Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Harry Potter Conference Seeking Presenters Chestnut Hill College, located in Philadelphia, PA, is hosting another local Harry Potter Conference from Oct. 18-20th.
Click through above!
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Monday, June 17, 2013
What a movie! Okay, Geek Confession Time. I'm not a huge fan of Superman. Never have been. I'm not even, really, a huge fan of DC. Like, at all. I liked the Batman movies Nolan just finished, and I thought they were pretty amazing, even with the weird time issues and strangely happy ending. I've seen all the Superman movies since I was a kid. I even watched Green Lantern. And I loved the old Batman Animated. But even so, I prefer Marvel stories. Given the choice, I'll pick X-Men or Avengers over Superman any day.
So I went into this movie just hoping that Superman wouldn't come off as another dull, overly-good god pretending to be human. I never really bought that he was emotionally invested in humanity. I never really thought that he had much going on inside his head, what with being nearly invincible and all. And I hated how through a lot of the incarnations, Lois was either dumb or constantly in danger, or both.
But this movie did something about that.
It's not a perfect movie. There was no way it was going to be with this particular hero, and the fact that this is meant to be the start of a franchise to answer to Marvel's, so it had to establish not only Superman and the principal players in his life, but also the world as a whole that they're all going to exist in, and that's a big job for one movie. I think they did it smart, though. For the most part, they kept it grounded in a sort of semi-grim dirt-under-the-fingernails reality of a small-town farm life, even when they weren't in a small-town farm life, and that means that when they were in crazy alien spaceships and flashing back to Krypton, you get a nice contrast of what Clark has to get through. And they started at the beginning, which is smart--this isn't really a Superman movie so much as it's a movie about how Superman happened. This is Clark, lost and confused and trying to reconcile the fact that he knows he can do good and wants to do good with the weight of fear and doubt his dad has layered onto him, even meaning for it to be for his own good. He comes into his own. He crushes the last vestiges of his homeworld with his own hands and (sort of horribly) chooses his own path and his allegiance to the Earth.
Which is what he needed to do to be Superman.
The movie is gorgeous. The machines and the battles are awesome, though toward the end I was just sort of horrified about how violent and destructive everything was. I mean, superheroes cause vast amounts of damage anyway, but this was above and beyond. And I'm really hoping that this is also part of the learning process--Superman has to learn, after this, that he needs to protect the world better and the innocent bystanders need less collateral damage. He killed a guy with his bare hands, after a lifetime of avoiding conflict and helping people--that has got to be a "never again" moment, if they want to keep me interested in this character. He's got to learn that that was beyond his limits and deal with the guilt of that.
I think the movie's real triumph, though, was Lois. She was smart, sassy, and strong in a way where you really can believe that she'd be happily walking into a war zone to get her story. She tracked down Clark when he'd been spending his whole life trying not to be noticed, and hung out with his mom. She got the story out there because she believed in it, and still refused to give up her sources, even when the FBI came and held guns to her head. She did manage to get caught up in rescue-type situations, but she also managed to use them to get the info Clark needed to defeat Zod, and then to carry it out. And all of this without being a bitch or a harpy or overly sexy to the point where it's unrealistic and kills the character development. And you know, despite the lack of real development of the Lois-Clark relationship, I can buy that someone that invested in excitement would be attracted to the amazing god-man who just saved her and the world from certain doom. I mean, that kiss isn't a declaration of love or undying loyalty; it's just a kiss after a really stressful and terrifying time. He doesn't actually settle into a life where they can get to know each other until the end of the movie, and I think the decision to let her know who he is from the beginning is brilliant--it removes the dumbest part of her character's history, and it puts them on a more equal and honest footing for starting a friendship, a professional partnership, and a love affair.
In fact, all the women were strong and kept their clothes on. It was awesome! Well, maybe not Jenny, exactly, but I felt like she had the capacity to learn from Lois, and enough sassiness to become strong and self-possessed.
