Shocking Twists

I have been reading comments/reviews on books and movies and I have to say that I am very much encouraged.    The reason for that is because people have as many varied reactions and opinions as there are people.  That means that although many people like one thing, just as many or maybe even more like the opposite.

Some people like twists above all else.  They like being shocked by something they didn’t expect to happen, even if it makes no sense to the story.  Then there are other people (like me) who do not like being shocked by an unexpected twist, especially if it doesn’t feel natural.   I would much rather a stable story.  Some might call it boring, but I don’t see this as boring; I see it as making sense.

flow37

Here, I am going to go down a rabbit trail and break one of my own rules and that is about reviewing a book on my blog.  Well, I won’t really review it; I will just mention it because the previous paragraph brought it to mind.  As you all know, Mary Stewart is one of my most favorite authors of all time.  I have been re-reading her books lately, this time to study her way of writing and also to try and determine why she is one of my favorite authors.  I recently finished re-reading “Airs Above the Ground” and I was totally appalled when right in the middle of a chase scene, she takes her sweet time describing page after page of scenery.  I think as much as a whole chapter’s worth.  Talk about boring!  It was so bad, that I almost didn’t even care anymore how the story ended, I just didn’t want to have to read about the scenery anymore.  Of course, I did what I always do (and what I did the first time I read this story, years ago) I skipped the whole thing.  Since I was reading on my Kindle, I had to scroll for a very long time until I finally got past all of the boring part.

So, that brings me to the point of wondering what it is about Mary Stewart’s books that make her one of my most favorite authors.  Yes, no matter how boring parts of her books might be, she remains one of my three favorite authors of all time.  I think the appeal is the travel mixed with suspense, and I can’t say romance, because she is not very good at writing romantic scenes.  Although, I like her heroes and most of the time I like her heroines, too; I think what I like the most is the fact that she takes the reader to places they would most likely never go, even if given the chance.  I mean most tourists go to the normal touristy places, but she takes you to places outside of the beaten path.  All right, when I am in the right mood for it, I do like some of her descriptions of the scenery; however, I think I am more inclined to like reading that at the beginning of the book and not in the middle of the chase scene.

It’s funny, though.   When I first read her books, they were modern contemporary.  Even then, that was the only thing that detracted from them, since I have always preferred historical novels.  Now, however, they are even more interesting to me as a frozen moment in time, the capturing of a time that will never come again.

I must mention that I really, really like how formulaic her books are – English girl goes on vacation, alone or with a girl friend or cousin, and gets herself in the middle of a situation where her life is in danger.    When you read a Mary Stewart book, you know that you won’t be disappointed by some stupid twist that does not make any sense, or by any gratuitous sex scene, since her books are always clean; no swearing, either.  Also, she does suspense very well.   One last thing that I love about Mary Stewart’s books is that she doesn’t have senseless conflict between the characters.  Most, if not all, of the conflict arises outside of the relationships, which is one thing that I love, love, love in a book.   I only wish she had written more books in this theme.  I also like her Merlin series; The Crystal Cave, is the best one of the series.  Ok, rabbit hole exhausted, I will now return to my initial post.

flow37

We were talking about shocking twists.  Also, I really like HEA (happily-ever-afters).  So, a story where something bad happens at the end of the story, to a character that I have grown to love, will always upset me and make me not want to read anything else written by that author again.  I could post a list of those books, but I will refrain from doing so.

As I explained in my previous post – with movies I am more detached, more due to the actors than due to the story itself, as I expect to be let down by them; and so I don’t invest as much of my emotions in a movie, like I do with a book.    That also explains why I am more selective in my reading choices.  Since they are more personal and claim more of me, as I read them.

Getting back to feeling encouraged by the diversity of opinion, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t see eye to eye with the majority of those who comment or review.  It could mean that I am in a very small minority, which I admit is probably the case, or it could mean that those who agree with me don’t frequent the places I have been reading comments and reviews.  Either way, it is encouraging to me that people rarely agree on anything.    Even when they do come to the same conclusion, they get there by varying emotions or routes of deduction.

As an author of alternative fiction, this is very good news.  It means that there are most likely quite a number of people out there who are willing to branch out from the usual fare they are being served.

I read somewhere that most reviews are written by people who either were offended or hated the book or movie for some reason.  In other words, the most vocal are the ones who had a negative response to it.  Most of those who liked it don’t comment or review at all, and the very few who do comment positively, usually loved it.   I wonder if that is accurate or if it is wishful thinking.  It does kind of sound like a sugar pill for authors.  Anyway, since I didn’t say it, I don’t have to worry too much about the veracity of it.  However, I have to admit that I myself am that way.  I rarely comment on something that I liked in a normal way.   If I comment positively, it is usually because I am completely blown away by it.  I have to admit that doesn’t happen to me very often.  The only times that I have felt impelled to write something negative is when I wish to warn others to something that I wish someone had warned me about first.

