Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 5 Recap & Review: Eastwatch

I forgot to write my review for Game of Thrones last week…so here’s a recap/review to get ready for tonight’s episode.

Although, there wasn’t as much action compared to the previous episode, there were still a lot of plot twists. 

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

Well, Jamie lives! Big surprise there, eh?  He and Bronn manage to swim further on down the river. Jaime tells him they need to get to King’s Landing to inform Cersei about the dragons.

Meanwhile, Dany offers the Lannister army a choice: bend the knee or die. Many start to bend the knee, except for Randyll and Dickon Tarly. They will not serve Daenerys, because she is a foreign queen and she did not grow up in Westeros.  She turns Drogon on them and after they are burnt to ashes, the rest of the Lannister army falls to their knees.

Dany shows up at Dragonstone and Jon Snow is there to meet her. Drogon allows Jon to pet his face, and it almost looks like Dany is going to swoon. Does this mean that the dragon can sense Jon’s parentage? Also, Jorah arrives at Dragonstone and Dany is very pleased to see him.

Tyrion and Varys drink wine and ponder if Daenerys is as bad as her father. Jon gets a message from Winterfell, and although he is shocked that Arya and Bran are alive, he doesn’t have time to feel joy. Bran saw a vision of the army of the dead marching towards Eastwatch.

Dany doesn’t want to help Jon, because she is afraid if she leaves, Cersei will march in and take back everything she has gained. Tyrion offers a different solution, by way of proof. Bring one of the dead men to Cersei, convince her the dead men are real and she will then join the fight against the Night King, and come to a temporary truce.

Ser Davos manages to smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing. Bronn tricks Jaime into meeting with the dwarf, and although Jaime doesn’t wish to speak with him, Tyrion tells him about the army of the dead and Jaime relays their plan to Cersei.

Although Cersei recognizes that they are vastly outnumbered and that a parlay with the dragon queen might be in their best interest, she still delivers this wonderful quote: “Dead men, dragons and dragon queens, whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it.” She tells Jaime she is pregnant and that they must fight this war the way their father did. What, sneakily?

While Tyrion is off meeting with Jaime, Ser Davos finds Gendry working as a blacksmith in the streets of King’s Landing. Ser Davos jokes to us fan’s delight, “thought you might still be rowing.” Gendry joins the fight and tells Jon Snow exactly who he is when they meet. He tells him he is very handy with a war hammer, and the instant bro-mance between them is entertaining.

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Arya is being fooled by Little Finger who is trying to sow discord between the two Stark sisters. He sneaks around the castle, has quiet conversations and basically looks like he is up to no good.  Arya finds the message that Sansa was forced to write by Cersei after Ned was beheaded. It looks to Arya, (who doesn’t know Sansa was forced to write it) that her sister has betrayed her family.

In Old Town, Gilly reads from an old manuscript and asks Sam what an annulment is. After Sam tells her, she reads that the Maester who wrote the manuscript performed a secret annulment and a marriage for a Rhaegar Targaryen in Dorne. This is big news to us, but Sam cuts her off mid-sentence. Does this mean that Jon’s parents were actually married?

Sam is fed up with the lack of response from the Maesters in regards to the Night King. Instead of waiting for them to act, he steals manuscripts from the restricted section of the library and he, Gilly and baby Sam leave Old Town.

Jon arrives at Eastwatch, with Jorah Mormont, Ser Davos and Gendry, but they are not one of the only ones with plans to go beyond the wall to catch one of the dead men. Tormund leads them to a cell where the Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros say they are there to go beyond the wall because their Lord told them too.

All the men establish that most of them hate the other, but Jon insists that they must work together because they are all on the same side against the Night King. The episode ends with the north-meets-the-avengers group heading out into the white beyond the wall.

What was the best part about this episode?

What to choose, really?

  • Jon petting Drogon.
  • Tyrion and Jaime meeting.
  • Gendry popping up out of nowhere. That “still rowing” comment. His war hammer. Jon and Gendry’s budding bro-mance.
  • Jorah returning to Dany, only to leave her again.
  • Tormund asking about Brienne.

Dislikes?

  • Arya being led on by Little Finger
  • Cersei’s pregnancy; really Jaime? She’s toxic!
  • The outrageous plan to bring a dead man beyond the wall…or is it genius? I’m really not sure.

