Everything I’ve Watched in October 2014

Clearly I’ve fallen a little off the wagon with these. I thought about doing all of the months that I missed, but figured that no one wanted to read a post that long. Instead, if you’d like to see what I’ve watched in previous months, check out my pinterest page. For my thoughts on movies and TV shows I consumed this October, please continue on!

In Theaters
Gone Girl- This movie was incredibly faithful to the source material, but never in a way that dragged down the narrative of the film. Gone Girl is a wonderfully crafted film that scrutinizes both the media and marriage. Pretty much everyone here is perfectly cast and Fincher’s directing is top notch. It’s a good thing too, because had this movie not been so meticulously put together, it would have been more obvious to the audience that some of these big twists are pretty far fetched. Tanner didn’t like this one so much, but I really enjoyed it. B+

The Book of Life- A vibrant and charming fairy tale of a film that is sure to make you smile. Admittedly, the story is noticeably uneven and the musical aspects often fall flat, but the characters are so lovable, and the visuals so spectacular that it’s worth seeing as a matinee. B-

On DVD/Blu-Ray
Divergent- You know, this was a lot better than I expected it to be, given Hollywood’s notorious mishandling of YA lit that’s not the Hunger Games or a John Green book. Divergent is an all around solid adaptation of it’s source material, but suffers from being overly similar to other YA dystopian film adaptations. Even I found myself thinking things like “wow this is pretty suspenseful… but the Catching Fire was more nail biting. And Shailene Woodley does a really good job as Tris… but she’s no Jennifer Lawrence.” It can feel like a poor man’s Hunger Games at times, but it’s still entertaining. Check it out from your library. B-

How to Train Your Dragon- Gah! I love this movie so much. I love Hiccup’s and Toothless’s first moments together. I still laugh at all of the jokes, and I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat during its action packed ending. How To Train Your Dragon, from voice acting to character development to plotting, is a perfect example of how to do an animated movie really well. Watching this makes me excited for the third movie in the series. A+

Snowpiercer- Damn, this movie is grim. I went into this movie with pretty high expectations, and I’m happy to see that they were met. Snowpiercer is a wonderfully dark and violet dystopia that succeeds due to it’s wonderful world building, and talented international cast. Yes, the movie suffers from some issues of logic, but the overall greatness of the film makes up for it (much like X-men Days of Future Past). Proof that not all sci-fi/action films need to to have giant budgets and superheroes. A-

Thor: The Dark World- Third time seeing this one since it came out about a year ago. That should tell you how much I enjoy it. B+

On Television
Agents of SHIELD- Come back everyone! Come back! I swear, this show is pretty much the highlight of my week now. It’s so suspenseful. The character relationships, whether they be romantic/friendships/adversarial, are so compelling. And the villains! The villains are great! Oh why did this show take so long to find it’s grove. Everyone’ missing out on how good it’s gotten :(.

Castle- So I was pretty pissed back in May when Castle and Beckett weren’t allowed to get married. It’s like season eight of Bones all over again! We can’t have our central character’s relationship progress to the next level, so let’s come up with a convoluted way to delay it for at least half a season! Admittedly, the mystery plot of where Castle was when he was missing is intriguing, but there’s going to have to work harder than that to get me sucked into this season’s storyline. Come on guys, I’ve supported this show for six whole seasons. Don’t make me jump ship now!

Constantine- Only seen the premiere, which was kind of choppy, yet intriguing at the same time. I quite like the guy they got to play Constantine (even if this non-smoking, straight version of the DC character feels unnecessarily sanitized), the effects are better than I expected for a show like this, and the horror elements are very strong. I’ll be sticking around for at least another couple episodes to see if it will work for me.

Doctor Who- What a controversial season it’s been! Some people love the new Doctor. Some people hate him. Some people like what they’re doing with Clara. Other people, not so much. Personally, I have been enjoying this season, even if it has been a little uneven. There have been a handful of truly “meh” episodes (Deep Breath, In The Forests of the Night), but they have been counterbalanced by some really intriguing ones (Kill the Moon, The Caretaker, Flatline). Also, I quite like Capeldi’s take on the Doctor, even if he hasn’t reached the heights of David Tennet or Matt Smith yet. All and all, I’m curious to see how this season ends. Unless they really fuck the finale up, I will be back for next next season.

Gotham- Yep. Watched the first two episodes and they did nothing for me at all. Were it not a Batman show, I don’t think I would have made it that far at all. I wasn’t impressed with the writing, or the acting (with a couple notable exceptions). I wasn’t fond of the decision to cram every DC villain into the first episode, and I’m not quite happy with how they’re choosing to deal with the young Bruce Wayne character. There are far too many great shows on right now to waste time with this one.