A Man to Admire

This is kind of a continuation from my first post (on the welcome page).

I have to admit that I don’t really admire actors that much.  People who choose to live their lives pretending they are someone else.  I especially don’t admire actors who will play any role that they are offered.

As a rule, I go out of my way to avoid reading or listening to all of the gossip about actor’s private lives.  Or at least I have lately.   I would simply rather not know.  Here is the thing:  as an author it is expected that we don’t jolt the reader out of the reading experience.  We are supposed to set the scene, introduce characters and then have them stay in character throughout the story.  Is that not correct?  Movies used to be an even greater extension of that.  In the movies, especially on the big screen, you are supposed to be exposed to sight and sound to give you a greater immersion experience.  That doesn’t happen anymore, though.

In a book, you can imagine the characters to be however you want them to be, and they never let you down in that respect; well unless the author is an idiot, which thankfully most aren’t.  Basically, in a book, the good guy is good, the bad guy is bad, etc.  And as an author it is your responsibility to make sure your character doesn’t act in a way that doesn’t fit his character.  Even if it is a fantasy, it is important that the characters remain true to who they are.

Now comes the problem, though.  You take a book and make it into a movie and now you have the problem of the actors.  I was recently asked by a reader which actors I would like to play the characters in my book, Dear Tiz.  The problem is that I don’t want any actor to play them.  For me, it would ruin the story to have well-known actors playing my characters.  I told the reader that the only way I could envision my book in a movie is if it were made as an animated film, and if I got to approve the animation for each character.

With so many actors cross pollinating, it is now almost impossible to really believe the characters that you see onscreen.  It diminishes the movie experience; because you are too busy trying to remember where you saw that actor before.  Or worse, you keep seeing him coming at the innocent with an axe, because he played an axe murderer in the last movie you saw him in.  Ok, I don’t usually watch horror movies, but let me give an example from a romantic movie.  You can’t really believe the love story in this movie, because you thought he/she was perfectly matched in the last movie they were in, and you can’t stop seeing them with the love interest from the previous movie.  Talk about ruining the experience of the movie you are watching.  I know it is ridiculous to think that an actor will only do just one movie and then no more.  But think about it.  Isn’t the whole point of going to a movie (or making them) to live an illusion for a moment?  Actors nowadays are so selfish that they cheapen the movie-going experience because they want personal growth, at the expense of the experience, which was the whole point to begin with.  And as movie goers, we are just supposed to suck it up and accept this?   I don’t think we should.  I think that actors should decide what kind of role they wish to play and then stick with it.  They should specialize, like doctors.  I mean who wants a GP performing brain surgery?

I like Johnny Depp as much as rest of the female population, because he is incredibly handsome, lovable and funny, and yes he is a good actor.  That does not make him an admirable person, however.  I have come to expect that his movies are not to be taken seriously, but are more of a parody.  Don’t get me started on The Lone Ranger, I think a real version has yet to be made, although it was an enjoyable movie.  I can go and enjoy a Johnny Depp movie, if I go with the idea of not taking the movie too seriously.  I have been watching him since Edward Scissorhands, and yes I liked it.  It was a great introduction to the actor, since it was a fantasy and therefore not to be taken seriously.  I think that is one of the things that made me a life-long fan of Johnny Depp.  No wait, I really liked him in 21 Jump Street and I haven’t really respected him in a role since then.  Now I watch him for the lighthearted fun of it, but not for a great movie experience.  See the difference?

Stephen Tompkinson

DCI Banks

I may be very wrong about this, especially since I don’t know the gossip on this man’s personal life, and please don’t tell me.  But I think this man might be an actor that I can admire.  In fact, I think I am falling in love with him.  He may not be that good-looking, and his chin does look a little weak, but so far every show that I have seen him in he has played a similar character; a character that I can actually admire, in fact.  Ok, so I have only seen him in Ballykissangel and DCI Banks.  I guess I need to watch some more shows with him, and yet I fear to do so, in case I have to change my opinion of him.  I guess I have to say that I have fallen in love with Father Clifford and DCI Banks, the characters.  Which, by the way, are not that dissimilar to each other when you think about it.  I guess that is what I love.  On a personal note, he might even be the ideal man, as in the kind of man I would personally like to marry.   I mean the combination character of Father Clifford and DCI Banks, not the actor himself.  Just as an aside, I also loved the character of Inspector Morse; Lewis not so much.

leaf65

A man to be admired, for me it is basically this.

A man who has a certain degree of integrity.   He has a code of ethics that he lives by, even if they might seem outdated or strange to those around him.  I may not even agree with him, but I admire him for them anyways.

