What Is This?

So, I haven’t blogged at all this month. (The one post I’ve made from August 2011 was one written up by author friend Tristi Pinkston to promote her wonderful new book.)

Life has been busy. First, the month of July was met with my wife’s family reunion and joining my dad, his wife, and my step-sister and her family at Disneyland. (Spoiler alert: Disneyland is still awesome.) Plus, I had a lot of other things going on in July that involved video games. August has also had video games taking up time. But both July and August have been busy with work and…well…work. I haven’t even had time to work on my book.

Not like that would matter much though since I technically lost it. What does that mean? Well, it means that I own a flash drive and it is nowhere to be found. On that flash drive are so many files that I’ve put a lot of hours working on. It has all the versions of my Eli story on it. The one saving grace is I still have a full printout of the entire book (which will require a massive amount of transcribing). Also, I have the first 30 pages I sent to writing buddy Graham Bradley with his snide comments.

The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to care nearly as much as I thought I would. Yeah, it really does suck. But I’ve been very unmotivated in writing. Last year at this time I was stressed with trying to get Eli ready for submissions. And really, it took a full rewrite between then and now to make it 10x better than it was. And somehow, I’ve lost all writing motivation.

One problem I’ve had is I’ve been distracted by a lot. See, a few months ago, Netflix added The True Story of Wrestlemania and a few other WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, former World Wrestling Federation) “shows” to watch in their instant stuff. I bet a lot of you have said “wrestling is stupid.” And you know what, I’ve said it too. Guess what, I still say it. But I’m addicted to it again.

Another addiction is my friend Andrew introducing me to this game called Terraria. It’s awesome. At least, it is to me.

But with all that said, I feel an end of my writing break coming. I’ve been met with looking at different stories I’ve wanted to write. Part of me wants to give up on Eli. But part of me says that he just needs a refresher and it’ll be even better. Either way, I’ll get there. Lately, I’ve felt very disorganized with everything and I need to do some personal organization of my life. Once I get things in order, I will be back on my blog more, bringing you hilarious mashups shared between Casey and I, random 10 things that hopefully have something to do with one another, and of course, the most random topics I can come up with.

Before I sign off, let me tell you about 2 books I’m excited about:

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch: The link you get with the book’s title will take you to a special 4-chapter sneak peak at the book. And when you’re done with chapter 4, you’re going to want more. Seriously, took me less than 30 minutes to read the whole thing and I’m a slow reader. I love the cover, to begin with. And even better, I loved what I was introduced to.

And of course….

Variant by Robison Wells: Yes, everyone whose known me over the past few years has watched my fanboy status change from one a-maze-ing author to this guy. Besides being awesome (which is how he introduced me to Sara Crowe at Storymakers back in May), he’s an awesome author. Okay, I haven’t read this book. But I’ve read the first page or two and that was enough to make me want to steal the book and miss the movie. (Glad I didn’t though.)

Currently: I’m attempting to read Catching Fire at home and I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells while I work out. I’m failing on all accounts, but I’ll get there eventually. I still have Possession by awesomesauce Elana Johnson to read.

What have you been up to?

I guess this blog is long enough….so until next time….

ALIEN ABDUCTIONS ARE INVOLUNTARY, BUT PROBINGS ARE SCHEDULED.

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Book vs Movie

I’m sure I’ve hit this topic before. But I’ve had discussions recently where people say the Harry Potter movies ruined the books and my brain went haywire. So I have to rant about this topic.

First, I’ve read all seven Harry Potter books. I’ve seen the movies that have been released. And anyone who says “the movies are horrible in comparison to the book” (or anything like it) ought to be abducted by aliens. Why am I so harsh on that? Well, there’s this author, you may have heard of her, her name is J.K. Rowling. She wrote Harry Potter. This is HER world that SHE created. But guess what, she wrote books, not screenplays. So someone adapted her books to a screenplay. Someone with his or her own interpretation of what Rowling wrote. Then, you get the casting director. This person is trying to find a talented person who fits the character that they’re viewing. And finally, you have the director with his or her cast and crew putting together this film based of his or her interpretation of what was in the script.

