Saturday, April 30, 2016

Starting Sparks: The First Pawn





Today I've an entry for Starting Sparks. I know. It's the last day.



 .:



 The park was busy today. A couple joggers passed Jeff without a glance at him. A little dog ran about and stopped occasionally to give the rope toy in his mouth a fierce shake. A leash trailed behind the pup.

A couple on a bench sat very close but the man seemed a little distracted. Some kids played on the swings. They laughed and joked with each other except the fourth boy who was clearly a tagalong little brother.

A man in jeans and t-shirt paced in the grass while he spoke on the phone. Actually, he listened and appeared rather distraught.

"Excuse me, sir." Jeff approached him.

The man frowned at him. "What is it you want?"

"Your dog?"

"What about my dog? He's not bothering you."

Jeff held back a sigh. "He went that way."

The man looked confused for a moment, then finally realized the dog was not around anymore. He cursed under his breath and headed in the direction Jeff had pointed out.

Jeff continued to where the people thinned out and you could hear the birds sing. Robert already sat at the stone table with a chess board. The pieces were set up in crooked lines (Rob would never be mistaken as OCD). But a black pawn and a white pawn were missing. They were no doubt one in each of Rob's fists. There was nothing unusual about Robert today. His hair was a scrambled mess of salt and pepper. His friend smelled like peppermint, and cat fur clung to his pant legs.

"Your cat's name is Faramir, right?" Jeff was sure he'd finally figured it out.

Rob seemed surprised. "What's that to do with our game?"

"I know you named him after a Tolkien character. You're always likening our chess games to Lord of the Rings." Jeff sat down on the other stone pedestal at the table, opposite Rob. "Faramir is your favorite, isn't he?"

"How do you know I've a cat?"

Jeff just grinned.

The crisp sunshine glided off the chess board, almost missing it. The board was too faded to reflect any sort of light.

"You don't have to be smart today, do you?" Robert said.

"It's not something I turn on and off, you know."

Rob rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh. Finally, he thrust one of his closed fist toward Jeff. "Which one?" He glanced over his shoulder, almost smoothly.

Jeff resisted the urge to smile. After their last game, he'd told Rob the secret to how he always guessed right. The color of the pawn. Rob always seemed to glance over his shoulder when he tried to push the black onto Jeff. So Jeff had let him in on it. Of course, now Rob expected that Jeff would expect Rob to act in the opposite manner after sharing the secret.

Jeff probably shouldn't have shared it in the first place, as Rob would now reassess his actions tomorrow. But what did that matter? How many more games would he have to play?

"Black," Jeff said.

"Now that's just wrong." Robert opened his palms and revealed the black pawn near Jeff and the white pawn clenched close to his chest. "I think you made that up. About me having a tell. There ain't no strategy to it. It's chance."

"Actually," Jeff placed pawns on the board, "it's chess."

They turned the board so that Jeff was White and Rob Black. There were many different ways of choosing who played White, the color that went first. Originally, they had chosen by hiding the pawns as Rob had just done. But the opposite player would choose one of the fists and whatever color pawn was in that fist was the color that the chooser played. But Jeff had found boring. So they'd changed it a smudge.

After the opening moves, Jeff was pretty sure that Rob was either trying to throw him off by winging every move, or Rob planned something much more complex than Jeff could yet detect.

"What did the doctor say yesterday?" Robert rubbed his chin as Jeff took his knight with a pawn.

"Didn't go to the doctor. I'm through with them."

"You know, they might could help. They got surgeries for those."

"I can't afford no surgery."

"But you can't jest sit back and take it."

"And why can't I?" What was Rob doing with his rook? "Look," Jeff said. "I'm tired."

"Well, that's cause you're sick--"

"No, it's cause I'm old. What's the point?"

Rob chewed his lower lip and stared at the board. "What about Jen and Allen?"

Perfect time to change the subject. "I've been thinking. I ain't got anything to leave them."

"Well, I don't think that matters. I mean it's nice and all but--"

"I don't ever get to see them. In fact, I'll never see them again. I want them to at least know I love them."

"Well, they know that." Rob moved a pawn to lure Jeff's queen out. Like that would happen.

"But do they?" Jeff sighed and moved his knight to lure Rob into his own trap. Do they really know? They were just kids after all. And kids know you love them when you spend time with them. You stop to treat them like human beings. And he knew what it was like to be ignored.

"No." Jeff shook his head. "I've got to do something for them."

