the explanation still seems fairly clear, at least for the time being. The info-dump is not as drastic, which allows for a less overloaded chapter. It’s still overloaded, of course, but I can at least lessen the damage.

Next, Dr. Black’s explanations continue…

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So, Shirotaka’s people, the mysterious Seijaku, can bring the dead back to life. What a twist! But this portion still requires a bit of a makeover.

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Dr. Black’s dialogue is still too wordy, and that eye-reference needs to go. Far, far away, never to return. The reveal in this passage, that the Seijaku can resurrect the dead, loses some impact when it’s surrounded by so much fluff.

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There; less talk, more… I don’t know, moving forward?

After this, Dr. Black explains that Shirotaka likely has amnesia, but he expects her memories to eventually return. However, when he asks Heiwa for help, Heiwa declines, as he feels something “off” about the mission. Therefore, Dr. Black needs to persuade him. So, if the Seijaku’s incredible power is divided in two, obviously, the second part is…

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Ah, the old “using terminally-ill mother as a bargaining chip” trick. What a low blow!

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The use of “she” and “his mother” also needs to be tweaked, as it gets muddled during Heiwa’s inner monologue. Overall, though, this passage needs the usual treatment. A little snip and polish!

Here’s the result:

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Heiwa obviously agrees to help Dr. Black in order to potentially help his mother. So, Heiwa will now be serving as the “go-between” for Dr. Black whenever Shirotaka remembers something that could be useful for the mission.

But where will Shirotaka stay? The room next to Heiwa is occupied by Major Tango (which was news to Heiwa) so alternate arrangements must be made…

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Such a “funny” turn of events loses the humor when it’s too long-winded, which means some changes must be made.

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Hopefully, cutting out some unneeded tidbits and reworking some awkward phrasing will make this passage flow better.

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And there we have it! Chapter 7 is at a close, and the mission has been revealed! Heiwa might get to uncover an ancient civilization, and save his mother all at once! Though, of course, it won’t be so easy…

Next time, we depart from the mission-based focus and get more into the psyche of the commanding officers, as well as the  lamentable romance subplot from this travesty of a story. And is that a love triangle I hear in the distance? Or could it be…a love square? Rhombus? Trapezoid? Idk. There’s four people in it. Next time is Chapter 8: The Hated Day.

Shameless plug: My book tour for my YA novel, I’m With You, is still ongoing! Check it out here: LINK! Plus, the ebook is only $1.99 or (£1.55) on Amazon Amazon UK. 

On Monday, we have another Manga Monday, this time about Full Moon O Sagashite by Arina Tanemura. I own the entire series, but I don’t think I ever finished reading it for some reason, so I’m looking forward to it!

 

Writing Rewind #10: Wings of Fate Chapter 7 Part 1

Whoo boy, we’re getting into the thick of things now! Last time, Heiwa was feeling discouraged about the mission until he met a mysterious girl on the deck of the UNMEI. Determined to help her, Heiwa has the bright idea to hide the girl in his room for the remainder of the mission, but inspection day is looming, which means the secret probably won’t last for long…

Let’s examine Wings of Fate Chapter 7: The Mission Revealed!

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe
Green highlight – switch/move

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Poor, poor Heiwa. Naturally, his plans have all gone to shit. But they don’t need to fall apart in such…wordy fashion. Time to take out the shears!

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Good lord, that sentence about Shirotaka in the closet is unbearable. “Brightly pigmented eyes” might be the most cringe-worthy phrase I’ve encountered in this piece thus far, which is saying a lot. Also, a lot can be chopped off and some other things can be reworked to improve the flow.

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Much slimmer, and it still gets the point across.

After the disastrous inspection, Shirotaka is whisked away and Heiwa gets sent to Sector One to meet with Major Tango, where he will presumably be assigned a punishment. But once he gets there, he encounters some trouble in the form of Major Leiter, who seems to be exactly as Daisuke described her. But when he asks for help, she doesn’t appear to be listening…

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Well. Major Leiter has quite a temper. And this passage has quite a few errors to fix!

