Monday, January 30, 2012

How I Became a Horror Fan (or, "Why My Bubble is a Little Off")

The first movie I ever saw in a theater was The Food of the Gods. I was eight, and my parents weren't much for babysitters. In the movie, people were attacked by giant wasps, a giant chicken (it's scarier than it sounds, especially when you're eight), and giant rats. I ended up sitting in a dark theater scared out of my wits . . . and fascinated. I started encouraging my parents to see more movies (and drag me with).

The only movie for kids I ever remember seeing was one that a friend's parent took us too, The Rescuers. The only thing I remember about it was that Eva Gabor was a mouse and it was lame. That same year, I went to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It made such an impression on me that I made a pilgrimage to Devil's Tower years later.

So before I was even a teenager, I was consuming a steady diet of horror and science fiction: Day of the Triffids, The Blob, Them!, Night of the Lepus, It's Alive (who knew babies could be so scary), Damnation Alley, and every Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi movie I could get my hands on.

But my future as a horror and science fiction fan wasn't set in stone until I saw Alien at age eleven. After that, there was no going back. I was hooked.

Probably because of these early films, my preference still leans toward monster horror. It's what I prefer to watch and read . . . and prefer to write.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Jan. 27th

An All-You-Can-Read Buffet for one low price!
Cemetery Dance Announces Their 2012 eBook Membership at an Amazingly Low Price

Get a good look at the head of Prometheus' spooky space jockey

Good thing he didn't try that "cover fail" from last year (the cover with the three-armed heroine). But I guess he could have had his wife provide the third arm.
Fantasy author recreates fantasy novel cover poses, with hilarious results

I'll let you know how I feel about this after I see Pirates #4...
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is coming whether we want it or not

Sci-fi Film Locations You Can Actually Visit
12 More Sci-Fi Film Locations You Can Actually Visit
I've been to the Badlands (just for fun) and Devil's Tower (just because the movie was shot there). Devil's Tower is a little unnerving both because it looks so out of place (an abrupt mountain in the middle of nowhere, like someone just dropped it in the middle of a field) and because there are signs every ten feet warning you to beware of rattlesnakes (tends to make one a little paranoid).

Very nicely done . . . and really unsettling.
Watch the zombie apocalypse unfold in screengrabs from the Internet

Zombieland & Bruce Campbell movies . . . it just doesn't get any better than that!
10 Must-See Horror Comedies

This one sounds like it's not a remake; it's a complete remodel.
A Totally Official Synopsis For The ‘Total Recall’ Reboot

They're doing a great job of making me want to see this.
First footage of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter shows the Rail Splitter in action!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Working on Getting a Life

Jane Friedman has a really great post on the Writer Unboxed blog:

The Secret to Finding the Time to Write, Market, Promote, and Still Have a Life

It's great advice, and I've already implemented a few of the suggestions as part of my new year resolutions.

My two favorite suggestions are:
#1: Make a "Stop Doing List"; and
#3: Say good-bye to guilt and obligation.

On my "Stop Doing List" this year is some of the social media (which she also mentions under "guilt and obligation"). A lot of experts really push the issue of "being everywhere" on social media and getting your name out there, but I just can't do it all (I accept my limitations) and I'm not good at doing it all. And then I end up feeling guilty about neglecting it and that makes me feel even worse.

So this year, I've decided I'm going to focus on the big ones:
this blog, which I truly enjoy;
Twitter, which I also enjoy and I keep up with fairly well (but there's room for improvement); and
Facebook, which I'm terrible at but vow to get better.

As for the "say good-bye to guilt," I've always been pretty good at saying "no" but I'm learning to be even better at it.

Back when I was homeschooling my kids, I was also running an online educational products business AND trying to write. On an almost daily basis, someone would ask me for a favor (drive my kid here, pick up this for me, drop off this for me, join this committee with me). I soon came to realize that the general image that people had of stay-at-home moms (homeschooling or otherwise) was that we spend our days on the couch watching soaps and eating bon-bons. At one point, someone I knew actually told someone else, "I'll ask her for help. It's not like she has anything better to do, right?" You know, that's probably not the best way to curry favor with me, lol.

And I know, there are supermoms out there. You know the type: they have eight kids that they homeschool, they volunteer at church, run the homeschool co-op, keep a spotless house, make their own clothes, keep a three-acre garden . . . Well, I am NOT one of those people and never will be. One of my personal pet peeves is people who say, "Well Mrs. Has-It-All-Together does it." Great . . . then get Mrs. Has-It-All-Together to fricken help you because I'm busy.

[Steps down off the soapbox and takes a few deep breaths]

So that's my plan for this year. I'm already working on my "Stop Doing List," I'm practicing my forceful "No!", and I'm going to focus on the things that are most important in my life (like my writing).

I'm feeling better about 2012 already!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to 3rd grade spelling class...

I've discussed my editing bible before on this blog. For those unfamiliar with it, my editing bible is a collection of writing mistakes that I tend to make over and over again:

overused words/phrases, like "he shrugged" or "he raised his eyebrows" (there are times when you'd think my characters are all on crack with the way they twitch and fidget);

words I tend to misuse or confuse, like the tenses of "lay" & "lie;"

and any other writing mistakes I make frequently, like my tendency to overuse exclamation points when I'm writing comedy.

This editing bible comes in handy when I'm revising and editing because it gives me a list of mistakes I'm highly likely to have made so I can find them and fix them.

Now, after recent feedback from my critique group, I've added a new category to the editing bible: compound words.

I thought I had a pretty good grip on compound words--third grade English, anyone?--but I was wrong. They are more complicated than they seem because some can be written as a single word, some require a hyphen, and some remain two separate words:

email or e-mail?
doorjamb, door-jamb, or door jamb?
smartass, smart-ass or smart ass?
nevermind or never-mind or never mind?

Until you've memorized the correct use word by word, the only way to really be sure is to look it up. The spellcheck on this blog flagged "smartass" and "nevermind" as misspelled, but all the other variations it accepted as correctly spelled.

So now my editing bible has a section devoted entirely to compound words I've abused, and I've added another step to my editing process: search every manuscript for compound words and make sure each one is used correctly.

At least I'm not the only one with this problem. Here are a couple of great sites on compound words:

Compound Words are My Nemesis, by Julie Anne Lindsey

Grammar: Compound Words: Two words, three choices, by Rachel Berens-VanHeest

Compound Words, at the Guide to Grammar & Writing

How about you? Do you have a solid grip on compound words?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Jan. 13th

I was such a fan of the original; I don't think I'm going to enjoy this one.
The Munsters Reboot: Story Details and Character Descriptions

Mike Mignola on Hellboy’s big plans for 2012

I can never get enough of
Free fiction

Giving me some ideas for next Christmas:
Merry Scary Christmas Trees

How does the second season of Syfy’s Being Human stack up to the first?
io9's review
I hate to admit it, but I didn't see more than the first few episodes of last season. I got bored and wandered off, though I really wanted to like it. I'll give it another chance this season.

The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman Names His Top 5 Zombie Movies
Return of the Living Dead (1985) is still my favorite zombie movie, especially this scene (send more paramedics):

I think the Rise of the Planet of the Apes one is clever (with the Dark Knight Rises as a close second); the foreign Red Riding Hood is the most visually captivating.
The 20 best sci-fi and fantasy movie posters of 2011

I haven't seen most of the movies on this list (I have a "thing" about going to theaters), but I heard that Thor actually belongs on the "worst" list . . .
Best and Worst Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies of 2011

It's a sci-fi geek dream-come-true!
New sci-fi brothel offers sex with (girls dressed as) aliens
Man. That place is going to make a fortune.

These are all awesome, but I love, love, LOVE the Star Trek Simpsons: We are Borg. Protecting your donuts is futile . . .
Simpsonized Movie Posters

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Resistance is futile...I love e-books!

Yes, I know. Given what I've posted in this blog before about e-books, your jaw probably just hit the floor. But things change, and I take back everything I ever said about e-books.

I admit it: I am an e-book junkie.

I blame my phone. I've had the Kindle software on my computer for quite a while, but I just can't get into reading novel-length texts on my computer. I didn't bother to buy an e-reader because I thought reading on it would be just as tedious.

That all changed one day while hubby and I were stuck in traffic waiting on a train.

I had been crowing about how cool my phone is.
"This phone really amps up my productivity." I snapped a picture of the train. "Now if I wanted, I could Tweet about being stuck in traffic and include that picture."
I opened up Hootsuite. "And see, now I can check my mentions on Twitter."
I opened up my Blog. "I can jot down some notes or even do a whole blog post if I want."
I opened up the Kindle software pre-loaded on the phone. "And if I wanted to, I could even buy a book right now."
I clicked on a horror anthology e-book listed in my recommendations. "Look," I said, "I'm downloading a book right now, while we're stuck in traffic."

That's when Pandora's box opened. I started reading the book while we waited for the train . . . and while I waited for my daughter after school . . . and while I sat in the dentist's office . . . and while I waited in line at Wal-mart customer service.

