Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Motivates Me?

That’s a good question, because dude…sometimes motivation is hard. Really hard

In all truth…I’m motivated by deadlines.

Hard deadlines.

The kind I can shove back and delay don’t really do it for me.  I need something firm, with serious consequences if I don’t finish the project.

Also, I’m motivated by the story. If it’s something I love, I usually have no problems writing on it.
If it’s something I like, but I’m not crazy about where or how it’s going to be published, I’m less motivated to work on it.

Also…I’m motivated by guilt. I have a few friends I exchange chapters with via email whenever we finish them and I feel more motivated to write when they send me theirs. Like…I need to keep up with them – not in a competition sense, but in an I’m letting them down if I don’t sense. Lame…but true.

So yeah…these are my motivations.  

Stress and guilt.

It’s how I roll. 

What motivates you? Seriously, if you have tips, leave them. I need help.  Click the names below to see what motivates the other WR bloggers.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Merlin Club: The Tears of Uther Pendragon (parts 1 & 2) or The One Where Smirking is Synonymous with Evil

I’m so bummed I wasn’t able to watch Merlin with Jess and Jen this week, but I’m in the U.P (The Land of Very Little Reliable Internet) on a family vacation. But I wrote this out in advance. Yay Netflix!

Season three opens with Morgana having been missing for an entire year and Arthur, Merlin and the knights tirelessly searching for her. Uther is beside himself and even though his men are dying left, right and sideways, he refuses to give up the search, and Gaius’ attempt to talk some sense in him goes nowhere.

While Merlin and Arthur are searching (and sniping affectionately at each other) they’re attacked by a band of ruffians. Once the fighting is over, Morgana emerges from the misty woods, terrified bruised, confused and in a completely different gown (though still one of her own) than she was wearing when Morgause magic-ed her out of Camelot during the last episode of last season.  Continuity, people. Come on. 

Uther is relieved at having Morgana home, and Merlin is freaked the fuck out because he’s terrified that Morgana is going to tell Uther that Merlin tried to poison her. Gaius is all “whatevs, it was for the good of the kingdom” and completely dimisses Merlin’s fears.

The next morning, Gaius wakes Merlin to tell him that Arthur has requested his presence in Morgana’s chambers. He goes to her chambers where he overhears her telling Arthur how she escaped from the bandits. Morgana gives him a look over Arthur’s shoulder as she’s hugging him. She tells Arthur she needs to rest and he leaves. Merlin starts to follow him out, but Morgana tells him she needs to speak to him. She tells him she knows he tried to poison her, but she understands and would have done the same. Then she apologizes for everything she’s done. 

Morgana goes to see Uther and he’s overjoyed to see her. There are tears, people. Tears.  And Morgana gently wipes them away. Also, side note, Morgana has all of her original jewelry that she left Camelot with. Doesn’t anyone find it odd that she was with bandits and they didn’t take all her pricey rings and bracelet? She apologizes for all the wrongs she’s done to him. As she leaves, we see the first smirk of the season. 

That night, Morgana rides out of Camelot – so what? No guards see/hear her? – to a rocky place somewhere outside Camelot’s walls where she meets Morgause who continues to wear Miranda Lambert’s castoffs. She tells her Morgause the everyone believes her story and hands Morgause the handkerchief she used to wipe away Uther’s tears. Morgause drops it into a cauldron full of some kind of horrible looking black goo. Next she drops in a mandrake root that screams as it’s engulfed in the goo. Morgana can hear the screams and Morgause is positively gleeful about it. Only those with magic can hear the screams. They’re concocting a spell to make Uther go insane. 

Morgana hangs the dripping mandrake root under Uther’s bed. Later, there’s a feast to welcome Morgana home and Uther makes a toast and talks about how he loves her best. It’s implied. Whatever. After he hugs Morgana again (and she grimaces) he leaves the room a little woozy and needing air, and smirk number two appears. 

Uther hallucinates that he sees Ygraine, his dead wife in the well, and she reaches out and grabs his arm. He. Flips. Shit. and starts screaming his head off and hyperventilating until the guards come running. Arthur, Morgana, Gaius and Merlin put an unconscious Uther into his bed, with Morgana being especially solicitous. As soon as everyone’s gone, her disgust reappears.  As does her smirk.
Arthur demands to know what could have caused his father’s breakdown.  Gaius says he doesn’t know, but Arthur, unlike his father, knows when Gaius is lying, presses him for more info. Gaius tells him that Uther was mumbling Ygraine’s name and that he’d seen her in the well Arthur is worried about rumors spreading. 