What do you guys think? (No spoilers please! I read somewhere that tonight’s episode had leaked…)

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 3 Review: The Queen’s Justice

Every Sunday, Mike and I have a routine: at 9 o’clock we settle in front of the TV, (often with ice cream) to tune into Game of Thrones. It’s a love we both share. A story line with characters, (compared to some) that we have become deeply invested in. So, with many character’s story lines finally coming together with others…suffice to say, every night with Game of Thrones is an important one! I think it goes without saying:

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo Credit: HBO

It was so strange seeing Daenerys and Jon Snow in the same room together! She looks powerful, beautiful and queen-like. He looks like a Northerner, bulky in furs, hair unkempt, and tired of politics. But who do you think won the room?

It’s hard to say, really.  Missandei lists out Daenerys’ names and even we’re tired of hearing them. Davos Seaworth retaliates with an awkward, “This is Jon Snow…King of the North.”

It’s clear that Jon is out of his element, but he is also the Jon Snow that we love best, the one who stays true to his convictions. He was trusted to rule the north by the men who named him king and that’s exactly what he’s going to do…even if it means facing a queen who at first looks too big for her britches.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Dany…but with this meeting, I felt myself turning on her. How dare she look down her nose at our beloved Jon Snow? How dare she remind him again and again that she is the ruler of the seven kingdoms, when there are clearly other things to be worried about. White walkers, for instance?

It’s funny how quickly our loyalties change when it comes to characters. However, she does grant him access to the dragon glass on Dragonstone, which is a nice gesture. Doesn’t really seem like these two will start coupling up anytime soon, but it seems like a start, at least.

Tyrion gets some great screen time in this episode. He becomes mediator between the two, especially when Jon refuses to “bend the knee” when asked. Daenerys questions Tyrion, “you told me you liked this man?”

Varys is quick to notice that Melisandre didn’t rush to Jon’s side when he and Davos arrive and she casually reveals that her and Jon Snow didn’t part on good terms, and that she will return to die in Westeros just like Varys. Something she saw in the flames perhaps?

Meanwhile, in Old Town, Sam is both praised but not really rewarded for curing Jorah’s greyscale. Jorah, who feels lucky to have escaped death once again, reveals his plans to head back to Dany’s side. I mean, what a shocker, really. I can’t imagine how he would fit into her entourage anymore. She has Tyrion now and Jorah just feels like a third wheel at this point.

Theon Greyjoy is scooped up by survivors of Euron’s attack, but they pretty much call him a coward, because he is. Also, an unexpected and beautiful meeting happens between Sansa and Bran, who’s finally arrived back at Winterfell.

But he is much changed from the Bran she knew. He tells her how sorry he is about her marriage to Ramsay, and she seems startled by how much he knows and for bringing up such a terrible memory. He is the three-eyed Raven now and it is difficult to explain to her what that means.

Sansa seems to be enjoying her new-found power as Lady of Winterfell by making plans for the long winter, but it’s the words of Little Finger that she still continues to hang on to. Does anyone else want to punch this man in the throat every time he speaks?!

Grey Worm and his fellow Unsullied take Casterly Rock, but it’s not really a victory. The Lannister army is in Highgarden, home of the Tyrells. And Euron’s ships destroy most of the Unsullied fleet.

Suffice to say, Cersei was pleased with the gift that Euron presented to her: Ellaria Sand and her daughter. She poisons Ellaria’s daughter and locks them both in a room together. Ellaria’s punishment is to watch her daughter die and rot in front of her.

Whoa. And here we thought Cersei was done for at the end of Season 6 when we saw all of Dany’s ships sailing for Westeros! Cersei might still be the super bitch in town, but Dany has dragons. Time to use them, I’m thinking?

But alas, it was Olenna Tyrell who really got the last word in this episode. After taking Highgarden, Jaime grants her a merciful death: poison in a glass of wine. But after chugging the poison, she looks him in the eye and reveals that she was the one who orchestrated Joffrey’s death and she doesn’t regret it one bit!

It made me sad to say goodbye to this character. Every time she was on the screen you were bound to laugh out loud or gasp at all the excellent lines she got to deliver. She was the spunky, not-afraid-to-speak-her-mind grandma that we all came to love…and I will miss seeing her very much.

