The Old Guard: Review.

While I haven’t talked about The Fates project in awhile (mostly because I haven’t looked at it in years), every now and then, something will remind me of it.  In this case, The Old Guard, a film adaptation of a graphic novel series now available on Netflix, starring Charlize Theron.

Let’s review some similarities:

Immortal who can’t die?  Check.

Immortal who have unknowingly made their stamp on history?  Check.

A technology element where there are those searching/hunting to unlock the key to immortality?  Check again.

Series potential?  Check, and check again.

Really, one of the only differences is that Andromache works with a team, whereas my Ayah works alone (and is the only immortal, for a number of reasons).  It was good to watch to show, even if at multiple points I shouted ‘I know – I wrote that!’ at the television.

Once we finished, I was reminded of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (I like the podcast series much better than the book, TBH).  Essentially, she holds a philosophy that there are a finite amount of ideas in the universe.  As creatives, sometimes we hold onto them, but other times, they move on to other owners.  Is The Old Guard my idea gone to someone else?  Maybe.  Anyway, the film (if violent) does make me want to read the graphic novel that the film is based on.

Have you watched (or read) The Old Guard?  What did you think?

There are no original ideas.

Imagine me scrolling along through an e-mail from NetGalley, when I see this title and synopsis…

Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever. But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out. Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.”

I can’t be frustrated, because, it’s literally the exact idea for my Fates manuscript, but with enough changes to not be my Fates project (if that makes any sense).  I’m now desperate to read this book, most of me wondering why Ms. Horn has made the choices she has (mainly, allowing the protagonist to have children).  Also, while faith has literally no role in my book whatsoever, I think it will be much more pronounced in this title.

While it might seem strange, I’m hoping to dust off my Fates manuscript next year and see if it might be time to finally release it.  Yes, I need an editor and cover, etc., however, having not looked at it in 5 years or so, I’m kind of fascinated to see what past Courtney has produced.

(Yes, I will be reviewing the above book, just as soon as I can get my hands on it).

Dreams do come true: A research trip five years in the making.

It’s been a long time since I discussed the Fates, an untitled and unpublished manuscript I wrote and completed some years ago.  In the book (and the sequel) much of the action takes place on the remote island of Socotra (I promise it makes sense and was the best fit for the novel).  In reality, Yemen is a difficult place to get to.  In fact, it might be one of the most difficult in the world (especially with a US passport).  While I am positioned well from a geographical perspective (Dubai and Socotra are less than two hours apart by plane), it’s nearly impossible to get to individually.  As compared to my current project, The Queen of England, where almost all of the action takes place in Victorian England, there simply isn’t the same amount of research and information available for Socotra.  I’ve never felt that my book was lacking because I hadn’t physically visited this island, but I’d always hoped I could make it happen.

Fortunately, there is a company here who coordinates trips to this amazing island.  While I’ve always had an eye on visiting, trips were far apart or I had to work, or y’know, Yemen is in the middle of a very difficult period in their current history.  Transiting through the main city of Sana’a (or any city on the mainland) is dangerous and irresponsible (and I’m pretty sure impossible for a single American woman).

Thus, when a trip was announced that managed to overcome all of the challenges (and skip over the mainland altogether), I had literally no excuses and could hardly believe my fortune.  So, I booked.  And I asked other friends if they wanted to join, and two friends said yes.  And I’m still not quite sure if I believe that we’re going.

Even as long-time expatriate, I sometimes can’t believe my life.  Not only am I going to one of the most remote places on the planet, I’m doing it with friends.  And it only just occurred to me that I should e-mail a Yemeni friend and ask for any advice he has.  The countdown is on for November 29th!

Next stop…

Television Review: Forever

When I learned about the premise for this show, I was understandably interested and a little upset.  Forever is about six episodes into its first season, and I must say that I approve and am enjoying it so far.  I invited forced Hubs to watch with me, and he is also a fan.  Dealing with immortal characters in a modern setting is a curious thing.  The protagonist in the show chooses a medical route (to discern why he can’t die), which seems in character and provides a great set up for him working as a medical examiner (in where else? New York City!).  Ioan Gruffudd portrays the lead character, Dr. Henry Morgan, much as I do with Ayah.  There’s a sense of humor, a bit of nostalgia, and a healthy dose of pretension.  In fact, Dr. Morgan and my Ayah have so much in common that in the opening scene of the pilot I was pointing and shouting at the screen.  While my character does have people working, trying to understand why she’s unable to die, Ayah is not fixated on death (or causes there of).  The character fixation of the doctor is never one I considered for Ayah.  She’s less interested in her many deaths, and more obsessed with who caused her situation.

