Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Review Monday

I watched TWO movies this weekend. After working all day on Friday, I needed something mindless. The movies obliged!

I Sell the Dead (2008)

I never even heard about this movie until one of my friends at work recommended it. It wasn't bad. A little slow, but it had it's humorous parts. Basically, it is the story of Arthur, who has been arrested and is awaiting beheading for body snatching. A priest comes into take his last confession, and Arthur tells him stories of running into vampires and zombies while looking for corpses.

The idea of the story was wonderful. But, like I said, it was a little slow. It was only an hour and a half long, but I found myself glancing at the clock wondering when it was going to be over. I was glad I experienced the film, but I probably won't watch it again.

Machete (2010)

I really have no idea what to say about this movie. I was expecting so much more, and was very disappointed. I knew it was going to be bloody and violent, and I really enjoyed that part, but otherwise...It had Lindsey Lohan in it. Need I say more?

It was definitely an exploitation film. And you had to suspend a lot of disbelief. A LOT! The stereotypes got old by the end, and I think even the director gave up. If you've seen the final battle scene, you'll understand what I mean.

All in all, I was a little disappointed with my movie selections, but at least I didn't have to think too hard about them. It was nice to let my mind wander.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Week in Writing

First of all, if you can't get enough of reading what I write, you can check out my guest blog on Tonia Brown's blog (my stupid computer at home won't let me add links. I have no idea why. Anyway, you can access it here: http://thebackseatwriter.blogspot.com/2011/02/guesblogging-goodness.html?zx=a339ad39cd313bac).

I would also like to remind you all that my radio show is this weekend. It airs at 4 pm Mountain time or 6 pm Eastern (for the rest of you, you'll just have to figure it out!). If you miss it, there will be an archived recording. You can access it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/flashes-in-the-dark-radio/2011/02/27/pembroke-sinclair.

OK. Onto my progress. I am 5-10 pages away from being done with the main body of my nonfiction book. I took today off work so I can write (I just love flexible schedules!). I WILL have it done by the end of the day, and I'm also hoping to get some editing of the previous chapters done.

I'm very excited about this. I don't know what I'm going to do without the project looming over my shoulder. Wait, yes I do!

I hope you all have a wonderfully productive weekend. I have to get to work!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guest Blogger: Ms. Tonia Brown

Today, I have the lovely Tonia Brown as my guest. You can read more about her on her blog. Thanks, Tonia!

First of all, big thanks to Pembroke for letting me inside her world. I wanted to crawl inside her brain, but this was as close as she would let me get.

I thought about a lot of different things to blog about, and decided after much brooding that I would talk about folks lack of fact finding. In other words:

Research! Research! Research!

There is a reason the experts say, “Write what you know.” And it ain’t just because the words sound cool. Write what you know means write about things you are familiar with. These are invaluable first words for the new writer. Listen and heed them well, because their wisdom is ancient and their beauty is true. Writing what you know is about sharing your passions, your career, your life with other folks. Are you a nurse? Then write medical based horrors. Are you a carpenter? Then write about murder with hammers and saws and stuff. Computer programmer? Killer code!

Yet, as you branch out into your writing career and blossom like the lexiconic flower I know you are, you are going to want to write about other things. Things that aren’t your passions or career or life history. The nurse will want to write an FBI thriller. The carpenter will want to try a medical romance. And the computer programmer? Probably still killer code. Trust me, those programmers live, eat and breath the stuff.

If you dare to cross that line and move out of your comfort zone, then do yourself … no! Do us ALL a favor and for the love of all that is holy, do your God damned research! Don’t write about a rifle shooting buckshot. Don’t put a fuse in C4. Don’t, no matter what you do, use the typing of blood as an essential plot tool in a pre 1900 tale. Yes, yes I have done all of these and more. Thankfully they were all early draft mistakes, corrected by, dun dun dun research!

Save yourself the humiliation of a reader pointing out something that could have been so easily avoided by even five minutes of Wikipedia reading. Not that Wikipedia is the end all and be all of knowledge but … well … you get the idea. If you’re going to write a Civil War novel, read about the Civil War. If you want to write a Western, then at the very least watch a Western movie. (I recommend The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In that order.) And if you want to write a hot zombie erotica read Lucky Stiff, by Tonia Brown.

Oh yes, I went there.

To conclude, I may seem harsh in my scolding, but heed my warning: You shall save a lot of embarrassment for both you and your readers if you know what you are talking about. Or at the very least, sound like you do.

