Review: Locke & Key season 1

We just finished watching Locke & Key, the new netflix series and… I’m torn on what I think about it.

I have the complete series of Locke & Key graphic novels, though I have only read the first one. I found the whole idea of keys that magically unlock things to be fascinating. A key that you can unlock the mind and step inside the memories. A key that allows you to step through a doorway and separate soul from body. Each key a new experience and wonder.

So watching the new series was a must for me. And I have to say I do love the way they did most of the keys. You put them in a key hole, and unlock, or lock something. Except the fire key, that one is odd because all it does is light things on fire. No locks to go with it, just fire.

The story, itself, started interesting as well. It starts with three children and their mother moving to an old mansion left to them by their deceased father, but no one knows much about this house, or their fathers past. The father kept it all a secret. Then when the youngest starts finding keys with magical abilities they start to find a dark secret that they have to unravel before things go terribly, terribly wrong.

The secret of their fathers past is locked together with the traumatic way their father was murdered, and the emotional scars it left on each of the family members. Each of them blames themselves for different aspects of the death, and each of them have to come to terms with that perceived blame.

Where I think the story falls short for me is the lack of a cohesive plot. There is an ancient evil, a “bad guy” per-se, but the reason you are given for them to be at odds with the Lockes (the desire to get specific keys) falls apart in the end. They finally have access to the key they were searching for all this time, but they don’t take it for some reason. It left both my boyfriend and myself staring at the screen just wonder… but why? What was all of this for?

So, yes, I did enjoy it. I liked the mystery, and the magic. I didn’t like the ending. It was a bit too much of a cliff hanger with the family getting closer to one another, but the over all plot left hanging. And if you’ve read many of my reviews you probably already know I hate cliffhangers for the sake of cliffhangers.

Will I watch the next season? Probably. It wasn’t a bad series, and I would like to see what it does. However, I can say that if the second season doesn’t at least give the series a purpose, and some overarching plotline, then I probably wouldn’t go for a third season.

I will give them a little credit through, adapting a comic book series to TV can be challenging, especially with some of the visuals inside the graphic novels. They managed to do some interesting things with the mind key, letting us get a glimpse inside of several characters memories. They also simplified some of the plot between comic and tv series, so I will probably go back and read the comics now just to find those differences.

2019 Writing in Review

It’s the new year, and it’s time to look back at what happened in 2019, and see where things will go in the future.

2019 was a year of change. First, I quite my job and we moved from Seattle to Houston. That was a huge change for Bjorn and I, but so far it was definitely been worth it. It was also the first year I have been writing full time. That’s taken some getting used to, and I am finally starting to get into the swing of making writing/editing/etc a priority, but I have a ways to go.

In 2019 I wrote 209k words. (Red line on graph is story writing, blue line includes newsletters, blog posts, and other projects.) This was double what I wrote in 2017 and 18, and a lot closer to what I was writing before that dip happened.

 

With all that writing I published three books. Steel Heart, and Steel Line which are the second and third books in my  litRPG series, and an anthology of scifi short stories, Stars End. I also started working on Vertigo, which I have uploaded six chapters of for free. It’s available on RoyalRoadWattpad, and WebNovel.

I am disappointed that I didn’t keep up with the chapter a week on Vertigo. To be fair, the reason I stopped was because of NaNoWriMo, and getting the 50k done on my Half Blood Sorceress, and book four in the litRPG took up a large part of my time. Then December I spent most of my time hand making all of my Christmas gifts. I forgot how time consuming crocheting hats could be. And a final trip back home to Seattle rounded out the end of the year, so I didn’t get much writing done in December, but I did spend some quality time with family and friends.

Going forward for 2020 I told my family I would be looking to complete, and publish, four novels. That will include book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series, book four in my litRPG series, finishing up Vertigo and publishing that on amazon, and …. I’m not sure what the final book will be yet, but I have a few ideas.

I have been scheduling time to write, read, and edit for this year. Three things I need to do more of in order to get my goals. I’ve also been making some plans to do something more with my art because it makes me happy, and is a nice break from writing when I need it. It also gives me something to do while listening to podcasts.

