Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Review of Bullet Witch

So recently Russ and I bought an Xbox 360 because his old, original drive Xbox finally bit the dust. We also got a Blockbuster membership under my name so we could start renting things again, as he owes late fees to every movie rental place in town. Unfortunately, the Blockbuster closest to us has a pretty lame selection of games and movies, and in wanting to try to pick up more 360 games to try I snagged Bullet Witch.

It had a female character who seemed to kick butt, demons, magic, and a bigass gun, so it must be decent, right?

Wrong. Bullet Witch, to put it simply, is an awful game. Which is a bit sad, because the concept is kind of cool. The game play is a bit clunky at best, and the level layouts are awful and repetitive. I didn't even continue playing after the second level. Why, you ask? Because it took me one hour and forty five minutes to complete the second level. I would hazard that twenty or more of those minutes were spent just running around like a complete moron, totally unsure of where to go next. The level construction is really simplistic and repetitive as well; You run around and shoot demons, heal the occasional human, and kill the floating brains that are the source of the colored shields that keep you out of certain areas. Then you do the same thing over again to open up another area of the level, with the occasional tank you have to bomb with a lightning spell. That's really all it is.

Skip it, unless you're OCD and desperate for the gamer points. They're fairly easy to get (10 for completing a level, some number for completing the game on easy, hard, and chaos and maybe another setting or two) but it really wears thin fast enough to not be worth your time. Go pick up Dead Rising or something, there are plenty of amusing achievements to get and they're worth a bit more.

All in all, I'd say 2.5 out of 5.0 quills.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Long Absence

Many apologies for the very long absence; I'm afraid it won't get much better for the next couple of weeks, either. I am in the midst of preparing a house to sell and packing up everything in the house to move to Georgia by the end of May. I have been insanely busy, and barely had time to sleep or read, much less write. This should change soon.

The other reason I was gone was of course, my "March" novel. It was so time intensive that I dropped all other writing.

I am proud to say that I passed the 50,000 word mark two days before the deadline, and have an almost-finished first draft of Music of The Night. I've started tweaking it a bit, but I've mostly been too busy to work on that as well.

That's about all for now. My hiatus should end soon, perhaps with another short story called The Queen's Gate or a passage from Music of The Night that doesn't completely suck.


Monday, March 5, 2007

The Day When Dreaming Ends

I had a pretty strict rule for myself about not posting fan fiction here, but when I was puttering around in the garage I found an old box of printed out papers, mostly stories from my dead machine. I was quite happy, because I have hard copies of at least a couple of them to type back up, and that is just a little bit less than I have to worry about pulling from the old machine.

One of my old fan fictions, which was actually fairly close to being an original story other than a couple of the characters, was called The Day When Dreaming Ends. It was about the downfall of the Marauders from Harry Potter, starting from their graduation and ending with the death of the Potters. I used to write a lot of fan fiction because I was a bit lazy, it was fun, and it would actually get attention. I might go back to it a bit just to build a base of readers to pawn off my published books to. ;)

It never got very far, but I was pretty happy with some of the plot twists I had, and I've been building my own modern wizards and witches after a short story about werewolves and a fortune teller, I thought I would totally revamp the characters and the places, but turn a couple of my more original and better fan fictions into their own stories. Into A Deeper Darkness was one, and perhaps Shards Behind A Golden Frame, but The Day When Dreaming Ends was always one of those. I found one of the pivotal scenes of the writing in that box today, and I like it, and so I thought I would post it here in it's original form so when the new one comes out it can be compared.

Most of the characters are original characters I created to fill out the Marauder's world. Only three from JK Rowling's world appear. The spell names, places, and world setting will have to change obviously, and dramatically, because I don't want to copy her work, but I think there is a good base there. There is some cursing in the excerpt, and it's not the best I've ever done but I think the comparison later will be neat. It is also written in internet style (not netspeak!) to make it easier on the eyes for reading on the computer.


The Day When Dreaming Ends

Laena's eyes frantically scanned the crowd, trying to catch a familiar face, a familiar pair of eyes. Her mouth and throat were dry, and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.

She had never felt despair like this--not when she'd almost died, not when she'd slept with Sirius and she knew in her heart that it was nothing more than a favor, and not when Lily had vanished. She had run headfirst into death and could not escape, but now it was not merely her death.

As her eyes flickered across the Death Eaters, they caught the gaze of a pair of dark grey eyes. Eyes that she had dreamt about and loved for years, but she could see the difference between these eyes and the ones she loved.

"Regulus!" she hissed, and the startled man pulled off his mask. She could see the distress etched across Sirius's brother's young, handsome face.

Taryn made a startled noise from behind Laena, taking careful steps so she was not standing behind her heavy oak desk.

Laena thoughts raced frantically; Regulus probably had no great love for her. Why would he risk anything for her?

"What the hell do you want?" Taryn spat with uncharacterisitic nastiness. The leader chuckled, a low, cold laugh.

"It's typical of you, Lucius, to hide behind a mask. Don't think I don't know who you are," Taryn shot back in response to the laugh, a smug look on her face.

Laena looked surprised, giving Taryn an astonished look. The woman's ability to read people was amazing.

"The Department of Mysteries, Briant, is what we want. The secrets of it, and the way in." Lucius said smoothly, his voice not revealing the surprise in his cold eyes.

"Secrets which I know only you know. I will get them from you, and then I will kill you. I thought I'd be frank, seeing how you know everything. You always have," his voice was taunting.

They would kill her. She did not have the incredible intelligence that Taryn did; she did not know the Department of Mysteries' secrets. And because of her personality, she had openly spited the Dark Lord more than Taryn ever had. Terror shook her body; she finally had all she wanted, or at least the illusion of it, and now she was going to die. But her son, she couldn't let him die. Sirius needed him more than he needed her-- and she needed her son's life more than her own.

Her hands nervously wrung around a section of her flaming curls, and Laena decided to do something she had never done, never even considered.

She launched herself forward, grasping the front of Regulus's robes. The Death Eaters responded instantly, but a small Death Eater who gave a vauge sense of familiarity shouted for her to left alone. The Death Eaters listened, and slowly backed off.

"Regulus, I beg of you, don't kill me," she whispered, and the young man's eyes grw wide. Was this the fiery girl who has brother had always spoken of?

Lucius laughed cruelly as the other Death Eaters snickered loudly.

"So the unbreakable Laena O'Shannen begs for mercy; this is a sight worth seeing." he railed. Laena ignored him.

"Not for my sake--for your brother's. I carry your brother's son. Let me live for him," she said, and the tears finally came. They splashed down her cheeks and ran down her neck. Little tear flecks splattered across Regulus's face as he stared at her in unabashed horror. He didn't want Laena's murder on his hands--he didn't want murder at all.

"Please," Laena pleaded, her voice choked with tears.

At Laena's words about Sirius, one of the Death Eaters made a strangled noise deep in his throat. Laena didn't notice--all her focus was on Regulus.

Lucius swooped over and pushed Laena backwards. She stumbled and hit Taryn's big oak desk. Papers and office supplies went flying. Laena leaned against it for support, trying to force her body to stop shaking. Her ire was rising; Taryn could tell by her pursed lips and the flush that was spreading from her neck to her face.

"Did Black finally take you to his bed?" Lucius sneered, and Laena's eyes narrowed and became raging cinnamon slits.

