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This post will contain spoilers for The Walking Dead which aired November 6th, 2016. If you haven’t seen the episode, turn back now!

Last night The Walking Dead took us along for the ride with Daryl and his adventures with Negan. These adventures include being locked in a dark closet and tortured with super happy music all day. Sometimes Dwight, (also known as Burned Face Guy,) would take Daryl for a stroll in the yard, which consists of a big cage full of zombies and prisoners. The Savior’s main compound is big and prison-like, but if Daryl is a good boy and decides to join Negan, he’ll get a studio apartment including a bed, chair, kitchen, and even a TV so that he can watch himself on The Walking Dead. (I know they probably have a DVD player or something, but it was funny to see the TV in that room.)

We did get to learn a little bit more about Negan. He’s just as crazy as he first appeared, a real tyrant ruling over his army of loyal ants. How loyal are those ants, exactly? We also learned what happened with Dwight and his wife Sherri after her sister Tina died in the woods and they betrayed Daryl. This came via tell instead of show, where the villain gets to share a customary evil bad-guy speech.

Tina was supposed to be Negan’s fiancé, but she didn’t want to marry him. He was just being a nice guy allowing her to marry him so that she wouldn’t have to work so hard for her insulin anymore. Of course, Tina didn’t like that idea and the three of them ran off. Tina was eaten by zombies; Dwight and Sherri stole Daryl’s crossbow and motorcycle and returned to Negan. In order to save her husband, Sherri married Negan and Dwight worked himself up to being a big dog in the Savior’s army. Of course, he still had to have his face ironed. That’s unfortunate.

If we base the timeline of The Walking Dead on the age of Judith, who is still a baby under a year old, all of this has happened in the span of maybe one or two months. Negan is way more forgiving than expected! It’s fine that they didn’t spend a whole episode hanging with Sherri and Dwight, because last season had a lot of other important things going on. This type of storytelling is lesser than if we’d seen it happen, do we really care about Dwight and Sherri when they are torturing Daryl, who we all know and care about already? I’m guessing we’ll get to spend more time with Sherri and Dwight before it’s all done, but at this point, it’s their fault for returning to Negan instead of going with Daryl to Alexandria.

Also, I’m not the only one thinking “There is only one Negan vs. many unhappy people.” No matter how many people claim to be Negan, there is only one. As the escaped guy told Dwight, if there was an uprising he would be screwed. Too bad Dwight doesn’t seem to be the leader they need, not yet, anyway.

The leader they do need is Daryl.

Last night’s episode was another great look at the characterization from a fan favorite. Daryl is a prime example of how strong characterization can not only shape a story, but uphold it through dark times.We watch him take his torture silently, with that same stoicism we’ve all come to know. Even in the midst of fear, he still takes the opportunity to try to escape, reminding us of his resilience and confidence in his skills. Sherri begs him to go back, but he won’t, because he believes he can get away. After being recaptured, and forced to listen to Elvis crooning about loss, he finally lets it all out. I think, however; that just helped him grow stronger. Sometimes you just need a good cry.

We watch him take his torture silently, with that same stoicism we’ve all come to know. Even in the midst of fear, he still takes the opportunity to try to escape, reminding us of his resilience and confidence in his skills. Sherri begs him to go back, but he won’t, because he believes he can get away. After being recaptured, and forced to listen to Elvis crooning about loss, he finally lets it all out. I think, however; that just helped him grow stronger. Sometimes you just need a good cry.

Daryl knows what is at stake, but he won’t give up, and this is something we’ve seen from him since the first season. He could have turned against the group after Meryl was lost, but he stuck by them and continued to survive. When Negan asks him “Who are you?” he answers “I’m Daryl,” because he knows who he is at the core; he doesn’t need a false identity to know what he’s capable of.

Daryl is a true survivor, which probably isn’t true for a lot of Negan’s followers.

 

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“Jokes on you, shit sandwich was always my favorite.”

 

Negan lets him live. Why? Negan is building his character for us as well. Yes, he’s a crazy man with a baseball bat, but he’s also smart. He was smart enough to see the weaknesses in people and build the Saviors around fear. He also knows that there is only one Negan, which is why he’s trained his soldiers to say “I’m Negan.” By giving them a new and shared identity, he’s making them feel part of something bigger, pushing back against possible rebellion.

Those who do not wish to live under the tyranny of the Saviors need someone like Daryl, but Negan also needs Daryl. Killing him would be easy, but breaking him would prove a point to those witnessing the process.

