The Dirty Dozen

June 21, 2010 at 6:02 am (Other) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m participating in a blog hop set up by Alex J. Canauagh today. The question being – if I could only round up 12 films which 12 would I choose.

Tricky question and I had to really think about this and in the end I decided to go with the idea that I was going to be stuck in isolation for the rest of forever. Which movies did I have to take and what combination?

I decided to start with the child-hood classics.

1.  The Dark Crystal – Jim Henson at his finest. An epic fantasy tale told with muppets with some of the most interesting characters I ever met as a child. I love Kira and her matter-of-fact nature as well as her ability to talk to pretty much any animal with a reasonable expectation of being answered.

2.  Willow – Again, epic fantasy. This time it is a combination of Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer who are the defnitely draw though the shield bob-sled over snow we probably could have done without. Fairies, trolls, witches, prophesise, what more could a movie want?

3.  The Princess Bride – Because it is awesome. Fantasy and romance and action and adventure all rolled into one very entertaining story.

Moving on some old favourites.

4. Indiana Jones (If I’m not allowed the entire trilogy I choose Temple of Doom – though many fans think that this is the weak link) – With the exception of the Crystal Skull (which I still maintain is not Indiana Jones) these movies are incredibly fun, action packed and scenic.

5.  Clash of the Titans – The original. Clunky stop-go animation but that vulture is hilarious and this was my gate-way to Greek mythology. Can’t be without this one.

6.  The Trouble with Harry – Hitchcock at his most amusing. I just like the twisted sense of humour.

The B-Grade Collection – I have this thing for really bad horror movies.

7.  Tremors – If I can have all four of the movies I will, but otherwise I would have to choose the second one. Underground monsters that get smarter by the minute and eat anything that moves. A great laugh with one or two jumps thrown in (just so you remember it was sort of supposed to be a horror).

8.  Ginger Snaps – Possibly the best werewolf movie I have ever watched and yet you end up laughing more than being scared by this coming of age movie mixed with horror. I will say that the scariest thing in this movie is Ginger’s mother (creepy).

9.  Scream – This one was a toss up between The Faculty and Scream but Scream came out on top for two reasons. One – it gave us one of the best quotes from a bad villain ever: “My mum and dad are going to be so mad at me”. The second reason is that they made sure the last hurrah wasn’t dragged out. Short and sweet and done.

Finally, the feel good movies.

10.  Elizabeth Town – Most people will hate this choice. Yes, it is Orlando Bloom. Yes, it does start with him trying to commit suicide. Yes, it mostly deals with a funeral. It is light and amusing and by the road trip at the end you are genuinely feeling good about yourself. This is what I want in a movie when I need cheering up.

11. 10 Things I Hate About You – An updated take on the Taming of the Shrew and my introduction to Heath Ledger, I love this movie. It is well done and uplifting.

12.  Just Like Heaven – I needed at least one genuine, sickly sweet movie on this list. This is my choice.

You should head over to Alex’s blog and check out the rest of the blog hop.

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Character Interview Blogfest

June 15, 2010 at 5:40 am (Death's Daughter, Feature) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m joining in with Jangu Mandanna’s (from Echoes of a Wayward Mind) Character Interview Blogfest.

The character I’ve decided to interview is Emily from Death’s Daughter. Emily was a butler working for the Delaine’s. After the death of Mrs Delaine, Calandra dismissed Emily from her services. (There are no plot spoilers in the following as the events discussed are either early in the story or do not appear within Death’s Daughter.)

Q: Emily, can you briefly describe your role in the story?

A: I worked as a butler for the Delaine household in Kalthium. Mr Delaine hired me and I continued my work until after the death of Mrs Delaine.

Q: How do you feel about the way Calandra has told this story?

A: How do you think I feel? Miss Calandra Delaine is a thoughtless, selfish, child. Certainly she’s used this opportunity to justify her choices and her treatment of those around her but we all know her for what she is.

Q: So you would disagree with the way Calandra has portrayed the situation at the beginning of the story?