She deserved a better send off than an off-screen death, but she went down fighting! And that’s what matters.

The highlights of this episode?

  • It goes without saying, really. Every scene between Dany and Jon Snow was a loaded one and seven years in the making. We want more of any type of scene with them together!
  • Bran and Sansa reunion, although bittersweet as it was. Bran is not the same Bran from the first season who liked to climb. How cute and sweet he was then!
  • Olenna Tyrell’s confession to Jaime.

What did you guys think of this episode? Who were you rooting for in the Dany/Jon Snow meeting? 

Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 2 Recap: Stormborn

Beware, spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

Daenerys makes plans with Lady Olenna Tyrell, Yara and Ellaria Sand. The other women wonder why Dany doesn’t use her army to conquer the red keep, but Dany has other plans. To quote Tyrion, she doesn’t want to be “Queen of the ashes.” The Tyrell and Dorne army will surround the city by blockade and basically starve them out, all transported there by Yara’s ships, of course.

Samwell might have found a treatment for Jorah’s grayscale, but it includes a lot of screaming and pus and is not exactly legal.

Meanwhile, in Winterfell, the king in the north receives two messages: one from Samwell informing Jon Snow of dragon glass in Dragonstone, and one from Dany, inviting Jon to Dragonstone to “bend the knee.” Um, I don’t really see Jon bending the knee to anyone, do you?

He decides to go despite Sansa and the other lords who think that the invitation might be a trap. Sansa seems to want to argue more that is until Jon leaves Winterfell in her care until he returns. Finally some power for the dear Sansa?

Arya is in a tavern and runs into Hot Pie, her friend from the  good ol’ days when Arya was pretending to be a boy. She learns from him that her brother Jon is back in Winterfell and instead of going south to Cersei, Arya heads back home.

Hot pie asks her what happened to her, and she quickly changes the subject. What happened indeed?

Death, survival, close chances to rendezvous with family members only to have them murdered minutes after or before her arrival. The Red Wedding…her aunt Lysa. You can’t help but think that something is going to go wrong again on her way back to Winterfell. Jon might not be in Winterfell when she gets there. They might pass right by each other!

Arya encounters her dire wolf, Nymeria, in the woods with a pack of her own, but Nymeria is a wild wolf now and won’t go back to Winterfell as Arya asked. She’s chosen her own path, too.

We have a nice, romantic moment between Missandei, and Grey Worm, and Varys gets some nice dialogue while he proves himself loyal to Dany. The Red Woman shows up at Dragonstone and is welcomed by Dany. It is Melisandre who suggests Daenerys meet with Jon Snow. She claims that either one might be “the prince who was promised.”

Cersei tries to convince the Lords of Westeros the horrors of Dany’s barbaric dothroki and unsullied army. While, Jamie Lannister speaks with Samwell’s father about becoming more involved in the war to come.

But no matter how careful, nothing goes like how Dany plans. As Yara and Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are on their way to form that blockade, Euron attacks. He kills one of the Sand Snakes? Two of them? And burns all of Yara’s ships. It looks like Euron’s gift to Cersei is going to be the woman who poisoned her daughter.

Euron also takes Yara as captive and Theon has a chance to intervene, to maybe beat all odds and rescue her, but in the heat of the moment, he breaks down and becomes Reek once again and like a coward, jumps over the side of the ship.

What were some highlights?

  • Definitely all the scenes with Arya in them. Arya (so far) is getting a lot of great screen time in these first few episodes of the new season, and I feel like things can only get better?
  • Dany and Jon Snow will finally meet! I thought this wouldn’t happen until the end of the season, surely?
  • All of the strong women of Westeros gathered in Dany’s war room. Yara, Ellaria Sand, Lady Ollena, and Daenerys.

What was your favorite part of last night’s episode? I’d love to hear about it!

A Year’s Worth of Books

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Today is a quiet and lazy day. I am worn out from the last few days, and so I am relaxing in front of the fan in my office and thinking about what to write. I was able to have lunch today with a friend, and she gave me this little book where you can record the books you’ve read and what you think of them.

img_20160530_151420369.jpgIt reminded me of what I did last year around this time. In the post I listed all the books I was able to read in five months and what I thought of them. This time its been longer, though. This is really for my benefit, mostly, as I have a terrible memory.