If Negan’s soldiers can see a man like Daryl break down and change, then any misgivings they have about Negan will be quelled. It’s a dangerous game, and one I don’t think Negan will win, at least not in the way he wants. Daryl is walking a very fine line. Either he needs to start gaining support from Dwight and Sherri and others, or he’s probably going to die. A crazy man only has so much patience.

At the very end, Daryl makes his first move with Dwight. He understands. Dwight had to think about someone else, so he gave up. Daryl says that’s why he can’t, and at first it may seem like he’s saying “I don’t have anyone else to think of,” but I actually think this means the opposite. He has a lot of people to think about, everyone at Alexandria, and he can’t become a Savior because he can’t turn on them, even if it costs him his life. Again, this is the same characterization we’ve seen from Daryl before. He had an opportunity before to join a villainous group, but he can’t and he won’t.

Other thoughts:

Poor zombie nerd guy might have been a good ally if he knew about Daryl.

Sherri is in a prime position to do bad things to Negan, like poison or a knife to the throat if she has the guts and opportunity. Andrea never did with the Governor, but we don’t know Sherry very well.

Speaking of Sherri, I bet she’s going to be one of the first to rebel and possibly die.

Thanks for reading! If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

A new version of Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves is now available on Amazon. After receiving feedback through reviews that there were some typos and formatting errors, I re-edited the book and updated both the Kindle and paperback versions.

I also reworked the cover to be a darker. You can see the difference below.

 

Now that I’ve done this with Book One, I’m going to go ahead and do the same for Book Two. I haven’t received any feedback on Book Two yet, but I figure it’s just for good measure.

The nice thing about being an indie author is that we can take feedback and use it to improve our books. An example of this is how Andy Weir, author of The Martian, listened to the feedback of his readers and improved the story by making the science realistic. Because of that, he was able to reach his target audience, and eventually the world. If he had just said, “Yeah, well, this is just science fiction, so what if the chemistry is a little off? Most people won’t know,” things could have turned out very different.

Even if we do not achieve that type of success in our own writing, we can all use constructive feedback and turn it into a positive result. The goal is to always be improving. None of us are masters at our craft.

Thank you for reading and if you have anything to add, please feel free to in the comments.

Darkness Falling: Soldiers and Slaves

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UK

CA

AU

I was tagged to do this sunshine game again. This time by Elle Karma. That means it’s different questions with new answers, so not exactly the same.

The way this game works is you answer eleven questions, nominate eleven people, and ask eleven questions. Okay, well, I’m kind of a hermit and re-nominating the same writers over and over isn’t for me. If you would like to nominate yourself to answer my questions, feel free! Then you can pass it along to others if you choose.

Here are the questions posed by Elle:

How many cups of coffee/tea/adult beverage must you consume to effectively write?

I do not require beverages to write. A cup of coffee or tea is nice to have, but not necessary. I do not drink adult beverages, because I have a very strong sense of taste and the alcohol overpowers me. I drink a lot of water, at least 64 oz a day.

What genre best describes your personality?

As much as i want to say something cool like fantasy, sci-fi, or maybe even mystery….. I’m going to have to go with self-help. I’m really good at being enthusiastic and cheering people on, but if I actually help them in any way isn’t clear.

If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., what would it be and why?

I feel no ill will to any state in particular. They call remain part of the Union…. for now….

A penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

The penguin would say, without taking a breath, “What do you mean my doctor wants me to be seen for my diabetes? I know my blood test was really high, (and has been for the last 5 years,) but I wasn’t fasting. I already know everything about diabetes because I took a class in 1982, and I’m sure that absolutely no new research or information could help me. Also my doctor said this was free, but now you’re telling me it’s not free? What? Everything your doctor recommends is automatically free. Isn’t that how healthcare in the USA works? You’re going to tell my doctor I’m not going to schedule? Now, hang on, hang on. I didn’t say I wouldn’t schedule. What do you have available?”

This is my life…..

If Tolkien and Austen were to have a Rap Battle, who would win? Why?

They’re both great, but Tolkien came up with his own language, so I’m going to have to say he would win. (Sorry, Jane!)

What is your honest opinion on garden gnomes?

I love garden gnomes. They are that wonderful combination of creepy and cute all in one little ceramic package. I hope to have my own collection, but currently have none.