He’s right to worry, because we next see Morgana gloating to Morgause about how rumors are spreading that the king is going mad. Morgana asks about Cenred (the king adjacent) and Morgause tells her that Cenred wishes only to please her as she readies another mandrake root for Uther.
When Morgana is sneaking back into Camelot, one of the knights spots her and notices the dripping mandrake root, so she stabs him with her dagger and pushes him off the parapet. The warning bells ring as Morgana is hiding the mandrake root in her room.
The next morning, Morgause rides to Cenred’s castle and he and Morgause have some argue-y magical foreplay. She outlines her plan to take Camelot and coerces him into participating. 

Arthur warns Uther that Cenred is amassing an army, but unfortunately Uther is too busy seeing a dead druid boy he’d had killed years ago. He tells the child to leave him alone. No one else sees anything except Uther freaking out. He flips shit again and Arthur and Sir Leon have to drag him from the council room. Cue another smirk from Morgana.

The knight Morgana stabbed is found and Gaius has him brought to his chamber. He goes to see Arthur with the dagger that killed the knight and tells him that it belonged to the Blood Guard – those who protected the priestesses of the Old Religion, and that not all of them were wiped out in the great purge. Gaius also drops the bombshell that the dude Morgana stabbed is still alive. She races to Gaius’ chamber and poisons him with a big old bottle of hemlock. Annnnnnnddddd cue smirk.

That night, Merlin brings medicine to Uther who’s sleeping fitfully. He hears the dripping and discovers the mandrake root under the bed and has to hide quickly because Morgana has come into the room. She reaches under the bed without seeing him and grabs the root and leaves. 

Merlin follows her into the forest where he sees Morgause and her guard approach. He overhears them discuss the crazy they’re inflicting on Uther and that Cenred’s army will ride on Camelot at Morgause’s command. Morgana also tells her sister that Merlin suspects her.  And that he’s there in the woods with them. Merlin runs away and Morguase’s guards give chase, but he’s captured.
Back at Camelot, Gaius tells Arthur that he needs to assume control of the kingdom. Arthur refuses because he doesn’t want to give up on his father. 

Morgause questions Merlin who’s now been chained up and when he doesn’t give her the answers she wants, she magically tightens the chains around him and walks away. Because, you know, you should always leave your prisoners unattended. Merlin tries to magically break free, but that only causes the chains to tighten further. He starts hearing strange noises in the woods and starts to panic. 

Meanwhile Gaius is looking for Merlin and asks Gwen and Morgana about it. You’ll be unsurprised to know that there was smirking. 

Back in the woods, we see what was making the unsettling noises. The giant scorpions of doom. Tons of them and they’re all coming for Merlin. 

Arthur is keeping vigil by his father’s bed and Morgana comes to comfort him. She promises to look after Uther. And smirks. 

Merlin uses magic to beat back the scorpions, but not before one stings him. Using his Dragon Lord voice, he summoning the dragon as Cenred’s army rides toward Camelot. As the scorpions creep forward again, the dragon swoops in to rescue him. 

The next episode opens with Merlin waking in the dragon’s cave, sick from the scorpion’s poison. Meanwhile, Arthur is all pissed because Merlin isn’t there and he has to do shit for himself. Gaius worries about Merlin and Morgana skulks around the castle and creates a diversion to draw the guards away from Uther’s room so she can get in and change out the mandrake root while torturing him a bit with it first. 

Merlin demands to go back to Camelot because the kingdom is in danger. And the dragon points out that Merlin’s desire to see good in people is pretty much his undoing. The dragon also trots out the unfortunate news that Merlin’s and Morgana’s fates are joined. 

Merlin gets his the dragon to fly him back to Camelot. Before the dragon takes off, he tells Merlin that Arthur’s destiny and the future of Albion lie in Merlin’s hands. No pressure, man. No pressure. Merlin sneaks into Camelot and wakes up Gaius. Merlin tells him about Morgana and Morgause and brings him to Uther’s chambers where they find Uther’s room trashed and Uther whimpering in a corner in his nightclothes. 

Uther’s having hallucinations of Ygraine and a bunch of drowned children. Merlin grabs the mandrake root and throws it in the fire, freeing Uther of the spell. Gaius medicates him. Merlin wants to tell Uther about Morgana’s treason. Gaius refuses to do it because Uther would kill them both. Meanwhile, Cenred’s army gets closer to Camelot. 

