Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games on the Big Screen

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I must say that if you can see The Hunger Games with one teen and one pre-teen girl, please do. Their reactions are even better than the film. Now, I wholeheartedly admit that I can be a pest at the theater. I tend to want to play Mystery Science Theater 3000. So, thank you to Rooobecca, Em and Yelena for dealing with my commentary. Now onto the good stuff...
Pros
  • Jennifer Lawrence did an impeccable job as the heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Although, I felt distanced from the character, she really nailed the nuances of Katniss' personality. Katniss didn't set out to change the world or start a revolution. She wanted one thing and one thing only - to survive. "I just can't afford to think like that." Quite right.

  • The quiet. I adored loved the film had a limited soundtrack and utilized the lack of sound as an intensifying element. I look for this technique in horror movies, and I appreciated it here.

  • The Capitol. WOW! Whoever designed the setting and worked on the visual effects should be given an award for these sequences. Stunning beyond words.

Cons
  • The lack of intensity. The core of the story is about teenagers thrust into a hostile environment to kill each other until one person is left alive. So, why the heck was I so bored? I don't need the intense violence shown, but I do need to feel like I'm fighting for my life along with the characters. Didn't happen.

  • Emotional distance from Katniss. Now, granted Katniss is fairly detached from her emotions, except for perhaps her interactions with her sister and Rue. She uses this as a defense mechanism to survive. But, in the book, we can dig under that armor and get to the layers beneath that is Katniss. This didn't translate to film.

  • Rue, we hardly knew ye. Without putting in spoilers, I can say that the tie between Katniss and Rue is flimsy on the big screen. When the pivotal moment between them comes, it left me feeling empty. They didn't allow this camaraderie to develop enough. Now, if you want to see how that scene could have been done differently, check out the fan-made short film from Mainstay Productions.
She is too adorable.
Overall
       The book is usually better than the film in my estimation 90% of the time. This round was no different. The movie did an admirable job of bringing The Hunger Games to life, but if you haven't read the book - heck all three of them - you are missing out. Don't rely on the film alone, pick up the book.

Rating: B+

PS I'm appalled, as I'm sure many of you are, by the outburst of racism regarding the actors cast to play Rue, Thresh and Cinna.I refuse to link to any of the vicious tweets and posts out there. But, I wanted to say that if we continue to see and judge people by the color of their skin, then we might as well live in a dystopian society. Because nothing is more enemy to the human spirit that a prejudice mind.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Neurotic Writer Syndrome

I've joked with many people about this particular affliction, such as my co-author, my agent, my writer pals - heck, even my dog knows about the dreaded NWS. Now, my dear blog readers, it is time to warn you!

First, let's look at the symptoms...

  • Obsessive compulsive tendencies to refresh the inbox, check Publishers Marketplace and read endless Twitter feed, blog posts and Facebook statuses.

  • Perpetual revisions. EX) A writer plagued by the following thought, "I just need to tweak one more..." or "Another draft won't hurt" or worst of all "I need to delete this and start over." [Don't do the last one! At the very least SAVE your drafts.]

  • Nudging aka the follow-up email. [Disclaimer: There is a time and place to send out a POLITE nudge. 24 hours after submission to agent or editor is NOT that time. Check guidelines, and a week after listed response time, you may nudge.]

  • Hot and cold, love/hate relationship with your writing. EX) "I am the greatest writer alive! Waahaahaa." Followed by, "No one will ever read this floundering piece of fish guts. It shall never see the light of day." Finally, "I need chocolate or wine, or chocolate AND wine."

Advice for dealing with NWS...

     My co-author, "Breathe." <-- Sage advice.

     My agent, "But, that's what sparks your creativity." <-- Love her. 

     My writer pals, "Yup. I've got that too." <-- Ah ha! So, it's normal.

     My dog, "Get a grip." <-- Okay, I may have put those words in his
     mouth. But you tell me what he was thinking.
Now, onto the cure...

The only known cure for NWS is to stop writing, and honey, that ain't gonna happen. :D So, for all of you writers out there suffering with this affliction, I say, "Embrace it!" It's what makes writers such happy psychotic unique creatures. Just don't let it get the best of you, and  remember, writers across the board, ranging from unpublished to NYT bestseller, have probably experienced NWS in some for or another. You're in good company.

Ever experienced the dreaded NWS? What do you do to combat it? Or do you embrace it?

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Warning: Another Hunger Games Post

    I want to write a coherent post for you, one that is full of meaning and insight, or at least a fun horror movie review. Unfortunately, I have this on the brain...
    Click the picture to watch the trailer!
    So, my mind currently replays the following over and over "HUNGER GAMES. HUNGER GAMES" and... that's all I've got. I'm not quite as bad as the WALKING DEAD zombies, but close.

    So, If you haven't heard, THE HUNGER GAMES opens TODAY!!! 
    Go see it, or read the books, or better yet do both!

