Monday, January 31, 2011

RIP John Barry

John Barry passed away today. I can't say that I was a huge fan, but I was a fan. Like many of us, his music has touched my life more than once and if you take a moment to browse through the list of movie soundtracks he's composed I think you'll be able to say the same.

How is this relevant to The Scribblerati blog? Only marginally, to be honest. I always write to music. Typically, that's something techno-ish; mostly house, with a little trance and other whatnot thrown in. Every once in a while though I'll turn to some classical and a soundtrack that I always come back to is:

I love the Dances With Wolves soundtrack. It's sweeping, haunting, and beautiful all at the same time. In many ways, the imagery and emotions it evokes is almost perfect for writing. I don't know about you, but there's something about truly excellent music that always stimulates my creativity.

And there's one other thing about Dances with Wolves that I'll never forget. That's the movie the lovely @mplstravelkitty and I saw on our first date.

Go ahead and follow the links and let us know how John Barry affected your life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interesting Bits

Interesting Bits – my thoughts on a few interwebby things I found interesting

Foreign Rights: How Authors Tap a Rich Vein of Royalties

I really can't disagree with anything the author of this article says. I can, however, disagree with the underlying subtext, which appears to be: here's something else those silly self-pubbers don't get. Clearly, the author of this article did not explicitly say that, but for the sake of this post I would like to focus on that particular notion.

This isn't the first time I've seen defenders of the mainstream publishing status quo make the argument that those who self publish are missing out on all the advantages that come along with mainstream publishing. I can't really disagree with that either. Mainstream publishers bring many advantages to their clients, including foreign rights. The problem with that particular argument is that there is no guarantee that anyone will be interested in obtaining foreign rights for your book. So while one can claim that foreign rights sales are an advantage to the author who chooses to mainstream published, it's only an advantage if it's a realized.

(I could belabor this point, especially in regards to marketing, but that's another post.)

The other thought-provoking bit about this article is that I don't see why foreign rights sales and self-publishing need to be mutually exclusive. The article states that navigating those murky legal waters can be terribly challenging for the typical author and again I can't disagree with that. But whoever said that you can't self publish AND have an agent who understands these things?

I've mentioned before that I'm pretty close to finishing my novel, To Kill the Goddess. Once I finish I will start querying agents just like everyone else. The difference between me and those who are only looking to mainstream publish will be that I will be keeping an eye open for an agent who is interested in representing me even though I may choose to self publish.

There are of course a whole host of questions around how that particular arrangement might work, but I've caught wind of these relationships here and there on the interwebs and I think that sort of thing just might be the wave of the future.

Hmmm… That sounds like another post too…

Goodbye Cruel World - BLACK HEART Writing Retreat

Doesn't that sound like heaven?

After having been unemployed for 2 1/2 months this summer I totally know what Holly is talking about. I can't possibly convey how much of an incredible experience that was for me to have that block of uninterrupted time. It's just like she says in the article, you really do become immersed in your story. You think about it all the time and you even find yourself dreaming about it.

But could I really go away for a month and do nothing but write? I kinda don't think so.
One of the nice things about being at home was that I didn't have to be away from the lovely @mplstravelkitty. Actually, after being by myself all day I was like a big puppy dog by the time she got home from work. I was all like, “How are you doing? How was your day? Guess what I made for dinner?”

The other reason I don't think I can go away for a whole month is that I found that I needed to get away from the writing on a fairly regular basis. Don't misunderstand me, I wrote every day, but after writing from 8 AM to 2 or 3 PM my brain was kind of mush. I needed the downtime to recharge for the next day. Besides, what better way is there to recharge then spend some time with your honey?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Random Post

So whatever happened to that #Reverb10 thing you were doing?

Yep. I feel bad about letting that one slide. I really meant to go all the way to the end with that one, but then there was all of this business:

And it was a weird one too. Yes, there was all the usual family and Christmas stuff going on, but the lovely @mplstravelkitty and I had this great idea that December was a wonderful time to start remodeling our master bath. To be clear, we hired it done because I'm about as inept at remodeling as I would be flying the space shuttle, but it takes a ton of time even when someone else is doing the heavy lifting.

Do I want a nickel or chrome finish on the faucets?

Undermount sinks?

Do I think Dave's Den is the right color to paint the bathroom?

Dave’s Den??

Thankfully, the aforementioned lovely @mplstravelkitty is a whiz at navigating the bathroom supply websites and we survived.

Admission: I liked Dave's Den, but it didn't end up in the bath.


Yesterday I tried to kill one of my toes. I'm not entirely sure why kicking the side of the couch seemed like a good idea but I did and the lovely @mplstravelkitty insists it's not broken but I'm kind of a whiner and ooowwwwWWWW! Plus, I can't really do much yoga with my toe like that so – POUT!

Hey man, isn't this supposed to be a writing blog?

Well, yes, so here’s my WIP update.

I'm so frakking close to being with this draft that I'm ready to freak out!

I don't know if anyone else is this way, but when I was a kid in school, taking those standardized tests, I would get all squirmy and itchy and sweaty the closer I got to the end. Kinda like: oh my God make it stop! That's how I feel about my WIP right now. I've been on a serious push the last couple of months and I'm “this close” to done. Can't wait!! And not just because I want to be finished, but because I want to hear what the rest of The Scribblerati has to say about it. So far so good, but…

Unicorns kick ass and I don't care what anyone says

It may surprise some of you to know that unicorns are a frequent topic at the Scribblerati meetups.

It all started with people making fun of me because I have a unicorn in my WIP. It's not just that I have a unicorn, but that I have an elf princess who rides the unicorn. Now, in my defense, I am writing high fantasy, and I can't help it that fantasy has elves and unicorns, but still, I know how it looks.

I suppose I could've stayed away from the cliche, but that's really not my style. When you get right down to it, my whole book is about taking fantasy cliche, tropes, whatever you want to call it, and turning them on their head. Yes I have a unicorn, but my unicorn is kick ass. And my elf princess? Hot, of course. Okay, so I have one tiny little cliche…

But it all works and it isn't crochet.

(Um, that's cliche, voice translator, not crochet.)

You'll just have to take my word for it – for now!

PS. This is for you, Scribblerati:

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Worst Movie Ever?

Last weekend a few intrepid friends and I sat down to my husband’s stellar waffles and watched what some folk call the Worst Movie Ever. This was not my first experience with a movie that had laid claim to that disreputable title; I have sat through many a Worst Movie Ever in my day.

Brave, you say? Not really. I can’t make it through one of these cinematic turds without the help of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or one of their current incarnations (Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic). Take away the constant humorous riffing from those professional Bad Movie Watchers, folks with much stronger constitutions than yours truly, and I’d be rendered a quivering pile of goo, all sense of beauty, truth and artistic integrity forcibly drained from my very cells.

But I digress.

In this particular instance, the Worst Movie was Troll 2, an experiment in, let’s for the sake of argument call it ‘filmmaking:” that fails so extraordinarily in its efforts to be remotely good that it ends up being bizarrely entertaining in its own right. We watched the Rifftrax version. A few highlights:

  • It’s a movie called Troll 2 that not only is not subsequent to a Troll 1, but also contains no trolls.
  • It features one of the hammiest performances in the history of the universe, in the form of the actress playing the goblin queen. Even if the film had been made on Planet Pig, with sets carved from pure Cumberland Gap spiral bone-in ham, she’d still be the hammiest thing around.
  • And speaking of ham, the makers were clearly anti-vegetarian, or at least anti-eating your veggies, because the goblins (not trolls) turn all their victims into trees or vegetable goop before consuming them – and our young hero saves the day (spoiler alert!) with a double-decker bologna sandwich. That’s right. You heard me.
  • And then there’s the PG sex scene featuring a young man and the goblin queen both biting a corncob, which then (presumably due to the heat of their encounter) explodes into popcorn. The scene, incidentally, has no relation whatsoever to the rest of the story, except perhaps a tenuous tie to the fact that the goblins do love them some veggies. Even in the boudoir, it seems.

Here’s a sample: Troll Clip

Truly awful? Yes. But I have to say that Troll 2, popcorn sex notwithstanding, is a little too snappy and cheery to honestly deserve the Worst Movie trophy.

So then, what constitutes a truly awful movie?

The obvious: Bad writing. Acting so terrible it barely counts as acting, and actors that are inherently unappealing. Incompetent directing. Abysmal, laughable special effects. Lack of continuity.

But what constitutes the Worst Movie of All Time? To qualify, the movie has to have that certain something extra. In my mind, it’s a pervasive atmosphere of depressive creepiness: not the creepiness derived from good horror writing and cinematography, but that icky, dirty feeling you get when you realize you’re witnessing actors as puppets, forced to perform the director’s particular twisted proclivities for his own titillation. (Honestly, I get this feeling from Tarantino’s films too, although in every other respect they’re exceptionally well done).

Ed Wood films fit this profile, except there’s something so gleefully innocent about his strange quirks (not the least of which was his desire, against all reason, to be a filmmaker), that I never feel creeped out by them.

There are two movies that I feel might qualify for Giant Turd Trophy (I just made that up, but I think it needs to happen) and both have been given treatment by Mystery Science Theater 3000. The first is Eegah – a picture from the 60s featuring Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond franchise) as the last surviving caveman, and a pie-faced squishy, greasy, whiney young male ‘star’ (the director’s son, natch). Eegah contains a truly repulsive sequence, in which the young hot female lead is trapped in Eegah’s cave with her father, played by the director, where she performs a series of humiliating tasks, including sitting on her daddy’s lap and shaving him. *Shiver*

The second, and probably champion, is Manos, Hands of Fate (or, translated, ‘Hands, Hands of Fate"), a dank and depressing devil story, in which an entirely incompetent family is trapped in a desert hotel by a big-kneed manservant. The movie features a scene where dead, ensorcelled gossamer clad devil slave ladies have a big old pile-up girl fight accompanied by ghastly saxophone music. The scene goes on and on and on. And on. Also, the female lead gets repeatedly (and very awkwardly) pawed by Torgo, he of the big knees. There is something so horribly weighty and depressing about Manos, that after watching it, one is left with a sense of ennui that lingers for hours, much like that feeling you get after waking up from a really oppressive, really stupid dream.

So then, now that I’ve thought it through, I highly recommend throwing a Troll 2 party (Rifftrax style): sure it will hurt your brain, but feed your friends waffles and plenty of mimosas, and eventually they’ll forgive you. After all, it isn’t actually the WORST movie ever made.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Name that Character - or rather, your character

Natural Build

Hackwar Smof Swunnset

Darth Competent

Chuck Banger

Harry Potter

Rinkashime Chikukachiari


These are all my names.


At least thanks to the Internet and the magic of random (or semi-random) name generators. The above are my Jersey Shore, Fantasy, Sith, Porn Star, Harry Potter character (score!), ninja and fallen angel name(s) (Baraqijal is the angel who taught astrology).

Our friends at #Reverb10 asked the question, “If I could walk into a room of strangers and introduce myself for the first time with a fake name, what name would I choose?” Not really sure. I suppose Darth Competent would work. I’m guessing he is the scariest but most organized of the Sith. If I were still a single man, Chuck Banger would have a certain appeal to the ladies. Ladies? Where did they all go? Anyway….

So what about Character names? Does it matter what you name your characters? How should you go about naming your characters in your story?

Here is a pretty good link on the subject that is pretty comprehensive:

Here are some character names from my book BLACKHEART, and why I chose that name and/or what they mean.

Clayton Jaeger: My human main character. He’s a detective and he is also suffering from illness and the loss of his only daughter. In Chapter 1, the character he has come to arrest, Blackheart, comments on his name, “Take dust and water mix ‘em together you get Clay—the same mud God made man out of.” I consider Clay to be the common man, hopefully the most relatable character in my novel for most readers. Jaeger, his last name, means “huntsman”—which I think is appropriate for a detective.

Blackheart: AKA Carl Black, AKA Cyex, is the violent protagonist and antihero of my novel, titled for the same. Terribly scarred and at war with literal demons, Blackheart is like his name suggests dark—in many ways to his core. Discovering his true motives and nature (his heart) are one of the things that I hope will keep people reading.

Noel August: Is a psychic teenager who talks with angels. She spends a lot of time in the company of Blackheart and demons. I wanted a name that would stand for her purity and brightness. Noel is literally the masculine form of the word “Christmas” (French). In English speaking countries it is sometimes used as a female name. “August” is a reminder of summer (the book is set in a winter blizzard.)

Marauder: Nemesis of Blackheart. He’s been around for a long, long time. Marauder is the current name he goes by, but he’s also been known by Af, Pahadrone, Rabdos, Apep and many others (all references to other times, places and bad things he’s done). The name Marauder means “Plunderer” or “Attacker.”

A couple mentions for awesome character names from my fellow Scribblerati writers (and there may be more, these are ones I like that come to mind as I’m writing this): Claudia’s time travelling character Ursula Evermore; Lisa’s nature-steeped main character: Beryl Kodiak. Very fitting names. Read their books and find out!

So what are some sources for finding good character names?

A few I have used:

q Sit through credits at the end of any movie and jot down names. There are some awesome names out there in real life. Mix and match first and last names as needed.

q Books on Naming: I have 3 books on my writing desk that are full of names. The best is the “Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook.” It lists thousands of names from many languages with definitions. I also have a baby naming book and a pet-naming book. All of these have come in handy when trying to name fictional characters.

q The Internet. Duh. J I’ve included some links (there are probably thousands of other related links) that will help you either find or generate names.

Random Name Generator from US Census

French Male Name Generator

Harry Potter Name

Angel/Demon Name generator:

A Plethora of Fantasy Names. Yeah. A plethora.

This post is dedicated to my friends with the best names ever: Syshwinsnyx Mollieux and Wyoho Cheelaburb. You know who you are.

Happy New Year!