Tuesday, March 29, 2016

To Love A TV Show Or Hate It

Hey all,

I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do, it's usually something suspenseful in some way. I've never been into sitcoms, though there are a few I've enjoyed.  But I'm more into dramas and shows that take me out of my normal every day life and into something exciting and new.

And I love it when a book I've enjoyed is taken and made into a series I love.

Now there have been a lot of books that have been turned into movies or TV shows.  Some movies are outstanding (Lord of the Rings) and others...not so much. (The Scarlett Letter) And books into TV shows aren't any rarer. You can find some awesome adaptations of your favorite stories.

One thing I've learned though, is that you have to let go of preconceived notions. Yes, the show may be adapted from a book you've read a thousand and twelve times, but for technical and more often creative reasons, it's changed to fit the director/writer/producer's vision. Sometimes that's enough. Sometimes it isn't.

Case in point. I love Nora Robert's books, yet I'm not fond of the movies that were made of several of them. They're okay, but the don't show the heart of the story which, IMHO,  is what makes La Nora's stories so amazing. I couldn't connect with the characters in the movies like I could with those in the books. So I watched them and then kinda forgot them. Maybe it's because so much is left out? Or more likely the pictures I have in my mind of the characters are so different, it was almost uncomfortable watching the show.  Weird.

But, if you can get past that, and watch the show for what it is, instead of what you have read, you can enjoy it.  Case in point would be Bones, Rizzoli and Isles and of course, the many different adaptations of our favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.  If you can put all those "what it should be" notions aside, you can really enjoy the show.

The latest one I've seen is the adaptation of one of my favorite fantasy series. The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks is amazing, and when I saw it was coming to TV, I was both jubilant and wary. Would it take this awesome read and screw it up? Would I recognize it? Would I even enjoy it?

I can report that so far, I am enjoying it very much. The series starts with the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara (I'm not sure exactly why). Here's a brief synopsis of what they say about the show...

Based on the best-selling fantasy book series by Terry Brooks, "The Shannara Chronicles" follows heroes in the Four Lands as they embark on a quest to stop an evil Demon army from destroying the universe. Thousands of years after the fall of humankind, the world's fate rests on the shoulders of an unlikely trio: Elvin Princess Amberle, who dreams of a life outside of the palace walls; beautiful, wild and wily Human Rover Eretria, and half-elf Wil, who knows nothing of the great destiny that runs through his veins.

The Shannara Chronicles roughly follows the storylines set out in The Elfstones of Shannara, set in the fictional Four Lands. As the series opens, demons start to flee after being banished from this world to a place known as the Forbidding—locked by an ancient tree called the Ellcrys. The series chronicles the journey of Wil, Amberle and Eretria who, with the guidance of the last druid Allanon, must go on a quest to protect the Ellcrys from dying and releasing all the banished demons back into the Four Lands.

Now, I haven't read the book in years, but my sweet baboo reads it more often. It's his favorite series. So I'm enjoying it a bit more than he is, because he sees more of the discrepancies when comparing the book to the show.

But even with that, so far, it's been excellent. MTV hasn't stinted on the costuming or set design and the outside shots remind me a lot of the same type of landscaping we saw in LOTR. So pretty amazing.

Characters aren't too bad either, although Allanon is a bit too buff and yummy for me. Not that I mind. :-)  It's just he's not the druid of my imagination, so it took a couple of shows to let that notion go.

If you liked Terry Brook's series, I can recommend you watching this.  Just don't expect it to follow the storyline exactly. Put it aside and enjoy it without prejudice. And if you don't know the series and just enjoy an excellent, lushly filmed fantasy adventure, make sure you give it a try.

And I have to admit...seeing John-Rhys Davies as an elf after being an elf hating dwarf, just made me smile. I had to wonder how many other fantasy characters this guy has played?  Anyone know?

Anyway, it's worth a watch, and I recommend it to all you fantasy buffs out there.  And if you've seen it, give me your take.

Inquiring minds want to know!

Until next time...

CJ England

Friday, March 25, 2016

Doing The Happy Dance!!!

Hey all,

Last Friday I wrote how difficult my writing was going because of the migraine. It wasn't easy, but I didn't give up and eventually fought through it. Yet I realized even with my head pounding, that the headache wasn't the only reason I was having difficulties.

As you may know, I've been working on the sequel to my Christmas dragon story, Dragon Games: Snip! Snap! Dragon!  You met Lucina and Ryuu in that book, and I'd been looking forward to telling their story.

But Dragon Games II: Truth or Dragon was NOT an easy book to write. I made several mistakes going in that seemed to twist the writing of it into something that almost stopped me in my tracks.