"Does your wife ever voluntarily go to yours?" she shot back, and Lucius froze. She'd obviously touched a nerve. He snarled and raised his want.

"If you kill me, Lucius Malfoy, I bring the curse of the Celts upon you," Laena warned, and slid down the oak desk in exhaustion, looking up at the wizard. Lucius laughed hollowly.

"I'll never understand the Irish and their ridiculous beliefs," he said calmly, and Taryn snorted.

"You won't be laughing when the next time you step into Ireland a tree falls on your head," Taryn said nastily.

"Although it would be quite an improvement, I think." she added as an afterthought, and Lucius's expression was an odd one behind his faceless mask.

"What would be an improvement, Briant?" he snarled. Pride and arrogance really were his downfalls, Taryn thought to herself. He couldn't ignore her obvious distraction because it was insulting his pride.

"Oh, that you'd be dead. That'd make the world a much better place, believe me," she explained nonchalantly. Lucius started to make another comment, but stopped himself. He had too many important things to accomplish to waste time trading insults with an annoying mudblood.

"Is it true, that you carry Black's child?" One of the Death Eaters asked, his voice pained and strangled. It was the small one, the one who reminded Taryn of someone every time she saw him. The voice struck a chord somewhere, and Taryn frantically shifted through her endless amount of memories on people, voices and faces to try and identify it.

"It is, you bastard," Laena spat at him, and the man's shoulder sagged and it sounded like he choked back a sob.

"Oh god..." Taryn suddenly shouted, but it was too late. The man's form and already drawn up in pain and anger, and he had raised his wand.

"Avada Kedavra!" he sobbed and Taryn rushed forward in what felt like slow motion.

It didn't kill Laena instantly. He was such a weak wizard; he always had been. She was sprawled out on the ratty carpet for several moments, her face still frozen in a last expression of anger. Her lips moved, but no sound came out, and then Laena O'Shannen passed from the world.

It took Taryn several moments to register that Laena was dead; that her friend through the long years had suddenly and unexpectedly died and left her alone.

Taryn's eyes rose from her friend's form and rested on the small Death Eater. Her dark eyes glittered with unshed tears and an anger that she should never had felt boiled up in her soul. Taryn was a scholar, Taryn was a lover of all things...Taryn was never meant to be angry like this.

In a rage, she leapt onto her desk and ran across it. Snarling viciously, she launched herself onto the man, scratching and biting and flailing in rage.

"You fucking bastard! I'll kill you, I swear to God, I will fucking kill you!" she roared, and the force of her anger was incredible. In some part of her heart, she hoped they'd kill her for attacking him and then they'd never find out the secrets that resided in her head. Kill her so she could run after Laena, as she'd always done, and calm her anger.

Her hands scrabbled at his mask, trying to rip it off his face. Countless hands tore at her, yanking her away, pulling at her hair and clawing at her private parts.

"Don't think I don't know who you are! I always know! You'd better hope I never escape, because the whole of Gryffindor will tear you apart!" Taryn snarled, hateful words pouring from her lips. She had never had the desire to murder anyone before, but if she could have, she would have murdered him. She would have found a time-turner and gone back in time and murdered him.

She screamed at the top of her lungs. The force of it tore at her throat, and still didn't begin to express her range and betrayal. She should have known, she could see into everyone's souls. Why hadn't she seen the darkness in his?

The muscles in her legs and arms burned with exhaustion, but still she fought, pulling against the power of a dozen men. They would not take her...she couldn't.

One well-placed blow shattered Taryn's kneecap, sending her tumbling to the ground. And still she fought, with tears of pain, both physical and emotional, pouring down her face. Never had she been so expressive. Never had she fought so hard in her entire life.

And she lost. Her hands could only grip the doorframe for so long...her uninjured leg could only do some much damage. The hands grasped around her, and she lost.

She looked up one last time, murder and hate shining in her once gentle eyes.

"You'd better hope you never put one finger into Ireland, Peter Pettigrew." She raged, and spit into the eyehole of his mask.

And that was the last that was ever seen or heard from Taryn Briant, one of the most brilliant minds to ever pass through Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Day 1

I think I could continue writing, but I have done well today and want to give things time to stew in my brain, so I have some faint idea of what to do tomorrow. Today has been a good day, I have been fairly productive. I can't say I'm happy with what I wrote, and I definitely can't say that it is good, but it is on paper. I still haven't found the style or voice for this novel yet, and that is more of the kind of writer's block I have been having. Not really the inability to write, although that has been prevalent as well, but the inability to write with a flow or a certain voice. Much of what I have written today has been awful, actually, with characters going off onto paragraphs long thought streams.

I dislike writing first person, but much of what I have done today seems to have been some odd first person-third person. It's also more telling than showing, and I don't know whether I want just the main character David to have chapters, or to spread it out. It is almost a mystery so having his younger brother, mother, or anyone else narrate at all or even be the focus of a chapter will probably ruin some of the intrigue. But to follow the No Plot? No Problem! book, I need to worry about none of that now. I am just supposed to write whatever comes into my head, and get the entire story on paper, and then I revise it and find it's voice and structure. In this exercise, it is the second step, while the first step is to mainly spew crappy writing onto the paper.

According to the book, these feelings diminish as the story takes shape, the longer you write, and it seems less haphazard and bad. I hope so.

Words Needed a Day to make 50,000: 1,667
Personal Goal: 2,000
Today's Word Count: 4, 152
Amount over Goal: 2, 152
Chapter: Still on Chapter 1
Characters Introduced: The main character, David, and one of the supporting females, Holly. Brief mention of Carolynn and Elijah, David's mother and brother. And Tramp the dog.
Stuff that happened: A whole lot of nothing, actually, other than David complaining about the weather, meeting Holly, and getting her to take him around the city so he knows some of the places to go.
Main Complaints: Listed above. A lot of internal monologuing and very little description. It flows very poorly and it makes me want to stab myself, but I must carry on. David is very slowly establishing himself, but I need to do that less with him "telling" the reader while thinking it and more through actions.
Good things: I like Holly. She exploded onto the page more fully formed than I thought she had been in my head. Hopefully she'll stay that way, because the part of the chapter with her in it moved very fast, even if I'm not too happy with it.
Quote (aka, the least bad):

“As long as you’re not some man-whore artist who just wants to add me to his list of lays, I can do that.” She shelved the last couple of books and stood up.

"No, no long list of lays for me. Unfortunately," he added as an afterthought.

Now I just need to get a vague idea of where I'm going, and figure out something to do for the rest of my night since this went fairly smoothly. I'm actually getting excited about editing it and fixing it, even though I think it will be a total mess and almost a complete rewrite. I just have to get there, though.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

30 Days

Something big is in the making here at the Doormat Writer. The other day, I picked up a book called No Plot? No Problem, a "high velocity guide to writing your first draft in 30 days" out of curiosity. Turns out it is written by the guy that founded National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which takes place every November. I'm planning on doing NaNoWriMo in November, but starting tomorrow on the first I'm going to try out the ideas mentioned in the book.

So, in 30 days, I am going to attempt to write 50,000 words on my novel Music of The Night (because thats the one with the least amount of plot so far) by the 30th of March. I plan to keep daily updates on this massive undertaking, mainly just word count and such, as I think much of what I will be writing won't be fit for anyone's eyes. ;)

If I make the 50,000 word mark, I will have most of a novel, and Russell will take me to Luciano's (a very good, but expensive local Italian restaurant) for dinner. If I "lose", we'll still go to Luciano's but I'll have to pay (ouch).