What could I have possibly read in a year??

Here we go, and in no particular order…

Audio Books I’ve listened to:

American Sniper, by Chris Kyle

Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth

I Was Here, Gayle Forman

Matched, by Ally Condie

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, by Michael Scott

The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner

The Color Magic, by Terry Pratchett

The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars, by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, by Brian Grazer

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide, by Peter Allison

img_20160426_163707562_hdr.jpgAnd other books, not on audio:

The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater

The Iron Warrior, by Julie Kagawa

Winter, Fairest, by Marissa Meyer

Hmm…not a bad list, although its clear I need to read more books that aren’t on audio. I think its time to focus on reading some more adult fiction, non-fiction and science fiction and fantasy. And this doesn’t include the Harry Potter series that a listened to again this year on audio. (I think I have an obsession!)

What do you guys like to read? Read anything new recently?

Happy writing (and reading)!

NaNoWriMo Day 1: My Story and More Planning

It is 8:35 p.m. on this Nov. the 1st.  My word count is: 703 , and I’ve managed to do some story planning and plotting in the last two hours and a half.

I’ve also managed to create a NaNoWriMo account, which I haven’t done in several years. Not since the early college days.

I don’t remember how to do anything on the website anymore, so setting up my account, my profile info, and my novel info, took a good thirty minutes and now I’m left here wondering: how do you add buddies again?

Speaking of which…if you guys are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, my username is amandagrey1 the same on here, so add me if you want!

It’s important that us writing people stick together. Especially me. Considering how long it took me just to get online to create an account. I am such a terrible procrastinator…

Give me a goal to make and a deadline, and suddenly I find all the excuses in the world to do everything else. It’s not like I don’t want to create my story, I guess when it comes down to it, it is always the fear of the expectations.

I don’t like creating things that are bad. I don’t like the idea of failing…on anything, really. So, once again…its that same old writer’s fear…

But the point is, I’m sitting down to do something now and that’s better than nothing.

Just a cute dragon pic I colored the other day. Thought it might give me some kind of inspiration for my story.

Just a cute dragon pic I colored the other day. Thought it might give me some kind of inspiration for my story.

My story is a young adult fantasy novel about a young prince, whose royal family has the ability to change into dragons. For years, the dragons and the witches and wizards of the country have been at odds with each other. Years ago, the witches and wizards were banished from the kingdom and magic was forbidden. But all that is about to change.

I left my description on my NaNo account deliberately vague, and I’m leaving it vague here as well, because, one, I’m still working out the kinks and, two, I’m very protective of my original ideas.

I guess I’m just slightly paranoid when it comes to that. Especially considering how many different ideas there are out there. Everyone hopes that their idea is original, and who knows…maybe mine is. I guess I’m just paranoid. Plus, its kind of hard to explain a novel that you’re still working out.

Anyway, back to the grindstone, and maybe I can churn out more words on the page in the next half an hour or so. I’m so proud of myself! Perhaps locking myself in my office was a good idea after-all…

Everyone having a great first day of NaNoWriMo?

Happy Writing!

Unique Writing Prompt: Letters of the Alphabet

wpid-img_20150901_200812317.jpgI thought this was a neat idea. I always like looking for different and unique writing prompts. I got the idea from The Pocket Muse, by Monica Wood, which I’ve had on my bookcase for about a year now. It is definitely time to use it more.

The writing prompt is this:

Pick 10 random letters from the alphabet and try to write an opening sentence with it. I came up with:

M A F G H N S E Y T

“Maybe a future guiding helicopters–” Nancy stuttered. “Erin! Your tooth!”

Or…

V A W E R T M D K B

Veronica answered Waldorf, “Even Richling thought magic dragons killed Boarders…”

And I’m sure with a few tweaks (or many) you could possibly have something great here. Now, get to writing! (And that includes me, hah!).

Hope everyone has a great night!

