Friday, April 27, 2012

Freaky Friday: Leprechaun's Revenge

Syfy's original movie, Leprechaun's Revenge, is a Syfy sigh. In my defense, when I originally recorded the film on my DVR, I thought it was part of the Leprechaun series. Now THAT was a funny horror series. Did you remember Jennifer Aniston was in the first one? I didn't. Anyway, back to this 2012 Syfy original...
The leprechaun is not the sarcastic spouting monster from the other series, but a Treebeard wannabe without the awesome factor. This thing is a two-legged gold-eating beast with hooves and green blood. Sans witty remarks. The emaciated look doesn't help him either. It just makes me want to feed him a cracker.
There's only one Treebeard
In the far more hilarious series, the Leprechaun character uses all sorts of crazy stunts to hurt or kill his victims. Pogo stick anyone? In this film, they capture some of that by having the leprechaun drive a car to kill one of his victims. It's not funny, it's not scary, and it's sure as heck not creative. I mean, really, a car? This is a dark creature with centuries old magic and he uses a car? Grr...
Oh look at those gold earrings. Nom nom.
Any film with Billy Zane should add a few notches with brilliant one-liners like "What would you say if I told you I saw a Leprechaun?" but alas no. My poor Irish ancestors are spinning in their graves. Did you know four horseshoes can bind a leprechaun and a red clover exists with a curse attached to anyone who picks it? Yeah, me either.
Give me that gold name tag, Billy Zane!
If the above wasn't enough to deter you from the film, let me share my favorite lines:

"I thought this whole leprechaun stuff was a bunch of malarchy."
"What are you gonna tell your men, you're a lepre-cop?"

Okay, I kind of like the lepre-cop one. Damn you Billy Zane. I cannot stay mad at you even when you do terrible movies. But, I can steer horror fans away from this debacle. Alas, Syfy, you are not the Sci-fi or Sci-fi channel of my youth.

Rating: F+ (the plus is for Billy)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing Inspirations: A Trip to the Wolf Conservation Center

Inspiration comes in many forms. Part of being a writer is drawing on life's experiences and daily observations. Anything from a photo to a conversation to people watching to a rainbow sunset to (fill in the blank) can be source material for your work.
Over the weekend my rockin' co-writer Yelena Casale and I, along with super reader and friend, Melissa, visited the Wolf Conservation Center about an hour north of our homes. The trip was beyond priceless. We learned a bit about the history of wolves along with the differences in the various sub-species.
The education about wolves will undoubtedly help in creating our paranormal creatures. (Werewolves or shifters, anyone?) Yet, the larger prize was the opportunity to be surrounded by these majestic creatures in a beautiful and natural setting. Being city girls, we don't get to see too much of nature's wonders unless we escape the cement and steel jungle. Any chance to recharge the batteries and take in a country atmosphere is more than welcome.
How does this relate to writing? When you begin in the writing world, you may hear the old adage, "Write what you know." It's a good start, because it allows you to delve deeply into topics you already understand. However, I believe when you gain more experience and comfort with the craft, you should write not what you know, but what inspires you.
I don't know what it means to be a wolf. I don't have paws to run on the ground. I've never lived in a pack - although growing up with mostly male cousins, I understand some of it. Yet, the wolf dynamic, the beauty and grace of these creatures, inspires me. It may not be "what I know", but it is what ignites my creative fire.
For more about the Wolf Conservation Center click here. Yelena also gave a wonderful recap of our trip on her blog along with beautiful pictures. I highly recommend checking it out here. And for a last bit of fun, here is a video showing the collection of pictures and the wolves howling. Turn up your volume! And please ignore my human  attempts at howling.
 

What inspires you? Do you find the majestic in the mundane?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Calling All Teens!
Win a Designer Prom Dress!

You read that right.  Win a Designer Prom Dress.  The fabulous Lisa Burstein is celebrating the upcoming release of PRETTY AMY on May 15th by giving away 3 Size 8 Phoebe Couture evening dresses, generously donated by Kay Unger, and 2 $20 Sephora gift cards.

WOW!

PRETTY AMY starts on a prom night that goes horribly and hilariously wrong. Prom night or any special night doesn’t always go as planned. There is a lot you can’t control: the weather, your date’s breath and sometimes even the whim of a policeman.

Designer good. $200 Designer good!




But Hurry! Contest Ends 5/17!

To make this even MORE fun, some brave Entangled authors, editors, publicists and interns have given Lisa their prom photos. She will be posting them on her Facebook page over the next month as well!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Freaky Friday: Psychosis

Warning this review will be short and scathing. 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing even slightly redeeming about Psychosis. Another movie with a writer gone crazy - or is she actually the only one to be believed? I don't know. I don't care. Why, however, does the horror industry believe that all writers are psychopaths? I mean, yeah, we're a pretty quirky bunch...and okay, maybe crazy does fit. But, we don't all end up in padded rooms with a doctor throwing away the key. Well, most of us don't...I hope.
Staring at this block of cheese is more entertaining.
If you're wondering about the actual content of the movie, stop. Seriously, don't bother. It has no coherent storyline. In fact, to borrow a cliche, the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese. Charisma Carpenter couldn't save this debacle with Buffy and Angel's combined efforts. With no resolution in sight after 90 minutes, I'd like to sue writer and director for the time they took from my life.
Sorry girl. This ain't gonna help your career.
Rating: Big fat F.

PS Please don't waste your time. Don't believe me? Check out the other ratings around the internet. For once, the mass mob of critics is right!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Angry Robot's Open Door Submissions

Angry Robot, a leading publisher in "modern adult science fiction, fantasy and everything inbetween" is running Open Door submissions until April 30th. If you're unagented with a completed classic fantasy book, this is the spot for you.
Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot, is also jumping on the bandwagon and allowing submissions. They're searching for anything in the realm of Sci-fi or Fantasy. So, if you're unagented with a YA sci-fi or fantasy novel, check them out here.
 
Be sure to stick to the submission guidelines. You'll want to give them a few read overs to make sure you get it exact. Then, polish up those entries and send them before the deadline.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: Top 13 Superstitions

Friday the 13th...*cue spooky music*...is widely thought to be an unlucky day. The legend stems from various sources. One such theory proclaims that since 12 is the number of "completeness", the number thirteen is unlucky because it is "beyond completeness". For more specifics on this check out the "Friday the 13th Phobia Rooted in Ancient History" by John Roach in National Geographic. It's chock full of great details.

For this Friday the 13th, I present the 13 top common superstitions...


1. "Step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back." - Raise your hand if you ever avoided cracks in the sidewalk as a kid. *raises hand* Raise your other hand if you still do. *smiles*

2. "Don't walk under a ladder." - Something about the shape of a ladder being a triangle and a vortex. *makes googly eyes* I used to love tempting fate with this one!

3. "Break a mirror and you'll get 7 years of bad luck." - I'm sticking to this one. My mirror phobia will not allow me to mess with the evil mirror dwelling spirits.

4. "No opening an umbrella inside." - Other than the threat of breaking objects, this one makes no sense to me. I think it has something to do with offending a sun god?

5. "If a black cat crosses your path, you'll have 7 years of bad luck." - Another one! What's with the 7 years of bad luck? Why not 4 or 6 o 13? And why hate on the black cats???

6. "Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck." - I've found lots of pennies. I've picked them up. I've not had a day full of good luck. I feel cheated.

7. "Bad luck comes in threes." - I know I should say the question above...why not 4 or 6 or 13? Etc. But, this one does seem to fit. Granted it's probably my mind applying situations not connected in any way to one another, but...yeah, I'm partial to it.

8. "Cross your fingers." -  From my research this goes back to Christianity and creating the shape of the cross for good luck. Don't know if that's accurate (and I'm Buddhist, can't exactly make the shape of Buddha), but I do tend to cross my fingers, and toes when I can manage it. :)

9. "Carry a horseshoe for good luck." - Maybe I'll put it over my door if I'm feeling my Irish roots that day, but I'm not lugging it around with me. Besides, what about the horse that lost it?

10. "Knock on wood." - To defy the spirits! Similar to "Jinx", you use it when you say something like "Crossing that black cat didn't bring me bad luck, knock on wood." And yes, I do say it.

11. "A rabbit's foot is good luck." - Ew! Seriously, ew! Who carries around a rabbit's foot? I'll take my chances without one. Besides my corgi's foot looks like a rabbit's foot. I'll pet him for good luck instead.

12. "Toss that spilled salt over your left shoulder." - Salt has many properties associated with magic. It is said to ward off evil spirits. *sarcasm alert* And we all know the left side is the bad side! Bad lefties.

13. "Always say 'Bless You' after a person sneezes." - I think this is polite. But, apparently the ancient Romans thought the soul could pass through a sneeze. The bless you was a way of stopping the soul. Maybe next time, I'll try, "You shall not pass!"

Do you put faith in any of these superstitions? Which of your favorites did I miss?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Writer's Secrets: The Toolbox

Every writer has a collection of secret tools they use to help in various stages of the process. Today, I'd like to share with you some of mine.

Writing:
  1. Beginnings: a post by literary agent Lucienne Driver about the Do's and Don't's of beginnings. 
  2. Headhopping, Authorial Intrusion, and Shocked Expressions: an article by Anne Marble.
  3. Filtering Through Character: brilliant post about writing from your character's POV by Lisa Gail Green.
  4. The Process: NYT & USA Today Bestselling author, Jeaniene Frost's writing process.
  5. On Pacing: great tips about pacing issues by NYT Bestseller, Kiersten White.
  6. Author Intrusion - 12 Pitfalls to Avoid: fantastic post by one of my favorite authors, Roni Loren. 
Editing:
  1. Editing For the Second Draft: from the amazing ladies at Girls with Pens.
  2. 6 Steps for Your Final Edit: another awesome one from the Girls with Pens.
  3. One-Pass Manuscript Revision: if you can get past the brutality, it's an excellent method from Holly Lisle.
  4. Revision Checklist: from the guru, Nathan Bransford.
Formatting:
  1. Manuscript Format: everything you ever wanted to know. (Side note: I do, however, disagree on one point and use italics)
  2. Passive Voice: how to set Microsoft Word to search for passive voice.  
  3. Agent's Advice on Formatting: additional points on formatting from literary agent Vickie Motter.
Synopsis:
  1. Synopsis Wizard: BEST invention ever for creating a synopsis from Shawntelle Madison.
  2. Nailing Your Synopsis: key points from the rockin' writers of Oasis for YA.They also have additional links on this page.
Querying:
So many excellent sources on this hair-pulling topic. It'll require a whole other post! Stay tuned to next week's Writer Wednesday for a list.

What are some of your secret writer tools? Bring them to light! List your favorite posts, articles, or websites in the comments below. But, save those query sources for next week. :D

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Inherently Lazy Workaholic

No, this is not a tongue twister. You read it right. I am an inherently lazy workaholic. What? What's that? It's a paradox, you say? A false proposition? Allow me to break it down.

My mind says...
"I've got to get this done now! If I do this amount of work in this amount of time, why I'll almost be done! Waahahaa!"

Then, I run around like a chicken screaming...
"It shall be done! It shall be done!"

Next, comes a horse race where I work like a madwoman or the burning fires of a thousand suns...
"Huzzah! Watch me go!"

But, wait! What's this?
"Ugh. What? What now?."

Burnout. I sludge around like a snail moaning...
"Never. Never again. I can't do this." 

And my inherently lazy nature takes over so that I say...
"Oh look TV."

While staring zombielike at the big old tube (can we still call TVs tubes?)...
*drools*

Inevitably, I pull myself off the couch and the twitching starts again...
"I've got to get this done now."

And so begineth the cycle all over again.

Are you an inherently lazy workaholic? How do you find the elusive balance?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Tale of Horror and Woe...
Or a Practical Joke

When I was sixteen years old, I moved in with my aunt and cousin. Unfortunately, they had only two bedrooms. My cousin, MJ, was seven years old, so not the ideal roommate. Only one possible space remained...a large hallway room, which was perfect except for a small detail. It had only three walls. Needless to say, I found myself often wishing for a fourth wall. I never did get that wall, before inevitably moving out, but I did wind up with several fun stories. And for this belated April Fools Day, I think it best to go with a story about Auntie N playing a practical joke on my poor unsuspecting - and completely petrified - best friend, Lynn.
Allow me to set the stage. Saturday night, girls' night. Auntie N is out on a date. Cousin MJ is staying over at a friend's house. Lynn and I are preparing for an evening of movie mania. My pick: horror movie classic, The Exorcist. Lynn's pick: Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast*.
*As a rule, Lynn only watched horror movies, if it could be followed up with a Disney flick.

Around 1am, Lynn is properly rocking back and forth on the couch, arms folded around her knees, and singing "Be Our Guest" to herself. I'm sprawled on the same sofa wishing I hadn't indulged in a fourth brownie and thinking about how I could make it to the bathroom without having to look in any mirrors*.
*See my mirror phobia post and that will make sense.

Auntie N returns home to find Lynn and I still awake. We tell her about the movies and our girls' night. She can't believe I got Lynn to watch The Exorcist and asks, "Isn't that the one where the girl spits pea soup?" My teenage self excitedly replies, "Oh yeah. That's the one." Lynn nods, but doesn't say too much about the movie. Auntie N gives us some of the details of her date, feigns exhaustion and ushers us off to bed. Lynn goes to the bathroom first to ready herself for bed, while Auntie N and I conspire in a most awesome plan.
 
Lynn is supposed to be sleeping in MJ's bed - he is at a friend's house - but since she is too scared after the film, Auntie N agrees to let her sleep in the large bed with her. The beginning of the end for poor Lynn. Auntie N says that she'll go lay in bed and I'm to await her signal. I happily agree and go to my own bed - in the hall. After Lynn finishes in the bathroom, she goes to my Auntie N's room and drifts off to sleep. The house goes quiet, very quiet. I hear the signal and peak around the door into Auntie N's room.
Auntie N is convulsing on the bed and shouting, "Lynn! Lynn!" Lynn comes flying out of the room, down the hall, into the living room, through the kitchen, back down the hall and leaps onto my bed. She's screaming in terror while I'm too struck by laughter to do much. Auntie N comes out of her room, hair askew, fingers like claws, and says, "Mother's in here with us, Lynn." 
After much cursing, shrieking, and eventually laughing by Lynn, Auntie N and I finally got to say, "Gotcha."

Not the kindest of jokes, but an instant classic. What's the best - or worst - practical joke you've ever played?