Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review of Pacific Rim (movie)

My husband and I finally were able to go see Pacific Rim. Yay!

There will be spoilers in this review. I'll keep them as small as I can so as not to ruin anything for anyone who wants to watch the movie and read this post. But you have been warned. :-)

I gave Pacific Rim 8 out of 10 stars. I loved it. What did I expect? It was directed by Guillermo del Toro! :-) While watching, I kept thinking, "I'm loving this!"

Here's what worked for me:

1. The soundtrack. There were several times throughout the movie where I noticed, and appreciated the music. The reason I noticed it? The composer mainly used real instruments, not synthesized sound affects. I loved that! Especially during the scary parts or the intense fights - those tubas and french horns were amazing. :-)

2. The freakin' cool, wide-scale, huge, vast size of everything. The Kiaju's were awesome monstrosities - I'd be completely terrified if one attacked my city. I loved their designs and weapons. The Jaeger's (really hard for me not to type Jaegar, since that's a character in my Kilenya Series :-)) were huge. The amount of damage and destruction these two caused while fighting was realistic and actually satisfying. (Yes. I'm one of those girls who likes explosions and some destruction. :-))

3. Pretty much everything else, except what I mention below. The pacing was strong, and the movie was excellent from the beginning. I enjoyed the main characters. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the fact that the main chick was Japanese and that they destroyed Hong Kong instead of New York. I loved that everything was global - there's only so many times monsters can attack Chicago or Los Angeles before I get bored of those cities. Oh, and that three-armed Jaeger was pretty sweet.

4. The romance was how it should have been! I loved the ending of the movie - it wasn't forced, it felt natural. Well done!

What didn't work for me:


1. The three-armed Jaeger only survived a quarter of a fight!! Grrr. I didn't like that.

2. The pregnant Kaiju. My husband and I looked at each other and groaned. Not another Godzilla thing... And why would they send a pregnant Kaiju out into battle in the first place? This ended up turning out okay and I was fairly satisfied in the end. Still annoyed me at first, though.

3. The side characters weren't very strong, or had personalities that were stereotyped or annoying. And all of the pilots, aside from the Asian ones, were blond. Because of this, everyone looked the same. (The Australians and the main guy.) The platinum, obviously-bleached Russians were easily to tell apart, but those other guys? Buff in the same ways, same hair color, nearly the same faces. Took me a while to figure out who everyone was. More variety, please!

Anyway. Overall, I was very satisfied by the movie. It's one of my favorite new releases. The fighting didn't feel cheesy, or like they were going for slapstick humor. (Think of the rock giants in the Hobbit... very stupid.) And speaking of humor, there wasn't a whole lot of it, but that didn't bother me in the slightest. If there had been, it would probably have been forced, since the characters weren't set up to be funny.

So, if you haven't seen it, go watch it! And don't hate me if you don't like it. :-)

Edit: I wrote the above review about two weeks ago. And I realize something today: as soon as I finished writing this review, I stopped thinking about the movie. Which to me, means the story wasn't strong enough nor the characters compelling enough. But that's fine - not all action movies can have great story lines or characters. :-) It's still a good summer flick.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Microsoft to allow self-pubbers!

Has anyone else been following the Sony (Playstation) versus Microsoft (Xbox) self-publishing thing? Microsoft is now allowing self-pubbed games on their Xbox!! Sony's been doing it all along, but then, we all know Sony is better than Microsoft. ;-) :-) (Don't hate! I'm not a gamer, so don't really care about either company.)

Self-publishing is a revolution! First the music industry, then gamers/app developers, then authors. What do you think will be next?

Technology advances are really awesome! And so is the ability to do things your way when you want, how you want. There are still people out there who think that self-publishing is going to go away eventually. If you're one of thems peoples, think again! It's here to stay. :-)

I love the liberation we have now: the freedom to choose which path we take. And the freedom to leave when we realize we don't like the path we chose. It's pretty darn awesome.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Twenty Things Wealthy People Do

Came across this fascinating article on Dave Ramsey's site about things the wealthy people do/apply regularly that poor people don't. Before you go read it, know that there are NEVER guarantees to wealth. Also know that simply doing those things won't make someone rich.

I posted a link to that article on my Facebook account and got soundly whipped by people who are bitter and angry that they do those things and aren't wealthy, or that people they know who are wealthy are jerks and they don't want to be those people, or that are angry that they aren't wealthy and that people don't give them money, or that hate living in a free market.

