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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Small Spaces and Long Drives

May 19, 2010 at 6:17 am (Author Info, Planning, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

I spent the weekend in a small car hurtling along a road that I suppose should be called a highway (it was certainly named so on the map).  I will point out that the only thing holding the road together was the roadkill and the only good thing about it being a highway was that you were travelling fast enough that you never really had to look at what you were driving over – eww.

What do you do on long car rides?

I can’t read in the car.  I can’t watch movies or play games or do anything that might stop me from becoming mind-numbingly bored because as soon as I do I get dreadfully sick.  So when I wasn’t behind the wheel and wishing that I didn’t have to focus on the small lumps smearing the road ahead what was there to do? (Conversation is of course out of the question given the driver doesn’t want to be distracted and the other passengers were trying to sleep.)

Well, I ended up doing what I always do when stuck somewhere with nothing to do.  I planned.

Before I left on the trip I had just started a new scene for my current WIP and was unhappy with how it had begun.  While I was staring out the window at the brown grass spreading in every direction, I played the scene through in my head.  Then I reversed and added a different beginning.  That didn’t really work, so I tweaked something else.  I continued to play with the scene in my head until I finally played it through and realised it was perfect. All of the issues I’d been having were resolved.

And only six hours to go until I could find a pen to write it all down in a notebook so that when I got home I could try to fix the scene for real.

What do you end up doing on long car rides?

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Why Yoga and Kittens Don’t Mix

February 10, 2010 at 5:37 am (Character, Tension, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , )

Or, why some situations are just doomed to end in tears.

I try to do yoga everyday. What that means is, I do it everyday on holidays and maybe once over the weekend once I’m back at work because I just do not find the time and when I have the time, I don’t have the energy. Occasionally I’ll manage the time during the week and I’m really glad about it because I feel so much better.

Unfortunately, my kitten seems to think that when I am stretching out on a mat that is must be an invite for her to come running over and to try to get pats. She rolls over my feet and if I’m lying down she’ll try to crawl onto my stomach and curl up and go to sleep, which doesn’t work for me when I’m about to move and try to keep the routine flowing. Clearly this is a situation where I am not going to win. Yes, I can put her in a different room and shut the door but that seems kind of mean and she is really cute and if it comes to a choice between spending time with my cat and yoga, the cat will win.

There are lots of these situations in real life where it is quite obvious that even though there are ways around a problem, it just isn’t going to happen. It is better just to concede and move on.

However, what if our protagonist was simply to concede and move on. They’ve been driven for page after page to accomplish something and finally they’ve decided to pass. How disappointing would that be?

The difference is that while I like yoga it is clearly low on my priorities (or at least lower than keeping my kitten happy). I work, I write, I spend time with family, I spend time reading, I spend time with friends, I watch television and let my brain take a break, I go for walks, I have lots of things that I do throughout the week that take priority over yoga. So, when I walk away from it, I’m still driven toward my goals.

Protagonists can walk away from things so long as they still have their main goal ahead of them. In point of fact it may make them more interesting if they are forced to make tough choices and give things away in order to achieve their other goals. It may be that they could save the world if only they didn’t try to bail their sister out of jail and left her to sort her own problems out. The protagonist may worry over this choice but in the end the choice is obvious.

In my life, yoga and kittens are not mixing well. For the protagnoist in my WIP her day job and her boyfriend are colliding and one is going to have to go. What choices do your protagonists face?

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Finding Time vs Making Time

November 3, 2009 at 6:51 am (Thoughts on Writing) (, , , )

2009 has been an extremely busy year for me, not just as a writer.  Everytime I think I’m getting a grip on things Life comes along and gives me a hard shove just to let me know that I am not as in control as I would like to be.  Of course that is reality for most people most of the time.

I think for me it was the flu that really threw my rhythm out entirely.  Before the flu I was blogging regularly, almost every day, checking various social networks, writing constantly, editing projects, sending out queries, and keeping up with my day job just fine.  Then I got sick.  The kind of sick that meant I was in bed and didn’t really know what time of day it was for a couple of weeks and then when I was on my feet I had so much work waiting for me it was a never ending battle just to keep the pile from getting bigger.

I’m finally starting to get things back together, and just as well.  The end of the school year is coming up and that means piles of marking and reporting and meetings and all of those final jobs that absolutely have to be done or the world will end.  Hopefully not literally.  I’ve also just gotten my first novel, “Death’s Daughter”, back from its first round of editing.  It isn’t tragic but there is a lot of work to be done.  In addition, I am about to be moved for work and so I have to start tidying up all my loose ends here, packing up the house and just get ready for a major upheaval.

With all of this going on I could simply sit back and say I haven’t the time.  Really, if I waited until I found a spare moment to edit or pull things together, I wouldn’t be getting anywhere fast.  Time does not magically appear before you with a neon sign saying ‘use me to write’ or ‘I could get the dishes done’.  Time has never sat around waiting to be found.

I can however make time.  No, I only have 24 hours in the day and I am spending at least 8 of those sleeping and a further 8 (at least) at work.  It is however amazing what you can do with an hour if you have properly planned and prepared.

The reason an hour can go by so quick is many people spend the first fifteen just getting their brain geared towards whatever it is they end up doing, and they turn off ten minutes before the end thinking, oh I’m about to be out of time anyway.  25 minutes of absolute dead time.  If you also count lack of organisation and running around putting things together and finding things that are needed to do whatever it is you are trying to do, you could have as few as fifteen minutes of actual useful working time.

Right now I am a little time stressed and starting the blog up again was something I thought over very carefully.  I didn’t want to stick my toe into the water and decide it was too much effort.  I planned and thought about it and realised that I could make the blog work and sorted out the how and when.  I can get some writing done and I can keep up with all the other demands on my time with a little preparation and organisation.  If occasionally I slip up, one or two late nights or early mornings won’t kill me.

I would like to know how everyone else deals with the busy demands upon them.  If you have any great advice on how to fit writing into a busy schedule, please share it.

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