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Major Leiter’s outburst and Heiwa’s shocked reaction don’t need to be so dense; it can be pared down and reworked to make it less clunky, while still giving insight into the type of person Major Leiter is.

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There – much cleaner! The interaction flows better and doesn’t have so much needless fluff. Honestly, I think half of this entire story is fluff… but regardless, let’s move on…

After his encounter with Major Leiter, a young woman offers to help Heiwa, but Major Tango is late meeting him and he starts to grow worried. Which means it’s time to shoe-horn in a surprise introduction!

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This is another interaction that doesn’t need to take freaking FOREVER TO GET THROUGH. I mean really. Really. Obviously, I intended the reveal of Tango’s identity to be a “super cool” moment, but when it drags on for ages, the moment loses some luster.

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UGH, THE CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS. Hair and eyes don’t need to be so DRAMATIC. Also, women as high-ranking officials shouldn’t be a shock anymore, so Heiwa’s reaction is a tad overblown, but I did write this as a high school freshman, so I’m giving myself some leniency here.

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There; the Tango reveal takes less time and some of the cringiness is gone forever, never to be seen again, while other bits have been reduced and spruced.

So, Major Tango takes Heiwa to his next destination… and do I catch the whiff of a romance subplot?

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WHY. DO. I. SPEND. SO. MUCH. TIME. DESCRIBING. MATTHIAS? WHYYYYYY????? *bangs head on desk* Seriously, he’s a cold dude – it’s obvious by now.  He’s basically the abominable snowman at this point, and we already have a pretty clear picture of his character, so it doesn’t need to be repeated OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

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So, there’s a lot of description to be removed here. And some general rephrasing, as well.

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So there we have it! Chapter 7 is a pretty dense one, so I’m halving it – this time, we get two new major characters, and next time, in Part 2, we finally find out what the mission of the UNMEI is! Over 50,000 words into it and we’re just now getting to the point. It’s been a bumpy ride, and trust me… it’s gonna get bumpier.

SIDENOTE: I’m taking my YA novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour later this month! Details HERE!

Writing Rewind #9: Wings of Fate Chapter 6

On the previous installment of Writing Rewind, Heiwa got into trouble with his superiors for spacing off during training aboard the UNMEI. Will he be able to get it together in this upcoming chapter? Nope! But will something dramatic and life-changing happen? Yes! Let’s dive into Wings of Fate Chapter 6: The Girl.

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe
Green highlight – switch/move

First off…

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That first bit and the last bit aren’t awful, but that middle section…. dear GOD. The shame I currently feel is insurmountable.

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More of the usual. Reworking and cutting out. And removing that entire atrocity in the middle. It is an entire paragraph of unnecessary dithering and a pitiful attempt at humor, and it must be DESTROYED.

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There; the chapter is still being set up, but it isn’t bogged down by pointless blabbering. No gingerbread houses. I don’t even know why I put that in there in the first place, considering I hate gingerbread.

Next up…

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So, Heiwa has continued to get in trouble with his commanding officers because he can’t stop spacing off during training. Honestly, at this point, it’s a bit ridiculous that he can’t focus when the situation calls for him to pay attention. I actually agree with his superiors – he needs a good smack upside the head.

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Lots to cut and lots to rework! This is still kind of a “set up” portion of the chapter, recapping the difficulties and frustrations Heiwa is having, but it still doesn’t need to be so long, since the real “meat” of the chapter hasn’t happened yet.

So here is the result…

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There; the fat has been trimmed, and the passage still conveys Heiwa’s irritation and impatience, as well as the concern his friends have for him.