I do think the parts on Krypton were too talky. Apparently, explaining things is a general Kryptonian trait, since they all do it. I loved the designs of the world, but I hated the penis-prisons they wrapped up Zod and his mostly-nameless crew in, though. And I never understood why he was attempting a coup as the planet was falling apart and not, say, much earlier. They made it clear that they knew it was coming, and the council* didn't want to do anything about it, but why didn't the people take off themselves? Did they cut the part where they said that when they abandoned their space colonies, they also abandoned all space travel, and therefore no one had a ship to get to safety on? Are we just supposed to take it as fact that they were so very well designed for their cultural roles that they'd go all Amidala and lose the will to live when faced with giant fountains of lava and a planet cracking in two?
You know, if that's the way Krypton was, I'm pretty okay with Clark choosing Earth and busting up the tech that Zod brought back. I'm sad that busting it up meant that he lost his dad's holo-soul and the baby-pod-kelp and the key-thing, but maybe they can salvage something of that from the wreckage.
I loved the nonlinear storytelling. It got the point across that what Clark is going through right now, he's been going through a long time. It showed the hard emotional situations he had to go through to get where he is today. It explains his reticence and his reluctance without having to have more talking. And it raises the construction of the plot a little above the typical old-fashioned version of the super-hero movie. It takes the whole thing a little more seriously, a little more literarily. It got a lot of information across without having to start even closer to the beginning, and have a whole movie showing us the hero's childhood (cough-Episode One-cough) needlessly.
So we're left with a very exciting and very good-looking movie. I think it does the job of establishing a world where superheroes could exist, but they're received realistically. We got glimpses of Lexcorp and Wayne Enterprises, so we know Superman's greatest enemy and at least one of the other Justice Leaguers are around somewhere in this world, even if they haven't happened yet. The cute military girl who thinks superman is hot could be connected, by name, to Green Lantern's girlfriend (or could actually be her). We know now that there are aliens that can contact this world, so any of the other Justice Leaguers from other worlds could show up, too. So seeds have been sewn.
And if there's more Superman movies, they won't have to be so talky, because all of this has now been established. First movies are almost always talky--look at the first X-Men movie vs X2; look at Batman Begins vs The Dark Knight. It's required to establish a world. This probably wasn't the best way to go about it, but now the world is set, and they don't need to talk about it so much.
I really enjoyed it. I'll watch it again. And however the hardcore fans feel about it, it accomplished this: it made me care about Superman for the first time since I was too young to be thoughtful about what I liked. And that's a big deal.
How about you? How did you like it?
- Gifs from http://ooonedaymore.tumblr.com/post/52927295114/i-went-to-an-early-showing-for-man-of-steel-last and http://goodlifemafia.tumblr.com/post/52891884767/takingofflikeabaww-1-superman-manofsteel and http://goodlifemafia.tumblr.com/post/52892671152/takingofflikeabaawww-3-superman
*The problem was that the Council was headed by the guy who played Death on Supernatural. There was no way they could avoid being DOOOOOOOMED under the leadership of Death.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Last week, I got to see Star Trek Into Darkness for the second time. I should have reviewed this a month ago when I saw it the first time, but, again, busy. In case you don't follow me on Twitter, or were being reasonable and sleeping between 11pm and 3am that night, here's the recap I posted, meaning to turn it into a post and never did:
I loved the movie. I mean, there were issues, so I'll get them out of the way here, but I loved it.
- Why the heck was the Klingon homeworld so close to the very edge of the Neutral Zone that they could just, like, jaunt over there?
- That city-destroying mega-crash at the end? It was the middle of the afternoon at Starfleet Headquarters. There were thousands of people there, in their offices, getting squashed, and no one really seems to mind much.
- I can see where people are coming from when they say it's derivative.
- I'm pretty sure Kirk has a personality disorder of some sort; he swings wildly between charming and violent, though he generally maintains his honorable-but-cheeky core.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
In most writing groups, authors get a lot of feedback on the errors in their work, but don’t get much feedback on how to actually improve it. As a result, new authors focus on eradicating errors. So what they end up with is a novel that is pretty much unobjectionable. But that’s rather damning. You don’t want to be “okay,” you want your work to be great.-- Dave Farland
So in your rewrites, take the opportunity to add as many virtues to your work as possible.
This is fantastic because it makes a point that I sort of accidentally found out while I was drowning in the first round of revisions and really could have heard then--that when you're going through, you don't just correct errors, you make it better.
I don't care how wonderful a writer is, the work can always be better, given a little more attention. That's just how writing works. You get through the mess draft, and then you see that there's things you could foreshadow sooner, but you didn't know they were coming until you wrote them. There's things you could make into stronger parallels, but you didn't realize you were repeating them until you got there. There are details you could add to your worldbuilding, but you didn't know what they were until after you'd written the world. And there's always stuff that characters can do, say, feel, act to make it all much more meaningful.
I learned a lot about myself going through those first revisions. I have to go through again this weekend and next week before I turn in the final draft so I can graduate, and I'll be applying what I've learned. I know that I write long-ass sentences that need to be controlled. I know I'm good at pretty language, but not always good at clear language. I know that I tend to skip the knotty parts to get the story going again, but sometimes forget to go back and put those knotty parts in. I know that I tend to make character-changing decisions without actually adding any character-changing scenes, so I have to go back and edit them or add new stuff in.
I like being reminded that I can address these issues one at a time in successive passes. It's a lot of work, but it's probably even more work to try to remember all these things at once as I read through each page. It's targeted, doing one pass at a time. And that's probably for the best.
I do want to add virtues.
I want to have the best book to give to my readers as possible.
Monday, June 3, 2013
The Next Novelist Novel Contest
2 June 2013
We’re Looking For
We want page-turning thrillers, crime novels and mysteries. The finalists will be voted on by the public, so readers need to be pulled in for you to win.
Submit a novel of at least 50,000 words and no more than 150,000. We’d be happy with a great beginning to a series.
Include your name and the title on every page of the manuscript.
We will only judge one submission per person. If you submit multiple, the first submission will be judged.
The Judging Process
Our editors will choose the finalists.
We release one section of each finalist book to the public each week, giving the audience the ability to vote for their favorites.
Each week we eliminate half the books, release another section of the remaining books, and repeat the process until we have a champion.
The winning author receives a $5,000 advance and a publishing deal with Atlatl.
Finalists will be promoted to 5,000+ readers on The Next Novelist website and receive 50% royalties from sales of their eBook.
How to Enter
Read the Official Rules.
Fill out the submission form.
Submissions before June 21st are free. Otherwise, there is a $20 submission fee.
Submissions for this round of the competition will close on August 31st or after 5,000 submissions.
Finalists will be announced by October 31st.
Visit the website for details on how to enter: http://www.nextnovelist.com/submitrules.php
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Sunday, June 2, 2013
This is a weirdly-formatted but really interesting article that makes me think of a whole lot of near-future scifi stuff. Let's work this out:
- Right now, people are building cyborg parts for people who have been hurt, or who were born without something--an arm or leg or whatever--and that's a wonderful and amazing thing. And the point is made here, toward the end, that the next step, once that's as normal as having a cellphone, is to augment people who aren't missing anything. My first thought goes to people like my mom--her bones and muscles have been having issues for years. She's still functional, but it's harder and harder, and she's had a half-dozen surgeries to repair stuff, with more planned in the near future. What if we could just elect to have those parts replaced by a equal-or-better robotic / cyborg part that acts and feels and interfaces with the brain just like the original part, but that wouldn't be subject to whatever genetic predisposition makes my mom's tendons fray and give out?
- And what if we could elect to just replace stuff with whatever we want--longer, stronger legs, more dexterous arms, eyes that record video, whatever? If it's fully elective and cosmetic, and it's available, isn't it a person's right to choose whether to do it or not, like getting a boob job or a nose job? We get into arguments of personhood and humanity of course--how much can you change before you aren't who you are, that old Ship of Thesius argument, and all--but personally, I think that's a personal issue. You need to make your own choices and draw your own lines. My dad refuses to have a smart phone; I signed on to the smart phone plan as soon as I could afford one, and I'd happily upgrade it to one that literally fuses with me and I can just talk to, or something that hovers next to my head or whatever. As I see it, there's very little difference between carrying one around everywhere and using it to replace planners, cameras, laptops and whatever, and going a few steps further and freeing up your hands. Dad doesn't agree; that replacing is what bothers him about them to begin with.