Not that I didn't always try to have a printed book with me wherever I went, but I'd often rush out of the house and forget it. With my phone, I've been "trained" to have it with me everywhere I go. Thus, my e-books are with me wherever I go.
So lately I've been scouring the Internet for free and low price e-books (and there are loads of them). I've ran into a few that have been . . . um . . . well, less than stellar reads. It doesn't really matter, though, because most of them are free. Do you know how many printed books I've paid $15 dollars for and they've sucked? Free takes all the risk out.

As a reader, you can see why I love e-books: infinitely portable and incredibly cheap. But I've even been rethinking my opinion on e-books from an author's perspective.
At first, the free & ninety-nine cent price structure seemed like a really bad idea. Who can make a living off of selling books at ninety-nine cents? Then I looked at my own buying habits. I'm more likely to take a chance on an unfamiliar author by buying a ninety-nine cent e-book rather than a seven dollar paperback or twenty-dollar hardcover (and honestly, I haven't bought a hardcover in years). So it's definitely a way for a new author to gain readers.

Also, most of the printed books I've bought over the last couple of years have been used books, where no money goes to the author. The author is definitely going to make more money off me through a ninety-nine cent e-book than they would if I bought the book used.

So e-books are starting to look really, really good to me, both as a reader AND a writer.

I am the converted: a fan of the e-book revolution!

For a daily list of free & cheap e-books, check out this site:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, Jan. 6th

Who doesn't love
Free Fiction?

Way better than wing-dings!
Zombie Typeface

This is amazing! Trust me, you'll want to watch this (and pay close attention to the folks who come to lend a hand in the fight).
Left 4 Dead fan film goes from zero to crazy in the last act

Read a chapter of the year’s weirdest post-apocalyptic novel

Good Grief!

17 Hollywood classics reimagined as bloodthirsty zombie thrillers

This wouldn't last ten minutes in my neighborhood. We have roaming bands of feral children that eat lawn ornaments for breakfast.
Image of the Day: The best Starship Enterprise mailbox you'll see today

I don't care what anybody says, I will never get tired of zombies (though I will admit, I am not a fan of Romero's Diary of the Dead--he didn't keep the theme subtle enough; he beat us over the head with it).
Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection – Teaser Trailer Released

I can't wait to see this movie!
Final pre-trailer teaser shows Prometheus is 'all about everything'

And another one I'm dying to see:
CONFIRMED: Harrison Ford officially on board for Ender's Game

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's that time of the year again: New Year's Resolutions!

I looked up my goals for last year. My top three were:

Finish revision and edits on the novel (Macha Mong Ruadh) I wrote a few years ago--Nope!;
After Macha, turn my focus to the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo (2010)--Nope!;
Write 500 words per day--Nope! (though there were extenuating circumstances, and I did mostly make this one).

My minor goals were:

Write at least one complete short story per month--Nope!;
Quit lozenges--Nope!

2011 was not a good year for my goals.

Now it's a bright, shiny new year, the slate is wiped clean, and we get to start anew . . . and hope to do better this time!

Dean Wesley Smith has a great post on goals:

When setting goals, everything about your goal must be in your control. Completely.

So I'm taking his advice and leaving out goals that are beyond my control, like getting X amount of short stories published.

Writing Goal #1 for 2012: At least eight new short stories.

I did manage to write four new short stories in 2011, plus I revised/revamped/polished several old partials, so I'm shooting for at least eight new ones in 2012.

Writing Goal #2 for 2012: *Bleep* or get off the (social media) pot.

I drank the "social media" Kool-aid and now belong to pretty much every social media site that exists. I tend to neglect them, though, so when I read some article about how an author HAS to engage readers on social media, I feel guilty about neglecting my social media and I beat myself up about it. Then I try and spend more time on social media, usually at the expense of writing, and then I feel guilty about not writing and beat myself up about that . . . you can see it's a vicious circle.

So this year, I resolve to finally "make a ruling" on social media. I enjoy this blog and Twitter and I'm fairly diligent about staying active on both. I'm keeping them, for sure. But I need to decide which of the others I'm going to keep (and be active on) and which I'm going to give up on. No more guilt!

Writing Goal #3 for 2012: Put the novel issue to rest, once and for all.

I've blogged before about my "novel issues." Though I'd like to someday "be a novelist," I'm not sure if I ever will. If not, I'm certainly okay with being a short story writer--but I'd like to at least try.

So this year, as a back-burner goal, I'm going to try and get a novel "finished" (in my case, that means revised and ready to search for an agent). The only novel I've ever tried to revise has been Macha, so I'm going to try and revise/edit/polish the NaNo novel I wrote in 2010 in case the problem isn't that I'm not a novelist, but that the Macha novel is just too messed up to be salvageable.

Those are my writing goals this year--doable, simple, and completely within my control.

What are your writing goals this year?