Now I am going to go enjoy my new Sims game before I sell my soul to my keyboard.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Immortal Verses

Sorry for the lack of updates, but writers block continues and I don't have much good stuff to post, as I'm trying to keep most of my articles, stories and poems to where they are being published in a very polished form. It was also my birthday this week, so I was being lazy and spending time with my family and friends. :)

Several weeks ago, I received a letter from, where on a whim I had entered my poem Sea Song into their monthly poetry contest. It was chosen as a semi-finalist, and is set to be published in the poetry anthology Immortal Verses this spring. I don't think I won the 1,000 dollar prize, though. But that's okay!

Hopefully I'll be able to write well again soon, and my successes (though small at this point) will continue.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Review of "The Virgin's Lover"

I haven't been able to read much lately (at least books I haven't read before. I have made some progress through older books of mine in rereads) because of school, writing, and working on the house to get it ready to sell, but I did recently pick up Phillipa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover. It is not quite as dirty as it might sound; it is a historical novel about Queen Elizabeth I.

I have seen many of Gregory's books while browsing the isles of Barnes and Noble, but I've never picked up any of them. Her other books The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool also look intriguing, but they all only come in the "big print" form which is roughly fifteen dollars per book, and although I am interested in them I don't really have the money to throw at the big print books, while paying 7 to 8 dollars for a regular paperback isn't so bad.

In 1558, Elizabeth I becomes the queen of England after her sister Mary's death. Sir Robert Dudley, of the powerful but disgraced Dudley family rushes to her side, eager to gain his place in society back. He leaves his wife Amy behind as he is wrapped up in the scandal, glamour and riches of the Tudor court, and soon his falls in love with his childhood friend Elizabeth. As their illicit affair spreads across the country, Elizabeth strings along several potential husbands while waiting for an invasion from France, who wishes to crown Mary Queen of Scots the Queen of England. Robert abuses Elizabeth's power, and begins to take hold of her, trying to convince her to allow him to set aside Amy and marry him. When Amy Dudley is found dead, the country is in an uproar.

This is based on history, as Elizabeth I was very close to Sir Robert Dudley, and Amy Dudley's death remains a mystery even now.

I'll have to say I had an odd reading experience with The Virgin's Lover. I can finish most books in a day or two if I read them straight through, or a week if I'm busy. In high school I read three or four books a week. Just another example of how engaging and educational even the higher level high school classes are. It took me a couple of weeks to read this book, because I stopped for a week or two, maybe longer, because I didn't like it. The beginning was good, but the more the book went on, the more disgusted I became with Robert Dudley, who is for much of the book is the main character. I had no sympathy for him, as he absolutely abuses poor Amy in his desperation to get back the power his family lost under Mary's catholic rule. I admit that I haven't read much history on Elizabeth, so I am not sure of her true nature, but the Elizabeth in this book is spoiled, petty, weak, and neurotic. I cannot see any of the woman remembered today as the proud, intelligent and brave ruler of England in the character in the book.

However, once you hit a certain point in the book, while Robert Dudley does not become anymore sympathetic (at least for me) Elizabeth grows closer to the vision of her I have in her head. When she realizes the hold Robert has over her after he goes too far, she begins to work behind his back to regain her respect and her power, and becomes a more stable and powerful character.

Amy Dudley is such a tragic character, and while she begins very meek despite her husband's constant grasps at power that fail horribly, she deepens in her religion and her convictions. The reader is rooting for her once she finally grows a spine to speak back to Robert.

All in all, a fairly enjoyable read if you can get past the conniving, adulterous, and power-obsessed Robert Dudley. 3.5 out of 5 quills.

"Grandeur! Are you still running after grandeur? Will you never learn your lesson? There was nothing very grand about you when you came out of the Tower, homeless and hungry; there was nothing very grand about your brother when he died of jail fever like a common criminal. When will you learn that your place is at home, where we might be happy? Why will you insist on running after disaster? You and your father lost the battle for Jane Grey, and it cost him his son and his own life. You lost Calais and came home without your brother and disgraced again! How low do you need to go before you learn your lesson? How base do you have to sink before you Dudleys learn your limits?"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

House Bjorn of Midgard

Here is a sampling of Silver Empire's Sjavik City book, from the noble families section I have been working on for the last couple of days.


Hiskapær Bjorn:

The Bear Lords are an old family, from the forests near the southern border of Midgard. Before the Konungr’s family conquered all the other kings and unified Midgard, they ruled over much of the southern end of the country, and even part of the Dwarves’ country when they were more interested in their caves than the land above. When the Konungr’s ancestors raided into their land, they drove them back for several years before the winters grew too deep for them to survive the armies camping their borders and blocking their supplies. The Konungr named them the Bear Lords for their stubbornness and the great grizzly bears that roamed their country. As the first family conquered by the Konungrs, they declared the bear lords as their right hand, and for many of the past centuries they have been second to only the king and his family in power. They have taken up their primary residence in Sjavik, with the younger and lesser sons of their house keeping up their old seat in southern Midgard. Sjavik rests on the sea, and gives them great chances for glory by joining the army or using their political clout to gain longships.

The original Bjorn estate is deep in the forests near the southern border of Midgard, but only distant family resides in it now. The Thengill and his immediate family live in a great wood house, at the foot of Konungrhlíð. The oldest daughter lives in Thingollr with her husband. They financially support several longships other than the Riverrider, and often have a hand in regulating trade. Guðrun also deals with many of the fruit shipments from her native country of Apalstrond, and they reap the monetary benefits from that.

They call their home Hásæti (Seat of Honour) to denote their ancient and powerful hold within the hierarchy in Midgard. It is a city house, with very few green grounds other than a few hardy fruit trees and prickly bushes. The inside of the home is filled with old and expensive furniture made by the most skilled of woodworkers, and boasts a dozen rooms laid out over two stories. The lower level of the house is built with stone, and an impressive carving of an incensed grizzly bear is etched into the heavy oak door. For a map of Hásæti for any quests, see the Maps section of the city book.

Gamall, Thengill Bjorn

The current head of Hiskapaer Bjorn is Gamall, called Nine-finger by the men under him. His fourth finger on his left hand he cut off when he was bit by an Ormr while battling it on his family estate as a young man. Ormrs are deathly poisonous, and so when a single fang glanced the finger he wasted no time in slicing it off. He is a lauded monster-hunter, choosing that for his honorable battle rather than sailing across the seas. He is a large man, almost 6’6”, which is also a trait of his family that contributed to their name. He has slain Grendels, Ormrs, and Hel beasts. He is most famous, however, for slaying the great Kraken of the Kaldr Sea. He sailed into the bay around Sjavik on his younger brother’s ship and a hold full of his best warriors, including his son and the then Thengill Elgr. The great Kraken was hundreds of years old and sinking any ships that tried to enter the port city. Gamall slew the kraken after a great battle that lasted all night long, and was awarded the name Krakenbane.


The younger brother of Gamall, Anund joined his brother on the monster quests when he was a child. He joined the army, and won great renown in the war with the dwarves. He and his son Alrekr were chosen to defend the king himself. For more on Anund and Alrekr, see the King’s Guard section.


Gamall’s other brother, Ketill is the captain of the Riverrider. After his father’s death, the king awarded him with the longship for his long service in the navy. He is a military man, and never married. Ketill took Gamall out on the Riverrider to fight the Kaldr Kraken, and is well respected by the shipwright’s family and the other ship captains.


