Friday, December 19, 2014

A Very Fond But Heartbroken Farewell ~ The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

bilbo the battle of five armies
  The journey is over. My heart is broken. Today I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies with the family finally, and it was well worth the wait. The movie was spectacular. The battle carries the whole story, the end leaving us sorrowful, with the feeling of having watched something that happened, not a just another typically structured movie that has its points. I was surprised at how little Smaug featured in it, that his fall would be so soon (or at least what felt so soon). It was somewhat anti-climatic, but I suspect that many scenes were cut from this movie and that more will be added to the attack of Smaug in the extended edition. However, I did love how there was a presence of Smaug throughout the movie, his words--his insights--that figured greatly in the thoughts and fears of the characters. It was as if he was still lurking in the shadows.

   I loved how in the moment and climatic the beginning was. It carried right over from Desolation of Smaug, the danger and fear palpable and immediate. It brought you in, to the level of those suffering the consequences of their actions, and those on the receiving end of the actions of others. The desolation and sadness is truly felt. That's what I loved about the last installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. I'm just heartbroken that it's over, as I knew I would be. 

  What I've loved most in this story, (and in stories in general) was the story of the best sort of friendship. And the friendship of Thorin and Bilbo is the gold in this one. Throughout the trilogy, really--but it comes to a head here. It is what I'm most in love with, the thing I sorrow for most, and what my heart splits for. (Aside from the fact that the movies are done).

   I've never been much taken with the love story between Kili and Tauriel, but it turned out okay for me, in the end--in the end I felt for them. I was wrapped up enough in the story to forget that I'm not a fan of their love story. I liked them well enough. And at the end of that story arc, I love how well it served the characters involved. I cared for them, and what it meant when it came to it.

 I was also intrigued that you got more of glimpse into why Thranduil was such a strange, seemingly cold person. You get a look, however brief, into his history, his own loss. His own madness. It wasn't what I had expected, but something very similar. I loved that you got to know Bard and his strength better--his family is what makes him the man he is. Alfrid presents (in some ways he reminds one of Wormtongue) an interesting aspect to how Bard tries to do well by people, to try to see the possible change one might attain should they chose, and receive the chance. I thought him giving Alfrid a sort of second chance intriguing, though he does not trust him. Only enough to use him in moments of desperation--but even then, in the end, we see that Alfrid will always be a snake simply because he chooses to be--not because he wasn't given a second chance. That's what I appreciated of this aspect of the story. (Although I did expect him to give Alfrid a whack when yanking on the arm of his child, and he didn't--I found that really strange).

  I really enjoyed the storming of Dol Guldur--that was cool. The power of the White Council was stunning and beautiful. Although I didn't like the dark aspect they gave Galadriel, because that was used in Fellowship showing her temptation to the Ring, to something evil--here, in this instance, she is fighting the evil that is Sauron with Light. Yet they make her look like something dark and twisted. Powerful and fearsome, certainly. But her dark image really didn't make sense. But still, overall, very cool, loved it--but really of the opinion that they cut out a lot here as well.

  Over all, you see real people in this story. Pulling together, surviving--pulling away, turning mad, grasping at what pieces of themselves are left--trying to remember what you believe in. And trying to do the part of a friend. I found the movie incredibly real. In this one, it wasn't as much about spectacle and fun as the others were (in my opinion) it was about their relationships in the now. Their own stories, and the difference they can possibly make. The change that their choices will effect.

  You get to savor the sorrow and the joy, the gloried relief of the honorable choice in some instances, the fear of losing all that matters in life and possibly losing sight of yourself. The fear of the true enemy winning is real, even though we have a good idea of how the story ends, especially those of us who read the book. The core of the story is the power that we as individuals have in making our choices. It is simply will we or will we not fight to realize what is right, or possibly something in between. It is never so simple. Priorities are mixed, but in a way that still engages our love and respect.

  In the end, we have the bittersweet return home, remembering the good and the bad, left with the sorrow of loss, but with the blessing of friendships that have been forged. And the discovery of the type of person you yourself are. I love how the very end was, bleeding into the beginning of The Fellowship, leaving us with a taste of the joys that still come, that the story of our lives go on, and we carry our memories with us. The words of Billy Boyd in his Last Goodbye are very fitting.

 And, oh, where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But don't regret
Nor will I forget
All who took that road with me

  I probably will be writing more on this, but I just needed to get this down. Can't keep it to myself right now. My heart is too broken! Would love to hear anything you have to share about what you think of the story.

And what a story. Thank you to Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and everyone involved with getting us to care enough to share in the sorrow and the joy. 

  Until next time and another tissue,

  Elora Carmen Shore

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once Upon a Western Way, Interview with Markie Madden

author Markie Madden
Author Markie Madden
  We have a guest today! Recently Markie Madden invited several authors to exchange interviews with her, and I was one of those who accepted. My interview with her, which was a lot of fun, was featured just the other day, and you can read it here on her website! She started Metamorph Publishing in 2014 as a means of publishing her three books, and is dedicated to helping other independent or aspiring authors to reach their dreams!

  Here's the interview!

  Tell me a little bit about yourself! Where do you live, do you have a "real" job, do you ahve any children/pets, and so on?

  I was born August 19, 1975 in Midland, Texas, though I grew up in Flushing, Michigan. I went to high school there, and was on the staff for the school paper. I won a National Quill and Scroll Society award for best picture in a school newspaper. I've been married for 10 years, and have two teenage daughters, three rescue dogs, and a horse. We now live in the small country town of Fisk, Missouri.

  Tell me about your latest book! What inspired you to write it? Where did you get the ideas for your plot and characters?

Once Upon a Western Way Markie Madden
  All three came out at the same time, so I'll pick Once Upon a Western Way to talk abut. I started writing this story in high school, and it was the first I ever tried to publish. It was based on teh game my best friend and I used play as kids. The main characters of course were based on me and him, and a lot of the supporting characters were based on our pets at the time. 

  When did your book come out, adn where can readers find it?

  All my books came out in Sept 2014, except for Western Way which was originally published digitally only at Smashwords in 2012. They can all be found at CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble (print versions), as well as several other retailers, and for Kindle digitally, though their enrollement period is almost up so they'll be back at Smashwords for Nook and iPhone soon. 