He has an opinion, based on deep personal convictions.  He may not always voice his opinion, and you will not usually find him “arguing the issues”.  If he is asked, he may tell you what he thinks, or he might not depending on who is doing the asking.

He doesn’t let anyone change his mind.  He is not afraid to change his mind, but he does so through diligently studying the issues and making up his own mind.

He can love deeply, and is a faithful husband to the woman he marries, which he doesn’t do until he is sure.  He is always polite to the ladies, but he does not let the women in his life boss him around, not even in the way he dresses.

He doesn’t necessarily stand up for himself, but he will definitely stand up for others.

He is a leader, even if he has no followers, because he does not need followers to validate his position.  He is his own man.

Sure, there are probably more things that make up the man to be admired, but I can’t think of them right now.

I suppose you can expect almost all, if not all, of the male heroes in my stories to portray these traits to some degree.

Studying

 Here is one for my preaching folder.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

In a previous post I made the comment that,  “I know what I believe, and that is thanks to my father who always told me to study things out for myself”.   There is a great difference between studying something for yourself and being taught something.  In the one, you are told what to believe.  In the other, you become the investigator, and you read not one or two books on a subject, but you might have up to twenty different books on the same subject to see what all has been said about it.  When studying scripture then you have maybe twenty different versions of the Bible to study from.  It is arduous, but it is also very rewarding when you can finally conclude a subject knowing that you know, that you know, what you believe about it.

During the Dark Ages, people were kept in the dark in an educational and a spiritual sense.  I believe we are now being lulled into an all new Dark Age.

Even with all of the resources available to people today, Google, Wikipedia, libraries and many more; it seems to me that people are more gullible now than they were say 70 years ago.  At least about the issues that really matter.  A good 80% of the people who argue about politics and issues have no idea what they themselves truly believe. How can they, if they have not studied enough for themselves on the subject?  They have been indoctrinated into believing something, but do they even know why?    People are not being taught to think for themselves anymore.  I saw this firsthand in the education of my own children, and now my nieces and nephews are in the same predicament.  Children are taught to shut up and listen and memorize the “correct” answers for the test.  You can say that is how education has always been, and in a way you might be right.  However, the text books nowadays have been altered considerably from when our grandparents were in school, and not to make them more accurate, but to indoctrinate the vulnerable youth into a very particular mindset, not only in the USA, but in other countries as well.

It is my estimation that at least 40% and maybe as much as 50% of what is being taught in the schools and in the churches is error.  The true face of evil (in my opinion) are the organizations – school boards and church committees.  Sure there might be an innocent dupe that sits on those committees, however not all of those people are innocent dupes.  Many are consciously and systematically brainwashing the sheep.  Yes, the Bible calls us all sheep, however true sheep don’t follow a different shepherd.  There is only one true Shepherd and He has many names which you can read about here, but the one we know best is Jesus.

Here, read this passage of scripture regarding sheep:

The Gospel of John 10 : 22-30

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”

Might I re-iterate here that in order to qualify as to not being snatched out of His or His Father’s hand, you must actually hear His voice and not listen to the voice of another, even if he is a pastor, priest, reverend, teacher or whoever you most admire.

Do you hear His voice and do you follow IT exclusively?  If not, then you are not one of His sheep.  This is one of the things that impacted me the most when I heard this scripture for the first time, when I was maybe six years old.  I knew then, that the only thing in this world that really mattered was that I hear His voice for myself.  All of my effort in studying since then has served to re-enforce that determination.

Let me additionally say that the devil will also talk to you.  Not everything that is supernatural is good or holy.  Not every voice is God…or UFO’s [humor].   It is your responsibility to get to know the voice of Jesus and His character so well, that you will not be duped when an angel, demon, or the devil himself speaks to you.  The devil spoke to Jesus, but He was not duped, because He knew the scriptures for Himself.   The Bible says that any who are lacking discernment and wisdom can ask Him for it, and He will give it to them.

shutterstock_15049564-a

Don’t take my word for it.  In fact, don’t take anyone’s word for it.  Study it out for yourself; it really is that important.

Read the whole context, not just a few verses at a time.

Read every verse that talks about the subject you are wanting to know about.

If you have read a verse in just one translation, then you don’t really know what it says.  Especially if that translation is the NIV.  At the very least you should be reading the King James  or this 1569 version done by Casiodoro de Reina, it is good and it is free, The Amplified, either the Hebrew or Greek Interlinear Translation (this is the best one that I know of, even if it isn’t available on Kindle), and then read it again in The Complete Jewish Bible.  At the very least you should have read the same passage (not individual verse) out of the four or five above mentioned translations before you can even begin to think you know what the passage is meaning to say.   I also use an analytical concordance, I personally prefer Young’s and he also has a literal translation that is good.

So, happy studying to those of you who are interested.