Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - The Huntsman: Winter's War

I love free weekends of premium movie channels on cable. It allows me to catch up with the flicks I wanted to see at the theater, but didn't have time to go. (And yeah, Francis, I watched Deadpool twice even though I already have the Blu-Ray.)

The Huntsman: Winter's War managed to stay in theaters for a few days longer than Jem and the Holograams. I don't normally hold that against a movie, but yes, in this case, there was a reason for TH:WW's short lifespan. Since it has been nearly a year since the movie's original release date, I'm not going to bother with my normal SPOILERS warning.

Let's just say the only good things in this movie were (1) Halsey's remake of her single "Castle" and (2) a gratuitous shot of naked Chris Hemsworth and naked Jessica Chastain.

The movie tries to be two things:  a tragic prequel and a humorous action adventure sequel. Neither of these mesh with the dark fantasy that was Snow White and the Huntsman.

The plot mashes together the original Snow White fairytale with Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. The prequel portion where Eric (aka the titular Huntsman) and Sarah were kidnapped, fell in love, etc., could have been sliced from forty minutes down to ten. And I'm being generous here. The subplot of one of the dwarves and his half-brother tagging along on Eric's quest was more engaging.

The producers assembled an exceptional cast, but the writing plodded and the dialogue was repetitive. I cannot blame the actors, who did the best they could with the lines they were given.

But with a $115 million budget, how the hell could the special effects be so shitty? DH and I have been re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during our lunch breaks. How the fuck can a twenty-three-year-old TV series have better special effects than this waste of a movie?

I tried to like this movie. I really did. But I'd rather watch Thor, Interstellar, Hitchcock, and The Devil Wears Prada back-to-back with no pee breaks while being forced to drink two gallons of beer.

Overall, The Huntsman: Winter's War get a token 1 star out of 10 for naked Hemsworth.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Something Fun for Friday

With the horror that started The Walking Dead's seventh season, this seemed to be a perfect antidote. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Crippling Computer Despair

I'm not sure what happened over the weekend. My virus traps were clean. No strange cookies appeared. My computer wore her security condom like a good girl so no strange Trojans could infiltrate her pathways.

But something happened. I took me a good forty-eight hours to restore everything. The print drives were the biggest hassle.

Thank Goddess! I didn't lose a damn word from any of my current wips!

And this children is why you do backups.

However, the lost time in writing and putting together tax return info was annoying as hell.

Therein lies the problem. Since I've crossed the half-century mark, I'm much more conscious of time. How little I have left. How much I want to do.

It's the same weird feeling I get when I go somewhere for vacation. The first half is all excitement and wonder and fun. Then at the halfway point, I get nostalgic. I try to remember each and every moment, knowing they will be the last ones of that trip.

Damn you computer! Damn you for reminding me of my mortality!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - The Lego Batman Movie

"Everything is awesome!"

Yep, even that little earworm makes an appearance in The Lego Batman Movie albeit in the background.

This movie taps into the family theme a little deeper than it's predecessor, The Lego Movie, did, all within the realm of the Batman mythos. On the surface though, this movie is a fangirl's dream with all the nods to seventy+ years of Batman history. And it's funny as hell.

* * *


* * *

1) Ironically, this movie digs deeper into Batman/Bruce Wayne's psyche than most other stories I've read or watched. Sure, his parents' murders are the inciting factor to Bruce's vigilantism. But this movie takes it a step further by showing him so paranoid about ANY human connection he denies Joker's claim that he is Batman's greatest foe. Which of course, sets off the Joker's greatest scheme EVER!

2) The cameos are too fucking numerous to mention. In fact, I think I missed some in the kinetic energy of the film. But a special nod goes to Billy Dee Williams who played DA Harvey Dent in Batman (1989). I'd hoped to see him play Two-Face in a Michael Keaton sequel, but it was not to be.

3) Special mention goes to Doug Benson who voiced Bane. I sat through the credits because I would have sworn Bane was portrayed by his The Dark Knight Rises actor, Tom Hardy.

1) I know this sounds weird, but this flick was way more enjoyable than the live-action DC superhero movies, and it upsets me. As I'm writing this review, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is playing on the TV. (I'm taking advantage of an HBO free weekend.) There's no humor to relieve the unrelenting dreariness and despair of Man of Steel and BvS. Suicide Squad was a bit better, but the humor had to be inserted during retakes.

This is a time in history were heroic stories are important. We the People need something positive in our lives, someone to look up to even if he/she is a figment of our imagination. Both Batman and Superman were created during the Depression for a reason. When I say "positive", I don't mean the constant visual and dialogue jokes of The Lego Batman Movie, but Goddess damn it, we need something positive. Uplifting. And it's sad that a toy-inspired animated movie delivers what the live-action movies can't.

In the end, I can honestly tell other parents to take their kids to see this movie. It's the same clean fun of its predecessor. Overall, I give The Lego Batman Movie 9.5 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Business Goals

Yes, my business goals this year involve writing and publishing to earn enough money for the entire Mattel Barbie Wonder Woman line.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

Last week, Samhain Publishing announced it will be closing at the end of February.

The Digital Reader and several other outlets announced the news with suggestions that customers download and back up their libraries since they had time, unlike the three-day warning/debacle of All Romance eBooks back in December.

Wait! Haven't we heard this one about Samhain before ?

Yeah, we have. A year ago in fact. Publishers Weekly, along with several other media outlets, announced Samhain's closing from a letter sent to the publisher's authors. However, some time later, principle Christine Brashear wrote another e-mail to the authors to "clarify" the situations. It was only a "misunderstanding" and Samhain was "downsizing", not "closing."

Um, okay?

Several Samhain writers were marketing their releases well into July of 2016, many stating all's right with the world. Others said they had their contracts terminated.

Is this a better fuster cluck than EC or ARe? If writers get their rights back without Samhain having to file for bankruptcy, then I'd say yes. But that's just me.

On the other hand, anyone who didn't get paid will probably never see a dime of that money. It's long since been spent on overhead, contrary to what the conspiracy theorists believe.

Later on Friday, a couple of Alter Ego's Facebook friends/readers lamented the end of so many publishers. Unfortunately, they blame Amazon. The real problem is that any business is cyclical. A good business person knows you have to put some money aside for the slow time. Since e-books were so new, many publishers and writers thought the gravy train would last forever.

Hell, I'm impressed it lasted for nearly ten years before the first downturn. And I'm sorry, but this downturn was inevitable.

I hate seeing any publisher go under (well, almost any), but we writers have a lot more options that we did when I started this bizarre journey nearly twenty years ago. Don't fret just yet. Take a good, hard look at your business plan and make whatever adjustments you need to make to survive.

Good luck!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Discipline and the Indie Writer

I could make a lot of BDSM jokes with that title because (1) Alter Ego writes that genre and (2) I have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old American male.

Which meant I was rolling on the floor in tears when the Russian hookers/golden showers story broke.

But that's not the point I wanted to make.

If you're a regular reader, you know I've had a harder than usual struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Thankfully, we had a full day of sunshine yesterday so I'm feeling better than I have been through the month of January.

Bu last month, EGADS! Not only was I dealing with the physical issue, but my own lack of empathy for myself. Normally, I get up, brew some tea or pour a cup of coffee if DH made some, and write my blog post if one is due. Then I work on a wip.

Usually, I can do 1,000 to 1,200 words in a couple of hours. At the end of that time, DH and I break for lunch and watch a program. Currently, we flip between Season 7 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Season 7 of Star Trek Voyager. DH paraphrases Dr. Sheldon Cooper and says we watch them in the order in which Rick Berman wanted us to be disappointed.

By the time the episode is done, I go pick up Genius Kid. (I'll be sooo happy when he has his driver's license. I think.) Then I write another 1,000 to 1,200 over the course of two hours before I have to consider prepping for supper.

If the guys have something going on, I can squeeze in another hour or two of writing time. But to be perfectly honest, I've been catching up on Season 11 of Bones or binging on Arrow. (I fully blame Angie for the Arrow fixation!)

Needless to say, I've been mad at myself for not being able to concentrate during my normal writing times. Heck, I haven't even had the energy to leave the apartment and head to one of my writing haunts to jumpstart the process.

So what does my bitching and whining have to do with discipline?

The people who are accused of "fast writing" (like me) aren't writing faster than anyone else. We have the discipline to keep our butt in the chair (or standing in front of our computer stand). We spend the time actually writing/typing. We don't check e-mail/Facebook/new feeds constantly. We don't play games on our computers.

Well, all right. I admit to playing Mah Jong. I swear I only do it after the first five hundred words are written. And truth be told, if I can make to that five hundred, I usually can't stop to play Mah Jong.

But when I maintain my writing discipline, I can hit 3,600 words a day. And frankly, that's wa-a-ay slower than a lot of prolific writers I know.

The issue with indie writers is that we're not faced with external deadlines, such as detailed by our publishers in contracts. Any deadlines are completely arbitrary.

In order to succeed, we have to want to write. We must enjoy writing. Otherwise, there's a zillion other thing to do with our time.

My schedule above? That's only the current schedule. The one I've been following since 2015. Once GK has his driver's license, it will change. And when he moves out, my schedule will probably change again. And that's okay.

When you sit in the chair, or stand, to type, or write long-hand, isn't important. That fact that you do so consistantly is the important thing if you want a career as a writer.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

BAM Publishing

Since I used to belong to Books-A-Millions's frequent buyer club, I received a lovely e-mail from them last Friday (February 3) concerning their brand-new publishing arm.

First of all, the links within the e-mail I received didn't work. I had to view the e-mail within a browser to access the links. Those took me to a page that had, well, a zillion red flags.

- FREE guidebook (You can't even see the TOS online.)

- To obtain the guidebook, you must give them your name, e-mail address, and phone number (How much do you want to bet that information is sold to a third party?)

- They want you to write on their website. (Um, why? I write where and when it's possible. In fact, I picked up my son at school one day, forgot my phone, and wrote an entire scene on the back of a grocery list.)

- They have a FREE Introductory 15-minute call you can schedule! (That doesn't go to a toll-free line.)

- BAM Publish has "all-inclusive packages"! (When they won't tell you the price, it means you probably can't afford it.)

- When I tried to go to BAM Publish directly, I got a 404 Error for a company called Infinity Publishing. (So Books-A-Million isn't running this program. They're just taking a cut for recruiting na├»ve writers.)

- When I tried to google Infinity Publishing, I landed on a porn site from clicking on its main company URL. (For the record, I have nothing against porn, but I prefer it AFTER I've had my second cup of caffeine of the morning.)

- So I tried looking up Infinity Publishing on complaint sites, and it has a nice, solid "F" from the Better Business Bureau.

All the world needs is another #(&$&(@*# vanity publisher, because that's exactly who Books-A-Million has gotten into bed with. Personally, I'm staying away from BAM Publishing.

EDIT TO ADD: After I'd drafted the post above over the weekend, I discovered an article on Indies Unlimited on Monday. The author Lynne Cantwell had much of the same to say about this scam.

Lynne took one for the team by sending in her private info to find out about BAM Publish's (aka Infinity Publishing) prices. There's a fee of $59 on top of the cost of your print books. The really sick part was the $349 for global distribution of your print and e-books. And the prices skyrocket from there.

All I can say is stay far away from these BAM Publish/Infinity Publishing folks! Very, very far away!

Monday, February 6, 2017

When the Clouds Pass

The day I posted the February status report about my recent frustrations, Kris Rusch wrote a very similar post about writing or not writing through bad times. After reading it and several of the comments, it was heartening to know I'm not the only writer that feels this way.

Add to that the fact that we've had two full days of sunshine, and I'm starting to feel like myself again.

All of which helps me to obey Batman's orders.

Now if only Sam doesn't lose the earrings she borrowed from Tiffany during the climatic battle against a dino demon...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Protest Songs

I really don't want to hear anyone, who did a certain thing in November, bitching when their tequila prices go up 20%.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Status Report - February 2017

I'd originally planned to be releasing Resurrected in a couple of weeks. I tried to have Ravaged ready to be released by February 1.

Neither is going to happen.

I'm frustrated beyond all measure at the moment. On one side are my health issues. Endocrine breakdown exacerbates Seasonal Effective Disorder. My Vitamin D levels drop, which cause fatigue. Supplements barely make a dent, and with the overabundance of clouds and rain this winter, natural Vitamin D production is very low. So I tend to depend too much on caffeine in an effort to feel normal, which isn't a good thing either.

Then there's the other stuff that's stressing me out.

Yeah, I know no one wants to hear entertainers talk politics. Yeah, I know some you will be pissed off and swear never to read my books again. Yeah, I know I might be ruining my writing career.

But a long time ago, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of American.

Not once, but three times.

Hell, I can still recite the preamble from memory.

Now, I'm seeing people in our government blatantly ignoring due process, betraying intelligence resources, and putting our armed forces at risk.

I'm not taking party sides. They've both equally guilty of putting party interests before the interests of the people they are supposed to be representing.

Darling Husband and I had a long talk last night about my reactivating one of my law licenses and doing volunteer work. It would mean putting writing aside once again for Goddess knows how long. DH made the comment that sometimes art has a greater effect on people than legal action. I said people in jail aren't going to be reading my books.

His answer: The people being detained aren't the ones who I need to be communicating with.

So what's the right answer?

There isn't one. Not for me anyway. I'm reassured that whatever decision I make, DH will support it. All I can do is figure out what's best for everyone.