  What distinguishes your book/plot/characters from others? Don't give away any spoilers, but what's the "hook" that you think will draw the readers to your book?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy about epic love surviving all obstacles, and full of adventure, princes, ad preincesses in a world that's a far simpler time than our own. The main characters hae to fight an evil foe (and you'll never guess who that is, but NO spoilers!) and live to escape his clutches. 

  Waht would you like your readers to take away from your book? What emotions and thoughts do you hope to invoke?

  This book was intended to entertain, to let the reader escape their own world and lose themselves in a other for a time.

  Are you planning a sequel, or another book?

  I'm not planning a sequel for Western Way, but I am currently working on a series called The Undead Unit Series. Book One is called Fang and Claw, and we meet Lacey, who's a detective with the Dallas police department. She's also a vampire. Her partner, Colton, is a werewolf with anger management issues. They're a part of an elite new squad dedicated to solving crimes involving other members of the Undead. 

  What genre do you place your book in?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy with a touch of paranormal. I also have two non-fiction books: a memoir and a self-help guide to horse care.

  how did you publish? Are you independent or do you have a publisher? How did you decide to publish?

  I'm independently published. I tried for years submitting Western Way to publishers, first on my own, then using my income tax refund to hire an agent for a year. And still, I was unsuccessful. So I went at it on my own.

  What's your marketing plan? Do you use social media to help you market, and if so, which ones? Do you have any new ideas for marketing that you'd like to share?

  I use all social media to help promote my books, as well as swapping blog interviews with other authors, and I'm planning book signings for next year.

  Are you a member of any writing/reading groups (i.e. Shelfari, Goodreads, Scribophile, etc.)?

  You can find me at Shelfari, Goodreads, and Scribophile, as well as several writing roups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  Thanks for the time, Markie! Looking forward to more of your news.

  Marguerite Madden's books can be found here on Amazon and Amazon Kindle, Smashwords,  and Barnes and Noble.

  Other sites where you can follow Markie Madden are her blog, her Tumblr, her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Hobbit Journey at it's End

  There and back again. Well, the end is certainly drawing nearer. I'm so excited to see the last installment of the Hobbit Trilogy, but man, it's excruciating--in a blink of an eye it'll be over. I feel like it was yesterday that I was putting brand new An Unexpected Journey set shots up as my desktop background. It's been three years already! Time certainly flies, and while I'm so glad I was there for the ride, I'm sad that it'll be completely over. I just can't believe it. I'm intrigued to know what Peter Jackson is planning next (more kiwi movies, according to this one interview) but regardless, I wonder what he'll say when his work on The Hobbit is officially over. I bet we're going to see a lot of tear-stained video clips of cast and crew. I bet working on this trilogy was one heck of a ride for everyone involved. And that's what I love to see when I watch the behind the scenes on Lotr, or The Hobbit--everyone literally looks like they LOVE their job. Even in the rough parts.

  The movies have gotten a lot of smack about how they don't adhere to parts of the story, etc. Personally, I still enjoy them. I don't watch an adaption with the expectation that they'll do the exact same. I want to see how they'll do it differently, while keeping some things the same--and staying true to the story's essence. Lotr was incredible. Granted, I come from the point of view of one who was introduced to Middle Earth through the movies--but even after reading the books and falling in love with them, I was astounded at how the stories had the same lifeblood, the same breath. With all the movies' differences, there was something there that still provided a true, honest reflection. Hobbit has done that, although perhaps not as well, but I may feel that way simply because I like the Lotr books infinitely more than The Hobbit. I feel the characters, their comedy, their sense of home-love and lost kingdoms, is the same. And I love that they showed you who Thorin really is, instead of just a snooty, grumpy royal. I sensed that there was so much more to Thorin, when reading the book (which I read before the movies were being made). It was my greatest frustration that Tolkien didn't expound on him more. Delve into him. Someone who has the audacity and guts to take back their homeland with a rowdy bunch of dwarves takes someone with something real. I wanted to know him more, but I didn't get that from the book. I feel I get that in the movies. And Bilbo is done to perfection. I fell in love quickly. So proud, and so thankful that Bilbo was done so superbly. Bilbo walked in front of my eyes, and expressed his mannerisms, the thoughts behind his eyes--and I knew him.
   And heaven knows that Smaug--well, is a masterpiece. The only things I don't like about the movies so far is that the strange love aspect between Tauriel and Kili. While sweet in thought, it doesn't feel crucial to the story, or like a real part of it. I like Tauriel's character--I love that her strength is exemplified by her kindness, and not just her prowess. We don't always get characters like that. But I doubt I would have missed this aspect of the story, if it had never been part of it. But still, as it is an aspect of the story, I'm curious as to where her story will lead.

  I am so ready to sit down in the theater to see a Hobbit film for the last time. But I know that I will be so sad when I leave. I've finally found out what it must have been like to be a fan, and watch the movies being made, coming out. I just pray that someone someday will get the rights to do The Silmarillion--and do it well.

  Elora Carmen Shore

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Patriot, Fighting Grace

the patriot, family pic

Note: This article first appeared in the July/August issue of Femnista, found here. This is my opinion on one of my favorite movies of all time. It deserved such a long post--and deserved the long time spent mulling over it. 

the patriot tavington
  Benjamin Martin sits at the end of the stairs having put his children to bed, overwhelmed by all he has lost that day. He saved his son Gabriel, lost his son Thomas and all he owned—and his children's innocence. They have seen the brutality of war on their front steps. In his pain and in his rage, they have seen him, a bloody man who long ago butchered his own innocence. His story will coincide with the that of a nation trying to stand tall, proudly, free. It needs those who believe in something more than present safety, who understand what is really being fought for.

"You have done nothing for which you should be ashamed," Charlotte, his sister-in-law, tells him.

the patriot jonathan
"I have done nothing," he replies. "And for that I am ashamed."

There are few stories that stick at the forefront of my mind when I think of a truly good movie. The Patriot is one that with every time I see it, I see something more, something deeper, a truth that gives even greater meaning to the trials that the characters face—most notably, Benjamin Martin's. The man whose sins, he knows, will surely come visit him again someday, and exact vengeance. The cost is a steep one—a terrible one. 

But it isn't all that comes to pass.

In the beginning we see him as a widower, a father. His heart aches for his departed wife, his motherless children—and the past that he cannot forget. He is still a wounded soldier, who knows that the drums of war are beginning to sound again. Benjamin Martin refuses to vote for a levy, refuses to fight. Yet he knows the men around him, and what they strive for. The War will most definitely come. 