Happy writing, folks!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Need to be Rude

I have a friend on Facebook, who happens to be a publisher, and he posted a comment yesterday about how detrimental it is for authors to post disparaging comments about, well, anyone, but he focused on publishers. I don't know if someone said something bad about his company or just in general, but he did have a good point. The publishing world is a small world. You might not believe it, but editors and agents do talk to one another, and if you bad-mouth them long and loud enough, you will blacklist yourself.

I know the writing/publishing world can be difficult. I know you get rejection after rejection after rejection and it eventually wears on your good nature. I also know you sometimes get an agent or publisher who thinks they are being helpful and rips your story to shreds. I know how hard it is to resist the temptation to tell the world what an idiot those people are.

The internet has made it extremely easy for everyone to tell the world about their grievances, but it's not always a good idea. Say you post negative things about every person who ever rejected a story, then one agent/publisher decides they like your work. I guarantee you, one of the first things they are going to do is check out your web presence. If they see that you've bad-mouthed people before, they might not want to take you on. It's a matter of principle and professional courtesy.

Now, that's not to say I haven't had my share of bad things to say about agents or publishers. I have. But I try not to name names. We're human, so we can't expect to be happy and nice all the time. What you need to remember is that the publisher or agent is not attacking you or your writing personally, they are simply making a business decision. Talking bad about them or cussing at them is not going to change their minds, it's just going to piss them off. If you really want to get even, keep writing and get better, try for that next bestseller. Then, when it sells really big, you can rub it in their face (I don't really recommend doing this, either. No one likes a gloater, but it sounds good in theory!).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

On Friday, I told you a little story about my children and marshmallows. I challenged you to find your own version of freedom this weekend.

Did you find freedom this weekend?

I did. The spouse and I, without the kids, went snowmobiling. It was lovely. Nothing to worry about except making sure I didn't careen off a drop off at 30 mph. If I wanted to, I had a lot of time to think, but I pretty much let my mind drift to nothingness. It was very relaxing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Review Monday

The A-Team (2010)

I only vaguely remember the TV series. I'm sure I watched it. The only thing I remember was Mr. T, and that's not saying much.

This film was a lot of fun. It fit into my favorite category of film: lots of explosions and eye candy. There were a LOT of explosions. I preferred a little more eye candy, but I survived. The story line wasn't bad, either. It was pretty easy to figure out, but there was a twist I wasn't expecting.

The humor in the film was great, too. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as my spouse did, but I did chuckle a few times. As can be expected, there were also some parts where you had to suspend disbelief. I mean, really, I don't think shooting a tank that is falling out of the sky is going to position you over a lake. And, eventually, the ordinance is going to hit something. That is going to be detrimental.

Otherwise, it was a really entertaining film. It was one of those films that was just fun. There was a lot of commentary about the war and whether or not a soldier's actions during a crises are over-the-top and warranted. It examined what it takes to survive an engagement with an enemy who has no restraint and how Americans view that action, but if you didn't want to look that deeply at the film, you could just take it as entertaining.

If you like a lot of explosions, gunfire, and fights, you will enjoy this movie. Does it fit with the original TV series? I have no idea. My spouse said it would have been like the prequel, so I'll just have to take his word for it!

Has anyone else seen The A-Team?

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Week in Writing

I've been working very diligently to get the edits of my zombie novel done. I've been reading every single night since Tuesday and am only about half way through. I'm hoping to finish it by next week, with any luck sooner. The sooner I get that done, the sooner I can get back to my nonfiction. Yay.


Earlier this week, the boys got marshmallows to enjoy after dinner (because every child needs pure sugar right before bed). After they ate them, they would strip down to their socks and run around the house (the 2 year old has discovered the joys of nudity and the 3 year old isn't going to be left out of anything). They LOVED it! They would laugh and chase each other (the 2 year old peed on the floor a couple of times, too) and just loved life. They discovered freedom. After a long day at work, it was lovely to sit and watch the kids having fun.

Our goal this weekend is to rediscover the simple joys of life. I know that we all get so bogged down in work and life that we forget to take a moment to laugh. If you have to eat marshmallows and run around naked to do it, more power to you, but I don't want to hear about it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dreams

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking how nice it would be if I could spend my day at home writing. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've been telling everyone that my goal one day is to only have one part-time job (I have to keep one job because I need the health insurance). Most of them just chuckle and tell me good luck.