"Well, what are you going to do?" Rob moved in with his rook.

"Anything! I don't care how or what."

Rob hesitated. "What do you mean you don't care?"

Jeff glanced around but there was nobody. Still he lowered his voice. "I'm not sure exactly. But there's people who's got money. I could. . ."

"Jeff, you don't mean steal!?" Rob hissed in a whisper.

Jeff took Rob's rook with a bishop.

"I do. Unless you got better ideas." Jeff's mind tumbled. "Cab driving don't make good money and I'm too old for anyone to hire me for something that pays more. I don't know a trade. And I don't have the time to learn one."

"Do you know how much trouble you could be in?"

"I could die any minute, Rob. If I get caught it wouldn't matter."

"But what would Jen and Allen think? Is that what you want to leave them with, huh?"

Rob took Jeff's bishop.

"No. Nobody'll catch me. I'm too smart."

"If you're so smart then why are you even considering--"

Jeff ignored him. "The thing is I don't have anything. I don't have a gun or the knowledge. If I at least had some connections who knew. . ."

"Most people would be grateful not to have those sorts of acquaintances."

Jeff spread his hands out. "I'm desperate, Rob."

Rob sighed. He glanced from side to side. He seemed to hunch a little lower. "Look," he said. "I know this guy. He helps people. . . fix their problems. Well, he doesn't really. He just knows someone else who does. I don't really know how it works. But I directed a few people to him and I know he's helped them out right proper."

"Do you think he can help me too?" Jeff took Rob's queen.

"This stuff is illegal, Jeff. You have to be sure." Rob shook his head. "I shouldn't have said--"

"Rob." Jeff wanted to scream. He wanted to cry actually, but he wasn't going to waste time on tears. "I could pop off right now. Right here in front of you."

Rob shook his head. "Don't say--" He made some evasive move with his knight.

"Or the next hour. I might not wake up tomorrow."

"I know it. Stop reminding me, alright?"

"I've nothing to lose. Just lead me to this guy you know."

"Well, it's not like that. I'll tell him, but they'll find you."

"They?"

"Yeah, some organization."

"What's it called?"

"No, I've said too much."

"Don't clam up now."

"I mean, nobody ever says it. You don't use that name."

"Fine, Rob. Fine. But you'll tell him, right? Your friend with this connection?"

"Yeah." Rob rubbed his forehead like he did when he lost a game. "They'll find you."

Jeff nodded and slid his rook into place. "Checkmate."

"What?" Rob examined the board then rolled his eyes. "Here I'm worried about you and the law while you capture my king! Some friend you are, Jeff, some friend."

"I told you. I'm too smart to let them catch me."

"I hope you're right."

__________________________________________________________


The man climbed into the backseat. He asked for Wormwood Street.

Another jilted lover. Jeff couldn't stand those. He glanced at photo of Jen and Allen on the dashboard.

But this man had more to live for than some lost love. He reeked of a cologne that Jeff had smelled on some banker before who clearly spared no expense for anything. Not to mention the guy's wrist watch. He was rich and yet had a live-with-mum air about him.

So at least the man wouldn't have asked for the bridge like that other. . . Jeff shivered involuntary. That had been a very bad night.

No. Don't think like that. He had to have the nerves of steel. He was practically about to commit suicide, right? That organization had yet to find him, but when they did he'd have to completely commit.

For Jen and Allen.

Well, if they found him. They hadn't yet. Maybe this organization wasn't as big a deal as Rob made them out to be.
"Wormwood Street, at your request, sir." Jeff stopped the car.

The man got out. Before Jeff could tell him his due, the man handed him the money and an envelope. A small smirk played on the man's lips. Everything about him changed, his behavior, his stance. He didn't seem much like a jilted lover anymore.

"Say hello to Robert for me." And the man left, just like that, into the fog of London.

"Oh?" Jeff turned the envelope over in his hands. Nothing was written on either side of it.

Once at home, Jeff with a cup of tea and stared at the letter. He took a breath. He was going to do this. He picked it up.

For Jen and Allen.

The author of the letter had been waiting a very long time for someone like Jeff. Someone to enact his opening move. Someone brilliant enough. Someone unnoticed enough. Someone desperate enough. And preferably someone with no history of crime. Jeff matched all criteria. Well, except for maybe that one time he set off firecrackers during a funeral. Age fourteen.

How did they know about that?