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Excerpts and Inspiration Photos:
    The Lucky 7 MeMe

    Sharing an excerpt from a WIP (work in progress) for a writer is like flashing some skin. It's not the whole story, but it still makes you feel a bit naked. For this Lucky 7 MeMe I've been tagged by three awesome writers, Elise Fallon, Carrie Butler, and Lisa Burnstein. They've been brave enough to share their excerpts, and so I'm following their lead.
    First the rules of the game...

    1.  Go to page 77 of your WIP

    2.  Go to line 7

    3.  Copy the first 7 sentences or paragraphs exactly as they are written, no cheating.

    4.  Tag 7 authors and let them know


    My two newest WIPs haven't reached page 77 yet, so I'll use my recently completed project, CODE BLACK.

          She was the freakin’ eyewitness for crying out loud. The jack hammering stop-and-go routine on the ride from hell didn’t help settle her anxiety. When the stress got too high, she knew of one place to go and no, it wasn’t where everyone knew your name, but close enough.

          The Jukebox, a Phoenix staple in the downtown scene was half-modern coffee shop, half 1950s style diner. It appealed to urbanites, nuclear families and aging hipsters alike, and was Sera’s home away from home since college. Heck, the one thing that got her through school was this place. Not to mention the fact that Coco, the affectionately nicknamed coffee aficionado and owner, willing kept the lattes flowing practically twenty-four, seven back in those days.


    Since the scene talks about The Jukebox, I thought it would be fun to include my inspiration photo for the diner.


    Now for the newest players of the Lucky 7 MeMe:
    1. Leslie Rose
    2. Ava Jae
    3. TS Tate
    4. Bethany C.
    5. Lisa Gail Green
    6.  
    7. Kate Coursey
    If you've been tagged already, my apologies. If not, have fun playing!

    How about you readers? Want to get in on the fun? Writers, show us your excerpts! Readers, pick your favorite quotes from any book.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Freaky Friday: Deadline

    DEADLINE, a 2009 horror flick starring the late Brittany Murphy, is about a screenwriter using an old house to get away from her problems and finish her latest script before her, wait for it...deadline. The house turns out to harbor a few spirits who distract our heroine with a story of their own. Sound familiar? Think THE SHINING mixed with MISERY, at least in theory, sadly sans Jack or Kathy.
    Murphy doesn't annoy me as much as in some other films, but her appearance frightens me - not in a good way. I know she's an actress and her character is supposed to be on the edge of a psychotic breakdown, but she is wafer thin and far too fragile looking. It makes me sad because her physical condition is a huge red flag for something deeper. But, back to her acting. It fit the part. Perhaps over the top, but I prefer a little more on the dramatic side in horror films. So, not great, but not bad.
    The cinematographer, however, had some illusions of grandeur in my humble opinion and went for far too many "artsy" shots. From panning around the actress to see a chair that falls behind her to looking at her through a frosted glass window. I wanted to shake him, or at least scream in his ear, "Dude! This is a horror movie. Save the trick shots for another day."
    The film's ending is fairly predictable, but it had some nice moments. With supporting actors like Thora Birch (AMERICAN BEAUTY) and Marc Blucas (who will always be Riley from BUFFY to me), it didn't lack for talent. Overall, it's a quick flick and a decent thriller perfect for a rainy day. Catch it on a movie channel, or if you have a free spot in your Netflix que add it in.

    Rating: B-

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Look What I Got! Tagged and Awards!

    The blogging goodness continues with another round of Tag and the Kreativ Blogger award. Thank you to Alexia Chamberlynn for the tag and to Kevin Hiatt over at Graphophobia for the award.
    I shall hereby combine Alexia's 11 tag questions with Kevin's 7 interesting facts for the award.

    1. What setting best describes you? A forest with a winding path and tall, tall trees. (Psychoanalyze that!)

    2. What was your favorite childhood book? The very first book I can remember is a 7-page Hello Kitty that my grandmother read to me over and over. Considering the amount of times I put my poor grandmother through that torture, it is safe to say it was my favorite book.
    3. Besides reading and writing what are at least two of your favorite pastimes? Karate. I love martial arts and nothing is quite like it. I also enjoy TV surfing, because sometimes we all need a little down time.
    Photo credit: Sensei Thomas Casale, JSKA
    4. What is the coolest/strangest thing you've ever done? Hmm... I went to Japan to teach English after finishing grad school. Not so strange, but I think it is pretty cool. :)

    5. If any character from any book could be your best friend, who would it be? Hands down Sam from Lord of the Rings. That is one loyal friend.

    6. If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do? Oh I could see this getting me into a lot of trouble so...I plea the fifth!

    7. What famous person (dead or alive) do you consider a role model for your own aspirations? Some of the current authors in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres are HUGE inspirations for me. Here's three off the top of my head: Gena Showalter, Jeaniene Frost, Patricia Briggs.
    8. Which Greek or Roman (or other culture's mythological) deity would you be (either who you'd like to be or who you most resemble)? I'd go with Athena, because she used her intelligence in battle, unlike Ares who used more brute strength. I like a cunning deity.