The first mistake was not following my gut and letting the publisher know I couldn't do an April 2016 release. Since we were moving to South America from the end of December to the middle of February, I had absolutely no time to write, so that meant a short window to get the book completed.

Usually, that wouldn't be a problem, I can toss out 50k in just a couple weeks easy if I put my mind to it. But this time, my mind just wouldn't cooperate.

Which leads me to mistake number two. I didn't listen to my characters.

Now, it wasn't all my fault.  I usually do listen.  I most often do what I sense they want, and the book flows quite easily. Even when I'm working on a previous world I've created, it's not hard to fit the pieces together.

But this time, for reasons I'm still not really sure of, I pushed aside that glimmer of knowledge of what I was supposed to do and wrote something totally different. And BOY DID THEY LET ME KNOW HOW WRONG THAT WAS!!!!

Seriously, they did everything but hold their breath and stomp their feet. *sigh* I had at least half the book done and while parts of it were really good, it was disjointed and there were things that didn't make sense. And honestly? I flat out just didn't like it.

It was about that time that I got my migraine.  Whether it was because of the stress of a deadline looming or the way the characters were fighting me, I don't know. But it added time I didn't have to the already painful process.

So, what did I do? 

I gave in.  I did what my instincts had told me to do in the first place, used the bits and pieces I really liked in the mix and pretty much started over. And low and behold, it finally worked.  I not only got the book finished, I enjoyed writing again, and I absolutely love what I ended up with. 

And my characters smiled.

So now I have my book done! Yay!!!!  I'm waiting on edits and the final book cover, and then I'll be ready for publication in mid April.  I'll take some time off to stir the pot for the next story and then I'll do it all over again.

But this time I'll listen to those voices in my head. After all, they are pretty smart!!!

Until next time!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Bit of Fun, A Bit of Fluff

Hey all,

Since I don't have any releases until the middle of next month, I thought today, I'd do a fun log with some of the humorous memes and pics I've seen lately. Enjoy!!!

Every dog owner understands this! 

In honor of Saint Patty's Day

A total hoot!


Obviously any time is a good time for a Snickers break!

Hope one of these made you smile.  Have an awesome Tuesday!!!

Until next time!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired

Hey all,

It's been a tough week. I've been down with migraines most every day.  Not sure what's going on, but I'm ready to toss in the towel and say, "I GIVE!!!"

For those of you who aren't prone to this illness, it's a special kind of hell. I've dealt with them my whole life, and I have to tell you, it REALLY gets old.

Mine--the doctors say--are a mixture of physical and stress related. And if I do something stupid, like eat the wrong thing or don't get the right amount of rest, I'm totally screwed.

Lately, I think it's been more stress. The move to South America, dealing with stuff back in the states that is VERY difficult to do long distance. Plus, it HAD to happen just as I have a book due. Trying to fight through the pain to write is almost impossible. Between the blinding headache and nausea from the pain, it's almost an impossibility.

And worrying about deadlines adds even more stress which adds to the migraine which makes everything worse.  A vicious circle, to say the least.

So, when someone says they're down with a migraine, understand it's NOT an excuse. If they really do suffer from them, they SUFFER, in a way regular people will never understand. 

If they are in your household, you can help them. Keep things quiet, close the curtains so it's dark, fix nutritious meals that aren't spicy or too salty, or if they can't handle that, offer bland stuff like yogurt or crackers.

Massaging their temples is a wonderful way to help them relax. I'd whimper whenever Jonathon stopped. When I'm really bad, like now, this was the only way I could get to sleep.

As an aside, I was told by a reader a few years ago that a really good, hard orgasm does wonders for a migraine. Curious, the next time I had a really bad headache, I gave that remedy a try, and I have to say, it did work.  Not for the long term, but it relaxed me enough to go to sleep and resting always seems to help a lot. As you can imagine, it is now one of my favorite migraine remedies!  LOL

Anyway, by the time you read this, I pray I'm feeling better.  If not, my next blog may be an announcement that I've entered a facility for the migraine-ally insane!!!  

Until next time!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Looking Back, But Looking Forward

Hey all,

One of the hardest things about my work these days is the way publishers open and close their doors so quickly. Even the strong and well run independent publishers are having difficulties. Amazon is so bent taking over small publishing, its really hard for anyone else to make headway in the changing market.

I've had several publishers close on me, and while some desperately needed to close, a few of them were doing the right thing. Knowing that and having them close anyway makes this business fraught with pitfalls you can't really avoid.

Then there are the pubs that have been around a while, but for whatever reason, you just don't click with.  It could be they don't treat their authors well, or you decide that the relationship isn't going anywhere.  Either way, those books, no matter how well received, are now without a home and it takes a while to find a new place for them.

