Friday, July 29, 2011

TGIF! Heck yeah! The weekend cometh!

It's Friday.  So what time is it?  It's time to get something off my chest.

Now, to be honest with you, I managed to make it through this entire week without something I thought was rant-worthy...until I read the latest blog by Amanda Hocking.  Mind you, it isn't Amanda Hocking I want to rant about.  It has to do with some of the reaction to her recent decision to accept a book deal with one of the Big 6.  You can check out her blog by clicking here.

I thought it was rather down-to-earth of her to post this blog because it shows she has a concern for her readers and understandably doesn't want them to feel disenfranchised.  That's commendable.  But then there is the reference that sent my blood a-boiling...that this decision makes her a 'sell out'.  Selling out to who?  Selling her books to a publisher who will be able to get them mass paperback produced, boxed in cute trilogy sets and placed on end cap display at Wal-Mart, Target or even Costco (does Costco sell books?)???  Really?  Selling out because she was given the option for a big advance and like any business savvy person, she took it?  Hello...she'd already made a cool million or two with her e-books so money wasn't a big motivator.  I'm just putting this out there because if that's the case, then most writers have a little sell out in them.  Otherwise, no one would query an agent, query an editor or ever hope our story could get optioned by some producer in Hollywood (Hello Jerry Bruckheimer or David Heyman!  If you're reading this, call me!)

I'd like to say I'm coming to her defense, but I don't know her personally.  Plus, she's a grown woman quite capable of defending herself so she doesn't need piddly ol' me.  I'm standing up for all of us who write because, darn it...we love it.  And by gosh, who wouldn't be thrilled if a well-financially-backed publisher decided that our story, whether already published or just fresh on the scene, was worth being picked up?  To be called 'sell out' for one heck of a good business move is sad.  But I suppose that sort of criticism comes with the territory.

As a reader, I look forward to getting the trilogy when it gets published.  From what I understand, the books will get the kind of editorial scrubbing needed to improve upon the reading experience.

So I wonder, what are your thoughts?  Should an e-book writer be considered a 'sell out' if/when they get picked up by one of the Big 6?  As a reader, would you be upset that a favorite e-book writer changed publishing avenues?  Even though my rant clearly shows I think she made a smart decision, perhaps a comment here can put things into a perspective I hadn't considered.  So please share.  That's what this is all about.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movie Mayhem

It's Thursday, time to consider what in the world you want to do with your weekend.  Laying around like a sack of russet potatoes has it's attractions.  Hey, it doesn't cost you anything extra to force your rump from the couch, walk into your kitchen and find something to eat while you re-watch all your DVR episodes of True Blood.  Now that I think about it, that's not a bad idea at all.

But you might be thinking of getting some sun, maybe just the amount it takes for you to walk to your car, drive on the road with a pair of necessary shades, walk from your car to your destination and the return trip home.  Depending on how far you park, that could be a lot of sun.  And you could make that destination the movie theatre, a refreshing welcome after being outside, especially if you're where I'm at.  I think Lucifer is visiting his granny in Texas and needed the temperature to remain in the triple-digits to accommodate him.  Seriously, it really is that hot.  But not inside the theatre.

So what the heck to see?  Well, there a few movies opening this Friday to fit some distinct moods.

The Smurfs
Mood: Nostalgia, Comedy
Yes, our lovely little blue cartoon friends from childhood have managed to swindle some producer into bringing them to the big screen, CGI style.  So now we get to wonder, alongside our children, why Smurfette is the only girl out of all those smurfs...hmmmm....only now we get to wonder about this as they jump out at us in 3D.
Cowboys and Aliens
Mood: Eye Candy and Action
Olivia Wilde for the guys and Daniel Craig for the ladies.  Science-fiction all-around as the wild west meets space, outer space.  Or rather, they do the same thing most aliens seem to want to do...take over the world.  With guns ablazing - maybe an arm laser or two - buckle down and see what happens.
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Mood: Anti-Eat, Pray, Love comedy
Ready for a "man makeover"?  Take a ride with this sad, sad divorcee.  He's hooked up with a young dog to learn some new tricks.  Who said you couldn't do that with old dogs?  Will it all work out the way he hopes?  Only one way to find out.