Guðrun is Gamall’s wife, a stern and noble lady from Apalstrond that he met when he was hunting a monster down on the apple coast. She was a pretty girl in her youth, but her looks have only enhanced the older she has become. She is highly respected in the city, and a fairly fierce warrior in her own right, when it comes to it.


Iarngerð is the oldest daughter of Gamall and Guðrun. She is married to Ofeig of Thingollr, and has three sons named Hrafn, Eilif, and Egill. Hrafn is the heir to Thengill Bjorn unless Iarngerð’s parents have another son.


Guðmundr is the second child and first son. He was originally the Bjorn heir, but he was one of the warriors that Gamall took into his battle with the Great Kraken, but he fell overboard at some point in the battle and has never been seen again. Most assume that he drowned or was eaten by the Kraken.


Finna is the third child in the immediate Bjorn family. She is a pretty girl of about fifteen, and currently unmarried. Gamall is said to be trying to find her a good match, unless she finds one for herself. But being a shy girl, her parents think it is best to pick a suitable warrior for her.


Harald is Gamall’s other son, who died in an accident recently. He was still fairly young, only twelve winters old, and with his death the title of Thengill will pass onto Gamall’s grandson Hrafn, unless Guðrun gives birth to another son, which is not likely because of her age.


Still needs some editing, of course, and the layout in the actual book will be different, but that is the general information for House Bjorn. Any other suggestions for more information to be added?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Beast Child Prologue

Here is the entire prologue of my adult fairy tale novel Beast Child. It is done when referring to the words, and has been edited several times over, but there is always nitpicking to be done. The text is in internet layout, so it is easier to read on a computer screen but in the actual file it is in traditional paragraphs. Some of the layout is a bit weird from me copy and pasting it, and I have tried to go through and fix a lot of it but deleting the random indents in the middle of the passage is proving to be way more difficult than it should be, so I'll just leave them for now. So, enjoy and thanks for taking the time to look at it.

Beast Child

The sun was setting deep in the west, casting a magnificent show of blues and pinks into the woods and painting colors on the pale grey walls of a great castle. It was not a particularly beautiful castle, with tall spires and stained-glass windows that let the winter sunsets into its halls. It was big, yes, but looked quite haphazard and lopsided when viewed from the outside. It was the seat of the Gargouille family, and had been for over four hundred years.

It had begun as a simple, modest house, but as the years passed and the influence of the family grew, additional kitchens, stables, rooms, and libraries had been added. A full-fledged reconstruction had never been attempted, so these extensions were just added on where they fit, and came together in an odd jumble of stone, angels, and gargoyles.

A large stone wall, mostly covered in ivy and moss, wound about the expansive property, and elaborate iron gates sealed it off from the rest of the forests. Pine and maple trees grew in the thousands around the castle, both in and out of the grounds.

What the castle lacked, the grounds made up a thousand-fold. Hundreds of flowers filled the gentle rises with scent and butterflies during the spring and summer months. Pathways filled with fountains, bushes and hedges wound all across the gardens. Dozens of expensive statues were hidden along the paths, made out of stone, marble, and even a select few were shaped out of glass.

But it was the roses that made the castle incredible. Rising from peasants to rulers, the Gargouille family had hundreds of roses that were as old as the first foundation of their castle. Roses lined the stone entrance and walkway that led to the great wooden doors that led inside, and formed hedge-walls to many of the walkways across the gardens. Flowers bloomed in reds, pinks, whites, yellows, purples, blues, and even marbled flowers of white and pink. They were indescribable and unique in their variety and the sheer number of bushes. And when winter came the rest of the gardens withered and died, but the roses remained. Even in the dead of winter, the roses bloomed.

It had not always been that way. After years of waiting for a prince, Theon Vincent Gargouille was born. He was the only heir to the Gargouille line, which had ruled wisely and fairly for the past centuries. His parents died when he was very small, and the boy became unmanageable in his grief. Nothing seemed to ease his pain or his tantrums, and in an effort to make the child happy the servants gave him whatever he might want. Whatever he asked for, he was granted. Long after grief and even memory had faded, he remained spoiled and demanding.

Fifteen years later on the eve before the Prince’s twenty first birthday, and deep in the heart of winter, a strange woman made the walk up the stone path to the great wooden entrance doors.

The servants were trying to prepare for a great celebration, for this birthday was when their prince would become an adult and claim his parents’ throne. The castle was full of activity late into the night, and so she remained unnoticed.

The woman was small, and her bare feet padded across the stony ground. Her matted hair blew stiffly in the winter winds, and it was a dull brownish color because of all the dirt and grime that encrusted it. The thin clothes that wrapped around her twisted form were nothing but rags and the skin beneath the holes and rips in the fabric was filthy and blue with cold.

Once she finished her slow, labored climb up the stone steps, she raised the great iron rings and knocked heavily on the door.

After a few moments, a man in his thirties opened the door. His brown hair was graying and he had the sort of bleary-eyed stare of a man who had drunk far too much wine for far too long. He looked slightly astonished at the old woman standing on the castle stoop, but before he could say anything she began to speak.

“Michel,” the voice from the sodden mass of rags was soft and musical, a jarring contrast to her appearance and the ungodly stench radiating off of her.

The steward’s eyes widened even more as she addressed him by name, and he could sense a great power from her bent form. He carefully set down the wine glass he was holding in his left hand and bowed slightly.

“Madame, may I be of service?” his voice was slightly slurred, but he was coordinated enough and seemed to still be fairly coherent.

“I wish to speak to your master,” she spoke again, and Michel found himself obeying even though he did not know why. And later, he found he could not remember the woman’s face, even though he was sure he had seen it.

Prince Theon came to his castle doors in all his royal glory shortly thereafter. Michel trailed behind him nervously, taking desperate sips of wine when he thought no one was looking.

Theon Vincent Gargouille, the first of his name, was heart-breakingly handsome. Deep blue eyes, tall stature, and dark gold locks that fell in artful half-curls around his shoulders framed a young and energetic face. It was a pity that his expression was so arrogant and the light in his eyes so shallow.

“Who are you to disturb my house at such an hour?” Theon spoke arrogantly, gazing at the visitor with distain. His house had hardly been at rest and he was not even in his night clothes, but it made no difference. She was an annoyance and disturbance to him, and so he wished her gone.

“It is bitterly cold, my lord, and the dark is not even graced by the moon. The next town is miles away and I am far too old to reach it. May I take shelter here? In payment I can offer a rose, and the promise that your roses will never die.”

Theon stared at the beggar woman, unable to keep his lip from curling in disgust at her appearance.

“A rose? What do you take me for? My family has thousands of roses, and my house is busy with preparations for my birthday and crowning. There is no room for you.” He waved his hand in dismissal.

“I can work in the kitchen or do some other task if it be my lord’s will, if you would only spare me a cot inside and a bit of bread,” the woman pleaded, and Theon gritted his teeth. Although once a smart, inquisitive boy, he was now a spoiled man with a terrible temper.

“No, I said! Get your filthy rags off of my steps. I don’t want you spreading your disease and dirt about my house!” The young prince moved to slam the heavy doors closed when the beggar woman raised her palms towards him, and a rose grew from nothingness in her hands. It was a beautiful winter rose with white petals that were fringed with a pale silver-blue.