And in the end, you know what you get? A lot of different viewpoints of the same thing. I read the books and found different things interesting and cool versus what other people saw. We may have read the same book, but we all didn’t see the same thing. Some people see Harry as courageous while others view him as annoying. You know what’s the best thing here, though: J.K. Rowling has approved the movies.

Second, you do realize you’re not comparing apples to apples right? You’re not even comparing apples to oranges. In the entertainment industry, here’s how I view this. If someone were to compare Harry Potter to Percy Jackson, I’d say we’re comparing Golden Delicious to Gala apples. If someone were to compare Harry Potter to The Count of Monte Cristo, I’d say that’s more like comparing Golden Delicious Apples to Pineapples. It’s not really fair because some people prefer citrus zing over light and sweet. When someone compares Harry Potter (book) to Harry Potter (movie), it’s like comparing a Golden Delicious apple to a Golden Delicious Apple Pie. The apple is now just an ingredient, not the product. You’re going to taste it, but you’re not going to get the same things.

I just have to roll my eyes at people who compare books to movies. They’re missing out on what they’re really watching. As someone who didn’t read books 1-3 before seeing the movie, I saw absolutely no problem with Prisoner of Azkaban’s movie. When I hear complaints of “they left out (blank), (blank), and (more blank)”, I say “I wasn’t confused. Movies have a different structure.

By the way, I’ll give you that the movie makers ‘ruined’ Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. However, I bet most kids saw the movie before reading the book. Yeah, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was ten times truer to the book. But I was more entertained by orange Oompa Loompas the size of Hobbits than one man over-cloned. What about the Wizard of Oz? Did you read it before watching? Did you know the multiple ways that it’s not like the book and almost ‘ruining’ to it? Probably not. But again, that’s why I don’t compare books to movies.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Rant This Way

Today I’m going to rant. Why? Because isn’t the internet used for people to give their opinions that no one cares about anyway? Seriously, one of my favorite scenes of You’ve Got Mail (yes, I like some chick flicks, deal with it) is when Meg Ryan writes an email with all her problems and states that she’s just sending the message out into the abyss of the internet (or whatever, I’m paraphrasing.)

Anyway, here is today’s rant:

Gnomes are people too. Dwarfs are people too. Elves are people too. So are Trolls. Brownies. Wizards. Merfolk. Fairies. Sprites. I could go on (since in my book, they do.) But here’s my point: why can’t a ‘Gnome’ be referred to as a person? It’s egocentric, in my most humble opinion, to state that a Gnome or Dwarf isn’t a person. To me, if the being looks similar enough to a human, then you have no right to say I’m wrong in calling them a person. Is Spock not a person? What about Chewbacca? Is Harry Potter a person? Or Hagrid? Seriously, I would say they’re people and that each one is a person. I’d throw in Willow and Griphook. I could even possibly say C-3PO is a person, especially if I say Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is a person.

What is it with thinking that, just because they don’t ‘exist’ in our world, that they aren’t people? Is it because they’re that different that we can’t possibly see them as being people? Does referring to them as people lose the fantasy or sci-fi taste that is supposed to be in the book/movie/tv show? Or is it simply because you don’t see them as a person and solely as an it?

Even the definition of ‘person’ maintains ‘human being’ in it. Grr! I’m right! And I don’t care who agrees with me. 🙂 Of course, if you look at the definition you can see that I am choosing to ignore the #1 definition and go with #4, #8, #9, #10, and #12.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Willy Wonka and the Seven Deadly Sins

So, quick story, I was given some new medication and was told that it could make me drowsy or awake. Well, I decided to start it last Friday night because I’d rather not be able to sleep than fall asleep the next day and leave my wife with the two kidlets. Well, obviously, whatever I did, the side effect was going to happen and I was definitely awake.