The author was most inspired by Rob and Jeff's little chess games in the park. While the author explained the plan, Jeff couldn't help smile. He nearly let his tea get cold. That'd be a shame.

But this? Brilliance! Jeff had never thought of killing before. It made him a bit squeamish to think about. Violence wasn't his thing. But it wasn't exactly killing, now was it? And there was no violence involved either. This was the biggest stroke of genius Jeff had seen in a long time. He had to be a part. All he needed was to keep his wits about him. Ha, he could do that!

Of all the things, the organization would pay him to kill. It'd go directly to an account set aside for his kids, because, yes, the author knew about Jen and Allen too.

He said they were doing well.

He said Jeff would receive what he needed very soon.

He said to burn this note after reading it. Jeff had expected no less.

He also said to sprinkle the ashes off the side of the bridge to show his acceptance of this game. They would notice.

Strange. Clearly, the author had a touch for the dramatic, but so be it. Brilliance and imagination had a way of going hand in hand. Or was that genius and madness? Whatever. Was there a difference?

The author mentioned that this game, Jeff's game, was intended to catch the eye of a one Sherlock Holmes. The author was a big fan. "Be wary of Sherlock. He'll notice you."

Lastly, he signed it.

_________________________________________________________

 Jeff trudged up the apartment stairs. He dug in his pocket for his keys.

It had been a week since Jeff had sprinkled the ashes off the bridge. He had received many queer looks from people. Looks that had said, "See up there? What's that funny little man doing?" Jeff wasn't senile. He might have an aneurysm, but he wasn't crazy. Though, he was beginning to wonder if the letter was a huge hoax.

No, they knew about his children. This couldn't be a hoax, right? If it had been, then why?

Because someone was bored. Obviously.

Jeff sighed and opened his apartment door. The door hit something solid. He stepped inside and glanced around for intruders. The place looked most normal. Except, a package lay on the floor. Hm.

Inside the parcel was two bottles and a business card. Well, it looked like a business card. But there was no address nor phone number. Just that unmistakable name. 




_____________________________________________

"Who do we trust even though we don't know them? Who passes unnoticed wherever they go?" - SH





Disclaimer: It takes place in London, so I apologize if there are American terms in there. I tried to stay away from anything I thought would sound out of place, but as I've never been to the UK, it was hard to know.

I was really nervous about this because of the setting and, gosh, it's bad. Too much telling and it feels pointless.

Also, I have never written fanfiction. Although I've heard that's how some people first get interested in writing. But it seems like all of you like Sherlock the same as me. So I hope you enjoyed this!

Have you ever written fanfiction? What is your favorite BBC Sherlock episode? (Mine is the Hound of the Baskervilles.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Popcorn Reviews: Rebel Heart by Moira Young

popcorn and cat?

(This gif cracks me up every time. Cats are such strange beings.)


This review is long overdue. But you see, I have very conflicted feelings about Rebel Heart. It's the sequel to Blood Red Road.

I loved, loved Blood Red Road. I video reviewed it here. (It's such a long video; just don't watch it.)

This sequel though. *sighs*




It has the same dynamic as Blood Red Road. In BRR, Saba goes off to save her brother Lugh. Everyone and their dog attaches themselves to her when she meant to save him alone. She's a very prickly sort of character and treasures her solitude. Which is kind of why I like her.

Anyhow, in the sequel Saba now must go and save Jack (translation: the love interest). Why can't anyone let go of Saba and let her live her life?! Once again, everyone and their dog follows her around. I don't get it. She's honestly not a great leader. Understandably, her family wants to be with her, but at the same time, her brother and she aren't on talking terms?

In the first book, her new found friends actually helped Saba save Lugh. It was something she couldn't have done alone. Yet in the sequel, everyone seems to be more detrimental to her mission, especially in the end whenin Jack is like, "You brought half the world with you?  How are we supposed to lay low and hide half the world?"




The magic element was really interesting. Not to mention some epic skirmishes! HUZZAH! I love all the action scenes. Tension. Fast-thinking. Narrow escapes!

I also appreciated that the author held Saba accountable for her actions in BRR. Saba had to kill people in order to survive and save her brother in the first book. In the sequel, she is haunted by those she's killed. Aka, she has PTSD. It's so weird when an author puts characters through something traumatic/dark/just plain awful and they all walk away unscathed. But in Rebel Heart, nobody walked away unscathed. I appreciate how realistic that is.

Here's what I did not like. (It's a tad spoiler-y.)