Standing before them he states, "But mark my words. This war will be fought, not on the frontier...or on some distant battlefield...but amongst us. Among our homes. Our children will learn of it with their own eyes. And the innocent will die with the rest of us." 

the patriot father and son
War comes quickly, like a thief, until it is in his home. When Col. Tavington of the Dragoons coldly shoots Thomas in the back for attempting to free his brother Gabriel, Tavington looks down at Benjamin's stricken face and says, "Stupid boy." Tavington has just stripped something from Benjamin, not just his son. Benjamin and Gabriel will never forget those words. This is the making of what Benjamin will become.

It is shortly after this Benjamin realizes that he has to protect his family a different way. Joining Gabriel he joins the army, easing right back into the soldier he had once been, savvy and knowing. He knows what he's defending, and he has the strength to see it through—I think that is what so many of his men respect—not just his prowess, but his steady belief in what he's fighting for. For home. Many fought for that simple reason, completely aside from the idea of freedom, although there were so many who filled the ranks because they did believe in that ideal. 

the patriot john billingsThrough the course of the movie you see Benjamin Martin really coming out into what becomes known as "The Ghost", the nemesis of Col. Tavington. Through it we see how there are times when the brutal life he knew is coming back to him, but it is his son Gabriel that reminds him that they are better men. Men that stay the course, do the honorable thing. And when Martin loses him, it is the flag that Gabriel has faithfully mended that reminds him of the worthiness of the cause for freedom. It is that, which enables him to carry on. He stays the course. He returns to fight alongside his men, leading them valiantly in the next battle where he confronts Tavington again—that man that now has taken two of his sons. Yet, even as he first glimpses him, Benjamin's comrade in alarm alerts him that the line is faltering—the men are turning back. He must make his choice. Benjamin turns aside, and seizes a flag and waves it high, yelling for his men hold. Boys, men, old men—they turn back after him, to the fight, and they take the ground. This is the power of faith and belief. Many people just need someone who will enable them to hold the course. That day Benjamin Martin was that man, for everyone there fighting for everything that mattered: family, friends, freedom. 

the patriot battle flag

Benjamin Martin still has his brutal fight with Col. William Tavington. The battle is being won, but it looks like Benjamin might die, seeing the soldiers rush past in jubilation even as some keep on fighting. Tavington does not have that satisfaction—and neither does Benjamin Martin. Not in the way that he had originally intended. He set out for vengeance. It has been his sons, and his faith that has endured through it all, that has changed him. 

In the moment when he is sure of his personal victory, Tavington sneers, "Kill me before the war ends, will you? Well, it appears that you are not the better man." Benjamin ducks and twists, thrusting him through. He then picks up a bayonet piece from the burning wreckage. "No. I'm not. My sons were better men." He slits Tavington's throat. 

the patriot daughter
Benjamin continues to stay the course fighting until the end. I constantly mull over the feeling of personal grace, aligned with the fight for freedom in this movie. I think it has much to do simply with showing The Man—his sins, his fears, and his fight for his own spiritual freedom, to escape from the wretchedness of his own sins. The man that needs to feel grace. To be forgiven, and to forgive himself, to an extent. Needs a new start. I believe Benjamin reached his freedom when he realized what was truly worth believing in, fighting for—Gabriel and Thomas taught him that. They believed in the chance to make a better nation—to an extent, grace for their country, a new birth.

Benjamin truly emerged as a defender of freedom, and as living evidence of true grace. He found his place. And I'm happy to say, that it was worth it. Freedom for a nation, grace for The Man. 

 Hope you enjoyed the article! Now go watch the movie, and please tell me your own thoughts when you're done!

  ~Elora Carmen Shore

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saving More Than Mr. Banks~My Experience

saving mr. banks poster
  I am delighted when I am surprised. Saving Mr. Banks was something that surprised me. I only was aware of it, before it came to theaters, from a trailer a friend had shared. I thought it looked fun and interesting, intermingled with sweetness--and it had Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks! I immediately felt like he'd make a perfect Walt Disney, and I was intrigued to see Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) play something different than what I knew her from most.

  But I did not expect it to be about Pamela Travers' father. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked this story better than what I had assumed it would be about--although to be honest, now I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was expecting something goofier, more--chipper. I knew nothing of the history of the stories, had never read them--had bare memories of the classic movie. But what made me realize how much I truly liked the movie was the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about it, about how her relationship with her father fed the story--in fact, drove it. Her whole world centered around the person she had loved over everything else, the person she wanted redeemed so badly. Her father had given her the gift of a childhood of imagination and joy, but it all went downhill when he lost faith in himself, and could not keep it together. That was what hurt her most--the fact that not only had her father lost his own faith and joy in life, but that she lost him altogether in the end, broken and sad.

  When I finished watching the movie this evening, I thought about how suited the title was. And then I smiled. Because it isn't just about saving Mr. Banks, or saving the memory of Travers Goff and all he stood for. It was about saving Pamela. It was about saving her from the clutches of her heartbroken past. About her stepping forward to something new. Having faith.

  That said, being the most important thing--now I'm just going to comment on the rest. I loved it all. I loved the sixties environment, loved the natural, human cast, and LOVED Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers with her smart quips, Paul Giamatti as Ralph, (one of the most memorable characters--his loving, sunny and likable character I felt added even more life and beauty to the movie) and Tom Hanks was absolutely perfect as Walt Disney. Truly memorable. Stellar performances by everyone.

  I am grateful that this movie was made. And I can't wait to have it on my shelf.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore


Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Youth~George Lucas and American Graffiti

george lucas american graffiti
Image via kitbashed
  Finally, today I was able to watch one of George Lucas's first movies--American Graffiti. Ever since reading about it when I was studying Geroge Lucas's early work, I really wanted to see it. Especially once I read about how he had wanted to build the story around a "playlist", if you'll allow the modern term, of songs he felt had defined that time in America. Interesting idea! It intrigued me more, because I had thought before how times of my life could very well be defined by the songs my parents would play at the time. There's music that I have distinct memories tied to--and I felt like that came across in the movie, how the music was a part of the story. You get a feel of the rhythm of the times, the youthfulness and hope. The story is spearheaded by the fact that two dudes are about to go back to college the next day--they want one last night on the town, one last chance to kick up their heels and burn rubber on the strip.