A: Naturally. I was there, wasn’t I? Calandra was always looking down her nose at me and thinking she was all high and mighty and meanwhile she’s breaking her mother’s heart while she plays around with her dusty scrolls. So what if she could read? And then she’s glorifying her father. Her father ran off to sea and left poor Mrs Delaine to clean up the mess he left behind – and by that I mean an over indulged child that never could see things the way they were.

Q: How did you feel when Calandra dismissed you from her services?

A: Well, that was a bit of good luck in the end. As angry as I was at the time it all worked out for the best. Besides, I don’t think I could have stomached working for Miss Calandra Delaine, even if I’d wanted to stay in the house. And despite our personal disagreements, Calandra did give me a very good recommendation so when my sister found an open position with Lord and Lady Serrite it was easy enough for me to take up that position. As much as I dislike Calandra, she was fair in her statements about my service. Can’t hold that against her.

Q: In Death’s Daughter, Calandra states that you accused her of killing her mother. Do you think she murdered her mother?

A: At the time, I think I did. It was quite a shock to the household and given the tension between Calandra and her mother it seemed very possible that she had. Thinking back now, I don’t know what I think about the murder. It is all a bit of a blur and I don’t know that anyone really knows what happened. Calandra has given us one version of the events and I don’t doubt that she’ll be taken at her word, but gossip will certainly continue for sometime.

Q: Final question – Do you believe the rest of Calandra’s story?

A: Far be it from me to call someone a liar, but the tale is just a little bit fanciful. Certainly things have been a bit strange in Kalthium but to believe that there are gods running around and mysterious forces, it’s all just a bit far-fetched.

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Making Stuff Up

June 6, 2010 at 5:50 am (Setting, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

Even though I write fantasy I kind of avoid just making random things up. I tend to read widely and borrow bits from here and there and put them together in new ways.  There’s a reason for this. When you just make stuff up it tends to sound like it is entirely made up because people don’t have any kind of connection to it or understanding of it. They have no history with the concept and so it becomes a harder idea to sell to the reader in terms of believability (and despite writing fantasy I know that I want my reader to believe the world they are in, even if only for a little bit).

That said, I’m being a little more ambitious with my latest WIP. I’m still basing most of the creatures and things on common mythologies but I’m definitely adding more of my own designs to the mix. Whether this will work or end up an incomprehensible mess of overly descriptive fluff is yet to be determined but I’m really enjoying the process. I’ve drawn on most of my previous knowledge about miscellaneous beasties and thought about my favourite creatures from movies and television and then still considered things I’ve read about in other stories and taken a bit from here, there and everywhere to come up with some really interesting creatures to populate my world.

For interesting read deadly and just plain nasty.

Of course I then have the fantastic problem of trying to figure out what to name these things. I’ve learned not to attach any name to something until I’m sure it is right because names, once used, tend to stick and that can lead to disaster if the name was utterly wrong to begin with. I’ve been describing each new addition to the world to a few friends and been judging by their faces as to whether I’ve totally lost touch or not. And if their faces weren’t letting me know than the strained tones as they say words like ‘interesting’ or ‘that’s different’ certainly would.

I think every writer needs that test audience, particularly if they are venturing into unfamiliar territory. And I’ve carefully selected the order I talk to people in. Fantasy fans first, because that’s who I want to read the stories. But fantasy readers tend to be more accepting of bizarre so if the idea passes that test I check it out on a few people who don’t go for fantasy at all just to see if I can convince them such a creature could exist.

You know, when you are kid you don’t worry about all these things. Of course the cupcakes joined together and formed a massive creature with jelly eyes and a dress made out of sprinkles. You don’t worry whether you can sell that idea to anyone, you just do it.

Oh well.

How often do you make things up and do you run them by a test audience first?

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On Motivation

June 3, 2010 at 8:16 am (drafting, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’d be the first to admit that I sometimes don’t write every day. In fact, I can go for weeks at times without writing. But then I’ll suddenly start and the words will flow and stopping becomes quite difficult. Even when I’m superbly busy and should be doing other things.

Those spaces in between aren’t procrastination. Merely a different part of my process. I am planning, thinking, wondering. I am turning ideas around inside my head and waiting to know which one is worth pursuing. And once I know, I begin and I write with certainty.