- Also, there's the issue that we're getting to the point where we're messing up the world enough that we might wind up needing to go offworld to keep the species going, and wouldn't cyborgs be more able to handle that transition? Wouldn't the risk and danger in open space or on asteroids or other worlds make more cyborgs anyway? And the very simple fact that if a technology exists, people will use it. Eventually, it will sneak in and be normal anyway, so isn't it better to figure out where we stand and to make peace with it now? Cyborgs are still people. Robots, if AI ever happens, wouldn't be that different from people who had been repaired or who replaced or who augmented themselves with robot parts.
- And, you know, whenever I think about things like this, I wind up out there, in the future, in space, thinking about what that means. So far, we're the only life we've found in the universe. If we have control of our own development--dare I say, our own evolution--there's absolutely no reason why we can't diversify as a species to fill all the new niches out there in the solar system outside our world. Given enough time, it'll happen anyway, but we don't really have the luxury of waiting on it--and why should we when we could, conceivably, make ourselves suit the worlds we choose? If we're the only life in the universe, we have the obligation to keep going, to adapt and change and spread life around. I see no reason why this can't be a first step on that Bigger Picture.
- And that's a whole lot of ground to cover in scifi. People already have forever, and it's not going to stop soon. Because there's the thing: scifi isn't really about predicting the future, and I think if you're reading a spec-fic writer's blog, you know that. It's really about commenting on the now, and giving new options for the future--showing people how it could be, good as well as bad, showing some neat ideas and some scary ones, and planting seeds that people who come along later can work out or disprove or whatever. It looks forward, but it doesn't see how things will actually be--just how they might be. It gives us a chance to deal with the Big Issues before they actually happen, and so go into them with a little more thought--things like cyborgizing people as a matter of course, things like genetic manipulation of our own species, things like what we're going to do when pushed against the wall by whatever the Next Big Thing is.
So think about these things now. Where are your lines? Start with those new prosthetics that can connect with human nerves and return sensory input like a real hand does; think further. Make your connections. Write it out in stories. How do you think it goes and what meaning does it have?
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
How did I not know this fact? And now May is almost over!
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"ClairvoyanceWendig's list of 20 psychic powers to use for this week's Flash Fiction Challenge.
Faith or Psychic Healing
Psychic Empathy (aka an Empath)"
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Pictures totally ganked from the link above. It seems Amazon has changed how it classifies books again! Click through for more details, and how to use these new classifications if you're self-publishing through KDP!
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Monday, May 27, 2013
The urge to make music
it takes ages for me to learn
but I love all those ages--
there must have been music
before there was words.
It's a primal connection.
like making bread
with my bare hands in the warm dough
or cooking over a fire
or looking up at the stars
in the blackest sky you've seen
and wondering at how small we are.
Maybe that's where music comes from:
the place where we're small
and words aren't big enough.
Monday, May 20, 2013
- Attempt to write about jobs and how they affect the writing of poetry.
- Experiment with every traditional form, so as to know it.
- Do experiments with sensory memory: record all sense images that remain from breakfast, study which senses engage you, escape you.
- The uses of journals. Keep a journal that is restricted to one set of ideas, for instance, a food or dream journal, a journal that is only written in when it is raining, a journal of ideas about writing, a weather journal. Remember that journals do not have to involve "good" writing-they are to be made use of. Simple one-line entries like "No snow today" can be inspiring later.
- Attempt to eliminate all connotation from a piece of writing and vice versa.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
We recently went to a library book sale. I brought home 40 books myself, and between my mom, my sister and my brother-in-law, we probably bought more than 100 books for about 11$.
Which is why booklovers need to keep up on booksales.
Since then, I've been spoiled for choice about which book to read and I'm sort of book-hopping. And all over the house, there are these beautil stacks of books none of us have read yet. It's like living in a bookstore. And it's wonderful.