Locke and Key – Volumes 5 and 6

Locke and Key – the final two books:  Volume 5 “Clockworks” and Volume 6 “Alpha & Omega

Whew, I finally did it.  I finally finished my first graphic novel series.  It would have been sooner, but I couldn’t bring myself to take the graphic novels with me on business trips – I was too afraid that the travel (and shoving them into my carry-on with snacks and all kinds of things) would ruin their artful pages.  I’m glad that I waited, as I still have the complete set, and pretty pristine.  🙂

Clockworks

When last we left the Locke children, darkness had seeped into their family, a darkness in disguise, that no one would ever suspect.  But how did it start?  How were the keys created?

In Clockworks (volume 5), Tyler and Kinsey discover an old clock in the key house that allows them to go back to key dates (ha! get it?) so that we can get the full background on the magic keys.

The first dates give us a glimpse of the very beginning – when the keys were born from the evil black door in the caves beneath the Keyhouse, during the revolutionary war.

There are a great many dates, but naturally after learning about the origin of the keys, the Locke children are curious about the dates that coincide with their dad’s high school years.   And it is here that we learn that their dad was kind of a dick when he was in high school, and by dick, I mean he thinks it would be cool to unleash a demon from the black door as a last hurrah of childhood. Some kids might want to throw a party, but I guess you do you, bro.

…yeah, I mean, in hindsight, the man is kind of responsible for the demise of multiple people including his own.  Not to judge or anything, but so not cool, dude.  So. Not. Cool.


Alpha & Omega

The end is near and a battle looms…many won’t survive it.  And of course, it has to culminate during a high school party, because if a gateway to a hellish other world is opened, it’s going to be opened by teenagers. :p  I kid, I kid.

Alpha and Omega, the final chapter in the Locke and Key series, wraps up nicely – and sadly, I might add – not only for the characters we lose along the way, but for the end of the series as well.  The art and the story were so well crafted, so well done, that it’s officially made me a graphic novel fan…and I’m glad.

I don’t want to give away any of the final bits of the last volume, but I will say this – a lot of characters die.  But there are also a lot of characters that are freed from the wrongs that happened during the series and quite a few characters survive.

I give the last two books, as well as the entire series, 5 out of 5 starts.  Check it out and prepare for an amazing story.

Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series 1)

Summer is the season for driving in the U.S. and if there’s anything we can be sure of – it’s that at some point (especially in the greater DC area), we’ll be stuck in traffic….or if you’re in the car with other people, perhaps a fight over who is the radio commander.

But if you’re in the car with me, you can add a few more things to the list –

– there will be singing, oh yes, there will be singing (and you’ll either join in or wish the singing would stop)

– depending on how long the car trip is, we may play the game of “who sings this?” or, my personal favorite, “what movie is this from?”

But there is something else you can be sure of, me discussing what the song really means (all those lyrics are there for a reason) or telling you a story about what the song makes me think of (like my crush in high school that wouldn’t go out with me because I wasn’t cool enough. ugh! Prick!)

With that, I’m introducing a random summer series – “Stuck in the car with Leesha,” which I hope you’ll enjoy.  And by the way, the picture was taken in a completely parked car (turned off too) in a parking garage, because we’re safe drivers here @ prolixme.  So buckle up, buttercup.  We’re going for a ride…

So, this first one is a sad memory, but I promise they won’t all be.

“American Pie” by Don McLean

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music…used to make me smile-

I’m a notorious song flipper and even on my own playlist, there are times I just skip through songs.  But there are some songs I have to listen to the whole way through, every time.  This is one of them.

If we were in the car, I’d ask you if you knew what this song was really about.  Depending on your age, how well versed you are in pop culture, or if you’re like me and have a dad who would make you listen to classics in the car (and would be so embarrassed when we rolled by my crush’s house with the windows down and music blaring), you may know that the song was about the day the music died or the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and their pilot died in a plane crash.  And if you don’t know who any of those people are, you just seriously broke my heart.

The lyrics “this’ll be the day that I die” refer to Buddy Holly and the Cricket’s famous song, “That’ll be the day,” and “February made me shiver” refers to the February 3 plane crash.  There are other references to artists, actors, songs, pop culture, and other things in the song as well…all you have to do is listen.

For me, the song holds a deeper meaning and reminds me of my 8th grade year of school – the school year in which my grandmother died (in October), a teacher’s assistant in my school jumped in front of a train (in January), a girl in my gym class was accidentally shot and killed while kids were playing with a gun (in February), a very dear friend of mine who I will never forget killed himself on leap day (in February), and a boy killed himself after an argument with his girlfriend (in May).

I remember it was a cold March night, and my parents were driving me home when “American Pie” came on the radio.  And although I’d heard the song for most of my life (often playing it on both sides of an old 45 my dad had), for the first time in my life, I could feel the sadness of the song.  As a young writer, I used to write a lot of poetry – and a lot during this time in my life was sad poetry.  As a project for an English class, I wrote a poem about my sadness and confusion over the deaths and put it to the same rhythm as “American Pie.”  It was the first thing that I wrote with my heart, to try to deal with a terrible grief, and the first thing I was ever proud of as a writer.  In truth, that year is something I still think about and write about, and probably always will.

If you’ve never heard the song, you should check it out, it’s one of my favorites.

“American Pie,” by Don McLean

“A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die”

Characters and the writers who torment them

As writers, we do terrible things to our characters over the course of short stories and novels – we throw obstacles in their paths, send them after serial killers, break their hearts, introduce them to their arch-nemesis, strand them in foreign lands, and make them flirt with disaster.