I don't know all the reasons, but I'm posting and drawing attention to this so that people can decide if they want to pick up a few more habits with the goal of BETTERING their situation, not necessarily in becoming wealthy.

My husband and I do fifteen of the twenty, and three of those we don't do aren't applicable to us in our current situation. We're working our butts off, writing, creating, and focusing, trying to make our way in life, trying to edify and help one another.

So here's to becoming better people so we can help lift others!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Writing Prompt: A Well-Placed Word

A well-placed word is (usually) more powerful than a whole paragraph of descriptions.

Challenge:
Write a full scene (dialog, etc., and at least four paragraphs) between a man and a woman who run into each other at the wedding of a mutual friend.

Information:
The man intensely dislikes the woman. Can't stand to be around her. Describe how she looks, how he feels for her through his dialog, and color everything with his feelings for her.
The woman loves the man. Craves being around him. Describe how he looks, how she feels for him through her dialog, and color it with her feelings for him.
Girls must write from the view point of the man.
Guys must write from the view point of the woman.

Purpose:
Rather than give a full paragraph of description, learn to use a few carefully placed words. Also, getting into the head of the opposite gender is a great exercise, and can be very entertaining. :-)

Let me know, in the comments below, how it goes!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A fun-to-read guest post on Joe Konrath's Blog

Joe Konrath is an awesome guy. He opened up his blog for authors to guest post for the next while. (Yes, of course I signed up. I asked to be scheduled early next year, though, and will announce when my post goes public.) But anyway, I just read the one from July 23rd, and it was really awesome!

It was written by Richard Stoker. In his post, Richard discusses the Forbes list of highest-paid authors from 2010 and 2011, then draws conclusions based on those lists. I really enjoyed reading his thoughts and think most of my author friends will as well.

You can access the post here.

All of this has got me to thinking. How important is it to write a blockbuster? On the other hand, how important is it to be prolific and put out many quality books?

Personally, though I'd love to write a blockbuster, I'd rather the steady, slow, continually writing more books routine. Like many others, I've watched authors who write blockbusters. JK Rowling released Casual Vacancy and it took forever to find it's target audience, mainly because everyone knew her through Harry Potter and judged the book based on HP's merits. After seeing how that went, JK released her next book, a mystery called The Cuckoo's Calling, under a pen name.

Stephanie Meyer, on the other hand, hasn't put out a new book since when?

My point is, JK Rowling is writing because she's a writer. It's not her fault HP went huge. She's not content to sit and live off of what she's made (she gave most of it away last year anyway). Stephanie Meyer, on the other hand, seems to be more interested in making movies. In fact, Austenland, which she produced (written by Shannon Hale) is coming out soon. I'm super excited!

I don't want to jump into public view until I'm good and ready. Which means more years of potential mistakes and working out kinks and writing more books. Anonymity isn't a bad thing, it really isn't. :-)

What are your thoughts on all of this? Would you rather be a Dan Brown, as Richard describes him, or a James Patterson? Or would you rather have a slower pace of life than either of these authors enjoys?

Another personal thought from me: I don't want millions of dollars from my writing. Millions of dollars definitely equals publicity. I write under a pen name for a reason (my maiden name). Only close friends know my husband's name or my daughter's name. I'm one of those outgoing extroverts who's really an introvert and loves privacy. :-)

But I'd definitely be very happy with a modest six-figure income from my books. :-) And if anyone knows how to become a millionaire from book sales, without everyone finding out, let me know. I wouldn't turn down the money, just the publicity. :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How much I care about the birth of the royal baby...


Who's with me?

Megamind Review

My favorite word right now is "Olo." Thank you, Megamind, for introducing me to this exceptional greeting. :-)

When my brother-in-law popped Megamind into our player, I felt like arguing with him or kicking him out of the house. ;-) Most kid movies have really annoyed me lately. For example. Cloudy, with a Chance for Meatballs. I extremely disliked that one. :-)

But guess what? Megamind surprised me. A lot. I LOVED it! We bought it on bluray as soon as we could. (Well, as soon as it went down in price a bit. :-))

The one liners were fantastic. My husband and I quote them to each other all the time. The characters were well developed, the twist at the end great, and Megamind was fun, cute, intelligent, and so innocently evil. Love. :-)

If you haven't watched it, you'd better go get it and see it now. :-)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Writing with Feeling While Under Pressure

I've read many books lately where it was apparent the author was stressed, burned out, or under too much pressure to get the book done. The books fell flat in one (or more) of many ways. Ways such as: the romance not paying off, the tension not being high enough, the main character not being involved in the solution, the humor falling flat, etc.

I don't have answers for how to prevent this, and am wondering what you all think. Sometimes you DO have deadlines. Sometimes you DO have people waiting for you. And to me, it's important to keep agreements and goals and meet deadlines. So how does a writer manage to put something together that is emotionally satisfying, even when they're burned out?

Think about it. In every single other profession, you're expected to put forth quality work even when you hate your job. You don't get paid otherwise. And bosses, clients, patients, etc., won't wait patiently for you to get excited again. Why is it that many artists feel they're different in this regard, and again, what can we do to write with power when we're in this type of situation?

Like I said, I don't have the answers. I'm hoping all of you do. :-)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Writing Prompt: Cliches

I'm obsessed with all sorts of dos and don'ts, especially those involving the written word. During the past week or so, I've mulled over cliches. Most editors will tell their authors never, ever to use them, and the reason is that they weaken the writing. Readers glaze over those phrases, never internalizing them.

This isn't good.

Of course, how do we know we're using cliches? They tend to slip in when we're least expecting them; when we're not paying attention. I propose we force ourselves to recognize these phrases. :-)

My challenge, to get you into your writing this week:

Write a poem/short story/memoir/essay/advertisement/novel/whatever else you feel like writing (fiction and non-fiction). It can be humorous or serious.

Rules:

  • You must use three cliches.
  • You must start out your writing with, "It was a dark and stormy night," which counts as one of the three clich├ęs.

And that's it! Good luck!

Let me know how it goes. :-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Have Never!

Let's play the "I have never" game. I'll start. I've never been to a tanning booth.

Remember - you can't repeat what others have said, so be sure to read the comment trail before commenting.

Ready, set, go!

Monday, July 15, 2013

What are you waiting for?

I've spent a great deal of my life waiting.

I waited as a child, not wanting to experience things for myself first, wanting to watch others try before I did.

I waited and held off from being my outgoing, bubbly self in junior high and high school because I wasn't sure how people would respond.

It took me nine years to graduate from college because I didn't know which major to choose - I waited until the perfect one came along. And it was the perfect one. But I could've found it earlier.

I waited to graduate because I didn't know if I'd get married halfway through. I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to attend after getting hitched.

I waited to graduate because I didn't have the money every semester and didn't want to get in debt. (Don't regret that one!)

I waited to start writing because I wasn't sure if I REALLY wanted to do it, or if I'd be good or not.

I waited to fully relax as a single woman because I wasn't sure when I'd meet the right guy and would need to be "impressive."

I waited for HIM to say, "I love you" first. (Another one I don't regret.)

I waited to focus on writing after we decided to have kids because I wasn't sure when they would come. (Took eight months)

I waited to be truly effective while I was pregnant because I could never tell how sick I would be each day.

And you know what?

I'm through with waiting.

I'm going to be the best wife, the best mother, and the best author I can be NOW. I'm going to put the most important things first: my hubby, my baby, and my writing every day and let everything else fall into place.

I know what the Lord wants me to do. And I'm ready to do it NOW.

I'm through with waiting. I really am. It's time NOW to take myself seriously!

What's holding you back? What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Which stage are you in? :-)

All right, authors and writers! I want you to go check out Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog post titled The Stages of an Indie Writer. This applies to all of you: traditionally published, aspiring, self-published. Then come back and tell me which stage you're in. :-)

Seriously: I can't stress this enough right now. Every single author I know who has signed with a publisher has become disenchanted after seeing how things actually go or are actually run. Some of those authors go on and sign with other publishers - usually Indie publishers where they're treated much better - but even then, I still hear frustrations.

Only a couple of my author friends are really happy where they are. The thing is, when we start thinking seriously about getting published - when it occurs to us that this could actually happen to us - we become in love with the dream of being traditionally published. And dang, those publishers make things look so good!

But the truth is, traditional publishers aren't doing very well. Not only that, but the ones who ARE doing well still mess things up ALL the time by: assigning the wrong title to books, not ordering books on time for launches, sending books to the wrong bookstore for said launches, having to push back publication dates multiple times because the cover art wasn't finished on time or the book wasn't sent to the printer (oops! Sorry! they say), putting together covers that are really bad, messing up editing, and NOT MARKETING. That's the biggest complaint from pretty much every author I've met about their publisher.

Publishers promise a lot of things and then don't fulfill those promises. And authors these days, after signing that freakin' fantastic contract, and finally feeling like they're actually "there," come to the bitter realization that publishers are humans, that they make mistakes, and that one of the biggest ones is how much work they'll put into your book to make it go big. If you aren't James Rollins, Patterson, or Stephen King (or any other huge author), you're going to be expected to market yourself. To put your own money into your book to get it out there. And if your book flops, it's on you, you don't get reprinted, and your book is pulled from shelves.


I'm not against traditionally publishing, actually. There are one or two publishers out there who are doing things right. But technically, they aren't even trad. publishers. They're Indie publishers.

Anyway. Regardless of which stage of becoming an Indie Author you're in, please make sure you know full well what you're getting into. Do your research! Read books about publishing.

And realize this: publishers are watching self-published authors. Self-publishing is the slush pile now. Those of you who are sending your manuscripts out into the ethernet might want to consider making some money while waiting for that dream to come true. :-)

Making money... Mmmm... I sure love doing that. :-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Technology Terms in Your Books

Dating is fun, right? Yeah, totally. Unless you've been doing it for an awfully long time, and then it's just tedious. :-)

Even though the occasional date is great, we as authors need to avoid dating ourselves or our books. Okay, that's totally cheesy. Sorry. :-)

What do I mean, you ask?

I started reading a book a few months ago that had been recently published. But the more into the book I got, the more I realized the author was very out of it when it came to technology terms, slang, and other things. The words he used showed he'd either written the book in the nineties, or was completely stuck in that era. And the dialog was so distracting, I couldn't finish the book. I spent most of the time rolling my eyes.

Not everyone is going to trip over this sort of thing, I know. So why does it matter? Mainly because a lot of readers will be pulled out of the story if they come across something that is really out-dated. It's really hard to find appropriate slang for all generations, so I think it's okay to slip in the occasional word here and there, but when the entire dialogue is mainly, "like, totally cool!" then we've got a problem. :-)

An example of one of my pet peeves: "Bye!" Sarah said, then snapped/flipped/clicked the phone shut.

Really? Most people don't use flip phones anymore. And those who do will end up switching for something newer when their current phone breaks and they can't find a flip phone. What's the better way to show that someone has ended a call? How about this: "Bye!" Sarah said, then ended the call. :-) Or, even though it's also dated, "hung up" can also be used.

The point is, think of ways that will be more universally acceptable over the next several years. Yeah, that's right. You heard me. Predict the future! :-)

What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to technology, slang, and other things being outdated? Have you ever noticed something like this when reading? If so, did it bother you? Or am I the only one? :-)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Man of Steel Review

This may or may not reveal spoilers, determined by how well you know Superman's story. :-)

My husband, brother, parents and I went and saw Man of Steel today. I enjoyed many aspects of it, but overall was disappointed.

One of the best things about being married to a critical thinker is the opportunity to analyze movies and books together. It really helps me become a better author and to avoid the types of cliches and problems that occurred in Man of Steel.

When we left the theater, I didn't immediately say, "Let's go watch it again!" like I usually do after comic super hero movies. I'm a huge Marvel, Mattel/DC comic fan and watched the cartoons religiously growing up. In fact, the movies based on these comics are some of my favorites. It's very rare that I don't like one of them. I'm a fan of almost every Batman movie ever made (including Batman Forever), and I'll always be a die-hard X-Men fan.

The last Superman movie was horrendous. This one was better. I appreciated that. But my main issue was that it lacked the depth that I've come to expect from Christopher Nolan.

My husband gave the movie six out of ten stars - he was pleasantly surprised and wasn't expecting much. I gave it five. I went in expecting more and was disappointed.

What I liked:
  • The beginning. Krypton was fantastic. I loved the action, the character development, the setting, and how wide-scale everything was. The technology was cool and the flying creature was awesome. Loved the double wings. 
  • Superman's parents, both sets. You feel like you really know them. They were three-dimensional characters with feelings, goals, desires. When Lara said goodbye to her baby, it actually brought tears to my eyes, rather than me feeling like it was cheesy.
  • Superman with scruff. Much more attractive than without. :-)
  • The action. Lots of cool explosions, etc.
  • The plot. It was so much better than the last Superman movie.
  • Superman's training montage. It was really neat. Without revealing spoilers, I really liked how he discovered where he came from.
  • How Superman flies. The little bursts of energy added a lot of eye-candy to the scenes.
  • The bad chick. She was awesome and actually knew how to fight.
  • Watching Superman try to blend in with humans at work, etc.
 Actually, as I come to think about it, it wasn't until about halfway through the movie that I started not enjoying it.

What didn't work for me:
  • How Superman's Earth dad dies. I mean, come on! This was my first major complaint. It was a huge thumbs up to animal activists and was disappointing. And definitely NOT how it really happened!
  • The lack of character development. We get to know Superman's parents really well - both sets. But who's Superman? Who is Lois lane? We watch them a TON, but what we see doesn't successfully advance the plot or teach us about them as individuals. As an example, in Batman Begins, you really feel his suffering, pain, and accomplishments. You cheer him on, not just because it's Batman, but because you've been there with him. The only reason I could predict what Superman did was because I know his story outside of this movie, and not because they'd laid the groundwork for a reboot of him, as was the case with Batman Begins.
  • The excessive explosions. I love explody movies. Always have. I love fires and booms and things falling down magnificently with lots of drama and dust. But even I was rolling my eyes after a while. Some of the fights were too long and dragged out and my husband, brother, and I actually got bored. Those fights became repetitive and very, very predictable. You can only knock so many buildings down without wondering why certain people are still alive, why there are still buildings to knock down, and when something else cool will happen.
  • Lois and Superman's relationship. Actually, their relationship didn't bother me. This movie was a great foundation - a fantastic setup for romance in future movies. BUT NOT IN THIS ONE. So why'd they have to kiss? People in the theater were actually groaning around us. It felt unnatural and forced and there was no pull behind it. And how the heck did she get there anyway? :-)
  • The way everyone called Superman Kal. I mean, come on. When have they done that before? It was always Kal-El. Or Kal-L. Jor-El went by his full name the entire time, so why not Superman? Kal is too close to the name Cal, which is a cute, small-town boy name. I'm from a small, country town, and know many people by the name of Cal. So that pulled me right from the movie. That, and the fact that he's never been called Kal before - it's supposed to be Kal-El.
  • Failed attempt at humor. Anything emotional that involved Superman fell flat. The only thing that made us genuinely laugh was when Lois told Superman to be careful with her luggage because it was heavy. :-) I rolled my eyes at the "109 days without accidents" thing.
  • Amy Adams playing the part of Lois Lane. Lois isn't a soft, cushy, Enchanted-singing chick. She's LOIS, for crying out loud. :-)
When the movie was over, my brother's first comment was, "That was way over the top. Like they were trying to pull off 'final movie' epicness in the first movie. Where the heck are they going to go from here? Oh, I know. Superman saves the world. Again."

Out of every super hero movie I've seen, this was my least favorite (apart from the Green Lantern). And I've seen pretty much all of them.

If your aim is only to provide explosions and violence eye-candy, then this was a successful movie. But on every other level, they must have been aiming for Twilight levels of emotional and character depth, because that's what they achieved.

Yes, I do feel very strongly about this. Ha ha. :-)

I'm sure I'll watch it again, but give me Thor, Iron Man, Batman, Hellboy, The Avengers, or X-Men first, please. I'll get around to it eventually.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Writers Write!

Something that surprised me when I decided to tell people I was a writer (and later an author) was the huge number of people who mentioned they wanted to write a book. I've always wondered why they hadn't done it, and over the past few weeks, I think I've come to a conclusion. :-)

I enjoy needlepoint. I like sewing the occasional project. I like eating fresh veggies from a garden, and I like seeing plants grow. I enjoy making scarves with yarn, and every couple of years, I pull out my yarn and start (or finish) another scarf. I also enjoy blogging.

But the thing is, these are NOT my passions. I don't wake up thinking about gardening. Or sewing or even blogging (shocker, since it seems most authors LOVE blogging :-)). My passion is writing. And not just any writing, but writing books and stories that will entertain in some way.

Because writing is my passion, I make it a priority. It's one of the first things I do in the morning, and if I don't get it done throughout the day, I feel like the day wasn't as good as it could have been. Obviously, there are exceptions. Like, if I'm on a vacation or something. :-)


If you've been wanting to get that book written, the only way it's going to happen is if you make it a higher priority. Do it before the kids wake up, before work starts, and before the laundry needs to be done. Otherwise it won't ever happen. Things that get put off until the end of the day rarely get done. We all know this. :-)

If not writing, what is your biggest passion? What is the one thing that drives you every day, where, if you don't do it, you feel like the day wasn't as successful as it could be?