The next morning Merlin goes to Arthur’s chamber which is a sty and Arthur bitches him out for being gone and leaving without his permission. They argue, Arthur throws shit at Merlin. Later, Morgana spots Arthur and Merlin walking through the courtyard and she’s all WTF because Merlin should be dead. 

Morgana goes to Uther’s chamber to recharge the mandrake root and Gaius surprises her while she’s looking under the bed and asks if she’s lost something. Busted. She claims she’s looking for her earring. Nice save. Gaius passes on the news that Uther will make a full recovery and Morgana is not pleased. 

Later, waiting in an alcove, she grabs Merlin as he’s walking by and threatens him not to breathe a word of what he saw or she’ll make his life short and painful. Morgana, honey, why not just kill him now? Loose ends, my sweet. Loose ends. 

Sir Leon tells Arthur the news that Cenred’s army will be there soon and they have twice as many men. Arthur decides to prepare the city for siege. Merlin tries to tell Arthur not to worry. It doesn’t go well. Later, Gwen tries to tell Arthur the same thing. It goes marginally better. 

Morgana watched Camelot prepare for siege and smirks a lot. Then, she sneaks out to meet with Morgause to tell her that Merlin is alive and has destroyed the mandrake root. Morgause tells her not to worry, that Cenred’s army is nearly there and that Morgana must play her part. Morgause gives her a staff from the High Priestesses of the Isle of the Blessed, and Morgana vows not to fail her sister. 

There’s a big old siege preparation montage punctuated by longing glances between Arthur and Guinevere. Cenred’s forces will be there in a matter of hours. Arthur sits vigil a little longer by Uther’s bed until Merlin tells him it’s time. Before he leaves his unconscious father’s side, Arthur promises not to let him down. He then goes to ready himself for battle. 

Merlin tells Arthur it’s his fate to be the greatest king Camelot has ever known and to trust in himself. Arthur studies Merlin for a minute then tells him that he’s wise. Then he goes to meet his troops in the armory and after a rousing cry of “For the love of Camelot!” they go out to load up the catapults to aim at Cenred’s army that has massed outside the castle. 

Cenred begins his attack by hurling giant flaming balls of something at the castle and Uther wakes as they hit the castle walls. All of a sudden Cenred’s army rushes in.  For all the talk of Camelot being impregnable, they got in pretty damn easily. Uther comes outside, dressed for battle and fights to defend Camelot. 

Inside, Gaius, Gwen and Morgana are tending to the wounded and Merlin warns Gaius to keep an eye on Morgana before running back to the fighting to find Arthur. Arthur freaks when he sees Uther fighting and pulls him away from the battle.  Uther takes a cross bow bolt to the leg and Arthur calls for the knights to retreat as Cenred’s army swarms the walls. They give chase and Merlin uses his magic to enhance the fire already burning to give the knights time to escape. 

Morgana sneaks out of the hospital ward and runs to her room to get the staff. Gaius tries to follow her and when he doesn’t see her hiding behind the damn door, he leaves.  Meanwhile the battle rages on and Arthur pulls the bolt from Uther’s leg and Merlin helps Uther away from the fighting and into the hospital ward. 

Gaius tells Merlin that Morgana has disappeared. Meanwhile Morgana is down in the crypt and forces the staff through the floor. Merlin feels the magic and knows where to find her.  Morgause feels it, too. In the crypt, the staff shoots out glowing blue beams and starts raising knights from the dead. Skeletal knights, but knights nonetheless. Oh, and they have swords. 

They attack from within the citadel and are pretty much unstoppable. Mostly because they’re already dead.  Arthur tells Merlin to tell Gaius to seal off the hospital while he continues to fight. The castle is soon overrun. The knights are trapped between Cenred’s army and the skeleton army. Things are not looking good for our heroes. 
Merlin finds Morgana in the basement and confronts her and tries to convince her to use her powers for good. To find another way. But Morgana isn’t having it. She tells him there’s no other way. Merlin runs for the staff but Morgana blocks him and holds a sword on him. He grabs a sword and they fight while outside the battle continues to rage. 

She knocks the sword from Merlin’s hand and with some whispered magic, he knocks in part of the roof and it hits her and knocks her out. With a spell and his sword, he cuts the rowan staff in half, severing its power.   

The skeletons collapse, Camelot’s knights rally and they turn the tide of battle against Cenred’s army.  Cenred calls off his remaining troops and they retreat. Morgause is furious.

The next day, Uther addresses his knights and praises Morgana for destroying the magical staff in the crypt and calls her a hero. Meanwhile, she and Merlin as having a stare down. Later, in Gaius’ chamber, Merlin is frustrated because Uther doesn’t see Morgana’s true nature, and Gauis warns Merlin to be careful of her. 