There was a sex scene. Why is it that most all YA books have a sex scene like it's a requirement? What's wrong here? Marissa Meyer does splendidly without one.

Wrong topic. Back to focusing.




The thing is Saba doesn't like people. She doesn't like them touching her. Saba's not the sort who would, say, have a lapse of judgement and go have a fling with the villain?

BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS! 

It made no sense whatsoever with her character. Not to mention that the villain is like the creep of creeps. He's slimy. He's a psycho. He needs mental help because he thinks he's helping people. I want to punch him in the face then boil the germs off my fist. Saba has only met this guy maybe three times.

Furthermore, it makes no sense with the plot. It's just this random, detached event. We did get to understand the villain and why he's doing what he's doing. But there are other ways to go about that than having the protag and antag sleep together! Especially since it's out of character and-- Why is it even in the book?! My brain cannot logic.

Anyhow, I do plan to finish the trilogy even though this book kind of went south for me. I have heard that the plot gets worse in the last book. But I'm a little committed to Saba. So out of character or not. I'll read it.

I still recommend Blood Red Road like nobody's business. It's a really good book. Rebel Heart though?  

I hate saying bad things about books. But unless you NEED to read more about Saba, I would just not touch Rebel Heart. Leave Blood Red Road on the happy note it sorta is. Fantasize your own ending or something.


 

Have you ever read a disappointing sequel? How do you feel about scenes that break character?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The New Dragon Loyalty Award // A Game of Truth and Lies

 How today's post has come to exist:

1) I realize I ought to do one of those of tags that are lying around the lair.

2) Presumably, I ought to behave in an orderly fashion and do said tags in the order they were received.

3) But I am a DRAGON 

 .:



Mulan


As you know, dragons are

4) hungry. I'll have to break for a hunt in the Kitchen soon.
 

4) neither presumable nor orderly, and own no sense of  proper behavior or fashion.

5) So bring on the CHAOS and FIRE! 


Smaug:


No. I am not narrating this in an over dramatic, sinister voice in my head. Don't be ridiculous. We dragons are born of sophisticated nightmares.

 The brilliant Emily @ Ink, Inc. revamped this tag to be a true and false game. (I'm also stealing her idea of barraging you with pinterest junk. You're welcome.) 

As dragons are of the unpredictable and deceptive ilk, we shall have ourselves

A Game of Truth and Lies

I know what you're thinking: "That's got to be the title of some fantasy book." I have similar suspicions. But at present, this is the game. Seven statements. It is up to you to discern the truth from the lies.

I feel like a dramatic game show host.


1. I love the movie 101 Dalmatians.
(Dragons like cute puppies too, okay?)



 "John, tea. I solved the murder." Now THIS is how you do Disney-lock! This is so awesome!





 ...:




 Autumn Fox, by DeviantArt user: ChristinaMandy:



.:



2. I like toast. It's my favorite breakfast.
(Charbroiled, by yours truly.)


.:



love this:



Trees:



Book Dragon Mug:



3. I have never been out of the country. That is, the US.
(I keep to my Lonely Mountain.)



road trip:



Calvin and Hobbes:


.:




 :



4. I've been thinking about changing up the blog.
(Renamed "A Preposterously Lengthy and Pretentious Title for a Minuscule Corner of the Internet")


.




...:



.:




22 Pictures That Only Fans Of "The Avengers" Will Find Funny:



5. I can't stand The Princess Bride.
(Where are the DRAGONS?! It's the perfect book for dragons but instead we get R.O.U.S.s?)


*cough* Yeah.:



Character:



 :
  
 John Green knows best.


6. When I was a kid, I didn't know The Great Mouse Detective was a Sherlock Holmes retelling.
(I was an unread sooty little reptilian in my smaller years.)


 :



Great Mouse Detective / Sherlock bbc crossover:



So cute!:



THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE by atarial  (april 2014):



7. Gansey is my favorite Raven Boy.
(If you're asking, "What even is a Raven Boy?" they aren't on the Nature channel. Read "The Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater. It's the authority on the doings and habits of Raven Boys.)


 Perfect hair!:



awkward smile



 :




 London Fog by Thomas Schaller.:



So there is the chaos. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


 Smaug (gif)


As to the fire, I've decided in these last 2.3 seconds that blasting you with fiery dragon breath would be bad for the blog stats. You can thank my hunting venture to the Kitchen for the change of heart. 

I've decided to elect some fellow dragons to join in this Game of Truth and Lies. If you haven't been elected and are a dragon, well, then you are elected!

