Man Who Invented Christmas: A Writer’s Tribute

Writing is hard. In fact, it can be downright impossible at times. There’s always pressure to finish, always questions. Always annoying arguments from your characters, that no one but you seem to believe is real.

The Man Who Invented Christmas seems to profoundly understand that. For Charles Dickens (played by the brilliant Dan Stevens) is having a problem we all face: writer’s block. After the success of Oliver Twist and the failings of three smaller books, he’s in debt, he’s out of ideas, and his publishers want another story.
So he decides to write a Christmas one. But what to write? And his main character won’t appear.

What writer doesn’t have this struggle? Which one doesn’t sit for hours, or stare at themselves in the mirror trying to get the name right? Or who doesn’t think “my favorite author would never have these problems,” which was asked in the movie as well.

Dickens criticised by his MC

When I went into the theater to watch this movie, I knew it was a writer movie, I knew it would have plenty of relatable moments, but what I didn’t know was that it would be that extra push, that extra bit of motivation that I needed to finish my story.

Continue reading Man Who Invented Christmas: A Writer’s Tribute

Review of Tethered World Chronicles

       Trolls, Gnomes, Dwarves, Oh My!

      This is a Mostly Non-Spoiler Review so be careful if you haven’t read any of the books yet!

When I picked up The Tethered World, purchased at the book signing held by my dear friend Heather Fitzgerald (yeah, I know the author and I’ll be bragging about it ’till the dragons come home), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some of it had been read at the Manent Writers Group she and I were a part of, but a handful of chapters in no way reflects the entirety of the book.

So, at the small coffee shop where Heather was signing Book 1, I opened the book and journeyed through the eyes of Sadie Larcen to a different world, one I hadn’t expected I would ever discover. I quickly found a corner and continued to read, finding myself unable to put it down, even when my parents were telling me we had to go.

The Tethered World Chronicles have been with me for almost a year now, a very long and hectic one. A couple of days ago, late, late in the night, I finished The Genesis Tree, the final installment of the series and was left reeling, wondering what to do next. For me, reading some books transports me to the land and when it’s over…mixed feelings abound. On one hand, once you enter a land you never truly leave, yet on the other the argument can be made that the moment you read the last word on the last page of the final book, you have to depart. Deal with the ending, force yourself to return to the human world, promising to return as soon as you can. But it is over and, while you can always return, it’s never through the same door you entered. Some series I have never finished because of that reason, and I nearly wanted to do the same with Genesis Tree but the curiosity was too overwhelming.

In three books so many things are discovered, revealed, broken and healed. In Book 1 Sadie learns of the Tethered World, a place below earth where all manner of mythical creatures abound. In Book 2, the Larcens return to the world to save the day dealing with some betrayals and unlikely friendships along the way. In Book 3, the story has to wrap up; threads have to be cut, plot arcs have to be resolved and characters have to deal with consequences and somehow it all has to tie into a big, beautiful bow that has to mean something.

So, the burning question…did it? With a resounding yes. The Genesis Tree is probably my favorite of the series because of this. Somehow, along with several twists and shocking turns, everything makes sense. It’s conclusive, it’s dramatic and it’s climatically satisfying. Without spoiling anything, I can say that this was shocking, funny, and at times truly heartbreaking. It was brilliant and beautiful, keeping me awake late into the night turning page after page. So many things to love in this: the character arcs, the relationships( including friendships, betrayals, and budding romance), the both shocking and anger- inspiring villains, and the themes of faith and loyalty especially poignant in this one, make this story well worth the time to read. This one is darker, but I think better for that. Both darkness and light are showcased brilliantly here, and this story is somehow both bleak night and bright dawn.

Heather L.L. Fitzgerald is an amazing author and an awesome friend, who somehow knows how to weave a brilliant tale that seems effortless. I do hope she writes a large stack of other stories of other worlds (or who knows, maybe the same one) that reaches high and infinitely wide.

I am a traveler, stepping through door after door of endless stories in all forms of the telling, albeit mainly in book form. In some, if not the majority, I leave little pieces of my soul, picking up wisps of characters and filling in the gaps with them. When I entered the Tethered World and the odd and complex lives of the Larcens, I never expected to leave anything behind. Yet indeed I have, replacing it with a small part of Brady (the eldest brother in the Larcen clan) and a bit of Vituvia for good measure.