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‘You’re not afraid of little old me, are you?”

If you had to create a horocrux, what object would you use and where would you hide it?

My hororcrux would probably be a garden gnome dressed as a clown and hidden in a den of immortal spiders. That way it would be far too terrifying for anyone to try and get it.

What footwear do you typically wear while writing?

I usually wear shoes. If not shoes, then slippers or socks. Regardless, however; I always am wearing skin.

Do you shower before you start your day or shower before bed?

Yes.

If you could be any kind of sandwich, what would you be?

Because of that very strong sense of taste, I don’t like mixing too many foods together. Sandwiches are mostly the enemy. I do like peanut butter and jelly, though. Or maybe grilled cheese. I would be one of those, probably, but…. being a sandwich seems somewhat terrifying.

If you’re the kind of person who actually responds to challenges when tagged on Twitter, why do you feel compelled to respond?

I am compelled to respond because it helps build community, even though I’m a hermit. This goes back to that whole self-help book thing.

Questions for Those Who Want Them
  1. If you’re a writer, what is your main character’s favorite color? If not, what is your favorite fictional character.s favorite color? (Make a guess anyway.)
  2. What animal do you prefer to see as a fictional character?
  3. Based on personality, if you were one of these fictional characters, which would you be: Elf / Dwarf / Hobbit / Goblin / Orc?
  4. If you could wear outfits from any time period, (even to work or school!) which would you choose?
  5. Cosplay – for or against?
  6. What is your favorite midnight snack?
  7. If you ever became an eccentric (or are one currently) what would be your best quirk?
  8. If you don’t know the words to a song do you improvise? If so, what is a funny one you can share?
  9. Where would you go in a time machine? Would you stay?
  10. With a scary movie do you prefer monsters or real life suspense and why?
  11. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, or other?

Okay, that’s all of my questions. Have fun if you decide to answer them! You can either tag me on Twitter @RRWillica to let me know you answered, or you can link back to this post. If you choose not to do either, I’ll never know.

S. Hunter-Nisbet tagged me for this game so I will be answering her questions, as that is how this game is played. After I will tag some other people with my own questions.

And now for the lightning round… or… sunshine round….

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Dost thou speaketh any other languages? If so, what is thine go-to phrase when people say “Ooh, say something in that language!”

I used to take French in high school. Do I speak French? No, not really. Can I understand French? If spoken very slowly, then yes. I can also read it a little bit with some effort.

My go to phrase is “le chien gonfle” which pretty much means “the dog inflated.” (It’s a long story….)

Hast thine car ever run out of gas? What did you do?

Yes, I did run out of gas once. I was living in Phoenix at the time and pregnant. I had picked up my brother-in-law from work and due to terrible traffic we ran out of gas on the very crowded highway. It was terrible. Luckily a truck that helps stranded motorists discovered us and gave us enough gas to get to the nearest station.

Didst thou go to university, and what was thy major or focus?

I did not go to university but I attended two years of community college and focused on psychology, art, and theater. Many years later I attended vocational school to be a medical administrative assistant.

You may wonder why I didn’t focus on English. I’ll just say I was very arrogant and after scoring the highest possible scores on the entrance exams at the college for English, I figured I knew what I needed to know.

What is thine starter Pokemon?

This is a tough question because I never played Pokemon but my kids do, and a lot of the little creatures are really cool. I guess I would choose a fire Pokemon like Fennekin or Tepig. Or maybe an Eevee because they evolve into so many different types.

Black thumb, or digit of greenest emerald?

Black thumb. Plants do not scream or cry if they need something, and so they die.

In a world where thy eyebrows were, in fact, long enough to reach the brim of thine hat, dost thou trim them or let them be ala Gandalf?

This all depends on the current fashion. Although I usually do not fit in with current fashion when it comes to my appearance. My conclusion would be I would be opposite of whatever people find stylish at the time.

What was the first chapter book thou ever read, and why?

I have no idea. I have read so many books and the very first is long ago and far away. I can say that the first “grown up” book I read was The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King.

How many poems can thou recite at will?

Only one and only one stanza.

I
When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

Soliloquy Of The Solipsist

Sylvia Plath

If I say we must do something for the good of the many, not the few, thy answer will be:

Probably. This is a dystopia, isn’t it?

What is knee high by the fourth of July?

The corn, I believe….

Okay, so that ends the questions. Now for the tagging part…. (I am not good at this part.) 