Skye @ Ink Castles

The truth shall be revealed in a video. Or not. . .


What is one of your favorite childhood movies? Oh, and who is your favorite Raven Boy?!

Friday, April 15, 2016

All Around the Circuit World // Music Monday

I don't normally do these kinds of posts, but recently since my computers been fixed I've been trying to  catch on blog reading, I've been coming up on some nice posts and articles. I'm also linking up with Lauren @ Always Me for Music Monday. Thanks for hosting Lauren!


One day I want to travel. There are some in my family who hyperventilate whenever I talk about going away to college. But one day I'll stretch what I think are my limits and go traveling. Long story short. Here's an cool blog post from Jess Mcghie about five traveling tips.



Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight has a discussion on How Much Science Do You Like in Your Science Fiction. I've been reading more sci-fi lately and found it very interesting. Some sci-fis make up the science of the world and keep on a toned down level while other sci-fis have the attitude of  "Give them ALL the science ALL the time and ALL once!"





(This is one of my favorite bands in a video that makes me smile every time. Just watch it!)


The Penslayer shared some awesome writing advice that I believe in wholeheartedly. Don't go with the flow, people. Go with your passion.

So everyone hates insta-love, and rather understandably. Emily @ Ink, Inc. wrote this awesome post on insta-love. Just go read it, okay? It will make you THINK!

Every now and then I follow a lifestyle blog. CARMEL is one of my favorites. She has fabulous outfits (her recent one, but I adore this one) and she's also a writer. She posts some of the best motivation speeches ever. You need to read "Why Do You Write Like You're Running Out of Time." Go on now. Oh, and this post. You know what? Why don't you just follow her?

Cait @ Paper Fury wrote this hilarious post Lies Writers Tell Themselves. So yeah, if you're a writer, she just revealed all your secret fears to the WHOLE WORLD. Better go read it. 




(Anthem Lights does an amazing cover of No by Meghan Trainor. I like their cover better than the original. It's also hilarious!)


Aimee @ To the Barricade always comes out with some good posts, like her recent one about writing the dark side as a Christian writer. But I also really like this one about reading comics, since that's something I'd kinda like to get into one day.


Here's a blogpost written by Switchfoot's Jon Foreman. I've read this post before but I love what Jon has to say in this honest post. What he says about songwriting, relates to me and writing. As I've been listening to their album Hello Hurricane (not their most recent album, just my recent obsession), I think about how, as a writer, I want to approach my stories the way Switchfoot, as a band, approaches their music. It's not about preaching, it's about honesty. About life and living. That honesty about what it is to be human is my worship. I want to write like they play. Maybe that sounds weird. One of my writing heroes is actually a band. I am a writer though; I didn't sign up for normal.




What have you been reading recently? Do you have a billion tabs open now? Tell me, who is your favorite band or recent music obsession!?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's good to share // Markus Zusak

Hello everyone. So I was wandering the great interweb and found an article titled The Man Behind The Book (Thief). The author of the article attended an event where Zusak gave a speech. She shares the some of the writing tips he talked about so I thought you might want to check it out. 

I think the two points that got me the most were 1) little details and 2) be selfish. The little details in writing make all the difference. I've found that to be true both while reading and writing. The little details stick out and they make the story feel more realistic and less vague. 

Also, being selfish with your time. If you want to write, you need time. Sometimes you have to opt out of spending time with people in order to finish a book. Reading that let me know I'm doing something right (for once). Sometimes I feel guilty for hermitting myself away to write. The main title soundtrack to my life is:

"You're always hiding in your room."

I like it in my room, okay?

Also, the author linked to this video in which Zusak talks about how failure has helped him grow as a writer. Zusak is hilarious and I really related to what he was saying. I would've never guessed that he hit so many ruts in the road while writing The Book Thief. It makes me feel lot better about the plot problems in Oddball the Sequel. Like, hey, this is normal.




Have you read The Book Thief? Was there a time when a failure motivated you to do better? Do you ever make failure or fear work for you?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Starting Sparks: April Edition

So this post might be a day late.


.
source


Hi, humans. I hope all goes well. This is Starting Sparks, a writing prompt link up, co-hosted by Emily @ Ink, Inc. and me. You can find the rules here. The dead line is the end of the month and don't forget to link up with us. We want to read your awesome post!

Here's the button. 





Here's the prompt.



.:
source


Write like a fiend!