    9. Would you like to marry a Vulcan? This will be a contradiction from my admiration of intelligence, but I don't think I could marry someone who suppressed their emotions.
    10. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? I find them entertaining, but we'll never know the truth, so I try not to buy into them too much. Well, except for that one about...

    11. If you were to reincarnate, what would you like to be? I have faith in reincarnation, so I'd like to put in a bid for the next lifetime...happy and healthy. That's all I'd ask.

    Now, onward to the awards! Here's some of my favorite blogging buddies, each deserving of the award. Claim your prize and tell us some interesting facts about you - 7 or 11 - winner's choice!
    1.  
    2. A. E. Martin
    3. Robin Weeks
    Congrats! Don't forget to grab your badge at the top of the page.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Tales of the Ghost Computer

    Blogger: I Love Thee, I Love Thee Not

    Let me explain why this is worthy of a Freaky Friday post. No, that'll take too long. Let me sum up. (Name that movie) Here I present to you a handy dandy Pros and Cons chart of my love-hate relationship with blogger.

    PRO CON
    • Simple to use
    • Easy to create custom designs
    • Keeps all followed blogs in one place
    • Fun apps and widgets
    • Great community
    • Gets me away from having to use Dreamweaver          
    • Technology is temperamental
    • Comments system is in flux (getting better)
    • Followed blogs disappear and reappear
    • Limited capabilities (needs more methods to include larger site)

    So, why is this freaky? Well, today I watched as all the blogs I follow disappeared from my dashboard. Poof! Gone.
    You're saying okay, so it was a technological glitch. No big deal. WHY is that freaky? Here's the kicker, as I stared at the screening, wondering how in the heck to get back all the blogs I followed something happened...
    The ghost computer started to put the blogs back. One by one they appeared in my list once more. I'm not talking about refreshing the page, or logging in and logging out. Nope. One minute the list was blank and I was cursing the computer, and the next second they started to pop into place. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a website with activity like that unless it is flash or a video. Creepy! Makes me want to call these guys...
    Have you ever had your computer start behaving freaky? Not in the technological annoying sense, but the oh my gosh there's a ghost in my computer way? Forget the zombie apocalypse. Are you prepared for the robot apocalypse?

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Writer Wednesday: Cover Reveal for Lisa Burnstein's PRETTY AMY

    "Life is a race, where some succeed,
    While others are beginning;
    'Tis luck, at times, at others, speed,
    That gives an early winning.
    But, if you chance to fall behind,
    Ne'er slacken your endeavor;
    Just keep this wholesome truth in mind:
    'Tis better late than never!"
    ~ John Dyer

    I'm a little late to the party, but I'm THRILLED to show you Lisa Burnstein's beautiful cover for her YA debut novel, PRETTY AMY. I met Lisa through the online writing boards, and I cannot wait for her book to be released on May 15th from Entangled Publishing. In short, she rocks! But, before we meet Lisa, let's learn about PRETTY AMY...
    "Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she's somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands, earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx, Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating rehabilitation techniques now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing, like she is nothing.

    Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it's worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over."

    Doesn't that sound awesome? Now, for more about Lisa...
    "Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Pretty Amy is her first novel. She never went to her senior prom.

    She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.

    She was a lot like Amy when she was in high school.

    She is still a lot like Amy."

    Pre-orders are available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    You can also enter to win your own copy of PRETTY AMY through 
    Lisa's Goodreads giveaway! Enter here.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Winners of the Twitter-Sized Pitch Contest

    Thank you to all of the participants of the Twitter-Sized Pitch Contest. The entries were fantastic! You each did such a great job on your pitches. It was so difficult to choose from among this talented group, but Fran, Jenn and I narrowed down the field and we're happy to announce the winners...

    L. L. McKinney 
    COVETED, a YA urban fantasy. 
    "Caleb Dunnelly can raise the dead, a handy little skill that's propelled him straight to the top of the Seven Deadly Sins' most wanted list."

    Christopher S. Ledbetter
    THE SKY THRONE, a YA fantasy
    "To become powerful enough to avenge an attack on his family, Zeus must access the power of The Sky Throne. But, doing so might kill him in the process."

    Juli Page Morgan
     CAREY ON, Contemporary Romance
    " A free-spirited flower child with the heart of June Cleaver finds true love with a British guitar god in Swinging London"


    Please check your inboxes for my email and send your queries and the first five pages of your manuscripts in the body of your response email. I'll work with the winners and offer my feedback, then the wonderful agents at Literary Counsel will read over the revised material. 

    For all of the participants, I wish you the best of luck in your writing. Watch this space for more contests and chances to win!

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Hurry! Hurry! Last Day to Enter the Twitter-Sized Pitch Contest!

    If you haven't submitted your pitch for a chance to win, you have until 4pm EST TODAY to enter. Three winners will receive a query and five page critique from me as well as feedback from Super Agents - Frances Black and Jennifer Mishler at Literary Counsel.
    So click HERE to read all about it and enter now.

    Winners will be posted on Monday. Good luck!