Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jack of All Trades, Once Again!

"I'm happy you're making progress on your next book. I continue to wish you good luck with it. Can't wait to see the final result!" ~ B.L.

This is a quote from B.L., one of the readers of my blog, a reviewer on Amazon, and the one behind Shadows and Sleuths, a two part video review of my book, which, to be honest, I love.  I wish she'd review the other Phantom/Holmes crossovers, cuz I'd love to hear what she has to say.  Oh, and B.L., if you read this, there is another Phantom/Holmes crossover.  You can buy it on Amazon here.  I definitely want to read it at some point, because it has not only the Phantom story in it, but also Holmes facing off against Jekyll and Hyde.  It should be an interesting, if short (only 106 pages,) read, but hopefully worth it.  I've yet to pick up Canary Trainer . . .

Anyway.  I'm still chugging away on Jack of All Trades.  I've gotten past the reveal, I need to go back and finish writing about a segment with Erik that opens a can of worms for him, Watson and Abberline have done something of a team-up, because Watson is now feeling like Erik has replaced him, and none of the officials, (the policemen and such,) are any closer to finding the Ripper after the night of the double murder.

Sounds exciting, right?  I hope it does.  All I'm feeling now, though, is disorganized.  There are definite ways to go about writing a novel like this, and I can't help feeling that I'm falling short of where it should be.  I Will Find the Answer was definitely a step up from Rendezvous, and I want to continue on that up and up.  I'm just not sure how to accomplish that with such a historically based writing.

Plus . . . I've gotta admit, I'm going through a rather crap-tacular period in my personal life.  Usually, I want to keep my personal life out of this blog, because who wants to hear an author whining?  The readers want to know about the books, right?  But I want to rant a bit about this somewhere.

Long story short, part of the reason I want to rewrite Rendezvous is because, honestly, I can write it better.  But more importantly, I finally truly understand the kind of Hell Christine was going through.  I actually had something of a Phantom-Christine-Raoul triangle happen to me.  Except neither of them stayed.  And now, neither of them wants anything to do with me, despite both claiming to love me at whatever points in the past.  Yet, oddly enough, it was the Phantom-ish character in the situation who was generous enough to give me a last conversation so I could attempt to get some closure on things.  With him, at least.  The Raoul-ish one . . . refuses to grant me that.  Who knew, right?  Who knew the bad-tempered one that all of my friends hated would give me something that the one all my friends like and say is such a great guy would refuse to?

Honestly, the situation's killing me, and it makes it hard to go back and write about Holmes, and especially Erik, because I'm dealing with a situation in here that reminds me of the entire mess of my personal life.  I do try very hard to separate it, but then, when that kind of pain is my inspiration of some things, it doesn't really work.

And it's only gonna be worse, potentially, when I get to the next novel, because the next novel is my Holmes and Dracula take.  And where did I come up with that one?  Flat-out, I didn't.  Back in 2008, right around Halloween, I'd written a short story for a class I was taking that starred Holmes investigating the case of Jekyll and Hyde.  I'd just become obsessed with the musical at that point, and since I was still working on editing Rendezvous, a combo of the two seemed inevitable to spring forward in my head.  Well, I talked to my real life Phantom-ish guy about doing up a full novel of Holmes/Jekyll and Hyde, and he said, "Nah, forget that.  What you should do, if you're gonna write a Holmes novel, is have him face off with Van Helsing against Dracula."

We didn't get the chance to talk about it much that night, but I went home and wrote out a few ideas for it, because I seriously liked the idea.  So, the next day, I went in to work and told him what I'd been thinking for a possible plot and whatnot.  He basically looked at me and said, "No, not like that.  This is what you have happen . . ."  And while I followed him around the store with a notebook and pen, he outlined the entire novel for me.

I'm adding in and fleshing out a Hell of a lot to the plot he gave me.  I'm bringing in some info that C.C.Humphreys wrote about in his book, Vlad: The Last Confession, which talks more about the man Dracula is based on, rather than just vampire legends and such.  But all in all, the novel is still his, and it's a brilliant idea.  (As I'm hoping the future readers will agree.)

The other thing stressing me now is school.  I'm in four classes this semester, to finally finish off my AA in not only Creative Writing, but Psychology.  I'm hoping I pass them.  I mean, the one class for the Creative Writing degree, I'm confident I will, but the three for Psych . . .  I'm not so confident about one of them.  I hope I'll pull it together somehow.

On the upside, I do have a friend from where I'm working now who said that he'll read the initial type-out of Jack of All Trades and give me his opinion on it.  He was an English major before switching over to culinary.  (I know, ???, right?)  But the fact is, he's still very good with words, he's intelligent, and he's another set of eyes to read over things and catch typos before it's published.  Plus, with any luck, he and I can actually sit down together and go over plot points, work on segments that need work, and figure out how I can get away from such a disorganized feeling about this one.  Cuz, if I'm feeling that, there's no way readers won't pick up on it.

Well, another writing spazz has come to an end for now.  Here's hoping I get some more writing done before work today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thinking About Reviews and Reviewers

I've been thinking lately about the people who review works on Amazon and other places.  Of course, you have the die hard fans of whatever/whoever, and when you're writing something like Sherlock Holmes novels, these people can be the hardest to please because they're the purists.  The ones who can name every story, in order of publication, that Conan Doyle released about Sherlock Holmes.  The ones who can quote passages, and will know what deduction came from which story, or when Holmes used someone's thumb print to be able to find the culprit.

These are the people who I feel can be most unforgiving in newer Holmes stories where the character strays (a little or a lot) from what he was in the original stories.  I had a taste of that myself from none other than Alistair Duncan.  On reviewing my first novel, he made mention that I had used 'pants' instead of 'trousers,' and said how Watson would never have done that, it was an unforgivable mistake.  I felt 'unforgivable' was a bit of an overstatement, but in thinking about it later, I can see where he's coming from.  I myself am something of a perfectionist in other areas.  (Ask me how I felt about the 2004 movie of Phantom of the Opera.  Or better yet, don't, unless you want me to go on, literally, a half hour or more rant about everything they changed/screwed up in that movie.  You want a MUCH better adaptation?  Go to Amazon and buy this.  It is SO much better.  Amazing, amazing job.)

Anyway.  Then there are the people who aren't going to like the work because it's not Conan Doyle.  But of course, since they love Holmes, they'll "give this a chance," and inevitably hate it for the author 'trying to do something clearly out of their realm of ability,' or some such line like that.

Then there are the ones who genuinely find something to enjoy about it, even if it's not Conan Doyle style, or even if it's not the kind of situation Holmes would've been placed in within the realm of the Canon.

Fourth, there are the ones who are familiar with the author, and therefore, even if the book is terrible, will not give it anything less than five stars and talk about how wonderful of a book it is and how excellent the writing was, and how they can't wait for the next one, etc., etc.

I won't name it here, but there is one such Holmes-ish book that embodies the last category's qualities.  I regret to say I haven't even been able to finish the book, so bad were the grammatical, spelling, and POV errors.  It truly seemed like it had a very interesting premise.  It seems like a very interesting case, the characters seem engaging (though not entirely adult or well thought out,) and the blurb makes it sound like a very intriguing book.

Yet, I can't help being reminded of another book.  Hope is the story of a girl with schizophrenia and how she overcomes the obstacles in her life, including hallucinations, being in a mental institution, and losing a baby after she is married to a man she met while in the institution.  Intriguing premise, right?  Well, Hope is one of the most God-awfully written books ever self-published.  There are misspellings, grammatical errors, and sentence structure problems.  It feels like the entire story takes place over a few months, perhaps less, because there is no real sense of time passing.  In reality, the author has the story span about a decade.

Yet, with Hope, and with the other book I'm referring to, there are only good things said about it.  (Okay, Hope has one 1 star review.)  I understand that especially when a person knows the author, or is connected to them by something like Facebook or Twitter, they're not going to be as willing to put an honest review out there because they don't want to hurt the author's feelings.  But at the same time, it doesn't help the author at all to be heaped with praise for a book that truly doesn't deserve it.

Have I given five star reviews?  Heck, yeah.  Darlene Cypser's books, for instance.  Specifically, The Crack in the Lens, and the Consulting Detective Trilogy, Book One.  Yes, I heap praise on her for those books, because truly, they are amazing.  However, there are things about them that drive me up the wall, such as her constantly using the characters' names in sentences, instead of other descriptive terms.  But that's merely a difference in writing style between us, and while it bugs me to no end, it's also something I'll endure for the simple fact that the stories are masterful.

The same cannot be said of this other Holmes-ish book.  The mistakes grammatically, the odd POV switches, and the lackluster characters overpowered any sense I had to finish the book because the plot truly didn't hold my interest.  I just found myself truly not caring, because the main character would go off into these complete non sequiturs about a potential love interest, or what a relative of theirs would have done, or some such like that.

True, I hate the fact that I've gotten 1 and 2 star reviews, especially since I gather that in at least one case, the person didn't even read the book, but at the same time, I'm proud of them.  Those reviews are coming from a place of honesty.  Someplace that I don't feel all the reviews for this other book have come from.

One day, I will have to sit down and force myself through the middle and end of the book.  Perhaps it'll improve after page sixty-odd.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Elementary, My Dear Thoughts

So, I watched Elementary starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson.  I went into this honestly not expecting much.  I mean, after the BBC's Sherlock, how could anything compare?

I was actually pleasantly surprised, however.  And I wonder how many other people caught the reference to the Mary Russell novel, BeeKeeper's Apprentice.  Or, the alternate title, Upon the Segregation of the Queen.  Which is something 'Holmes' paraphrases after Joan finds the bee hive at his place.

The fact that the characters are named Holmes and Watson is something that throws me, honestly.  BBC's Sherlock puts Holmes and Watson in modern times, but the way it's done works.  It has an old-fashioned feel, but definitely updates the characters enough so that they seem somewhat Victorian, yet fit in with the modern day conveniences like cell phones, texting, and computers.

Elementary . . .  The characters just don't seem to fit with the setting.  And I especially didn't like how 'Holmes' seems to, when he's making the deduction to the one guy about how the murder was pulled off, practically beg the guy to admit that 'Holmes' is right.  Holmes doesn't beg.  Holmes doesn't apologize.  Holmes doesn't guess.  And yet he does all of these things in Elementary.

I think low expectations were a good bet with this one.  I knew it wasn't going to be anywhere near the caliber of Sherlock, and I was right.  But on the same token, it'll provide what I hoped for.  It's good enough distraction until the next season of Sherlock comes out.

All in all, I give the first episode of Elementary 3 1/2 out of five stars.  Not wonderful, but a passable enough rendition of Holmes that I'll like watching.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jack of All Trades - Writing Freak Out - Part Three?

I've been away from this blog for awhile now.  My interest in all things Sherlock has waned lately.  That happens to me with things.  I get very interested in something, am obsessed for awhile, and then the interest evens out, or I become fixated on something else.  I admit, part of it this time was that I read a one star, especially bad review of my second book on  In thinking about it later, I'm not sure the reviewer even read my book.  I can't help thinking all they did was see the chapter titles and look at the blurb, and make his conclusions based on that.  Because I did put a lot less of the musical and more aspects of the actual novel in it.

Anyway.  That gave me something of writer's block for awhile.  But I'm back and working on Jack of All Trades.  It's so frustrating right now!  Just getting all the facts straight, trying to work with the characters' personalities, not to mention all the other things I've doing right now...

Well, I know this is a short entry, but I'll come back later and write more.  :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Awareness Should Be Made

Book sales are always important things.  But even more so when they can help to save someone's life.  I hope everyone who reads this will either donate, buy a book, or send this out to others to help this man.

I admit, it's not exactly Sherlock Holmes related, but the book sale day where the money will go to help this man is July 16th.  And that's my 30th birthday.

Thank you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Thoughts on the Reichenbach Fall

I don't have much on this to say at the moment, because it's been several days since I've been able to watch the episodes, between work and the gym.  However, one thing I noticed upon watching the final of season two for the fifth or so time, is that none of Sherlock's usual deductions were there.  In the other five, we see his perspective when he looks at a person.  Like in Scandal, for instance.  When those two men come in and say Sherlock's to come with them, and that he'll want clothes where he's going.  We see Sherlock's perspective as he looks at the one guy to determine who he is before he says, "I know exactly where I'm going."

Yet that's exactly what was missing from The Reichenbach Fall.  Seriously, watch it.  I don't think there are any instances of that in the episode.

I'm still curious about more than one thing with that episode.  I reread what Stephen Moffat said.  There's something that's everyone's missed.  A clue.  And it has to do with Sherlock doing something out of character.  The only thing I can think of off the top of my head that's out of character is when he goes to Molly for help.  Since when does Sherlock Holmes go to ANYONE for help?

Yet everyone has exhausted 'Molly' theories to death.

I need to watch the episode again . . .

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Consulting Detective Trilogy, Book One: University

The Consulting Detective

My review of Darlene Cypser's next book about the early years of Sherlock Holmes.

I HATED . . .

 . . . that this book had to end.

It begins precisely where The Crack in the Lens leaves off.  And I do mean precisely.  There's an epilogue in The Crack in the Lens and when I began reading University, I thought to myself, 'Wait.  This sounds familiar . . .'  So I pulled out Lens and compared, and sure enough, there's the same segment.

One thing bugged me about that segment.  Holmes and his father sit down and discuss Sherlock's schooling, the future, and other things, and it's simply covered in a paragraph indicating the conversation took place before Sherlock has to be helped back to his room because he's still weak from the fever that took him at the end of the last one.  I wish that the conversation had been shown.  I'd have liked to know what they said to one another.

Grammatically, there were a couple mistakes, including another one of those extra word sentences that were so common in the pre-release version of the first one.  I only noticed one instance of that, I believe on page 91, though.  Other than that, I realize that the book is told in third person and so use of 'he' would make things very confusing considering that most of the characters mentioned are men, but at the same time, the usage of the characters' names is overdone at times.  I think things would read more smoothly if, instead of using their names all the times, Ms Cypser would use "the eldest Holmes brother," or "the young detective," or "the esteemed doctor," or something like those examples that indicates who the person is without constantly using their name.  I don't have the book in front of me so I can't quote specific examples right now, but an ad-lib example is something like: 'Sherlock and Sherrinford ascended the stairs and entered Sherlock's room.  Sherlock turned around and faced Sherrinford.  "Blah, blah, blah, dialogue," said Sherlock.  Sherrinford sighed.  He knew what Sherlock meant, however, Sherrinford also . . . '

Again, not an actual quote from the book, but a close enough facsimile for what I mean.  It does detract from the book slightly, but it's a rather small complaint, all in all.

Now, the things I love about this book: She brings us from Sherlock's journey as a young man going through a terrible ordeal, to a man who has such passion for what he wants to become.  In the first book, and the beginning of this one, we see much more of Sherlock's thoughts and mindsets and how he comes to the conclusions he does.  In the second half of this one, however, we're introduced to the start of the calculating detective who only reveals the thoughts he wishes to show and keeps everything else inward.  Again, the book isn't in front of me, but I realized that when he was having a conversation with one character and his responses consisted of the word "Yes."  I realized then that the other person was giving away information, filling up the space in the conversation, and Sherlock was merely sitting there, absorbing.  And I loved it.

I don't doubt I'll come back with more to say about this, but here's my review so far.  All in all, five out of five stars.  All Holmes fans should read this book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reichenbach Theory, My Clues. Let The Obsession Begin!

It came!!!!  It JUST came, I just opened it and numerous other things I bought off Amazon, and I'm watching it now, as of 2:37 pm.

"Henry Fishguard never committed suicide.  Bow Street Runners missed everything!"

"Every fairy tale needs a good old fashioned villain."

 . . .

John's wrong.  Mycroft couldn't have sold Sherlock out to Moriarty.  Why do that and then make John aware of the assassins that moved in within spitting distance of 221B?

I think the whole idea of Moriarty wearing some kind of mask to steal the kids and make the girl think it was Sherlock who kidnapped her is ridiculous, honestly.  Much more likely is this scenario: if it wasn't Moriarty himself who apprehended them from the boarding school, then it was one of his men.  Obviously, someone couldn't be seen at night dragging two kids around, it'd be noticed immediately.  So, what's a criminal mastermind to do?

The most logical thing would be for Moriarty to do exactly what he does to Sherlock later in the episode.  Drive a cab himself with the kids in the back, and have the TV on, playing something with Sherlock's face.  It could have been footage of him doing some weird experiment at Baker Street, as per the hidden camera, or it could have been something Moriarty fashioned that was Sherlock's image on the screen, and a voice over (that Moriarty has made, computerizing his voice to sound exactly like Sherlock's, of course,) telling the kids that Sherlock is the criminal, that unless they do exactly as he wants, they'll never make it out alive, etc., etc.  That would scare the bejeezus out of two kids, explain her screaming when she saw Sherlock, and help to plant the idea of Sherlock actually being behind things in Donovan's mind.

And in answer to another blog I saw that wondered on the inaccuracy of the police saying 'our boys can't do that,' in regards to what Sherlock did as far as finding where the kids were, well, I admit, I don't know a huge amount about forensics, but my opinion is that in a way, Sally Donovan was exactly right.  Yes, the police are good with forensics and yes, in time, they may have been able to piece together where the kids were.  But at the same time, Sherlock's the only one who would have been able to piece together the kidnapper's gait, shoe size, etc., that he mentioned, and he's the only one who could have put together that it was Addlestone that quickly.  But because of the screaming, that dediced it in Donovan's mind that Sherlock had crossed over from the thrill of just solving crimes, to the thrill of initiating them and then 'solving' them to prove 'how clever' he is.

And the fall begins.

Now, one thing I noticed on the initial watch of this is that Mycroft showed John  the files for four major assassins who were in the vicinity of Baker Street.  One is killed when saving Sherlock from being hit by a car after he gets out of Moriarty's cab after Moriarty's "Sir Boast-A-Lot" story.  Another is killed when he saves Sherlock and John from being hit by the bus when they're handcuffed to one another.

Oh, and just something random that I love.  Rupert Graves, the one who plays Lestrade, was in V for Vendetta.  I think they did a tip of the hat to that movie when Sherlock says, "You can't kill an idea.  Not once it's made a home . . ." taps Lestrade's head, " . . . there."

I love the scene in Kitty Riley's apartment where Moriarty walks in, and there's the whole thing with him being "Richard Brook, the actor."  Honestly, I didn't give Benedict Cumberbatch proper dues for the acting job he did there.  He doesn't say a word.  Simply looks shocked, amazed, and then . . . admiring.  He knows his reputation will be in tatters.  He knows exactly what Moriarty's doing and knows Moriarty knows exactly what he's doing, having gone to Kitty Riley, someone Sherlock rejected before.  And though he hates what this will do to his credentials, he can't help but respect the play Moriarty has made.  They compare the events in this episode to a game quite often, and Moriarty has just made a killer move, and both he and Sherlock know it, and Sherlock, at first, can do nothing but admire what is an underhanded, sneaky, yet positively brilliant maneuver.  But his emotions take over as Moriarty plays his part to the fullest.

"There's only one thing he needs to do to complete his game and that's to . . ."

Molly . . .

Molly was the only other person besides John who never lost faith in Sherlock.  Who's dedication and trust in him never wavered.

He says it himself to her.  "Molly, I think I'm going to die."  I think that's what he wanted her for.  Needed her for.  He tested her.  Asking her if he wasn't everything she thought he was, if he wasn't everything he thought he was, would she still want to help?  And she didn't hesitate.  Just asked what he needed.  He needs her.  He needs her to give credit back to his name.  John can't do it.  John's too close.  John was Sherlock's blogger and someone everyone figured was Sherlock's boyfriend/bromancer/always vigilante defender.  But Molly . . .  She's someone else.  She's someone different.  People may listen to her, if she speaks in the right ears.

Back on the Mycroft-sold-Sherlock-out possibility . . . once again, I think it's wrong.  Mycroft never confirms anything.  He simply lets John draw conclusions.  But Mycroft is smart.  Too smart to give away anything about his brother to someone so dangerous with such an important keycode.  Mycroft would not fall for the equivalent of 'show me yours and I'll show you mine.'  John's wrong.  Mycroft didn't sell out Sherlock.  But I do think that he may have underestimated Moriarty, and that's why he was stammering about "I never imagined . . . I never dreamt . . ."

"I love newspapers.  Fairy tales.  And pretty grim ones, too."

I know this entry is going all over the place, but I'm typing as I watch the episode (and while a little birdie keeps climbing down my arm to wreak havoc on my keyboard...)  Anyway.  That's the clue I think everyone's missed.  That and/or possibly the line about Henry Fishguard towards the beginning.  "Henry Fishguard never committed suicide."

As far as the fairy tales, though, think about it.  Sherlock and Moriarty are constantly taking clues off one another's words, actions, facial expressions, and I think Moriarty and he both knew the other had something planned, even if they didn't know every nuance of what that plan was.  I think Moriarty gave Sherlock an 'out,' because he's not done playing with him yet.  I think there's something, in one of the Grimm brother's fairy tales, that will give a major clue.  I don't know what story it could be, or how it would be modernized to work here, or how Sherlock used it to his advantage in so short an amount of time, but that's what I think the clue is.  Grimm's Fairy Tales.  One of them.

And I'm determined to find out which.

He willingly went off the roof of the building because he believed Moriarty was dead (which I don't buy.)  And I'm going to figure out if I'm right in my theory.

R.I.P. Sherlock.  For awhile.

The Reichenbach Heartbreak - BBC Sherlock's Third Episode


So yeah.  If you've somehow missed these episodes (I don't know what rock you'd be living under to have accomplished that, but still,) then read with caution.  I spoil the ending, I talk about my theories, and I swear to God, I will put money on this, I'm positive I've found the clue that everyone's missed.  I don't know how it fits in with Sherlock faking his death, but I'm sure I know what the missing clue is.  I'll develop further theories to that aspect once I have the DVD in my hands and can watch it a bazillion times.

I cried.  I freely admit it.  I cried when Sherlock called up John and told him that everyone was right.  That Sherlock was a fraud, and that John should tell Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, everyone, because the papers were right.

And I cried again when John was at the grave.

I haven't gone into much detail about the performances of the actors in past blogs, but I'd like to now.  I think Martin Freeman's performance throughout this episode was amazing, but his true shining moment was at the grave.  From the start, we see him trying to be tough, cold, not to let his emotions take over.  His speech, therefore, was somewhat stilted, not over-flowing with emotion, like we would normally see of one at a gravesite, who is overcome by what they're in front of.  What the world they're suddenly facing will be like.  Let's face it: John Watson was trying to be like Sherlock always was.  A machine.  Separating himself from caring because he didn't see it as a worthwhile means to an end.

But that facade fades as he speaks.  As he asks Sherlock for one final favor: to not be dead.  I think this was Martin Freeman's crowning achievement so far for this series.  He's been absolutely amazing thus far, but that scene . . .  It was just so powerful, so well done, and so moving.  I wish I could do it justice by description, but I think even if I filled up a novel, writing about those, maybe, two minutes, I still wouldn't be able to.

Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock is incredible.  The sheer amount of effort that must go into him so flawlessly executing the deductions, the aloofness, everything, and making it seem effortless is nothing short of remarkably amazing.

I have to say, I think my two favorite parts of this episode with Benedict Cumberbatch were his reactions to Molly's thoughts about him during the "You look sad...when you think he can't see you," bit, and his acting on the rooftop.  Specifically, when he says, "Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think, for one second, that I am one of them."  And then, of course, when he's on the phone with John.

Honestly, as far as what I think the clue everyone missed is, I'm not going to say right now.  I'm going to wait until I have the second season DVD in my hands and I can watch all six in a row.  Nine hours of Sherlock.  I'll be on British hot guy overload . . .  Totally worth it.

Anyway, as per what I said in my original entry, before I'd actually seen the episode and was going off of thirty second YouTube clips, I still don't think Molly was in on it.  I don't think that's what Sherlock needed her help with.  I have no evidence right now, it's just a gut feeling, but I'm voicing it, because my gut feelings are usually dead on.

I think if anyone knows he faked his death, it's Mycroft, and I think the reasoning for that is that Sherlock went to him at some point and said to him, "You sold me out to Moriarty, someone determined to destroy me.  You. OWE. Me."

I also don't think Moriarty's really dead.  I still support the idea that he planned it, and planned Sherlock knocking his arm.  We never actually see the shot happen, we just see Sherlock's back as it rings out and Moriarty falls.

My worry with that is, if Moriarty turns out not to be dead, where will they go from here?  How much more of a climax can they bring to the table?  I admit, I'm a bit apprehensive that so early in the show's running, it could go down very quickly if not handled properly.  But I'm going to keep faith in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss that they know what they're doing and will continue to bring us quality films for a long time.  They've definitely set themselves up with a challenge, however.  Most TV shows run several seasons before giving a climax like a character dying and then coming back from the dead, and the reason for that is it implies they've reached their limit.  They've got nothing left, so they have to go out on a bang, and then they come back for one more season that limps its way along because they can't just do a one-episode season to wrap things up.

For the record, I don't think that Sherlock will come back for the third season and just flop.  The writers are too good for that, and there's too much of an expectation for them to live up to.

Well, I've found out that I should receive the second season tomorrow, so I'll be able to watch the episode again and discuss more in-depth my theories.  Until then, I leave you with something I found, which is semi-Sherlock Holmes related:

This is a line from Hugh Laurie, about the ending of House.  I just found the similarity to how he describes House and some lines from Sherlock eerie.  Of course, House is based on Holmes, but even so, it's odd to hear/read that line about 'on the side of the angels' twice in two days...

“I like him very much,” Mr. Laurie said. “I think he’s lonely. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He’s got a wonderful sense of playfulness about him. He’s just calibrated differently. He’s on the side of the angels, but that doesn’t mean he has to be an angel. He most definitely isn’t. But I think somewhere within him there burns a very fierce and righteous flame.”

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Reviews Influence a Writer

Well, this writer, anyway.  Honestly, I wish there were more constructive reviews of my books on Amazon.  There are two that I continually come back to and read/reread.  Ange de Mystere's and Sand Under Foot's.  It was when I read the former's review of Rendezvous that I realized, "Oh, crap.  Not everyone's gonna get why I went so close to the lyrics from Phantom for this book."  But seeing how a reader felt about it helped with my Jekyll and Hyde one, because I reference the lyrics numerous times in that one, but I don't rewrite them.  There are simply subtle hints that, if one knows the lyrics as well as I do for that show, they could pick up on it.  For instance, there's a line in 'Facade' that goes "Look around you, I have found you cannot tell by looking at the surface what is lurking there beneath it.  See that face, now I'm prepared to betcha what you see's not what you get cuz man's a master of deceit."  My tip-of-the-hat to that line came in Erik's letter to Holmes: Of course, you can never tell what may be lurking underneath the surface.  There are other such examples where I hint at lyrics rather than thinly rewrite them, or quote directly.  (I wonder how many people realized the title was a lyric?  Lost in the Darkness.  Go check out the lyrics.  It's there.)

Anyway.  I know that one of the pieces of advice for writers is to not read their reviews.  To an extent, I see why and I perfectly agree.  I mean, especially when people don't like it, who wants to read something that tears their book to ribbons?  No one, honestly.  Though there are exceptions.

This YouTube review is one of those exceptions.  It's the second part of a video review (supposed to be a miniseries about mine and the other Phantom/Holmes crossovers, but no more videos were put up, as far as I can see,) about Rendezvous at the Populaire.  In the first part, she talks about the two characters and their appeal (which includes a picture of Megamind and an unintentional slash implication,) and says, "So, how many crossover stories have been written, with Holmes and the Phantom having the face off of the century?"


Which leads into my favorite part, where fun, carnival-type music comes over and the screen says, "Thank you for your patience while we attend to some technical difficulties."

I swear, click on the link.  I'll wait.  Cuz the picture she found of Erik when she comes back from the technical difficulties is priceless.  Seriously, go watch it.  I'll be right here.


Did you see it?  How great is that?  It just fits perfectly!

Okay, so I don't ramble about stuff liek that the whole time, I'll get back to my main point.  To a degree, I understand not reading reviews.  For instance, years ago, my dad told me this story about an actor who was in a play, I think it was.  His publicist told him over and over not to read the reviews of his performance because he didn't want it to affect how the actor would be onstage.  The actor didn't listen, and read one particular review where the writer criticized how a certain line was said.  Afterward, the actor was never able to say it the same way again, even after being told the reviewer didn't know what they were talking about, that he'd done it perfectly, etc.

I admit, I don't look over the more negative reviews a lot (for instance, I've only watched the three things Ange de Mystere didn't like about Rendezvous twice,) but I greatly appreciate the criticisms.  Sand Under Foot's criticism that I've humanized Holmes too much and that they'd like to see more of Watson was invaluable to me.  Honestly, I was kind of disinterested in Watson for these novels.  Of course, I was going to keep him in them, but had it not been for that review, he may have just become more and more of a background character, instead of so fully invested the way he is in Jack of All Trades.  In fact, I don't think I thought of everything I'm doing to Watson until after that review.

I suppose my main point in all this rambling is that while I don't like or appreciate the purely negative reviews of "this books sucks," "the author's horrible," "why did this ever get published," I do appreciate the well-thought out ones that have honest criticisms and suggestions for improvement.  There are more than just Ange de Mystere and Sand Under Foot, for instance, Alistair Duncan's blog review where he mentions me writing that Watson was looking at Holmes's pant leg.  It never even occurred to me, an American, that someone British would say 'trousers.'

Anyway, the constructive reviews I've received thus far have helped me greatly to up the bar for the next novel.  I'm hoping that my deadline will work out, because I want to have Jack of All Trades typed, looked over, and sent in in time for it to be available for purchase by mid-July.

Anyone who hasn't reviewed, please do.  Offer what you like, what you don't like, what you'd change, what you'd keep the same, anything you wish.  As long as it's respectful and thought-provoking, I welcome it.

Rendezvous at the Populaire

 I Will Find the Answer

Friday, May 18, 2012

House Predictions

Okay, so I know House isn't specifically Sherlock Holmes, but let's face it: everyone by now knows that he's based on Holmes.

Unfortunately, I didn't seen the episode where 13 came back, so I admit, this could be a bit outdated of a guess for what happens.  However, even though I was a season off, I did call it that House was going to be driven insane.

The last episode I saw was the one where the morgue doctor cut into his own head and it turned out that his diagnosis had something to do with industrial strength soap.

I can't help feeling like what happens in the end, in the last episode, is that Wilson is going to die, and instead of wasting away from cancer, he asks House to assist him in suicide.  House, unable to deal with facing life without his best (and possibly only) friend, decides that after he does this for Wilson, he's going to kill himself, too.  When he does, Chase becomes the new head of the team.

Or possibly, Chase or 13 or someone saves House from dying by his own hand, but he's comatose, and again, Chase takes the lead and the final patient is House, and it's them trying to save him.

Two more days until The Reichenbach Fall!!!  I'm gonna be obsessing over this episode.  I've already pre-ordered my Sherlock Season 2 DVD.  :)

Future Holmes Projects

For those who don't know, Rendezvous at the Populaire and I Will Find the Answer are the first two novels in my five book Holmes series.  Jack of All Trades is the third one.  The fourth, I'm rethinking the title for, but it's Holmes and Van Helsing pairing up to face off against Dracula and Moriarty.  (Don't worry, Watson fans, yes, he is in this one!)  And the fifth is called Finding Camelot and features Erik bringing three Americans to Holmes's attention, one of whom believes that Camelot, Excalibur, and the King Arthur legend were all real.

In addition to those, I've come up with three Holmes short stories I'm gonna see about publishing through MX in one volume.  It'll depend on how long they wind up being.  I may have to wait till a couple more ideas come to me.

After that, I have an interesting novel idea.  This one's going to be a stand alone.  It starts out with a girl in the present time, up at Niagara Falls.  She's about to commit suicide because, while only in her late twenties, her life has gone to complete Hell.  She's thinking about her pathetic suicide note, written on a post it, stuck to her apartment's fridge, and how that seems to epitomize her life.  Even when she's going to kill herself, her life has amounted to nothing more important than a square piece of paper on the fridge that no one would ever actually notice.

But then she thinks except for one person.  He'd notice.  He'd realize what kind of living Hell she was in.  And he'd be there for her.

The girl's last thought as she goes to step off the waterfall and be splintered to bony bits on the rocks below is, 'This is it.  This is the end.'

Next, it goes to Holmes, fighting Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls.  As they go over the edge, Holmes thinks to himself, 'This is it.  This is the end.'

And with those same thoughts penetrating both their minds, Sherlock Holmes finds himself disappearing from Moriarty's grasp, experiencing the feeling of nothingness for a brief second, and then smashing into a girl at the edge of a waterfall and both of them falling backwards to safety.

Yes, Sherlock Holmes is transported to modern times.  And he hates it.  He has no idea what happened, how it happened, or how he gets back.  The girl brings the disoriented Holmes back to her apartment and when he fully wakes up and isn't dazed, she asks him who he is.  Of course, he replies Sherlock Holmes.  She doesn't believe him.  Figures he's just some actor, or some weird role playing guy who gets really into his costume or something.  She starts getting annoyed, though, when he just doesn't give up.  I mean, who does this guy think he is?  Insisting he's the greatest FICTIONAL detective, the one who NEVER LIVED?

Soon enough, she takes him to meet her therapist/psychiatrist who diagnoses him as being bi-polar and delusional and gives them prescriptions for him to take.  These really screw with his head, and he throws the medicine out, saying if she wants to drug him, he'd rather a seven percent solution.

As the novel progresses, Holmes finds himself succumbing -- much to his horror -- to the language and actions/reactions of people in this age, and our female lead begins -- much to her confusion -- to act all the more Victorian.

Don't worry, I haven't given away anything of the actual plot.  There will be a mystery to solve, and once Holmes realizes he's succumbing to the influences of the modern world, in language, dress, etc., he makes a point of carrying around the Canon, because he begins to feel that's his only tie to his own world, and his best way to remain true to himself.

I can't wait to write that one.  :)

I'd love feedback on the idea.  Let me know what you think, please?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jack of All Trades - Writing Freak Out 2

The way that I'm doing this novel is different from the previous ones.  I've already mentioned the more historical element as opposed to the fictional one.  Then there's the fact that whereas before, I was more interested in what Holmes's thoughts would be, and how he was handling the things coming at him, now I'm more interested in sitting back and observing his actions through Erik's or Watson's eyes.

This novel is made up of three narrators and then third person POV's of the murders.  Watson and Erik have the majority, but Holmes will narrate about three, maybe four, short segments.  One of which is the reveal for who Jack the Ripper is.  I imagined this in his perspective the first time I wrote a draft of it, and honestly, I can't picture it being in anyone else's perspective but his.

My issue now, though, is that I worry about it being too short.  I'm hand writing it first before I sit down and type it, and I'm already up to the double murder night, and I'm only on page 56 or thereabouts.  Fifty-six?!  I admit, when I transfer it to typed page and then it gets reformatted to what the page size is for MX, I may be pleasantly surprised, but it still seems very short right now to me.  And considering I felt this was gonna be one of the longer ones, that's not good!

I know, I know.  It doesn't matter how long or short something is.  If a book is five hundred pages, but it's five hundred pages of crap, the book sucks and people will hate it.  If it's a hundred pages, but it's a hundred pages of good, quality material, people will love it and appreciate it even in its shortness.

And I will admit, I still have to get through the double murder, Watson's issues, Erik's issues (which is what I'll handle after the third person perspective of the double murders,) different parts with Holmes, Watson determining that he's angry enough at his situations that he wants to pour over Holmes's notes and file on these killings and discover who the Ripper is himself, the half a kidney in the mail and the letters coming in, all supposedly from 'Jack,' which means I'll have to do another third person perspective part where 'Jack' is actually writing the 'From Hell' letter that mentions the kidney, Mary Kelly's murder, then there's the reveal itself and the repercussions that has on all the characters, the resolution of Erik's situation and his feelings about that clouding his mind so that he didn't see clues to help Holmes solve this sooner, then Mycroft--

Well, can't give that part away.  You'll have to read to find out what I'm doing there.

I guess I shouldn't worry so much about it being too short right now.  I have a lot more to cover in the month and a week between the night of the double murder and Mary Kelly's murder.  Then there's wrapping everything up after Mary Kelly's murder, and including Holmes's file on the killings, which is going to be at the end of the book.

I admit, I could have done a better job on Rendezvous.  And should have.  I just felt the lines from the musical were so perfect, it was hard not to write those exact lines down.  And I suppose I had too much of an influence from Angel of the Opera by Sam Siciliano, because I more or less modeled my Raoul after his.  I stepped it up with I Will Find the Answer, though.  Luckily, to my knowledge, anyway, there are no Jekyll and Hyde/Holmes stories where Holmes is dealing with the play version of Jekyll, therefore including Emma Carew and Lucy.  I had to truly mold my own version if I wanted to fit Jekyll's fiancee and the Unfortunate who draws him, and therefore Hyde, into her life.  I did model it somewhat after the book, because in Stevenson's novel, Sir Danvers Carew is the only man killed, and the deed is done with Jekyll's cane.

I raised the bar for myself when I wrote I Will Find the Answer.  I only hope that Jack of All Trades raises the bar even further.  I want it to be the best one yet.  I want people coming away from this novel, hungry for more.  Saying, "Damn . . .  God, I can't wait for the next one!"

Because, let's face it.  For the next one, I'll have to raise the bar even more.  And despite these little freak-outs on my blog, I will rise to that challenge.

Elementary, My Dear Watson?

Elementary Preview.

I look at this and I can't help feeling like it's a train wreck waiting to happen.  When I first heard about this show, I was semi-looking forward to it.  I knew it would be nowhere near as good as the BBC's Sherlock, but then, I have to be fair; I've said this before, but when I first saw the DVD of the BBC's Sherlock, I couldn't help thinking, 'This is either gonna be really good, or really, really bad.'

With the BBC's Sherlock, I was pleasantly surprised and incredibly drawn in to the brilliance of the show.  It truly is a modern day Holmes.  He embodies all the traits of the Holmes of the Canon, and the writers are absolutely brilliant in their incorporation of the old plots and conversations to the present day.  I wish I could find a clip of it on YouTube, because the conversation Sherlock and John have (okay, more like Sherlock's monologue and John's baffled and amazed silence,) about Harry and the phone is absolutely brilliant.  (I need a word besides brilliant.)  It so perfectly encapsulates and modernizes the conversation Holmes and Watson had about Watson's late older brother's pocket watch.

Anyway, I didn't come here to fawn over the brilliance of Sherlock (really need a Thesaurus for a word other than brilliant...)  While on Facebook, I saw the preview/behind the scenes look at Elementary, the U.S.'s answer to Sherlock.  When I first heard about this show, I figured, 'Hey, it's kind of awesome.  House is ending, Sherlock, for all it's amazing, wonderful, terrific-ness, only does three episodes per season, so this'll be a good show to distract me while I wait for Season 3 of Sherlock, and it'll keep me from spazzing incredibly about whatever cliffhanger Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat will leave us with next.'  (Cuz we all know another one is coming.  We had the best cliff hanger I've ever seen with the first season, we've got the huge ? hanging over our heads as to how Sherlock pulled off jumping off a building while John watched, and not only coming out alive, but having everyone think he's dead.)

But after seeing the YouTube footage I linked to above, I'm . . . hesitant.  There are a lot of changes, the biggest of which being that Watson is a woman.  Now, if this wasn't an American station doing this, I wouldn't worry so much.  But, and this is not an original thought, many people were commenting on this underneath the YouTube video, when there's a man and woman partnered up in whatever fashion, there's bound to eventually be sparks that fly, a relationship that starts, and insinuated sex scenes to follow.  It happened with Booth and Bones, it happened with House and Cuddy, and I'm sure there are others it's happened with, but I don't watch a huge amount of TV anymore.  The point is, Sherlock Holmes is pretty much the ultimate person to have the 'forbidden romance' with.  He's the one who every woman wants to melt the heart of.  Yet within that lies the problem.  Everyone wants to, but if one wants to stay true to the character, no one can.

I think House handled this the best.  Yes, he and Cuddy got together.  The writers decided to explore the romance possibility.  But at the same time, I don't feel they so escaped the characters' personalities in that exploration, and they also gave the only possible outcome that could have come from a House-Cuddy relationship: it ending BADLY.

Hopefully, if what I'm afraid of happens and they do decide to get Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson together, it will take much the same route as House did.  Not with Holmes crashing a car through Watson's living room, but with a break up, some kind of inevitable separation, and then something forces them to work together, so there will be a strained agreement to work together professionally, with eventually goes back to a friendly camaraderie, but with an understanding that no relationship will ever happen again.

I'm not going to get into it in this entry, but that is something I'd like to cover.  The idea of why Sherlock Holmes is so appealing.  Why people always want to imagine him as being found by a woman who will melt his heart.

Until next time, I'd love to hear comments and thoughts on Elementary, or on the idea of Sherlock not being the analytical calculating machine we all know and love.

Monday, May 14, 2012

BBC's Sherlock Hounds of Baskerville - Part 2

Okay, so now it's time for a more in-depth review of the second episode of Season two.  And to celebrate this, I give the above picture of Sherlock, scrutinizing something.  Yay for Benedict Cumberbatch hotness.  :)


This retelling of Hound of the Baskervilles does not include a legend, or a supposedly cursed family.  Instead, it is about Henry Knight (love that little inclusion, considering he was Sir Henry in the original,) a man who saw his father killed when he was just a boy.  And who was the culprit?  Supposedly, a gigantic hound.  And it is when he says 'hound' that Sherlock becomes interested.  Hound is not a word most people would use.  Dog, mutt, something more generic, that's what they would use.  But to say hound?

Sherlock and John talk to other people (including someone who causes Sherlock to lose 50 quid to John because of a pretend bet between them that Sherlock mentions,) and also get access, thanks to Sherlock pilfering a card of Mycroft's, to the Baskerville army base.  They aren't able to ask/discover much before the security breach is detected by Mycroft.  (Twenty three minutes is slow for Mycroft.  Makes you wonder A - how often Sherlock has done this that he knows that, and B - how fast Mycroft has been in the past.)

Sherlock, John, and Henry wind up back on the moor where this gigantic hound is said to frequent.  Though the audience never sees the hound, we hear the snarls and such, and we see Sherlock's reaction when he shines his flashlight where the hound is supposed to be.

I love how Sherlock doubts his senses and we can see how incredibly shaken he is, not only by what he cannot believe he saw, but when he apologizes to John, and tells him how he "doesn't have friends.  [He's] just got one."  I love the look on his face when John just says, "Right," and keeps walking away.  Then, the Canon reference with Sherlock saying how John may not be the brightest person, but he's someone who encourages or inspires the brilliance of others.

Anyway, as I said, of the episodes I've seen thus far, this one felt the weakest to me.  It was still brilliantly done, had Canonical references or tips of the hat, had terrific moments between Sherlock and John (especially the "I don't have friends," and the "No, it's NOT!  It's NOT OKAY!" segments,) yet somehow, something was missing in this for me.  Perhaps it's the fact that they aren't at Baker Street for most of this story.  I know they can't be because it happens in a place far enough away from Baker Street that they can't easily go back and forth.  Perhaps it's the fact that, to me, this one almost felt like it was outside of the rest of the episodes.  The other four have had an underlying story arc/bigger picture kind of feel.  This one felt outside the realm of all that.  Like it was simply a stand alone episode and the only thing that ties it in with any of the others is the fact that Moriarty and Mycroft were briefly shown at the end.

I can't wait to see next week's episode, because I noticed something in this one that I think may be a clue for the conclusion of the third.  I'm going to hold off on that, however, until I actually see next week's.

One thing I will say, though, is that people have speculated on John being under the influence of the same drug that was used in this episode when he saw Sherlock jump off the roof, and that that's how things were done.  It does make sense to a degree.  The drug was used on John either before, or just after Sherlock's phone call, and because John was afraid of what he would do, he saw what fear and worry had stimulated him to see.

However, while it makes a certain amount of sense in that context, the theory falls apart when one considers what happened in the Baskerville episode.  The hallucinations people suffered because of the drug were never actually seen.  The dog was never seen, except for at the end, when it was in fact a real dog, and the direction simply showed the real dog as Henry and Sherlock imagined it in their drugged minds.

In the next episode, we see Sherlock step off the roof and fall.  In keeping with the continuity from the previous episode, if John was only afraid Sherlock would step off/jump/fall, we wouldn't have seen it.  We would have seen him up on the roof, and then what appeared to be him lying on the ground below, with no intermediate scene.

However, I know this theory has been largely rejected anyway, because of the popular and, I feel, correct opinion that the show's director/producers would not pull the same trick twice.

Though I will say, if they did, it would certainly be something we'd never realize until Season 3 is out.

Just felt this pic matched the tone my last line leaves off on . . . :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hounds of Baskerville

How great is the part where John walks up on the couple having sex in the car?  :)

And when Sherlock finds out Lestrade's name is Greg?

I thought this was a great way to modernize the novel of Hound of the Baskervilles.  The military base, the drug released through vapor, Sherlock doubting himself . . .  It had all the terrific elements.

Yet . . .

For all there being terrific one liners and a great modernization, I don't know.  I somehow felt that this was a lesser episode.  And I noticed an interesting inconsistency.  In The Great Game, Sherlock says that if the case Mycroft wants Sherlock to inspect is so important, he should have cancelled his dentist appointment, and comments to John that "Mycroft never texts if he can talk.  He cements this later when Mycroft texts John and Sherlock says, "Oh, it must be a root canal."

Yet, the first time they're in the lab and Mycroft realizes his security has been breached, he texts Sherlock, not calls.  Now I realize this could be because Mycroft will have put together that Sherlock is in a delicate position, but at the same time, I don't think it would have prevented him from calling.

I just find that an interesting little inconsistency.  Did anyone else catch that?

I'll have to see the episode a few more times, and watch it in sequence with the others, to truly say why I feel it is a lesser episode than the others.  Perhaps my expectations were inordinately raised because of what I saw last week and what I expect to see next week.

I hope to have a longer blog about this episode soon, but until then, I leave you with this thought:

Anybody else think of Disco points and Moriarty's ringtone when they see this pic?  Just wondering.  :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sherlock Holmes Idea and Novel Stuff

Mycroft: "Just once, can you two behave like grown ups?"

Watson: "We solves crimes, I blog about it, and he forgets his pants. I wouldn't hold out too much hope."

I just love that line.

Sherlock Holmes week is from July 30th to August 5th this year and the MX authors have been encouraged to come up with Sherlock Holmes awareness for that week.  I'm still working out the kinks and planning how to pull this off best, but I'm planning a Sherlock Holmes themed Jeopardy to take place that week.  It will take place Monday through Friday, with Friday being a competition between the four winners of Monday through Thursday.  I'm still deciding exactly what the prizes will be, but I'm even going to make up 'Sherlock Dollars' with the faces of different actors portraying Holmes on the front, and probably 221B Baker Street on the back.

I'm going to need 12 volunteers who would like to participate.  Possibly fifteen, if I have the final competition on the sixth day.  Anyone who would like to be considered, please note this entry with your name and let me know if we are friended on Facebook.  We'll need to be for this competition.

Jack of All Trades is going well.  I'm past the second murder, about to write about the inquest and John Pizer, and then I'm going back to Watson's point of view until the night of the double murder.  I'd thought I was only going to have Holmes narrate three segments in this novel, but I came up with a terrific idea that I'm going to use, which means that there may be four segments.  Though since this one is not primarily Holmes's project, I may take his narration out of the beginning, which means Holmes would narrate the part I came up with a few days ago, the discovery of who the Ripper is, and the very end.  The rest is narrated by Watson and Erik, as I've probably mentioned.  One thing I'm doing that I haven't before is showing notes from Watson's journal.  All his segments are always headed "From the Journal of John H. Watson, M.D." and that signifies that it's a printed version of his notes from said journal.  In this one, however, I include the notes that he's handwritten for some segments.

Well, so I don't give away too much about the book and its plot and exactly how much I'm screwing with everyone's favorite characters, I'll leave off here with a quote from the one and only Irene Adler.

Irene Adler: "Brainy's the new sexy."

Yes, it is...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Scandal in My Television - BBC's Sherlock, Season 2

I wasn't able to watch 'Scandal in Belgravia' in real time last night, because I had to work.  But it was recorded for me, and except for cutting out about five minutes to the end right after Mycroft and John  were talking and John is told Irene Adler was caught and killed, I got to see the entire thing.

I can't wait till the end of the month when I can get these on DVD and watch them over and over and obsess about the end of the Reichenbach Fall.

I thought this was a strong episode to start out with for Season Two, though a couple of things bothered me.  I actually really liked how things in the pool wound up (Stayin' Alive?  Seriously???), but at the same time, the overall mystery bugged me a bit.  In the first season, each episode had its own mystery, found and solved within the time frame of the episode, with the underlying threat of Moriarty being the one in the background, pulling the strings of the different people involved.

This one, you knew Moriarty was involved, you knew his hand was in it, but at the same time, it was so much more than that.  More than just an underlying threat, I got the sense that Sherlock was just a pawn in a huge game of chess going on, that he's honestly completely unaware of.  Well, after this episode, not completely unaware, but only minimally.

And what the heck is Mycroft into?  Something shady is definitely going on with him.  It's like he's picked out a direction he wants Sherlock to go, and is doing everything he can to lead him that way.  Which, considering how this season ends, may absolutely be the point.

I've seen different articles and whatnot about the third episode, The Reichenbach Fall, and one of them had a quote from the show's producer.  Or writer, I can't recall which.  It was someone involved with the show.  Anyway, he said that despite everyone's guesses, everyone was missing one important clue concerning Sherlock's 'jump.'  I'm not going to write about it now, but my mind's already piecing together possibilities.  When the shows initially aired in England, I wrote up my own theories about the third episode.  After The Reichenbach Fall airs on this side of the pond, I'll rewrite my theories (if they significantly change.  If not, I'll simply overview them, and undoubtedly add a lot more since I'll have actually seen the episode now instead of relying on thirty second YouTube clips,)  and post them in a new entry.

I honestly think one of my favorite parts of this episode was when Molly and the rest of them are gathered at Baker Street (why'd they not keep Sarah in the show?  I liked her!) for Christmas and Sherlock goes through the whole, "Oh, Molly, you have a new boyfriend?" speech, then looks at the tag and sees the gift that started his whole deduction is for him.

I also loved how, throughout the episode, Irene Adler is trying her damnedest to get a rise out of him, but he refuses to take the bait.  He's so stoic and controlled.  I'm glad they didn't go into any kind of out-of-character stuff with Sherlock.  They didn't have him drawn in by her feminine wiles.  Yes, he was drawn in, but more because he was drawn to the case and trying to figure her out analytically.  I can't help thinking that the entire time he was looking at her, all he saw were the question marks they showed the first time he looked at her.

And the difference between Irene Adler and Molly is so striking.  On one hand, we have this poised, self-assured, beautiful woman who can pretty much make just about any man do whatever she wants them to.  On the other, we have a woman who seems younger somehow, makes jokes about working with cadavers, and gives off the feeling of a little girl playing dress up with a big sister or mommy's clothes when she tries to look fancy.

Yet which one did Sherlock apologize to and give a kiss on the cheek?

Molly Hooper - 1

Irene Adler - 0

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sherlock Holmes Themed Jeopardy

Wouldn't that be an awesome idea?  A Sherlock Holmes themed Jeopardy?  I'm kind of interested to see if I could put this together.  If people from the Internet were participating, though, we'd have to find a way to do it in real time.  That way, no chance for cheating!  :)

I'll think on this...

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Crack in the Lens, Part 2

I thought about just editing my last entry, but decided against it.  I forgot something I'd wanted to mention.  Ms Cypser mentioned that the title of this novel was an integral part of it and too important to even consider changing.  Early on in The Crack in the Lens, Sherlock and Violet are talking by a river, and Sherlock has brought the magnifying glass that I believe it was his grandfather gave him.  Violet is holding it when she slips and falls into the river.  Sherlock rescues her, but she dropped the magnifying glass and an upper part of it cracked.  She says something about how it can still be used, if he doesn't look through the cracked part of the lens.

I thought it was an interesting way to incorporate the title into the book, but it didn't seem to be such an unchangeable aspect of it as was implied previously.  And as the book was drawing to a close, with a snowstorm, Sherlock in the throes of a devastating fever, and then his emotional despair, I was wondering when the true importance of the title was going to come into play.  I was wondering if it would, period.

The ending did not disappoint.  Sherlock has recovered from the fever, but is succumbing to that emotional despair.  Sherrinford, in something of a panic, tells Mycroft to come as quickly as he can, and convinces Sherlock to hold on until his other older brother comes home.  Sherlock agrees, and when Mycroft arrives, they talk.  And that's where the true importance of The Crack in the Lens comes into play.

As I said, I loved this book, and I'm so thankful to Ms Cypser for sending me an earlier copy, because otherwise, it would have been several weeks before I could have procured and read this gem of a book.

Going into more detail of what I touched on in the past entry, there are so many things about this book that are handled so well, yet in another author's hands, wouldn't have worked well at all.  The romance between Sherlock and Violet, as well as his clashing with Professor Moriarty, and his frustrated acceptance of his father's berating all work in a practically perfect balance.  The reader can clearly see in the young Holmes many aspects that will stay with him to adulthood, as well as many aspects that he refuses to tolerate in others once he is in a position to fight against them.

 Of course, with things he will fight against, Professor Moriarty comes immediately to mind.  I admit, part of me was asking why she picked Moriarty to be the professor.  Was it just a plot device to help the story along?  Was it generally accepted that Moriarty really taught Holmes?  (Was Moriarty really that much older?  I always had the impression that while he may have looked older, that they were of comparable age.)  As per her comment on the last entry, I see it's generally accepted that Moriarty was his tutor.  (Also, to Larry, as far as I know, Rathe, aka - 'Moriarty' in Young Sherlock Holmes wasn't Holmes's math tutor.  Fencing teacher, yes.  Mentor of a sort, yes.  But I don't believe it's ever said that he is Holmes's math teacher.)  Anyway, I love how the insidious plots of Moriarty to discredit Holmes to his own father don't fall into the normal cliches.  There's one part where Holmes enlists the aid of a young boy named Jonathan.  He's helping Jonathan learn to fence, and in the part I'm thinking of, Jonathan gets Violet and while she hides nearby, Sherlock and Jonathan fence and when Sherlock can, he ducks into the shadows and steals a few precious minutes with Violet.  Moriarty looks out the window and sees Holmes fencing and then disappearing out of view for minutes at a time.  Any other novel would have seen something like the following scenario happen: Moriarty would decide to follow Sherlock one day, catch him with Violet, a confrontation would erupt, Moriarty and Sherlock would race back to see who would get to the father first, but it wouldn't matter because not only would Moriarty be automatically believed, but Sherlock would be discredited for being with a woman 'below his station,' and that's how the romance would end.  Ms Cypser picked a much more tragic, much less cliche way to go about things.

I love how she went into detail with the lives of at least Sherrinford and his wife, Amanda.  It fleshed out the story in a very realistic way.  Unfortunately, I feel like Mrs. Holmes kind of got lost in the background.  Indeed, I actually forgot she was around most of the time.  But Sherrinford, Amanda, Squire Holmes, even Mycroft, who is absent for a good deal of the novel, one has the sense that their lives are truly going on in the background of the story, and that very much made this a more enjoyable read, because it gave it so much fuller of a feeling.

I just wanted to come back and give a more thorough review of this novel, because honestly, I can't praise it enough.  As I said when I finished the previous entry, I can't wait to read the sequel trilogy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Crack in the Lens - Darlene Cypser

Darlene Cypser's The Crack in the Lens, I can honestly say, is not a book I liked.

It is a book I LOVED.


Sherlock Holmes is seventeen in this novel and has just returned to Mycroft Manor after spending two years in France, recovering from an illness and building up his physical strength by learning fencing and boxing.  When he is back at the manor, his father, Squire Holmes, doesn't let him dillydally for long,  He gets him a math tutor, because he expects his youngest son to go to university and become an engineer.  I should have seen it coming.  I really should have.  But I didn't until I read the father telling Young Sherlock Holmes (sorry, had to get that movie title in,) that his new tutor "wrote a treatise on the binomial theorum," and my mouth dropped open.  Because who, as a Sherlock Holmes fan, doesn't know who wrote that treatise?  Of course, it is the one and only Professor James Moriarty.

Holmes and Moriarty clash, but Moriarty wins over everyone else in the household and is able, throughout the novel, to completely discredit Sherlock to his father.

But that's only part of it.  Sherlock, while riding on the moors, meets a young woman named Violet Rushdale, who works on the land that the squire has.  They fall in love, but I won't give too much away about that.

I got a slightly earlier edition of this novel, straight from Ms Cypser, for which I'm very grateful.  One thing I noticed with this edition, though, aside from the occasional missed quote at the beginning or end of a line, and (I admit, this is just what I'm used to, others may feel differently,) the non-italics French lines within the novel.  It was just odd to see something in French not written like this.  Anyway, I noticed not misspellings, but extra words added into the lines at times.  This isn't a direct quote from the book, but an example would be something like as follows:

"Sherlock mounted his horse again and as he as galloped across the moor..."

That extra 'as.'  There were quite a few examples of things like that throughout the book and as a reader, it threw me a bit.

Again, though, this is a slightly earlier edition, so perhaps Ms Cypser went through and checked/corrected these things.

Anyway, this novel, in anyone else's hands, probably would have been a horrible mess.  But Ms Cypser handles it with care, knowledge, and excellence.  It truly is a story about Holmes's character being forged through fire, so to speak.  The kind of character Sherlock Holmes is is not created easily or pleasantly.  And this book deals with those issues with absolute excellence.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Sherlock Holmes, and anyone interested in quality literature.  I, for one, can't wait for the trilogy sequel.  :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being a Published Author

I know I said my next entry was going to be about Darlene Cypser's book, The Crack in the Lens, but I'm not done reading it yet.  However, I am immensely enjoying the experience.

I've been writing fairly steadily since I was fourteen.  The writing bug first bit me during my freshman year of high school.  You see, from the time I was four, I wanted to be an actress.  One day, during freshman year, though, I was cleaning my room, and I found a notebook in my closet.  When I opened it, I saw about two pages' worth of a story I'd begun, probably around the time I was ten.  It was about a young girl, trapped in a warehouse, with a deformed (we're talking deformed, like Phantom of the Opera has nothing on this guy's ugliness,) monster closing in on her.  A policeman showed up and shot the monster.

I was intrigued by what I honestly didn't remember writing until I found it in that closet and I decided I would continue it and actually make a novel out of it.  I wrote on this thing all through freshman year, and it wasn't until the summer that I reread what I'd written and discovered one very important thing . . .  It had absolutely no plot whatsoever!  But I was bitten by the writing bug.

My sophomore year was when I wrote my first young adult novel, and though it has yet to be published, I'll get there one day.  I have about forty ideas for different young adult novels, in addition to my five book Holmes series, the short story Holmes book I want to write, and the stand alone Holmes novel I came up with that is my own explanation for where he was during the Great Hiatus.

Anyway, one thing that I've noticed now that I'm actually a published author is that I'm taking a lot more notice of the books I read, especially when they concern our favorite detective.  I'm a lot more observant with how things are written and I find that's incorporating itself into my writing.  I'm more conscious of the vocabulary used, when something sounds "Holmes-ish," how well the story is told, and when things are informative yet largely unnecessary, or have a larger purpose in the grand sweep of the story.

And once again, I'm being interrupted by my temperamental little parrot who refuses to just quietly sit on my shoulder . . .  I'll come back to this as soon as I can, because I do have other thoughts on it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My First Holmes Encounter

I'd said once before, though I can't guarantee it was on this blog, that my first encounter with anything Holmesian was when my dad showed me Young Sherlock Holmes.  Recently, I bought a Kindle, so as to read the Holmes material, (and a few choice others,) that don't seem to be available in any kind of print form, much to my chagrin.  I still find it weird to 'turn a page' by pressing a button.  Yes, I have the old Kindle version, not something like Kindle Fire.

Anyway, so as to not get too sidetracked by Kindle talk, I had downloaded a free version of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and was reading the Adventure of the Empty House.  As I was going through Holmes's version of how he survived Reichenbach and managed to 'come back from the dead,' a memory stirred, to quote Javert.  I remembered being a little kid, probably no more than six, and my dad telling me about Holmes and Moriarty in the Final Problem, and them both going over the Falls.  Then he told me there were still stories after that, because the one writing them had decided the main character survived.  (Yeah, I don't think he told me the names of the characters yet.  I think that came later.)

When I was a kid, my Nana and my uncle lived in a house on Staten Island.  Across the street from their house was what the neighborhood kids, (specifically, my best friend, Dolly,) called Muddy Mountain.  I wish I had pictures of this place.  I'm glad I have a videotape of it somewhere, because they completely changed it and now a row of houses are opposite what used to be my Nana and uncle's house.  Anyway, though, Muddy Mountain was called that because it was basically this huge, (well, huge to a kid,) hill.  It extended the entire block, pretty much, but there were so many trees around there that there were only two places you could really climb up and get to the top, where it even out in a wide enough space for a path.  The one place, it was pretty easy to climb up because it was rockier, had more trees to grab onto, and that one led up to a bigger plateau where someone had hung a rope swing.  Anyway, if you followed the path up a bit, it led to another hill that was pretty much just loose dirt.  Imagine a snow covered hill you can sled down, and just take away the snow.

Okay, now that I've probably digressed to the point of losing anyone reading this, the above paragraph had a point.  When my dad was telling me about Holmes surviving the fall at Reichenbach, I imagined something like Muddy Mountain, only with a waterfall.  And I remember imagining Holmes grabbing ahold of clumps of weeds, or random roots to catch himself before falling to his death.

I suppose I'm thinking about the Great Hiatus lately, not only because Amy Thomas has written about it in her blog recently, but because it's when another Holmes novel that I have in the works takes place.

I have the series of five: Rendezvous, Answer, Jack of All Trades, my Holmes-Dracula one that I'm debating naming The Darkness Within, and Finding Camelot.  After that, I've got three short stories in the works that I hope will be long enough to turn into a book.  But I've also got another novel I've thought up.

Without giving too much away, the beginning shows a parallel between a present time person, and Holmes at the moment he and Moriarty go over the side at the Falls.  I'm going to do this in standard Holmes fashion and have it be narrated completely by another character.  No Holmes first person in this one!  It's definitely going to take him out of his element, however.  Something that he hates, and throughout, he desperately tries to cling to the old fashioned, Victorian style that he's accustomed to.

It's going to be a challenge to write.  It's going to be a very different sort of novel.  Difficult.  I'm going to be poring over the Canon throughout probably every page I write once I actually sit down and begin attempting this thing.  But if it turns out even half as good as I'm imagining, I'll be happy.

Look for my next review, A Crack in the Lens, by Darlene Cypser, up in several days!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alistair Duncan's Eliminate the Impossible

A couple days ago, I received four of Alistair Duncan's books, published through MX.  I'm working my way through the first one, called Eliminate the Impossible.  (Amazon is being a pain today, so there won't be any links in this entry.)  Anyway, I hadn't known that these books were non-fiction.  Honestly, I don't have much of an interest in non-fiction, most likely because of the differences in the set up between fiction and non-fiction.  However, he was kind enough to read and review my first book and said that he would read and review my second, so the least I can do in return is read/review his.

While I'm not done with Eliminate the Impossible, I'm a good chunk through it.  It basically gives us a synopsis of the 56 short stories and 4 novels that Arthur Conan Doyle gave us, and then a probable year the story takes place, and some of the inconsistencies shown in the writing.  For instance, A Scandal in Bohemia, the short story where we meet Irene Adler.  The story itself says that it happens in late March, 1888.  Pretty clear cut, right?  However, Duncan's book pins the story in 1889, because another story makes a reference to this one, or perhaps this one makes a reference to another, but whichever one it is, that reference works against Watson being accurate in the time frame of March of '88.  (For the sake of Jack of All Trades, I'm going with what was written in Scandal, by the way.)

The second part of Duncan's book features different actors who have portrayed Holmes on stage/film.  I've skimmed this part of the book.  The most familiar names I know that are attached to Holmes are Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Matthew Frewer, Nicholas Rowe, Michael Caine, Robert Downey Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch.  This book was written before the RDJ movies and before the BBC's Sherlock, however.  Now, Basil Rathbone, I don't think I've actually sat down and watched his portrayal of Holmes.  Jeremy Brett, I've seen a couple of episodes because I bought them recently on DVD.  Nicholas Rowe played Holmes in Young Sherlock Holmes, my first movie experience of Sherlock Holmes.  Michael Caine played a bumbling, clueless "Holmes" in the comedic Without a Clue, where Watson is the true genius.  And Matthew Frewer played Holmes in several movies, including one I've taken to liking called The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire.  Not to be confused with Dan Turnbloom's book of the same name, available from MX.  The former has nothing to do with Jack the Ripper, the latter is entirely about Jack the Ripper and Holmes's investigation into the identity of said Ripper.

Unfortunately for  Nicholas Rowe and Michael Caine, neither are mentioned in Duncan's book.  Perhaps an oversight, perhaps the movies were too obscure, or perhaps spacing ion the book demanded things be left out.  Because I will say that's a disadvantage of this book.  It's very short, considering all the information it attempts to cover.  Though I do admit, if he went into everything, the book would probably be about a thousand pages and cost around eighty dollars.

One thing this book has inspired within me is my own desire to go through the Canon with a fine-toothed comb and see about my own attempt at a proper timeline.

I like the information Duncan's book provides, and honestly, despite that I don't gravitate towards non-fiction, I look forward to what his other books hold.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Makes a Pastiche?

This issue has arisen lately among MX authors and I decided to take a page from MX author, Amy Thomas and write my own opinion about it.

Let's examine the different types of Holmes stories out there.  There are ones like The Execution of Sherlock Holmes by Donald Thomas that I feel very much matches how Conan Doyle wrote our favorite detective.  Then there are ones like Elementary, My Dear where the writing style . . . doesn't.  And let's just leave it at that.  I felt it was an interesting story, even if it does take a bit to get going . . .

Okay, let me stop here and review this book.  Elementary, My Dear is a Holmes book I picked up several years ago.  I think I got it at the same time, or just before I got a copy of Loren D Estleman's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes, and his Holmes and Dracula book.  Anyway, the premise intrigued me.  Moriarty was a vampire and his undead nature was discovered by Holmes, which is why the Reichenbach Falls confrontation took place.  But there was an outcome I believe Holmes didn't expect.  Or perhaps had just hoped would not happen, I can't recall exactly.  Anyway, the outcome: he's turned into a vampire.  I don't recall  how or why, but he's basically put into suspended animation after Reichenbach.

Enter Samantha Watson, a medical student who has horrific nightmares and is terrified of all things blood-related.  She is the descendant of THE Dr. Watson, and inherits a letter and a mission to complete.  If she completes it, she inherits something like six million dollars.  The mission?  To resurrect the undead Holmes.  Because Moriarty didn't die, either.  And he's been spreading his vampirism to many others over the decades.

There are distinctly un-Holmes like parts to this book.  For one, I remember a scene in which Samantha asks him to dance and Holmes, pretty nervously and bashfully, replies that he can't; he doesn't know how.  And another scene where, after the romance has developed between Holmes and Samantha, they have sex.  That's just weird for a number of reasons, but the first and foremost is . . . Holmes having sex?  Generations of people have seen him as the one who doesn't trust the fairer sex.  He has no time to waste on love or other emotions unless they pertain to someone else while he is pursuing a case.  After all, I know I heard it in some Holmes related thing, 'love is an excellent motivator.'  Yes, it is a natural human act, but . . . for Holmes?  It's just weird.

Yet I do love the concept of the book.  When you get down to it, it asks the question should the earth be saved at the expense of humanity, or should humanity be saved at the expense of the earth?

It's by far not the best Holmes book out there, and if you go in thinking that it will be anywhere near the writing style of Conan Doyle, you WILL be disappointed.  However, I think it's a worthwhile read simply because of that very philosophical question it poses.

Okay, after that brief interlude, what makes a pastiche?  I can't help feeling that a pastiche is a higher caliber Holmes novel.  Something well-respected, possibly with even the approval of the Conan Doyle estate, and something where the author has taken loving care to reproduce a Holmes that is an embodiment of everything that Conan Doyle wrote him as, instead of adding in their own elements.

My own novels, for instance, while they are, of course, Holmes influenced, I'm aware they are not the same caliber as say, Loren D. Estleman's books.  Others may or may not agree, but when I read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes, I felt like I was truly reading something that Conan Doyle had hidden away and was found years later by someone else who endeavored to publish it.

I suppose that's what it all comes down to for me.  A Holmes pastiche is one that, upon reading a first, second, or tenth time, the reader still wonders how this was never published as part of the Canon, because obviously, it belongs there.  All the rest, while I don't doubt are very enjoyable, as I've read more than a few enjoyable ones, fall short of being called true pastiches.  They, and my own, are simply Holmes novels, endeavoring to join the ranks of everyone before us, and many after us, who are answering a call.  The call of the brilliant writing and creation that can only truly belong to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but that we all share a piece of.