Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recycling Magic

There are so many old themes in fantasy & science fiction that are done over and over-King Arthur scenarios, monsters & bad guys that are dead but revive or come back (horror flicks are guilty of this to point of stupidity), Tolkien "inspired" tales, and vampire forbidden love.  The list goes on and on-I am just giving a few examples.  It does get a bit old.  But it is also encouraged for some reason, as though an original spark is something to be feared and therefore avoided.
The point is-let's be original sometimes.  You can put an original spin on a classic theme and make it work.  David Eddings mastered that with two of my favorite series -The Belargiad and the Mallorean.  When you break it down, the tale is very much like a King Arthur & the sword in the stone kind of thing.  But he made it better and more interesting.  He set it on a secondary world with new characters and races and made it wonderful and original.   Now I am not sure if that is what he actually had in mind, but theme is there-only better. 
An English Professor once told me there are only 9 original plot ideas in the universe and you need to work to make them fresh and innovative.  You have to figure out what makes your story or character special and gives that old worn out plot a sparkly shine.
It is easy to follow the current trends and do the same thing over and over, especially since everyone tells you that is what everyone wants.   The results of this are evident-all you have to do is look at the book shelves in teen/young adult fantasy aisle in any bookstore and you see the same thing over and over-vampire love stories and urban witches with cool tattoos.  This is what the literary world wants.
I say bulls*#%! .

you heard me
Current trends are just that-current.  The flavor of the moment.  They are not always the solid winners and will not always remain showcased.  If that were the case-so many books and movies would never have been successful.  Harry Potter would never have been a best selling series of books and movies,  No one wanted Star Wars or Star Trek when they were conceived-look at the impact those two franchises have had for decades!  Steampunk would not be gaining steam (yes-I punned) You must to stay true to your ideas- even if those around you tell you different.  Do not be a pod person.  Follow your own literary bliss.  How you develop the story and characters is up to you and that is what will make it original in its own right-and better.
That is the difference between a dull recycled story and a new adventure worthy of a good read or watch.   So mark it with your own imaginative flare and do it!   

Verna McKinnon


Friday, April 26, 2013

A Game of Genres (& rants!)

Okay, sometimes I get vexed with the Internet and the casual acceptance of things that are incorrect or presented badly.  Let me give you an example using a popular TV show right now-Game of Thrones.
Just today I was  reading in an entertainment section (will not say from whom or which site) that Games of Thrones is, and I quote,  a "wildly popular medieval television drama."
This statement curdles my good mood because the show and the books they are adapted from (the great George R.R. Martin) is not medieval!!!!  It is not even set on earth.  Medieval means set in our medieval era on earth-though I personally doubt the writer could define which centuries medieval actually covers.  Just because they use swords and wear long dresses they stamp that definition on Game of Thrones.  In my opinion they are wrong.  Is it similar to a medieval world-yes to a point.  But it is not earth and more importantly-IT IS FANTASY!!!!!
Yes, swallow that shameful word-Fantasy!  A fantasy show-and in a way since it is set on a secondary world (meaning earth-like but not earth) it is partially Science Fiction, the shameful sister of Fantasy!!!
I get frustrated because so many people try to diminish the genre of fantasy (and science fiction).  They try to make it unworthy of attention and not really good enough to be literature.  People have actually said to me that it is so badly written (of course these folks have never really even read science fiction or fantasy).  Isn't it odd they feel they have the right to judge it?
Games of Thrones is fantasy-dark and full of complex characters and politics-but it is still fantasy.
Like I said, I am not sure what George thinks-this is just my opinion.
But they still make me mad!  Since I am a lady will express my disdain without swearing but instead use this picture of a very angry owl for a visual representation of my anger.

Verna McKinnon

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Snow White: My Story" now available to read!

My short story, "Snow White: My Story," is now available to read on my website in the featured story section.   Have a wonderful read!  It has humor, horror, and some twists.  I have always loved fairy tales and Snow White has always been a favorite.  I took the original tale and answered some questions that always bugged me-why did her stepmother want her heart?  Why the hot iron slippers?  Who were the dwarf folk really?  Many who have only seen the Disney version of Snow White and most of the other film versions do not even know about the hot iron slippers that wicked stepmother was forced into as punishment.  Well, original tales are not rated and the reader was quickly taught that being wicked has a price.
That's the thing-the fairy tale heroines were always put through a lot of hardship, grief, and terror-but in the end their goodness was rewarded and the evil was defeated!  If only life were like that? 
And the heroines are not passive-though I think they have been edited down the years.  Well, enjoy my story and let me know what you think of it.  Let's talk about our favorite fairy tales on Facebook.

