Saturday, June 28, 2008

Movie Disappointment

Went to see Wanted today. On the up side, despite it being about assassins, it bore little or no resemblance to the book I'm working on. I really hate it when I write something and then shortly thereafter see or read something frighteningly similar. I worry that someone will say I got the idea from so and so or such and such instead of out of my own head.

No problems with that here.

On the down side, the movie was really disappointing. The main character was unlikable both as his initial loser self and as a trained assassin. The kick-butt female character had little development. Some of the dialogue was hard to understand. The action scenes, while amazing, were sometimes hard to follow. And there were lots of holes in the plot, like, where is this Fraternity getting all its funding? I won't give plot spoilers, but that's a big hole.

Anyway, at least I don't have to worry about similarities to my own work.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Movie Review - Get Smart

Ok, I really loved the t.v. show Get Smart as a child. I'd throw myself down in front of the t.v. excitedly every time I heard that familiar (and all too catchy) theme music. But having been disappointed by movie/t.v. tie ins in the past, I wasn't expecting too much from Get Smart.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. It started slowly, but by the time we were about thirty minutes into it, my husband and I were finding things to chuckle about, and by the end, we were laughing out loud. I actually felt the movie characterization of Maxwell Smart was more likable and entertaining than the original, although I really enjoyed Don Adams as well.

In this version, Max Smart is highly skilled, handsome, and a good guy. He makes mistakes because he's new to his job, but his successes are not mostly based on good luck. Agent 99 is also a wonderful kick-butt female character, and we all know I love those.

It was also really nice to see/hear the echoes of the original television series. "Would you believe . . . ?" "I missed it by this much." "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Plus, the shoe phone, original car, Hymie, the succession of closing steel doors, the dropping phone booth, and the cone of silence all put in an appearance.

There were a few scenes that I felt went over the top, like the airplane bathroom scene (funny, but a bit much) and the Chief of Control punching the vice-president, but the swordfish moment nearly had tears coming out of my eyes from laughing so hard.

I thoroughly recommend this PG-13 film. It was a great summer escape movie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Well, the first draft, that is. Yep, the novel I've been working on, Agency Files-Assassin's Nightmare, is finished as of last night. I've started revising and got through the first couple of chapters today, but quite frankly, I'm sick of it and taking a break tomorrow.

It's a strange feeling, putting the last word on the last page of a novel you've been working on for months. Kind of bittersweet. Kind of exhausting. Kind of exhilarating. More exhausting.

Also today, I participated in an online chat with Lucienne Diver and several other agents. Very interesting, helpful, and informative. I asked what questions I should be prepared to answer in a pitch session and I'm keeping notes for when I meet her again in August in Denver.

Speaking of Denver, we got our airline tickets today. Yay credit card points!

And I sent off my first query letter for this book to Query Shark, a website that will review and critique queries.

So, I'm off and running. Now I need a nap.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Vicki Pettersson

Just finished Vicki Pettersson's third novel in the Zodiac series, The Touch of Twilight. I loved it, as I've loved all three of the books in the series so far, but it's an interesting process I have coming to that conclusion each time.

First off, I always begin the book (the first fifty pages or so) with a thought of, "Superheroes? In Vegas? Is she kidding? This is cheesy."

After about fifty pages, it changes to, "This feels like X-Men in an alternate universe."

Then it becomes, "This is amazing. She is so original. I never would have thought of THAT. I WISH I'd thought of THAT." What looks at first to be simple becomes intricate. What appears to be derivative becomes completely unique. The character development has great depth. Their relationships are complex.

I'm really not into superheroes. This is the only series of that nature that has interested me at all. I was never interested in that type of comic book either, unless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles counts. And while I enjoy an X-Men film, I don't read those comics and I really haven't liked movies of a similar nature.

I think the reason is that many of the classic superheroes are too goody goody for my taste. Yes, characters like Batman have "dark" or "tragic" pasts, but now they are overwhelmingly heroic and seem, at least in the early films and t.v. shows, to suffer little from those pasts. Spiderman feels the same to me, and the Incredible Hulk comes across, to me, as pathetic, not sympathetic.