Terry Pratchett and Questioning Gender roles in Fantasy Literature

I’ve been listening to Terry Pratchett’s The Slip of the Keyboard at work recently; it’s basically a collection of essays about his life, writing and his struggles with Alzheimer’s.

pi7KxKpdTIn one of his essays, he mentions how women are portrayed in fantasy. If there is a witch, she is generally evil and crouches around like an old hag, spitting curses at everyone. If she is beautiful, she is seductive, using her sexuality as a means to an end. (I think many Disney villains can be used as an example here: Ursula, Wicked Step Mother, Malificent, etc.)

Gandalf-2On the opposite scale are the Wizards, who are male, wise, and that mentor that most protagonists seek out in times of great peril. Think Gandolf in Lord of the Rings, or Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea.

I guess my question is: Why is this so?

One of my own stories has a witch as its main villain, and I inadvertently made her beautiful, seductive and evil. I did this without thought, yet I’m wondering if this isn’t the time to mix it up a bit? Isn’t it time we had an evil wizard? Or a kind, yet sexy witch, who is not evil?

(J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books don’t really count in this musing, I suppose. As plenty of her witches are very nice, beautiful intelligent people. And Voldemort, a.k.a most evil wizard, ever.)

One thing I love about Terry Pratchett’s writing is that he doesn’t write characters that are predictable. Everyone (of the characters I’ve read so far) are unique and one of a kind. They don’t fit a basic formula, and they aren’t comfortable, which is completely fine. By comfortable, I mean you don’t always know what you can expect from them: one minute they might be performing an act of heroism, the next, you might question their sanity a bit.11751426_10203753735158590_4103356951849478425_n

The point: Terry Pratchett creates real characters that don’t fit into the formula of basic hero and that’s fine. (He also made the point that not all best-selling fantasy books are the best written either.)

This is something I agree with. But I guess what gets me is this whole idea of how women are portrayed in Fantasy. If she is a witch in some stories, why do we assume she is evil?

Do we automatically assign gender roles to specific aspects of fantasy? Do we like when witches are evil? Is the old hag expected to bring bad news? Or is this what we’ve just seen time after time, and so, we use examples of literature before us and think: ‘this the way it’s supposed to be.’

Or, if these gender roles are missing in the novel, does that automatically make it more unique than others? Just a thought.

What do you guys think? Any examples you can think of?

NaNoWriMo Days 1 and 2: Let’s Go Places!

NaNoWriMo Day 1: I slept late, went to the mall, ate dinner with a friend and got my hair cut.

NaNoWriMo: Day 2: Slept late, drank a cup of tea, did dishes, and looked at Grad programs.

The point: My NaNoWriMo month is off to a rough start, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I’m going to give it a try. It’s the busiest month I’ve had in awhile, what with the holidays coming up and new jobs…and Agh! But this is important to me.

Except, I’m going to use the rules as “guidelines,” and well, cheat…essentially. I’ve already got my story in mind, and I already have a brief brainstorm, ANND I have already about 9,000 words written.

dawns-rising-cover-page1.jpgThe story that I’m going to try to write in its entirety, even if it is a crappy first draft, is my story Dawn’s Rising, which I had hoped to self publish, and use as a platform for this blog. It’s been on a hiatus for awhile, but it still lives…somewhat.

Bringing that idea to life is very important to me, and something that I still want to complete and finish….whether good, bad, ugly…I just have to face my fears, learn how to create a compelling plot, and storm on ahead no matter how many self doubts try to bring me down!

So I am going to be using NaNoWriMo as a motivator…and hopefully get some kind of finished product as a result!

Any other fellow NaNoWriMo writers out there? What are you going to write about?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Writing everyone!

Interview with K. Starling: An insight into self-publishing

bookIf you missed my review of K. Starling’s novel In Beauty’s Veins you can read it here.

In Beauty’s Veins is a novel about the journey of four women all united by a Healer named Daphne, who comes to the town of Halfawaise with the intentions of finding a lost neighbor and to become a healer there. But the town is immediately suspicious: is she really a Healer that the Legends talk about?

It doesn’t help that another legend follows her there, when Berri, one of the women who befriends Daphne, discovers someone who was attacked by a Vampyre. As Daphne tells her story to her new friends, suddenly the things that used to be legend aren’t legend anymore.


Miss Starling was able to take time out of her busy day to sit down with me and have a chat about her new novel, self-publishing and the writing process behind it:

Me: What was your inspiration for In Beauty’s Veins? When did you come up with the idea?