And's time for the questions. 

And now, the questions. 

1.       If I’d written this episode...I would have made have made it clear why Morgana doesn't just kill Merlin. He knows everything. Keeping him alive without some really clear and understandable reasons seems like a terrible idea. 
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. I'm still pretty bothered about the Merlin is still alive thing. NOT because I want Merlin dead (sheesh, Jess!) but because I want a solid reason why Morgana doesn't just kill him. I'm all still annoyed about how Gaius is all set to lead the Morgana is Evil Parade. He acts like he had no part in driving her down this path. 
On the positive side, I think it's really sweet how Merlin's belief in him lifts Arthur's flagging spirits.
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. Morgana returned to Camelot in an different dress by with all her jewelry after supposedly being kidnapped by bandits.  
4.    Favorite Costume. Gotta give it to Morgana's red cloak and dress. I also really like her armor, but I couldn't  find a decent picture of it. Besides, I like the Little Red vibe. 

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. I didn't create this, but I concur with it. Morgana and Morgause are supposed to be half sisters, and again, in this episode, she seem to have a lot more going on.

6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? It has to be when Arthur asks Merlin if his "little bottom is sore." I feel certain that in Jess' head, the sore bum was for entirely different reasons. And also this. 

7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? And for Jen, I give you all the smirks that have gone unnoticed in these two episodes. 
Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The playlist I needed to finish my last book.

When I was writing Surfacing, I had to create a playlist to help drown out everything else so I could finish the damn book. And this week, on Wednesday Randomness, we just happen to be talking about playlists, so I'm going to share this one!

It's called: Music to Finish this Fucking Book

Why, yes...I might have been a bit stressed when I named it. Why do you ask?

Let It Go - Idina Menzel. (Don't judge me!)
Counting Stars - OneRepublic (I dunno - it just worked for this book.)
One - U2
Halleluiah - Rufus Wainwright (Yeah...this is a repeat offender on my playlists.)
Collide - Howie Day
In the Sun - Joseph Arthur (Another repeat offender)
Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (What? It fit the book.)
Someone Like You - Adele
Wonderwall - Ryan Adams (live cover)
Turning Tables - Adele
Samson - Regina Spektor
One Safe Place - Marc Cohen
Set Fire to the Rain - Adele
It Doesn't Matter - Alison Krauss
Goodnight Elisabeth - Counting Crows
Mysterious Ways - U2

Also used to write this book was my entire collection of Clocks and Clouds - and a huge thanks to Jess Jarman for introducing me to them. 

I'm writing this post early because when it goes live, I'll be in the U.P. on my annual family vacation. So, instead of linking directly to everyone else's posts, I'm linking to their blogs. I bet a lot of them will have playlists, but if not, I'm sure there will be something awesome to read. :)


Friday, July 18, 2014

Merlin Club:The Last Dragon Lord or The One Where Colin Morgan and the Hot Older Dude Made Me Cry

The last episode of season two opens with death and destruction – compliments of a really pissed off dragon. Arthur and the knights are trying to fight the dragon while Gaius and Gwen are tending to the wounded. Gwen goes out into the courtyard for more water even though Gaius tells her not to because it’s too dangerous – and he’s right. The dragon swoops in for an attack, but Arthur saves her, getting wounded in the process. Camelot is burning, people are dying and as usual, Uther doesn’t believe any of this is his fault. Oh, Uther…


During what appears to be an emergency council meeting, Uther has some regret about killing all the Dragon Lords because they would have been able to put a stop to this shit – still not his fault, though. Even though he’s had this dragon chained up in his basement and has killed every other dragon in existence – still not his fault. (Now that I think about it, I know some people like Uther…) Anyway, Gaius steps forward and says, that there are rumors that one still lives. But he’s in King Cenred’s land and they no longer have a treaty so crossing the border to look for the Dragon Lord would be an act of war and an all around terrible idea so it can’t be done. 

Arthur is all ‘fuck that noise, I’m going’ and heads off with Merlin to find the last Dragon Lord whose name is Balinor. Before they leave, Gaius is all, ‘heads up, Merlin – that last Dragon Lord is your dad’ which is a huge shock for poor Merlin. 

Disguised as not a prince and his servant, they ride through Cenred’s land until they finally get some intel on where to find Balinor. Meanwhile, Arthur is getting weaker and weaker because of being wounded by the dragon.  Just as they find the cave where Balinor is reputed to live, they have to hide from one of Cenred’s patrols and Arthur passes out because his wound has become infected. 