Image via Drafthouse
  You come to love the characters, just because they're normal, relatable and--stupid. At times. I just had to laugh at the foolishness and complete likeability of the whole story. It was fun, and it was real. Goofy, with young adults getting into scrapes just as we'd expect. American youth. If ever there was a term to perfectly describe a movie, that'd be it for American Graffiti. Looking forward to watching it again.

  Especially for the gorgeous cars. And a young Harrison Ford. Always been a fan of his movies, and it was fun to see something from before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And Richard Dreyfuss--that was fun! The most intriguing thing must be, I think, is that you can't help but watch the movie and see George Lucas himself in his youth. After all, before making movies he wanted to be a racer. It's interesting to learn more about someone, to see things you didn't expect.

  ~E. C. Shore

Friday, August 29, 2014

Among the Beasts

man and the beast, the island of doctor moreau

  I just finished reading The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was first intrigued about the story when I was introduced to it by the book Doctor Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. It was a terrific story, and to be honest, I prefer it to H.G. Well's book. That's not to say that his was not great--it was. I enjoyed it immensely, and loved the intrigue and examination of what made the inhabitants of the island so different--or rather, not. It spoke of the animal in all of us. The biggest example, arguably, is Moreau. The man who can coldly set aside any empathy for a fellow creature's senses, and feelings, to cut them apart while alive and rebuild them into something they didn't even understand. Yes, I find that fascinating. He is the predator that takes his prey as he needs them, uses and disposes them according to the requirements of his curiosity. Montgomery is the man caught in between--he understands both, he is Moreau's creature in that he has let Moreau desensitize his empathy to a great extent. Prendick, our main character, is the story's creature. The island is is torture chamber, his mental hell where he challenges and struggles against all he encounters, human or many ways, he is the man who has been cast adrift on his own inner terrain, taken by the things that make us regress in what we, as a "civilized" people, view as morals--bring out the animal stirrings. The fear of the unnatural, the instinct of what is a natural enemy, etc. Daily clashing with horrors and fear, with evidence of things that challenge his and others' "humanity", Prendick is a good representative of Humanity itself.

  But what intrigued me most (and if I seem to be using that word too much, I'm sorry--it's one of my favorites, and I do so like to be intrigued) was the ending. Even if it was something I expected. Once you see the animal, see the jungle--you tend to see it everywhere else. It's hard to go back to what you were, and for many, you never do. Prendick struggled to not see his neighbors as animals--to fear that he saw the Creature that was furtive and fearful and dangerous in their faces, in their gestures. It took so long for him to acclimate again, and even then, he had times where he regressed. But I was surprised by the very ending. Hope? I do believe in it--something one must hold onto, if they are to survive, in my opinion, but I did not expect Prendick to end with a refrain of humanity's hope.

  "My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry, and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy. There is--though I do not know how there is or why there is--a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live.
     And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.  --Edward Prendick"

  A swift read, The Island of Doctor Moreau is an interesting examination of Humanity and the Beast.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams: The Joy of My Childhood

robin williams remembered
  I was stunned this morning when my mom gave me the news. For a moment I thought I wasn't hearing right. Robin Williams is dead? The man who I was always eager to watch as a kid, and even as an seems incomprehensible. But the first thing that went through my mind--after the thought of what his family must be feeling--was the realization that I wasn't off the mark when I had recently seen a picture of him on the red carpet or at some other photo shoot, and I had thought he looked sad. I don't really look up celebrities--not much. I tend to study other things. But still...the news shocked me. And like many others, it's been a sad day.

  My brightest memories of his work are when, as a child, I'd be visiting one of my dad's friend's house, and I'd be able to watch their Jumanji movie, on VHS. I knew Robin Williams first as Mrs. Doubtfire, (he really won me over, he was just so likeable) as Peter Pan, and as the Genii in Aladdin. Anything new I saw, I was always excited to see more of him. More of his joy, his funniness--his own personality. He was the type of person that you just wanted to give him a hug, I felt.

  On Fox News, on The Five they were talking about how Robin Williams had said before that when a celebrity commits suicide, or dies--I don't remember the exact phrasing--many of them are mythicized.  But I think it is safe to say, that so many people aren't going to be exaggerating when they say that he was such a kind, generous person, and he freely gave of what joy he could. He made us laugh. That's a gift, isn't it? To be able to make people forget for a moment all the trash that goes on, and laugh until our bellies hurt--or even, as he said in his own words, to take the dark and the absurd and to turn it into something you can laugh at. As a means of dealing with it.
robin williams remembered

  I think it is believable that so many comedians are often depressed--I wonder, from a bit of personal experience that isn't even of the same depth, if they ARE so funny because they are desperate to find lightness where they see the dark. To find a way of escape. It's a coping mechanism that they share, getting their joy from actually making others genuinely laugh. I know I love making people laugh. To inspire others, to give them joy--that is an incredible gift to have for yourself as well as others.

  I spent today thinking over and over again how just the day before yesterday my family and I were watching RV, wherein Robin Williams plays the dad trying to reach his family once again after getting caught up in his job, and I thought then, "It would be so cool if someday I was able to meet Robin Williams and tell him how much I've enjoyed his movies since I was a kid. How they always made me laugh, and I was excited to see something new--I was always excited to see what joy he'd show me." And little did I know what would happen the next day. I just can't imagine what his family is going through.

  It's a sad time for all of us. But we'll all remember and love that crazy manic man that is impossible to forget.

  Robin Williams, we'll remember you. And you'll always be my Peter Pan.

robin williams death and remembrance, family

  ~E.C. Carmen

Friday, August 1, 2014

What Makes It Matter~The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Trailer

  This was late in coming, even if only a few days. I've been superbly busy, let's just put it that way. But I'm sure the whole of geekdom and those who just passionately love a good story were flipping out and wallowing in the depth of sorrow and fear of the first teaser trailer of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. I had been haunting TORN for awhile, with thousands of others, waiting impatiently for the coming out of the much awaited trailer. And when that post came up, I was just there. And by the end, I was so sad. Not because it wasn't good. But because it was awesome. Right from the beginning it grabbed my heart, and would not let go. You feel the fear of Bilbo, his sorrow for the people that are under the burden and consequence of the choices of others. And all that he is afraid that will come to pass, and what they all--whoever will survive--will forever live with.

