Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Not To Spend Your Saturday (or, I Doubt A Cemetery Ever Heard The Word 'Woo-Hoo' Before)

So yesterday my mother and I were driving through the city, and we came upon the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I mentioned that I'd like to visit, since I really haven't in some time, so we took a little detour into the cemetery to find their headstone. In the snow, it was hard to remember where they were, so we got turned around on those narrow paths.

And promptly got the car stuck in a snowbank. Niiiiice. Why again did I have the bright idea to go there when we have two feet of snow on the ground and slush on the roads? Brilliant, Nic.

Anyway, I got out and started pushing. I managed to rock the car out of the snowbank onto the road again. Then a Plow Guy In Shining Armor came along to throw down some grit under the tires, to help us get enough traction to get off that road onto the right one. Then I yelled "Woo-hoo!" and promptly wondered if I would get struck down by lightning for shouting in a cemetery. *facepalm*

We did find my grandparents' headstone, and I cleared away the snow and said hello (and I swear I can hear my grandfather laughing and picture my grandmother shaking her head at us). Mayyyyyybe we'll try that again in the Spring, y'think? :P

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Trailer for "EARTH" Released!

I'm proud to announce the release of the book trailer for my first novel, EARTH, featuring original music by Walter Holstad. The music beautifully underscores the moody, poignant, and hopeful relationship between Kincade and Allyson. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson (vs. Avatar)

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief."

Cool title. OK, you got my attention.

My husband actually wanted to see this before I even knew it existed. He had read the book (in a day), and being the Greek mythology buff he is, he wanted to see the movie also. So, we left the little peanut with Grandma for an evening and had ourselves a date.

This movie is directed by Chris Columbus, the director of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which, aside from my own fascination with Greek mythology, gave me some hopes for the film. The book was entertaining enough, but I had the feel throughout that Percy didn't act so much as be acted upon, up until the end--but let's face it, the Greek gods did move humans around like chessmen back in the good old days. Percy and his pals took an awful lot of things in stride without so much as a blip of emotion, on top of that, though--and there's a lot to be said about seeing your mom get squished by a minotaur.

But enough about the book. I still wanted to see what they did on film.

I was sadly disappointed. The movie tried--unsuccessfully--to imitate Harry Potter in scope, and the special effects were noticeable for their clunkiness. It takes a bit for me to notice the mechanics of a film instead of the plot (i.e., bad screenwriting). The plot and emotion were so sadly lacking here that I couldn't help but stop at the high point of the film and think, "Oh! This is the part for which they saved the big bucks in special effects!" (BTW, guys, centaurs' fetlocks ought to MOVE when they take a step forward--check out Oreius in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and then redesign). They were cartoonish and called attention to themselves, rather than being an intrinsic part of the plot. STORY FIRST, always.

As to the plot and writing, they left out some of the funniest parts of the book, and rearranged the book's plot to the point of cheap imitation. I was sorry for all the fans of the book, of which there are many (NYT #1 Bestseller). Percy is twelve in the book. Here, he's 15 or 16. Ares isn't even mentioned, the gods look like gods should, and dang it, they even left out the Muzak in the elevator to Olympus.

Sigh.

While the movie does have some funny parts (Medusa's head, the casino scene), it falls far short of compensating for bad storytelling. The dialogue and acting are awkward, with the exception of Grover the satyr, who seemed the most comfortable with his character. Everyone else seemed put there, but not interested in being so. Even Sean Bean couldn't rescue this movie for me.

If you want good fantasy, go see "Avatar." Its special effects are huge, but so seamless that you forget nothing onscreen is real--and as stunning as they are, they take a backseat to the story, supporting it instead of trying to make up for the lack of it. Its plot is admittedly not original, but it's told so engagingly that you won't mind.

Or, you can wait for your dose of Greek gods when "Clash of the Titans" comes out in May. I am looking forward to that one, even though it'll be hard for me to love anyone more than I love Harry Hamlin as Perseus in the original film. The special effects are dated in that one, of course, but it's a classic.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

It's All So Taxing

Tax season is upon us again, and I find myself wallowing through the annual glut of writing expense paperwork.

I keep a file running all year long, into which goes every piece of paperwork and every receipt I have which involves a monetary exchange related to writing. I also have a spreadsheet listing all my writing expenses, broken down by domain name, conference/contest fees, office supplies, postage, writing-related mileage, book purchases, dues, office space expenses, etc. And of course (when it starts coming in!), income related to writing. What a mess it can be!

I did find help in reading "The Writer's Tax Guide: Writing and Writing It Off" by Michael Arthur Jones, CPA. The book is out of print and thus a bit hard to find, but worth it to introduce a writer to all the pros and cons of writing and taxes. I also have a "tax guy" who helps make sure all my facts and figures are in order.

The big thing to remember is, keep ALL of your receipts and invoices related to writing together in one file. It will be much easier come tax time to sort it all out. Documentation is everything!

And don't forget to come up for air, lest you drown in all those numbers. Here's hoping you stay in the black this year!