The Legend of Korra- Looks like Korra’s going out with a bang. Season four may have been a surprise season (both in the speed in which it was produced and Nickelodeon’s means of distribution), but every episode has been more than worth your time. The time jump worked brilliantly, as did the return of Toph from The Last Airbender. I can’t wait to see how Korra will figure out how to take down Kuriva. We are so lucky to see Korra’s story finally come to its intended end.

Phew. Not sure how I’m keeping up with all of those shows! It’s a good thing Doctor Who is almost over and Korra has a short season.

Getting back on track with NaNoWriMo

Ye gads has it been a bad season for writing.

It started going downhill in late August. Since then I’ve just had no motivation to write. I guess all of those rejection letters and lack of progress really got to me, not to mention other sources of frustration from my personal life (don’t worry! everything’s going fine!). A combined feeling of “what’s the point” combined with “and you’re not really all that good at this anyway” can be dangerous.

I’m hoping the one thing that will get me back on track is NaNoWriMo, because I’ve done well with that in the past. Every time I’ve attempted NaNo I’ve won, and I’ve gotten good at seeing the project through after NaNo as well.

I’m trying to stay positive, to push away all these insecurities and just enjoy writing like I used to. I’m embarrassed at how hard it’s turning out to be, but I have a feeling once I get going again, things will get better. I just need to find that flow again.

So is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year? My profile can be found right here. This is the first year that the local write ins have worked for my schedule, and I’m tempted to try them. Writing is just such as isolated activity for me. It would be nice if I tried to be social once and a while!

Hopefully, this will help me get back on track, both with writing and this much neglected blog!

August Writing Update

Hello, much neglected blog! I’ve barely updated over the past month for a couple reasons. At first it’s because the writing wasn’t going well at all. I just found myself in a funk. I didn’t want to write anything longer than a tweet, never mind a novel or even a blog post or book review on goodreads. With a new project on the horizon, that wasn’t a good thing at all. After a few weeks of very little production (and, let’s be honest, all of it was pretty shitty), I decided the only way to deal with it was to completely change everything that I was doing, and hope for the best.

And you know what, it’s actually worked!

As someone who’s been writing in the mornings for over a year now, I decided to move my writing time to 9:30-10:30 at night. I also changed from laptop only writing to pen and paper. I scrapped the novel idea that’s been lingering in my head for a while now for one that I’ve only been mulling over for a few months. And instead of obsessing over word counts, I began to keep track of the amount of pages I had written. This project has only been going on for a little over a week, but it’s been going really well. I’m almost afraid to talk about it, as I don’t want to jinx myself! But needless to say, it’s a portal fantasy novel intended for adults, meaning I can be a little freer about the f-bombs than I was with my YA stuff.

Writing a lengthily project by hand provides an interesting challenge. It irritates my wrists a little bit, which have never been the same since I worked in a call center for two years and spent the whole day typing, but the fact that I immediately go to bed afterwards and don’t use them for a solid 8 hours helps a lot. It’s slowed down my production some- I write pretty fast, but I type faster- but it seems to be worth the sacrifice. I’ve also burned through four pens already, but given that the majority of my pen collection had, previous to this summer, been living in the old Civic for god knows how long. It’s a miracle some of them even work at all!

I guess this teaches me the drawbacks of being too comfortable. Do the same thing over and over again for too long and writing can just get boring. This is great motivation to switch up my schedule every now and then. Hopefully by next month, I’ll have written many more pages!

Everything I Read in July 2014

Very light on the reading this month. Guess reading all of those Hugo moms wore me out a bit. Links to to goodreads, when available.

Books
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Audiobooks
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson- BEST AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Short Ebooks
The Exchange Officers by Brad Torgensen
The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang- BEST SHORT FICTION OF THE MONTH
Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
The Fisherman’s Net by Laura Lam

Graphic Novels
Justice League Dark, Vol 3: The Death of Magic by Jeff Lemire

Comics
All New X-men #29
Angel and Faith, Season 10: #4
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 10: #4-5
Guardians of the Galaxy #16- BEST COMIC THAT’S NOT SAGA
Lazarus #9
Rocket Girl #5
Saga #20-21- BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #6
Superior Spider-man #3-5
Veil #3
The Wake #8-9
Wolverine #9-10

July Writing Update

I used to do my writing updates around the end of the month, but given that I already do a couple monthly posts around that time, I’ve decided to move my writing based posts to more mid month. I’ll continue to talk about my goals and the projects I’m working on, but the posts will probably be a little more fleshed out. This isn’t to say that I won’t make any more posts about my writing outside of this general update, but it’s good to have a designated place for it.

So here we go!

At the beginning of July, I finished up the second draft of Hero of Darkwood. This means that the book is finally ready for my first readers. This is always when I’m at my most antsy. Hero of Darkwood hasn’t been seen by anyone but me since I started it for National Novel Writing month last year. That’s just over eight months! There’s always the terror that people won’t like it, or worse, they won’t be able to be specific about what didn’t work. It’s one thing if someone says “I found the magic system to be confusing,” because then you you know what the problem is, and can try to fix it. If they just shrug and say “it just didn’t work for me,” then you’re in trouble.