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Often when I’m in the middle of a story and have to take a break from writing (to eat, sleep, work, or socialize with my dog, friends, and family), I feel guilty about where I leave my characters.  Did I leave my heroine during a lunch date with her friends (acceptable), did I leave her after she lost her job (not cool of me), or did I leave her just before the beginning of a love scene (oh that poor dear)?  Sometimes the thought of where I’ve left my characters in the story makes me giggle, but sometimes it makes me feel bad.

Then again, I write mostly light and silly things.  What if you write darker stories?

I’ve tried to write mystery/thriller type stories and as I’ve complained on this blog before, I often have a hard time keeping the dark going.  Also, I seem to have no trouble getting my hero or heroine into trouble…it’s the getting them out of trouble that is the tricky part.  So I have dozens of characters over the years that I’ve left stranded in precarious positions because I couldn’t figure out how to write them out of it.

But sometimes in addition to feeling guilty when I leave any of my characters in the middle of the action, I also imagine their dialogue to me, often in snarky texts (especially if I’ve abandoned the story completely) –

“wtf? You let me snoop around the killer’s house and then bailed when we heard the front door open?  wtf?”

or

“I hate you for ditching me when I’m inches away from Logan’s lips…granted I’m not sure how I feel about him yet, but still girl, wtf?”

or worse yet…

“Girl, you made me discover a body on my way to work and now my clothes are a mess, I’m having a major panic attack, and oh yeah, you were kind enough to let the body fall ON me!  Know what?  Know what?  Don’t come back!  I don’t care if I  was supposed to hook up with wolverine-inspired Logan later. You’re evil!  EVIL! WTF?!!”

lol.  Sorry and for the record, most of my characters do swear…often. :p

Believe it or not, sometimes it helps me go back and finish the story…other times, it just gives me guilt for hitting a road block.

How about you?  Do you ever feel guilty about where you leave your characters (especially if it’s a long time before you pick up the pen again)?

He said/She said

He said/She said  – On Dialogue  

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“You really need to work on your dialogue,” she said.

“Oh really?” He answered smart-assedly.

Yes, really.  Dialogue is a tricky thing – first to be able to write the way people actually talk and then, well, to label it correctly.

Do you have to tell the reader how a phrase was said?

Sweetly, softly, smartly, bravely…said.

Sometimes, you can and should use those tricky -ly words.  I like to add adverbs in too, but only sporadically.  But most of the time, context and showing is much better than telling with an adverb.

Letting us read: “Yes, she said sweetly,” is a bit of a cheat.  Why not show us how she did it – is she toying with her teaspoon as she answers?  Is it a kind of false sweetness?  Is she naive or just sweet?  I really don’t know by just a “said sweetly.”

Do you have to label all of the dialogue?  

“Sometimes,” she said.

“It depends,” he said.

Do you have to identify who says what all the time? Nah, of course not.  If there are two people speaking, most readers will understand that a different line is a different person speaking.  If it goes on for pages, it can’t hurt to throw in a character identifier here or there.  If more than two people are talking, you should probably keep character labels to keep readers from getting confused.

Can you use more than just “said?”  

“I like giving my thesaurus a workout” he mused, stroking his beard.  “There are lots of options, but don’t overdo it.” She responded, sticking her tongue out.

Of course you can use more than just he said/she said, it helps liven things up a bit.  And as artistic beings, we writers love to spice things up and be creative.  But, as with all things, cracking that thesaurus open too often can prove to be distracting to your readers.  I say, write what feels right during the rough draft and then later, during the revision process, take a look at how you identify your dialogue scenes.  Tighten up where it needs it and flesh out where it’s a little too lean.

As with any of our writerly skills – the more you write and the more you read, the better you become. 🙂

Locke & Key Volume 4 – Review

Lfile_4_13311ocke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom – Review

Volume 4 of the Locke and Key series starts with a kind of art tribute to one of my favorite comics of all times – Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson.

But there’s no cuteness about childhood adventures as with the famous Calvin and Hobbes comic strip of our youth.  Locke & Key volume four kicks up the darkness and the intensity several notches – with relationship drama, interesting experimentation about letting people into your head/memories, violence, racial commentary, and fighting the ultimate bad guy, Dodge (AKA Lucas Caravaggio/Zach Wells).

In any series, there is a book that brings us to the turning point – that crucial place in the universe where a story goes from innocence (and a fair amount of set-up) to the real action and the real heartbreak.  In the Harry Potter Series, I’d say it was the Goblet of Fire.  In the Locke and Key series, I’m guessing it would be this volume – the keys to the kingdom.  Something quite unsettling happens at the end of this story, but there’s still hope for the Locke kids, and it’s the hope (as well as the curiosity of what the bad guy is going to do next) that will keep me reading.  I don’t want to give too much away or spoil anything for anyone…which unfortunately prohibits me from doing a good job of summarize what happens in this part of the series.  Let me just summarize and say…there are a few characters that are no longer with us at the end of this book (I know, I know, boooo).

The one issue that I had with this volume is that A LOT happened here and A LOT of battles were condensed to just a synopsis.  I get it, I do…too many battles against the bad guy and your series runs really long or worse, things start to feel repetitive to your audience.  But still, there were some things that were summarized that I wish I’d be given more detail about.  But hey, leaving your readers wanting more is really a problem we’d all like to have.

5 out of 5 stars…and I really need to finish the rest of this series!