Friday, October 28, 2011

Movie Review: In Time

From IMDB:
In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage - a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system.

I am noticing a pattern here, and that is: If all the "know-it" people (aka: critics) don't like a movie, chances are that I WILL.

Much as I was pleasantly surprised with Green Lantern, I enjoyed every action-packed minute of "In Time".

Before I start my critique, I want to say that enjoying the movie was a huge relief for me! There really are some awful movies recently and I'm glad to see a good one snuck through the rabble. Also, I wrote a REMARKABLY similar story, about time as currency. This is my disclaimer in case I mean to publish it in the future :P I DID have this idea before I saw this movie ;) But all in all, this was a relief, because it was an idea I had, and it was very well executed. To the critique!

My biggest concern was when the plot got a little hazy, there were plenty of RUN RUN RUN! scenes. It almost made me feel like flashing something shiny in your eyes, because you got so distracted you forgot to pay attention to that small snag in the plot.

Despite that, I LOOOOOOOOOVED this movie. I went with the beau and my two 14-year-old brothers and ALL of us loved it. It's more a guy's movie than a girl's, but there is enough romance to pacify the non-action-affiliated love crowd :)

I found the "time" references very witty! Things we say without even thinking about it, that take on a whole new meaning when time=money=life. The concept of time, becomes Time, with a capital and right in front of your face. "I don't have Time for this" literally might mean, "I have only 4 hours to live and this is not important enough to spend it that way."

Loans dealt in Time, at the exorbitant 30% interest rate, someone might say, "I don't have the Time to pay that back!"


A con for the movie for me, was that the father's back story was not explored a little more. You really end up wanting a flashback, or some sort of scene to really clarify the main TimeKeeper's line, "Your father said the same thing, twenty years ago."


There were a few clever twists on the time references, for example: the local time-stealing gang are known as "Minutemen". For some reason I got a really big kick out of that. Then, of course, Justice goes by the name the TimeKeepers. Very, very cool. And decking them out MIB style only adds icing to the cake ;)

The cost of things is quite strange, when computed in Time. Four minutes for a cup of coffee? Is it worth it, when you think like that? A MONTH for that sit-down meal??? I also thought the whole Time Zone distinction was VERY clever!

I don't care for Justin Timberlake as an actor, but I admit he was pleasantly surprising in this movie. Amanda Seyfried (Red Riding Hood fame), the lead female, also did a very nice job.

All in all, I found the characters 3 dimensional, believable, and full suspension of disbelief in the theater. I left the cinema wanting to check my arm for my Time! I can't give it 10 stars because while it was a fantastic movie, there aren't really any catchy lines that I think I can inside-joke about with my friends. None that come immediately to mind.

I would recommend this movie. I plan on watching it again! I give "In Time" (they really should have thought of a better title) 9 seconds out of 10!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Movie Review: Tangled

From Amazon: Tangled

Disney presents a new twist on one of the most hilarious and hair-raising tales ever told. Your whole family will get tangled up in the fun, excitement and adventure of this magical motion picture.
When the kingdom's most wanted - and most charming - bandit Flynn Rider hides in a mysterious tower, the last thing he expects to find is Rapunzel, a spirited teen with an unlikely superpower - 70 feet of magical golden hair! Together, the unlikely duo sets off on a fantastic journey filled with surprising heroes, laughter and suspense

When I first saw previews for this movie, I thought it might be a fun watch. I've read many different versions of the Rapunzel story (one of my favorites being that the mother was pregnant and was craving some very specific lettuce that only grew in the old witch's garden). Instead of lettuce, this story revolved around a piece of the sun that falls to earth, blooms into a flower and reverses the aging process when sung to.


So the queen gets sick and they use the flower to make a magical elixir, thus passing the power onto Rapunzel via her hair. The catch is: when you cut her hair, it goes from golden to brown and loses all its magical powers. I can't help think... stereotyping much? We brunettes have got powers too! :)

The evil witch steals Rapunzel away, locks her in the tower and then convinces her she is her mother. The woman is a witch with a capital B. Wait until you hear her song, "Mother Knows Best". Cree~~py!

I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. It had a lot of action and adventure and the best character in the whole thing was Maximus, the palace horse. He really steals every scene he's in. The princess was the most believable teenager/just-turned-18-year-old I think I've seen in any Disney movie, being slightly vapid, very excitable and somewhat selfish. The man-thief with a heart of gold, Flynn Rider, was incredibly cheesy, but the romantic scenes did give a little flutter to the heart strings.

Rapunzel has a sidekick, a chameleon named Pascal (what's wrong Disney, running out of sidekick animals?) whom she apparently can understand semi-sign Chameleo-speak while he understands English. (Convenient.)

The witch is a nightmare of a "mother" and makes me cringe, just thinking of dealing with a woman like that. Her passive aggressive comments (such as telling Rapunzel, size 0, she shouldn't go out in public because she's "chubby"... just kidding! *ho ho ho evil laughter*) left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable.

All in all, it was a movie I would share. It is definitely one I would let kids watch, because aside from the Ignoring Mother's Wishes And Doing What I Want aspect, it's a fun little movie.

And seriously, Maximus totally steals the show.

I give Tangled 8 hairbrush/accessories out of ten:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Review: Grave Encounters

On Amazon: Grave Encounters

Lance Preston and the crew of Grave Encounters, a ghost-hunting reality television show, are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. In the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted: it's alive, and it has no intention of ever letting them leave.

It's Halloween time, so of course scary movies get a bump up the To Watch list. Grave Encounters is an indie horror film that I was surprised to discover was released this year. I have a tendency to be a little behind on movies that I don't actually go to the theater to see. This was actually released September 9th, but being indie, was quickly released to DVD after its theater run. You know, instead of mindlessly waiting a year?

The previews for it looked excellent, in the way of psychothrillers. Honestly though, the previews are TOO thorough. There were some very memorable scenes in the movie that were downgraded to "acceptable" because I knew to expect the surprise from the trailers.

This is another one of those "made to be real" movies ala Blair Witch or The Last Exorcism. I actually have a hard time with these movies because for some reason the jostling camera makes me motion sick. I'd like to note I have no problem on boats, in cars, rollercoasters or merry-go-rounds...

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, that there is a mixture of "live" footage and stationary cameras. They set up cameras all over the hospital to capture the supernatural footage, as well as what they were taking with them. It was not a superb, but a viable excuse for the style of filming. It was enough that I could suspend disbelief for the length of the movie :)

The ending is what you would suspect, though the paths of some characters in the movie may surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed Grave Encounters and I would watch it again during a spookfest, and definitely again with someone who hasn't seen it (like watching Saw again - just to see them jump!) Especially for a low budget indie film, I was very impressed with the visual effects and talent.

I give Grave Encounters 8 frights out of 10.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Suckiness of Man

Today we left my house and went down a few streets to pick up some dinner. I happened to check my watch on my way out the door and it took us less than 15 minutes to return home.

In that time, my car, in my driveway was broken into, all the change was stolen, the glove box was completely emptied and rifled through and my Tom Tom GPS and cord (but not the window mount?) was stolen.

Fifteen minutes to return home and feel utterly violated, scared, furious, depressed, heart-broken. Andy bought me that GPS. I use it - need it - for work.

I don't care about the change. They probably got about 75 cents. I'm poor. I don't have money to leave lying around. But you come onto my property, get into MY car, steal MY gifts? Then you leave my car door open, so my battery runs down from the overhead light (that's how we knew someone had been in the car in the first place), like you're leaving some sort of message that you have the dominance and the right to take my valuables? And when we ask the neighbors, we find at least two other cars have been broken into the past few days? (Way to drop the ball, neighbors, if you'd said something to us, I'd have locked my doors. At least I informed other neighbors!)

I don't swear on here often, but I hope the police catch those fucking jackasses and they get what's coming to them. There is no cause for this sort of violation.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd

A Monster Calls is a story about a grade-school boy, Conor, dealing with his mother's deteriorating condition due to cancer.

This book had a lot of hype for me, a lot of people saying it's the must read of 2011. All in all, I had one laugh-out-loud moment and one tear-jerker moment. This book is teen fiction, which means I could read the entire thing in an hour. However, I chose to read it slowly and really savor the images, so I took three days to complete it.

It was recommended I read the book in hardcover and I am glad I did. The pictures, especially of the yew monster were pretty amazing, even in gray scale. They do add a certain element of "being there" to the story.

It was a decent story and I mostly enjoyed it, but I did find it seemed to drag a bit toward the end. The monster was a very thought-provoking character and really stole the story for me, much more so than Conor or his misunderstood semi-barbaric grandmother. I also found Conor's dad to be a completely aggravating loser of a man.

In the book's defense, as soon as I finished it, I turned around and loaned it out. It's a good story, as I said. I do think people should read this book, and I agree it should be read in a format in which the pictures can really be studied - this is the type of book that was made for print over digital.

I'm not sure I'll read it again, or won't read it again, unless I get an urge to delve into the pictures again (the most likely scenario). The brick-and-mortar hardcover price was staggering, I would have liked to see it priced more in the $12 than the $20 range.

I'll give A Monster Calls 7 yew berries out of 10.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Double Up

So I've been working pretty hard, trying to get that next bit and that next bit out! "Youth" is coming along very nicely, it's a very clean story. There isn't a lot to bog me down - the story doesn't take weird turns, it's this, then this, then that! As a result, the length has doubled in the past few days, pushing past 7k already.

I'm still amazed at the power this story has over me. It's not just how I get so immersed in that world, it's how I see things and my heart is wringing just to try and describe them. This story feels very real to me, more like I witnessed it happening then made it up off the top of my head.

I originally pictured it as a short about 10k, but Andy said, "You shouldn't waste this on a short - you should make a novel out of this." I can't guarantee a length, in my opinion, a story is told when it's finished. Whether that be a 2k slice of life, or a 574k doorstop (coughAtlasShruggedcough), a story is a story when it's finished.

"Youth" isn't finished yet, and there are a number of checkpoints it has to pass before it's "told". With that in mind, I've bumped the length-o-meter up to 20k, to give me some more progress/breathing room.

And for all those waiting for it:


Thursday, October 6, 2011

The March Continues

Another productive day for THE THUNDERSTORM! (Krakakow!)

"Youth" is blazing through my heart and my keyboard as probably the saddest story I have ever written. But, the more I write, the more I feel like this story needs to be told. Watching it unfold makes me shiver - I really hope the readers feel what I'm feeling when it's finished.

The funny thing is, sandwiching each chapter I've been watching old episodes of Roseanne to keep my spirits up :P

So far today, 2 chapters of "Youth" in. We'll see if I can pick myself up (fighting off a throat infection) and get anymore written before I head to bed.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Flip(ping Out) Side

Everyday I'm putting in time on THE THUNDERSTORM (Krakakow!). Something, anything I'm working on for that project, has to get some words, some story, some attention and care.

Today I started the opening chapter of "Youth".

And I am flipping out.

While I was writing, I had that tingly nervous excitement coursing through my veins, fueling me in an addiction-like madness. I type 90 words a minute or better. My fingers thundered across the keys. Characters and life took shape, molded by my word choice. Ideas bloomed, my heart spoke.

"Youth" was started.

This is going to be freaking awesome!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I'm going over some work in preparation for THE THUNDERSTORM. (I laugh every time I type that, like it's being announced in a wrestling ring.)

Dates are not of a concern to me, yet. I'm aiming to finish the pieces, first ;)

So far, here is what is releasing (during THE THUNDERSTORM, hahaha!)

Short: Disappear, 2895
Short: Hooded, 2524

I went back over "Hooded" today, and honestly, it's one of my favorite stories that I've ever written. Am I aloud to say that? I just did. Something about the style, there, that speaks to me. I'm not sure others will agree with me. In going over it, I added about 100 words. Now it feels "really" done. (Part of the reason I haven't previously published it was it felt slightly unfinished.)

For myself, seeing "Hooded" completed makes me feel like I've grown as a writer :) (Am I aloud to say that?!?)


Monday, October 3, 2011

Decisions and Business

Kind of productive day for me on the writing front. I wrote a short story called "Disappear", about 2500 2900 words, spawned solely from (I kid you not) a joke made by my cover artist about "Wallpeople". (All one word.)

About business:
I have to say I have some significant degree of agreement with Michael Kingswood. Ninety-nine cent novels undervalue the author, and the time spent crafting and bringing a story to life. Good writing can stand on its own legs with reasonable prices. My pricing scale is about the same as his but I believe this is how it will be:

$0.99: Shorts, up to 7,500/non-novelettes
$1.99: Novelettes (10,000~17,499), episodic releases (20k)
$2.99: Novellas (stand-alone), 40k
$3.99: Novels starting at 60k

I fully agree that pricing is the first indication to a customer of length. Because the lowest price is $0.99, we should make the "shortest" category conform there. Michael chooses 25k as his threshold, but for some reason 20k feels better to me. Maybe because I'm stuck on that length, having an episodic series?

So I think my pricing scale is a little less complicated. Formulaically (I think I just made that word up), we have $0.99 as a constant (c). So:

(length/20k, rounded to nearest whole, zero inclusive) + c = $

If I end up with a piece that's, say, 30k, and falls in between the 1.99/2.99 (1+c - 2+c) realm, it will have to be author's discretion. Is this the best thing I've ever written? $2.99. Am I pleased, but understand it's not my Nobel Prize submission? $1.99. I have discretion ;)

What this means:
Effective soon... relatively immediately, the prices for my works will be changing. I've heard Amazon can take 24-72 hours to simply change prices (!!). So sometime in that timeframe, expect them to change. I won't make the move until tomorrow (September 4th, EST).

IH episodes will go from $0.99 to $1.99.

"Shackled" will go from $2.99 to $3.99.

I'm sure people will think I'll hurt myself and lose sales by adopting this pricing scheme. Last month, with 6 releases, I sold 6 copies. You know how far I can drop? Six. I think I'll risk it :)

Please expect future releases to follow this pattern!

I would also like to announce the teaser for "Emergence", the first IH omnibus. It will bind the first 5 (five) episodes of Icarus Helix together into one volume. As per the above formula, this 100k omnibus will be priced $5.99, actually almost a $4 savings from buying the single episodes :) (at the new price).

Last bit of news - sorry for my ranty sort of whine yesterday. I'm feeling a bit better today and I would like to tentatively announce THE THUNDERSTORM. Why, what's that, you ask? I plan on releasing a slew (and I mean a SLEW) of finished works in November. This of course depends largely on my ability to finish them - ha, ha. Four is the minimum. I expect "Disappear", "Emergence" and/or "Frigid" / episode 7 to release. If I can really get my ass in gear, I hope to also release "Heaven", "Image" and if I REALLY move it, the unannounced "Youth". Please look forward to them :)

And I just glanced at my sidebar and realized I have two other shorties over there, "Glouscene (Working Title)" and "Pancake Man (WT)"... NaNoWriMo comes early for me? :P Except I'm shorts not novels, so maybe I should call it NaShoWriMo? That's fun to say ;) NaShoWriMo! (Aka: THE THUNDERSTORM.)

Comments, thoughts, criticisms welcome... you know where to leave 'em!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mental Disorganization... or Just Mental

My mind stays busily, sometimes painfully active. I think about everything, and I mean everything, constantly. When I lay down to sleep, my thought process goes something similar to this:

"Okay, time for some sleep. Let's get comfy. Yeah, okay, that's good. Close my eyes and..." three seconds later, "the first of the month is in a couple of days, I'd better remember to give the dog his heart worm medicine. I should remind Andy to get a haircut tomorrow, it's getting long. Did I put my keys in the key turtle? Do I know where they are? Retrace my steps... no, they're on my desk, under the credit card bill. Can't forget that. Do we have bread? I think Andy threw it away. Should I check? No, I'm in bed, forget about it. Are my car doors locked? Did I roll up the windows? Is it raining? I have to remember to do some laundry tomorrow. I wonder if Andy knows where Ajax's red ball went. What day is tomorrow? Do I work? Is my alarm set? I think I remember setting it." and on and on until I literally pass out from exhaustion.

Some nights I can control it, by picturing a blank white nothingness and repeating "white" over and over to myself.

Rarely, very rarely, I can count sheep. But then I start thinking, are they walking, or jumping over a fence? Do I have to visualize them jumping? Are they fluffy sheep or are they recently sheared? White sheep? Black sheep? How many should walk/jump? Do they trot up and hop over the fence? Do they walk around it? Is it just a small, stand-alone section of fence? And that goes on until even the sheep are glaring at me in annoyance.

There are only a few things I know of that can "shut off" my brain. One of them is reading - when I'm immersed in a world outside myself that is interesting, I have laser focus. The other is video games because I have some horribly competitive monster in me that thrills at earning achievements and learning or mastering. Funny enough - time management/strategy/city-builders are my favorite type of game. Younger, I played Tetris into the ground and older, Lumines.

If things are particularly stressful and my brain is clocking in overtime, I might go on "video game benders" that waste hours and days of my life, because I just need a break. From myself? I guess so.

When I'm depressed, my ability to focus on a single task or project recedes into the land of make-believe.

Stressed and depressed, you can imagine I'm pretty useless.

On my desktop right now, I have 7 separate stories in progress, and four more in my head, unstarted. When I start to work on one, I seem to get a new idea. (It's getting really crowded in there. Oh, and I just remembered I have some stuff started on Google Docs, too...) It's gotten so bad, I'm afraid to work on anything, because I'm afraid I'm failing by not finishing one. People tell me, "Just sit down and do it. Work on one thing, and finish it." Oh, how I wish I could. Add in the fact that every job now includes, "must be able to multi-task in a fast-paced environment" (because I'm trying to improve my situation in life) and my business degree (teaching me that focusing on one thing at a time is a terrible way to do business) and I am a recipe for Failed Disaster.

I'd like to put my head in my arms and go to sleep, hope that my brain can rewire itself in the night and make things work, but I can't even get to sleep properly. Then I have outlandish dreams that I'd like to share and multiple people - never just one! - say, "That would make a good story!" and before I can run away - "You should write it!"

Yes, yes I should.

Let me add it to my list.

I'm sorry I'm ranty today, I'm tired. Andy's sick and I know I'm catching it. So much to write - doesn't my body know I don't have time to be sick? There's unfinished writing to be done, a career to mold and... wait, no, I'm not doing so hot there either :(

September sales were dismal - 6. All but one at the very beginning of the month. +1 Depression, -1 Medrick :P

I know, I know I need to just write and get them down and get them out there. Can someone please get the memo to my brain, to just calm down and focus? I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

Love you guys, seriously.