“Are you sure you would not take my rose, Theon Vincent Gargouille?” Her voice had changed, grown authoritative and full instead of the old rasp it had been. Michel shifted nervously, taking a swig from a bottle he’d taken from a passing kitchen maid when the wine in his glass had run out. He could sense something bad was coming, and he hoped to be completely drunk when it arrived.

“Would you like to spend the night in my dungeons, wench, with your stupid flower?” Theon raged, angry at her defiance but disturbed by the appearance of the rose.

“I see how you are then,” the woman said, and threw back her cowl.

Theon was almost blinded by light. An icy wind swirled snow around him, the force of it blowing the great wooden doors to the castle completely open.

When he could see again, the most beautiful woman he had ever encountered in his entire life stood before him. Her hair was long and wavy, hanging in locks that danced like fire in the winter winds. She was naked, and the snow glistened on her warm white skin.

Theon fell before her in reverence, unable to take his eyes off of the high firmness of her breasts, the curve of her stomach, and the patch of red curls that gave way into long, shapely legs. His clothing grew tight and he wanted her more than he’d ever wanted anything else.

“You are spoiled and petty, and care only for yourself,” the woman snapped. “You judged me only by my ugliness and the dirt that covered my robes, not by the person I was. I asked for hospitality, and you refused me. And now you are before me on your knees, wanting my body for your own pleasure.” She looked down at him, her eyes narrowed in distaste.

“You are unfit to rule this kingdom, for a ruler must think of others before himself. And as a person, you must realize that beauty is found within and not for your possession.”

“I beg you my lady, forgive me,” Theon said after the weight of her words sunk in. He feared her magic and he feared her beauty, so unnatural and perfect as it was.

“And why should I? You would show no mercy to me. There is nothing but greed in your soul. You will be a beast, a hideous beast, and your servants enchanted for they are partly to blame. Time will stop—morning will dawn and dusk will fall, but it will never rise on your twenty-first birthday. If you can find another to love you in all your ugliness and love her in return, you and your castle will be released. Then I would know that you could care about all the others that live in this land you rule. If not, you will remain a beast for all of time, and never claim your throne.”

Theon reached for her, the faint glow of her body reflecting in his eyes. He was pleading, yes, but his want of her was all consuming. Never before had he been denied anything, and he would not be denied her.

Theon chanced a kiss to the flat of her stomach, directly above her belly button. The enchantress made no move to stop him, and only helped him to his feet.

“You would not do such a thing,” Theon said softly, bringing her helping hand to his lips. “It would take away this pleasure I would give you,”

The redhead laughed, although not completely unkindly. She tucked the winter rose into the pocket of his waistcoat, and Theon trembled at her touch, convinced that she had fallen for his charms. No one refused him, and no one would dare harm him.

After placing the rose, the enchantress wound both hands into his golden curls, pulling his face close to hers.

“Love, or it will last for all time,” she whispered to him. Theon almost pulled away to demand what she meant, but then she kissed him.

She tasted like summer, bitterness, and above all else, power. He felt his mind spin away in passion and returned the kiss, moaning deep in his throat. The moan turned into an unnatural rumble, forcing its way from his throat.

The enchantress pulled away as Theon roared in surprise at the noises coming from his mouth. He felt his limbs twist and stretch, and roared again, this time in pain. His fine clothes ripped and hair sprouted all over his body, the same color as the golden curls on his head.

Michel dropped the wine bottle in horror, turning and running down the hallway, shouting at the top of his lungs. He didn’t get far before his own enchantment began. He watched in terror as his hands disappeared in front of him, their flesh spinning away into nothingness. He continued to scream even though it was drowned out by the ear-shattering roars of Theon as the entire length of his arms disappeared.

A dark shadow was cast upon the castle, and the sun no longer warmed its pale walls. No shafts of light filtered through the stained glass, and the angels became grotesque mockeries of what they once were. The forest around the castle grew wilder the more bestial its ruler became.

Finally the great castle fell silent, now a terrifying and ugly structure surrounded by savage forests. The servants had lost their bodies, and wandered about in confusion, unable to see each other or themselves.

Theon still stood in the doorway, the tattered remains of his clothes fluttering in the wind. The fine floor in the entrance way was scored with deep gouges from the claws on his large, wolf like feet. He had grown in height, and now stood almost eight feet tall, and the only part of his beauty that remained was the rich gold of his hair.

And so he lost his name and became the Beast, and fell to despair as ten unchanging years passed. Years with little companionship, for even though his servants could still speak and perform their duties, he could never feel their presence. They were never interested in speaking with him either, because he was the cause of their imprisonment. He was always alone.

One winter evening the fortunes of the cursed castle took a turn for the better. A merchant on the way home from a failed business venture was lost in a late season snowstorm, and stumbled upon the hideous castle in the woods. He didn’t wish to walk through the rusted iron gates, but the storm was growing fiercer around him and the forests were full of terrible creatures.

The middle-aged merchant tethered his horse to a tree inside the stone walls, carefully securing the old iron gates behind him. And then he gathered up his courage, and entered the old castle.

The inside was not in such a poor state of repair. Fires were lit, the carpets and floorings were in fine shape, and the alluring smell of roasting meat floated through the air. With every moment that his body warmed inside, his fears melted away into the winter darkness. He wandered about for quite some time, calling for a master of the castle or servants to ask their permission for his presence. The Beast knew he was there, but after the enchantress, he would refuse no one shelter. So he ordered his servants to lead the man to the dining hall, prepare a meal for him, and have a bed for the man to sleep in. Then he retreated to the north tower of his castle, wanting nothing more to do with the traveler.

When he arrived in the dining hall, the unfortunate merchant found a table set with more food than he had seen in a very long time, and he wished that his daughters were here to enjoy the feast with him. He sat down and ate his fill of roasted meat and potatoes, and afterwards was guided to a lush bedroom by some unseen force. The bed was turned down and the fire lit, and without a second thought he climbed into the covers and fell fast asleep.

Once he had awoken the next morning, the traveler again tried in vain to find his host from the previous evening. The castle had grown gloomy in the dim light of the grey dawn, however, and he felt his nervousness from the night before return.

“If I haven’t found the castle’s master by now, perhaps he does not wish to be found.” He muttered to himself faintly, wringing his hands. The castle had been warm and inviting the evening before, but now the fires had died and he could find no one. Dust thickly coated all the rooms but the grand entrance hall, the immediate rooms around the hall, the dining hall, and the bedroom he’d slept in. There was no sign of life anywhere. No clothes, music, voices or scurrying servants to maintain the castle. There were only large footsteps in the dust that no man could make, and looking at them made the hair on the back of his neck rise.

Deciding that he had already been terribly rude for not finding his host the eve before, the merchant decided to take his leave of the great house. The master of the castle was without a doubt a very busy man, and he did not wish to disturb him more. The castle did not feel right. He adjusted the cloak on his shoulders and tried to remember his way back out to the entrance hall.

It seemed to take a lifetime wandering through hallways filled with art too grimy to admire, kicking up many years worth of dust before he found his way out. With a thankful sigh, the merchant bolted out of the old wooden doors into the elements.

The sky was overcast and the day was very cold, but the snowstorm had died down sometime in the night. A thick layer of snow covered luxuriant, albeit dead, grounds that he had been unable to see in the raging snow.