What keeps me writing? I love it. It is a part of me. Every word given life upon the page and worked over and over again.

Yes, it is tiring. Yes, it is distracting from all the other things I could be doing. Yes, sometimes it keeps me away from things I want to do. But clearly I don’t want sleep or to do any of those other things as much as writing. And for as long as that is true, I will write.

Right now, I haven’t had the time to write properly (without distraction) for two days. My MC was left hanging underneath a rock ledge, fighting for grip on slippery rock in a scene that will undoubtably be cut from the next draft. I am currently pursuing a random thought that crossed my mind earlier in the week and I shoved the MC over the edge just to see what would happen. It is entertaining but really unhelpful to the plot so in the next rewrite she might be saved the effort of rescuing herself.

If I don’t write, she’ll hang there forever. I’ll always wonder what she would have done next. I’ll never see the story through and I’ll never get to the rewrite where I remove the useless scene (or find a use for it). Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. It isn’t as if this story that I’m working on will ever change the world. But I want to write it.

That is my motivation.

What is yours?

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Stuck In My Head

June 1, 2010 at 6:27 am (Author Info) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

So I’ve read pieces of more texts than I can remember today and one of them has gotten stuck in my head. I’ve read essays and reports and narratives and this and that and every other kind of text imaginable and do you know what got stuck in my head? An analytical exposition on the Raiders March (from Indiana Jones).

Okay, I’m at this conference learning about different text types and literacies and I’m actually finding it really interesting, when not being overwhelmed with content. What I need is a good month to sit down and digest everything because a lot of it is a rehash of stuff I already know but being told to me in new ways and mixed in there is new content and some of that is really, really important but is going to get lost somewhere inside my head if  I don’t have the time to sort it out. However at the moment my real problem is I’ve got this John Williams song bouncing around inside my head.

The problem being that I studied this particular song when I was at school and also wrote an analytical exposition on the text so even though I only read three paragraphs about it today in the midst of six hundred other things (slight use of hyperbole) it is just stuck there and I’m remembering watching the movie, making notes, replay the scene, make notes, replay the scene make notes, watch the whole movie, make notes. It is one of those songs that I could recognise from two notes I’ve heard it that many times.

Other than that – why is this song stuck in my head? Because it is brilliant. It is the perfect song to create character and mood and it is used brilliantly within the movie. Why do we remember things? Usually because they are really incredible, really terrible or really weird.

Anyway – just a quick post because  I really have a lot of reading to do for tomorrow and I do still want to do some writing this week (though I’m definitely not going to get much done as far as writing). I’m glad I’ve got some internet access and am able to check out some blogs this week because so far I’ve read some really interesting posts that I probably would have missed out on.

Hope everyone is having a great week. What songs are you getting stuck in your heads?

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Off and Away

May 30, 2010 at 6:08 am (Death's Daughter, fantasy) (, , , , , , , , , )

Not for long though. I’m getting sent out of town for a week for some professional development and I don’t know what my internet access is going to be like.  I’m hoping to post a few times during the week but if not, I’ll be back in a few days.

Until I get back, I’d like to leave you with the trailer to Death’s Daughter – it is a little rough but it is a start. If you can’t hear the sound, you may need to turn up the volume a bit.

Have a great week.

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Bit of Excitement

May 26, 2010 at 6:13 am (Death's Daughter) (, , , , , , , )

I posted this on Twitter when it happened but here I am sharing it on my blog.

Death’s Daughter made the top ten – BooksOnBoard announces this week’s bestselling eBooks and authors.

This was the list as released on May 19:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
2. The Secret of Excalibur – Andy McDermott
3. I am Nujood, Aged 10 and Divorced – Nujood Ali
4. Indemnity Only – Sara Paretsky
5. The Covenant of Genesis – Andy McDermott
6. The Summons – John Grisham
7. The Final Detail – Harlan Coben
8. Death’s Daughter – Cassandra Jade
9. The Killing Edge – Heather Graham
10. The Bone Conjurer – Alex Archer

I wonder if people who have published multiple books still feel the need to jump up and down with joy?

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5 Reasons for Reading Outside of Your Genre

May 24, 2010 at 6:41 am (Genre, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

It is advice that you hear all the time.  Writers should read widely.  They should read outside of their preferred genre.  Some people even go so far as to give you a specific list of books you must read (I always worry when someone tells me I must read something – it usually leads to me spending many weeks turning one page at a time and finding multiple other things to do).

I do however think it is good advice to read anything and everything you have the time to read – even things you know you are going to hate before you begin them. Here are my 5 reasons why:

1.  It is less likely you will end up emulating one particular author or group or authors if you have read widely. Having seen language used so many different ways it is unlikely you will latch onto any one person’s style and so you have more chance to find your own voice.

2.  Very few books fall into only one genre. Most have elements of many genres mixed together. Fantasy for instance usually has adventure, mystery, coming of age, romance, drama, horror and a range of other genres interlaced.  It helps to have read a wide range of genres so that you can develop these ideas within your own genre.

3.  Sometimes you discover something amazing. As I said, I usually worry when someone gives me a book and tells me I have to read it. I tend to have images of high school going through my brain and trying to read the class novel and not fall asleep and then remember enough of the story to write about it afterward. But sometimes, you discover a real gem. Something that just works for you.

4.  Even reading something you don’t like can improve your writing. If you critically analyse what it is you don’t like about what you are reading it will make you more critical of your own writing and how the reader will receive it.

5.  Particularly if you are write what you know kind of author, more experiences are better. Reading outside your genre, you never know what you might learn.

What do you think? Do you read outside your genre or do you stick with what you know?

Also, what is the worst book you’ve ever had to read because someone has requested you read it?

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Is it a fashion statement?

May 22, 2010 at 5:01 am (Character, Setting) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I usually have a lot of fun dressing my various characters.  Mostly because I have such a strong mental image of the character and few of them ever dress for what they end up doing – plus I set them in fantasy worlds and so I don’t really worry about whether people dressed like that in any particular era or not.

That said, the protagonist in my latest WIP is giving me all kinds of trouble. I have a strong mental image of her but the clothes keep changing and they are always very practical, clothes. Lots of leather and denim and most of it torn and patched, which given the hostile nature of the world I’m building makes perfect sense. But it isn’t all that fun to write about. Still, every time I try to dress her differently I just think, there is no way she’s going to wear that skirt and she certainly isn’t going to wear bright colours and try to attract a lot of attention.

I did destroy her denim jacket though. Which lead to the very touching boy lending her his brown vinyl jacket scene which wasn’t really an improvement on her look but was an interesting interaction between the two characters.

Dressing your characters? Fashion statement or practical? Or both? Love to hear your views.

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How did Calandra get her name?

May 15, 2010 at 7:29 am (Character, Death's Daughter, fantasy) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, it was brought to my attention prior to publishing Death’s Daughter that Cassandra (my name) and Calandra (my protagonist’s name) are kind of similar.  There are two things I have in common with my protagonist. One – we both like boots. I have a serious liking for wearing boots and my protagonist is equally obsessed.  Two – our names start with the letter C and have a similar number of syllables.

Possibly people who know me will point out a few other similarities but as far as I’m concerned, those two points are it.  I love Calandra as a character, particularly as she grows throughout the story, but I don’t know that I would ever want to be compared to being too much like her.

So, how did Calandra Delaine end up with such a name?

I remember reading a book as a child where one of the characters were called Callie. I always thought it was a great name. When I started writing the story I decided I’d like for another character in the story to call the protagonist Callie in an affectionate way and then I had to find a full name that could conceivably be shortened to Callie (It seemed like a good idea at the time). I pulled out a dictionary of names and narrowed it down fairly quickly.  Here are some of the easily rejected names:

  • Calanthe
  • Calliope
  • Callista

As you can see, not a lot of choice. Besides, I read the name Calandra and I just knew. I had found the name my character needed. If I ever had second thoughts about it, Calandra would be sure to point out to me that she knows her own name and that she would not stand for me arbitrarily changing it on her.

cover art

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