We’ve also committed to taking better care of ourselves, Bjorn and I. We’ve been eating more salads, going on walks, and getting to the gym more. It’s making him feel better, I’m still struggling with the exercise part, but I can be pretty stubborn, so I haven’t given up yet. I would just like to get to the point where it doesn’t feel awful every time I go… Don’t treat your body badly for years on end, folks, fixing it sucks.

Overall I have high hoped for 2020 going forward. More writing, more art, and more creativity in general. Lets see how far I can go with this.

Top Reads of 2019

I read a lot in 2019, and I enjoyed…almost everything I read. I stuck to a lot of series, with a few random books thrown in, and almost entirely novels this year. Unusual for me since I like short stories, and comics, but that’s where my time reading went this year.

I also read quite a bit of litRPG. Fitting since I was writing more of it. This may be one reason I haven’t been reading short stories… there aren’t any in litRPG. I managed to find two, and that was difficult, though there are a few novellas, but even they are rare.

Some of my tops!

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The Dark Herbalist series. I only read the first two so far, but the next two are on my list. I love the swash buckling nature of it all. I started the third book, but got annoyed with the first few chapters. I’m still going to push through and see what happens with it though.

The Noobtown Series started with a man’s character creation being lead by a demon. After he gets control he rushes into the game world, and finds a starter village that is overrun by monsters. Loving this series, and can’t wait for more to come out.

The Divine Seed series is a different take on the dungeon core idea. A soul seed from the world tree of Norse mythology is sent to a distant realm to set down roots, and immediately things start going wrong. It’s a really good series that keeps upping the stakes, and this dungeon cares more about testing the metal of those inside than simply feasting. Book three is on my short list to read in 2020.

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Life Reset needs more books. I love this series! Human stuck as a goblin in a game? Yes please. The fact that he needs to keep upping his levels to get out of the game, and the humans who trapped him there in the first place keep trying to kill him, is really

The Crafer’s Dungeon is another one of those dungeon cores that do something different. This core just wants to craft and uses all her traps to try and make a crafting location. She only fights if those around her won’t let her craft in peace. Can’t wait for book three.

Alpha Company is another series I read. I’ve only got one cover up there but that’s because there were eight books, and I read them all. Now a complete series, I’m sad it’s over, but it was a fantastic world to visit. Also, this involves a harem so if you’re not into it maybe it’s not for you. (Though I really wish the author would go back and update his old covers so they all match. Come on Daniel!)

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Some of the stand along books that I loved this year include:

Bone Dungeon. The second book will be out this year. It is more in the traditional dungeon core style with a dungeon creating creature to fight adventurers, but it adds a dose of comedy to the mix and I really enjoyed it.

CivCEO is a civilization style game, and unlike anything else I have read in the litRPG area. Definitely portal fiction where the main character is transported to a magical land by a wayward goddess and dropped off as a mistake. But he quickly owns the situation, and makes the best of it in this new game of civ.

The Legacy Builder is actually a series, but I only read the first book. I will probably make my way through the rest of the series in 2020. This starts with the main character being robbed, and scammed, and he is absolutely thrilled about it! And doesn’t take long to get his own back. A really fun city builder litRPG.

And lastly, The Tower of Babel which is only on the bottom of my list because it is an abandoned series. The last book came out in 2017, and the author has said he doesn’t know when he’ll get back to it. A pity because the first two books were really good. They can, however, stand on their own. There just isn’t the satisfaction of the main character making it to the top of the tower.

I did read a lot of other books this year, but these were the top picks. You can find the rest of my reads, and the reviews, here.

Kindle Unlimited for FREE for 3 months!

Amazon Prime day was just last weekend, but they didn’t stop everything. I just found out today that they are giving away three months of Kindle Unlimited for absolutely free for three months. You have to cancel after the three months or get charged $10, but there is no obligation to keep your subscription after the three months.

If you have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Android or Apple device, you can read kindle books wherever you are. And the authors still get paid, so it’s great for everyone involved.

Also, my books are in KU so if there is one you’ve been thinking about reading the next three months have you covered. From litRPG to fantasy, and all the short stories in between.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you read, this is your chance to check out what is available in KU, and get your summer reading. Here are some suggestions:
The Hollow Series by Kim Harrison (A little like a female Dresden, but with her own twists.)
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is one of the best litRPG adventures I’ve ever read.
Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits where a player gets trapped playing a monster and the only way out is to get stronger.
The Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker. Think Firefly, cowboys in space, with a new flare.
The Baine Chronicals by Jasmine Walt. A young shifter in a world of mages. Fantasy with a touch of steam punk and political intrigue.