Merlin slings Arthur over the horse’s back and leads them to the cave. He finds Balinor who’s all ‘get off my lawn’ at him.  But he finally agrees to help Merlin save Arthur’s life even though Merlin lies to him about who Arthur is and Balinor knows it. Side note…I find Balinor pretty hot. What? It needed to be said. 

Merlin begs Balinor to come back to Camelot and help, but Balinor refuses since Uther imprisoned his dragon and tried to have Balinor killed going so far as to track him into another king’s territory to do it. Balinor explains that he had to leave the woman he loved (Merlin’s mama) and the life they’d made together to live in a damn cave, so even though innocent people are dying, Uther can go fuck himself. 

The next morning, Arthur wakes up and he feels fantastic. Until he finds out that Balinor has no intention of returning to Camelot with them. They leave, defeated, but Balinor has a change of heart and ends up joining them on their journey.  That night, while Arthur is sleeping, Merlin tells Balinor that he’s his son and they bond and talk about Dragon Lord stuff and Merlin’s mother. And Balinor tells merlin that being a Dragon Lord is passed from father to son. Merlin says that after the dragon has been taken care of, he’s going to take Balinor to see Hunith. But in the way of 45 minute long TV programs, we all know this will never come to pass. 

The next morning, Merlin wakes to see that his father has carved him a wooden dragon, but before he can really appreciate it, Cenred’s men attack their encampment and Balinor is killed protecting Merlin. Merlin is gutted. I will totally admit, I cried like a damn lunatic the first time I saw this. It was just AWFUL. I didn’t cry as much the second time through because, dude, I was trying to keep up with all the #MerlinClub tweets. 

 Merlin and Arthur return to Camelot and Uther is ready to give up at the news that Balinor is dead. But still not ready to take responsibility for his actions. Because he’s a douchecanoe. Arthur asks for volunteers to fight the dragon and a few knights step forward. Merlin insists on going with Arthur and they have a touching moment where Merlin says that he’s going because he can’t bear for Arthur’s armor to be destroyed. It’s pretty adorable. 

Merlin is upset because he thinks he has no chance to be a Dragon Lord and help Camelot. But Gaius tells him that in order to inherit the powers of a Dragon Lord, the original Dragon Lord has to die.
Merlin, Arthur and the knights go out to a super handy, empty field in the midst of the forest that surrounds Camelot to wait for the dragon. The dragon shows up and attacks and conveniently knocks out Arthur while killing everyone else. 

Merlin tames them with the magic trick of staring into all of their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things. 



Merlin uses his Dragon Lord voice and forces the dragon to do his bidding through the power of his sexy Dragon Lord voice. It should be noted that this voice will also cause Jess Jarman’s panties to fall off. Side effects, people.

So Merlin tells the dragon to leave and never harm Camelot again, and the dragon, because Merlin showed him mercy, promises to help Merlin should he need it. 

Arthur wakes up. Merlin lies to him again and tells him that he dealt the dragon a mortal blow and they stumbled back to Camelot alone where Uther is watching through the window waiting for his son to return. 

And now, the questions. 

1.       If I’d written this episode...I would have maybe had Uther take *some* kind of responsibility for this shit. Seriously dude - this is ALL on you. 
 2.    The thing I loved/hated most about this episode. I'm really pretty fond of this episode, and I can't really think of anything I straight up hate - though, I do think the convenient cleared dragon field is a bit silly. But I loved that Merlin at least got to meet his dad. And I loved Merlin and Arthur having a conversation about Arthur's armor when they were really talking about Arthur. *heart melts*
3.    Something you’ve never noticed about this episode before. Okay, so all this time, the dragon has been on Merlin's ass to do the right thing, to protect Arthur and make sure he survives to be king, because he's the only one who can unite Albion, etc. But he's gonna go ahead and attack Arthur with the likelihood of killing him? What the hell, dragon - I get that you're pissed at Uther, but if you want Arthur to survive so badly, why are being all attack-y?

4.    Favorite Costume. This week, I'm going with Balinor's spectacular coat.

5.    Here is Proof of some random head canon I’ve created. Nothing this week. 

6.    What Merthur moment did Jess have the naughtiest thoughts about? A couple - one when Arthur and Merlin were laying in their separate beds and Arthur was trying to get Merlin to tell him what was bothering him. And the last scene where they're having a conversation about Arthur's armor...only not.
7.   What made Jen lose her shit (in a good or bad way) in a bad way? The knights trying to fight the dragon...with fire. 

Jess' take on the episode is here, and Jen's is here.