I’m glad to have been a wanderer in the beautiful and awesomely awesome Land of Legend and hope to return soon…through another door, fully prepared to leave another bit of myself searching for the first part I left behind. Although I’ll probably just manage to pick up a piece of the world instead.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes of book 3 in meme form. Below that you can find links to all the books so you can traverse through the land yourself. You can find Heather at www.heatherllfitzgerald.com and on all her social media handles. If you really like these stories check out Amy Larcen’s blog https://landoflegend.net/ or Sadie’s Pinterest www.pinterest.com/sadielarcen

 

 

 

Book 1: http://a.co/ahJ2dIi

Book 2: http://a.co/eDvOC5f

Book 3: http://a.co/40IjgQy

Any comments or questions? Anything you loved about the books that you want to share? Let me know in the comments or in any my social media handles.

All photo credit belongs to the owners. The Tethered World Chronicles is a part of Mountain Brook Ink.

Netflix Daredevil Review

       A Devil with an Angel’s Heart

Credit: Netflix and Marvel
This is a non-spoiler review But I do talk about seasons one and two so be cautious

So I just got through binging the two seasons of Netflix’s Daredevil and I can tell you it is one heck of a ride. I was wary to start watching it, beacise of the travesty with the movie, but this show is nothing like that movie and I quickly forgot that mess as I began with this series. Daredevil (rated MA for Violence, Language, and Suggestive Content) is nothing new in and of itself. The synopsis sounds very much the same as some other things Marvel has put out in the last few years. Read this and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

Matt Murdock, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a blind lawyer by day, and vigilante by night.” — Written by Kenneth Chisholm

Nothing quite so new here.  Most of the Defenders are this way too. And the story, while beautifully built and filmed to perfection (more on that later) is not what made me press play on the next episode again and again. So what exactly makes this show so captivating?

It’s not the themes on revenge and justice, hope and loss (although it can be), it’s not even the story lines, which are expansive, and are filled to the brim with interweaving threads and twists. It’s the characters.

To date, I can’t think of any show where I’ve cared about all the characters. Even one in particular, who drove me up the wall with every word she said, still made me want to know more about her and why she is who she is.

These are characters with flaws. They are real people dealing with real problems, and not just the ones that make this story a superhero one. These are people trying to be good but ending up the opposite. We all know that The Punisher and Elektra join the cast in season two, and we probably know how great The Punisher is (not the Thomas Jane version I grew up with, but something much darker and probably more canonically accurate), but we lose sight of Matt’s best friend, Foggy, or Karen, the ever-so-curious one. Not to mention the brilliant villain played by Vincent D’Onofrio. I completely and 100% invested in all of them because they felt real and human, not cookie cutter shapes that puts out an agenda or promotes an idea. The relationships were quite nice as well, and, although I wished some things were changed, ended up investing in whatever the show decided to throw out, mostly because it wasn’t thrown, it was given slowly to allow digestion and adjusting.

But now let’s talk about the title character. The main character, Matt Murdock,, blind lawyer by day, vigilante by night, who prowls the streets in a simple costume (the main costume doesn’t come until late season one) trying to defend Hell’s Kitchen, New York. He does such a good job at this, that his nickname is “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” before he gets his other more well-known title.

Credit: Netflix and Marvel

Matt Murdock is a fighter. His father was a boxer and you can see that in the beautiful action scenes in this show. Matt loves fighting; but he also hates it. You can see that he’s divided. On the one hand he wants to do things the right and legal way. It’s why he’s a defense attorney. To help the little guy struggling in New York. But on the other hand, he sees that the law won’t help. He sees firsthand that the legal way is not going to help as much as he wants.

This is that classic “Is is better to save the world by breaking the law or let people die by following it” argument that scores of heroes and superheroes have had to deal with throughout the years. And, of course, Matt decides to do…both. I mean, he will literally be throwing people off buildings in one scene and defending someone in the next. Matt will use any means possible to get justice. Except kill. Yep, you heard me. Matt Murdock won’t kill. He’ll bring people to the brink but won’t actually do it. Him and Batman have that in common.

The biggest reason for this is his Catholic faith. He grew up in it and tries to practice it.  So when he’s faced with the decision of possibly having to kill someone because it’s the only way to stop them, you can see the struggle.

Matt desperately wants to do good. To be good. But he doesn’t feel like he is. In fact, he sees himself as a devil, which is why he begins to wear a devil’s costume. This struggle is played out in numerous ways and means in this show. And it’s all fascinating.