And now… the real adventure starts…

So, to set up this part, Heiwa is out “swabbing the deck” as a punishment for his behavior, when all of a sudden, something, or someone, falls out of the sky…

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Alright! Things are getting real! Real ridiculous, that is…

Anyhow, this portion of the story is where Heiwa’s dream of “adventure” starts to come true, but this set up and description of the mysterious girl is still mega tedious and needs to be adjusted.

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These character descriptions can be so much more succinct and far less clunky, nor do eye colors needs to be mentioned seventeen thousand times. It’s an introduction, not her life story.  So the usual rework/trim, plus a sentence needs to be moved to another point in the passage.

And here is the fixed version:

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There; we’ve introduced our new character and got a physical description that’s a bit less wordy, so it doesn’t detract from the actual point of the chapter, which is the mystery of the girl, not what she looks like.

Next…

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Okay; clearly this girl is going to be tied to Heiwa’s thirst for adventure, but I think the reader can put those pieces together without it being stated outright.

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Okay, so I want to punch myself in the face for using the phrase “cloudy gray yonder” to describe the sky. That is a thousand different kinds of terrible.

Otherwise, it’s more of the same. Awkwardness needs to be addressed and needless words and sentences must face the axe.

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There – the changes help to improve the flow of Heiwa and the girl’s first interaction with one another, and Heiwa’s not monologuing about fairytales and such, since the reader can understand that well enough by the circumstances. And “cloudy gray yonder” is GONE, NEVER TO RETURN!

For our next selection, Heiwa has named the girl “Shirotaka” and has decided to sneak her inside the UNMEI and keep her in his dorm with Daisuke! Because that’s a great idea.

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I mean, Heiwa’s poor decision making skills aside, this portion could use some sprucing up. It’s not as bad as some previous segments, though, which I consider a tiny, near-minuscule victory.

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Dare I say, since I only pinpointed a few major changes, this section shows minor signs of improvement? Nope, it’s definitely just a fluke. The usual issues with awkwardness and wordiness are still popping up and must be fixed.

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There; for some reason, Daisuke agrees to Heiwa’s ridiculous plan in a less awkward and wordy fashion.

Lastly, after successfully smuggling food to their dorm for Shirotaka and Heiwa;s first night sleeping on the floor of his room, our heroes get a surprise the following morning…

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Ah, yes… how could the boys forget about Inspection Day? Because the plot demanded them to, so we could fabricate some suspense!

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Really not much to do with this portion either, at least compared to previous selections. The cringe is at a minimum! What a nice way to close out this post… but obviously, it’s not perfect and still needs some tweaking. What would one of my old passages be without some awkwardness to fix?

So, here’s the fixed version…

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And there we have it! Chapter six is at a close, and a new character has been admitted to our ranks. Next time, we’ll meet some majors… both officers and problems, that is. Will our brave heroes be able to keep Shirotaka hidden during their inspection? Probably not! But will her presence on the UNMEI be a vital key to discovering the secrets of the mission? Who knows, but the next chapter is called, “A Mission Revealed,” so I’m thinking it’s probably a safe bet that Shirotaka is somehow involved.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m taking my YA novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour with RABT Book tours at the end of August! Info HERE.

Top 10 Game of Thrones Supporting Characters

In the spirit of the new GoT season, I’ll be posting random Game of Thrones based posts throughout the run of season 7. 

This list only includes characters/actors who have not yet been billed with “starring” status, instead earning either “Guest” or “Recurring” status. Strangely enough, most of my favorite characters are classified as supporting, with the exception of The Hound and Jon.

WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones and all 5 ASOIAF books plus some speculation. 

All photo credit for this post goes to the Game of Thrones Wiki.