Happy Reading!

Crissy

Adventures Await!

The next book in The Hub World series is out!

The virtual world holds many dangers, and secrets.

Ever since that faithful day Jupiter was left standing alone on the beach, he’s been avoiding the virtual world. Staying away hasn’t been easy. When reality is nothing but a cell and powdered food, how could he resist the siren call of freedom and a chance to make amends with his best friend?

In order to find Cas, Jupiter must travel to The Hub, the center of all virtual worlds.

There are new opportunities, new people, and new AI’s just dying to meet him. If he can manage to find Cas, then maybe they can find out just how far the rabbit hole goes and just what troubles been waiting for them below the surface.

 

I also have two short stories that are free this weekend. Now is your time to grab them.

Footsteps– a man who takes a trip out to the woods to deal with his fathers death and ends up dealing with something else entirely.
The Ring – a thief finds a ring with some interesting properties….

The Strong Female Character

I will admit I do love a good novel with a female lead that kicks some serious ass. I read the entire Hallow Series by Kim Harrison, Mercy Thomson series by Patricia Briggs, The Baine Chronicles by Jasmine Walt, The Little Flame by Melissa Lummis, and almost every single book by Anne McCaffery, who really preferred strong women as her leads. I even wrote my own series with strong female lead characters, Witch’s Trilogy because I love it so much.

The characters in all of these books have something in common. Things happen, sometimes horrible things, sometimes world destroying things, and sometimes more personal. The main characters don’t sit and wallow because they can’t do anything about it, they get up and they find a way to deal with it. But they have one other thing that is vital to their journey. They fail. They fail a lot. Then they get up and try again.

Failure is a big part of a good story. Within the hero’s journey it is actually a phase that english teachers teach you. Luke Skywalker looses all his friends. Frodo Baggins has to leave the Fellowship of the ring. Neo is ambushed in the matrix. They all fail, they have to get back on the horse and try again. This shows dedication, resolve, persistence…things every person could use. It also shows that even a hero, like a fire fighter, police officer, or teacher, can make a mistake sometimes. We can all fail, and we can all try and get back up and do it again.

In the Hallow Series the main character gets near death in many of her books. Mercy Thomson is kidnapped, abused, hurt, and lost. In the Baine Chronicles the main character is lost in time as well as space. Each of them have their own flaws to overcome. Each of them have weaknesses that can be exploited by others that they have to learn to overcome. And each of them aren’t afraid to ask for help from friends and loved ones.

This is just good storytelling. When you put a “strong female character” into a story that has no flaws, no weaknesses, no room to grow, then your story ends up feeling flat. The only time it does work is when there is no overall story, say like in John Wick where the whole point is mayhem, or Commando from early Schwarzenegger, or any other high action movie with little plot and all action. If you put a woman in the same sort of no plot high action movie I am sure people would enjoy that too. The trouble comes when you put a wooden character into a plot, give them nothing to add to the plot, and no personality to really endear you to them.

This wooden character with no flaws that always wins no matter what….It’s called the Mary Sue who masquerades as an infallible character. Highly prevalent in fan fiction, the Mary Sue has made it’s way to main stream writing, and even tv and movies. They are stoic, unchanging, they don’t need anyone, and they never really fail. Granted, some people really enjoy this type of strong female character since it keeps cropping up in main stream media. Many don’t. It’s all down to taste.

I would say it’s not conducive to good story telling. There isn’t a lot of difference between John Wick and Alice from Resident Evil. Both movies were well received, both movies centered on the main character fighting their way through a bunch of bodies. Not a lot of plot, mostly action. That’s all the needed.

But when it is bad for the story is where there is clearly a plot and the plot suffers because the main character does not change, has no flaw, and never fails. In fact John and Alice both have a moment where they fail. They loose their weapons, seem outnumbered, and have to fight back. They just don’t have an emotional story line to go with it for the most part, which is fine, it isn’t that kind of movie. On the other hand…. and here is where I don’t want to say the name because I don’t want people to get pissed at me, but I need an example….Rey, from Star Wars, is inside a rich universe, with lots of emotional things going on around her, but she remains very much the same from start to finish. She’s good at everything, she never really fails, and she has no flaws.

The difference between Resident Evil and Star Wars is everything going on outside the action. Resident Evil is mostly action from start to finish. Star Wars has political posturing, heart felt moments, love stories, and a whole lot of history behind it. Resident Evil has zombies.

Because Rey is set against this backdrop of a rich world with all this characterization, successes and failures, she ends up coming off as more wooden. She doesn’t really need anyone, not even Luke in the long run. In the original series Luke was a bad ass, but he needed his friends, and was stronger for them. Rey ditches everyone, goes and does her own thing, and is fine. When Luke went off on his own he regretted it and realized he needed his friends.

This Mary Sue story telling, especially in a world that already has a huge fan base, leads to a divide in the fan base. Some like it, some don’t, and the fans decide….I’m going to go watch something else.

For a better story telling experience add a flaw. Add a moment when the character looses everything, and has to fight their way back up from the brink of destruction. Have them evolve and change over time. Have them overcome an inner conflict of some kind. Give me, the reader, something to root for them about. I want to love your character! I want to go along with them on this journey, and care about them. I want to laugh at funny things they do, or cry when they are hurt, or cheer when they finally overcome their trouble. I want to FEEL. Do that and I’ll keep coming back for more.

The Search for Independence: part 1

I haven’t written a blog post in a while because I didn’t really know what to say. Things are moving along on their slow way to finishing, and a lot is happening, but they are kind of up in the air at the moment.

This last couple of weeks I’ve realized that the best option for my health is to either work at a small location with few people at it, or work from home, so I’ve been looking into working from home more and more. I’ve found a lot of options, and resources, and I’m trying to find what will work best for me. I am going to be taking a multi stream income approach for the best results.

First, my books of course. I have three scheduled for the editor, one currently at the editor, and two more I am working to complete. The release will be Costume Shop by end of this month, Steel Soul in October, and Steel Heart in November. I’m hoping to have Steel Line (book three of the Steel Series, my litRPG) or Dragon’s Heart (book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series) out in December and January. That’s five books in five months! Sign up for the newsletter here to hear when they come out.

On the art front I’ve uploaded more images to redbubble for stickers, t-shirts, and the like. I’ve also got some ideas for Halloween and Christmas themed fabric for spoonflower. I’ll be doing those soon. I’m also working on drawing something every day, even if it’s just working on a larger project, and I’ve been showing the work over on Instagram. I’m considering doing some sort of comic or story line for the art, I’ll have to see if I can come up with a good story for it that can fit into a series of little strips. Right now I’m focusing on finishing a coloring book, and getting that up on amazon/etc.

And of course I have my etsy where there are pins, key chains, and other physical things I’ve made. That includes the little enamel pins you see here.

Then the last arm of my working plan….freelancing. This is the tougher one since I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been doing some research and finding various places where I can submit to write for blogs and magazines, and it’s been an interesting learning experience. Most of them require you to do a lot of prep and fill in the questions before you can even do actual work. And learning about it is difficult too because there isn’t a guide or anything, you basically have to piece information together from other sources until you figure it out. I guess that’s why only those with perseverance make it in the freelance world. I don’t have a lot of perseverance, but I do have self preservation, and if I want to stop working in an office where I keep having asthma attacks because people wear perfume…. here’s an option. I just have to make it work.

There is one more thing, and that’s recording. I have a twitch, and two youtube channels (one for art/writing, the other for gaming) that I haven’t been using that much. I stopped using YouTube because they took away my monitization, and I wasn’t doing a lot with it anyway. Twitch I haven’t been able to do as much because I’ve been sick. I’d like to get back into making videos, probably once or twice a week. I think trying to do them every day was too much and it just got overwhelming so I stopped. I also want to stream on twitch. I really enjoy playing some of the more story driven games, like The Turing Test, and talking about the different story situations. The Turing Test has been really interesting because it deals with AI, and what separates people from machines, and when a computer becomes creative. It really made me think about Googles Deep Dream simulation, and where tech is going.

I’d also like to stream some of the artwork I’m doing, maybe some of the larger projects. I’ve done a few streams like that, but the goal is two a week. One game, one art/writing. Scheduling doesn’t quite work yet, but I’m trying to figure that out. Every time I set a schedule something comes up on those days.

The other thing I’d like to do is start tracking this progress, showing what I’m doing and where I’m succeeding and failing. I think I’ll call it “Road To Independence” and put up a video every week with my trials and tribulations, as well as my successes, so expect that. It might mean fewer games, and more working on writing/art/marketing…but if that means eventual independence I’m all for that.

Favorite Reads of 2017!

I set out with a goal of 30 books this year, and managed to read 30. I will admit, I upped my book count because I realized they wouldn’t all be novels. I had a few graphic novels, and some short stories in the mix, as well as a few audio books for my long commutes.

In all I read 16 novels, ten short stories, and four graphic novels.

I’d have to say the Baine Chronicles were my absolute favorite this year. Jasmine Walt spun a fantastic story about a shifter hybrid who gets caught with her magic on display and has to avoid being killed, then ends up rescuing the arch mage. So much allegory for real life in this series. Lots of magic, and mischief. Loved every page and I read the first six books pretty quickly.

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker is another favorite. This read very much like Firefly, and Buroker wasn’t afraid to say it up front. That’s what she was going for, and she managed it with flying colors.

Dungeon Crawl by Skyler Grant hit on a second love of mine, LitRPG, which I didn’t even know was a thing until just this month. I’ve been enjoying Sword Art Online, Kilobyte by Piers Anthony, and other movies and books in this genre, but didn’t know it had an actual name until just recently. Dungeon Crawl scratched that itch (so to say) quite nicely, and I’ll be reading more of these types of books this year.

I also read Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker. This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to make their story telling better. I had to rewrite a lot of chapters because of this book, but my novels are so much better because of that rewrite. Worth it!

Lastly I’m going to say Grizzly Shark is my favorite graphic novel this year. Oh, Heathen and LumberJanes were good, but Grizzly Shark is one of those books that will stick with me for the rest of forever. With sharks swimming through the trees to eat everyone, and irreverent jokes on every page, I loved it. Crass, unapologetic humor that goes out of it’s way to just be itself. Would read again!

Of the other books, there were some good ones, and a few fell short, but nothing really bad. The books I chose just stood out a bit more than the others, either because I loved the series as a whole, it hit that nestalgia button, or it was incredibly memorable (queue the grizzly shark!)

How did your reading challenge go?

5min – Day 10 – Declutter Continues

Decluttering continued yesterday, and this morning. I cleared out all my craft drawers in the living room, threw out some paints and pencils that were no longer in great shape, and sorted everything. I still have a lot of crafting supplies. I’m going to have to decide if I want to keep them all. Am i actually going to use them? Or am I just holding onto them because I occationaly enjoy using them?

I also started with one bookshelf and I’m going to be working my way around the room to the other book shelves. I’ll need to get a couple boxes because I’m going to be getting rid of a LOT of these books, and downlaoding the ones I like the most on ebook readers. Some of them I might just add to a wish list so I can pick them up from a library later. It’s clear, though, that I don’t intend to read all of these anymore. How can I? I have other things going on in my life, and there are hundreds of books in this house, and almost a thousand on my kindle.

I do love reding, and I read a lot. But the days of collecting because I think a book looks amazing is over. I just don’t have the room for it anymore. Sad, but true.

On the writing front, I finished editing another chapter last night, and then I came down with something. I’m almost certain that I ate something that did not agree with me. I can’t decide what it was, but it was acting a lot like a slight case of food poisoning, or an allergic reaction to something. So I went to bed, and slept early. Then I woke this morning feeling much better.

Today they were painting the staircase just outside my apartment so I we were not supposed to leave the house until 5pm. That was easy enough, the paint smells terrible.

And that’s my five.

All the books!

giveaway 3It’s time for a HUGE give away. If you go HERE you can download more than fifty free books from various scifi, fantasy, and horror authors. There are even a few super hero books, and a couple YA books.

My book, Witch’s Sacrifice, is also available for free. Get it now, this is probably one of the few times I will offer it for free.

You can’t go wrong just by checking it out. Plus you can sign up for their roflcopter and try to win a free kindle. More free stuff! I know, it’s amazing!