  It is also an example of why I want to make films. Their capacity to blend elements into a story--themes that make it breathe with such emotion, such reality, that it makes us believe in something. And that, in the end, we find that our heart has been broken, and put back better than it was, even if wounded. That's a story that matters. And I want to tell stories that matter.

  It isn't too much to say that when I finally see the defining chapter of The Hobbit, I will cry. Not only because it's the end, there will be no more--but mostly because it will have been a story truly worthwhile. You don't always have the privilege of coming across them, being blessed by them.

     ~Elora Carmen Shore

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stimulate My Mind, and Dance With Me

great writing quotes

  I've been reading my brain into a dribbling mess. It feels bruised. But strangely, not just because I've been reading so much, but because I haven't had the stimulation of streamlined productivity in awhile. I'm coming to think that the lack of proper work for the brain is as tiring, if not more so, than the abundance of it. Sometimes the new stimulation of productivity just comes from a new angle on what is already present, but I find that often enough, I feel as though I'm starving for new experiences, a new store of revelation and point of views to get a mental adrenaline rush from. Honestly, sometimes my brain says--is there not anything new at the moment? Come on, show me something new. Send my suppositions, assumptions, perceptions for whirl. Life, dance with me for a moment. 

  Ah, the dance. Sweet addiction. It makes you understand why so many authors traveled extensively. Studied widely. (The second of which I do myself--endless curiosity provides you the trail to many answers).

And I also suppose you're also asking what the point of the post is. A very logical question. I was asking it myself--and the answer is I don't have a clue. Perhaps it's just an expression.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore  

  "This case alone ought to destroy the absurd fancy that these modern philosophies are modern  in the sense that the great men of the past did not think of them." ~ Chesterson

P.S. I meant to publish this the other day--since then, I've been making some progress. That's just how it goes. ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jet Li's Fearless: To Know Your Enemy

  Years ago I happened to catch some of a movie when my dad had it on. I had no idea what it was called, and when I later inquired, he could not remember. Only by accident, when looking for a movie by the same title, did I recently discover what it was called--Fearless. And needless to say I watched it.

jet li's fearless

    I appreciated it so much more than I even expected. It wasn't just another martial arts movie, with superb choreography, and that atmosphere of the culture that I have always loved. Though a popular theme in eastern storytelling, (and even elsewhere, but I have noticed it especially in eastern tales) this story carried itself well, with strength. It actually surprised me. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

  It was the true story of a man who realizes the cost of his own arrogance and recklessness. How much he had been his own enemy, and the cost of his sins and arrogance is the cruel loss of those he loved most--a direct consequence of his own failure to see the truth about himself. It took Moon, a sweet blind woman, to show him how to see.

  Huo Yuanjia is a young boy that his father won't teach, and grows up to know why. Despite this he grows into a formidable fighter, but with no real understanding of what a true warrior is. His arrogance and lack of responsibility lead him to reckless spending, gathering of "apprentices" that his true friend points our are little more than freeloaders. In his blindness Huo disregards the wise advice of his childhood friend and continues in his ways until his conceit leads him to disrespect and challenge a local enemy for beating his apprentice, when he wasn't even in possession of all the facts, (Something his enemy pointed out, who, at the moment, was showing greater courtesy), and loses the respect of his one true friend.
jet li's fearless
He ends up killing his enemy. And the cost for his reckless haste and conceit is his own family. Most notably, his little, precious girl. Without hesitation he takes quick reckoning for that, but even in so doing, it all catches up with him. He sees the worthless dog he is. And he flees from everything he knows, everything he is.

jet li's fearless
  When Huo Yuanjia comes back to awareness, he is in a place of peace, in the healing care of an elderly woman and her granddaughter, Moon. It is their kindness, mostly Moon's, that bring Huo to who he was really meant to be. Moon shows him how to see; her, a blind woman full of understanding and kindness. She shows him what kind of man Huo wants to be--a true warrior--and he spends the rest of his life trying to share that vision. He goes to those he has wronged, and pays his respects, destroys the reminder of his past victories, and becomes the new man--the one with a truth and example to share. It brings on a new chapter of his life, and his childhood friend back to his side. Together they create a school, Jin Wu Sports Federation--a real place, as this is based on the true story. Something for me to further study.

  But the wolves of money have it out for him, and while he knows that they have challenged him to a fight with their own champion only to accomplish something shady, he takes up their challenge in the desire to once again show people what he stands for. What it truly means to fight well--to show yourself for who you are. It is his honesty and true courtesy and wisdom that makes his final opponent respect him, and they prove both of themselves in their duel--both never backing down, even though Huo knows he's been poisoned.

jet li's fearless
  And this is how Huo finally proves himself. He finishes the fight, the challenge, even though he is spitting poison from his gut and every blow is breaking him down. This is his fearlessness--fearless in the face of death, and in the face of those who would hold wrongful gain higher than the merit of a honorable fight.

  He shows the world who he is and reveals the moneymakers as the dogs they are. He dies with a smile. He knows that he has died honorably. He could ask for no better legacy, this holding up of all he now stands for.

  This is a movie I would love to have on my shelf. The stories of real warriors are always stories that are needed. And I am blessed in that Huo Yuanjia was a real person. I can go and learn more of his real legacy, living still today. This story came full circle--the vices that made him into a wrong warrior, and the enlightenment and cost that forged the new one--one he fought for, and became and defended. The sort of man that enabled him to die with a smile on his face.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Measure of a Man: Captain America The Winter Solider

  I just enjoyed myself immensely, going to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It as absolutely worth the trip to the theater (which is always fun anyway). It was good, just sitting there enjoying a really good story, both well told and well portrayed through excellent performances and good, fresh cinematography.

steve rogers
  Going home, I wondered what exactly made it so great. That it was great, I had no doubt. I don't just like a movie for no reason. Then I realized it was because over all, the story was a test of Steve Rogers' faithfulness to who he is, what he believes in. He has come from a time that tested who he was, and to a point even made him--then he was asleep for 70 years only to get dropped in another time with further issues, some which aren't all that different. His life has been a roller coaster of things constantly challenging him. And here, there is yet again plenty to challenge who he is and what he believes to be right, through a mix of them that aren't all clear cut obstacles, good or bad--some come in the form of a friend. Or would be friend. Or used to be friend.

