The Avengers KICKED ASS, and other films worth considering

Hi folks! I’m being a bad bad student… I should be working on a paper that’s due next monday, but instead I’m here.  But I just had to share a few things.  So give me a few minutes and then I’ll be out of your hair and back to work.

Thanks to my brother, who is a film production student and can get a hold of these things, I was able to go to an advanced screening of The Avengers last night.  The advanced ticket passes did not guarantee entrance, so we had to stand in line for 2 1/2 hrs, and the event was BADLY organized by the AMC people and the Disney reps.  So much so, that I was really REALLY beginning to regret going to thing as I finally sat down in the 2nd row of the theatre.  Half-way through the movie: I wasn’t regretting it anymore.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I want to take a few minutes to sing this movie’s praises.

First of all, The Avengers was visually STUNNING.  I saw it in 3D, which I’m not usually a big fan of, but this 3D was done very well.  They didn’t overdo it, and a few times I was actually impressed by the depth it added to the image.  The special effects were AMAZING.  And the fight scenes were AWESOME.  So well choreographed, so well done by the actors, stunt-men, and FX people, and for the most part very cleanly filmed.  You know how sometimes in movies the fight scenes get very blurry so you can’t quite tell what’s going on?  This is a problem in a lot of Christopher Nolan’s films, for instance, because of the way he shoots things: too close to the action, too many close-ups on faces and various body-parts, lots of zooming around with the camera, so you can’t tell who’s doing what.  This movie did that one or twice (every action movie does), but for the most part it was very easy to keep track of what was going on.

Second, the moment I first heard Joss Whedon would be directing and writing the screenplay, I was pretty much sold.  I knew he would do a good job, and I was SO right.  Whedon put his signature on this film.  Lots of little references (Galaga, for one), and, of course, really really snappy funny dialogue.  The dialogue was HILARIOUS.  And, thanks to good acting and good direction, the dialogue worked really well in the movie.

And that’s the third big thing: the actors were fantastic.  Of course, I already loved Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Evans had done a good job in Captain America so I was okay with him, but I was pretty skeptical about Mark Ruffalo – especially because Edward Norton had done such a wonderful job as The Hulk, and I was pissed that Marvel had kicked him off the project merely because they didn’t want to give him the credit he deserved.  But Mark Ruffalo did a good job, and made the character his own.  And everyone else was marvelous (hehe) as well.

The plot was fun and quick paced.  The ending was satisfying.  There was so drama, but lots and LOTS of laughter in the audience last night.  The dialogue seriously had the whole theatre in stitches.  People, you seriously need to see this movie.  It was absolutely FANTASTIC.

Okay, time to switch gears for a moment.  I’m still talking about films here, but these are two Kickstarter projects I would to give shout outs to.

For those who don’t know what Kickstarter is: it’s a crowdsource funding site.  People pots projects on Kickstarter in order to ask for pledges/donations, and offer various awards for different price levels.  You can donate as little as a dollar, but of course the more you donate the cooler the awards.  The thing is, Kickstarter puts a 30 day limit on all fundraising events, the project must indicate a minimum price goal, and if that goal is not met by the end of the 30 days, they don’t get ANY of the money pledged so far.

Both of the projects I’m talking about today are ending on May 6th.  They only have a couple days left, and they are SO close to meeting their goals, but are having trouble making that final push.  I have donated to both, and I REALLY want to see how they turn out, so here’s me hoping some of you will consider checking them out and donating something.

#1: Dust, a scifi/fantasy film by indie company Ember Labs.  Check out their fundraising video:

Check out their Kickstarter page for more info, and to donate.

#2: Even Though The Whole World is Burning, a documentary about American poet W.S. Merwin (who has won the Pulitzer twice, and is also a political and ecological activist).

I couldn’t get the embedded video to work for this one, so please check out their Kickstarter page to watch their fundraising video and get more info.

I hope you all will consider donating a few dollars.  I think these are both very worthy projects.  If you aren’t impressed after you see the videos, well… I worry for you. ^_^

Okay, folks, that’s everything.  Time for me to get back to the scramble through final papers.  See ya later! Thanks! 

Kind Blogger Friends Make for a Good Week

Over the last couple weeks, I have received a number of awards and prizes from a variety of wonderful bloggers, and I wanted to make sure to thank them all.  So let’s go through these:

Jill from The Cinquecento Project awarded me the Liebster Blog Award, coming from the German word “lieb” meaning “dear,” “good,” or “kind.”  Thank you so much, Jill!

The Liebster Blog Award is for bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. It is a peer award, bestowed by a blogger who recognizes worthwhile content when she reads it, or when he follows it.  I actually have more than 200 followers by now, but Jill was kind enough to give me the award so I will do my best to spread the love.  The hard part will be finding bloggers among my favorites who have fewer than 200 followers.  Actually, half the time I can’t even FIND how many followers they have, so I’m just gonna have to go with the blogs I love.

The rules of this award are simple:

1) Copy and paste the award onto your blog

2) Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog

3) Choose five other bloggers to give the award to, post them here and let them know via their comments

4) By spreading the love, hope that readers/other bloggers will “pay it forward”

And so, I would like to spread the love to the follow blogs:

Jess Witkin’s The Happiness Project: Jess is always cheerful and supportive, her blog posts are fun, and she always has something interesting to say.

The Bibliophile’s Corner by Ashley Prince: Ashley posts fantastic book reviews, great top 10 lists, and she’s participating in an INSANE number of reading challenges this year.

Elisa Knuckle’s blog: Elisa blogs about a variety of fun things that come up in her life, and she’s working on a few different writing projects.  She always leaves kind and enthusiastic comments, and also kindly awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award (which I’ll get to in just a minute).

Marcy Kennedy and Lisa Hall-Wilson, the Girls with Pens: These two lovely ladies offer up great advice for writers of all kinds, and are enormously supportive as well.  I simply love their useful posts.

Lucid Dreams and Saturn Skies by Andrew Kincaid: Andrew’s blog is the home of all things creepy and scary, with posts about horror books and movies, creepy paranormal tales, and links to his own short stories.  Also, the blog title is just cool.

There are some more blogs I could come up with, but they have already received the Liebster Blog Award (a few of them several times), so I’ll just leave it at this.

Next, (as I mentioned) Elisa Knuckle awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you very much, Elisa!  (Go check out her blog, folks!)   The rules of this award are that you must post 7 facts about yourself, and send the award along to other bloggers.  However, as I have already received the Versatile Blogger Award twice before, and I have sent it along to as many bloggers as I could possibly think of, I will simple give you 7 more facts about myself, and move on.

7 Facts:

1)     I am absolutely mind-numbingly terrified of spiders.  Seriously, I can’t look at them on tv, when I see one at home and I can’t even get close enough to it to kill it, I have nightmares about them.  *shudder*  I just can’t handle them!

2)     I LOVE roller coasters.  I’m obsessed with them.  They are AMAZING.  One of my goals into ride ever roller coaster in the United States.

3)     I have read the book Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede AT LEAST 50 times.  Possibly more.  That book and Pride and Prejudice are my two biggest comfort books.  Whenever I get really depressed, I read Mairelon the Magician.  Whenever I finish reading a really heavy, intense, involved book or series, I read Mairelon the Magician to “clean my palette,” so to speak.  Every summer, I take a couple days to re-read Mairelon the Magician.  See a pattern here?  Yeah, I’m obsessed… I know it.

4)     I’m an anime geek.  I don’t watch quite as much anime or read as manga as I did in high school and during my undergrad, but I will always love them.  I have spent more money than I care to admit on anime, manga, posters, t-shirts, figurines, etc.

5)     I have four cats and a dog.  Well, technically the dog and one of the cats belong to my brother, but we all live in the same house, and they all keep my on my toes.  It is NOT easy to take care of four cats, especially since 1 of them is 15 yrs old (he’s my old man and my baby all wrapped up in one), one is a coward, and the other two DON’T get along.  Also, the dog’s an idiot…

6)     I buy WAY too much clothing.  Yes, I am one of those women who just can’t stop buying clothes.  I’m not as bad as my aunt (take my word for it), and I only buy what I can actually afford (without credit cards, I might add), but I still have more than will fit in my rather large closet.  It’s a problem. *sigh*

7)     One of my biggest guilty pleasures is watching all the HGTV interior designs shows AND Say Yes to the Dress on TLC.  I love interior design, architecture, color designs, etc.  Someday, I really want to design and decorate my own house (though that isn’t likely to happen).  And as for Say Yes to the Dress… well, it’s just addictive.

Lastly, I’ve won a couple different prizes recently.  First, on The Happiness Project, Jess Witkin’s ran a contest for predicting the Academy Awards a couple weekends ago.  I got the most right, and won some movie-related prizes.  And, as part of the “Books That Made Me Love Reading” Challenge that Emlyn Chand is hosting, I won the February random comment prize, and won an amazon gift card and a signed copy of Emlyn Chand’s excellent YA novel Farsighted.

Okay, I think that brings me up to date!  The semester is still keeping me crazy-busy, but next week is spring break, so hopefully I’ll have some free time on my hands to post a couple times.

Until then, take care everyone!

If I fail, it will not have been without trying.

I’ve been somewhat reluctant this week to take time out to write a blog.  At this point I’d rather be writing fiction, especially since I’m so close to finally actually finishing something.  For once.  But this very situation has given me plenty to talk about, so that’s good.

My current WIP is an urban fantasy about a demon hunter.  The basic premise is, I know, well-used and possibly even, at this point, cliché.  But have hopes that my specific take and characterization will make it worth reading.  I hope…  Now, most of my WIPs (and I have several, okay, quite a bit more than several) are high/epic fantasy, so, even though I read urban fantasy, writing in this subgenre is new for me.  But when I decided to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November I wanted to a) try something new, and b) do something that wouldn’t require quite as much insanely in-depth world building as I normally inflict upon myself (the planning of which usually takes up weeks before I get around to actually writing the story).  So, trying my hand at urban fantasy, which I love to read anyway, seemed like a good idea.

And apparently it was, because this is the first WIP I have ever come close to finishing.  I have a very bad habit of starting something, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting… ad infinitum.

On Sunday and Monday, I took some time out of actually writing, to do some detailed plotting, and I realized that if things go according to plan, I could finish this novel in about 7 chapters.  That is a BIG DEAL for me.  Then, on Monday, having plotted out the specifics for these last 7 chapters, I immediately lost all pretense of concentration and got stuck again.  And Tuesday continued on no better.  Write a few sentences, then play around online.  Write a few more sentences, then stare into space.  Write a couple more sentences, then go get something to eat.  Bang my head on my keyboard.  All day.  Yeah…

I kept trying to think ahead to the end, and couldn’t concentrate on the scene I was currently trying to write.  And then, I simply couldn’t write anything at all.  On Twitter, someone suggested a ‘fear of success.’  It’s certainly a possibility.  But I think two things are getting in my way.  First, a general excitement at the prospect of ACTUALLY FINISHING SOMETHING! – thus, my brain keeps jumping ahead the end.  And second, and more importantly, I think rather than a fear of success, I am experiencing a continual lingering fear of failure.  As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can hardly complain about not finding an agent, or a publisher, or readers, or whatever, right?  As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can whine about lack of time or concentration for awhile, do my best determined-author “I will do it!” speech, and continue on as I always have.  But the minute I finish something, I have to accept the possibility that no one will actually read it or like it.  And THAT is TERRIFYING, especially after giving myself that determined-author “I will do it!” speech for so damn long.

But I am sick and tired of calling myself a writer, and having only a dozen or so unfinished novels and a handful of unpublished short stories to back it up.  I realize that even if I finish this draft, I will still have months and months of revising and editing ahead of me, but even one single finished draft will put me a whole helluva lot farther ahead than I am currently.  So I’m putting everyone on notice.  I AM going to FINISH this.  I have approximately 7 chapters left (if all goes according to plan).  I’m giving myself two weeks, maybe three.  And everyone is free (and encouraged) to poke and prod and pester me about it to your heart’s content.  Because this is it, people.  I’m calling myself out now.  And if I ultimately fail, it will not have been without trying.

So, what do you do when nothing seems to put your concentration back on track?  And how do you deal with a fear of success, or a fear of failure?  Any suggestions?

Here’s one option:

Writerly Habits 1: Carving Out a Little Space

Last week, Cid Tyer wrote a post about the space she carved out for herself so that she would have some place comfortable and not-distracting to work in: “Creating a Writer’s Space”.  She asked her readers what kinds of places they liked to write in, and rather than answer in comment, I thought I would write my own little blog response.

In 1929, Virginia Woolf wrote an extended essay entitled A Room of One’s Own, which has become vastly important feminist work.  In it, she argues that a woman must have money (at her time, $500/yr) and a room of her own in order to write fiction.  I won’t get into the ins and outs of her argument.  The point is that I believe a writer does not a little space of their own in order to write.  And while this was especially important for women writers in the 1920’s, it now holds equally true for writers both male and female.

For myself, I can on occasion write in several different places without too much difficulty.  For instance, I used to write in the middle class quite often, when I supposed to be paying attention or taking notes or some such thing.  I also sometimes write at the kitchen table, mainly because the family dog can’t climb stairs and I like to keep him company sometimes.  We also just bought a new table and umbrella for the back patio, and I spent upwards of 6-8 hours in the backyard writing this past weekend.

All that being said, the real place, My real place for writing is what I call my library-office.  Yes, I have my own library-office.  For reasons I won’t get into, my bedroom, or rather the room that my bed is in, isn’t really MY room, so I don’t spend much time in it when I’m not sleeping (besides which, I can’t write in my bed like I could in high school, I just fall asleep).  Instead, I have a small room upstairs that I have claimed as a place for all my books.  And I have a LOT of books.  (I really should count them all some time; that would be fun.)  So, I have this room, lined with books, with two desks, and a white board and a corkboard, and lots of posters.  In fact, here, here are a few pictures:

(Sorry the pictures are a little blurry.  My mother borrowed my camera so I’m using the camera on my macbook. Yeah…)

This is the one room in the house that is entirely my own.  It’s like a snap-shot of my very odd little mind.  It’s where I think best.  Where I can isolate myself from the television, and my brother, and housework, and distractions, and just WRITE.  I bought the purple desk and the chair (which isn’t actually all that comfortable) from Walmart, and the other desk is left over from the bedroom set I has a child, most of which was destroyed during Hurricane Ike.  But the room is MINE, and I love it.  And that is, essentially, what Virginia Woolf had in mind.

So, I’ll ask the same question Cid asked.  What about you?  Where do you write?  Do you have a special place carved out for the purpose?  Can you write anywhere?  Do you simply not have any choice in where you write?  Anything in between?