Verna McKinnon

Monday, April 22, 2013

The disturbing TV trend of serial killers

Happy Monday

One thing that has been vexing me of late is the focus on serial killers for TV.  I am not saying that these shows lack good writing and the actors are often superb (James Purefoy!) But I am sick of seeing serial killers be the heroic central characters of these shows.  I am not talking about grey characters like as Xena with a dark past but now want to do good type of characters.  I am talking evil sociopath shells who will make a coat of your skin main characters that are put up on a pedestal and revered weekly.  They win every week and what little good that is after them is stupid or weak.
Shows like Dexter and the Following are even more disturbing than vampire romances.  Vampire Diaries and True Blood are bad -they give glamour to someone who will make you a happy meal and somehow they try to make them sympathetic and lonely.  Does anyone have a stake and holy water kit?
But far worse are shows are like Dexter and the Following.   And Hannibal?  Really?  Really!!!  No amount of good scripting make these shows appetizing (yes I punned) They make my skin crawl.  And no matter how much I adore James Purefoy I will not watch them.
Where is the chosen one-the Buffy, Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman on television now?  Where is the heroic Julie and Mark of V movies and TV (original movies not redo).  Where are the heroes?   Why did Legend of the Seeker get cancelled?  Does anyone fight evil anymore?
This makes me sad and concerned.  Wicked in a story has a purpose.  But where is the opposing force of good and light?  Without that it is just twisted stories that make you want to take a disinfectant shower.  What they are doing now is not just wicked-it is sick and perverted with no redeeming qualities.      
Thank you for listening to my rant.  And James Purefoy- you deserve better.  You are also my first choice for Cathal the Sorcerer if my book is ever optioned for film.

Verna McKinnon

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trolls, Ogres and Monday Morning

Monday....I feel sensitive to sunlight like a troll, if you go my the mythology of Tolkien, and want to crawl into a dark hole and hibernate  Oddly, I have not had anything with alcohol this weekend and have eaten rather well (we will not discuss the chocolate cake on Friday night) but the creative mind is angry when you shut down and do not work like you promised.   
By work of course I mean my writing.  The composition of epics is time consuming.  I bow to any writer who has created and published multi-volume epic science fiction and fantasy masterpieces.  I have many of these literary giants on my book shelves.  They include George R.R. Martin, David Eddings, Tolkien, Glen Cook, Tanith Lee, Roger Zelazny, and Larry Niven-to name a few.  I want to be just like you when I grow up.
Procrastination with a dash of lazy is common among writers and it is easy to fall into that black hole.  The odd thing is that once I force myself to open my laptop, I can stay there in writing bliss for hours. I am not aware of the time slipping away as I am in my happy place creating magic and battle scenes with a favorite soundtrack blasting in the background.  Of course, when I am done I feel like a  bit like a creaky ogre-hunched over, twisty and stiff.  I have discovered yoga is a must for those of us that write.  Otherwise I would not be able to stand up straight. 
But I am happy.  A author is always happier when they write, even if they end up feeling like a cranky ogre.  It's a balance I think.  So next weekend I shall march into my writing haven and create some literary magic.  And do some yoga!  More later.

Verna McKinnon


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome New Followers & Old

A special big thank you to my new followers on my blog and website.   Also an equally big shout out to my stoic followers from before.  I hope to have a long and fun relationship with all of you as I walk the rocky road to literary success.  I also plan to whip up more support as I fight for the release of my latest novel and find an agent for my other book I am writing now (The Goblin Cabal, first of a 3 book series).  It has two female heroines in the lead-and they rock.  There will be demons and magic and bards.  Plus one cute Prince who is in dire need of rescue.  Need I say more?
I will also be posting a new short story soon to my blog that has been released from exclusivity!  it called Snow White: My Story,  and was published by the wonderful anthology Mystic Signals and edited by the brilliant Carol Hightshoe.  This story was in Mystic Signals, issue13, and released in April 2012.  It is still available for purchase on Amazon or through the publisher The Lorelei Signal.  See the cool cover below. 

 I love fairy tales and decided to write my own version of Snow White.  So many have made it too fluffy over the decades or were just plain weird, so  I included some of the older and darker elements from the original tale, plus added humor and some explanation as to why some things were done.   Why Snow White's heart?  Who were those wily Dwarfs really?  Fairy tales are dark tales of morality, where even though there is a happy ending, it holds many grim tests for the heroines.  I hope you will enjoy it.  I will blog as soon as it is posted for  reading on my website.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

My book on kindle and other rumors

Hail Friends,

It is April!  Sunshine.  Spring.  creative juices are flowing.  Energy is blooming and ideas churning as I write.  Spring cleaning also possessed me this weekend and I assaulted our writing room.  I reorganized bookcases and my desk.  No small task.  I purged junk and redid my hard copy files and stacks of insane creative writing notes and chapters.  Are dust bunnies dangerous?

On other notes-my publisher assures me that my book will be on kindle soon.  It will be nice to see Gate of Souls, A Familiar's Tale, book 1 on kindle and plus I will be really reasonably priced (rumor has it $1.99).    Who says you can't get great quality at a low price?  I am trying to get a firm date from him (Joe-are you there?) about when I can look on Amazon and see my novel on kindle.
Also my book cover for Tree of Bones (book 2 of A Familiar's Tale) is apparently forming into reality. 
Be creative and have fun.  And beware of dust bunnies.

Verna McKinnon