Friday, September 26, 2014
Sorry, I've missed a post or two. Just been that kind of year. But we keep plugging!
And this weekend I am at Fencon! So come on by and say "Howdy"
Now for some quick reviews for the new TV Shows hubby and I saw this week now that the new season has finally started.
Premise: A group geniuses form a company called 'Scorpion' but don't seem to be getting anywhere. That is until an agent from Walter's past looks him up and asks for their help with a major crisis and they end up using a local dinner for an impromptu HQ.
The first episode really should have been a two hour premier. There's too many characters and we don't really get to meet but two or three. It would have served them better going with a two hour episode as then they could have spent a little time on all of the characters so we could become acquainted. Felt way too rushed. No real sparks so far.
Interesting premise. But will it hold our interest? We will see.
Premise: A doctor on a slave ship defends one of the slaves and is killed for it. When his body is dumped into the ocean, however, he comes back to life. And each time he dies after, he comes back again and again, his body reformed in a nearby large body of water. In modern times, he's currently working as a medical examiner in a big city, as his research on finding a way to die permanently continues. But his life takes a turn as he finds himself stalked by someone who says they knows his secret.
This show seems to be part New Amsterdam, part Castle, part Forever Knight. Ioan Gruffudd and Judd Hirsch make for a fun pair. Death is a major theme on a number of levels. Good chemistry amongst the cast. Liked it, and since we got two episodes this week, I got to like it even more as the stalker angle grows more interesting.
Looks like a keeper!
Premise: Detective James Gordon has moved to Gotham City. A large and very corrupt city. His first case - the alley murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Batman comic fans will love some of the characters they've brought back in time for this tv production - Montoya, Bullock, Allen. And as we see the beginning of Bruce Wayne's eventual transformation into Batman, there are several other characters we get a peek at before they become the criminal icons they mature into later in life.
Ben McKenzie is great as Gordon. Love that David Mazouz is playing the emotionally scarred Bruce Wayne - he was fabulous on Touch. Excited to see what they will do with Sean Pertwee as Alfred. Te butler has many secrets - shshshsh. Great chemistry and rapport from all in the cast.
I am definitely pumped about this one.
4. NCIS: New Orleans
Premise: A small NCIS office in New Orleans tries to keep the peace and protect the city.
I saw the intro episode that aired in the spring with the regular NCIS crew and liked what I saw, so made sure to check it out. The premise of this episode, however, was too emotional too soon. We've seen these characters only once before, so dipping into such a personal emotional plot didn't get the 'buy in' it normally would have if we'd already gotten to know the characters better. Several jokes fell flat, the cast still trying to find their 'groove'. Nevertheless, I loved Scott Bakula as the laid back, emotional Dwayne Pride. The character is almost an reversed-Gibbs at first glance, but inside, there flows the same hardened steel core. CCH Pounder is a blast as the ME.
We'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.
Some beloved shows also came back for new seasons this week! YAY!
Person of Interest - yes, yes, yes!
Agents of SHIELD are off to a bang! So glad they've found a way to keep Brett Dalton around! Woot! (Going to be a dark season. Eek!)
NCIS - started with a bang!
Happy watching, ya'll!
Friday, September 12, 2014
Family trees and the importance of knowing family history popped up here and there in many of the books I read when I was young. Little Women followed by Little Men, Eight Cousins, and even Freckles, which had a side plot of tracking down a child left at an orphanage. Several series of horse and dog books emphasized lineage and traits passed down from parent to child. And then came Lord of the Rings with its various family lines of elf, dwarf, hobbit and humans all looking back to an important ancestor or down to a descendant destined for impressive deeds.
Sometime after college I decided to do some research into my family tree. According to my father, his father cut himself off from his family, which was why that side of the family only seemed to start with my grandfather. I contacted my father’s oldest sister and fortunately she was able to remember more about both my grandparents on that side, including names of great-grandparents.
