Thoughts on The Winds of Winter

winds-of-winterAre there spoilers at this point? No! Read away!

On New Year’s Day, George R.R. Martin dropped this literary bomb on his readers (here).  Boom! And you can still feel the aftereffects of the explosion reverberating over the comments and fansites even today.

Yes, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series will not be out before the next season of Game of Thrones. Which means the show will pass the book, spoiling what George had planned to do in the rest of the series.  Jon Snow, your death secret is about to come out!

Let me get this out of the way… I never saw the book series as perfect. I know, I know, heresy! Blasphemy! String this guy up and call in the silent sisters to take away the corpse! But the fact is that while I found the first two books very solid, things started to come apart for me during the third book and then came the mess that was the fourth book (let’s not talk about it… okay, we probably will in a bit). The fifth book tried to recover the problems, and it was fun to read the first time, but when you finish the giant tome, you realize how little went on for so, so, so many pages.

Okay, I got that out of the way.

Now, I’ve read all the books, including his giant history about the world of Westeros. AND I’ve given people copies of the books and DVDs of the show for presents. Heck, just this Christmas I gave my dad an Iron Throne Christmas ornament. (Thank you Target for finding such a unique way to celebrate the holidays!) So it’s a love-hate relationship. I truly respect the creativity behind the series, and his surprises get me each time, but I also question a lot of the storytelling decisions he takes, especially as he continues to expand his world beyond the lands actually threatened by the terrors behind the Wall. Continue reading

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Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

Gender-Swapping: Some Writing Tricks for Taking on the Other Sex

GendersDuring my blog tour for Permanent Spring Showers (my last novel) I had an interesting question from a reader. It really inspired this post.

Here is the quote:

I always am amazed when a man writes from a woman’s perspective or a woman writes from a man’s perspective so convincingly. I was wondering how the author found writing from the opposite sex’s POV.

I don’t want to claim I’m an expert on this. That would be naive, because truly no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes (or high heels), but I’ve experience doing this in my books and I have some tricks that work for me.

In my new book, I have a few female main characters (including one that has diary entries); and there is my book Megan which is entirely one afternoon in one woman’s life. So if you are thinking of writing a work where the “other” gender is the main POV, well, maybe my advice can help.

Oh yeah, and I’m the dude who wrote an entire book with Jane Austen as the main character… Again, not saying I know everything, but… come on! Jane Austen! That gives me some cred, right? I mean… freaking Jane Austen!?! Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2015

kids-bike-16-inchYesterday, I got to have one of those dad moments. It is so cliche, it could be used in a TV commercial (and probably has been), but there is a reason for it. It is a great feeling.

I got to teach my son how to ride a bike.

We went to our local park that has a smooth cement trail around it. After a few falls and nervousness, he was up and going, and there I was huffing and puffing to try and keep up.

Yeah, I could go on about the symbolism of the kid finally being able to race away from the dad, leaving the early years behind, but I’m not in that frame of mind. If anything this has opened a whole new world of possibility for us. I look forward to taking him on different trails in our area, finding new bike paths to explore. In other words, my summer just got a lot more interesting.

What is also interesting is that most of what I mention below is all done while sitting down. My Fitbit would probably be disappointed by my list this month, actually. But I listen to it enough, so I think it is all fine. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Season Four of HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, Season 4This post contains A LOT of spoilers for those who have not read the book… or watched the show… or listened to a podcast… or went on the internet… or opened a magazine… or merely breathed entertainment over the last three years. 

I had serious misgivings around watching season four of Game of Thrones. (I even wrote about it last year in this post.) See, for me it all came down to the Red Wedding. When I read the book, I was furious. Robb Stark was always my favorite character in the book. Part of it is because we only saw him through other characters and he would have these moments of weakness, showing the boy behind the sword.

Then the Red Wedding happened and it didn’t matter what I thought.

Jump forward a few years and we get the Red Wedding on the show, a show where they always like to take the brutality of George R.R. Martin and times it by ten. How did they do it on the show? Why kill a pregnant woman first… by stabbing her in her belly.

Damn HBO.

Anyway, I was offered free HBO for three months and decided to jump in. Honestly, the main driving force for me in watching this season (or merely starting it) is I wanted to see King Joffrey get axed.

Supposedly, the actor who plays Joffrey is really nice and is actually retiring from acting to work in nonprofits. Anyway, I still wanted to see the character die, it wasn’t personal at him. If anything he should be rewarded for making me hate him so much.

The thing that was the most shocking about this season for me—more than the deaths and abundant nudity and other stuff I will get into below— was the fact the writing was soooo much better. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2014

UmbrellaSpring should be a time of rebirth, new things to discover. It’s one of the reasons that the summer blockbusters start in this month and Easter is filled with eggs and rabbits. Yet, when I look over my list I notice that much of it is filled with… well… old stuff.

Maybe this says something about me?

Or maybe I just need to stop psychoanalyzing myself?

I do it a lot, of course, but everyone that has a blog does. We are a collection of little self-therapists, the only difference is the world gets access to the notepad. And can comment on it.

Well, speaking as my own therapist, I see on this list a sonic piece of detective comfort food, a need for silly humor, a demon I can’t escape, a cartoon for the kiddies, and a CD that always puts a smile on my face. My diagnosis is that it is a something like a call for Spring, but a comforting one. So maybe I am almost on the right page, just not quite.

Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2013

HalloweenEvery year around this time I always wish I had musical talent. Why? Because Halloween is a surefire money opportunity for a creative songwriter.

See, across this country, from kids to adults, people have Halloween parties, but there is no real Halloween music to play. Oh, there is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and the awful “Monster Mash,” but what is there after that? Dance remixes of famous horror movie themes?… That’s not good enough!

And that is when an enterprising music genius steps in.

You make a CD that is family friendly, has some fun danceable tracks (maybe comes with its own dance move), add enough references to Halloween memories to stir a heartfelt response (think any classic Christmas song, most are built around memories) and you will be cashing a big check once a year for decades to come.

Sadly, I don’t have music talent and the extent of my songwriting skills only brings up corny titles like “I Want My Mummy” and “Do the Frankenstein Shuffle.” That is just embarrassing. It is even more embarrassing because I am literary enough to know Frankenstein is the doctor not the monster.

Sigh.

Here are the five things I am into this month… Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Fan Fiction

BooksThere is a beautiful safety in books. In that time, when you are in a great novel, your focus is clear, and reality can gracefully slips away, leaving you to play in the imagination of the author. You walk with the characters, you explore the land, you fall in (and out of) love, and when the book is closed, a bit of you feels lost, returning to the too real world.

The sad thing is that when you return to a book again it is never the same. That initial spark is diminished. This is because the surprises are gone, and with each additional reading it slips more and more; until it is nothing more than words on paper, something to be almost merely analyzed. It is a memory now, a glimmer of that first magical escape.

The fact is I understand the desire to create fan fiction. As a lover of books and an author, I truly do.

It’s hard to let go, move on, especially if you want more than what the author wanted to give to you. It can feel like an early death, especially when there is so much more to live. And maybe it is that book, that author, that inspired you to write yourself! Your inspiration driven from a need for more and more.

The problem is at the heart of every piece of fan fiction there is one bit of truth, one thing the fan fiction author doesn’t want to consider:

It is not their decision whether the story continues or not.

They are not the author and only the original author should make that call. Continue reading

Re-post- To Watch or Not to Watch: The Conundrum of Season 3 of Game of Thrones

I don’t want to say “I told you so” to fellow Game of Thrones fans who didn’t read the books… But… “I told you so.” Everyone right now is talking about the Red Wedding and how brutal and cruel it was. In this post, I talk about how the event impacted my reading of the series. Honesty, I feel like it created problems with the series that have yet to be fixed.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Game of Thrones_Season ThreeMassive spoilers are ahead the size of the dragon Drogon for those who have not read the series by George R.R. Martin or watched the HBO series. You’ve been warned.

I am fan of the shadow of Game of Thrones.

What that means is I love the show and books in spirit, but in actual execution it is all a little bit more… well… shadowy. Imagine me as Peter Pan racing up the wall trying to get me hands on my shadow but it is just out of my reach and very dark. But I have to have it! It might complete me!

Now before you judge me, I’ve paid my Westeros dues (in Gold Dragons, of course). I’ve read all the books, I’ve seen the first two seasons of the show. Heck, I even own the first two seasons of the show on Blu-Ray (ordering both before they were actually…

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Writers, why does everything need to be a series?

This is your new book, be gentle with it...Like a seed, a book idea begins small. So very small. Maybe it is a flash of an image, or maybe it is a question that needs to be answered. Whatever the case, it grows and grows until finally a novel emerges fully grown.

Yes, I consider writing and creating a very organic experience. And when I am done with a book, I’m happy to have one “tree.”

So I can’t help wondering why do so many writers today want to grow a forest?

 

Book One: By chance or fate the heroes meet

It was last year that I began really reaching out to other writers on Twitter. The thing that surprised me the most (besides the sheer number of all of us), is how many are focused on writing a series.

Paranormal, scifi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, romance (the innocent to the definitely NOT innocent at all), historical fiction, adventure, etc., some are even a combination of genres; but whatever the case they are never a solo book. Traditionally published, indie published, to self-published, everyone seems to be on the series train.

Choo Choo! Continue reading