The (un)lucky persons will be: D. M. Newlun and… Bridget who tagged me before for a similar game.

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“Answer me these questions three…. err… ten…”

  1. What is your all time favorite book?
  2. What is your favorite genre to read/write?
  3. If you could be any type of mythical creature, what would you be?
  4. Do you play video games and if so what type?
  5. Have you ever visited another country?
  6. Do you have any pets?
  7. Do you enjoy cooking? What is the best dish you can make?
  8. Where would you go on a dream vacation?
  9. How many books are on  your bookshelf (or reading device)?
  10. Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Thus ends the Sunshine Game. And now for the valuable prizes. (Actual prizes are imaginary. Imaginary prizes are not valid in all locations. If you cannot think of an imaginary prize, that is very unfortunate.)

Windbound

This is an unsolicited and unbiased review.

Windbound is a very short novella set in an unnamed island in Greece. It follows the tale of Armynta and her best friend Sofia. They are both locals to the island and also happen to be sirens. All manner of mythological sea people exist in the world including mermaids and sea witches. All together, these people are termed Neptunians, and although they look human, but they are not.

The Positives

  • Interesting Premise
  • Fast Paced
  • Good tension building
  • Believable characters

From the story’s opening, I expected it to contain more romance. I was wrong. This story is more suspenseful. Told in first person narrative, you find yourself following Armynta on the way to meet a date from classmate named Kostas. To her dismay, her friend Sofia has enthralled him with siren song to get revenge on Armynta for a previous disagreement.

The conflict between Armynta and Sofia feels genuine for two teenage girls who are squabbling over differences in opinion and boys. Armynta goes so far as to say Sofia is both her best friend and her nemesis.

The story also explores ideas behind tourism and the effect it has on the local population. Armynta and Sofia both see the tourists as outsiders. Armynta admonishes Sofia for enthralling a local boy instead of a tourist, but at the same time respects that tourists are also people and should not be used for ill gain. Alternately, Sofia sees no ham in using her powers on tourists or the locals because they are all humans and the island should belong to the Neptunians.

Sofia is not the antagonist, however; and the real issue is a Hunter. The Hunter is a human who knows a way to suppress the siren song. Although Armynta and Sofia are forced to deal with the Hunter, we do not learn the full story behind his presence on the island because this is part of a series.

My Notes

  • Typos
  • Errors in sentence structure
  • Inconsistent Tone

There are quite a few typos and errors in the story, such as odd sentence structure and word use. The story is still understandable, but it’s clear that a few more editing passes could help.

Sometimes I wondered if the errors were on purpose to give Armynta an accent, but if that was the case it wasn’t used consistently. That is why I felt as if they were errors rather than tone.

Despite the errors, I did enjoy the story and was able to read without difficulty. It was a quick and fun story to read and I will consider reading more books in the series.

I give Windbound 3 Stars!

Three Star

If you would like to read the book you can find it here on Amazon.

This post contains spoilers from Fear the Walking Dead on May 15, 2016. If you have not seen the episode, come back later.

The key to good storytelling is consistency.

It’s similar to a muffin. In every little bite you expect there to be a little bit of soft bread, and a little bit of blueberries, chocolate chips, or whatever. You don’t suddenly expect there to be a pebble or a puff of flower. Last night’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead was a pebble.

I have a lot of issues with the episode and they all are rooted in the inaction of season one. It’s easy to forget that the survivors in Fear the Walking Dead were sheltered for a good portion of time at the start of the zombie apocalypse. How long they were under the protection of the National Guard wasn’t really clear. We were thrown forward in time from the first night of chaos to an unspecified date. If we calculate time based on the facts that we know, it was long enough for the army to cut down several hundred thousand zombies (LA is huge, and the streets were empty once they took Travis out on patrol.) They also set up a highly functional medical quarantine where the very important “we’re all infected” fact was learned.

The first time Travis was taken out of the quarantine, he didn’t understand what really happened out in the world. There was a scene where the soldiers attempted to get him to shoot a zombie waitress from long range, and Travis is confused by the ordeal. The first real encounter with the dead is when Salazar released them from the stadium during the rescue of Nick. From there they ran straight to Strand’s house, were forced to say goodbye to Chris’ mom, and boarded the Abigail. The end of season one and the start of season two happen on the same day.