I think people's initial reaction to my dream is that I'm going to sit at home and watch TV. Even when I tell them I'm going to spend the time writing, they don't get it. I don't think they understand the amount of work that actually goes into creating a story, whether it be a novel or short story. My writer friends completely understand what I'm talking about and wish they could do the same.

I'm not letting go of this dream. As one of my coworkers said, "You hold onto that dream. Hold it like you did your teddy bear when you were little." I will, one day, be a part-time writer (maybe that will eventually lead into me being a FULL-TIME writer! Baby steps, first, baby steps). It might not be for 10 or more years (or as my spouse says, when I retire), but it will happen.

What is your dream?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hoping to See the Light

I received a very lovely rejection this morning. It was one of those ones that didn't like project, but encouraged me to submit some articles to their journals. That is very flattering because they recognize that their might be some merit there. If only I had the time to do it...

I was really hoping to have an epiphany this weekend. Some sign to let me know if I was on the right path with my nonfiction book. It didn't happen. My gut tells me that I should finish it; just get the damn thing done, but my head, my "reasonable" side, tells me it's a waste of time. I have no idea what to do.

I'm taking this week off from working on it because I have to do the edits for my YA zombie novel. I actually have a deadline on that, so I better get it out of the way. Maybe I'll have a clearer idea of what I should do after.

Ugh! This is so frustrating. On the one hand, I know that my end-game shouldn't be to get published. I should just be satisfied that I accomplished something. But on the other, why do I write if no one is going to read it? They always say that when writing stops being fun, you should quit. I'm almost at the point. Almost. But I'm also very stubborn.

What would you do?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

Last week I didn't post a question because I needed to do a review, but I am posting one today.

What is your favorite horror movie?

Mine is Aliens (the second one). I love the creatures and the bad-ass marines and the queen and everything about the show. I like the other films in the series also, but this one is the BEST! I like the Alien movies so much, I have a tattoo of an alien and a facehugger!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

This was another one of those violent cartoons that the 3 year old really enjoys watching. I like it a lot, too. I always think it's fun when the heroes go to a parallel planet.

The story was very fascinating. The particular Earth the Justice League has to go to is almost an exact opposite of their world. The bad guys always win, and the Justice League has been wiped out. Lex Luthor is the head of the Justice League on this parallel Earth, and he comes looking for help. Of course, Wonder Woman and Superman heed the call, along with a few others, and they show progresses. Batman decides it's not his fight, so he stays behind to protect his world. However, the bad guys eventually come to him. Fights and explosions abound.

(The first time I watched it [we've seen it several times, as you can imagine], I couldn't figure out why it was so important that Superwoman always be kissing Owlman [who was voiced by James Woods. I like James Woods!]. Then, it hit me. She's the opposite of Wonder Woman, who doesn't like men. Duh!)

The film has a very philosophical/science fiction feel to it, which I really enjoy. This isn't the first time the parallel Earth thing has been proposed. It gave the heroes insight into their own existence (especially Batman). It was fun to see what it would be like if the heroes decided to be villains instead, and they'd be extremely tough to defeat!

The film was also kind of an origin film. It explained where Wonder Woman got her invisible jet and how the Justice League expanded to allow new members. There were a few heroes on there that I didn't recognize, but that's not really shocking since I'm pretty naive when it comes to comics.

It was a highly entertaining film that kept both the 3 year old and I happy. As usual, there was enough fighting to keep him happy and enough of a story to keep my attention. If you like super heroes and cartoons, I recommend this film.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Week in Writing

I almost, almost finished chapter 5 like I had planned. I was gung-ho at the beginning of the week, then I misplaced my motivation. I have no idea where it went!

I would like to say that I'm going to get some work done this weekend, but I'm not. It's a busy, busy time. We're taking the boys on their first snowmobiling trip this weekend, so I have to get warm clothes for them. Then the 3 year old has a birthday party to go to on Saturday. It's at the bowling alley, so that should be highly entertaining. I should've gotten my work done earlier, but I didn't. Oh, well. I'll have to work doubly hard next week.

Speaking of the 3 year old, he's been telling me for the last few days that when he grows up he's going to be a super hero. Apparently, he and his little friends have it all figured out. He's going to be Batman, his brother will be Robin, one of his friends is Superman, and the other is Spiderman. "There's a lot of super heroes in town," he tells me. I told him that's great, it will keep the crime down. He says, "Yep. Someone has to take care of the bad guys."

Back in the day, I used to be just as idealistic, until the weight of the world came crashing down. But my goal this weekend, since I won't be working, is to reassess my dreams and goals. If the 3 year old can be a super hero, then we can be good writers or editors or whatever. There is always a means to an end, and this weekend is the perfect time to figure out how to get there. Someone has to take care of the bad guys, even if they're only in our minds.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stick a Fork in Me

I'm done. D-O-N-E.

For the last few weeks, I've been sending out queries and proposals for my nonfiction project. So far, I've sent out 25 and received a total of 7 rejections (a couple of those were no responses, so I assumed they were "No"). In the scheme of things, that's not too bad. I'm sure I'll be getting more responses (rejections) in the next month or so.

I can't stand sending out queries. There is so much research and preparation. I can't tell you how much time I've spent looking up agents or publishers, then digging around to make sure they're reputable. It is extremely time consuming and pulls me away from what I really need to be doing: writing.

I know, I know, it's part of the process, but it's soooo tedious. And it seems to be a little pointless. I mean, I'm pretty sure no one is going to publish this book. "Oh, have faith. Someone will like it," I hear you say, but I'm pretty sure they won't. This is a very specialized book with a strict focus, and it doesn't really appeal to a wide audience. If they can't make money off it, they won't waste their time with it. As a natrual pessimist and cynic, it's hard to see the bright side of things. I know it only takes one yes, but how do you get there? It's all about timing and luck, which I have a very short supply of.

In any case, I'm just frustrated and finished sending out queries. Like I said, it's wasting valuable time. I haven't exhausted all my possibilities, and I doubt I will. Perhaps now is not the time for this book. After I get replies from the places I've sent it, I might put it away for a while. I have other things I need to work on, no point in wasting my time beating a dead horse!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Strange Happenings

So last week I mentioned that some strange things occurred when I sent out a query for my nonfiction project. Basically what happened was the publisher rejected me but had an idea for another book. Here is the email:

"We don't really publish these sorts of genre surverys anymore, but I would be interested in speaking with you about a more pointed sort of book examining the recent slew of slasher films and the current state, and meaning, of Saw and other expressions of what is often termed torture porn. I would be very interested in something on the topic of, for instance "why torture porn matters," if that's of any interest. Anyway, feel free to write or call me if you would like to discuss these possibilties further. Thanks!"

Since I was sick 2 weeks ago (when I received the email), we postponed talking until this week. I called on Monday, and we talked about getting a proposal together. I'm mulling the project over in my mind, trying to figure out what I'd write about, before getting anything together.

It's possible they could reject the proposal idea. And since I'm such a pessimist, I have the feeling that they will. However, just the fact that I was asked to even consider the project is incredibly flattering. Sometimes it blows my mind how one idea can open doors for others.

The editor I talked to was so nice. Most editors are, but he was very helpful (and excited about the project) and had a lot of ideas of what he wants to see but also is giving me freedom. Like I said, I'm a little reserved about the project because who knows if it will make it past the proposal stage. There's only one way to know for sure, and I need to actually get the proposal together. I plan on working on that this weekend.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Have you ever "fallen" into a project?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Res Aliens Review

There are a lot of great perks having authors, publishers, and editors as friends. The best is being able to read things that you might not normally read. Recently, I was asked to read and review Res Aliens Issue 5.

The issue has seven stories, as well as some interviews, information, and reviews. The stories ranged from humorous to very dark, but they all fit very nicely together and were very entertaining. On more than one occasion, I found myself thinking about the stories long after I read them, which is a good thing. As authors, we want people to be affected by our stories. We want our stories to stick with our readers long after they’ve read them. Several stories stuck with me, especially “A Heroine’s Death” by Billy Wong and “Azieran: Lokxenthuul” by Christopher Heath. (The last one was pretty creepy and affected me as a parent. It was dark and sad.)

Now, that’s not to say that the others didn’t have their affect, they did, but those ones just hit me the hardest. All of the stories in Issue 5 were very well written and fabulous to read. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend picking up your own copy. You should also check out the stories on the Res Aliens website, which can be found here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Kick-Ass (2010)

I had no expectations for this film. In fact, I barely remembered seeing trailers for it. I knew that it was pretty violent, but that was about it. I was taken aback when I started watching it.

At first, I was just sitting back and enjoying the ride. I can tell you why no one has become a super hero: because it's a hard, thankless job rife with danger. Hell, cops get PAID to do that job, and look how they're treated. AND, if you're going to become a super hero, wouldn't you learn how to fight? I mean, it seems like common sense. Just because you put on a suit, it doesn't automatically give you the ability to defend yourself. Ah, the young and idealistic.

I loved the idea behind it. I've thought about being a super hero. Who hasn't? I really liked how he inspired the rest of the community. Very touching. The film took a completely different turn when Hit Girl and Big Daddy show up at that one guys house. When she starts killing everyone, I just turned to my spouse, eyes wide, wondering what the hell just happened.

The film was smart and funny with a serious side. Some parts dragged a little, but, for the most part, the movie was extremely entertaining. Even though it was a high school film, it didn't beat the audience over the head with teen-isms. There were some, of course, but it wasn't overbearing. I really enjoyed the whole super hero creation and the birth of bad guys. I've been watching a lot of super hero stuff lately since the 3 year old is so into it, so I really liked how this film stuck close to comics yet made fun of the whole subculture. It was highly entertaining.

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Week in Writing

Surprisingly, I actually got some writing done this week. Not a lot, but enough to finish one section of chapter 5 and start another. My goal is to have chapter 5 finished by the end of next week. Barring any major catastrophes or more diseases, I should be able to accomplish that.

Just so you know, I haven't completely given up on this book. I have been sending out queries and proposals to various publishing houses and agents. So far, nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. Something kinda weird happened, but I'm not going to tell you about it until I have more information. I should know more next week. (Don't you just hate it when I do that?)

I'm itching to get back into fiction. Nonfiction isn't bad, but the creative processes are so much different. I need adventure and danger on foreign worlds. I need a character with a problem. Soon enough, I tell myself, soon enough.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen with my boys standing right behind me. I turned around just in time to see the 2 year old pulling a long, thick, stringy booger out of his nose. I went to grab a Kleenex, and when I turned to wipe, he was licking his fingers. I gagged and told him that was disgusting. He just looked at me and smiled.

I hope your weekend is full of things that make you happy, even if it sickens the rest of the world!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When Idols Write Back

Yesterday, I posted the link to Piers Anthony's review. Today, I promised I would share his entire email. Here it is:

"I have now read Coming From Nowhere, which manuscript we had to rescue from nowhere after we lost track of it. Maybe this happened because it arrived in the month of NoRemember.
I will include a draft of my review for the February HiPiers Column. Apart from that, I note a certain awkwardness with some words. Once you use "your" where you mean "you're", "breath" where you mean "breathe", and you spell "complement" as "compliment". They are two different words, one being used for things like troops, the other as a favorable comment. I feel JD is too apt to strike out physically, and she doesn't take advantage of her shapely body to help persuade men to her viewpoint. As a female man she is less appealing. This is nevertheless a hard hitting story, and I wish you well with it."

The review was included, but I omitted it because you can read it in his newsletter. On the surface, it seems like he might be a little nit-picky. Yeah, there were some misspellings, but that happens in books. No one is perfect. But in the scheme of things, if this was all he found to be upset about, then I didn't do too badly.

My friend Tamara and I were chuckling about how he didn't like JD's character; how he thought she should use her sexuality more to get what she wants. It all has to do with female stereotypes and the genre. Remember, Piers Anthony helped shape and define the sci fi/fantasy genre, and he was writing "back in the day." Women characters weren't supposed to be strong. I actually like the fact that he didn't like JD. One of my goals in writing is to take conventions and stereotypes and turn them on their heads, and I hope I accomplished that.

Plus, this email shows the honesty and time he put into his review. He could've just skimmed the story, got the main points and wrote something really quick, but he didn't. He dove into it, found misspellings and gave a thoughtful response to what he read. It was extremely flattering. Piers Anthony is just an awesome, fabulous guy. I hope some day I can be as cool as he is.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I am slowly, ever so slowly, starting to get over this disease my child shared with me. It's been hell, let me tell you. I haven't done anything the past few days except try and sleep. That hasn't worked out too well because breathing has been an issue. That's all starting to clear up now.

In case you've been on the edge of your seat waiting, Piers Anthony has his review of my novel up. You can check it out here. I will post his entire email tomorrow, after you've had a chance to read his newsletter. It's the coolest!

Other than that, I've been lying low and trying to get better. Hopefully by next week things will have gotten back to normal.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

Building off last week's question, if you were a super hero, what would your ONE weakness be?

Mine would be nuclear power. I don't care who you are, there is no way you are going to survive a nuclear anything! Of course, it doesn't kill me outright, heavens no! It just affects me like kryptonite affects Superman.