K.S: It’s kind of embarrassing actually. There was a melange of reasons. It started as a romantic fantasy in my head inspired by a how-to-draw Gothic Manga picture that I found really sexy. Then Twilight came out and I thought, “Oh, I could probably make money on this fantasy.” But then I cared too much about my characters, so I actually developed them. And I actually get annoyed by romance being the end-all of any story, so it pretty much died.

Me: I did notice there was some romantic element, but it was refreshing to see all the different themes, like woman’s rights, sexuality, forgiveness, self-worth….was there a particular reason you chose to write about such things?

K.S: It was in the forefront of my mind just then. Our culture is at an interesting point in which we’re really self-reflecting on how we view people based on differences and I felt like exploring some of my own experiences through this story. These are topics that make people uncomfortable, but I don’t want to be uncomfortable about them.

Me: Nice. How long did it take to write the novel?

K.S: From start to finish, about seven years, but bear in mind that the first three drafts were an almost utterly different story. Berri didn’t exist until maybe three years ago and then I was working full-time and took a hiatus. Once I actually outlined it properly and dealt with the addition of Halfawaise into the plot (cultural and language development) it took me about a year and a half.

Me: It’s funny how first time writers always think that writing a book is a quick thing. It definitely does take time to develop. Why the title that you chose? Was there some thought into it?

K.S: It’s meant to allude to the allegorical reference to Beauty and the Beast, but also the depth and grit of the story (so veins and not blood, which has almost become sexualized as a word). I didn’t want someone picking this up thinking it would be fluff.

The world inside of K. Starling’s novel, In Beauty’s Veins.

Me: Going back to Halfawaise and the world that you’ve created…how did that come about?

K.S: I’m interested in cultural development. A lot of my studies have been deeply rooted in cultural identities, primarily Chinese and Celtic cultures. However, my interest definitely veered based on information I learned. I was curious what a Scandinavian Empire might have looked like had our continents drifted differently. I thought it would be interesting, too, to explore a pseudo-French Revolutionary culture that tends towards Communism and Atheism and how the cultures converse across borders.

Me: And the language that you created in the book? How did that come about? Was there some specific inspiration you used for that?

K.S: They’re purely derivative. I don’t really intend to do much expansion in the story, so I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time developing languages. (Laughs.) You’ve got Atwainsk, which is basically Scottish Gaelic plus some Germanic influence, and then Nordsk is just a combination of Germanic and Scandinavian languages. I did a little work on dealing with Middle versus Old versions of the languages (like Keltoig), but not a lot. The one Chinese expression, however, was made up. It’s Mandarin in meaning, but it’s not a real cheng-yu.

“Cao you bu hua” 草友不花  “Grass friends don’t flower” – it’s from the scroll Anwar shows Daphne. Chinese has a neat history of four character idioms (cheng-yu). I love them.

Me: On a different note, the story is told from different points of view…why did you choose to go that route?

K.S: It was originally a first-person sequential narrative, but I decided Daphne wouldn’t narrate first-person. That’s not the way she thinks. So I played with third-person before deciding that I wanted a different perspective on her story, so I introduced Berri, her polar opposite, to look at things with new eyes. But then Berri turned into such an interesting character that I wanted other characters to share their thoughts on her, so I expanded on Nade and Gerri, both of whom have their own slants. I just wanted to look at the different aspects of the landscape, to see what that felt like. Berri is just so ego-based that telling a story purely from her perspective would be exhausting, and Daphne is so conflicted and gentle that she wouldn’t be able to capture the facts.

Me: I think it was a good choice, the story felt more complete because of it. Is there any character that you identify with?

K.S: All of them to some extent. Although, I call Daphne my drunk self. She’s so determined to like everyone. But I have my Berri days for sure.

Me: Would you say Daphne is your favorite?

K.S: Daphne is the character I most admire, but I don’t think she is my favorite. I feel very protective of Rose, actually. I feel like I failed her as a writer sometimes. I wish I could have given her more screen time, in a manner of speaking. Her life was just so painful.

Me: I know you mentioned that you didn’t intend to continue the story, but can we look forward to a sequel, or another novel in this world?

K.S: I’m debating it. If I do, it would definitely be a different cast of characters, although I would take some time in Halfawaise. I haven’t decided. I have some ideas, but not enough to do much about it.

Me: One more thing on the novel: When I was reading it, I was toying with the idea that the four women really are parts of a whole, as each of the women have such different personalities…Berri having a darker side, Daphne optimistic, Gerri the nerdy type, Yolain who is concerned about her looks…combined into one, the four really do represent many of the issues that women struggle with in today’s world. Any thoughts on that?

K.S: With Daphne and Berri, I was definitely playing with polarity. Yolain and Gerri, who my writing group referred to as the Two Stooges, just sprung up for me. Gerri interests me for a lot of reasons, of course. She struggles with her sexuality, her desire to learn things, and to stay somewhat hidden to maintain that independence. Yolain projects confidence, but is very much living in constant fear of failure. Keep in mind she’s been carrying her experience of near-capture around with her for years. I think she understands better than anyone what it means to be a woman in the Skalda Domain.

***AND then we touched on the benefits of self-publishing…

Me: Why did you choose to self-publish? What are the benefits you think?

K.S: Frankly going the traditional route with this book never crossed my mind. It doesn’t fall neatly into any genre and is really hard to market. If a publisher picked it up, I can almost guarantee they’d want me to clean it up – remove the swearing, sexuality, and pump up the romance. They’d want the vampyres to be sexy, and that was against my philosophy.

Me: You mentioned that you had other projects you were working on…do you think you will self publish those as well?

K.S: That’s the plan. The next one takes place in Horseheads, NY, actually. It might have a place in traditional marketing, more than In Beauty, but it’s pretty brutal. I like maintaining creative control. I have no illusions that I can do this for money, and I don’t really want to. I like my day job and I enjoy my projects.

Me: Are there books that you might consider getting an agent, or publisher for, or no?

K.S. Probably not. I feel that I would remove part of the fun. I’m a project manager by day; I’m good at this stuff. I don’t need someone else putting a deadline on me. A lawyer, however, probably wouldn’t hurt. (Laughs).

Me: It is definitely a great ambition. And it says a lot that you are doing this for the fun of it, for yourself. How do you personally market your novel?

K.S: I’ve been really busy. Mostly I bought 50 copies and have persuaded some local businesses to carry them for me. I’m going to head over to B&N here in Madison and back in Elmira to let them know I’m local. I have a few book clubs I know of that have interest in it. Otherwise, I’m going to Johnny Appleseed it. I have some post-card style advertisements and I travel a LOT, so a few copies will find their way into international hostels and libraries.

Me: Did you hire an editor to proof read your novel at the end?

K.S: I did. It’s a bad idea for me to proof my own stuff.

Me: Is that the best way to go, you think? Also, getting someone to do the cover art?

K.S: I do. I would feel so horrible if my baby got out there and had a sloppy typo going on. My cousin has a friend in NYC who’s an illustrator who was looking for work and I know a local graphic designer. I wanted a nice-looking product, so I went big. Also, it’s a lot of fun to collaborate with other artists. I have a buddy in Brooklyn who did some costume sketches for me (on my website) and I’m so glad I hired her to do it. It really brought some of the scenes to life for me.

Me: I’ve always wanted to do that for some of my projects…it seems like such fun. What words of encouragement do you have for other writers out there who are trying to self publish?

K.S: It’s a serious investment of time. Pay attention to what you’re doing. Be ready to invest a little cash if you want a nice product, or else be ready to do a lot of legwork yourself. Know what your goal is with the project and balance that against what you can actually commit. I count myself lucky that I don’t need to do this for a living, because it’s a very competitive market and it’s almost entirely luck-based. If you’re not doing it because you love it, take a step back and find out why.

Me: I think all the outside views definitely make it hard to write what you want and for yourself, especially when you have others judging you. Did you struggle with writer’s fear at all? Writer’s Block?

K.S: I have moments to be sure. I try to just write piles of garbage until I get through whatever is in the way. I’ve actually started doing erotica on the side (under a pen name) just to keep writing so I can go crazy without fear of judgement. Fearlessness is critical when you’re expressing yourself, you know?