  An article that I read over at Confessions of a INTP made a very good point--hitting on a subconscious comparison even I had--likening Captain America to King David. Someone who had been a strong person with small things, who knew the value of having strength so as to do even greater good. I would greatly suggest you read the post Charity of Confessions of a INTP wrote on Captain America. It is greatly worth the read, hitting some points that I won't address as much in this review.

stever rogers and black widow
  In the beginning Steve is forging new friendships, friendships that will strengthen over the course of the story. What I really like is that it starts simply, a normal morning with a dude being outrun by another seemingly super-human dude with a sense of humor--yes, that being Steve Rogers. I liked how we were just eased into his story. It felt natural and easy-going, we were just back in the Marvel universe with one of our favorite buds.
steve rogers and nick fury pics  After a questionable mission Steve Rogers doesn't know if he can support everything Nick Fury stands for--not sure if he can stand with him. Shield has moved into something centralized around fear, not respect--but as Nick Fury puts it, they take the world as it is, not what they want it to be--and respond. I can understand them both at the same time. What Steve doesn't know is that Fury has his own doubts. And that before long, he will be doing what he can to help him. Steve recognizes the soldier in Fury, someone who fights, and dies for what he believes in.What do you do when someone you're not sure about shows you something about them that you know to be honorable and worthy?

bucky winter soldier
This sends Steve on the road to finding the truth about everything. And it also leads him to learn the true identity about the mysterious, fatal Winter Soldier. It's Bucky--his best friend, whom he thought had fallen to his death, leaving him with the burden of knowing he couldn't save him. Can he turn against his friend? Even now, now that he's changed almost beyond recognition, not even remembering who he was? This, I think, is the biggest challenge that Steve has--whether or not he will betray who his friend was. We would not judge him if he did--the Winter Soldier poses such a terrible threat to everyone, to what they're trying to accomplish. But it is because of Steve's resolve to continue to believe in himself, to not forsake believing that he can make his friend remember who HE is. Because, as he said, "I'm with you until the end of the line." When I saw the flashback scene where Bucky tells this to Steve when he needs it most, I knew it'd would come later at a defining moment in the movie, and I wasn't disappointed. However predictable, I love good lines like this that define a friendship, and I have joy when I see it--what their relationship had stood for--pulling through.

"And I'm with you--to the end of the line."

  Captain America is faithful. He fights for what he believes in, for what loves in his country, and values in those he fights alongside, especially those closest to him. And what is best is that we can believe that he always will, because he has proved it yet again. He has showed others in this story that they can be better, and he has learned from them as well. Those of Shield will have to start anew. But Steve Rogers will always be the same. A good man.

    If you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it. It will be worth it.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Desolation In Gold: A Hobbit Review, Part 1

  I held off on my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for good reason, feeling like (not just because I'm a Lotr/Hobbit fan) I had to watch it a few times before I could really pass off a solid opinion. And I'm glad I did, and by this point, I am really ready to share why I love the movie. But, I'm finding out, it will have to be told in more than one part. Here, I will just share what the story meant to me.

  First and foremost, it showed how much the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin has changed, much for the better, if not tried by the end. There is a faith there. A subtle dependence on each other for hope and expectation. Bilbo wants Thorin to have his home back, and Bilbo again and again gives Thorin the chance to keep believing that they will succeed.  In this way, they are holding on for dear life. What is life, if there is not hope? That is what I love most about the movie, this relationship.

  To put it concisely, this story was about having a fighting chance for what you believe in, hope for. Discovering how far you're willing to go--how hard you can hold on. Bilbo and Thorin and the dwarves, we know what the cost is for them.
laketown pics
bard the bowman
But I appreciate that the writers have brought in the hopes of the people of Esgaroth more personally--I feel it more acutely, I feel, than I did in the book.
We get to know Bard and his family enough that I care about them, wish them better than the hardship they have, along with their fellow men. And of course, that is contrasted well by The Master and his sniveling aide. Their very existence makes me think of a  nasty snotty rag filled with sick. These people, the people of Esgaroth, need hope. And the coming of Thorin and his warriors bring them that. Yet Bard knows the cost may be their undoing. He is the unclaimed champion of the people, a true leader--but like many before him, few listen to him.

tauriel and legolas screencap
Another aspect is in the hope of Tauriel, whose creation was subject to much skepticism. My own opinion of her is mixed, as I don't perceive her quite as a captain--she always seemed just to be one of Legolas's men. She didn't give me the impression of someone who was the captain of men. But perhaps in the next movie I will see improvement on that. What I did perceive, and what I loved--was that her great strength is her kindness. Her love of what is good. Not always do we get to see that in a person, their kindness giving them the strength to kill. I appreciated that she impersonated a worldwide concern for the evil growing around them.

tauriel pictures
It did create an interesting addition to the story though, in that she knows Thranduil is cutting their people off from the rest of the world. Her best remembered line, "Since when did we allow evil to become stronger than us?" is well deserved. Her love of what is good and beautiful in the world is what makes her a good character. It is also reflected in her developing love angle with Thorin's nephew, Kili. Many have said that he's the heart throb of the story, but--well. People can have their opinion. I did like what they shared while the dwarves were hostage, the simple sharing of things they held to be beautiful. They both were better than letting cultural differences and old hatreds form their perceptions of individuals. And of course, it was also rife with humor. Amusing to see Legolas get a little jealous over a dwarf that was "admittedly taller than some, but no less ugly". However, I did not really feel that their love story was that strong. Still, that is just my thought. It's something that I can overlook, and I do wonder how it will end in the final course of the story. Tauriel hopes to see good fought for in the world, to see it protected. Kili hopes, as stated later, that she could love him. Still, I find his hope for the fulfillment of the quest more believable.

thranduil desolation of smaug
Contrasting is Thranduil--who, with a supremely creepy performance, made it perfectly plain that he was interested having the white jewels that he counted his to begin with. And he is willing to wait however long is necessary. His performance I couldn't tell at first whether I found it just strange--but then I realized something. He very may well be under the same sickness that ran through Thorin's family. After all, the gems were part of the treasure that made others whose possession it was in'm just saying it would explain a lot, and this theory has me excited to see what will happen next. His character was in equal measure creepy, weird, and interesting. I saw glimpses of the strong leader I expected, along with an intriguing mental aspect to him. 