This is important because we have been with our survivors every step of the way from that point. The number of times they have encountered zombies has been limited. 1) The island with the crazy family. 2) The beach with the wreck of Flight 462. 3) Some random floaters. 4) Nick’s walk to Luis’ house. 5) Zombie pirate. You can list them on one hand!

Yet last night the survivors get into a scuffle with the zombie church goers from the top of the show. The scene adds to the confusion with these free range zombies hanging out where they died.. We all know how easily walkers get distracted. Maybe the poisoning had just happened. It’s hard to say because of the order in which the episode was run. Church. Avoiding the border patrol. Then back to the church. Sure, I guess it could have happened shortly before they arrived.

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“The power of Christ compels you!”

That’s another thing; the border patrol. We’ve been building up all season to get past them for what? This plot point which has been a driving point for much of the season was completely useless. We didn’t even see the exchange (or lack thereof) go down. The only thing we got out of it was getting rid of another throw away character that never needed to exist in the first place due to his not adding very much to the plot at all. He was a “saving grace” to get our cast out of a corner with the pirates, that was all. Adios, Luis, we hardly knew you.

At the church, our highly sheltered survivors battle the fresh zombies, easily stabbing them in the head with relative ease. They’re acting like pros when they are not. Their intimidation level is way too low for the lack of time spent in danger. To go along with this, when Nick is talking to Cecelia about how he’s “so tired of the killing” it’s a head scratching moment. Sure, we’ve seen some death, and yes, I can see people being scared and not wanting more people to die, that’s not the issue. It’s traumatizing, and I don’t doubt he wants to be safe. The real issue was the way in which he delivered the line. He said it like Rick, or Maggie, or Michonne. It doesn’t add up.

I admit that writing a series is hard. It’s easier for The Walking Dead because they already have strong source material. Fear the Walking Dead is having a case of the prequel blues. It’s based on the fuzzy, mysterious world building that birthed The Walking Dead, but it’s missing the point of being a prequel. It went from prequel to “we’re just going to see what’s happening in another part of the world.” That’s fine, of course, but it still takes place in the past. The characters need to be learning what we already know, and there is a fine line to walk between moving too slowly for the audience, and moving too fast for the characters. Right now this show is struggling with the latter.

This is why spending time in the early days of the apocalypse would have been better. We moved these characters from “early days” into “a lot of bad has already happened.” It feels as if the show is trying to recreate the confusion Rick felt after waking up in the hospital. I’m going to tell you now that it can’t be done, especially for long-time fans. It can’t be done for the new fans at this point, either, because of the inaction of season one. It would have been more interesting to watch them deal with things before anyone knew anything. (And I’m not talking about the confused mush that we were given.)

Another big issue with last night’s episode is with Chris. He’s gone from timid kid feeling guilty about letting pirates onto the boat to a psychopath wanting to murder his step-family.

What?

Yes, Chris is suffering trauma, but this is an unexpected turn, and not in the mind blowing “oh my god, why didn’t I see it coming?” type of way. What was his motivation for this twist? Madison not believing that Pirate Reed was about to turn, and that’s why he shot him. Okay, so she doesn’t believe him one time and now the best answer is murder?

Is there a possibility that Chris could make a turn toward this type of behavior? Sure. Does it make sense that it happens right now? Nope. The primary reason it doesn’t is because only two episodes ago he was hesitating to kill possibly innocent strangers. Suddenly turning on one of the few people with whom he has an attachment in the entire world doesn’t fit his character at this point. It could eventually. But right now is too soon.

Chris’ character arc is now suffering from what I consider “Anakin Syndrome.” That’s basically when you want to showcase how a character turns to the Dark Side but have completely goofed up in their development. They are too caring, just, friendly, or innocent in their behaviors when suddenly, out of the blue, they massacre a village full of Sand People.

Using the “annoyed with authority” trope is exactly what happened to Anakin (and a big reason why the Star Wars prequels are terrible.) It seems to be what’s happening to Chris. Madison’s concern of Chris’ behavior is plausible, and the fact that she overreacts to everything is annoying, sure. At the same time, Chris killing Pirate Reed could be a tiny first step in the direction of antagonist, rather than the flying leap he is making.