Me: Great words….How often do you write? Is there a specific time a day that works best for you? And did you have a regimen that you stuck to for writing In Beauty’s Veins?

K.S: I feel like every writer has their own mode of habit. With my job and hobbies, I can’t commit a lot of time to writing on a regular basis, so I try to mentally write (live in my head) when I’m waiting in lines or traffic to keep it going. When I travel, I write probably between 1 and 5 hours a day. With In Beauty, I hammered out 50,000 words when I was in Taiwan for 6.5 weeks. I have to make space away from obligations, so that means getting out of my house and away from people I know. I actually made a Ulysses Compact with myself for In Beauty… I wanted to finish it by a certain date, and I was having trouble motivating at the time, so I threatened to shave my head if I failed. I did not fail.

Me: (Laughs) Would you have really shaved your head?

K.S: Yes. You have to keep your word to yourself, you know?

Me: Oh, I know. What are some of your next projects, if you don’t mind me asking?

K.S: Sure! I’m working on a semi-apocalyptic piece in which magic is released again into the world (Unleashed), but it follows the paths of two sisters who hate each other, and who find very different ways to survive. I’m also writing a novel based on a film I made in college called Styx & Stones, which is about two college students who can interact with ghosts and how they cope. I’ve also got three others on the back burner that somewhat tie into the first two, but I haven’t decided to what extent yet.

Me: Do you have your own website/ blog where we can find updates?

K.S: Yes. It’s www.kxstarling.com. You can find my facebook account under K. Starling.

Me: Do you have any writing quirks or habits that you want to share?

K.S: I always make soundtracks for my books before I write them. And then I listen all the time until the novel is done.

Me: That’s awesome. Is the soundtrack on your website?

K.S: It’s not, but you know, I’m thinking about it. I’m planning to update some content next week when I’m off work. That could be fun!

Me: For fun, last question: What is your favorite book? Your favorite author?

K.S: Favorite book is probably The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. It was magnificent. But I go through phases. Favorite author is probably Lu Xun, because I admire him so much. He wrote short stories during the Chinese May 4th Era – mostly cultural criticisms. Absolutely stunning.

*****And that’s that! She was able to offer us some great insight into self-publishing… and how important it is to make sure that the product you have out there is the best that it can possibly be!

I like what she says about Writer’s Fear:

“Fearlessness is critical when you are expressing yourself.”

Happy Writing everyone!


K. StarlingK. Starling has a Bachelors degree in Comparitive Literature and a minor in Chinese from Binghamton University. She has studied at National Taiwan University and University of Nottingham. In her spare time, she likes traveling, guzzling tea, and is training to be a Yoga teacher. In Beauty’s Veins is her first novel.

In Beauty’s Veins can be found on amazon.com, here. Look for updates on her website at www.kxstarling.com and on facebook at K. Starling.

NEW READS: Featuring Author, K. Starling’s book, In Beauty’s Veins

I have been offered a great opportunity. One of my former classmates and friend, K. Starling, has self-published her own novel, In Beauty’s Veins, and has agreed to do an interview with me!

The opportunity will give us some insight into self-publishing, her writing process and of course her work of fiction, which is drawing me in with its incredible world and great characters.

10668432_10202063361700310_926469207_nTaken directly from the back of the novel itself, In Beauty’s Veins is a story about friendship, forgiveness and finding hope in dark places against all odds.

Five years after she is torn away from everything and everyone she knows, Daphne is tired of her fruitless search for a lost friend. Leaving her homeland in the Atwin Counties, she arrives in the merchant town of Halfawaise ready to open a medical practice. However, her medical training is unusual since she is a Healer, a being out of Atwin superstition that the local medic denies ever existed. The town is immediately suspicious of the newcomer when she forms an unlikely bond with the town pariah, a girl long suspected of murder, and their suspicions only grow when a local man is savagely attacked by another Atwin legend – a vampyre.

Struggling with a language and culture not her own, Daphne slowly reveals the secrets of her dark past to three young women with their own conflicted agendas, all the while trying to prove her worth to the skeptical town of Halfawaise.

Look for a review and my interview with K. Starling two weeks from now, Saturday, Oct 4th!

You can also find K. Starling’s book on amazon.com, HERE.

I am very excited about this! 🙂 Hope everyone is having a great Saturday!