My mother's side presented some difficulties, as my mother was an only child. Although my mother had died while I was in college, her aunt was still alive and could give details on my mother's father's side of the family back several generations. But not the maternal side. My mother's mother had been raised by her cousins. I still can't find out what happened to the parents.
It’s been interesting to watch the improvements and accessibility in doing family research. Back in 1979 I had to hire a researcher in Pennsylvania who could check courthouse and graveyard records for my Irish/English/German (my father's) side of the family. I could request census records on microfilm through interlibrary loan and spend evenings scanning street addresses to find households. Nowadays sites such as FamilySearch.org can let you look through those records for free and membership sites like Ancestry.com have even more records.
When I first started my family tree I hand drew charts listing and linking families. Over the years several companies sprang up with charts you could fill in and share online or print for relatives. Ancestry.com is what I use now. I've been contacted by relatives I never knew existed and it's great to see how the trees match. Research on my German side got a big boost after I heard from a previously unknown cousin on that side who was looking up baptismal records.
If you decide to research your family tree, don't be surprised at the reactions you might get from some family members. Back when I started, I'd send copies of the hand drawn charts out to my cousins, and while some were enthusiastic, I never got any details to add to the tree back from them. Not even about their children.
Some people are reluctant to share details about their trees because there are some "researchers" that add people to their trees without stopping to figure out dates and places. I've had three people add my great-grandparents to their trees and attach a marriage certificate from 1884 in West Derby, England, to them. However, in 1884 my great-grandparents had already had four kids and were in America. Somehow I doubt they would have made the trip back to England to get married.
Television shows like Who Do You Think You Are are great at drumming up interest in genealogical research, but present a false image of how difficult family research can be. I would love to have been able to walk into the National Archives in Dublin and have them present me with a list of my Irish ancestors. They do have access to a lot of paper records, but, as I learned last week, they start off the search with a number of the free databases accessible to anyone worldwide, such as FreeBMD, which is the birth/marriage/death index for England and Wales, 1837-1915; or Irish Genealogy.ie. There are also Facebook groups on genealogy in general and genealogy in specific areas.
There are several gaps difficult to fill. My problem with my mother's maternal line isn't helped by the fact that the records for the 1890 census for the U.S. were destroyed in a 1921 fire. Irish records have a similar problem in that a number of archives in Ireland for records before 1922 were destroyed by a fire there in 1922.
Still, genealogical research is fascinating in many ways. And it can be fun to turn that to the development of characters for fiction across several genres, not just family sagas. I'm currently working on a YA science fiction story about a girl who wants to be an explorer like her grandmother. Plotting out her family is important.
The Lord of the Rings and its companion books aren't the only books I've read with large family trees. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe is so extensive that there is a wiki to help keep track of the clan and its members. Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series and Elizabeth Moon's Serrano series also stretch over several generations. C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series has important relationships between families determining the leadership of a planet.
Have you done any genealogical research? Do you enjoy fantasy stories with extensive family trees? Or family sagas?
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Monday, September 8, 2014
A week ago, more or less, was supposed to be the release date for A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON. The day came and went, and I guess I would have been sad, except that the closing of Strange Chemistry was not the end of my book.
I posted this on my blog, but I want to spread the word!
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
And as much as I've enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere of the summer (by which I mean specifically not having to make sure my 14-year-old is up at a specific time) I am looking forward to getting back to a writing routine.
August was particularly unproductive, largely because I spent a lot of time not home, between vacation and college visits. But now things will revert to routine and I can get productive again. I've got several projects to work on. My fourth Ali book is waiting a final read-through and edit before handing it in to my publisher. I have another book that needs to move beyond the first draft state and get gussied up in revisions, and right now I'm working on a first draft of another book. Routine will do me good.
In other news, and another reason to be happy about September, my third Ali book, HONESTLY, ALI will be available very soon. Saw a concept cover today and can't wait to share the final product. In HONESTLY, ALI, Ali finds herself dealing with a lot of academic and friend issues it's a perfect back to school read.
Hope you all have a productive September!