My last thoughts are on Cecelia. I want to call her Evil Hershel. The Abigail compound in Baja is reminiscent of the Greene Farm; picturesque, self-sufficient, and housing zombies. The big difference here is that Cecelia doesn’t think there could be a cure. She’s fully accepted that the zombies are dead. They’re just, you know, like any other ancestor spirit except we can see them.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about the beliefs of the dead in Mexico much farther than the celebration of the Day of the Dead. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the beliefs include the idea that our ancestors are just beyond our field of vision trying to rip our guts out for a snack. The fact that she’s totally okay with her dead family becoming flesh eating monsters is disturbing, even more than Hershel hoping for a cure. At least they keep them locked up, I guess. The real creepy, possible psychopathic killer in the episode (other than Cecelia, obviously,) is the little boy who feeds the zombies a live puppy and doesn’t blink an eye. Our survivors need to keep an eye on that guy.

Next week is the mid-season finale. What consequences will our survivors be able to bring the show back level before the break? Maybe we’ll find out next week but with this show, who knows!

 

If you have not seen the episode of Fear the Walking Dead on 5/8/16 please come back later, because this post contains spoilers!

This weeks’ episode of Fear the Walking Dead took a few big steps backward in the realm of storytelling. Last week’s episode the Abigail was overrun by pirates. They didn’t have eye patches or hooks for hands, but they did have guns and a pregnant lady for bait. Travis and Alicia were captured and taken to the pirate base. Travis was supposedly chosen because he’s a mechanic. Alicia was chosen because “boy meets girl, bad decisions follow.” Later Luis, fellow henchmen to Strand, made quick work of some of the pirates with a gun while Madison took a moment to impale the dread pirate Reed with a sharp something.

This week we’re on the move and Madison takes control of the Abigail, insisting that they have to rescue Travis and Alicia. Luis reveals that only has money enough for two people to cross the border, which he tells to Strand in Spanish while in the presence of Salazar. Smooth move, Luis. Also, it seems some idiots still care about money in the apocalypse. Maybe, just maybe, only the US was hit with the hordes of zombies? Who knows if we’ll find out before the season ends. Maybe Luis just hasn’t gotten the word yet that no one cares and is focusing on what he knows.

The episode moves along and the goal is met, although not without consequences for next week.

Today I want to talk about Alex (who I previously thought was named Charlie? Actually, getting her name wrong only proves my point in the following discussion.)

Alex shows up at the pirate base. Last we saw her she was floating away on a raft. In the caged of the base is where Travis is being held prisoner, while Alicia is being trained to mark ships for attack by her new BFF. Alex wants to tell Travis the tale of everything that happened to her and the burned boy (who I think is named Jake, maybe I’m wrong there, too,) after Strand cut them lose. First they ran out of water. Then she watched Jake die. Finally, she pushed him into the ocean because there was no way to prevent him from turning. The pirates picked her up and she told them everything she could about the Abigail in search of revenge.

That’s a great story. It has all of the elements of being very emotionally jarring. It’s too bad that no one cares.

Why don’t we care? Well, quite frankly, who is Alex? She was a character on Flight 462, which was “special bonus content” that popped up during commercial breaks of The Walking dead. You could watch them online. Each “episode” was about a minute long. The only people who know Alex and may care at all watched all of these mini-episodes. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see all of them. This is making your audience do homework to care about characters who are otherwise irrelevant.

What if you had to go to the bathroom during the commercials? Maybe you fast forward through commercials, just like most people. What if you didn’t remember or care about Flight 462 and never bothered to watch it on the AMC website or YouTube? This is lazy storytelling, to assume your character knows things that were a “bonus.” It’s like a surprise essay on your final based on your professor’s favorite song that is only listed in the “about me” section of the faculty website.

There are a lot of reasons why Alex and Jake are just two random people. When they were introduced two weeks ago, it was strange enough; floating along in their raft with two other survivors at the top of the show. When we next see Alex she’s on shore being chased by zombies. These disjointed appearances mean nothing to the greater arc of Fear the Walking Dead.

Alex’s speech at the end of her first episode felt ominous, sure. It was a pretty bad day. When she shows up with the pirates it’s surprising, but her encounter with Travis is just weird. We were never given the pieces we need to care about her struggle. Although I think Travis is a weak character, I still care about him far more than I do about her. Once again this is a huge failure in the show vs. tell realm. It would have made more sense for Connor to have captured Travis merely for his boat hijacking skills than it does for him to help Alex in her desire for revenge.

Let’s look at everything we missed in Alex’s journey:

–          What happened to get Alex and Jake to shore?

–          What happened to the other guys on the raft?

–          Why were they being chased by so many walkers?

–          After being cut free from the Abigail, they run out of water.