While trudging down the snow covered path, a peculiar bush sitting off the stone walkway near the main steps of the castle caught his eye. It was a rose bush, still blooming and covered in delicate silver-blue roses, a color he had never seen before.

The merchant was on his way back from a far away port city, where he thought he could reclaim the fortune he had lost many months before, but he had found only disappointment. He hadn’t the money to bring back all the luxuries that his oldest daughter had requested, but the youngest girl had adored roses ever since she was a babe. He was sure she had never seen a rose like the blooms on the bush, and he didn’t want to return to his daughters empty handed, so he decided to bring a couple home as a gift.

He turned around and walked to the rosebush, which was tall and wild rather than perfectly trimmed and cared for. The merchant examined the bush carefully, and chose the most perfectly formed rose bloom for his youngest daughter. He had barely pulled the flower off the bush when there was a tremendous thud that made the ground shake and an ear-splitting roar directly behind him. In his surprise, he dropped the rose onto the snow and tried to run. Powerful hands tore his cloak in their haste to grab him, and he was whipped around to face the direction from which the roar had come.

The man tried to bite back a gasp of horror, but a strangled cry escaped his throat despite his efforts. A hideous beast held him by the collar of his clothing, snarling at him with teeth as long as a man’s finger. The beast was huge, his entire body covered in stiff golden hair that bristled in anger. His face was that of both a wolf and a feline. He walked on two legs that were the deformed rear legs of a dog, and he held the trembling merchant in powerful paws that were almost human, but for their claws and size.

“I gave you run of my home, food and shelter for the night, and you would steal from me?” The beast roared at him, and the merchant stammered uncontrollably for a moment before piecing together a coherent sentence.

“My lord, I’m sorry…” he began, but the beast shook him violently, not waiting to hear his answer.

“Did you come all this way to gawk at the beast of the wood? Or did you think you could get a pretty price by selling my magical roses?” the horrible monster demanded, pulling the hapless merchant closer to his face so the force of his voice blew back the man’s graying hair.

“No, no! I didn’t even know that they were magical! My youngest daughter loves roses, and I thought I would bring one home for her!” he stammered, and a growl rumbled deep in the beast’s throat as he began to speak again. Then he paused, his deep blue eyes widening as an epiphany washed over his hideous features.

“A daughter?” he asked, a faint hope bubbling in his massive chest.

“Er…yes, my lord…” the merchant replied. He had not missed the sudden change in the monster’s demeanor.

“Theft is punishable by either servitude or death. Give me this daughter you speak of, or I will kill you for your trespasses.”

“My daughter? What do you want with my daughter?” He demanded, suddenly much braver when defending his daughter than when defending himself.

“It is not your concern!” the beast snapped, and threw the man onto the ice crusted path.

“You have three days before I come for you. Your life or your daughter.” With another vicious growl, he vanished back into the castle.

The merchant, being a fairly intelligent man, wasted no time in scrambling to his feet and getting off the beast’s estate. He ran across the grounds, slipping and sliding on a layer of ice underneath the snow. When he reached his big bay horse, he untied it from the tree, leapt on the gelding’s back and galloped off into the woods.

He did not stop until he reached his home, which was a small cottage a short walk from the town that bordered the untamed forests surrounding the beast’s castle. The small home was well-kept with a few rose bushes sleeping in the winter’s harshness. It was growing dark, and the light from the kitchen fire made the tiny windows glow in the dimming sun.

Relieved to finally be home, the merchant cooled down his horse and entered the cottage.

His two daughters greeted him lovingly at his return, asking of his trip to the city and telling him of their experiences over the time he was gone. The oldest was blond, tall and quite pretty, favoring her father in her looks. But it was the youngest daughter who held the attention of any who saw her. She was much shorter than her sister, with almond-shaped dark eyes and waves of chestnut hair. While the oldest girl gasped and fretted over her father’s tale of the murderous beast, the younger girl surveyed him calmly and intelligently.

“I will go, Papa, since you took the rose for me,” she said softly after his tale was done. The merchant shook his head violently—he had no intention of giving his favorite daughter to the beast. He’d taken the opportunity to see his daughters and say goodbye before he tried to escape the beast.

The merchant shared an emotional meal with his oldest girl, but the youngest stayed silent and did not eat.

“Do not think too much on it, Bella. You are young and beautiful, and I am old and have made and lost my fortune. I will try my luck at escaping the beast. But in the morning,” he added as he yawned. Then he fondly patted the dark-haired girl on the head, as if she was seven rather than seventeen.

He kissed the oldest girl on the cheek and the youngest on the forehead, and retired to his small bedroom.

Late that evening, after the remains of supper had been cleared and the candles extinguished, the merchant’s youngest daughter snuck from her father’s house. She took the big bay gelding and rode through the night to the castle of the beast, braving the darkness and the savage animals. She was an honest creature, and would not see her father die over a rose he had picked for her.

When she arrived at the castle mid-morning the next day, she lovingly kissed the horse’s muzzle and left him to graze in the gigantic grounds of the castle. Then she pulled her hood over her head, steeled her courage, and walked up the path to the castle.

Reaching out with a delicate hand, she lifted the heavy iron knocker and let it fall on the door. It boomed loudly, and the poor girl jumped despite herself.

The great doors opened as if a servant was expecting her, but when she looked there was no one there that possibly could have opened it.

Both frightened and curious, the girl stepped inside, her eyes widening as she took in the sights the entrance hall had to offer.

“Are you the merchant’s daughter?” A rough voice asked from the shadows up the grand staircase in the room. The girl let out a shriek in surprise, swinging around to face where the voice had come from. She chastised herself for being rude, and peered into the darkness, trying to see the creature that had spoken to her.

“I am,” she spoke, raising her voice so she could be heard. It was rich and feminine, and the beast unconsciously shivered at the sound of it after so many years. So few people had come to his castle, and he had spoken to none of them unless it was to punish them. And none of them had been a woman.

“Step into the light and take off your hood so I might see you,” The beast demanded from his refuge in the shadows.

The girl raised her chin slightly, her eyes narrowing.

“Only if you do the same,” she countered, and the beast withdrew deeper into the shadows in surprise. The fact that she wanted to see him drained away any anger he might have had at her argument.

“Very well, but you must go first.” The tone he spoke in now booked no argument, and the girl obeyed.

When she stepped into the light and pulled the hood off of her head, the beast could not believe the fortune that had finally come his way. Her beauty was topped only by that of the enchantress, but hers was unnaturally perfect, and this girl before him seemed more human than the enchantress ever had.

After taking a moment to drink in her exquisite face and body, the beast cautiously slid into the light at the top of the staircase, twisting his face into a scowl, as if he was daring her to scream or faint.

The girl’s eyes widened and her lips parted ever so slightly, but that was the only reaction she had to his appearance. She curtsied politely, which made the long dark hair that was pulled away from her face slide over her shoulders.

“I am Bella Marchand, my lord, and I come in place of my father.” She spoke formally, in well polished words that did not match with the worn dress she wore. There was a long pause as she looked expectantly in the general direction of the beast. She did not yet have the courage to look him directly in the face.

“Might I ask your name?” she inquired after several moments of uncomfortable silence.

“I am the Beast,” he answered simply, tilting his head sideways as he examined her. He had met no one in his life who talked to him as she did – not as if she was subservient to him, but as if she was his equal. She was formal and polite and referred to him by his title, but he sensed no reverence in her use of it. All the other women had simpered, and thrown themselves at his feet as if they were a faithful dog. If the behavior wasn’t so fascinating he would have been furious.