Since then I’ve put The Dragon Guard, a short story I wrote during the spring, through another round of revisions and submit it to a magazine. Hopefully, it will be accepted!

Looking forward, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what project I want to work on next. I have a great novel idea that I want to dive into, but I always assumed that I would work on it during National Novel Writing Month. Now, as I wait on my first readers, I find myself with some spare writing time. Right now, I’m submitting to agents (just did two today), but I know that I’ll only be able to do that for so long without going nuts. Part of me says I should work on short fiction, but none of those ideas are developed to the point where I’m ready to start putting pen to paper. But this new novel on the other hand…

The working title is The River King. The River King was actually my first NaNoWriMo project, which I did back in 2004 when I was a wee a sophomore in college. I managed to hit 50,000 words, but never finished the actual novel (a pattern that continued until my third NaNoWriMo, Leader of Darkwood). Unfortunately, the fact that it’s unfinished is the least of this novel’s problems. Beyond the typical issues that come with rough drafts, the novel has some serious issues with characterization and worldbuilding, and well… logic. Basically, the entire rough draft (or proto-draft) needs to be scrapped and completely re-written. So regardless of when I start writing it, I do need to tackle some prewriting first, a new experience for me. I do a ton of thinking about a project before I actually sit down to write it (as you can see, this idea has been in my head for ten years), but while I’m still not much of an outliner, I suspect that actually sitting down and organizing my thoughts will result in a stronger rough draft so you know, I don’t have these huge issues in characterization, worldbuilding, and logic (well, maybe logic just a little).

And if everything goes well, I should start to cobble together the first draft in August. Now this might mean that I’ll be too burnt out to do NaNo this year, which would be a bummer (it typically takes a month and a half for me to write a rough draft, and I don’t see The River King as being any longer than Hero of Darkwood), but if I already have the idea in my head, and it’s quite well formed, what’s the point of waiting?

Presenting The Civic 2!

So on Friday, I brought The Civic in for inspection, a nail biting experience for the owner of a fourteen year old car. because whenever I bring my vehicle in to the shop, it comes out needing something that costs hundreds of dollars to fix. At first, this inspection seemed to be going pretty well. I needed new front brakes and rotors (a problem I had been noticing for a little while, but since their wasn’t any ice on the ground, I didn’t see it as being that big of a deal. God I hope my mom doesn’t read these), which would only cost me $300. Not too bad. Unfortunately, my back bumper also needed to be replaced, and since it was July 4th, the parts places weren’t open. The mechanic wasn’t sure how much it would cost me, but he said it could be another $300 dollars and he’d get back to me on Monday. So he started working on my breaks, and in the couple hours it took to do that, my husband and I started talking. Was it worth spending $600 on a car that wasn’t worth all that much more than that? Was I basically just throwing my money away every time I patched my car back together again? How long would it take before the next $600 repair came in? We looked at cars on sale online, focusing on lightly used vehicles that were just a few years old.

And the next day, I found myself the proud owner of a two-year-old Honda Civic!

thecivic2

So basically, it’s the exact same car as my old one, only A LOT newer (and white instead of black, which means that winter is going to be extra interesting this year). Days later, I continue to be baffled by the new features offered by this car. Like a gauge that measure what my exact gas mileage is, and how many miles I have left before refueling (seriously, this is pretty hypnotic). Or a USB port where I can charge my iphone. Ooh! And an auxiliary port so I don’t have to depend on faulty FM transmitter to listen to my audiobooks over the car speakers. And four doors instead of two! And a CD player that didn’t die five years ago! And air conditioning that works even when it’s 80 degrees or hotter. And windows that, when you roll them down, ALWAYS GO BACK UP.

I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty happy with this new car. It may even be worth having to deal with a monthly car payment.

The Fox is up at The Lorelei Signal

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My short story, The Fox, can be found on the July Issue of The Lorelei Signal, which focuses on telling great stories that feature complex female characters. My complex female character is Vi. As the avatar for The Fox God, Vi has been gifted with stealth, speed, and smarts, making her a worthwhile choice for theft, espionage, and the occasional assassination. Unfortunately, these gifts come with a price.

As I’ve mentioned here before, The Fox was my attempt to mesh together two of my favorite things: the snarky urban fantasy heroine, with a traditional fantasy setting. I had a ton of fun writing it for a lot of reasons, but I think what I liked the most about the experience was the fact that Vi is not really a nice person. I know I constantly feel pressured to be seen as nice or pleasant (admittedly, it’s kind of part of my day job, given that I deal with customers all the time), so it was really freeing to be able to write from the perspective of someone that didn’t care much about such niceties.

The story is currently up for free on The Lorelei Signal website (there’s even an awesome illustration by Marge Simon!). A print version will be released next month, under the magazine Mystic Signals.