Beric_s6_infobox.jpgBeric DondarrionRichard Dormer
THE MAN HAS A FLAMING SWORD, WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? In all seriousness, Beric’s fight scene with Sandor in season 3 is one of my all-time favorite moments on the show, and his resurrection afterwards gives me chills every time. Beric has had a pretty small role thus far, but whenever he’s onscreen, he delivers an engrossing performance, and ultimately, I think he’s a good fellow for Sandor to be around and even though Sandor would never admit it, I do think Beric (and Thoros) have already influenced his mentality. If not having Lady Stoneheart on the show means more Beric, I am 100% okay with it. His bromance with Thoros of Myr is also pretty fantastic, and as one of the leaders of the Brotherhood Without Banners, Beric wants to defend the realm from those who prey on the weak and bring justice to those who have evaded it, but is also aware of a “greater purpose” which has drawn him and his merry band northward. Of course, that awareness likely means he’s going to meet his demise (for real this time) but if he does, I hope he goes out swinging that flaming sword and taking a chunk of the army of the dead down with him. Also, Dormer’s voice is amazing. I could listen to him narrate books or ramble on about literally anything for days.

Jaqen.pngJaqen H’gharTom Wlaschiha
I’m not ranking him on this list just because Tom Wlaschiha is a fine specimen of a man, but also because he effectively conveyed two different GoT characters, taking on both the eloquent, yet enigmatic Jaqen H’ghar in season 2 and the more somber, unnamed Faceless Man in seasons 5 and 6 (at least, I don’t think they’re the same person, just the same “face.”) However, it’s his initial appearance as the deadly smooth assassin that I found more engaging. His peculiar, but alluring style of speech (Lorathi), suave smirk, and his interactions with Arya make him a major highlight of season 2. Plus, when you think about it, Jaqen and his mysterious ways is the one who sets Arya on the path toward vengeance… however, we have yet to see if that was ultimately a good path for her to take.

Syrio_Forel.pngSyrio Forel – Miltos Yeromelou
Syrio has very little screen time and has not been seen since season 1 (I’m not 100% convinced he’s dead in the books, but in the show it seems more likely) but his impact was immense, and he had significant influence on Arya that persists long after his final scene. Yeromelou didn’t fit the physical description of Syrio from the novels, but he totally owned the role and delivered one of the more meaningful performances in season 1, especially since his mentoring continued to affect Arya well into the series. He was a legend with a sword and a stick, and planted the seeds for Arya’s desire to be a “water dancer.” I attempt to use “Not today,” in my everyday vernacular, now.

Waif6x08.pngThe WaifFaye Marsay
The Waif might not be a “good guy” and clearly bears a grudge against Arya, but even though she’s a somewhat “gray” character, I found Marsay’s portrayal pretty fascinating and I enjoyed her as part of Arya’s story-line, especially since her inclusion gave Arya someone to butt heads with besides Faceless Jesus. In particular, her Terminator-style running and total badassery with the stick was impressive to watch, as was her total mercilessness when it came to carrying out orders or tasks. One standout scene that comes to mind is when she is teaching Arya how to play the “Game of Faces,” and, after she spins her pretty convincing sob story, she demands, “Was that the truth, or was it a lie?” The Waif is mysterious, and also kind of terrifying – and her last climactic showdown with Arya was a fitting culmination for Arya’s journey in Braavos.

Oberyn-Martell-house-martell-37118334-2832-4256Oberyn MartellPedro Pascal
I’ve mentioned it in my “Best Episodes” post, but Oberyn’s speech in Mockingbird is one of my favorite monologues in the entire series. Pascal absolutely killed it as Oberyn and the character was a major highlight of season 4, and he basically set the bar for the Dorne portion of the story, which, unfortunately, has floundered a bit ever since (I do like Ellaria, and I don’t think the Sand Snakes are/were that terrible) but I still carry fond memories of his portrayal, and always look forward to re-watching season 4 and witnessing Oberyn’s verbal ownage of Tywin and Cersei, his pledge to help Tyrion and avenge the loss of his sister, and even his final, gruesome moments… admittedly, I always have to look away before it gets too gross. He was a nice contrasting perspective and brought a unique presence to a series full of so much doom and gloom, and though he’s been gone nearly 3 seasons now, he is still sorely missed.

Olenna_season_6_a.jpgOlenna TyrellDiana Rigg
The aptly named “Queen of Thorns” and her scathing, witty banter are also worthy of the moniker “Queen of Sick Burns.” From her very first appearance in season 3, Olenna Tyrell steals just about every scene she’s in with her hilarious insults (mostly to Cersei) and shrewd behind-the-scenes scheming, steamrolling over her opposition with the sheer strength of her wit, wisdom, and killer verbal smack-downs. I’d love to quote a favorite line from her but there are simply TOO MANY, but her interactions with Varys, Tywin, and Sersei are certainly highlights. She also literally has a hand in committing regicide, and yet, she shows such fierce devotion to her family (well… except maybe Mace) I’d still love to have her as a grandma. I am so TERRIFIED that she is going to die this season because I don’t think I will be able to handle it, but if she does… I hope she goes out in “thorny” fashion and takes some folks down with her.

Season_6_hodor_main.jpgHodorKristian Nairn
I think Hodor’s character is a sure example of “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” because I, like many other fans, was unraveled by his heartbreaking demise in the middle of season 6. For 5 seasons (6 technically, but his story-line was absent from season 5) Hodor has been Bran’s unfailing and uncomplaining companion, carrying Bran north toward his true purpose. He only ever had one line, but never said “Hodor” the same way twice – and Nairn was the absolute perfect actor for the role. He really put the “support” in “supporting character.” The “Hold the door!” revelation will go down as one of the saddest, and most heart-rending moments on the entire show, and even among all the major character deaths, Hodor’s was absolutely devastating; proof of how big of an impact his character had despite a relatively small role.

Aemonepisode5.pngMaester AemonPeter Vaughan
Though “Baelor” is a largely heartbreaking episode for a different reason altogether, the “Love vs Duty” scene between Jon and Maester Aemon where Aemon reveals his Targaryen heritage and how it felt to essentially lose his entire family is one of my favorite interactions across the entire series. Vaughan didn’t have a major role but he had a lasting impact, as he offered guidance to both Sam and Jon (and the Night’s Watch in general) that has had a profound effect on their character development. He had faith that Jon could be a great Lord Commander, casting the tie-breaking vote to put Jon in the position, and helped spark Sam’s interest in becoming a Maester. I got mega choked-up when Aemon died, uttering his heartbreaking last words of, “Egg… I dreamed that I was old!” and in his later seasons, I especially adored his interactions with Sams both big and little. It’s sad that his character never got to meet Dany, or know the truth about Jon’s heritage. And R.I.P. to Peter Vaughan – a marvelous actor who brought many great characters to life over his career, including Aemon Targaryen.

Barristan_Selmy_Sons_of_the_HarpyBarristan SelmyIan McElhinney 
Barristan Selmy’s dramatic (and wrongful) expulsion from the Kingsguard in season 1 is one of the earliest and most memorable badass moments from the show, especially when he tosses his sword at Joffrey’s feet and says, “Here, boy! Melt it down and add it to the others!” It’s just a glimpse of his legendary skill and proof of how revered he is within the realm, especially since Tywin later tells Cersei that dismissing him was “as insulting as it was stupid” and Jaime also comments on his ability (in the books he does, anyway). I was so pleased to see him again in season 3, aiding everyone’s favorite many-titled Dragon Queen on her quest to reclaim Westeros, and was so bummed out by his early demise in season 5. I’m not even that mad that they killed him, because the semantics of it make sense; they had to make more room for Tyrion to squeeze into Dany’s retinue and they have to pare down the cast as the episodes dwindle. It’s how they did it that bugged me. His death was an attempt at shock factor over quality, though the few brief moments we got to see Ian McElhinney’s sword skills were pretty glorious. However, the way his death was handled is one of the few complaints I’ve had over the entire series run, but I am glad they did bring him back after his dismissal from the Kingsguard instead of axing his story-line entirely.

Meera_Season_7.pngMeera ReedEllie Kendrick 
Honestly, I don’t think Meera gets nearly enough credit for what she’s done thus far in the series. She’s a fighter, but she isn’t emotionless or fearless; she’s struggled, but it hasn’t defeated her and she’s persisted in spite of the obstacles. She’s killed a White Walker and fended off the army of the dead. She had to mercy-kill her own brother to end his suffering and so she could carry out what he wanted her to, she had to witness Hodor’s dramatic end, she’s had to drag Bran through the snow and away from wights on a sled all by herself (her calves must be amazing by now) and she’s dedicated literal years of her life and essentially put her life on hold to journey north and live in a cave so Bran can become the Three-Eyed Raven. I think her exhaustion in the season 7 opener was a testament to everything she’s endured thus far, and I’m excited to see what happens to Meera’s character this season and next. Of all the characters who legitimately deserve a happy ending, Meera is definitely near the top of that list, and I also hope we get to meet her father, Howland, sometime in the next two seasons.

Writing Techniques: Multitasking

I’m going to admit this straight up; I cannot multitask. It is a persistent challenge for me.

I also don’t know how people can multitask. I’m not talking about multitasking in everyday life. Like, I can juggle laundry and chores with life stuff and all that…. on a good day, anyway. But I cannot do other things while I’m writing. Like, this is my screen right now:

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I’m watching a UK panel show while writing this blog post. As such, it is going to take me approximately 489 hours to finish this post, because I will inevitably watch something else after this video is done, which will reduce my writing pace to a crawl. And for maximum productivity, I have found that I cannot multitask like that if I want to accomplish anything.

I used to watch TV or Youtube or Netflix or whatever while I was editing or working on a manuscript, but I’ve come to realize that I can’t do that if I want to get things done. I end up paying too much attention to one thing and not enough to the other, and it flips back and forth and back and forth until it destroys my concentration. Even if I do manage to slog through an editing session while catching up on my stories, my attention is never focused 100% where it needs to be, which makes for less than satisfactory results. I can pop on some music to help fuel the inspiration; anything else and I’ll be working at a snail’s pace with frequent distractions. Some people might be able to multitask like that, or watch a movie while working on writing, but I cannot divide my attention in such a way and still produce my best work.

Multitasking by juggling multiple writing projects at the same time, however, is a different story – but still a challenge. Inspiration is fickle, and the well of ideas can run dry after being dipped into too often. For example, I currently have a primary project that is in the revising/pre-query stage, but there are times where I feel burnt out on it; like all my motivation is spent and I can’t muster the right level of attention needed to achieve my best work.

To combat this, I can’t throw myself into a massive new project – if I do that, I’ll get too focused on something new, and alas, I am not an octopus capable of extending eight limbs to divide my efforts in multiple directions. When motivation starts to fray, I either walk away for a bit to clear my head, or I’ll draft out some blog posts. Sometimes, to help encourage myself to return to that main project, I’ll jot down some freewrites about the characters to examine situations in a different way, especially when I hit a wall and don’t know which way to take a particular plotline. Sometimes I’ll re-imagine a scene from a different perspective, to gain new insight on characters and relationships. Occasionally, I’ll work on preliminary stages or snippets for a new project, but I won’t go too in-depth with it – just the framework, to try and get creative juices flowing again. It’s like being a spider with multiple webs, but more work is put into fortifying one web until it is complete, while the others come together at a different pace.

Even if I am juggling multiple projects at once, which is generally the case, the majority of my focus remains on one of those projects… the danger of multitasking can stretch my attention too thin, and have a negative impact on my writing. I do wonder how other writers deal with multitasking – it might be a challenge for me, and effortless for another. But I do know for sure that if I want to do my best, I need to put emphasis on focus, and must minimize potential distraction in any way possible.

SIDE NOTE: I’m taking my novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour via RABT book tours next month! Stay tuned for updates!