Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Wet, Sick Wednesday :-)

Yep, says it all. It's raining here and one of my girls is sick. Maybe that's what inspired me to change my blog appearance. I needed a change and though I hate rain, there is something about this particular background that I find tranquil.

Today's goal is to get my daughter to the ped and I'd really like to get some new writing done. I'm finding it very hard to work on my new wip while I'm in the revision process of my other novel. I know there are people who work on multiple projects at a time, but I'm finding it very difficult.

What about you? One project at a time or can you multi-task with your different works?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Manic Monday--Revisions

So far so good. I've gotten amazing feedback/suggestions from my first BETA reader (who has read and critiqued my chapters as I completed them and also did the entire ms when I was done). I'm not finding the revision process too hard. I've cut out a good 3-3.5k in scenes that were good, but didn't really do anything in terms of moving the plot along. It was hard to let some of them go, but in the end, it's a better story without it and the pace is better.

I'm now awaiting the critique of my final chapters from BETA #2 and then I will send the entire ms through to that one and strum my fingers while I wait for that critique. Then it will be sent off to BETA #3 and then to my final BETA reader #4 (I think I'll stop there. Who knows, maybe I'll get one more). I think it is so insane for anyone to not use a beta reader or for anyone to believe that their work is so exceptional that they simply don't need one. The advice and feedback and support I have received from BETA readers has been INVALUABLE. I know I've been very lucky in getting the BETA readers I did. I've heard of people having horrible experiences with theirs. I think the key is to research them and get to "know" them carefully.

So how did I get my BETA readers??? With major cojones. Yep, I cheated. Well, I don't know if it's cheating so much as frowned upon, but hey, what can I say? I'm a friggin' New Yorker raised in Hell's Kitchen. Having balls comes with the territory (even if you're a girl :-))

I belong to this amazing site that seriously changed my life in terms of my writing. Absolute Write is the name, Reality Check is the game. If you are serious about writing and improving in your craft (no matter the genre, there's something there for everyone) you must join this site or one like it. The support and available knowledge is unlike anything I've seen. AND IT'S FREE. It's almost ridiculous that it's free, but I'll shut my mouth now before anyone gets any ideas :-)

Anywhoo...I spent a good amount of time in the SYW forum (Share Your Work). Reading people's critiques. It's amazing how much you learn from reading someone's shared piece and then reading the critiques that people give. I got brave one day and tried my own critiquing and some people actually started to appreciate my advice (or my 1 cent as I like to say). After months of watching and reading people critique, and then needing someone to critique my ms, I pm'd a couple of different people and asked them if they'd be willing to BETA read for me. I thought to myself, what's the worse that could happen? They'll say no. Luckily, none of them did and I've actually become GREAT friends with a couple of them.

Back to revisions...I think the reason I'm not finding it too difficult is because I trust my BETA readers whole heartedly (and my own writer's instincts too, of course). I know they are really looking out for me and my work and so when they make a suggestion, I KNOW it's to improve my story whether it be pacing, character development, tension building or whatever.

So that's where I'm at in the revision process. Thought I would dread it, but I actually find it enjoyable.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Manic Monday--Poetry

Normally I do movie reviews on Mondays, but the hubby and I have been watching season one of Spartacus, so I thought I'd post about something else that I've been want to discuss on my blog, but have been putting off: Poetry (shudder, cringe, starting to feel nauseous).

Okay, so here's the deal with me and poetry.

I don't like it. I HATE it. I despise it. I...fear it.

Gasp. What?? Oh my God! What did she just say?  Gasp. Gasp. Can't. Breathe. WTF? Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Get the noose people! This girl is out of her fucking mind!

Yeah, I thought some of you might react that way. But now ask me why.

Okay. Why Melanie, why on this good God's Earth would you say such a thing?!?

Why? Because of my eleventh grade English Lit teacher.


Yep. Isn't that terribly sad??? I know. Here's what happened--

Many eons ago when I was in the eleventh grade, My English Lit teacher gave us an exam and one of the questions on this exam was a poem we had never seen before (I don't remember the author or the name of the poem, but I remember it had something to do with fish, I think, who friggin' knows. Anyway...). The question on the exam asked us to read a given poem and give our interpretation of the Poet's meaning behind a particular line in the poem. Okay. Easy enough right? Right.

A couple of days later I get my exam back and I have a C on the exam. I'm usually a B student so I didn't love seeing a C on my paper. I look it over to see where I lost so many points and low and behold, I lost a huge chunk of points on that poem question. The difference between a C and a B and that to me was a big deal. But the thing was, there was no explanation about why I lost so many points on that question, so I went to her to ask her about it. (The following is a very rough recollection of that conversation. It was a long time ago)

Me: Why did I lose so many points on this question?
Her: Because you didn't understand what the poem was saying.
Me: ?
Her: ?
Me: But you asked us to give you our interpretation of what that line meant, so how can you say I was wrong?
Her: You didn't understand what the poet was trying to say. That wasn't what the poem was about.
Me: But I gave you MY interpretation of that line. You asked us to give you our individual interpretation based on a poem we've never seen so how can you say I was wrong? That's totally unfair.
Her: I'm sorry, but if you read the poem carefully, you would have understood what the poet was trying to say in that line.  I can't give you any points on it.
Me: ?
Her: ?
Me: But, this was a poem we've never seen or discussed before. My iterpretation therefore is going to be based on my own background knowledge and experiences. How can you say the way I interpreted a poem I've never seen is wrong??? (Why, yes...I did end up majoring in psychology in college. Why do you ask?)
Her: Sorry. I'm not going to give you any points on it. You misinterpreted the poem.
Me: @#^^&*%^&*#% (not to her, in my head). I walk away...pissed and changed.

So, there you have it. Does it make sense that I would suddenly hate poetry? You see, this teacher made me believe that all poems are written with one specific meaning behind it. That there is only one interpretation to what a poem is saying and means. And that I should totally understand every poem and what that particular poet (whom I don't know squat about) is trying to say. After that experience, I thought to myself, Why bother? I don't understand what they're saying anyway. Why should I care. I don't get it and my interpretation will probably always be wrong. There's no room for individual interpretation in poetry, so unless I'm writing my own...who friggin cares.

I believe in my heart that this teacher was wrong, but I can't help but feel permanently tainted when it comes to poetry.

I know this may seems so sad to some of you because it is to me. This one teacher killed my possibility to love poetry. And to be honest, I think she kind of killed my love for reading as I can recall from that moment on, not enjoying reading. Reading to me was about text books for school and work and papers and homework. There was no joy to be had in reading, especially when it was subject to interpretation.

It is only in the last 7 years or so that I have slowly begun to find pleasure in reading, but I will admit, I still hide from poetry like it's the plague. I don't want to feel that way, but I don't know how to get over this feeling that if I read a poem, I won't be able to "get it." And I know I shouldn't have to and it really pisses me off that I think I should. That teacher has NO IDEA what she did to me. How she killed my love for the very subject she was teaching.

I hope one day to find joy in poetry because I know I'm missing so much beautiful literature out there. It's funny because when I see a small poem in the beginning of a novel, I groan and turn the page. I LOVED the book Paper Towns, but hated the parts that referred to the poem that the whole story was based around. I literally cringed and felt my heart race every time the MC started reading that damn poem.


And thanks for letting me vent about this. It's been pent up in me for a VERY LONG TIME.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday's Movie Review--Speak

Hey guys! So, I have been DYING to share this review. I saw this movie early last week, but have been waiting to post it for my Monday review which works out since the hubby and I will be spending the next couple of weekends watching the STARZ mini-series Sparticus (we saw the first 4 episodes this weekend and OH MAN IS IT GOOD!).

Anyway, we're speaking today about Speak, a movie based on the book by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was an independent made film directed by Jessica Sharzer and starring Kristen Stewart who was absoltuely AMAZING as Melinda Sordino. I mean, truly, truly amazing. She had this character down to a tee (IMO). The best thing about this movie was that it paralleled the book more than any book to movie translation I've ever seen, which was a huge relief as it did great justice to Anderson's book/story. It's kind of crazy, but I thought to myself that if that stupid Prof Scroggins who so obviously skimmed through the book, found a few key words and then made a total moronic assumption that the book was pornographic in nature, had watched the movie instead, perhaps he would have had a very different feel for what Anderson's story was actually telling. The acting in this movie was wonderful. I cried several times and the way they slipped the scenes of what happened to her were done smoothly. The actual scene of what happens frightened me. It made me cry and cover my eyes a bit. If Scroggins saw that scene and believed it pornographic then he's doomed for a life in hell. Seriously.

If you have not seen this movie and LOVED the book, you will absolutely love this movie. It brought everything to life. All the characters were spot on and they didn't change much at all from the book. Everything from the opening scene to the final scene were amazing and powerful and if you don't find yourself tearing up from this movie, I'll give you a refund (well, not really, but I'll apologize :-) )

My rating system:

1=hated it, just wasted an hour and half of my life and I want it back damn it!
2=meh, not the worst I've ever seen, but I don't ever need to see it again
3=entertaining, maybe I'll watch it again when it comes to Netflix or cable
4=pretty awesome, I'll probably buy the DVD when it goes on sale
5=OMG, this film was kick ass awesome, it is pre-order from Amazon worthy, add to my list of favorites

Based on the story, the acting, the screenplay, and everything that went into making this wonderful and amazing film, I give Speak a 5

Friday, October 8, 2010

Funny Friday (youtube videos of the week)

Okay, so here a couple of laughs to get your weekend started. Hope you enjoy!

Today I'm going with a spoof theme:

Shakira's Whenever Where ever video spoof from Mad TV (lyrics are hilarious)

Bobby Brown's Every Little Step I Take (not quite a spoof, but Wayne Brady is so damn talented. Mike Tyson is HILARIOUS in this. Watch how he has to keep watching Wayne to follow the dance steps. And he can't do the running man??? The boy has no rhythm which is surprising considering he's a boxer!)

My favorite Twilight Spoof (and tell me the guy playing Edward isn't hot??!!? Vavavoom! He should have played Edward in the movie!)

Okay this isn't exactly a spoof, but it's one of my all time favorite MTV Movie Awards moments (Gollum from LOTR receives an award)

Another funny parody from Mad TV, Marmalade

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Theater Thursday--Annie

My all time favorite musical, Annie will be making its way back to Broadway in 2012!! 

This was the first Broadway play that had a real impact on my childhood. I remember the larger than life theater we saw it in, the larger than life sets on the stage, the orchestra with all those shiny brass and stringed instruments with the top of the conductor's head just barely visible, his baton waving furiously. The singing, the dancing and of course the little red headed orphan that every girl my age at the time wanted to be. I remember being in elementary school and me and my friends would spend our play time in the yard to act out the play, fighting over who got to be Annie, or Duffy, or Pepper, or Molly etc. Somehow all of us knew the play inside and out. We knew the lines, the lyrics and the dance moves. I had a record of the soundtrack at home. (Yes, I did say a "record.") I used to play that album (Yes, I did say album), over and over and over again. I knew/know every song by heart. Then...THEN...the movie came out!!!! OMG. I was beside myself. I was eleven years old and Annie was now on the big screen and I sang all the songs with the movie (I think every single kid did. It was probably like the Little Shop of Horrors, which I never did get to see...I know, shame, shame. But I did see the movie! Does that count? No, I know. Not the same thing, huh? *sigh*). 

The movie Annie was/is amazing with an all star cast: Carol Burnette as Ms. Hannigan? Are you kidding me? No one does Ms. Hannigan better than her. She is absolutely BRILLIANT in this movie. Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Anne Reinking as Grace Farrell (and man did she ever grace the screen with her beautiful dancing!), Tim Curry as Rooster--Amazing!!!, Burnadette Peters as Lily St. Regis ("named for the hotel"..."room service"), hello??? Burnadette friggin' Peters--total awesomeness. And then, you had songs that were made especially for the movie version so I got to learn MORE awesome songs. To this day, I can probably recite every line of every character in that movie. And now my girls are starting to get into enjoying some of the songs from it. Ahhh...a dream come true :-)

Tell me that doesn't pump you up or leave you with total goosebumps???

Annie is not just a play or a movie, it's an experience. Once you've been Annieanized, there's no turning back (Yes, I did just make up that word. Do you think I can get in the dictionary?). However, I think it's really important for it's fans (or even if you are not, it's just fascinating) to see the movie/documentary called Life After Tomorrow. It is a real eye opener behind the harsh realities of being a kid who was cast in that play. All I can say is that I'm glad as hell, I never actually got to be in that play (even though as a kid it was my ultimate dream). The first Annie in the play grew up in my building where I grew up and I met the second actress who played Annie when she came to a summer event in our building. But, now, when I look back, I can't believe what was going on with these kids and some of them to this day are probably still in therapy. Yes, it was pretty damn bad for some of them and I recommend you see this movie.


So, I'm definitely excited about this reprisal and when it comes back to the big stage it is something I must see. I'm a little ambivalent about the idea that they are reworking the script (as noted in the article below) to modernize it. It will be interesting I guess. I just hope they don't change too much. But what I do hope is that it will create a whole new love among a new generation of children to fall in love with Annie and with the theater experience as it did for me when I was a kid. It still has a huge place in my heart to this day. It just never leaves you.

Annie Is Broadway Bound Once Again in 2012

Annie Is Broadway Bound Once Again in 2012
Start humming 'Tomorrow': 'Annie' will return to Broadway in 2012.
Everyone’s favorite red-headed orphan will return to Broadway to belt her heart out in the fall of 2012. The beloved musical Annie will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a full revival, producer Arielle Tepper Madover has announced, with an updated book by Thomas Meehan. No theater, dates or casting for the production, which features music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, has been announced at this time.

Inspired by the famous comic strip Little Orphan AnnieAnnie made its Broadway debut on April 21, 1977, transferring three times and playing 2,377 performances before closing on January 2, 1983. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, among others, and earned Dorothy Loudon her own trophy for her performance as villainess Miss Hannigan. The subsequent film adaptation, released in 1982 and starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and Aileen Quinn, was nominated for two Academy Awards. The show was also filmed for television in 1999 with a cast led by Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. Annie was revived in 1997 at the Martin Beck Theatre in a production that starred Nell Carter and closed after seven months.

“The script has never been touched since 1977, and our hope is to really make this revival for current audiences, so Tom is going to go to work on the book,” Madover told The New York Times. No details were given about possible changes, though Madover added, "A new creative team will look to modernize the show."

The family-friendly tale of an orphan whose hard knock life is forever changed when paired with a snappish billionaire, Annie features such showtune staples as “Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “Tomorrow.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday #2 from The Willow Elves

Hey guys, this is a direct continuation from my first tease in this WIP and is the completion of chapter 1. Hope you enjoy and I look forward to your thoughts.

Tears traveled down Autumn’s cheeks as she imagined what her father might do to Becky now that she had run away. Would he seek revenge and take the life of her horse—torture an innocent and defenseless animal?

If she had just had time. If she had known that her father would attempt to cross such lines, she would have been better prepared.

But there was no time. She was too scared. She didn’t even have time to run up to her room and grab the emergency bag she had packed months ago and hidden under the lose floorboards behind her bed. Only now, when it was too late, did she realize that she should have hidden her runaway bag somewhere downstairs or in the shed, or under the bushels of hay outside. But she didn’t and so she leaves behind everything—everything except the torn clothes on her back, the bruises on her face and body, and the one thing more sacred to her than anything—her virginity.

It doesn’t belong to her father and damn him for trying to rape it from her. Autumn has always believed that her virginity belongs to only one person—her true love. Whomever that is when someday she finds him.

As she looked ahead, the vast woods that neared spread from as far east to as far west as she could see, serving as a divider between her world and a world beyond. A world completely unknown to her. One that she has heard rumors and stories about her whole life—tales of a magical and dangerous kind of folk that live deep within its borders. Most of the kids from her small town had always laughed and scoffed at the stories told by the older generations. It became the big joke. The I-dare-you-to-walk-a-mile-into-those-woods-alone kind of thing. No one ever ventured too far into them, and if they said they did, everyone knew they were lying.

But here Autumn stood, at the edge of the field, staring into the sea of thick, dark woods. It was eerily quiet. The silence filled her ears with the sound of her own pounding heart. Her hands shook. She clenched and unclenched them several times attempting to gain courage and control.

Whatever lies ahead couldn’t be any worse than what she was leaving behind, she decided and with that, Autumn closed her eyes, took a long deep breath, and then without looking back, she entered Trulien Forest.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Movie Review Monday: Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D)

Summary: While still out to destroy the evil Umbrella Corporation, Alice joins a group of survivors who want to relocate to the mysterious but supposedly unharmed safe haven known only as Arcadia.


Okay, got that out of my system. I guess from that, you can figure out that I kinda liked this movie :-) This film was total awesomeness on so many levels. Besides the fact that dh, my step son and I have been ginormous fans of the Capcom Resident Evil video games since the first one came out back in 1996 (damn, it was that long ago???), this movie more than met my expectations. The story line--excellent. The casting--wonderful. The special effects--unf'nbelievable.

Okay, let me back up a step and just say that I was very, VERY hesitant about seeing this movie. I have loved all the other movies in the R.E. series, but this was the first one I was seeing in 3D. In fact, this was the first 3D movie I've since way back in the day when 3D movies involved paper glasses with one side green and one red. hahaha...yes, I know. That's a long time ago. What the hell was I thinking in avoiding all these recent 3D movies? I'm seriously kicking myself in the ass for missing so many great films (ahem Avatar ahem) because I refused to go see them in 3D. Well, now I know. 3D movies FRIGGIN ROCK!

So on to the movie itself. Yet another kick ass movie with Milla Jovovich. This woman NEVER disappoints. Kuddos to her and her agent because she continues to choose films that totally kick ass, but more importantly, her performance in her films continue to kick ass. And once again, she kicks some serious ass in this film. Ali Larter (Claire Redfield) totally keeps up with Mila as her side kick, and Wentworth Miller...sigh...need I say more? This movie was full of action from the very get go with an amazingly choreographed fight scene that could easily compete with Neo and Trinity in the office building lobby in Matrix. ALL the fight scenes in this movie were nothing short of fantastic.

Besides the fact that this film was in 3D, the special effects, sets, blue screen technology, cinematography, producers, directors (can you go wrong with James Cameron?), editors, music composers, costumes designers, make-up department and on and on, were top of the line.

My rating system:

1=hated it, just wasted an hour and half of my life and I want it back damn it!
2=meh, not the worst I've ever seen, but I don't ever need to see it again
3=entertaining, maybe I'll watch it again when it comes to Netflix or cable
4=pretty awesome, I'll probably buy the DVD when it goes on sale
5=OMG, this film was kick ass awesome, it is pre-order from Amazon worthy, add to my list of favorites

I give Resident Evil Afterlife (3D) a 5

If you are a fan of science-fiction action-horror, this movie is TOTALLY for you. Not only will I buy this movie when it comes out, it makes me want to own the entire movie series. GO MILLA JOVOVICH!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Outline or Not to Outline? That is the Question.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I'm not going to try and force something that is not me. I'm just going to be me and isn't that the way it should always be? You see, I had this idea that for my next novel I would do all this research and figure out how to do a successful outline because God knows in school (way, way back in the day), I was NEVER any good at them. I don't know why I couldn't seem to do them. Perhaps I was trying to force my brain to organize information in a way that wasn't natural for me. Maybe it's because I'm left handed and therefore right brain dominated? No. That's not it because truth be told I'm ambidextrous (well, to an extent, I eat, write and throw with my left hand but do EVERYTHING else with my right. Strange, I know. Guess that's what happens when you're young and the foster family taking care of you tries to force you to be right handed when you're naturally left handed. Sigh).

Anyway, so about outlining. Yeah, not for me. It has never worked before and rather than spend weeks or months trying to prefect the art of outlining, I will stick to my method which is a combination of winging it mixed with bulleting type notes that help me remember the things I want to happen. I often do some chapter bulleting, but I don't do it for all chapters. I do it when I need to organize my thoughts or don't want to forget an idea I had. For the most part, I wing it. It comes to me as I write and I like that because sometimes I don't know what's going to happen until I get there and to be honest, that's why writing to me is so much fun. It's surprise after surprise after surprise. Even when I take notes on what I think I want to happen, it often changes because as I'm in the moment in a scene, something else comes to me and the scene happens differently than I originally envisioned. I guess in the acting world, it would be like someone who only follows a script vs. someone who does a lot of improvisation (Jim Carrey and Steve Carell are notorious for this).

For those who outline, kuddos to you. Seriously. I think good outlining is an art in itself and if you have perfected it and it works for you that's awesome. It's just not for me and I don't think that makes me less of a writer than someone who does. I'm just me. And I kinda like me the way I am. :-) If my method aint broke, why try to fix it?

What about you? Outline, wing it, or do you do your own thang? Just curious (in case I change my mind one day then I'll know who to go to for lessons haha).

Funny Friday (youtube video of the week)

How funny is this??

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