–          Jake begins to dye, and Alex is helpless.

–          The final struggle to push Jake’s body overboard for her own safety.

–          Desperation of being trapped at sea and alone after losing everything, succumbing to the reality that she could easily die of exposure.

–          The pirates picking her up and taking her in and then making friends.

–          Giving them information about the Abigail.

–          Forming a relationship (of any kind) with Connor to convince him that the Abigail crew is bad and to bring Travis to her for revenge. (Plus, she’s trying to earn empathy from a bunch of pirates who randomly murder people for more ships.)

All of this could have been episodes on their own; a subplot, perhaps. The way it has been presented to us, however; is the result of a marketing strategy and forcing these characters to connect with our survivors.

Perhaps Alex is going to become the new villain, with Jack (the pirate teen) as her minion. Surely he’s upset that Alicia chose her family, that she loves, over being a murderous pirate. Considering all we know about Alicia, that makes sense. Even if Alex is the antagonist, we still need to know her and her reasons.

Ftwd4

“But we were going to be angry teenagers together!”

Storytelling is a journey you make with your characters. When you don’t make the journey and are merely told it was made, you do not have the same emotional investment in a character. Let’s compare our introduction to Alex with the greatest antagonist from The Walking Dead show history so far; the Governor.

We didn’t need to see the founding of Woodberry because we arrived there during a different character journey with Michonne and Andrea. Their friendship was very important to the story. Also, finding an eerie safe place in the middle of a nightmare world made a big impact. After that, we spend time with the Governor in his habitat. We see him sit in his creep-show room of zombie heads. We meet his daughter, and his desperation for a cure. We watch him run the zombie fighting ring, an oddly violent addition to what looks like an ideal American town. We watch him rise and fall only to be reborn as Brian, only to fall again.

The reason the Governor as an antagonist was epic was because Michonne didn’t just appear at the prison one day and say “There’s this creep a few miles over doing some bad stuff and Andrea is there in his trap.” It’s because we witness the truth. We believe it, and it’s powerful.

If I were editing Fear the Walking Dead, I would have cut Alex and Flight 462 from the story. At this point, they do not live up to the hopes that were placed on them to “tie things together” and are completely unnecessary to drive the plot.

We don’t need Alex to convince Connor to look for the Abigail. There is already a motivation for that thanks to Alicia talking to Jack on the radio. Even though the Abigail lost them short term, they were still close enough to their base to come in contact with them again. We didn’t need Alex’s desire for revenge on Travis (which seemed completely misplaced, her reasoning should have been all of the crew,) because he proved he’s a mechanic and can start a boat without keys. Sad to say, but their direction with Alex made her useless, and that’s not the fault of the character, but the fault of the writers.

If you have any thoughts to add please feel free to mention them in the comments! Here’s hoping next week we get some answers about Luis and his need for money in the zombie apocalypse.

 

I want to begin by saying this is an unsolicited and unbiased review.

From the very start I thought this book was going to be a private detective story; something a little old school set in modern times. I was completely wrong, but that doesn’t mean I was disappointed.

From the Desk of Buster Heywood follows the titular character and he is not a PI but an accountant with sever social anxiety. Buster has recently moved to the fictional town of Aviario, set in Connecticut, and works for the town government. Although he has only lived there for a approximately a year, he already feels responsible for the town and thus gets himself embroiled into dangerous situations for reasons he doesn’t fully understand.

First for the Positives

  • Excellent characterization and relationship building
  • Suspenseful and mysterious plot
  • Strong single character third person narrative
  • Excellent pacing

This story is wonderful because it feels realistic and plausible. D’Onofrio has done a beautiful job of crafting not only the town of Aviario but all of the characters who live there. Every new location feels like a place you could visit. Her attention to detail is in perfect balance with her narrative; giving just enough to allow your own imagination to fill in the blanks and not slow the flow of the story.

The best part about this book are the characters. Buster’s social anxiety is believable and realistic. The attempts he makes to find acceptance despite his disability only heighten the reality of living with anxiety. His slow growth toward conquering his fears is beautiful to watcher.

The villains are equally shady and sinister in their subtlety. There are no mustache twirling going on, only an underlying sense of dread occasionally punctured by red flags. I often found myself gritting my teeth as I watched Buster blindly his path due to his misguided loyalties. Although the antagonists are clearly shady, they are also people. Many times I wondered if I was the one misjudging them, which really says something for strong characterization.