“I can see that much,” she snapped. “But you must have a name, everyone has a name,” she finished, her voice much softer. The Beast, surprised again, could only merely stare at her for several moments.

“My…my name is Theon.” He said softly, not having heard or thought of it for a decade. He had been the Beast, and that was all. Theon, the parents he had loved so, the servants and the castle had left his mind, and he’d thought only of his ugliness and the enchantress that had cursed him.

And so Theon Vincent of the Gargouilles regained his name, and Bella Marchand the merchant’s daughter came to live in the castle. The rest of the tale is quite well known, of how the beast fell in love with the peasant beauty and she realized that she loved him once she thought he would be gone from her life forever. But when passing this tale onto children, the phrase “happily ever after” is often applied after they speak of the wedding and coronation of Theon Vincent.

It was a happy ending, to a point. Bella won over the heir of the Gargouilles with her intelligence, beauty and spirit, and Theon learned kindness from her treatment of him, and when he returned it she came to love the gentle being he could be. She saved him from death, when the villagers came to kill him by proclaiming her love for him, and the enchantress’s curse was lifted from the castle.

Within a year of their joyous marriage and the Gargouilles’ reinstatement as rulers, Lady Bella found herself with child. Theon, the servants, her family and the citizens of the nearby villages were ecstatic. They hoped for a son, and many more children to expand the slowly dwindling Gargouille line.

But when Bella took to childbed her screams filled the castle for two days. Theon paced back and forth, listening to heart-tearing cries until finally he heard the wails of a new child.

Nothing the midwives did could stop Bella’s pain or her bleeding, and she died shortly thereafter, leaving Theon Vincent with a shrieking baby girl who was christened Charisse Soliel the day the beast buried his beauty in the cold winter ground, under the roses that never died.

Copyright Morgon Luvall, 2006-2007

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

In Progress

I thought I'd post a quick update on works I've got in progress and planned. I've been waging war on a major case of writer's block for the past week or two (as in, unable to write just about anything, not just on a certain piece) and thats part of the reason for the lack of updates, although I have been trying to get one in at least every week. So here is a list of the many projects I am working on. :)

Short stories in Progress:

The Queen's Gate : An elven gate captain waits in the darkness for the overwhelming invasion of his city.

Morning Star: (name may change) When the majority of his servants are killed by a plague, vampire Damien Gaebael takes in a little orphan human girl.

Books in Progress:

Beast Child: My main focus for right now, I am thrilled that I have an entire outline and close to 13,000 words written on it. The Beast, returned to his human form, psychologically morphs back into the beast when his beloved beauty dies.

Blade of Fate/To The End of Tomorrow: My two book fantasy series. A bit complicated to explain, but this one is effectively on the back burner for a while.

Planned/In Outline Stage Books:

Oceanborn: In Hans Christian Anderson's original tale The Little Mermaid, the mermaid is assumed to be dumb because she is mute, and the Prince marries another woman. In this adult fairytale, what if the same happens, but because of her beauty he takes her as a mistress? And when she dies, leaving behind twins, the story follows her children and the curse the mermaids put on the danish Prince for his abuse of their youngest sister.

Some Enchanted Evening: A modern, twisted Cinderella tale; A man and a woman who barely know each other are possessed by ancient, angry ghosts determined to have their happy ending.

Music of The Night: A down on his luck violin player meets a girl who everyone insists is a vampire. With his family falling apart because of his brother's behavior, he turns to a mysterious and underground night world, and gets sucked too far into it.

Serenity City: Victoria Westerdale is a super-powered human, one of many in Serenity City. But there are no comic book superheros here-- only people interested in their own game. A mature, gritty superhero novel I hope to turn into a graphic novel someday.

Santieran: The story of a fictional royal family who rules over a large island, and their downfall due to jealousy, manipulation, and obsession.

There is also an unnamed historical novel about pirates in the works, and an endless amount of other ideas. These are just the most defined. Sorry they are a little vague, but I want to keep the main plot points and story ideas under wraps until I actually have something written on them.

I also work for the start-up company Silver Empire, and I am working on the Sjavik City Book, The Thrudheim Campaign setting, and the sequel to the "Ghost of the Frost Giant King" adventure that will be coming out in the next month or so. I'm also trying to work on a new campaign setting, but I won't write much on that now.

Now if I can just write them...

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Dancer Daughter

Written for's February Pretty As A Picture contest. It's not posted there yet though, because I'm too lazy to put it in bitem format right now.

Down my cheeks slip my blackened tears
The only prize for my dancing years
All the pain as I strove for the perfect dance
Forgotten because of a stolen chance.

Jealousy poisoned her graceful hands
As she watched my dancing grand
She was anointed with holy water
And I the whore’s dancer daughter

As I twirled and leapt on stage
In the most perfect dance of my age
Her green-eyed monster broke free
She took my dancing joy from me

Under my ribs slipped her tiny rich knife
As my corset drank my leaking life
I beseeched the dancing girl
She answered: “You are scum and I a pearl.”

She skipped into the darkened wings
And with a twirl she started to sing
Leaving me to die in the fading stage light
And haunt the ballet each glittering night.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Local News

I've tried to keep quiet about this, but I don't think I can handle it any longer.

Why is it that reporters cannot write? I don't even mean gripping, flowery or amazingly good pieces, but pieces with complete thoughts and proper grammar? Or even one without a constant point of view shift, without any explanation as to who the writer is? Gahhh! And we won't even get into how unintelligent and uninformed most of their articles are.

I have started checking the local news site for WHNT-TV every couple of days to see what is going on in Huntsville. It's a habit I picked up when a school bus from my old high school flipped off the interstate overpass on November 20th. WHNT actually seems like it might be the most poorly written of the sites, but it doesn't disgust me as much with its content. News Channel 48, if I recall correctly, refused the requests of many members of the city to cease covering the story when Fred Phelps and his cult came to Huntsville to tarnish the funerals of the girls killed in the bus accident. All that man wants is attention, and that is what the news channel was giving him. Also, either Channel 48 or Channel 31 posted a story shortly after the bus accident titled "SUV Flips Off Of I-565" and it turns out that an SUV rolled off the grounded part of 565 somewhere over the mountain, not an overpass. They were being blatantly sensationalist and trying to continue to get ratings off of the bus wreck, and it disgusted me.

Anyway, there was a small movie made in Huntsville called Constellation and they had the premiere here earlier today, and here is the article covering it.

Look at it, and weep for the state of our news reporting. And the spelling of average Americans. I was going to pick it apart, but I'm not sure it's worth wasting my time on.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Review of Pan's Labyrinth

So, it is very late but I need to get in an update this week, and I just returned from the only showing of Pan's Labyrinth in town.

This will contain some spoilers for the movie, and will perhaps be a bit disjointed as I have not figured exactly what I think of this film. It was an interesting experience on many levels, one being that I can speak rudimentary Italian, and so during certain points in the film I found that I did not need to read the subtitles or the translation for words, which was kind of cool. There was of course much that was different because the film is in Spanish, but many of their words are very similar.

I am very impressed, first of all. Everything in this film was well done-- the cinematography, the acting, the creatures, the music (god, the music!), and the script. But I cannot lie-- I left the movie upset, a tad annoyed, and disturbed. It is not the fairy tale that it seems to be from the trailer! It is depressing, it is violent, and it is graphic. Note the bolded word-- the "R" rating is serious. No matter how mature or into fairy tales they might be, it is no movie for a child. There were times when I had to cover my eyes, and I am an adult who has dealt with such movies as We Were Soldiers, Black Hawk Down, Sin City and Kill Bill.

And that, I believe, sums up all the issues with the film. It was not what it was represented to be, and it put Sin City to shame. Mainly because the violence in it was very real and not stylized as it was in Sin City. From a bloody and violent birth to the Captain bashing a man's face in with a glass bottle, it is gritty, realistic and cringe-worthy. I think that they actually went too far with much of this-- simple cuts and representations would have almost been better than showing the violence. It would have been just as powerful, but not enough to make your stomach roil. I didn't come to the movie to see a man shot in the face, I came for a fairy tale.

Pan's Labyrinth is a war movie, with fantasy elements as a little girl tries to escape the horror of the world she is living in. They made a mistake in representing it as a fairy tale, because I know many people (including myself) went to see a dark and twisted adult fairy tale. And those elements are there, but let me just say that every single shot in the trailer that is of the fantasy world, is a shortened version of everything there is. There is the Labyrinth, the Pale Man's Feast, opening the doors with the magic chalk, and the Labyrinth at the end, as well as a few places with the Faun and the fairies visiting Ofelia in her room. The rest is a gruesome tale of the Spanish Civil War, and the fascists trying to ruthlessly suppress the uprisings. If I had gone into the film expecting what it was, a realistic movie with a few shots of a magical world, I would have been more prepared.

And so I am disappointed in it, but not because it was poorly made, written or executed. I was very much impressed at how well done it was, and how it didn't fit into the cookie cutter blockbusters that are coming out our ears. But it is not what I wanted to see.

The acting is phenomenal, as are the creatures. I can honestly say the baby-eating Pale Man is one of the scariest and most disturbing things I have ever seen. It might not be saying much, because I don't frequent horror or slasher movies, but damn, one glimpse of that thing and I'd run screaming down the hallway. I hope I don't have nightmares about it tonight. The Pale Man was freakier than the Bunny from Donnie Darko, and that was one scary bunny.

I would recommend seeing Pan's Labyrinth, it's one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Just be wary of the gore and be warned before hand that it is not what you are expecting, and I have to say shame on the advertising department for marketing it in such a way. I still haven't decided where it goes on my list, but it's definitely a movie to see if you can deal with death, darkness, and lots of disturbing creatures and blood.

I don't think it's fair for me to give it a quill rating. I'll leave it up to you.

"But captain, to obey for obey's sake... That's something only people like you do."

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Mmm, my first rejection letter. I suppose it is a momentous occasion, and there will be many of these to come.

I submitted my short "Wishing Only Wounds The Heart" to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I didn't really expect much, as it is "the" magazine for science fiction and fantasy. It published Ray Bradbury, among others, so although they say that they are open to first time submissions, I seriously doubt they take any of them.

Ah well. Perhaps I'll try again with the short story, although probably not. It's not particularly stand alone, and that is probably a strike against it. I'll work on some more pieces that aren't connected to novels and anyone can sit down and read them without a lot of explanation.

On the plus side, it means I can save it to post here since I know that they aren't picking it up.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Specter Glass

Written in response to's contest Pretty as a Picture, and to this picture:

Darkened muses adorn the looking-glass
Hollowed and dead pretty girl faces
Watching me from the burnished brass
Crying their tears and leaving demon traces

They were the three, the very first three
Whose blood and skin I claimed
They cried their tears with their plea
Beautiful, and murderer I was named

The other beauties writhe behind me
Their specter-bodies my mirror haunt
Begging for me to set their souls free
But they keep my form from growing gaunt

Each time I look to the mirror
I hear their screams and see their deaths
With their pretty bodies, to perfection I am nearer
And their suffering extends my breaths

For over a hundred years
Blood has been my wine
My skin soothed with maiden tears
And rosy flesh the meat on which I dine

Pretty murdered girls haunt my sight
Wherever I may glance
But I will not submit to the endless night
Nor lose my beauty to time’s eternal dance.

Friday, January 12, 2007


A well written post from Waiter!


I promise some more writings soon. I'm moving some more furniture into my apartment this weekend so I'm not sure how much I'll get done.

Until later. :)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Article Link

Hey all. I've been a bit sick this week and I also started classes, so I have several writings of different sorts in progress, but none of them are finished. So I thought I'd post a link to a very good article I read yesterday evening.

How Baby Boomers Are Robbing Our Grandchildren

Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Review of Evanescence’s The Open Door

Before I go into anything, let me mention that I am a gigantic Evanescence fan. I love rock music, and when I saw the video for Bring Me To Life late at night on MTV, I immediately went out and bought their first studio album, Fallen. I was ecstatic about the idea of a rock band with a talented female singer. The piano mixed in with the rest of the band on the songs was also another plus for me.

But this isn’t a review of Fallen. It’s been three years since that album was released, and I was very eagerly awaiting a new CD for many months, and it didn’t come. So when I heard that they were releasing a new album soon, I was excited. After so long of hearing absolutely nothing from them, it has to be amazing, right?

Co-founder and lead guitarist Ben Moody left the band at some point during the years between Fallen and The Open Door. I had hoped this wouldn’t affect the quality of their music too much (I knew that it would probably affect the sound, but I don’t mind a little different sound on a band), but I was wrong. Evanescence is seriously lacking without Ben Moody, and it’s very hard to describe on some level. Gone is the creative tension and magnificent mixing of guitar, piano and female voice found on Fallen.

The Open Door is not a bad album. But it’s more like an Amy Lee solo album than an Evanescence album. Her vocals are pumped way up over the other instruments or vocals. It also seems like the entire album is a “hey, look at how loud and pretty I can belt!” rather than an artistic collaboration of everyone. Her vocals are also very static—which is part of the comment about it being a show off CD. She very rarely drops into quiet, whispery singing. There is no variation.

And that is the big issue with the entire CD. If you don’t listen to the beginning of each song, by the middle of all the songs it begins to sound like the song before. The mixture of the music and vocals is part of this problem; when the heavy rock sound kicks in, Amy Lee’s vocals drown it out. In Fallen when the heavy parts of the song kicked in, they temporarily pounded over Lee’s voice. This gave the songs a change in the feel and tempo so it didn’t become repetitious. There is nothing like that on this new album.

There are some good songs and interesting mixtures of piano, violins, choirs, and distortion, but you can barely hear the music behind Lee’s singing to listen to the intricacies. “Lithium” and “Lacrymosa” are both interesting songs; “Lithium” is the song on this album that comes the closest to Evanescence’s old sound. I also miss the distinctive harmony that Lee’s voice and Moody’s distorted guitar made. It’s not just because the vocals are turned way up; the new guitarist doesn’t do the almost discordant note compliments to Lee’s vocals.

Unfortunately, this is not a different CD from a favorite band that slowly grows on you the more you listen to it. The Open Door is more grating and repetitious the more it plays.

All in all, I give it 3.0 quills out of 5.0. It won’t stay in my CD player for days like Fallen did. I know many of their fans like this album better than their first, but I’m not one of them. I’d say borrow it before you buy it to see whether the music engages you or not.

“Lithium—don’t want to lock me up inside
lithium—don’t want to forget
how it feels without
lithium—I want to stay in love
with my sorrow
oh but God I want to let it go…”