But thanks to Netflix and instant streaming on my Wii, I decided to watch a movie I know very well, since the familiarity would help me close my eyes and fall back to sleep. The movie, of course, was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  (The original. I don’t mind that it has nothing to do with the book. As you know, that doesn’t determine whether or not I like a movie.) And it helped me sleep. Unfortunately, the next day, I took the pill to verify whether or not it was the medicine’s fault or not (of course it was.) So I watched it again.

During my second weekend viewing of Willy Wonka, I discovered that each of the five children exhibit one of the seven deadly sins. Also, Willy Wonka and Grandpa Joe exhibit one. But there are one or two characters that exhibit a form of the seventh sin.

1. Lust: This is the one that was difficult to find. However, if you look at lust in a less sexual way, you will see that both Augustus and Veruca exhibit this trait. Augustus goes after food, lusting after it. Veruca, however, lusts for possessions. She who has the most toys wins, in her opinion.

2. Anger: Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka argue at the end of this almost 40-year old flick. They both hold anger in their voice as they speak their lines. Both of them show it quite well.

3. Gluttony: This is definitely Augustus’ main trait. He must have all his chocolate. And he must enjoy it all, until he falls into a river of chocolate.

4. Pride: If you pay attention, this fits Violet best. Why? Violet is most prideful because she is the most showy. “I did this, I did that” are her attributes. She wants others’ attention and will do what she can to get it and think that she’s the best at everything.

5. Greed: Yes, this is Veruca’s trait. She sees it, she wants it, she whines/complains/throws a fit, she gets it. She wants whatever looks to make her own something more than someone else. She’s greedy down to the core. It’s all “I want ___”. I still like Grandpa Joe’s line “What she wants is a swift kick in the pants.”

6. Sloth: Mike doesn’t do anything. He just sits and watches TV, day in, day out. His TV dinners are served on the couch and he’s never even been to the dinner table. And he wants a gun? To do what? Shoot the TV? He’s not going anywhere while watching Cowboys and Indians fight in a John Wayne movie. Dude! Get off your duff!

7. Envy: Charlie Bucket, our humble main character, does indeed prove his envy early in the movie. Now, he doesn’t remain envious throughout the movie once he gets what he wants. As I looked at Wikipedia’s definition of envy, I saw that it stated the emotion as being “I want what you have and I don’t want you to have it.” So at 2:30 Sunday morning, I questioned whether or not envy fit Charlie. And then I saw his envy. Pre-factory, you see a lot of jealousy. Envy, however, is worse than that. It’s when Violet is on the TV and he’s watching it. You know he wants to take the ticket out of her hands and run with it.

So there it is. The seven deadly sins Willy Wonka style. What do you think?

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Technological Overlords

One of my favorite TV shows is Friends. And despite the weird/random comparison between me and Chandler that I’ve actually never done, my favorite character is Phoebe. One of my favorite lines of hers is from the following scene:

Ross: Pheebs, you see how I’m making these little toys move? Opposable thumbs. Without evolution, how do you explain opposable thumbs?
Phoebe: Maybe the overlords needed them to steer their spacecrafts.

Now, ever since then, I use the term “Overlord” to signify a company with an overly ginormous market share (I didn’t know that ginormous is a dictionary-fied word, but WordPress thinks so. WordPress is still not a word by the way.)

There are four companies that I name Technological Overlords: Google (for internet searches and probably one of the best email services), Microsoft (for computer operating systems), Amazon (mostly for the kindle for eReaders, but online shopping is semi-appropriate as well), and Apple (for the mp3 player known as the iPod.)

I really don’t like the companies too much. However, I use their services. Yeah, I let Microsoft rule my computer operating system. Why? Because I haven’t any clue what the heck linux is and I really don’t care for the mac setup. Simple. I’m stubborn. Deal with it! I have a gmail account and use Google for all my internet searches. Why? Well, Bing is run by Microsoft, so it’s lose-lose there. Yahoo never seems to return what I want. So, I go with Google because 95% of the time I get what I’m looking for. Amazon is my favorite shopping place because it’s cheap. Shoot, if Borders or Barnes and Noble sold their DVDs for about 15-25% more than Amazon, I’d go buy there. But since they’re about 60% more, I buy through Amazon when I need to.

The Kindle, however is an item I do not use, nor do I intend to. It’s becoming the “everyone-has-one” item. I prefer the look of the Nook and hope to buy one from Barnes and Noble soon. Of course, so does my “I-can-read-a-book-in-three-hours” wife. It would still take me a year to read a Brandon Sanderson mainstream fantasy novel. (His Alcatraz series is MG/YA and I may be able to read them all in a year.) I am a big promoter of the Nook and will hopefully buy one. I won’t buy an iPad because…

I don’t like Apple. I don’t like their iTunes overtaking your computer and erasing the capability of converting your paid for (and occasional unpaid for) music into iTunes files. The classic brainwashing is at work here. Now, I bought my wife an iPod Touch for Mother’s Day. Why? Because she wanted one and I don’t force my beliefs on her concerning this. I don’t mind it’s evil presence in my home. I just don’t use it that much. I do like all its app capabilities. And I wouldn’t mind using it as much if there truly was a competitive like product out there.

That’s my biggest problem with these companies. Amazon seems to have the most competition since there are multiple companies that you can shop online at. You can get a Kindle from Amazon or a Nook from B&N or a Kobo from Borders or a Sony eReader and now the Super-Overlord Apple’s iPad. I like competition. Competition is healthy for a good economy. I try to steer clear from political and mostly religious stuff. But this time is an exception. Also, I love the word Overlord. Anyway, I believe the recession is partially to be blamed by companies killing the competition. Yeah, you don’t want a…well…not a monopoly…an oligarchy. (I can’t believe I recalled that term from Econ 2010. Click the word for its definition.) Anyway, I’d prefer an oligarchy for businesses (I truly believe that the auto industry is a pseudo-oligarchy and I believe it works generally ok because it’s got a healthy competition.) Anyway, this is my belief, thought, feeling, whatever. Yeah, you can say I’m wrong, but what you really ought to say is “I disagree with your opinion because…” Flat out saying “You’re wrong…” is followed by me hearing you see “blah, blah, blah, I’m a dirty tramp.”

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Chapter 10 (Escaping Life)

Why is today’s post called simply “Chapter 10”? Well, that’s because, in the writing world that I live in, chapter 10 is my current nemesis. It’s like writer’s block has clogged my brain to even let me think about this chapter. I’ve got 9 beautifully written chapters (plus a prologue and I really don’t care for those with anti-prologue opinions). So, in honor of my enemy chapter 10, I’m going to do a Top 10.

Today’s Topic: Top 10 Movies That Help Me Escape Life (aka, my top 10 favorite movies):

10. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: What other movie is there for a little kid to escape? Not the new one. No, that movie’s bleh. Yes, it does do a better job sticking to the book, however, I DON’T COMPARE BOOKS TO MOVIES! They’re not the same thing. A book is usually one ‘artist’s’ idea. A movie is a combination of a scriptwriter (or twelve), a producer, a director, and a group of actors. There’s no way you can compare the two. And after I went on a date to see HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I will never compare a book to a movie again. Regardless, this is a movie that has every child’s dream of living in a chocolate factory come true. Not only that, but Charlie Bucket (not Boo-kay) learns that he has been doing the correct thing with his life. Charlie’s humble while his four tour companions are gluttonous, prideful, greedy, and slothful (if I recall, aren’t those some of the deadly sins?)

9. Mr. Deeds: The one and only Adam Sandler movie I actually really like. I can take or leave his other movies (mostly leave.) But this one is just so funny. It’s got one of my all-time favorite lines that I used to love repeating: “I’m sorry, all I heard was, ‘blah, blah, blah, I’m a dirty tramp.'” How can you not love this movie?

8. The Princess Bride: You can read my favorite chick flick list here where Inigo, Wesley, and Buttercup rest at number one. Yeah, my wife hates this movie, so I don’t get to watch it very much. But it is just a great story. I don’t think I can say that enough.

7. Ocean’s 11: What a great cast, great concept, great ending. Is there anything else I need to say about this? I don’t think so.

6. Return of the Jedi: Really, by far, my favorite Star Wars movie. In order of episode numbers: 6, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3 (if you include 1-3). Jabba the Hut, Ewoks, Leia in a gold bikini, Darth Vader basically dropping the first part of his name (you realize that Darth Vader is using two foreign languages to say Dark Father, right?) I do like Star Wars, I am that nerdy, but…

5. Star Trek: First Contact: The best Star Trek: The Next Generation movie…by far. By very far. The Borg in this movie are awesome. The characters are well-done. Picard has a minor love interest in the honest Lily (played fantastically by Alfre Woodard.) It’s just a great movie. Star Trek is my favorite “Star” series. Which brings me to…

4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock meet 1986 San Francisco. From a Russian asking about “nuclear wessels” (not misspelled if you’ve seen it) to Kirk claiming Spock had a little too much LDS in the 60s to Scotty picking up a mouse and saying “Hello, Computer” this movie is a pure classic. (FYI, not a Kahn fan.) The whales are awesome. Plus, the all around culture shock in the movie is really well-done. It’s a great story as it rounded out the Star Trek trilogy with its completely different story.

3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: This ranks number three for some obviousness: Sean Connery. Yeah, Harrison Ford is every (wo)man’s generic hero. Big deal. It’s the comedy, the action, and the fact that some annoying chick falls down a hole, presumably to Hell, that makes it such a great movie. I used to fall asleep to this movie as I went to bed. Some how, Indy relaxed me. Of course, each time Sean Connery got shot, I’d wake up from the dead silence that ensued, watch the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and turn it off.

2: A Muppets Christmas Carol: Two things that I loved a lot as a kid: Muppets and Christmas. What happens when you put them together? Pure awesomeness. Yeah, this is a kid movie. But the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is a timeless tale of letting go of greed and pride. Sure, he lets in a possibility of a world of hurt, but it’s much worse when you realize that your the person hurting them. And you know, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo make this story so much better. In all honesty, this is my 2nd favorite movie.

1. The Italian Job: I guess this was a ‘remake’ with a completely different script. Regardless, The Italian Job (starring Mark Wahlberg) has been my all-time favorite movie since 2007. Yeah, the movie was already a few years old by that point. Yeah, I’d already seen the movie a few times up to that point. But on this random day in May in 2007 I had an appointment to see my dentist. They offered me to be able to watch a movie while I was stuck in the chair. I thought it weird since I was only getting two fillings. Well, I chose The Italian Job. Nothing else stood out to me. Then, the hygienist offered me nitrous oxide. And you know what, the movie was that much better. After that point, it’s one of my favorites to watch.

There you have it. Ten great movies. Anything up there that you read and thought “I’ve got to watch that again”? There were about ten that I want to watch again now.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

To Start or Not to Start

Prologue: This is the part of the book that people love to hate. What is it about the prologue that makes people so upset? The prologue didn’t do anything to them. It just tried so hard to stand out. That master, known as the author, gave the prologue its life. For whatever reason, the master did not want it known as chapter one. It wasn’t part of the main story, it just started the story. But why did everyone hate it? They were jealous, jealous of it’s existence. Jealous that it wasn’t part of the story. Jealous that it was thought of by the master as something ‘better’ than the rest. But, in the end, the prologue was given its spot because the master’s leaders permitted it.

Chapter 1: Why do people hate prologues so much? Nathan Bransford recently did a blog asking people their thoughts on prologues. Someone, who decided to remain nameless said “Can’t stand them. Never read them anymore. If it’s not important enough to be part of the book, why put it in at all? If you have to explain what we’re about to read in the book, or set it up, then your first chapter is probably off.” I hated this opinion. Another person who defined herself as Queen Mab said “I have read a few prologues that worked. My general impression is that the writer had something important about the story, but was otherwise unable to work it into the story–which translates to laziness. Sorry, to be so mean, but it’s how I feel.”

Here’s the first question that comes to mind: Would you tell Van Gogh that there are too many irises in his paintings? Would you tell Beethoven that one of his symphonies could do without its intro? Have you ever looked at other arts and thought: there’s a prologue? Let me give you an example of one: Have you ever listened to the song “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith? If not, go find it and listen to it and then get your butt right back here to this soapbox blog. The first few seconds of that song is totally a prologue. It’s bringing you into the song. It’s not a main part of the song. It’s not that useful to the song. But it gives the song a “sweet” essence that without, would make Sweet Emotion…well…less sweet.

Chapter 2: Writing is an art. The author who has a prologue isn’t lazy. I wrote a prologue for my current WIP. Yep! Was I lazy because I didn’t and don’t intend to weave it into the rest of the story? No! I like, nay, love my prologue. I feel that it is so good and so important that it should stand on its own. I don’t think prologues are bad or are a faux-pas. In all honesty, I’ve thought that some authors were just lazy not to include one in a few of their books. And sometimes, I think that some books should have had a prologue because of what chapter 1 was.

Example 1: Harry Potter. I don’t think a prologue was absolutely necessary in any of Rowling’s works. But she did end book 7 with an epilogue. I think it would have worked had chapter 1 of book 1 been a prologue.

Example 2: The Gypsy Morph (by Terry Brooks, book 3 in The Genesis of Shannara): I hated chapter 1! Why? Because it was a prologue. You’ve been reading this series for two books now. You’ve invested time into all the characters. The first chapter in book 3 had nothing to do with any of those characters. And the character in that chapter appeared one more time in the book: in the last chapter (or a chapter or two before it). That first chapter was off, really off. It just didn’t fit quite right as chapter 1. It should’ve been a prologue. But, at the same time, I’m not Terry Brooks. I didn’t restart the Fantasy genre. Regardless, I feel it would’ve been better as a prologue, but since I don’t see Mr. Brooks using any prologues, I think he kinda doesn’t like them. If he’d called that first chapter a prologue, you couldn’t dare call him lazy. Why? Because there was absolutely no way you could get that chapter anywhere else into the rest of the story. Not any of the rest of the characters even got near that one character. It was well-written and very necessary to the story.

Chapter 3: Sometimes a prologue is used to just dip your foot into the water of the story. Sadly, my long-term memory is eroding and so I can only come up with one book that does this. It’s called On Second Thought by Robison Wells. His prologue starts with a moment that takes place after the bulk of the story. His main character then jumps back to how he arrived at this situation. (I’m still reading it, but I’ll get there eventually.) It wasn’t laziness. It didn’t need to be chapter 1. It was Rob’s artistic way of showing you something important to take note of. (And yes, it’s appropriate to end sentences with a preposition! Booyah!)

Chapter 4: In the end, authors should be able to choose this. It seems that some authors are anti-prologue or hate prologues. *cough*Terry Brooks*cough*. James Dashner doesn’t seem to like them either as chapter 1 in the first two 13th Reality books could easily have been called a prologue. But he chose (or his editors, don’t really know) not to call them that. It does make them seem a little out of place. But again, it’s his artistic license.

Chapter 5: If my prologue ends up on the proverbial editing room floor, it will be posted on my website, whenever I get one. I will not really weave it into the rest of the book. I don’t write prologues because of their necessity. I write them because I like them. My prologue takes place 15 years before the rest of the story. Tamara Heiner (who I’ll be naming more and more as her book “Perilous” comes closer to publication) had a prologue for her story White as Snow that she had brought with her to our boot camp. And you know what, I loved it. The information in the prologue was important enough for her. Even after what she told the rest of the group about her book. One of the other women in our group, Deirdre Coppel, asked if the information in her first chapter would serve better as a prologue. Because of what she was going for, it wasn’t going to work to us.

Epilogue: Prologues can be done, if they’re done right. And the same goes for epilogues.

FYI, I’m still a Laker fan and don’t consider the Celtics a Cinderella team. (We are referring to the team that won the NBA title 2 years ago, right?)

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.