And this last one hasn't had any US marketing play from what I've seen.  Guessing that means limited screen locations so may not be in your area.  I'm including it because I am a Don Cheadle fan.  The movie is called The Guard.  It's marked as a cop comedy and appears to have that flavor of pitting two personalities with each other so they can eventually overcome/appreciate their differences for the sake of solving the case.  Watch out!  If crude comedy turns you off, this definitely may not fit the bill for you.

Check out each trailer and please share your thoughts on which, if any, movie would interest you enough to abandon the air conditioner at home and please share why.  :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Perseverance. Is it in you?


On the road to getting published, there are plenty of bumps, potholes and downright obstacle courses.  Some of these come in the form of self-doubt, writer's block, or shyness in regards to self-promotion.  There's one I like to refer to as the time bandit.  He shows up in a suit of procrastination and is armed with a gun.
His bullets: excuses, often bad ones.

Well, I found an interesting blog post from Joe Konrath.  His blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, seems pretty informative.  He recently posted something that would be a stab in the heart to my fledgeling blog, but was a straight-to-the-point reminder of the importance of writing and gave the bird to the time bandit.  Are You Writing goes for the punch from the first line and leaves the reader either offended, upset or inspired.  I read it and left energized.  Of course, it helped that my recent writing bug has me in a frenzy working on a YA paranormal romance.  For those of you who have read my other work, this isn't a far stretch for me but it's a little different from the adventure theme I tend to favor.

When it comes to accomplishing a goal you have in mind, what are some of the things that can sidetrack you?  Please feel free to share this goal as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To E or not to E...publish, that is

Comic Con had a pretty good turn out.  Okay...they had a fantastic turn out!

Yes, if you're looking, you'll notice the slightest hint of green in my aura.

Now that the moment has passed, I'd like to briefly mention something that I admire and I find inspiring.  There was an author at Comic Con who was a part of a panel hosted by literary-agent-turned-author, Nathan Bransford.  The name of this panel member:  Amanda Hocking.  She's being touted as a literary phenom for her huge ebook success and recent contract of $2 million dollars with St. Martins Press in a 4 book deal.  For those of you who get Publishers Lunch or Publishers Weekly, that is "a hubba hubba deal".
Maybe they don't have a deal description like that...but it's certainly fitting.  This isn't the normal tale of write>query>land agent>get acquired by editor>book success.  She went directly to the internet with My Blood Approves and over time, grew a loyal fan base.  As many other self-publishers have proven, epublishing can be a successful avenue.

What are your thoughts?  Is it possible that you can only get the best books by having literary agents 'trim the fat', so to speak, or can others find a similar level of success as Amanda Hocking with epublishing?  Do you have any epub authors that are your favorites?  Please feel free to share.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Pinch of Patience

When I tell people I like to write stories, and that I have, in fact, written more than one manuscript, I get the round eyed "Oh really" look.  When it first started happening, I thought the reaction was a little off.  In my mind, anybody could sit down and write a novel length story.  Get a good story idea and there you go.  One day, after saying these words to a coworker, she promptly said, "Anybody can write a book but not everybody does it."  After asking her to clarify, she went on to say, "Not every person has the patience, the imagination, the patience, the time, the patience...did I say patience?"

Okay, so I got the point she was getting at.

Knowing the importance patience plays in the writing process is one thing, but last night I got to see it in action in my small little world.  I had my daughter fed - sort of, she was taking forever to eat her dinner, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief on television, a hankering to continue the rewrite of my current project and another story bursting at the seams in my mind.  Instead of handling things patiently, I tried to do all things at once...not a good idea.  So I erased the nonsensical stuff I added to my current project and allowed myself to understand that the time to work on it would come soon.  I then helped my finally-finished-eating daughter to get settled and we had some quality time watching Percy Jackson together.  Then I was able to sit back down at the computer and type out some of my thoughts for my new story.  It all made sense given I took my time...for once.

Score 1 for patience.

What are your thoughts on the part patience plays in the writing process?

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Salute to You

Fridays make for great Rant Days.  Instead of the normal rant about what has me upset, perturbed, confused, shocked or put me in a willy-woowoo mood, I want to say...

Thank you.

If you have stopped by, commented, decided to follow by e-mail and/or joined the site to follow my blog, I truly thank you.

Blogging for the sake of blogging could be interesting to some, but I'm honored that you've chosen to pull up a chair and share a moment of your time with me, here.  As I continue along in this blogging life, it's nice to have good company...each and every one of you.

So, thank you

As a side note, for any of you at Comic Con in San Diego, CA, have a good time for me as well :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Captain America, you're up next

As we roll through this summer of blockbusters, let's check out a couple of big hitters:

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon did some box office damage.  It was released on June 29, 2011 and, according to Box Office Mojo, has grossed over $300,000,000 domestically.  Yes, a lot of zeros.  With a production budget of $195,000,000, movie goers were treated to a third installment of Earth-saving alien protection from Optimus Prime and his crew of giant robot machines who transform into patriotic diesel trucks, power cars and other forms of transportation so they can occassionally fit in (I love you O-Prime and Bumble Bee!)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 steamed in working the Potter gravy train for all its worth.  It was released on July 15, 2011 and, according to Box Office Mojo, has grossed over $200,000,000 domestically.  Millions of loyal, die-hard Potter fans gave a collective around-the-world sigh when this movie was released.  For years, Harry, Hermoine, Ron and the characters of the Potter books have provided some form of written or cinematic entertainment.  Though the thrill will never be gone, J K Rowling brought this storyline to a proper closure.  No more wondering about what obstacles the half-blood wizard would have to face his next year at Hogwarts.  A tip of the hat to all you mates.

Now, July 22, 2011, it is Captain America's turn to wow or disappoint jittery comic book lovers and enthusiastic movie buffs.  Midnight showings usually happen on the Wednesday before the Friday nationwide release.  Was there one in your area?  If so, did you attend?  Do you plan to see Captain America?  Please feel free to share and make use of the First Amendment right this patriotic comic book hero fought hard to protect.

Movie Trailer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Was it my fault?

Eulogy for Borders

Seems it's been in the making for a while.  I have to give you credit for putting up a fight.  Jan. 27, 2011, GE Capital sent out a lifeline, allowed you to get a little closer to the surface.  But by July 18, 2011, the jig was up.  The trump card had been played but could not pull you through to keep the stores in survival mode.

My heart goes out to the people who will be left unemployed in the wake of Borders' liquidation.  As your press release stated, Borders currently operates 399 stores and employs approximately 10,700 employees. Subject to the Court's approval, under the proposal, liquidation is expected to commence for some stores and facilities as soon as Friday, July 22, with a phased rollout of the program which is expected to conclude by the end of September. Borders intends to liquidate under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code and, as a result, Borders expects to be able to pay vendors in the ordinary course for all expenses incurred during the bankruptcy cases.

10,700 people...a lot of jobs lost.

Perhaps the economy is to blame.  Maybe the ebook-olution, due to substantial advances in technology, should bear fault.  Whatever the cause - maybe even me for choosing Barnes and Nobles and Kindle ebooks - you must know that we appreciated the part you played.  Now it is time to say goodbye to your brick and mortar.

Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust.
***
Now, as an aspiring writer, I'm not fully sure how to feel about this.  Brick and mortar bookstores appear to be following the pattern of Blockbuster and Hollywood Videos when Netflix and Torrent streaming hit the scene.  The nearest physical Blockbuster I've seen is a blue box at the 7 Eleven down the street from my paying gig.  I'm sure a Redbox is somewhere nearby as well.

What say you about these events?  Will Barnes and Noble locations be next?  Do you prefer the feel of a hardcover book in your hand, or maybe a paperback edition?  Are eReaders you favorite?  Please feel free to share your thoughts. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bonus Post :-)

I want to share a flash-fiction story called Just in Time.  Its a steampunk piece.  If you'd like to get some understanding of what this subgenre is, please click here.

Please enjoy :-)

Just in Time

Victoria,” I whispered.
The name soothed me like a birdsong. My new identity.  Reinventing myself every generation or three thrilled me, even four hundred years after my first breath.
I pulled the veil of my hat further down my face. The afternoon sun battled a stack of clouds in an effort to shine upon those of us waiting for the locomotive. I looked to the giant bubble in the center of the train depot. Inside, gears clicked and moved rhythmically. However, its spinning gyros moved the clock’s hands precisely forty-five seconds too slow, at least according to my timepiece. It had never been wrong. I expected nothing less given the man who--ahem--relinquished it to me was known as a charlatan, but he had impeccable timing, may he rest in pieces.  That was a hundred years ago. I was Jean-Marie then, a youthful model floating capriciously through France’s art circuit. Now, I’m Victoria of New East London, though I’ve yet to decide my occupation.
The announcer broadcast overhead, prompting those of us not tagged with voluntary id chips to place our tiny translator buds into our ears. With mine sewn into my gloves, I opened my parasol and brought it to rest on my shoulder so I could hear the message.
“Your attention, please. The 2:10 to Old York was delayed,” he said. “It shall arrive in three minutes. Thank you for your patience.”
Sighing, I strolled a few feet back from the railway. Though the sun fought a losing battle, some of its rays penetrated the glass ceiling, making me cringe. An observer would have suspected my corset or perhaps the ankle length, purple silk dress over petticoat and knee-length pantaloons caused me discomfort.  Yet when I stood in the shadows of the nearby corner, I felt a weight lift from me, as if fending off the slightest bit of sunshine drained some of my walking wasteland powers. Having gone two weeks without a feeding, I’d reached my eleventh hour.
That’s when I spotted him. Rather, he spotted me. Our gazes met briefly, just enough for me to see the familiar look in his eyes. They shifted restlessly, scanning the depot. I lifted my hand back to my hat to primp my veil. My purse, dangling from my wrist, captured his attention.
Dressed handsomely from his puff tie and club collar shirt on down to his well-kept boots, no one would have known him for a rogue. With goggles in place over his sporting cap, he looked every bit the steam engine enthusiast as many other gentlemen circulating through the terminus. He walked nonchalantly in my direction, stopping briefly to admire the giant bubble clock. Lifting a golden timepiece from his pocket, he realized the time was now or never, so he strolled in my direction, avoiding eye contact. As he drew closer, my heart raced and I took another step into the shadows.
Hairs stood on end upon my neck as I felt his warm breath from behind. “Beauty shouldn’t stand alone in the dark,” he whispered in my ear. I felt the pressure of a pulse pistol upon my back and heard it whir to life.  The locomotive whistled its approach.
He sniffed repeatedly, another sign of a skiff head. I felt sure of my decision. Sensing his addiction so closely, putting him out of his misery seemed more like a favor for him.
“Just the purse, lass, an’ we’re square.” He sniffed some more.
I smiled. “You’re just in time.”
“Eh?” he asked, but I’d already lowered and closed my parasol and whipped around with inhuman speed.
The steam train squealed to a stop as I opened my mouth and exhaled a dark vapor that covered my would-be mugger. I drew in a long breath, robbing him of his life energy, leaving a heap of ash and clothing. I bent low and snatched his timepiece before stepping out of the shadows. The train’s arrival left a lingering mist of steam, providing the perfect cover for me to waltz away.
The conductor shouted, “All aboard.” I stood second in line and hurried to my seat. A porter stopped by and asked what I wanted for dinner, as it was included with my ride.
“No, thank you,” I said, relaxing in my seat. “I’ve already had my fill.” The porter left and I checked my newly acquired timepiece against my old one. I grinned as I realized both were in perfect sync.

Openings

Well written blurbs on a dust cover or the back of a book can intrigue a reader.  When the author follows this up with a captivating opening line, well, speaking as a reader myself, I've just GOT to have that book.

Case in point:
"The Reverend Mother used to tell acolytes that if men were going to brawl, they should at least be naked and glistening with oil."

STOP.

Naked?  Glistening?  Brawling or not, someone get me a fan!  This first line hooked me and the rest of Touch of Fire, by paranormal romance sensation Maria Zannini, never let me go.

Here's another example:
"Dangling by her fingertips from a parapet battlement, fourteen summer old Vhina Drielle T'Evagduran glanced to the terrace fifty paces below."

The word choice paints a powerful picture with one line.  You know this character is in danger and feel an immediate investment in her well being, also drives you to NEED to know what happens next.  Brilliant sci-fi/fantasy author Will Greenway continues painting a stunning page-turning tale of Vhina's adventure in Child of Ascendants

Let's not forget cinema.  One of my favorite openings EVER is the scene of Trinity escaping the agents in the first installment of the epic Matrix series.  When she leaps into the air, time pauses.  She's crane style in panorama.  All I can say is "Wow!!".  For the guys, the painted on - or at least it looks painted on - latex outfit certainly works 'eye candy mojo'.  I just think it's awesome she kicks all kinds of tail.

What about you?  Is there an opening line of a book or opening scene of a movie that really yanked you in by your shirt collar?  Please feel free to share.  For books, please share the title and author's name (or at least what you can remember.)  This way, others can have a chance to check those out as well.

The books mentioned in this blog are courtesy of some smart editors acquiring excellent work at Samhain Publishing and Writers Exchange E-Publishing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Comic-Con International, the craze is just a couple of days away

Do you like comic books?  Perhaps you think Samurai Champloo is the best thing to happen to animation since the discovery of yellow and blue making green.  Maybe neither one of these really grab you, but the movie, Captain America, makes you want to jump up and chase your own tail.  If just one of these excites you, then Comic-Con 2011 is the place to be from Wednesday, July 21st through Sunday, July 24th.
Actually, badges are all sold out.  There will be no onsite registration.  So if you don't have your badge already, then you're like me, frowning on the outside wishing you could be smiling on the inside of the convention center with the tens of thousands gathering for this phenomonal event.

If you're wondering what all the hoopla is about, then consider the action: Children's Film Festival, conference on the future of comics, autographs, anime-galore, panels and more.  There's so much to do, so much to see, so much more to experience.  Your head will spin!  Wait...sorry...got excited just thinking about it.

You're probably wondering where this fantastic pow wow is happening.  Well, even the location is wonderful: San Diego, CA.  Please pardon my bias.  I fell in love with being a 30 minute ride from the beach when I lived there a couple of years ago.  Kinda miss that.  And even though I am unable to participate in person this year, I look forward to when I can return to the land of sand and sun...just so I can ignore all that nature for three to four straitght days of fun at Comic-Con.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plot Device - a good view

Along with reading and writing, watching good shows or good movies make for great past times as well.  One show I resisted for a long time was True Blood.  Now these are vampires to watch.  Nothing against the Twilight series because that was and is a hit-maker, but I just don't like my vampires sparkling like they've been rolling in glitter.  So I have to give myself a tap on the hand for putting off watching True Blood this long.  I just hope they are NOT going the Heros route and take the plot into an unsustainable direction .**shaking two fists angrily at the crazy plot they tried with my used-be-favorite-show**
So now my plan is to Netflix the first two/three seasons so I can be fully caught up (Yes, I know, I used Netflix as a verb like we've grown accustommed to using friend as a verb for Facebook lol!!!)
Now...on to somethig that has nothing to do with vampires.  I visited Pub Rants, a very helpful blog by literary agent Kristin Nelson.  She posted something that turned out to be a great way to while a few minutes away.
Here's the video.  Hope you enjoy :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

I had an idea...

It was a great idea for a story.  Having dealt with the loss of my mother and some life changes, I thought, "Hey, this would make a great overcomer story!"  Fictionalized of course.  Didn't think I could handle making things too personal.  Some emotions just weren't meant for re-visiting.

So on I went, typing away on my very first laptop, dreaming of the overnight sensation I'd become.  I completed a draft, did some editing and thought, "Alright world!  Here comes my story."
Then reality hit...

HARD.

Here's what happened:  I called myself entering my story, then titled When Pebbles Fall, into a writing contest.  Sent it in, cheesy grin on my face because my story was AWESOME!  No one could tell me different...

The judges ripped my story into teeny, tiny pieces with their critiques.  By the time I finished reading their responses, my ego was little more than confetti.  I even thought of halting my writing altogether.  Instead, I took some time to take in what they shared.  I'm glad I did.  Sadly, they were spot on.  I'd distanced myself too much and it was evident in the story.  I lacked real transitions.  My point of view (POV) sucked, truly.  I couldn't keep it in one person's view very well.  They gave me decent marks for content, but not so much on the delivery.  I had to own the very weak job I'd done editing and realize there was more to this writing thing than just having an idea.

Since that time, so many years ago, I've done some growing up.  I've learned that two, three or four sets of eyes beat my own hands down.  Being humble and asking for help from those you know and trust isn't all that scary.  Plus, more writers than we know took several years to become overnight sensations.  So I continue on this pursuit of publishness, inviting followers of this blog to share their input on all things reading and writing.