I really prefer heroes who have their heroic status thrust upon them (like the main character in the Zodiac series) or those who have a LOT of adversity to overcome in order to achieve their goals. I like reluctant heroes, or those who have no choice. Maybe that applies to Spiderman and Hulk as well, but I just find that they whine too much. Or maybe they just don't have enough attitude.

The heroes I like might be heroes, but when something sucks, they are going to tell you it sucks. They aren't above tossing around some swear words. They don't live perfectly moral lives. They make mistakes, sometimes fatal ones, but they carry on. They lose their tempers. They don't always listen to their mentors. But in the end, they succeed and the bad guys don't. And when a new problem arises, they complain about it to anyone who will listen. And then they deal with it. That's what makes them heroes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Tanya Huff

Just recently finished Tanya's latest (and possibly last) book in the Valor series. Loved it. I have always been more fond of her Valor novels than the Blood series, but that figures. Valor features a kick-butt female character and that's what I love to both read and write. Huff's latest installment in the Valor series had me on the edge of my seat from beginning almost to the end. I got a little concerned there that the ending was going to wind up being too coincidental, but I should have had more faith. She ties everything up nicely and explains the coincidences so they are not.

Which brings me to an analysis of what I like to read. I've been doing a lot of reading lately since it is summer and I'm not working. (More reviews to follow.) And I've realized that my choices have become somewhat self-limited in the past few years. I read science fiction. I read predominantly science fiction featuring extremely strong female main characters. I read science fiction almost exclusively written by women. Favorite authors: Linnea Sinclair, Elizabeth Moon, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Bear, Tanya Huff, Laura Anne Gilman, S.L. Viehl, R.M. Meluch, Vicki Petterson, Tara K. Harper, Debra Doyle. See a trend here?

I do not necessarily see this as a bad thing. It makes sense that I like to read the type of material that I like to write. And I feel that reading these authors can be beneficial to my own writing. It's not that I have anything against male authors, but I haven't found one yet that has really knocked my socks off. I like Orson Scott Card and C.J. Ryan, but if one of my other favorites has a new book out, I'm more likely to read that first.

Just picked up Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (recommended on the cover by Linnea Sinclair). I'll be starting that today or tomorrow, just as soon as I finish the third book in Vicki Petterson's Zodiac series.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'll Take My Coffee Pitch, Black

Ok, it's a lame title, but I thought it was funny. I just got a response from agent Lucienne Diver. She and I met at a conference a month or so ago and Linnea Sinclair was nice enough to introduce us as her "favorite stalkers" which, for some strange reason, always resonates well with people. Anyway, I noticed Ms. Diver was attending WorldCon and so are my husband and I, so I asked her about pitch sessions. While she is not doing formal sessions, she did offer to meet with both of us for coffee while we are all there in Denver and we can pitch our respective books to her then. Yay!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Author Disappointment

Well, I just posted for the first time on Laura Anne Gilman's blog. I am a big fan of her Retrievers series and was under the impression that she was attending Denvention in August. Unfortunately, she has just announced that she is not coming. And I was really looking forward to meeting her. Sigh.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Professional Feedback

Well, some encouragement today. Linnea Sinclair critiqued the first few paragraphs of my WIP and seemed to think I was doing most things right. My concern now is sustaining those "right" things throughout the course of the novel.

I've reached chapter 16. I'm only a few chapters from completing the novel. Then I need to go back and pass through it a few times to catch some of the things being pointed out to me in Linnea's online class.

The end is in sight, although it is still several weeks away.

School is ending for the students tomorrow. I think we're all driving each other crazy. It is high time for it to end for the year. This last week feels like a month.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Well, It's About Time

So, I've been kicking around the idea of having my own blog ever since the hubby started one a few months ago. Why? Well, we are each working on our second attempts to publish novels, and when we are famous authors, someone might actually be curious as to our thought processes along the way.


Seriously, though, it does afford me the opportunity to vent about the process and occasionally rave about it. And it provides an outlet in which to talk about other things like work, kids, pets, whatever.