Each character that Buster encounters on his journey is unique and well crafted. From his new friends and sister to the waiters he meets only briefly, the cast is well defined. They are characters that you care about, even when they are only in the story for a single scene.

The story itself follows a wide arc, at times leaving you wondering how deep he will delve into the darkness. Page after page you start to doubt that Buster will ever find his way back to light. From start to finish the narrative takes hold and pulls you along, only wanting you to keep going to find out what happens next.

Now for My Notes

Really, I don’t have any notes. The only thing I can mention is a few cases where it seemed the paragraph formatting didn’t take properly. There would be a strange break between sentences rather than the start of a new paragraph. It happened a few times but was not enough to take away from the overall pacing or understanding of the story.

My Overall Rating for this Book is 5 Stars! I’m also looking forward to the next book set in Aviario.

Five Star

If you’d like to read this book you can find it on Amazon.

You can also check out Angela D’Onofrio’s site for more information about her upcoming work.

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The title says it all! I’ve come to the end of the rewrite/revise and preliminary edits of Book Two. This was a much more complex process than Book One, which merely needed some minor rearranging and additions in comparison. I’m very  happy to have the whole thing out on paper in a coherent story instead of the confused mess it was in the original manuscript.

The cover art is complete for Book Two as well. I will be revealing the cover once I’m nearing the end of the final edits. Hurrah! Stay tuned for that announcement.

The final edit will also include the formatting process for paperback. I found this to be an extremely helpful process last time in discovering errors. I’m planning to launch both versions at the same time, which I feel was a mistake with Book One.

That’s all for this week’s blog, but I hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

Upcoming Changes

Posted: February 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

White Plum Blossoms, Flowers Of Early Spring, Plum

In the upcoming weeks I’m going to start making a few changes here at the blog. These changes will hopefully be for the better. If you’re wondering why I’m going to make changes, it’s because I want this blog to feel a little more alive.

First, there will be more posts. That doesn’t mean there will be posts every day, but just more often. I will continue with my weekly post on writing, musings,  and random rants as usual. The new posts will not be scheduled and be more of a “I have something to share” type of formatting. Some of these posts will be reviews!

Hurray!

First and foremost will be books by indie authors.  Before anyone gets too excited, I have some rules for my review.

1)      I will not be taking requests or submissions. The reason for this is that I’m a very slow reader. I also have a full time job, three kids, a husband, a new dog, and am writing and editing. On top of that, I struggle with concentration. Therefore, I will be choosing the books myself and already have a stack of them in my phone waiting to be read. You can check which book I’m reading and which books I have waiting in cue on my GoodReads profile.

2)      At this time I will only be reading eBooks. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books, and eBooks are cheaper or free. I also prefer eBooks. Although paperbacks have their special place with their mystical smell and fluttery pages, they are heavy and clunky and don’t have their own light source. My phone is also with me at all times, which makes it easy to sneak a paragraph when I can.

3)      I will only review books with less than 20 reviews, and particularly I’m aiming at books with 10 or fewer reviews. My goal is to find those diamonds in the rough, because I know they are out there waiting to be discovered.

4)      I also will only post reviews if I have positive things to say about a book. Even if I give a book a low number of stars, I’m more interested in providing constructive criticisms and pointing out the good things an author has accomplished. My goal with these reviews is to show support to other indie authors, not to make people feel bad about themselves and their writing. We’re all on a journey which requires learning. Perhaps some people are publishing too soon, but bashing a book for lack of polish is not my goal.

Besides book reviews, I’m going to start discussing things I enjoy. That means I’m going to start talking more about my favorite shows and video games. In a little over a week Tom Clancey’s The Division is coming out. This is not a book but a game that I’m very excited to play. I’ll probably be doing my own player based review here on the blog. I’m also a big fan of MMOs and RPGs, which means you can expect me to talk about games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy, Skyrim, and so on.

Shows you can expect me to talk about are The Walking Dead, Jane the Virgin, Supergirl, Elementary, and The Shannara Chronicles. That’s not a definitive list, just an example. I don’t really get to see movies until they’ve been out for a while, so I might not talk about those as much.

I’m also considering sharing some of my art and have an idea for a new comic. I’ll be upfront and say that I’m not the best artist but I’m not terrible, either. We’ll see, though, since I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

Anyway, those are the upcoming changes I have in mind. I’ll be posting my first book review later this week!