Case in point is my Peacekeeper series.  The Joining was the first book I ever wrote, and it gained both reader and critical approval as did the books that followed. But it lost its home when I parted ways with its original publisher.  I've had many, many requests and questions about when I was going to start the series up again, and I can finally announce that after an extensive rewriting and updating, the first book of the series, The Joining will be available this summer.

For those of you not familiar with the series, here's a little bit about it...

Remember all those stories that Uncle Bob, that great storyteller, used to tell around the campfire? You know, the scary ones, about supernatural creatures that just couldn’t exist. The ones that when you looked over at your father to see if they were true, he just rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Well, what if father didn’t know best this time? What if Uncle Bob was right, and those stories about vampires, shapeshifters, witches, spirits, mutants and fairies were all true. And what if those same campfire stories were living right next to you, blending in with "normal" people, just going about their daily lives, the way you go about yours.

These stories are about some of them….

San Francisco--the city by the bay. Elegant and charming, a city created by hard work and sweat. Now, a  mecca of western civilization known for its art and culture, it hosts over sixteen million visitors a year. But for all it's allure and beauty, this incredible metropolis has a dark side.

The Lower City.

Hidden away from the tourists snapping pictures of the Golden Gate Bride, from the commuters reading their newspapers as they take the BART to work, it's a place spoken of only in whispers.

This part of the city most of the residents aren't even aware of. Safe and secure, tucked away uptown in their cute gingerbread houses and ivory towers, people see just what they want to see. 

But that is about to change.

Want more information on this award winning, bestselling series?  Check it out HERE.

Excited about the thought of reading more Peacekeeper books? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, March 11, 2016

CJ Reviews J.D. Robb's Brotherhood in Death

Hey all,

I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all about one of the books I've just finished.  Today's review is about J.D. Robbs latest In Death book, Brotherhood in Death.

Now, as I've admitted in the past, I'm a huge Nora Roberts fan girl.  Her book Irish Thoroughbred was the first romance I ever read and when I started writing myself, I read and reread that book until the pages were dogeared.  She had a huge effect on how and why I write and I have each and every one of her books.

When I discovered her In Death Series, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Though I'm not usually a super fan of kick-ass heroines, Eve Dallas changed my mind.  Her loyalty and sense of duty, her reluctant and often awkward embracing of friends, the way she looks at the world around her--even her horrible childhood makes her one of the most intriguing characters I've ever gotten to know.

And then there's Roarke. Talk about a hunk of delicious love.  Every woman should have a man like that in her bed.  Supportive of everything Eve is, yet he's just enough of a hard ass that his temper flares when she goes too far. He'll protect her from everything--even her own stubborn nature. Their love and partnership is one I can't get enough of.

That being said, I really enjoyed Brotherhood in Death. While not one of my top five favorites of the In Death Series, it did hit the mark for me. Mainly because I adore Dennis Mira and he's got a big part in this book.  

Here's a snippet from Amazon...

Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy. . . .

Dennis Mira just had two unpleasant surprises. First he learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent about their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise they both made to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head.

Luckily Dennis is married to Charlotte Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler and a good friend of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. When the two arrive on the scene, he explains that the last thing he saw was Edward in a chair, bruised and bloody. When he came to, his cousin was gone. With the mess cleaned up and the security disks removed, there’s nothing left behind but a few traces for forensics to analyze. 

As a former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis. Like so many politicians, he also made some very close friends behind closed—and locked—doors. But a badge and a billionaire husband can get you into places others can’t go, and Eve intends to shine some light on the dirty deals and dark motives behind the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate . . . and a new case that no one saw coming.

The storyline for this book was fast paced, logical and enjoyable. If I have one problem at all, I'd figured out who did it long before the book ended. But that often happens with this series and rarely takes away from my enjoyment. 

I do wish Roarke had a bigger part in this story.  My favorite In Death books are the ones that involve him in some way. Eve and Roarke's relationship is evolving in a way that makes my romantic heart sigh, so I can't get enough of them working together.

All in all, this is a great addition to her series.  The premise is just different enough to keep you interested, but not so far fetched as to be unbelievable. And of course, the world building is always amazing. She's cut back a bit on the romance part of the story, which I don't like, but the rest of the story is so good, I pushed past that irritation and was still able to enjoy the story.

The next installment, Apprentice in Death, comes out in September and I'm already impatient for its release.  Each time I read one of the books in the series, it's like visiting with old friends and that connection...that familiarity, in my humble opinion is what makes a series so fantastic.

I give Brotherhood in Death a 4 1/2 out of 5 and a GREAT READ RECOMMENDATION.

To read more about this series and this great new book, click HERE and click on the cover where it says Look Inside.

Until next time!

Hugs to all of you!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams