Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Boxing Day!

How y'all doin'? I'm fine, more or less. The family's finally finished with our enormous Christmas dinner, and now we have a week's worth of leftovers to tide us through until New Year's. I got my first iPod, a Nano, and I've already been to iTunes (I bought the Beauty and the Beast Special Edition Soundtrack).

I've been kinda worried lately, because throughout the week, I've been waking up with headaches, really weird ones that are either right behind my right eye or at the back of my head. They've come and gone (gone when I'm busy doing something, come when I try resting or reading), but lately they've been getting worse, like the motion-headaches I get when I try to read in a moving car. But I'm not moving. Of course, I've already entertained all thoughts regarding brain tumours and aneurysms and the like, but really I have no idea. It's not something to do with my eyes, as I thought originally, because I've been waking up with these headaches.

I'm beginning to suspect I might be allergic to something in my room (which is cleaned once a week but hasn't been dusted since God knows when), so I'm going to try cleaning out my room, and then sleeping on the couch for a couple of nights to see if my headaches go away.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I've changed my format!

I was a little hesitant about joining the Blogger Beta, and especially in "customizing my design," because I didn't want to lose all the handy-dandy sidebar things that I'd painstakingly edited into my HTML code everytime I wanted to add something, but the customization process, as you can probably guess, made the actual sidebar creation process so much easier - especially in updating the "Currently Reading" and "To Be Read" sections.

I'm quite pleased with it - I adore the new label system, and now my website looks a tad more streamlined - and less pink, I KNOW, but there are nice pink accents to it now that are perfectly to my taste without overcoming the new "professional" look.

I've also started reading Jane Austen, and already I adore her. I think Elizabeth Bennett could afford to be smacked upside the head occasionally for being so incredibly gullible, but when you have a sister who's "perfectly perfect in every way" named Jane (hmmm, I wonder if Miss Austen was trying to imply something there), I guess you can afford to be an incredibly poor judge of character. And Mr. Darcy - good Lord, what an asshole! Yes, yes, I know, he's so shy and secretly sensitive...Well, I guess it could have been worse. He could have been anachronistically tolerant, and that would not have been half as realistic a romance. I'm not quite finished the book yet, but so far I'm having a fine time and I'm looking forward to reading Pamela Aidan's take on Mr. Darcy's character in the first novel of her trilogy, An Assembly Such as This.

EDIT: I keep spelling Jane Austen's name wrong...urgh! Austen not Austin!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Speak of the Devil...

Ironically enough, after making a cough-induced jab at On Spec's long wait times, I received a letter back from them. Yes, another rejection - another rejection followed by the requisite letter explaining how they receive 100 manuscripts a month and how all the workers at On Spec on volunteers, which explains why it took them four months to get back to me.

On the PLUS side, though, they had a very nice typed note at the bottom (which I nearly missed, because the On Spec rejection letter has a very bizarre space format), which offered criticism about very specific parts of "Whiff," followed by an offer to look at my story again if I rewrote it.

Now, hey! I seem to have been very lucky with my rejection letters lately - I haven't received all that many, but many of them have had encouraging notes on them entreating me to send more things. And On Spec, which receives 100 manuscripts a month, has stated that they would be willing to give my manuscript another go if I tightened it up a bit.

If I keeping working steadily through the holidays, by January, I might have a fleet of stories to send out - not only the rewrite of "Whiff," but also "Parasite: A Love Story," and "House Hunting" (now that it's been rejected for the MacTaggart Award). Better get to work!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

But it's not my fault...

Okay, maybe I have a little bit of a problem.

I KNOW I've been worrying (somewhat wonderfully) about the SHEER NUMBER of unread books I have stacked in tottering piles on my desk, and I realize that with book reviewing and school I'm going to have assloads more to get through.

I bought two more discounted books today, anyway.

I couldn't help it - one was Elizabeth Hand's Winterlong, mostly because while I can't give you the exact review of her story collection Saffron and Brimstone before Green Man publishes my review in January, suffice it to say that I want to have its literary babies.

And in the bottom of the discount Young Adult books bin they had Black Juice by Margo Lanaghan! BLACK JUICE! For $3.00!

It's really not fair.

I wonder if there are some sorts of programs for people like me...

Free at last! Free at last!

As I am typing this, my headache-addled eyes are resting on the final copy of my Asian Film Studies research essay, recently completed. It took three days of stress to write the damn thing, and now that I'm done I can hand it in and simply not worry about anything else until January, when I will have to start fretting over important things, like my birthday.

Also, my story "House Hunting" got rejected for the MacTaggart writing award. Hey, I tried, I think it's a pretty decent story, and they got back to me surprisingly promptly (I was expecting the story to be tied up until February), unlike some people...*cough*ON SPEC*cough*.

Anyway, I think I'll start shopping "House Hunting" out to the fantasy mags, along with "Parasite: A Love Story". I've also started working on another story for Creative Writing that pokes fun at some fairytales, and that's coming along quite well . I dunno, considering "My Brother's Own Words," maybe my strengths lie with young-adult writing. I know Alice Hoffman writes for both adults and teens, and look at her work!

Yes, I'm starting to get really interested in Alice Hoffman - I adored her book The Ice Queen, and the film Practical Magic was so non-offensive I remember thinking, "If the movie's this interesting, the book has to be a billion times better!" Ha, ha. I managed to get another one of her books on Bargain at Chapters (and I also got another two books at the discount bookstore at my University--one of which, Cecelia Ahern's If You Could See Me Now, simply because I'm 75% sure it's the source material for an upcoming Hugh Jackman movie [and yes, I KNOW that getting books because my crush du jour starred in the film adaptation is not the best idea....I'm not looking forward to reading Crime and Punishment because Patrick Dempsey starred in the TV movie]), so I still have TONS to read.

Because I've been a combination of lazy/busy, I haven't updated my Reading/To Be Read graphics, so I'll update you: finished Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series for Green Man, as well as Kat Richardson's Greywalker--look for the reviews to come up sometime in January. Right now I've returned to Elizabeth Hand, and after that I will try my first Jane Austen novel--because another one of the books I'm reading for Green Man Review involves the second book in a trilogy that deals with the life of Mr. Darcy.

And oh, did I mention I picked up about fifteen novels at the University Bookstore that have to be read for next semester??? Squee! More reading!

Monday, November 27, 2006

HA! Double-HA!

When I was in elementary school, I was deeply, deeply into the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. There was actually a point, around grade five or six, when I would exclusively read Redwall books, starting again with the (chronologically) first book in the series when I was done with the last.

It took me a while to regain my senses and realize just what was so awful about the Redwall books, and I was actually planning on writing a long and detailed rant about why I think they were too black-and-white.

It seems that SomethingAwful.com beat me to it: http://www.somethingawful.com/index.php?a=4270 . It explains everything I hate about the series, and more!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Formats, Movies, and Movie Trailers

Finals week approaches, and with it, I must turn my writing skills from constructing fantasy stories to churnings out essays. I've had a relatively easy time of it so far, but crunch time is approaching. Still, once that's over, I'm home free. Creative Writing doesn't have a final exam, two of my classes' finals are take-home essays, and studying isn't necessary for English finals.

Still, the final research essay writing is going to be strenuous. At least I get to use films for some of my source materials. For my Canadian Lit class, my prof allowed me to pursue a topic in how Americans portray Canadians comically in film - so I got to watch South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Canadian Bacon, and Dudley Do-Right. Okay, so only one of those films could actually be considered good (that would be South Park, which has had me staying up to watch actual episodes now at 10:30 on the Comedy Network), but they all had something to say about the film. But I can't tell you guys that! I have to write it into my essay!

Also - I discovered the Blogger has a new format which allows for tags, which is excellent, in my opinion. I'm going to see if I can edit previous posts to do this as well. There are tons of posts that would have been a million times easier to find if they had tags.

The past couple of weeks have been generally uneventful, except for a few choice moments. Camilla Gibb is my Univeristy's Writer-In-Residence for the fall semester, and I gave her a copy of "Parasite: A Love Story" when she came to lecture at my Creative Writing class. Well, a few weeks later, we had a meeting, where she basically told me how much she loved it. Really! She had good critical comments, of course (like chopping off the last few paragraphs - which has helped more than few of my stories become better), but she actually said, "I'm sorry this meeting's so brief. There just isn't enough wrong with [your story]!"


Once I get marked on it in Creative Writing, I'm submitting it, and because it has a sci-fi bent, I might try Asimov's, or Analog...or maybe something smaller. ^_^;; I still haven't heard back from On Spec, and they're situated in my city! And I sent my story in months ago! Argh. Camilla Gibb once said she had to wait three years before an accepted story got published. Short-story writing doesn't seem to be the best way to make a living, but right now I don't think I'm ready to write novels yet. I have trouble managing groups of characters, and subplots, and setting--so of course, writing stories with a more limited scope is much simpler.

And as for movie news - I saw the new Spider-Man 3 trailer! Well, actually, I saw both the trailers - the official one, and the leaked one with Venom footage that got pulled off YouTube and Ain't It Cool News by Sony's henchman. The first one, while revealing some good scenes, was altogether disappointing (read: no Venom, little Topher, no Gwen). The second one was much better--even though the special effects scenes in that one weren't finished yet. It was altogether more dramatic and cohesive, I felt. And the Venom footage was completely awesome! Teeth, voice, look - perfect. I have the feeling that while the official one will be shown with Casino Royale, this second one (once it's finished) will be the second trailer shown when Ghostrider comes out in February. I can't wait.

Also, I'm trying very hard to like the upcoming Dax Shepard movies. He was excellent, excellent in Zathura - and the trailers for Employee of the Month and Let's Go to Prison looked funny. And, from what limited reviews there are, he's considered one of the funnier characters in Mike Judge's criminally undermarketed Idiocracy. So I'm trying to be optimistic. Employee of the Month had several good points about it - although most of them were due to Dane Cook (not entirely offensive, as I assumed he would be) and Shepard. But the reviews for Prison look deadly, and worst of all, lots of the reviewers are saying, "Well, it's a Dax Shepard movie. What did you expect?"

What? No! Watch Zathura, people! Argh!

Someone cast him in a good movie - it's bad enough that 70% of Patrick Dempsey's movies are absolute crap (although Enchanted looks to be fantastic - if a long way off)

Ah well, I guess even if that doesn't pan out, I still have Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man 3, The Good German) and Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3, The Crusaders) to star in movies worth spending money on.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Screenplay Sample: My character arc for Danny Tigers, for the Virtual Season of "Heroes"



STEPHANIE, a student, is in the center of the room, surrounded by students and DANIEL, who are seated in chairs. She remains silent as she hops around in a circle, making wild gestures with her arms and hands. DANIEL is watching her, but his eyes have a glazed expression. At the end of her performance, STEPHANIE falls to the floor, assuming a stylized prostrate position. There is mild applause, and DANIEL gives a jerk, blinks, and starts clapping as well.

Well…yes. Very good, Stephanie. Very, um, quiet.

STEPHANIE gets up, beaming and panting from her exertions.

I thought that the dynamics of the narrative would be better served through interpretive dance.

DANIEL opens his mouth to speak, and hesitates. The school bell rings, and the students get up to leave, all except STEPHANIE, who stays behind.

So, what did you think?

That was the school bell, Stephanie.

My project, Mr. Leon. What did you think of it? Did I get an A?

I’m pretty sure you have classes to get to.

I’m pretty sure I’m getting an A on this project, but I’d like to know for sure.

DANIEL sighs, lets his gaze wander for a minute, then brings his attention back to his student.


STEPHANIE (incredulous)


B minus? You can’t be serious.

No, but I try, I really do. B minus, Stephanie.

I had the best performance in the whole class! I had choreography!

The assignment was to do a study in dialogue – you didn’t say a word throughout the whole thing.

I wasn’t saying words – I was conveying them. With body language. With art.

Well, consider that the reason you didn’t get a D. Everyone else came up with something to say.

STEPHANIE backs off, crossing her arms in a sullen position.

So is that it? I don’t get an A because I didn’t conform to your narrow little idea of what acting is? Because I thought outside the box, for once? Acting is about humanity!

You’re sixteen, you barely know what humanity is. I gave you an assignment, you didn’t complete it, you came up with something different, so you got a B minus. Feel free to lay on some of that gratitude anytime you like.

Yeah, well you’re old. You’re like, some old guy who did two movies a hundred years ago so you think you know everything. Where’s your Oscar, Mr. Leon? Where’s your People’s Choice Award? You know what I think, Mr. Leon?

No, I don’t, a fact for which I am supremely grateful.

I think that I have the ability go somewhere, to do something important, and when you look at me, you see someone who won’t screw things up like you did, and some weird Has-Been switch in your head goes off, so you think you have to wreck things for me.

When I look at you Stephanie…

STEPHANIE (interrupting)

DANIEL (continuing)
…I see a sixteen year old girl who has two years of highschool left. A B minus is nothing. You’ll get over it. You’ll have to, if you want to be half the actor I was twenty years ago.

Yeah, whatever. You suck, Mr. Leon.

STEPHANIE walks to the door, opens it, and leaves, slamming the door behind her.


DANIEL opens the door and exits the classroom with his briefcase. Students rush by him in both directions. One, BOBBY, bumps into him. DANIEL is thrown back against the wall and he drops his briefcase, which opens and spills papers everywhere.

Whoa, there! Where are the strippers?

DANIEL offers his hand to be let up, but BOBBY flinches away, ducks his head, and continues on his way.

Spooky kid.


DANIEL walks into the Staff lounge, gets himself a mug, and pours himself some coffee. He takes a gulp and winces. PHILLIP watches while seated on a ratty couch.

Ugh, it’s cold.

Iced coffees are all the rage now – it’s how all the cool kids are drinking it.

Oh good, I’m cool now.

It’s 2:15, man. You just had your last class.

DANIEL drinks more coffee.

You have no idea how much I need this.

I can guess – Stephanie Gradner?


I taught drama for once semester before you showed up, remember? She was in that class, too. She’s St. Matthew’s very own diva. Got a dressing room and a posse and everything.

Yeah, all she needs is a deaf casting agent and a very tolerant, very patient, and very horny producer, and she’s all set.

Well, it worked for you didn’t it?

Twenty years ago, Phil. All producers were patient and horny then. Now they’re just horny. She has a bright future of arty toothpaste commercials ahead of her.


How is she in your math class, these days? Does she bemoan having to conform to the Pythagoras Theorem?

I don’t doubt that you were just as stupid and just as eager and just as determined to get laid when you were young.

DANIEL finishes off the coffee, puts down the mug, and smiles.

Ah ha, that’s where you’re wrong. I’m still just as stupid and eager and determined to get laid. You open tonight for the Glass Olive?

Let me check my day timer.

PHILLIP mimes opening a daytimer, and pretends to rifle through its pages.

Checking…checking…Nope. I don’t have any day this week where I’m able to switch bodies with a strapping 25-year-old bodybuilder with a full head of hair. And Balding Geek’s Night was yesterday. Can you take a rain check?

Aw, c’mon! It wouldn’t be that bad.

The average age of the Glass Olive regular is ‘old enough to drink in Canada, but young enough to be underage in the States’. How many times can you be told, “I’m sorry, you’re not my type, but my mom was a big fan of you” in one night without giving up? Or have you just become immune to it all?

I’m developing a theory that for every one hundred girls who say “my mom was really into you”, there’ll be one who says “Gee, you were in movies once” and will hesitate long enough to let me feel her up before she reaches into her purse and hands me the script she wants me to consider.

How many girls has it been, Daniel?

One hundred and three – but four don’t count. Two thought I was Matt Dillon, one had me confused with that annoying Ford dealer on the North side, and the last one was an actual fan of my films – but still thought I was too old for her.

You got dumped by a Tigerette? Harsh.

Are you going to come, or not?

I’ll have to program my VCR to tape Ghost Whisperer, but yeah, I’ll come.


DANIEL and PHILLIP do a high-five at the same time that PRINCIPAL GENBUCK enters. GENBUCK glares pointedly at DANIEL, before picking up a stack of papers on a table and walking out again.

Man, am I going to have to start teaching full-time before Ms. Genbuck stops trying to castrate me with her eyes?

Nah – I think she just likes you. Twenty bucks says she has a poster of you in her bedroom.

You are an evil little man.

CUT to EXT. – NIGHTCLUB: A bright neon sign of a martini glass, with lettering beside it that says “The Glass Olive”. There is loud, thumping music, and a BOUNCER by the door. BOUNCER grins when he sees DANIEL and PHILLIP approach.

Dan my man. Back for another ride on the Rejection Express?

Nah, I’m getting on the Cradle Robber tonight.

Haven’t you seen the sign? It says ‘You must be this rich to ride that ride’.

BOUNCER lifts his hand to demonstrate – he holds it high above DANIEL’S head. DANIEL laughs it off.

Just let us in, won’t you? I wouldn’t want to keep you from your next steroid injection.

BOUNCER pretends to aim at punch at DANIEL’s face.

See that, right there? Rage is one of the first signs of overuse.

Get in already. You’re going to be leaving soon enough.

BOUNCER gestures the two in.


DANIEL and PHILLIP go up to the bar, which is being tended by two bartenders, one male, and one female.

Rum and coke, pretty lady. Seabreeze for my friend.

DANIEL winks. BARTENDER rolls her eyes, then turns to prepare the drinks. PHILLIP stands up and drapes his coat over the barstool.

Where are you going?

I need to powder my nose.

What? We just got here, man. Didn’t you go before we left?

By powder my nose, I mean powder the top of my head so that the shine doesn’t blind the beautiful women here.

Whatever works for you, Phil, but I gotta say – blindness could be turned to your advantage.

PHILLIP laughs half-heartedly, and leaves for the bathroom. For a few minutes, DANIEL sits at the bar, bobbing his head to the music. Turning to his right, he notices a young blonde woman. He smiles and winks at her. She returns the smile, amused, before turning away. DANIEL’s smile breaks into a wide grin – and a change comes over his features. The skin becomes more smooth and tight, his nose more pronounced, his hair curlier – within a few seconds, DANIEL has unwitting morphed into a 17-year-old version of himself.

DANIEL rises from his chair, crosses the room, and sits himself down next to the blonde. She turns, reacts with surprise, then becomes genuinely flirtatious.

Wow, weird lighting we have in here.

I don’t mind it – some guys need that extra advantage or else they’d never go anywhere.

BLONDE (laughing)
Not that you need any.

Why, thank you. Hey, you here by yourself?

Not anymore. You remind me of someone.

Really? Can I guess?

DANIEL starts humming the theme music from his 80s film, Tick-Tock. BLONDE laughs, delighted.

Oh my God, the music from Tick-Tock! That’s right, Danny Tiger! You really look like him.

So I’ve been told.

That was my favourite movie when I was little – I doubt I understood half of it. I wonder what happened to Danny Tiger.

Twenty years later, he walked into a bar and sat next to a pretty young thing.

You? Maybe – I’m open to the idea of reincarnation.

DANIEL dons a confused expression.

Excuse me?

At this point, the male BARTENDER takes notice of the younger DANIEL and moves towards him.

Hey buddy – could you show some I.D. please? You too, Miss.

DANIEL laughs.

If I wasn’t straight, I’d buy you a drink for that remark.

Just show me your I.D., kid.

BLONDE fishes through her purse for her ID, and DANIEL opens his wallet, a good-natured grin on his face. They both hand over their driver’s licenses, and the MALE BARTENDER looks at them both. His expression darkens.

I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

BLONDE pouts.

Okay, now, fun’s over. You’re killing my game, here.

You’re jeopardizing our liquor license, kid. Take your chick and get out of here.

MALE BARTENDER tosses them their IDs back.

And if you want a piece of advice, if you’re so bent on getting wasted before turning the big one-eight, have the decency to go out and get a fake ID that’s at least partially believable. Using your dad’s license is just lazy.

DANIEL pockets his ID, stands up, and leans on the counter.

Hey! I’ve got a good ten years on you, at least. I shouldn’t have to put up with this crap. Your partner over there –

DANIEL gestures at the FEMALE BARTENDER, who turns her head and heads in the direction of the commotion.

DANIEL (continuing)
Sold me a rum and coke with no questions asked. A rum and coke, I might add, that I haven’t had yet.

You sell this punk a drink?

Hell no. Never seen him in here before.

BLONDE tugs at DANIEL’s shoulder.

C’mon, Tiger, they caught us. Don’t get us in any more trouble.

I’M not the one who’s in trouble. I’ve come to this bar for months! Just ask my buddy Phil. Phil, Phil? Where are you, Phil?

As DANIEL continues ranting and looking for his companion PHILLIP, MALE BARTENDER gestures to someone behind DANIEL and the BLONDE. Two large hands descend on DANIEL’s shoulders – the hands of the BOUNCER.


CUT TO EXT. Nightclub – Night.

DANIEL and BLONDE are unceremoniously tossed out of the Glass Olive.

What the HELL, man?
BLONDE reaches into Daniel’s pocket, withdraws his wallet, and looks at his ID. She starts laughing.

BLONDE (laughing)
Oh man, is that your Dad? He’s not that bad looking.

This is an outrage! (yelling at BOUNCER) I have a constitutional right to get hammered!

BOUNCER responds by waving genially, unfazed. BLONDE, wobbling, latches on to DANIEL’s arm.

Don’t worry about it, Danny – I get kicked out of bars all the time. My stupid brother made my ID – it only works half the time. It’s better than yours though.

DANIEL stops short, and gives BLONDE a closer look.

Please tell me you’re eighteen.

BLONDE shakes her head, grinning.

Seventeen – with only a week to go before you turn eighteen?


BLONDE lays a finger over her mouth in an exaggerated “quiet” gesture.

Shhhh….Don’t tell.

Oh man….

DANIEL rapidly backs away from the BLONDE. BLONDE persists – approaching him with as much determination as he tries to get away from her.

I could get arrested for this!

Arrested for what? I didn’t even have to time get drunk before we got tossed.

BLONDE makes a dash for DANIEL, DANIEL turns and nearly bumps into a glass window of a shop adjoining the Glass Olive. BLONDE wraps her arms around DANIEL’s neck at the same time he catches a glimpse of his 17-year-old reflection. DANIEL pauses for about five seconds of shock, before wriggling madly out of BLONDE’s grip.

Damn, Danny. What’s your dysfunction?

DANIEL darts forward, snatching his license out of BLONDE’s hands.

I – I – I gotta go. Right now. I have to leave.

DANIEL breaks into a wild sprint towards his car. He jams his key into the lock, gets in, starts the ignition, and peels off with a squeal of tires. BLONDE watches his car depart with a contemptuous look on her face.

What a freak.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Want to Be a Screenwriter

A few months back, before Heroes started airing on television, some of my pals from the SuperHeroHype Forums decided to write a virtual season of Heroes, with our own characters and storylines that would compliment the actual season taking place on NBC.

In order to write the season, however, it was decided that we would write our sections in script format. I'd never done that before - my focus has always been on straight-laced fiction in short story or novel format. However, I figured it would be an interesting exercise, and so I tried. I wrote about a character named Danny Tiger, a washed-up '80s heartthrob who discovers his can manipulate his physical age in whichever direction he chooses.

Once I caught on to the format, it was surprising how easy it was. Dialogue has always been of the strongest features of my writing, so the ability to focus on dialogue (with some action and set description), came easily to me. I sent in my first chapter to the organizers of the season and received a very positive review of it.

Needless to say, the project died when we realised that we had no idea how Heroes was actually intending to operate, and since the basic foundation of the show was an enormous mystery we couldn't really solve, the idea was abandoned. I still have my script of Danny Tiger - maybe I'll post it later for you to review.

Recently, one of my friends from my Film Studies class turned me to John August's blog. He's a screenwriter who's written several movies I either adore or wish to see (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride - hey, look at all the Tim Burton work!), who posts very articulate and helpful advice, as well as the nitty-gritty details of screenwriting and getting an agent and all that.

Now, I adore movies and television. I believe I always have. Say what you will about it rotting my brain and ruining my imagination, but watching moving stories on a screen has always captivated my interest for as long as I can remember. I read Entertainment Weekly religiously for news on which movies are coming out, which director's signed on to do what, what comic book is getting adapted.

It basically sounds like the job for me - well-paying (if you're successful), no name- or face- recognition, and I get to help make great movies that I like.

Of course, at one point in time I thought being a teacher, a lawyer, or a librarian would be the best job for me (and I'm still on the fence about the librarian goal).

And, if my perusal of books and blogs on the subject is any indication, if I want to get my writing noticed by Hollywood, I'd have to move to L.A. The city where I live isn't the armpit of Canada - it's more like the right nipple of Canada. It's prominent, but it really doesn't do anything. The idea of living in L.A. is more than a little terrifying for someone who has never not lived with her parents. I mean, besides the fact that film and television insist on portraying L.A. as a hotbed of crime/corruption/sex/drugs/vampires, it doesn't sound like the most friendly place to be.

That's me - a creature of habit. I think of moving to L.A., and my thoughts are "I have no idea how to buy a place to live. I have no idea what L.A. is like. I have no idea how to get around in L.A. I don't know how to get a job in L.A. (although my Library Studies degree might get me to a library there). How do I learn to ride the buses in L.A.? How do I deal with all the gangs in L.A.?" Etc. Etc.

I mean, I don't have to worry about it for the next couple of years or so (at least until I get my BA), but I don't think screenwriting is the kind of job I can be successful at living in the Right Nipple of Canada. We'll just have to see.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Sorry for the lack of posting - I've been very busy. I had four (!) parties to attend this month, four more than I've accustomed to having on my day planner at any one time, and I've also been writing like mad in order to make my deadlines for my Creative Writing class and for the MacTaggart Award.

Yup, I sent in "House Hunting" for the MacTaggart Writing Award today. I have no idea when I'll find out if I win, but I sincerely hope I win. In a cover letter, I'm supposed to propose a planned expedition I'd like to go on if I won the MacTaggart Award (which is up to $12 000 in travel money), and I really had to stretch my mind to think of place I'd like to travel to.

I'm a fantasy writer. I'm also a creature of habit. I don't like travel, in general. I wouldn't know who to go with, for example. I wouldn't know how to get around. I know English and French and a smidgeon of Japanese and that's it. But I might as well try it out if I have a chance to do it for free and while I'm young enough to get away with it, eh?

I've also been too busy to update - but I did today. I one new piece and am in the process of writing another in time for Thursday("Parasite: A Love Story", and I've begun work on "Red Bird, Red Bird"). As well, I finally got a few assignments for Animthon 14, so I have to work on those, too. I'm going to log off now, I have to go write some more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Hello all.

I'm currently undergoing the final stages of recovering from a particularly nasty cold, the kind that radiates pain from sinuses, thus causing my cheekbones and the teeth of my upperjaw to ache as well. The kind of cold that made me forgo attending my film lab to watch a three-hour-long '50s Bollywood movie on Monday, so now I have to take the film out of Reserve and find the time to watch it at home. Argh.

I have considerably less time on my hands. My classes are all very detail-oriented, so there isn't a lot of class-time that I can afford to spend writing my novel or cruising the Internet. My part-time job usually eats up my hours until 5pm, so that means most of my work has to be done at night. Which means that recently I have been getting very little done, because I am tired.

The last two years I've made a habit of working in the afternoon and leaving my nights free for television watching and goofing off, so my mind is not yet accustomed to having to work after supper. I tried reading an essay in bed last night, and I ended up falling asleep - at eight o'clock at night!

And I'm STILL thinking of Zathura - it's one of those movies that is so good that you feel sad once the movie's over, the same way one feels when one wakes up on Boxing Day to discover that Christmas has come and gone. I felt the same way about Spider-Man and Unbreakable. I don't want to bore myself with it, so I'll have to make myself wait at least four months before I watch it again.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jumanji vs Zathura

Both movies are about magical boardgames that pull the players into a world of danger and adventure. I enjoyed both movies. However, which movie has the leg up? Read on for my point-by-point take. BEWARE - MAJOR MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD, so you've been warned.

The Setting - and its Dangers
Jumanji: The jungle, which means stampedes, monsoons, poisonous flowers and hungry foliage.
Zathura: Outerspace - with blackholes, gravity fields, meteors, and cryogenic chambers.
Advantage: Jumanji, at least in the case of realism. The Zathura boys have it easy - that film decidedly leaves science by the wayside, as the kids are still permitted electricity, heat, and water, and the whole concept of the airless vacuum of space is pointedly ignored. However, sometimes the dangers of Jumanji become too extreme for the movie to be truly enjoyed, whereas the safe incontinuity of Zathura allows time for more wonder at the glorious surroundings.

The Special Effects
Jumanji: Mainly CGI, used for stampeding animals, grasping vines, splitting houses, lions, and monkeys.
Zathura: Some CGI (for backgrounds and spaceships), more physical explosions, puppetry, and costuming (for some of the robot, the Zorgons, the damage to the house).
Advantage: Zathura. Jumanji relied too much on CGI when CGI was still a newer technology, and as such, lots of the effects are very weird-looking and awkward (particularly the monkeys and the lion). By keeping most of the effects old-school, Zathura's look remained consistent, magical, and realistic.

The Strong-Willed Older Sibling
Jumanji: Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst)
Zathura: Walter Budwing (Josh Hutcherson)
Advantage: Walter. For one thing, he's a main character who directly manipulates the course of events, emerging from the experience as a different person. In Jumanji, Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) is the centre of attention, so Judy and her brother Peter are really only along for the ride, and end up forgetting the experience anyway (more on that to be revealed).

The Weak-Willed, Cheating Younger Sibling
Jumanji: Peter Shepherd (Bradley Pierce)
Zathura: Danny Budwing (Jonah Bobo)
Advantage: Tie - Peter's more mature, and Danny has more of a stake in the game, but they're both surprisingly similar, not only because both summon disastrous consequences when they attempt to cheat at their respective games (Peter turns into a monkey as punishment, and Danny's brother Walter gets blamed for Danny's misstep and ends up ejected into space). On an interesting note - both characters end up being the ones who release the Trapped-In-The-Game Adults.

The Trapped-In-The-Game Adult
Jumanji: Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) - trapped in the jungle at age nine for 26 years after he lands on a spot that sucks him into the game until someone rolls a five or an eight. Released when Peter rolls a five.
Zathura: The Astronaut (Dax Shepard) - trapped in space at age ten for fifteen years, when he recklessly wishes his brother out of existence. Without his brother to complete his turn, the Astronaut was unable to continue the game to its conclusion. Summoned when Danny spins the "Rescue Stranded Astronaut" card.
Advantage: The Astronaut - for one thing, he's sexier. For another, he's more entertaining as the unwilling referee between the two squabbling brothers than Alan, who emerges from the game as a loin-cloth wearing, bearded adult to discover his family is dead and his house abandoned. I bought Shepard's wiseass approach more than William's child-trapped-in-a-man's-body portrayal.

The Unwittingly-Dragged-Into-The-Game Authority Figure
Jumanji: Sarah Whittle - started the game as a girl with Alan Parrish, fled when Alan was sucked into the game, and spent the next 26 years convincing herself the entire incident was a psychotic breakdown until Alan and co. remind her that her turn is needed to continue the game to its conclusion.
Zathura: Lisa Budwing - the boys' older sister who is recruited to babysit them, at least until she winds up cryogenically frozen. Not an actual player.
Advantage: Sarah. For one thing, she doesn't spend three-quarters of the movie as an amusing inanimate prop, only to wake up screaming and out of touch, and for another, she lends a needed adult perspective to the adventure that Alan's wounded-man-boy cannot provide.

The Concluding Time-Warp
Jumanji: Upon completing the game, Alan and and Sarah find themselves nine-years-old again in 1969, when they first started the game. Judy and Peter don't exist yet, and don't remember them when they meet again in the future.
Zathura: At the end of the movie, the Astronaut is revealed to be an adult version of Walter, who came back in time through a black hole in order to prevent his younger self from being trapped in the game by wishing Danny had never been born.
Advantage: Jumanji. Simple, fast, and easy, the time-warp ending concludes in a manner where everyone wins. Alan makes up with his dad, Sarah's not labeled as psychotic, and the two manage to keep Judy and Peter from being orphaned! Sure, Zathura's twist was cool - but it takes a good long while for the ending to make sense, more time than the movie can afford.

The Family Theme
Jumanji: Father-and-Son Relationships - Alan feuds with his father when his dad suggests sending him to boarding school, but regrets his callousness after he is released to find out his father died before he could apologize. Finds himself becoming a father-figure to Judy and Peter.
Zathura: Brother Relationships - Walter and Danny find themselves competing for their divorced dad's attention, with Walter being increasingly hostile towards Danny's presence. Throughout the game, they must tighten their bond in order to survive.
Advantage: Tie. Alan's relationship with his father is more psychological, and is visually demonstrated by the character of Hunter Van Pelt, a sadistic gun-toting maniac who hunts Alan throughout the film, and presumably while Alan was living in the jungle, as well. The Hunter and Alan's father are played by the same actor (Jonathan Hyde), and spout the same diatribes about "acting like a man", which brings into question whether the world of Jumanji is created by the game, or its players.
The relationship between Walter and Danny is demonstrated by the contrasting metaphor of the Astronaut, who provides the image of a grim future of a Walter without a Danny to help him finish the game. The Astronaut is a living testament to brotherly hatred taken too far, and is only redeemed when young Walter wishes back the alternate-timeline Danny that the Astronaut carelessly wished away. Alternate- and Present-Danny merge into one, as do Older and Younger Walter, and the timeline is restored.

Winner: A tie. Jumanji may seem a little dated now, especially in the special effects department, but the story is sound, although the violence of scenes seems to aim the movie at an older audience. Zathura is still bright and new and shiny-looking, but is appealing to all ages and could very well become a children's classic.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back Again

Sorry again for the gap between posts. Things have been going great lately. First off, I've finished my entire semester's reading (novel-wise), so I'm back to reading the series that I've claimed is my favourite even though I've only read it once - that is, Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn quartet. It's a little hard to get back into the groove of his extremely crowded prose, but all in all, I'm still enjoying it.

I actually got to interview Camilla Gibb, the author of Sweetness in the Belly, the book I mentioned before. She was very nice to talk to, and not at all intimidating or condescending.

Now, other things, other things...Oh, yeah - I've developed a certain interest in Dax Shepard, co-star of Punk'd. I've just rented Zathura, a movie which I adored, so now I guess I'm obligated to watch Employee of the Month and Let's Go To Prison. Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ah! Books!

Sorry if it seems like I've been devouring books two at a time - the novels assigned to my "Overview of Children's Literature" class are bite-sized treasures to be read in a day. Not only did I finish I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, by Bernice Eisenstein, but also the creepy Coraline by Neil Gaiman (which I'm pretty sure is pronounced "COH-RAH-LINE", intead of "COH-RAN-LEEN", because it would explain why everyone keeps calling her "Caroline" by accident), and Uncle Ronald, a story of a boy and his mum fleeing an abusive father to the benevolent relative of the title, by Brian Doyle.

Now I'm back onto my Contemporary Canadian Lit books, with What We All Long For. I usually read the children's books two at a time, because they're so slender and quick to read, then jump into a meatier adult Canadian novel. I haven't read too much of my Popular Culture books (other than the Eisenstein), as they're all graphic novels regarding the Holocaust and two out of the three books are wrapped, so they'd be impossible to return if they turned out to be removed from the list.

Also, I've been butchering "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees". The original first draft ballooned to sixty-one pages of single-spaced prose, hardly a short story, and my attempts to simply transcribe it into the second draft while cutting the fat haven't been working. I'm fond of starting at a certain point that sets up the the story, but apparently that's not the sort of thing that attracts readers nowadays. Now, they want to start with some action, or some immediate contact, and have the information about the setting, story, etc. filter through in the way the author tells the story.

That's fine with me, it just means that when I make a second draft, I end up chopping off the first couple of pages, because they helped me to discover the story, but the readers aren't going to want to deal with them. So I've strongly reworked "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees" - the crazy guy's turned into a obsessively orderly jerk, the magician-looney-bin has been converted into a fully-functioning (but boring) office, and Ravine is slightly more competant at her job, only now she's making mistakes on purpose to piss the crazy- er, I mean the jerky guy off because it's the only way he can let loose. ^_^

I think it has very little connection with the original story, except for the central idea of magic. And that's not such a bad thing. I can only hope I can keep it down to a seemly story length, I tend to be wordy at times and I need to learn how to restrain my writing.

My new story, "House Hunting", is going well. Things usually do when I write a new story on a fresh idea, as opposed to an idea I've abandoned or an idea I've written down on a list to use later when I'm in a dry spell. This is the story that I'm going to use to try and win the McTaggart scholarship at my University. It's basically a short-story contest where the winner gets $12 000 in travel money. Europe, baby! Scotland, Italy, Ireland....and maybe Japan. But only if I win.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Busy Year To Come

Sorry that I haven't updated, I've been a little overwhelmed by the incredibly busy (at least for me) year that I have ahead.

1. I'm rejoined the UAMC (and I'm hoping to go on Tour next year).

2. I'm renewing my loyalty to The Gateway (I was lazy last year, and ended up not earning a bound edition of all last year's issues because I fell below the 15-articles-a-year marker. I know, it sounds lazy, but CD reviews only count for half an article, and the editor for last year was very lax when putting in CD reviews, so only about half the CD reviews sent in were actually published.

3. I've got a part-time job as a receptionist/computer guru.

4. I've volunteered to be Staff Writer for the upcoming Animethon 14. I didn't actually go to Animethon 13 last year, but I still like anime, and it'll look good on my resume and I'll probably make a lot of friends along the way.

5. Also, this is the year where my GPA counts towards whether or not I'm accepted into the School of Library and Information Studies.

So, lots of stuff to do, lots of reading and writing, and already my lazy mind thinks all of this will be impossible to perform. But laziness is definitely not a virtue, so I guess the only way to pry that bad habit from my life is to fill it up with rewarding things to do.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Reading Ahead

Well, now that I've finished reading Kelley Armstrong's very entertaining "Women of the Otherworld" books, I've now started into reading some of the novels on my University reading list. Yippee! A Sweetness in the Belly is to be read first - for no other reason than the green, beige, and pink stripe format of the cover caught my eye about a hundred times when I was working at Coles. Bad memories? Nah - I loved working there. It was getting fired that sucked.

Anyway, I'm already loving it. I adore books that begin with a language or a style or a story that immediately grabs me - these books are like waking up on a Saturday, when you know that there are two days of glorious non-work, or non-school ahead of you. Here, when a book begins well, it's wonderful because I know there are at least three hundred pages of similar goodness to go.

Granted, I have come to love good books that begin more slowly, but they're more like schooldays where they start with some trepidation (because I know that there are math classes, and social studies classes, and science classes ahead), but then as I progress I find out that we have a substitute teacher in math, we're watching a movie in social studies, and science is cancelled by a fire drill. All in all, it ends as a pretty good day. Still not quite as good as waking up on a Saturday, though.

Anyway - I finished the T.A. Barron Great Tree of Avalon series, and it tried my confidence as a reviewer, at least a little. I had very good reasons for the critique I gave of it (negative), and I think I backed them up very well, but when I read the blurb sheet presented in the press kit that has quotations from Madeleine L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander (two YA authors I love and have loved since I was eight) lauding a work I dispised, it's a bit of a kick in the teeth. I want to be like L'Engle and Alexander, I think they're wonderful writers, and I certainly don't want to question their taste by hating on a book they seemed to have enjoyed. But that book was so very unpleasant to read.

It's also a blow to the ego when yet another book I reviewed badly (Od Magic, Patricia A. McKillip) ends up nominated for a major fantasy award. Again - I had good reasons for not liking it, but sometimes I feel badly about it.

I wonder, everyone else seems to have liked it - I must have missed something. Or my favourite authors like it, so who am I to say it's bad? The fear of being too superficial or unintelligent a reader to catch the positive points that so many other people seem to have gotten from a novel can be daunting. I love Madeleine L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander, but T.A. Barron, you are no L'Engle or Alexander. Not even close, in my estimation.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Battle of the Blogs

As most you of know already, I am writer (soon to be published), who wishes to eventually hold a fantasy novel in my hands with my name on the cover (and maybe a few World Fantasy Awards and Hugos as well...-_-;;). Well, I've been reading blogs written by people in the publishing world in order to stock up on tips on how best to go about shopping my novel around (once I get around to finishing one that I deem good enough, of course). And man, did I come across some different opinions.

The two writing blogs that I read the most these days are Miss Snark's (http://misssnark.blogspot.com), and A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss' Writer Beware blog (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/). Snark is a literary agent who doles out advice to writers about how best to win over an agent who will give their work the attention it deserves (or more than it deserves, on occasion). Ann and Victoria are science fiction writers who began the page Writer Beware (www.writerbeware.org) and the blog after that, in order to keep tabs on bad agents and literary scammers - the kind who ask writers to pay to be represented, then cut and run without producing any results.

Ann and Victoria, and by extention, Snark - give advice to writers so that they might not make the same mistakes that others have made before them. What proper materials to send to a agent, for example, or which writing contests are legit and which ones are formed just to collect the entry fee and cackle their little scammy heads off.

However, some people don't like the actions that Snark, Ann, and Victoria are taking. Personally, I like Miss Snark, because she's entertaining and gives out good advice without being completely patronizing. Personally, I adore Ann and Victoria because when I knew next to nothing about agents (to the point where I felt I had to find an agent who lived NEAR ME, instead of near New York or Toronto), they replied to my e-mail explaining why I didn't need to get a local agent, and that the local agent I was considering was not a very wise choice at all.

Well, SammyK, from A Gent's Outlook (http://agentsoutlook.blogspot.com/) also claims to be an agent. He, to put it politely, does not agree with Miss Snark (although he claims to know her 'true identity' and to have probably slept with her at some point or another). From what I've read of his blog, he's angry at Ann, Victoria, and Snark for several reasons - one being that, basically, he feels they're spoonfeeding the unwashed masses information they would be finding out on their own if they were really talented enough to be published.

Now, while I myself am rather annoyed at the picture of writers as people who are so engrossed by 'the crahft' that they are ignorant to how the real world works, it seems rather wrong-headed to believe that just because someone is ignorant, they can't be a writer. Ignorance, unlike stupidity, is easily fixed. Which would be better - the amateur who sent out her manuscript willy-nilly, convinced that the heartbreaking greatness of her work would be enough to get her foot in the door; or the amateur who did research, asked for advice, and gathered information?

Another vibe that SammyK gives off is that the scammers and bottomfeeders have their uses - namely, that if a person is stupid enough to fall for their bullshit, prideful enough to accept their empty flattery, and lazy enough to believe that his/her work of "staggering genius" will get noticed regardless of the reputation of the agent, these "writing wannabes" are obviously not qualified to write, and that somewhere in the world a real editor has been spared having to reject another awful manuscript, and a real writer now has less competition when shopping their novel around.

Basically, these scammers work as shitfilters, a net that lets the smart writers who research their field through safely while snagging the idiots who contribute nothing to the world but a bigger slushpile. In a way, he kinda has a Darwinian point, and one of his issues with Writer Beware and Miss Snark is that they are killing the scammer lions who used to thin the writer-herd by picking off the weaker, clueless writer-gazelles who were holding the writer-herd back anyway.

However - one of the reasons I like Writer Beware and Miss Snark is because they educate people on how the publishing world works so that they are no LONGER ignorant. That's the issue I take with SammyK. Stupid and ignorant are not the same, and just because someone is ignorant enough to get caught by a scammer, does not mean they aren't worthy of publication.

On the same note, even if a puffed-up peacock of a "writer wannabe" is spared the obstacles of scam artists, and given enough information to query an agent properly - if his writing still isn't any good, he's still not going to gain representation even if he goes about it the right way, is he? Sure, he can write a good query letter now, and he knows a good agent from a bad one, but if a good agent sees that his writing isn't going to pay out, he's going to be rejected. So I hardly think Writer Beware and Miss Snark are to blame for supposedly 'lesser works' being published while 'true genius writers' are starving in the streets.

Another issue that SammyK takes with Writer Beware and Miss Snark is that he believes they are using their watchdog groups and blogs to gain celebrity for themselves, to the point where they are no longer helping writers. From what I've gathered by reading his blog, the celebrity gained by their loud protesting and advice-giving garners them unfair book deals ("unfair" in the sense that they are "lesser" writers, and especially unfair to Miss Snark, whom SammyK insinuates is not as successful and intelligent as she leads people to believe) that fill up slots on publisher's books lists that could have been filled by the supposedly "better" writers these woman are giving advice to.

What? Considering the vague possibility that SammyK is completely right, and OHNOEZ! Three slots filled! No more room for ANY publishers to publish ANY books of ANY merit ever again! My knee-jerk reaction to SammyK was that he looks at the world through shit-coloured glasses, seeing selfishness and greed in the actions of every person he sees. Giving money to the poor? "She's only doing it so people can say how charitable she is." Building houses for the homeless? "He's only doing it for the self-gratification, and it looks good a college resume." Reading to the blind? "She just likes to hear the sound of her own voice." Maintaining websites that give advice to writers? "They're only doing it to get publishers to pay attention to their own books and literary pursuits."

In any pursuit, be it selfish or selfless, if one does it effectively one will get a certain amount of attention, and the rewards that come with such attention. It's inevitable.

My last point - rumours and words are meaningless. Actions and reactions are key. If, as SammyK says, Ann, Victoria, and Snark are getting unfair attention to their own writing thanks to their websites, they've still managed to help a large number of writers overcome the spreading epidemic of ignorance of the publishing field. They've helped people learn how to properly get their writing looked at, and if SammyK believes that crappy writing is now getting attention it doesn't deserve, well, tough beans. Agents and editors and publishers don't have to accept poor manuscripts just because the writers used the proper methods to get them sent. If stressed agents are finding more slipshod manuscripts on their desks thanks to Writer Beware and Miss Snark, there's a good chance they are also finding a few more gems that would have been left in the rough if these women hadn't given the writer a fair warning.

Still, I'm going to go back and read more of A Gent's Outlook, because in his own way he's doling out his own advice to writers, albeit of a more "hard knocks" type of education. He hates lazy writers who aren't willing to work to get their writing noticed, or who make unfair demands of their agents, editors and publishers because they don't know their ass from a manila envelope, well, so do I.

And so do Snark, Ann, and Victoria, I'm thinking. Which is why they are always telling people exactly how to remove their ass from that couch to get started on their writing careers.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Huzzah! Laptop minus internet equals more writing!

It's not like I haven't known that I write more when I'm not hooked up to the internet, the self-updating playground of nerdy delights. At times, I'm more interested in reading the blogs of published writers, than actual writing so that MY blog will eventually become the blog of a published writer (in about a year, when "My Brother's Own Words" shows up in CICADA).

Unplugging the modem cord just hasn't worked, because I can only write about a paragraph before I wonder (has Ronny Shade replied to my post at Superherohype.com? Has Elizabeth Bear made a new post on her blog?), plug the cord right back in, go off to check, and end up clinking on a new link and discovering a deflightful new website that takes up the rest of my time.

So, over the weekend, I just took my laptop AWAY from where it has been languishing for the last three months (in the basement). Before, I was too lazy to move it. It was plugged in to both power and internet - why carry it around? Well, once I moved it to the living room, or the porch, or my bedroom, I was able to write a great deal - most of it on "Magic Doesn't Grow On Trees", where I am finally coming close to a conclusion.

If you'll pardon me for discovering yet another metaphor for writing, it's like following a scent. If I have an idea in mind, following through on that idea by writing it leads me along a path to yet another idea, and then another, and then another - so long as I keep following the path of my narrative while it's fresh. If I leave a story alone for a while, the trail gets cold, and I become loathe to start it up again because at the moment I have no creative way to keep it going. The act of writing inspires creativity, as I've always said - which makes me wonder about those authors who take ten years to write a book. How do they keep coming up with ideas if they write "one good sentence" a day?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I've been trying very hard lately to make myself write, but it's very difficult to do without being distracted. Even when I yank out the modem cord so that I'm not constantly checking SuperHeroHype.com, I can only last a few minutes before I plug it back in.

I'm a lazy writer. I have to force myself to keep writing if I want to make any kind of living at all doing it. Nora Roberts has written more than six hundred books in her lifetime. Ditto Danielle Steel. How can I keep up with that? I'm not saying I want to write a novel a week or anything, but I don't want to be that author that comes out with maybe one book every ten years. And it's going to take that long if I don't get writing already. I try to use my acceptance with CICADA as encouragement, I read and re-read the updates section of my Locus magazine that show all the other books that working authors have been turning in for five-, sometimes even six-figure advances. Lucky. I'm not interested that much in the money (I've adapted to the idea that I'll probably be having to do some real work, possibly in a library, on the side while I write) - but I know that I can never even hope of getting a six-figure advance if I'm not writing.

Anyway, I've changed some ideas with The Boy Who Would Be Queen again, changed the time and the setting. Basically, I'm going to try to make it as weird as possible, so that I can have some modern conveniences (which are, I'll admit, easier to write, and according to my parents - better received) but still keep some of the medieval parts that I like about all the other books that I read. That's one of the upsides of writing fantasy. Don't know enough about the medieval world - but writing about modern times is boring? Do both, then.

I'm thinking about dusting off Reading the Willow King, a novel idea that I've adandoned of late. It still has a lot of promise, and it keeps coming back to me when I find myself writing lines of it in my head when I fight with my sisters (primarily because the three main characters are based on myself and my sisters).

I've also been working more on "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees". It's going to need some serious trimming once I've finished the first draft, but it's coming along, and I think I'm succeeding at making spoiled rich girl Ravine a little more sympathetic and kind without being too obvious about it. There's nothing worse than when a pampered character acts like a bitch to everyone, but on the next page suddenly exclaims, "Oh! I've been so rude! My entire life is unsatisfactory, even with all of my material pleasures! Hop in my limo and let's go volunteer at the nearest soup kitchen!" I'm determined to have Ravine continue to adore her material wealth at the end, but she'll be more considerate of other people's feelings hopefully. And hopefully, people will find her mindset funny, rather than repulsive.

I'm also re-reading some of my books for Green Man Review. With my hunger to read new stories and new books that other people insist on publishing, even when I don't have the time or money to read the mall, I've found that I've rarely re-read any of the books that I own. The exceptions are Robin Hobb's books, Patricia Wrede's, Joanna Bertin's, and Tanya Huff's, but I still have the three books of William Horwood's Duncton Wood series, which I've read once, adored, and promptly never read again. And I've had them for nearly eight years, I'm pretty sure.

I think it's about time to start recirculating certain old books into my to-be-read pile, like, every bundle of three new books should be separated by one old one, or one old series. Right now, after I finish Kelley Armstrong's Broken, I'm reading Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, And Thorn series for review.After I read some more new books (the new ones on my pile include Child of a Rainless Year, Crime and Punishment, and Nicholas Nickleby, to name a few), I might try going back to reading The Wild Road and The Golden Cat by Gabriel King. Both are (or were when I last read them) very weird books about cats and magical cat highways and the bizarre things that humans did to them. Who knows how much I'll enjoy them no.

Friday, July 28, 2006

False Advertising

I went clothes shopping the other day, which is usually a hassle for me, because while shopping at the mall is fun, coming home is always a rude shock as I realize just how many of the clothes I bought do not fit or look as well as they did in the store.

Last year, I outfitted my wardrobe with long tanks and short-sleeved shorts, worn under shorter sweaters and jackets. This set-up allowed me to wear normal sweaters and tops without exposing my belly.

This year, it seems that fashion has reversed itself - now, cute t-shirts worn over plain, longs-sleeved tops are all the rage. I thought this was a great idea - plain long-sleeved tops are cheap and plentiful, as are t-shirts in general. Choosing the long-sleeved shirts was easy.

Choosing the t-shirts, not to easy.

The popular tees are ones that have messages and words on them, as well as graphic designs. Now, while I'm not completely tapped out when it comes for confidence, but there are certain things I just can't bring myself to wear, because they seem, well, fraudulent.

First of all, I will not wear shirts bearing the popular slogan, "Life is better Blonde". While I AM blonde, it is a very dark, ashy blonde that regular people insist on mistaking for brown. I know I'm blonde, my mother knows I'm blonde, I don't want to wear something that ordinary people are going to take issue with. I just don't have to time to argue with irate passers-by that, yes, my hair is blonde, they're just not looking closely enough. I also don't have the energy to fend off people who try to look close enough.

Secondly, I can't wear a shirt that is insulting. Tees that say Friends Don't Let Friends Date Ugly Guys or Could You Go Suck Somewhere Else? are just asking for a fight. You can't take back a harsh word if IT'S WRITTEN ON YOUR CHEST. Besides, there's too much of a chance that that second message might be misinterpreted.

Also, there are a growing number of tees that might as well say "I'm a Stupid Airhead - Date Me!" I'm not stupid, so I can't very well wear a shirt that falsely proclaims that I am - so that means shirts that say I'm Too Pretty to Sit in Class, I'm Too Popular to Learn Math, or Socializing is My Best Subject are off the list.

From the other side of the spectrum, I can't wear tees that say I'm something cool, when I'm not. Wearing a shirt that says Rock Star, Brown-Eyed Bombshell or Cute Rebel would make me feel uncomfortable, because it might let people make assumptions about me that are false. I don't like rock concerts - they're loud, and the music is whiny. I don't like rock music in general - and I can't play an instrument or sing with the amount of raw screaming needed to be truly "hardcore". I'm not a rebel either - I like rules. I take my parents' side in nearly all arguments, and I'm not the kind of person who gets off on giving the middle finger to authority figures.

I also wouldn't characterize myself as a bombshell - I'm nervous and childish and while my figure is certainly something to write songs about, my face isn't. Guys attracted by the "Bombshell" message will quickly find themselves turned off by my inquiries into whether they are Catholic or not.

I can't wear Proud to be Single because I'm really not proud to be single, not at all. I've been single since the day I was born and I'm tired of it. I simply can't be proud to be single until I've at least HAD a few boyfriends so silly that being single is preferable. And even if they did make a Ashamed to be Single - Date Me Please! a t-shirt, I still wouldn't wear it.

Always In the Driver's Seat is also unacceptable - not only literally because I can't drive, but also because metaphorically I wouldn't mind being in the passenger seat of a relationship, at least for a test-drive, since I've never been in a real relationship.

Talented In So Many Ways almost had me, but again, I'm made uncomfortable by tees that proclaim disguised slutty messages, like Two Boys are Better Than One and Flavour of the Month.

In the end, I ended up with four tees. The only one that had a coherent message on it said Seriously?. I thought it was a good indicator of my funny personality, without being overtly insulting to the reader (or googler, whichever). Plus, it reminded me of the exclamation most commonly uttered on Grey's Anatomy ("Seriously? SERIOUSLY!").

The second was white with a cool design, with the word "Beauty" in the middle. Nice and ambiguous. The third was black, and had a punky metallic design of a cross on a shield with wings, with the word "Sacred" underneath. Now, I can take "Sacred" - like "Beauty" is fairly ambiguous is regards to the personality of the wearer, and I am religious so I guess that counts. Are my bosoms sacred? You better believe it. The fourth was a dark blue that looked like it had artfully arranged paint splatters on it, and the word "Dream". Nice, simple and harmless.

And I'm not fooling anyone.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Good and The Bad (but mainly The Good) of FX's "The Shield"

My family has become officially addicted to television shows on DVD. No commercials, plenty of special features, and best of all - you don't have to pay to have the special cable channels that all the really special shows play on. In this manner, my family has gorged on numerous seasons of Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel, Veronica Mars, House, and lately, The Shield.

So compelling, after we watched maybe five of the episodes of season 1, Mum and Dad rushed out to get seasons two and three. Today, we just went and bought #4, because already we've finished up on the last episodes of the third season. Ooh! Suspense! One of the best parts of the series is also one of the best parts of one of my favourite fantasy series, George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire: the grey characters. No one is evil on The Shield, but no one's clean either. So, to make this post interesting, here's a Good/Bad analysis (a la Fametracker.com's "Fame Audit") of the main characters (warning - series spoilers ahead):

Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis)
Who is He? The beloved anti-hero around which the show revolves, Vic Mackey is the leader of Farmington's strike team, a band of cops fond of breaking down doors, shooting suspects, skimming cash and drugs off of significant busts, and conveniently forgetting to follow due process. Vic Mackey is the man who makes it happen - whether he uses his testosterone-drenched charm or the threat of very real violence.
In a Word: Efficient.
The Good: Loves his kids.
The Bad: Doesn't love rats - shoots them. Even if they're cops.
The Good: Loves the ladies, and occasionally his wife.
The Bad: Bald. Short. Mean.
The Good: Pretty much single-handedly keeps the Farmington district's crime rate as low as it is.
The Bad: Despite all this, can't keep a handle on the increasingly incorrigible Shane.

Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez)
Who is He? The Latino police captain with little field experience and a strong political agenda. While he contented himself in the first season by throwing barely-contained fits of impotent rage while Vic and buds got away with murder, theft, and brutality, in the following seasons he offers Vic a freer reign in order to clean up the area in time for his upcoming election.
In a Word: Ambitious.
The Good: Shows genuine concern for the crime rates of Farmington...
The Bad:...mainly because it affects him politically. Nearly everything he does is based on how it will affect him politically.
The Good: Didn't kill the guy who mouth-raped him, and got his revenge the legal way.
The Bad: His unlikely alliance with Mackey often forces him onto the wrong end of Claudette Wym's contemptuous stare, and that's never good.
The Good: Will not take shit from politicians who are more concerned with maintaining status quo then with putting big baddies away...
The Bad:...which essentially makes him a big, fat hypocrite when you think about it.

Detective Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder)
Who is She? A tough-but-fair Detective partnered with Dutch who dedicates her life to getting predators off the streets. While she's tolerant of Vic in the first season, in the following seasons Vic's dealings start interfering with her cases, which puts her at odds with both him and Captain Aceveda.
In a Word: Righteous.
The Good: Where do I start? How 'bout with the stare. You know what I mean.
The Bad: One person's "righteous" is another person's "judgemental".
The Good: No one verbally-bitch-slaps better.
The Bad: Tendency to meddle.
The Good: Damns politics to hell!
The Bad: Damns politics to hell.

Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach (Jay Karnes)
Who is He? Outwardly arrogant, inwardly insecure, generally oblivious, but essentially honest and good-hearted, Dutch's partnership with BAMF Wyms is the one of the only things that keeps him from being the laughingstock of the precinct. The other thing? His insane talent to pull outrageous busts out of his ass.
In a Word: Hapless.
The Good: Awww! Look what he did with the blind kitten!
The Bad: Ewww! Look what he did with the stray cat!
The Good: He took back the planted bra clasp! You're a good man, Charlie Brow- er, I mean, Dutchboy!
The Bad: His dependence on textbook criminal psychology allows him to miss some pretty obvious clues (the one-armed victim was in the trunk, you idiot!)
The Good: His relationship with Wyms and their Good Cop, Idiot-Cop-Who'll-Trick-You-Into-Confessing act is always entertaining.
The Bad: Can't defend himself from Vic Mackey's bullying to save his life.

Detective Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins)
Who is He? Vic Mackey's best friend and second in command, Shane is both a trusted confidant who has Mackey's back and a hotheaded loose cannon that Mackey has to clean up after. How the two have managed to remain friends is one of the show's many mysteries.
In a Word: Redneck.
The Good: When it comes to Mackey, is loyal to a fault. If Mackey told him to eat shit, he'd ask which fork to use.
The Bad: Shane would do better if Mackey remembered to tell him NOT to pee on suspects and leave his police vehicle filled with stolen cocaine unlocked while he goes for a quickie.
The Good: I challenge you to find another fictional police officer who knows more negative euphemisms for "homosexual" ("bonesmokers??"), but who's still willing to have a polite conversation with a male hustler if the subject is on tricked-out cars.
The Bad: I also challenge you to find a fictional police officer in a show after 1960 who still uses the term "darkie" when insulting a black teammate.
The Good: Devoted to his wife, despite Vic Mackey's badmouthing of her.
The Bad: Devotion would have more merit if his wife was not clearly possessive, controlling, and insane.

Detective Curtis "Lemonhead" Lemansky (Kenneth Johnson)
Who is He? Third in the Strike Team heirarchy, Lemonhead ("Lem" for short) is the one member of the Strike Team who maintains a moral conscience. When the task calls for framing a drug-dealer, ripping off the Armenian Mob, or murdering a Mexican rapist, Lem is usually the only one who thinks to question the rightness of their actions, although he always goes along with the final decision.
In a Word: Clear-eyed.
The Good: Easily one of the best-looking gents on the show.
The Bad: Comes across as kinda dumb.
The Good: Aww! He's sensative! He shows guilt! He shows pain!
The Bad: He also shows his ass on TV...wait, is that supposed to be a bad thing?
The Good: Finally showed some spine against Vic Mackey's manipulations by burning the money-train cash.
The Bad: We could have done without the whole vomiting-blood thing. And where did his Latina former-gangbanger-banger girlfriend go?

Detective Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell)
Who is He? Not sure really - he's the fourth wheel of the Strike Team. Wait, that doesn't work. He's the place-filler, someone to round out the Strike Team to the nice, even number of four without contributing anything like character development or plot to the show. Lack of emotional presence makes him the prime choice for being a victim or a patsy.
In a Word: Unnecessary.
The Good: Um...well, he's certainly not the most offensive Strike Team member (that would be Shane).
The Bad: Covered up his one distinguishing feature (a drug-dealer-inflicted stove burn scar) with an ugly beard.

Officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer (Catherine Dent)
Who is She? As Julian's training officer, she helps to show the rookie cop the ropes at the start, then helps him to manoeuvre through the murky waters of police politics later on. Is also Vic Mackey's occasional mistress.
In a Word: Supportive.
The Good: Has a thing for Wagenbach (thank God SOMEONE does)!
The Bad: Also has a thing (a physical thing) for Vic Mackey. Shame on you! He has a wife! And two autistic kids! And a storage locker full of stolen cash!
The Good: Isn't afraid to put Julian in his place, in the field or out of it, when Julian relies too heavily on the word-for-word interpretations of the rulebook or the Bible.
The Bad: After a few seasons, begins to rely too much on Julian, and her constant attempts to spend more time with him come across as needy and desperate.
The Good: Holds head high, and continues to look Vic Mackey in the eye, even when she receives the short end of the procedural stick thanks to the Strike Team's meddling.
The Bad: It's high time she was taken off cutsey gimmick cases (guy attacks people with bug-spray! Fence steals ugly $10 000 chairs and ends up selling them for $10!) and given some real criminals to put away.

Officer Julien Lowe (Michael Jace)
Who is He? The baby of the show, the rookie cop who's only beginning to learn what being a real police officer is like. He is deeply, deeply religious, but also homosexual, which lends him a great deal of inner conflict that interferes with his police work.
In a Word: Naive.
The Good: Manages to be the most moral character on the show while possessing a wry sense of humour that keeps things interesting.
The Bad: That comment he made to Shane when Shane announced he was going father a child - "I didn't know you were married". C'mon. COME ON. How oblivious you can get?
The Good: Was wise enough to rid himself of his larcenous boyfriend, and refuse any efforts to rekindle the relationship - holding his own against boyfriend's pretty pretty pretty charms.
The Bad: The main reason he was able to shrug off his former lover was because he got shacked up with a wife. Now how long is that going to last?
The Good: Okay, he totally showed up Aceveda when the Captain inadvertantly stole a child's bike. That was awesome.
The Bad: Unstable - when he's not veering into self-hating Christian fundamentalism, he's sliding into a rule-bending habit of violence that Vic Mackey would approve of.

Work and More Work

Got fired from Chapter's y'all.

I know, again. And for pretty much the same reason: the managers ran out of money and time to keep all the employees they foolishly hired, so they bumped a few off the list. Since my "termination" from Coles was turned into a "transferral" to Chapters, my probationary period went on as scheduled.

Unfortunately, that mean I only got to work at Chapters for two and a half weeks before my probationary period ended. Once that period's done, it becomes more complicated to terminate an established employee, so the managers thought I was easy pickings for the Firing Squad. And, of course, I can't reapply to any Chapters, Coles, or Indigo for another nine months, because only after that amount of time can my hiring give me another full three months of probationary time.

So, it basically sucks. It sucks worse because my parents, seeing me lose my job for third time for the same reason, are convinced it's because of something I did, despite the fact that none of my managers, upon my asking them, have been able to come up with anything unsatisfactory about my performance. My parents reason is that, while I hadn't been doing a bad job, if I'd been doing a super-crazy-fantastic job, I would have so dazzled my managers with my brilliance that they would have fired someone else. Yeah, right. It's totally possible for the girl still learning how retail works.

However, I got a new job soon enough - the day after I found out I was let go, I got a call from an office where I applied in May (and turned down for Coles - ARGH!), offering me part-time work. I went to the interview and did pretty well, so while it's only part time, it's better than a kick in the head, and I can always find another part-time job to pick up the slack with.

As for my writing, I'm making progress on "Magic Doesn't Grow On Trees", but I'm only going to finish the outline for The Boy Who Would Be Queen before dumping it. My mother made a comment the other day about how much better all my "modern" writing is (ie - my short stories and my boring nonfictional essays), and how crappy my "medieval" writing is (my fantasy novels). I mean, sooner or later parents and loved ones are going to say hurtful and ignorant things about your writing, so I guess it's time I got used to it.

I'll probably continue later, though. I like writing about medieval stuff. My mom can say whatever she wants, but she doesn't know what I feel when I write, so I shouldn't take her seriously in that regard. I don't like writing about the "real world" - it's boring. There's no mythology about modern times! No folklore for modern times! I like writing escapist literature, which means things that help people to escape what's currently going on around them. And if she doesn't like it, fine. She doesn't have to read my stuff if she doesn't like it. She only has to buy it, mount it on her wall, and brag to all her friends about "her daughter the author". ^_^

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Man Who Wouldn't Listen to Voices of Reason: How M. Night Shyamalan became a laughingstock by hiring a sycophant to write his biography

First off, let me say that I think M. Night is a capable director who has produced four movies, two of which I have genuinely enjoyed. Two out of four, for a beginning director, isn't bad at all - and I think it would be even better if he wasn't so fanatically overhyped due to his insanely successful debut. I thought The Sixth Sense had a cool concept, a delightful twist at the end, and a firm grasp of the "boo!" and the "sinister-what's-that-under-my-tent?" factor that kept me interested throughout the movie.

I also adored Unbreakable. Easily my favourite Shyamalan movie, one of my favourite superhero movies, and basically one of my favourite movies of ALL TIME. At least for now. The idea of a realistic superhero, one who groans and sweats and goes red in the face as he lifts a superheroic amount of weight, one who can sense the evil that other people do, really grabbed me when I first watched it, and it held on and didn't let go until the very end. Loved it. LOVED it.

Didn't like Signs, although most of that was due to the fact that I was expecting a twist when there wasn't one, and the fact that the aliens were silly. I mean, beings allergic to water landing on a planet that is 75% poison? Where acid literally RAINS FROM THE SKY? I mean, honestly!

Didn't like The Village either, although it did have some cool visual moments. I think it's the type of movie that would benefit from people watching it a second time. The first time I watched it, I was so annoyed by the obviously-fake Puritan mode of speech the Elders adopted, but once you know the end, it's believable - but it doesn't erase the negative feelings accumulated from sitting through 90 minutes of Bad Accents For No Reason.

Anyway - back to what I hate about him. There's apparently a biography being written about Shyamalan's work on Lady in the Water (which is NOT getting good advance press, by the way). I read an excerpt in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, and my first question was: "Seriously? Seriously? Is this guy for real?" My first reaction: This is a joke. My second reaction: M. Night Shyamalan is a pretentious self-absorbed jackass man-child artiste who has no concept of how to react to constructive criticism.

It's ironic that a piece of work that is so slavishly ass-kissing to Shyamalan would induce such negative feelings against the subject. Maybe it's intentional, *LOL*. It basically portrayed Shyamalan as this social reject who needs to be put away in a quiet little box, away from reality, in order to come up with his staggeringly brilliant films, and woe to anyone who attempts to, you know, cripple his genius with, egads, reason or logic.

It showed him giving his script to his buds at Disney, it showed how these execs read it with a critical eye and didn't get it (for good reason - they were not familiar with the mythological terminology, they figured that a main character with a constant stutter would annoy the audience, they also figured that casting Shyamalan as the SECOND BIGGEST PART in the film would also annoy the audience), how they told him so at a polite dinner, and how he basically starting bawling like a baby about how they couldn't understand his perfect vision and that by rejecting his script, they were rejecting him, boo-hoo, now he had to end his six-year partnership with Disney because of ONE conversation during ONE dinner because he's allergic to rewrites and criticism, and oh, the folks at Warner Brothers will accept him, and then he can go back to his little box and write stories about delusional ghosts and fake-Puritans with bad accents and crazy people who kill small animals only the animals aren't really dead because the crazy person isn't really crazy because he's realized that the animals are a metaphor for his mental instability and that the catharsis of killing said fake-animals provides him with closure and material for a nice fur coat. Er, a nice FAKE fur coat. Or maybe it's real and that's the twist! OOooooOOooo....


Or that's the general idea, anyway. Anyhoo, it does not make Shyamalan look very good, and seems to be an embarassing judgement call. To me, as someone who's aspiring to be a screenwriter, it pisses me off when I see writers who've been given incredibly lucky breaks pissing it all away with bad behaviour. M. Night Shyamalan, how are you even going to get better if you ignore all suggestions of improvement?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Who Made the Dean's List?


Still haven't made Dean's List, though...
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
...But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Do You Like Pina Coladas?

Well, I've just come up with a different plan! The Boy Who Would Be Queen and I will be doing roleplay!

See, I'll come into the bar, and he'll be there - but he'll be in a disguise, he'll have shaved off his beard and put in coloured contacts and put on a blond wig. He and I will meet, and we'll pretend that he's a completely different story - a wild and romantic and new story, not that boring old story that is currently sitting at home with his feet on the couch watching the World Cup and staining everything he touches orange with all of the Sweet Chili Heat Doritos he's been eating.

And I'll pretend I'm leaving behind my boring story, and he'll imagine he's abandoned his silly, derivative author, but he'll still have all of his good parts - the boy-dressed-as-girl plotline, the magic-as-living-creature element, all of the details and names and places, only he'll leave his bad habits at the door (the tedious dinner party scenes, the disorganized and unstructured plot line, the vague and cliched descriptions of castles and medieval political situations written by an author who hasn't bothered to research actual castles and medieval political situations). And we'll walk out of the bar acting as if we've done something very radical and cool, when really we're just making up.

I really hope this saves our relationship.

The End of the Honeymoon

I recently read, in a book on screenwriting, that the relationship between an author and a longer piece of her work (a screenplay in the example given by the book, but it can easily be applied to novels as well) is very similar to a relationship and a marriage.

You get your idea, and it's the same as meeting a new person. Things start out swimmingly, you discover you like the same things, the first few pages are blissfully easy to write and you have every hope that this will be the work that gets published, that this man will be the one that you marry.

Of course, partway in, the honeymoon is over, and you start falling into a routine that very quickly gets boring. Your hubby smacks his lips when eats, you find you can't write anything better than scene descriptions, he starts working late hours, you wonder why you were tempted to waste so much time on an idea that is evidently going nowhere, he forgets your birthday.

Even worse, soon into this relationship you start noticing other guys, you start coming up with new ideas - ideas that are so much more creative and clever then the one you've been throwing pages away on, these guys are so much more polite than the husband who won't floss and they like to pay attention to you and tell you how pretty you are (which hubby hasn't done of late), and these new ideas are just so great that it becomes obvious that you're just wasting paper and computer space by continuing with the derivative piece of crap you started with, and you know that life is too short to spend it with a man you're not satisfied with when there are dozens of beautiful men out there who will do it for him!

One has to get over that hump for a successful marriage, methinks, the same way an author has to overcome her insecurities about her story and see it through to the end. Now this isn't completely applicable to me, because I'm polyandrous with my stories. You may say I keep a handsome harem of novels and screenplays, and when I tire of one I will visit another. Usually it works, especially with short stories - I stopped by "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees"'s place recently, and oh - he's shaved off his unsightly goatee and took a massage class! Working with other stories gives me new ideas that I can then apply to stories I've given up on.

But with novels, well, that's harder. With Shining Empress, I managed to pull myself through three drafts, and while I got to the end, I think I chickened out and didn't really make any conclusion, and in the end I didn't really have a product good enough to ship out anywhere.

So I'm having problems with The Boy Who Would Be Queen. He's become very childish of late, and I don't want to end up with a story that would be classified as "Young Adult". I realize that lots of perfectly good fantasy ends up termed as "Young Adult", but I've never visited the teen section of a bookstore since I was thirteen, and I want my novel to be on the same self as the Big-Girl Fantasy stories. I realize this is childish in and of itself, but that's my current attitude and it's putting a strain on me and My Boy.

Also, I have no idea where we're going. I stopped giving myself much of an outline past the gimmick that starts the plot off in the beginning, because more often then not (and this happened all the time with Shining Empress), I get a new flash of insight, the plot heads in an entirely new direction, and all of my plotting goes to waste. I just write and write and write in the hopes that something will come up, but right now I think I've wasted words on a generally uneventful dinner party, a mild argument that ended with a fish-eyed stare, and is going into a game of croquet where I can descibe the pretty clothes that people are wearing and not much else.

I'm very tempted to give this novel the "Extreme Makeover" - that is, write a better outline and start from the beginning, from scratch. And maybe do some research on what medieval life is really like. I made my protagonist a stable boy, then the son of a coachman, without really knowing all that much about coachmen and stables. I'm going to keep slogging at it, because I know I have some good ideas in there SOMEWHERE, but it's very hard and I'm so tempted to just do away with it completely and focus on my stories and screenplays.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


As our city is bogged down beneath the weight of a heat wave, the headaches, nausea, and periods of listlessness I have when the temperature rises beyond my melting point (25 degrees Celsius) have made reading and writing, as opposed to watching television or listening to music, the choice activity to do.

I've finally pushed my way through the last book reviews due for Green Man Review on the pile of books I received from Warner Books. It was hard, because none of them were really my cup of tea - most being bland novel adaptations of comic books, stories about spunky paranormal girls who flirt with werewolves, have sex with Scottish vampires, and socially-ignorant demons who love pizza, and silly teen novels about crazy kids who fight off drug dealers while transporting themselves into an illusory state where they can see the future.

I also finished a slew of movie reviews for SEE Magazine, which had me watching a lot of films, including Click (which I liked), The Proposition (which I really liked), Peaceful Warrior (which was generally inoffensive), and The Devil Wears Prada (which I hated). On my free time, I've also seen Nacho Libre (which was disappointing) and Superman Returns (even more disappointing - but then again, I've never been a fan of Big Blue myself).

I also went to an interesting information session at the public library which was being directed by the folks at On Spec, an exceptional speculative fiction magazine (I used to think "speculative fiction" referred to that branch of science fiction that dealt with alternative histories, but really it's a general term for fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, etc. etc.). I had heard of it, of course, but due to my ignorance of what "speculative fiction" meant, I'd never considered sending any of my stories there way.

It was a good thing I went to that session, though. I found out that they're situated right here in Canada, quite close to where I live, so that I can save on postage. I used to send my stories to Challenging Destiny first for the very reason that they were the closest and gave the swifted replies, but I think I'll have to make On Spec my go-to magazine, and not only because they are favoured by Tor editor Patrick Hayden.

So, I've given them a shot by sending them my much-revised copy of "Whiff", the short story I wrote in my Creative Writing class last spring. In the last couple of days I toned down the "cutsey" factor of the first half, changed a couple of terms around so that they were less awkward, and sent it in. I really have to be prompt about sending in stories - because if I give it a few weeks, I'll always be disappointed in the story when I look at it again and have to spend more time on rewrites.

I'm still in the planning stages of my screenplay, but that's mainly because I'm learning more about screenplays by reading books on them, and going to websites and reading actual scripts of movies. I'm currently reading James Cameron's script for the Spider-Man movie that never got made, and you have no idea how relieved I am. The story it presented was simply awful. Not only did it make Peter Parker a college senior (in the comics he gets his powers at age fifteen, and even though he took him out of high school really quickly, Sam Raimi's film still had him get his powers in time to fight the high school bully and have a meltdown in the cafeteria), but they had lots of scientific craziness at the beginning that I didn't really like. The fateful spider being irradiated by "anti-force"? Puh-leeze.

I didn't like how they made Aunt May care more about Peter getting a girlfriend then having grades, but I didn't mind how Liz Allen was the love interest here. I much preferred the sympathetic-but-crazy Ock of Spider-Man 2 to James Cameron's Doc Ock--who was an unrealistically portrayed asshat from the start and had a toady named Weiner. Tee-hee, Weiner! I'm still reading through it, though, and it's interesting how they set up scenes. I had no idea how much power the screenwriter has on the look on a movie, considering people (namely, I) can never remember the names of screenwriters the way they do directors and actors.

I always figured that screenwriters did the script, then the directors directed where the characters moved and what the sets looked like, but apparently not. I'm kinda glad. I'd love to be a successful screenwriter - if you want my shallow reasons, it's because I love movies, I'd still have a chance to win an Oscar, the pay would be great, and I'd have fame and respect but no recognition. Perfect!