Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Hunger Games - Movie Review

This is the first in a multi-part series discussing the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games.  I have not read the novel and do not expect to in the near future (I may this summer but I don't consider that "near".)  It may contain light spoilers for the movie (and thus novel).  I will do my best to keep it spoiler free but if you wish to remain pure you may wish to skip these posts.

Watching The Hunger Games I had an opportunity to have many reactions and thoughts.  The movie was intense, longish, with a cast of characters and some very strong imagery wrapped around some incredible effects and shots. Before I delve into my reactions as an author and a parent I thought I'd begin with a general movie review as a viewer.

Monday, March 26, 2012

So, Narrator Smurf, how are you?

The 2011 Smurf movie introduced us to a variety of unique smurfs, among them Gutsy (a kilted smurf) and Narrator (shown above).  At one point in the movie, while Narrator is describing the ongoing battle scene another smurf looks at him and shouts "Really?  Now?"  At this Narrator shrugs and says "It's what I do."

When it comes to 1st Person Past Tense writing I find that the idea of the narrator is profoundly problematic and one of the least understood or acknowledged challenges in writing, especially among young or new writers.  There is a distinctive appeal to having someone relate their accounts of events in their own words.  We, as readers, are treated to their thoughts, their statements of their feelings, and their interpretations of the story.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Short Story: Another First Date

Rebecca smiled back at her date, easing herself down into the car seat.  She tried to swing her legs into car as demurely as she could; this was the first date she’d been on that the guy had insisted on opening the car door for her.  He eased the door shut and then gave it a firm shove to latch.  While he jogged around the front of the hood, she smoothed her knee-length skirt over her legs.  So far this was the perfect night.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Never heard of a Surge Protector?

I am blessed with many friends who are willing to be subjected to test reading my works in progress.  I am currently agonizing over the first chapter of my Sci Fi Epic for which I not only want to nail down Chapter 1 but I'd like to spend some time working on character sketches and short stories related to it.  I very much would like to get a teaser up to show off the world I'm building as well as get some buzz going even though publication is, at the least, a year or two, or three away.

While reading through the first 10 pages he sent me back a message:

Grin, and I'll get over the exploding console trope.. that has always seemed like such a design flaw  why are there no surge protectors in space? 

And honestly that's a rather fair complaint.  Why is it that in all space fictions, we seem rather okay with star ships coming without basic 20th century safety technology?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Alea iacta est

Well, dear readers, it is official.  For the 10 weeks of summer holiday, minus the week's recovery time for getting my wisdom teeth out, I will be working as a full time writer.  We made the commitment to keep Xander and Kaylee in daycare for the time with the agreement that I would be working on "stuff" between five and six hours a day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I wasn't going to post anything until this video wandered my way.  Happy Feast of the Irish Saint!

Best line?

"My judgement is impaired, and my confidence is not."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Would it smell as sweet?

A friend lamented that once she knew she was having a girl, she had no idea what to name her.  I quipped on her Facebook wall that naming a baby isn't really that big of a deal.  After all, it's not like that name will be with them for their entire lives and then end up engraved in stone when they die, right?

I realize that naming a character is a somewhat less significant life event.  After all, until published, my characters only exist in my mind, and even after the first book is printed, they don't really interact with too many people.  Plus, names can change throughout the writing process, and finally it's just a character, right?

Monday, March 12, 2012

But you don't read!

As I brainstorm ideas with Mrs. Osterman, she will often get a very amused grin on her face and shake her head.  This is a cue to me to ask, of course, "What?  What's so funny?"  She will shake her head more and make a passing effort to refuse to answer me.  After some prodding she eventually relents and says "But you don't read."

Thus the question, how can I fashion myself as any kind of writer if I do not read?  Books that is.  I read a great deal of news, and political commentary on various websites, and blogs. I often contribute to them as well, and not just as a writer, but more than often as a teacher.  It's quite frustrating how often people with no experience in education are happy to opine for a few thousand words on how to fix education if someone would just put them in charge.

But as to literature, no, I'm not much of a reader.  I don't really feel I have the time for it.  On the one hand any time I spend with a book in hand is time my fingers are not pounding away at a keyboard and advancing one project or another.  But that's really only 1/4th of the answer.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wicked: Children's Edition

As a Christmas present a friend bought his wife tickets to go see Wicked at a major theater Downtown.  Being friends he invited us to join them and my wife and I did.  The seats were very good on the main floor about 15 rows back.  They also were, well, I won't quote you a price, dear readers, but let's leave it at "somewhere in the ball park of a new xBox game console, and games" for one seat.

Which you know, was worth it.  The show was amazing.  The costumes, the music, the story, the effects, everything.  The last production of Wicked that we got to see I was rather unimpressed with the illusion of defying gravity.  However in this one, they one upped it and had the Munchkins come running out under as she sang (and hit those high notes).

Everything was great.  Until... (and you, dear reader, had to know there was an "until..." coming)

Across the isle from me was a 4-year old who by the middle of second act was bored and annoyed at being bored.  Most of the first half of Act 2 was spent moving back and forth from her seat to her father's lap.  But at the half way mark she was now actively protesting being there.  Loudly.  To her parents' credit they did try to convince her to lower her voice. And they were moderately successful in short bursts.  I imagine that with the music and the singing that her protestations were probably inaudible more than 5 rows away.

I, however, was not 5 rows away.

And there I sat, trying to politely ignore the increasingly in-ignorable.  And I was also left with the question:  Who thinks that it is worth that kind of money to take a 4-year old to see a professional stage production?

I love X, our 4 year old, dearly.  I love taking him to movies, especially the Sunday Family Movie Matinee that our local theater runs. ($1 tickets for kids to see a movie that's about a year old; popcorn is, of course, not discounted).  But I'm sorry, at that age I don't think he can really appreciate a professional company production.  Or perhaps he can but will he remember it as vividly and as long?

And what of the other patrons who also came to enjoy a quality show?  Is the desire for a young child to see a show something that should trump the desire for adults to enjoy that show in peace?

Perhaps the solution is to have designated "kid friendly" shows so that those who want to spend an XBox on tickets for their 4 year olds can do just that, in the company of similarly minded folks....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chapter 1: Take 1

So Sunday I finally got some time to sit and write.  Mrs. Osterman was off to the Dog Show with some friends from her old job, Xander was up north with his grand parents, Kaylee was ~finally~ asleep, and my lesson plans for the next few weeks were more or less ready to go.  It was time to start pounding away on the next great epic space adventure, a coming-of-age story following a young Ensign in Her Majesty's Royal Space Navy rise to Captain of an 8th rate ship of the line.  Or some rate ship of the line.  Maybe.  I haven't quite decided how big that ship is yet, relatively speaking.

But I got to pound on the keyboard, introduce you, dear reader, to Ensign Ippa Kiatta, her fren-emy Lt. Cordean Morthi, work on a sketch of the Hartishian race (a bit like elves with overly large almond eyes, and extremely long pointed ears) and do a proof of concept with hyper-linking key terms to the Codex of information in the back of the book.

You see, one of my grand designs for this project is to have the novel itself, and then have an additional extended encyclopedia of the world available with the eBook edition which will be hyper linked to relevant sections.  That way if you want to know more about the gunnery controls, or about a character, there is addtional information just a click away.  And then with your back button you can get back to the story itself.  Or depending on your eReader, back to where you left your mark.

Here's what I found as my day of writing went on:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How hard is it to drive a star ship?

At the heart of it my next writing project is going to be a Trek inspired novel.  Plain and simple, I fully intend to introduce to people an epic space fiction closer to Star Trek than Star Wars.  However, I also want to personalize as much of the story as I can, as well as the world in which it takes place.  I could, quite easily, steal the command structure that has become part of the common geek lexicon of Starfleet.  Operations, Security, Science, and Command divisions, each with their own department heads and so on.  And of course when you get to the top of the command chain, regardless of why or how you got in, you are considered a Command officer and put on the red shirt.