I do hope this show continues, however, the ratings and reviews don’t look particularly promising.  This is unfortunate, because I’d really like to see how they unpack his immortality, the causes behind it and the shadowy antagonist (who’s been alive for a lot longer).

The show is not as intense as this picture.  Also not pictured, Dr. Morgan’s ubiquitous scarf.

Three Fates – Book Review.

I’m not entirely sure how I found Three Fates by Nora Roberts, but after reading the summary (a combination of romance, the Fates, and historical objects), I pretty much had to purchase the novel.  After all, based on the short description, I felt like this book would be a good fit for my own (hypothetical) readers.  Furthermore, as Ms. Roberts is a very successful author, I was interested to see how she handled one of my favorite mythological subjects.

While some readers might get a bit annoyed with the constant analogies and conversation about fate and destiny, I, of course, enjoyed every second of it.  The momentum was fairly decent and I liked most of the characters.  Furthermore, Ms. Roberts did an excellent job of handling seven main characters (plus additional supporting cast).  As I am always trying to balance and better develop my own group, I was impressed by her ability to easily and clearly define personalities, all while moving the story forward.  The ending was predictable, the romance was hot and overall, while not entirely the same as my own Fates project (thank goodness!), I was glad I paid over my usual price for a e-book.

So, who would I recommend the book to?  As I am not well read on the rest of Ms. Roberts’ library, I can’t definitively say the rest of her readers would enjoy this novel.  Additionally, while the novel has many elements of a thriller, I think the romantic storylines might turn off a potential reader.  As I’m sure Nora Roberts has no problem selling books, I don’t think she would have the same concerns I do about attracting as many audience members as possible.  As I returned to the Amazon page for the book, I read over the reviews (mostly positive, and plenty of them) and tried to find other books similar to this one, unfortunately, the ‘Readers who bought this…’ category listed only Nora Roberts books and no others.

I’m not really sure how this is a cover. It has literally NOTHING to do with the book.

Or this…

I want to be such a successful author that I do not require cover art!

The book, however, did come with some wonderful quotes about my favorite trio, so I thought I would share them with you:

“The first, who held the spindle spoke, ‘I spin the thread, but you will make what you will.’  The second held a silver tape for measuring and said, ‘I mark the length, but you use the time.’  And the third, with her silver scissors, told me this, ‘I cut the thread for nothing should last forever.  Don’t waste what you are given.:

“None could function alone.  A thread might be spun, but endlessly and without purpose or its natural course.  Or without the spinning, there’s nothing to measure, nothing to cut.  Three parts – one purpose.”

“We can’t escape fate, but we can do a great deal to carve our own mark in it – to turn it to our advantage or disadvantage.”

Over the years of working on this project, I’ve collected heaps of quotes about the Fates, maybe I’ll share them one day soon!

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (3/25)

Stop Writing In Someone Else’s Voice

You have a voice.  It’s yours.  Nobody else can claim it, and any attempts to mimic it will be fumbling and clumsy like two tweens trying to make out in a darkened broom closet. That’s on you, too — don’t try to write in somebody else’s voice. Yes, okay, maybe you do this in the beginning. But strive past it. Stretch your muscles. Find your voice. This is going to be a big theme at the start of 2012 — discover those elements that comprise your voice, that put the author in your authority. Write in a way that only you can write.

I know my style.  After probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-500,000 words, I’m comfortable in how I put sentences together and how I tell a story.  I create characters my way (or they create themselves…)  However, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, I would have to admit that I’ve been trying on present tense way more than I should.  The current book I’m editing is hopelessly swinging back and forth between past and present and I think it’s time for me to admit that while I love reading well done present tense work, I am not capable of creating this in my own writing.  If past tense if where the words flow, I need to stick with it.  This will mean undoing a lot of work I’ve redone, but I think I’m through kidding myself.

Past? Present? Make up your mind!