gandalf desolation of smaug
  Further, the stakes are raised when Gandalf, early in the story discovers what is really behind the Necromancer. And it fully unmasks itself in the end, in a truly climatic, fiery confrontation that I will never forget. Never have I seen Gandalf so out of his depth--and his only hope that Radagast can get word to the High Council in time. Because nothing was as it seemed--they had all been blind. (Not that we who are fans of the book were surprised, but it was filmed with incredible brilliancy). One of my favorite scenes in the entire film.

the dwarves desolation of smaug

  In the story hope within reach is symbolized physically, and dually by getting to the Doors of Durin in time and opened, and the regaining, most importantly, of the Arkenstone--but in striving for that, the dwarves and Bilbo truly waken The Dragon. And what I liked most about this portion of the story was that not only was it a physical threat with a presence that shadowed over everything--it was incredibly psychological like a relentless nightmare. Vain, mental, and almost seductive in his magnificence and smartly woven words, dripping like patronizing venom. Smaug is a true impersonation of the classic serpent--and I will never forget his golden magnificence.

smaug screencap

  Smaug was everything we could have hoped for. And what escalates the story is that Thorin almost sacrifices Bilbo to finally get back what he wants most--it has become an obsession. Everything is turning to madness, leaving us knowing that something truly devastating this way comes.

Until the next part (where I continue to spill my guts)...

~E.C. Shore

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Real Definition: Excellence, and Perfection

excellent writing quote

  I can't say whether or not this is starting off on the right foot or not. Especially as this is the first post of the new blog. But I'll share something that I do know, something I've learned just recently. I've been caught up in this idea that I can find perfection if I just keep working. I'll just keep editing, revising, and changing and editing and revising again until I find myself looking at a story surprisingly different from the one I imagined, and so much more beautiful. Through continuous sweat and reflection I'll find something perfect.

  But what if not? Because I did find myself looking at my work, so completely changed from what it had been a long time ago...but no closer to this supposed idea of perfection that I had assumed I would see? So then I wondered--what if I never found it? What if I have been kidding myself?

  What is the definition of perfection? My idea was a vague one--that I would find myself staring it in the face someday. And perhaps I will find something of that in the end, as my work is far from over. But how can I strive for it, when I have no clear idea what it actually is?

  Then I found myself thinking of the classics, and modern books that I know will one day be classics. They are stories of excellence. I realized, when thinking about different points of them, that not one of them I would call perfect. Many had minor quirks or details that I thought were either silly or underdeveloped. I thought that Tolkien, my favorite author, had a strange way of not filling out enough of some of the characters. I love seeing more in depth storylines. Charles Dickens, in my humble opinion as a reader, sometimes felt like he was trying to show how impressively he could carry on a sentence without sacrificing proper grammar. Still, both are excellent writers, as time has proved. People continue to love what they gave. And I don't see how people won't continue to love them, as time goes on. This only reminded me of how I read how often Tolkien wrote and rewrote--and still he thought further changes should be made. Dickens gave an alternative ending to Great Expectations at one point. And I like both. Did they ever think that any one of their stories was finally perfect? Thinking on that, I found that I doubted it. I believe that they strove to find a truth in themselves, and they shared it. They strove for excellence. They just gave the best of themselves, truths they knew.

  Perhaps this is the truth between perfection and excellence. We can never find perfection until we are perfect--and that is something we will never find for ourselves, because we can't even recognize it. But we continue to strive to be better, to find our own truth--our own excellence. And by our striving, and the truth within ourselves, to share that--we will find excellence in our work. And nothing can be better. The definition of excellence is:

          "The quality of being outstanding or extremely good."

Whereas perfection is:

         "The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

  So just tell your own truth, I guess--that's the telling of  a good story. I'll keep going, keep learning, and see what I'll end up with. It only seems appropriate that I end this post with the words of those who've gone before us.


 “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

 “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

 “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD

 “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

*Post first published in Beyond the Pages blog, by E.C.S.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Art of Collaboration, A Look Into the Work of Two Authors and Their Creation of a Saga

  Hey readers--I just wanted to introduce you to a couple pretty awesome authors I have the privilege of knowing. Marie I met on Authonomy, and immediately fell in love with her writing. Truly epic and believable. Learning later that she and her sister are collaborating on a project called the Thiortha saga. I asked if I could interview them for more info on it, and they agreed. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Beka and Sarah Marsh
Your current plans are to finish your Thiortha saga, right? How's the progress with that?

Suzanne: Well, we had kind of a breakthrough a week or two ago, and we decided to break the series into two separate story arcs, tentatively titled Bloodlines and Battlelines, though collectively they will be known as The Thiortha Chronicles.  Although Bloodlines occurs first in our timeline, we’re working on the five titles associated with Battlelines at the moment.  This includes Poisoned, Tuned, Cursed, Locked, and Rejected.

Marie: We have decided to go back and start working on our third draft of Poisoned right now. The third draft will fill plot holes and provide some much needed development for the characters in Poisoned. After the third draft, we hope to be sending it to some beta readers, which will begin the process of getting Poisoned published.

What inspired the story?

Suzanne: One day I was going through my iTunes playlist and I found a song that I hadn’t listened to before.  It was “If I Could Cry”, a song from a British production of Sleeping Beauty, and sung by Paul Byrom, one of my favorite soloists.  The song contained such a poignant quality and promised an interesting backstory. Naturally, my imagination kicked in and filled in the rest.  The original result my listening to that song was Cursed, which is now book 3 in our Battlelines series.

Marie: Not to be a copycat, but a song also brought me into this as well. The song was "Midnight Well," performed by Ryan Kelly from Celtic Thunder. Suzanne had been talking to me about her Sleeping Beauty story idea and wanted some advice on other possible fairy tales that could be connected to form a series. When I was listening to "Midnight Well" at work, an idea popped into my head. I listened to the song for the rest of my workday, and all the way home, letting the thought blossom. When I told Suzanne my idea for the story, it became Poisoned, Book 1 of Battlelines.

What stages has your process gone through?

Suzanne: While writing Cursed (then known as The Pearl of Aireland) during my sophomore year of college, I thought, Hey, why can’t I bring in some other fairy tales and make this a series? I remember talking to you about my idea, Elora, and you actually gave me a great idea that became the basis for the magic system in our books today.  My sister Marie became my sounding board and Resident Fairy Tale Expert during this whirlwind process.  Eventually I asked her to just help me write the books, since she was giving me so many good ideas anyway.

Marie: So I went from not wanting to be a writer to writing a book in a month. Quite a shock to one's system, I dare say.
Suzanne: Like she said, we wrote the first draft to Poisoned in approximately 28-29 days. It was a ton of fun, and working with a co-writer was a lot easier than I expected it would be.

Marie: Sometimes--it's nuts--we have the same thought at the same exact time. Then, when we do, we go absolutely berserk. Jump around the house and high fiving each other, exclaiming how brilliant we are...we are quite humble, as you can imagine.

Suzanne: Sometimes I think we scare our family, especially when we talk about killing characters.

Marie: It's funny. Occasionally, when we're walking in the store or something, one of us might say "NO! I don't want to kill [insert random character's name here]! But it has to be done!"...and then one of our parents will give us the weirdest look that says "Who are you wanting to kill?"

Suzanne: No, Mom, we’re not turning into serial killers. Promise.

Who would you say has inspired your writing the most?

Suzanne: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but didn’t think I would be able to until I was older, you know? Especially since all of my favorite authors at the time (Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, etc.) were all either old or dead.  But with the success of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (which he published at age 19) came the realization that I could start writing whenever I wanted. So I started my first novel, Darkstar, at age fifteen and finished it at age 18.

Marie: I don't know exactly. There are a lot of fantastic authors out there. Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, Riordan, Collins, Austen, Paolini, to name a few...I think Suzanne helped me find my desire to tell stories, but other than that, I can't necessarily pinpoint my inspiration to write.

Suzanne: It’s not just “who” that inspired our writing, but “what”. We’re big fans of the groups Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman, which inspired a lot of the Celtic/Gaelic influence in our stories.  BBC’s Merlin and ABC’s Once Upon a Time have also been influential, as well as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.
Marie: The novels in the Thíortha Chronicles are all loosely based on fairy tales. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Pied Piper, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, and several more. Suzanne describes it as putting the original fairy tale in a blender and using the product of that. Which is very true. We do have some of the key items or ideas that carry over, like the poisoned apple, or the rose from Beauty and the Beast, but we give it our own interpretation, which is good. Originality is best. And we completely do away with wicked stepmothers: they are rather over used.

A lot of people have a “set up” for when they're about to start writing. The proverbial coffee, a favorite artist, etc. Usually, for me the coffee helps. Preferably a latte. But Starbucks doesn't live on my doorstep unfortunately. What is your preferred set up?

Marie: Well, for me, I like to be secluded in my room and uninterrupted, but I think that is fairly common among writers. I also like to be plugged into my writing playlist while focusing on what I'm trying to get across for the scene I'm working on. Occasionally, though, a song starts to play that you just have to sing and dance to, if you know what I mean.

Suzanne: For me, it’s all about the music.  I listen to a mix of Celtic Thunder, Celtic Woman, Disney soundtracks, Broadway, John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc.), Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean), and The Piano Guys.  Occasionally, there’ll be a song that’s simply PERFECT for the scene I’m writing, and it will go on repeat, sometimes for hours.

I do like to have a snack and a drink of some sort when I write, but it’s not necessary for creativity.  I have to have (at least) two hours of uninterrupted time; spending a half hour listening to music and playing a mindless game (like sudoku or solitaire) to “get in the zone” (basically clearing up my horribly cluttered mind).  Then I write like a madwoman for at least an hour. When I’ve finished that scene, I have to just listen to music for another half-hour to slowly zone back into reality.

You have several things in the working, whether or not they're in active work in progress. Do you have any ideas for those? Judging from their descriptions on your website, they sound interesting. The first really grabbed my attention.
When a prince tries to help a mysterious young woman, he unwittingly upsets the long-laid plans of her power-hungry fiancé.
Sounds like a story told from the point of view of the men, instead of the typical “girl in the center of things” fairy tale. Just from this, in my opinion it sounds humorously promising. Looking forward to seeing some of it.

Suzanne: Originally, yes, it started from the man’s point of view, but with that recent breakthrough I mentioned earlier we sort of switched the series around to feature the heroes, heroines, antagonists, and antiheros equally, almost so that you can’t tell which is which.  This new development was intended to make all the characters seem more realistic, instead of their simply playing the part of an assigned role (the villain is always maliciously evil, the hero is always irreproachably moral, etc.).

Marie: I like to think that we're giving the characters more depth…that we're giving the villain a reason to hate the protagonist not just being mindlessly and stupidly evil. We're trying to come up with a reason for everyone's actions, however rational or irrational. Nobody's perfect, and we want to portray that in our characters.
Suzanne: One thing I’m hoping to stray away from in our books is the horrid depiction of women in literature/entertainment today.  The feminists, in an attempt to stray away from meek and mild-mannered pushover female characters, have insisted that we have “strong” women, which creates the nauseating Strong Female Character.  Essentially, this SFC is a male personality in a female body.  We don’t just want our girls to be strong: we want them to be witty, fragile, vain, vengeful, scarred, manipulative, resourceful, vivacious, clever, spoiled, passionate…whatever their story demands. We want them to be real girls who aren’t afraid to pick up a sword or go have a good cry, who love to get in a pretty dress but are willing to get down and dirty if they have to.

Individually, do you two have plans for future writing?

Marie: For my part, probably not. I'm not making any promises though. Who knows what strange thought may pop into my head that is just begging to be written? I will say, we do have plenty of stories--other than the Thíortha Chronicles--that we have plans of writing together.
Suzanne: I would really like to go back and finish my Darkstar trilogy some day, but I might get Marie to help me with that.  Not sure yet.  Also, I have plans to do a set of serial short stories (almost like a TV series, but in book form) set within the Darkstar universe that revolves around a popular woman’s singing group and their orchestra that travels with them.  That’s way off in the future, though.

Where else can we find you?

Marie: You can find us online at the following places:
Our website/blog: (we post every Friday)

Any other news you'd like to share?

Suzanne: Our plan right now to get Poisoned published by October of this year.  We are looking for a cover artist, by the way.

  Thank you so much guys! It was fun, and we have a lot to look forward to. Thanks for taking the time. And expect for me to beg for another interview in the future. Can't wait to see how things progress!