I’m going to put a scene between Matt and his priest to show you exactly what I mean.

Father Lantom: Yes, Matthew, I’m not an idiot.
I have a pretty good idea who you are and what you do.
How you do it [exclaims] That’s something else entirely.
Matt: Accident when I was a kid. Used to think it was God’s will.
Father Lantom: Used to?                                                                                                Matt: Yeah, he made each and every one of us with a purpose, didn’t he? A reason for being.
Father Lantom: I believe so, yes.
Matt: Then why did he put the Devil in me? Why do I feel it in my heart and my soul clawing to be let out if that’s not all part of God’s plan?                                        Father Lantom: Maybe you’re being called to summon the better angels of your nature. Maybe that’s the struggle you’re feeling deep within you.                             Matt: And how do you know the angels and the Devil inside me aren’t the same thing?                                                                                                                                         Father Lantom: I don’t, but nothing drives people to the church faster than the thought of the Devil snapping at their heels. Maybe that was God’s plan all along. Why he created him, allowed him to fall from grace to become a symbol to be feared warning to us all, to tread the path of the righteous.                                     Credit: http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=daredevil-2015&episode=s01e11

So while not entirely biblically sound, it does talk about predestination and ordaining which is rare to find in any modern show. But the infinite meanings that cane be taken out of this one scene alone, is what makes this show different. While most shows try to make their main character good or at least believing they are, this one go the other way. Matt really thinks he’s the devil, believes at times that the Devil is inside of him, while everyone else struggles with thinking the opposite or agreeing with him. He doesn’t have the kind of friends of family who is there for him always. No, quite the opposite. What few friends he has he has to hide his identity from, especially since he can hear their mixed reviews of him on a daily basis. He never seems to be able to win over anyone to his side. It’s funny how people are more inclined to side with Punisher than him (and Punisher does not have the same code of not killing anyone). Of course, he’s not a devil. The audience can see that. We can see him fight, see him try. We get the whole story and are ever so frustrated that no one else does (which is part of storytelling). He isn’t the devil, although he looks it. He’s more like an angel, although he could be a fallen one, which leads down a different road.

So if that hasn’t won you over yet, let me tell you about the filming. Charlie Cox (Daredevil) does most of his own stunts (not to mention, he’s just a brilliant actor). Not only that, but the action scenes feel like you’re there. No shaky cam or multiple shots taken from every angle for every scene (although, admittedly some scenes use multiple shots to put you closer to the action). The camera puts you in the center of the fight; and it doesn’t stop until the fight is over. It’s raw, it’s bloody, but it’s also alive. You feel worn out, tired, and pained after some scenes. You can feel what Matt is going through and wince with each landed blow. Because, unlike some other heroes, Matt is not invulnerable to bullets, knives or fisticuffs. He is human; human with super senses, but human nonetheless. So maybe he can land a punch or do some amazing moves, but when he gets hurt, he really gets hurt. But, like good ole’ Rocky Balboa said, “It ain’t about how hard hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (Man, I love Rocky).

Here’s a scene that shows exactly what I’m talking about. The camera just sits there and you are forced to watch the whole thing. It became so popular it was titled “The Hallway Scene” and was repeated several times after that.

Wrapping up here, I will tell you that the rating is deserved. While the language doesn’t come in until later on in the show, the violence is pretty heavy-handed as seen above. The violence gets far more bloody when Elektra and Punisher join the ranks. There’s only one sex scene and it’s brief, and doesn’t show anything. Don’t take my advice to the grave, though. Make sure to check out PluggedIn or CommonSenseMedia if you have concerns about it.

Netflix has been known to put out some pretty brilliant shows. Stranger Things, and Jessica Jones, just to name a couple. But, in my opinion, Daredevil may be the best one so far. Not the perfect one, for I do have a few issues with it that I can’t discuss unless I wanted to spoil the show, but the potential is there.  Not just because the story is rich with millions of layers, or that the characters are three-dimensional, well-built, and feel real and alive, but because it seems as though you are living in Hell’s Kitchen with all of its problems and pain, hope and beauty. Matt’s friends feel like your own and he really does seem like that friend you love and want to protect.

So check it out for yourself! If there’s anything you think I missed or disagree with, let me know!

All video/photo credit goes to the owners. Copyright Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil.