Monthly Archives: January 2015

Characters we love to hate

They aren’t necessarily the big bads of their stories, maybe not the central villains, but what they bring to the story is depth and, for readers or viewers, a sense of great camaraderie with the heroes.

We’re having yet another snow day and spending the day huddled inside. We’re watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Kai Winn  is on. Oh how she makes my skin crawl. She is to DS9 what Delores Umbridge is to Harry Potter. Those are probably my favorite two right this moment but there are others (Q, Draco, Loki, etc). Watching them do what they do, reading about them doing what they do, it makes me furious on the behalf of the heroes. I wait and wait for them to get their comeuppance or, in some rare cases their redemption. And when it comes, as it must, there is a collective sigh of relief and cheers from the peanut gallery that there is hope yet that all will be right as rain someday.

It has been a great many years since I watched Deep Space Nine when it was originally on and I admit, I seem to have forgotten what comes of Kai Winn (don’t tell me! The boys and I have been watching and we’re just about to season 4). It’s really a very good show, better than I remember it being. That is more the difference between watching as a teenager and watching as an adult though.

Who are your favorite love to hate them characters?

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Filed under Books, Movies

Is it still work if it’s fun?

I’m in the enviable position, thanks to my awesome husband, to be able to do what I love and call it work. I’m not sure I would really be any good at anything else. Though I do make a pretty ok secretary, so long as the office is small and cluttered and I’m left to do things my way.

Writing is something I’ve always just done. I was fourteen when I decided it was what I most wanted to do with my life. That year I wrote my first novel. It is horrible, it is fabulous, and it is sitting on my bookshelf in two spiral bound notebooks no one will ever be allowed to read. I learned a lot from that book and the three or four that I finished before the end of high school. None of them were very good but each was better than the last. I have worked to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t and, while it’s taken a long time to really start getting anywhere, I am getting somewhere.

The problem I run into sometimes is that it doesn’t feel like work. Even the editing process runs fairly smoothly. I aim to be a reasonable author who listens to her editors. To me, there is no drudge work in writing. I love the research, the writing, the rewriting, the editing. I love it all. I’d be telling stories regardless of whether or not I write them down. How can that possibly be work? Wait, I don’t like writing synopses or outlines or working on the series bibles. That could all be called work.

Sometimes I feel a little bit guilty, especially when the husband has a rough day at his job when I’ve been working on a story but that just makes me try to push a little harder to tell the best stories I can and to get my stories into the hands of readers.

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Snow snow and more snow

While I’m glad I don’t live in New England anymore right about now (those who do, please stay warm and safe!), we had enough snow where I’m at to be annoyed with it. I like winter, so long as I don’t have to go anywhere. I like snow, so long as I am looking at it from inside my cozy house with coffee in my hand. The problem I have now though is that all this snow also means snow days for the kids.

It’s hard to get motivated to work when I’d much rather cuddle up with them and watch netflix all day. Youngest one has discovered the joys of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Oldest one doesn’t know what he thinks of it but is thrilled to see Morpheus waving around an animated lasso and dancing around in chaps. I’m falling behind though and I need to do better. I’ve got a stack of books waiting to be read and a couple itching to be written and I’ll never get any of it done if I don’t get my butt in this chair and put my fingers to the keys.

And yet, I’m blogging instead. And later, I hope to be baking brownies for Supernatural night (if awesome husband remembers to bring me home butter because I don’t feel like making it right now). It’s not that I’m not thinking about my current wips, I am, I’m just finding it to be a bit of a struggle to produce actual words instead of just ideas. I really hope the kids have school tomorrow. It’s so much easier to write when they do. When they’re at school, I’m not distracted by the nostalgia available on Netflix or watching oldest boy play Spiderman.

Here’s hoping for tomorrow!

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The Crow

I recently reread the original graphic novel by James O’Barr. I watched the movie years and years ago when it first came out. I’ve watched it on pretty much every format it’s been available on. I owned it on VHS and DVD both. It resonated with me deeply in ways I didn’t quite  understand until I was older – a bit like Dune did.

I am about to compare the two pieces. This will mean spoilers if you haven’t read it or watched it. I realize it’s not the sort of thing that everyone likes or gets, but it is well worth both reading and watching. Both are disturbing in their own ways, both are poignant and beautiful and dark. Obviously, I really enjoy The Crow. If you read past this, don’t blame me for spoiling things.

As far as comparing the two, it’s interesting. Both are excellent, awesome things in their own right. There are some differences, but I think there had to be, especially with the girl. Sherry in the comic, Sara in the movie. She was given a far bigger role in the movie than she had in the comic but it was a way to tie it all together. Having someone who knew Eric in life and after gave us a sense of continuity. It also allowed us to immediately trust the sole good cop in the whole movie (split between two cops in the comic without going into depth really with either of them).

There were bigger changes than that. The biggest change is that the movie gave the bad guys a motive for the crime against Eric and Shelly. In the comic, it’s more of a wrong place and wrong time sort of thing than a mission oriented crime. In the movie, the gang of thugs sets upon them for a reason, they were not random targets. I am undecided on this change. It takes away from the senselessness of the crimes that brought Eric back as the avenging angel he is.

The additional characters brought in made the movie richer but their absence does not effect the comic at all. It is the same story. The finale is a little less drama-filled but that doesn’t mean the comic was less than the film in any way.

The rest of the differences were visual, the setting made darker, more dismal with the backdrop of fire and anarchy. It worked very well for the film. And I was overjoyed to discover that all of my favorite lines of dialogue came directly from the comic.

I’m not sure how I feel about a remake of the film at this point. I want Hollywood to find original material. We haven’t had a She-Hulk movie or a Wonder Woman movie yet. Or Lady Death (I would so watch that). There are plenty of comics that haven’t been done that they need to quit mucking with the ones that have. The original movie, despite the differences from the source material, was incredible. From what I’ve read, they’re wanting to stick closer to the source material but, as much as I enjoyed the comic, I think the choices made for the movie worked for that movie with the tone and sound and feel of it. I don’t want to see it messed up and Hollywood seems to love messing up things I love.

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Filed under Comics, Movies, Reviews, Spoilers

Interesting things

There are interesting things happening in my world of late. Very good things. In fact, this might be my best January on record. I hope it lasts. More details on some of those very good things will come in time. Most importantly, all my family members having issues have done pretty well this month – my grandmother’s hip was replaced without issue and now, maybe, she’ll be able to move without wincing, oldest boy’s eyes are fine, and my father is still working hard to follow his doctor’s orders. The other stuff is awesome but is also a bit like the cake to finish off the meal. Totally awesome triple chocolate cake with lemon curd filling.

I was working on a story today and it’s going very well, working through the rewrites as I’m changing the POV from the very rough draft and beating it into something resembling a decent draft. Then I needed to do a little work on something else. And make a few notes on yet another thing I’m working on. Even when it doesn’t seem like I’ve been writing as much as I should be, to me, I must be. There are too many projects going in various stages of completion for it to be otherwise. I always feel like I’m not getting enough done but the fact of the matter is, I’m writing more than I realize.

Every year, I promise myself that this will be the year that I remember to do word counting stuff but the way that I work just isn’t conducive to that and I never last more than a week. It’s a good gauge for some writers – noting the words produced – but apparently, it only works for me in November when I devote myself to one singular project from nothing to rough draft. Part of me wishes I could do it if only because I’m interested to see what that count might be.  I really thought I wasn’t getting much done this month on the writing front but when I flip from project to project, polishing, rewording, adding dashes of this and that, I can see the difference from where they were last month. Especially as one of them didn’t exist last month.

I’ll close on an absolutely unrelated bit. I could listen to Avi Kaplan (Pentatonix) sing anything. If I were given a choice on who I wanted to sing the soundtrack of my life, it would totally be him.

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The value of art

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that prompted this post. Basically, it boils down to this – some people don’t understand the value of art in all its forms. Writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, designers, all of those who produce art of whatever kind. It seems to me a great many people who are not involved in art consistently undervalue both the final product and the people who create it.

I’m going to use the example easiest for me to quantify. Say there’s a painting you like but you don’t think it’s worth any more than say $20. Except that painting took the artist six hours to paint. Valuing that painting at $20 is telling the artist that their time is only worth $3.33 an hour. You wouldn’t work a job for that, would you? Fortunately, artists do what they do because they love doing it. Unfortunately, some of those artists are likely willing to let that painting go for $20 just because they want their work to be loved, to be seen.

For those who have no experience producing art, being driven to produce art, it’s easy to tell a painter or a writer that they should just get a real job if their work doesn’t pay the bills, but art is real work. It is hard, it is draining, it is fulfilling. If artists didn’t love what they do, they wouldn’t do it. It isn’t like working a regular job – there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to sell a piece in the first place, let alone make a profit on it. I could spend one or two hundred hours on a book that ends up in my trunk, never to see the light of day (and I have – those first few books are not good but were incredibly useful in learning what works and what doesn’t). I don’t really know many artists who don’t have to work a “regular” job or depend on their spouses to get by month to month. It does limit the projects they can take and the deadlines they can successfully make.

There is a very good example of what I’m trying, in my bumbling way, to explain. There’s a writer who set up a kickstarter in order to be able to focus on writing her book and she has been vilified for acknowledging that she would be using some of that money for *gasp* bills! Like she has to do if she wants to meet the deadline. She could have gotten a regular job, written the book in those few scarce hours of “free time” (if she doesn’t have kids), and then focused on publishing it but she wanted to make the book available much sooner than that and having the money to pay the bills while she focused on creating that book was part of it. Someone explained it much better than I can here. The whole issue is very frustrating for me.

The value of art is more than the sum of the time, supplies, and talent to produce it. Art makes us feel, makes us think, inspires us to be better. How do you go about putting a monetary value on that? Remember, next time you’re buying a book, a painting, a handcrafted piece of jewelry or clothing. Why are art and artists worth less than your latte? Why are we so willing to spend $5 on something that takes at most five minutes to make and balk at spending that same $5 on something that took months, if not years, to complete?

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So far, so good.

2015 is starting out kindly (if we don’t count the many snow days). Oldest child went and got pictures taken of the inside of his eye and everything is settled now. He’s got some fibers there that obscure his cones and will have them for life, but he doesn’t have further issues. I cannot begin to tell you what a weight that lifted. Youngest child is showing some unexpected progress in ways that probably wouldn’t matter to most – he doesn’t really play with things the way you’re meant to usually. His uncle got him a Lego Mos Eisley for Christmas and since we’ve  had so many snow days, I put it together for him and he actually spent half an hour playing with it – pretending with the little figures like you’re meant to. I know it’s a strange thing to be happy about but, it’s the little things that matter most.

On the writing front, things are also going well. I’m rewriting and editing Demonborn and it is shaping up quite nicely. I’m hoping to have it off to first readers by the end of January. Better, one of my novels that are currently out in the land of submissions, has landed a full request. That’s no guarantee but it is very good news. Of course, I love the book but it is nice when other people show interest too. Maybe, before too long, I’ll have good news to share on that front. Right now, it’s more of a sit, wait, and hope. I’ve done all I can do for it, it’s entirely out of my hands now.

It also turns out that there’s a free sample of my book, Guardian of the Gods, as well as several others, available from Double Dragon over at Amazon. If you haven’t read the book, taking a little taste of it won’t cost a thing.

Face Off comes back on the 13th and I’m really looking forward to getting back to writing the recaps. I really enjoy doing it. Midseason hiatus breaks are wrapping up and nearly done which is also awesome. I still have my fingers crossed that Constantine can make it through this first season. Even with the change in time slots, I wish it was on a different night. I’ve got kids and as much as I love Constantine, it’s not really something I want them getting into just yet. One is a bit touchy and easily frightened and the other repeats everything (with accents).

For the time being, we’re sticking with Netflix though. I do wish Babylon 5 was on it but we’re watching Deep Space Nine, Dinosaurs, and Star Trek, the original series. There’s not a whole lot to do when it’s bitterly cold outside and school keeps getting cancelled. I’m going a bit stir crazy but I think that’s probably normal.

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Filed under kids, Life, TV, Writing

Remakes and Whitewashing

There are some remakes I’m really looking forward to (Mad Max, I’m looking at you!). It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen sometimes. There are other things I think were awesome to begin with. Case in point, Ghost in the Shell. Early in my introduction to Anime, I found Ghost in the Shell and, if you’ve read my science fiction, you know it influenced me a great deal.

The news of a live-action version of GITS seems to be on the board. With Scarlett Johansson as Motoko (most likely but they’re just saying “starring” at the moment). I realize it works due to the fact that the brain and the body are two separate entities but, unless they fill out the rest of the cast with Asian actors, I will continue to be annoyed. Yes, I want more female driven action movies, especially from source material that rocks, but there’s a line that needs to be drawn somewhere. Remakes should not equal whitewashing. I realize the studios want big names to headline but fans of the source material wouldn’t have needed that headliner. In fact, if they would just make good movies, people would come to the theaters.

Of course, Hollywood seems stuck in a serious rut at the moment anyway. Everything is remakes, sequels, and fluff. I love the comic books movies and all the blow’em up, shoot’em up movies – that stuff is right up my alley (except when they screw up awesome characters almost irreparably). I’m not as picky as some geeks – there is something to love in almost every movie. I’m not a chickflick fan, but even they have their good points.

Is it too much to ask for them to stop mucking around with things that were already great and find something new to put on screen? I mean, Sandman Slim would be awesome. So would the In Death series. Hell, anyone could probably list a dozen books that would make good movies if they did them well.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Scarlett just fine, just not in Ghost in the Shell.

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Filed under Geek, Movies

A New Year

So, 2015 has started. I hope it’s been good for you so far, but this is still a baby year. It has a lot of growing to do.

I know a lot of people do the resolutions thing but I’m not one of them. I never follow through with them anyway so it doesn’t seem beneficial for me. I have goals but that isn’t quite the same thing. I’ve just learned that, for me, making promises to myself one day a year does nothing in the long run. It has to be bigger than that.

Yes, like everyone else, I’d like to be healthier, more productive, more successful. I’m fairly certain that’s true for everyone in some fashion or another. Honestly, I’ll consider this year successful if me and mine make it to the end in one piece.

I am looking forward to Monday probably a little more than I ought to be. The kids finally go back to school (so long as the weather cooperates). I love my children but sometimes… In any case, I’m definitely looking forward to school! I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of things writing wise and just in general. It’ll be good for the kids too, even if they really don’t want to go.

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