Category Archives: movies

Binging whilst Recovering…

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been recovering from a ‘minor’ surgery. Aside from the cataract that I had fixed last year I haven’t had any out of the ordinary medical procedures since I was a small child – so for me, this minor surgery was something of a major. Requiring one week of bed rest with the help of prescribed narcotics, and one week of working from home with a lot of super strength advil. I start back at work tomorrow. I’ve had only a couple of outings this weekend, couple of short walks with the dogs and a dinner with friends that wiped me out. HOPEFULLY I’ll be ready for tomorrow – but if not I’ll continue to work and nap from home. BUT that is not the point of this blog. The point is the love of the binge.

Really in the past week plus I’ve been able to binge on lots of indulgences books, movies, tv, chocolate (who’s going to say no to a patient!) whilst lying around my house. Part of my recovery was lying pretty flat/straight, so sitting up and actually going anywhere wasn’t part of the prescribed recovery. Therefore, I took advantage and did some catching up and here is how I spent the time:

Sports. How could I avoid them. Wimbledon (my first true sports love thanks to Dad) always fun to watch. Well done Novak and Petra hard fought and deserved. On to the US Open. And the World Cup. While admittedly – I am not really a soccer fan (120 minutes and NOT ONE SCORE?! seriously) – but it was hard not to get caught up in the USA hype. Exciting to watch those supreme athletes. Go… um? Netherlands?

Witches. Yup, you heard me. I think I must have watched something that prompted me to binge watch the new’ish series Witches of East End. I watched a couple of episodes when it originally aired and thought….meh, sort of silly, bed hopping drivel with not enough magic. Well, perhaps it was the narcotic buzz I was under, but I actually enjoyed the final eight episodes and am looking forward to the start of the second season tonight. From there I hopped over to Once Upon a Time. I stopped watching mid-season, for no reason other than I ran out of time in my schedule and P doesn’t watch (though he should, we’re both Disney-philes, why WOULDN’T he love this show!). Anywhoo – poor Regina. She is one of my favs in that show, and I actually like her evil and nice, but that witch can’t catch a break. And who isn’t excited to see Elsa, Anna and Kristoff join the show this fall?! Weeeee! AND… it didn’t stop there. While I’m stoked about the final book in the All Soul’s Trilogy coming out on the 15th (Deborah Harkness – check them out…), I wanted a little witchery in some reading as well and came across a unique series from a newly published writer named J.D. Horn called the Witching Savannah series (The Line, The Source and coming in 2015 The Void are the three in the series). I read through The Line and The Source in a matter of days and L O V E D them. Fresh material and voices, in a rich setting that he wrote so well. The secondary characters often outshone the primary, but the voices and tension and mystery of this family of witches was entertainingly written. I actually sent the author a thank you note and he responded within minutes. Lovely. Can’t wait for The Void. Trying to decide what to read next before my Book of Life (Deborah Harkness) is delivered to my kindle – choices are: the Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wicker (another new novelist)(picked up for $2.99 through amazon, have been wanting to read this mystical tale for a year now), the first in the Dresden Files series (a friend loves these), or The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (I’ve pushed this one away more than once despite all the high reccos because I think it’s going to be too romantic for me…blech). I think I’ll land on the Golem and the Jinni and see where that takes me.

I finished up a couple of other books before my inner eye turned me to Witches. The first was the last in the Shatter Me YA series Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi – cool super hero Xmen stuff, though fell down a few times as the story progressed. The third was definitely my favorite of the three, even if it wrapped up quickly. The other was a recco from my mom, Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse (not the model) – and while it was a well written yarn, it was not the scary ghost story it made itself out to be. pretty predictable.

We also started up a couple of new mid apocalyptic shows Last Ship (TNT) and The LeftOvers (HBO). I am liking the Last Ship better than The LeftOvers – but a lot of that is due to the fact that the Last Ship I can get my head around and the LOs just started with a ton o questions left unanswered. I can’t imagine either show will make a second season, just due to the subject matter – mid apocalyptic is tough. Looking forward to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain later this month too to round out my mid-apocalyptic month!

Movies… of course, how could I forget those. Nothing I haven’t seen already – and mostly by way of what was available on one of the movie channels so I didn’t have to put in a dvd, but did watch some comfort food of movies; Jurassic Park (spared no expense), Oblivion (I really liked this Tom Cruise flick), World War Z, Indiana Jones, all 6 Star Wars. The only new movie we watched was called We’re the Millers and it was two star at best (my favorite part was during the outros and the whole group singing the Friends theme to Jen Aniston).

Special thanks to my lovely husband P, mom, dad, sis and her hubby as well as my lovely goldens who kept my spirits up and took care of me while I was down! xoxo

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Remakes that are Remade

A few nights ago in class we talked about the ‘seven basic plots’ briefly and how to make a general theme your own with great characters and environment. That got me thinking about just how many things today are new versions of classics. For instance – three of the last five movies I’ve seen are remakes; Godzilla (fun spin on the classic, complete with Japanese Godzilla scream and other beasties!), Batman Dark Knight Rises (I know I know… what took us so long!), The Amazing Spiderman 2 (I loved Spidey and Gwen, but the villans were meh). Have to say though the remakes were better than the ‘originals’ (both from books). I also sat through the painfully long Wolf of Wallstreet (depressing and nekkid with loads of drugs) and the painfully bad Vampire Academy (I read the book and only rented the SD version, sooo cheaper than a latte) – In VA the song during the credits was the best part, yet another remake of the Bauhaus vamp classic tune Bela Lugosi’s Dead this time by CHVRCHES. And I keep hovering over the ‘rent’ button on the Great Gatsby, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet…

This trend is happening on my TV as well. I’ve seen the new Rosemary’s Baby plugged several times over the last few weeks (weird wig Zoe). How many NCIS or CSI shows are there now – NY, Miami, LA, St. Louis (kidding about that last one I think, I’ve never seen a CSI show) – while those aren’t remakes, they certainly are capitalizing on a ‘good idea’ while the iron is hot. I love love love the new take on Sherlock Holmes called Elementary, and I’ve heard the BBC Sherlock is tremendous as well (need to invest some time there). Beverly Hills 90210 had a rebirth on the CW (of course), I see Dallas adverts on TNT, I L O V E D the Battlestar Galactica remake a few years back, The terminator on Fox looked good (though I never had a chance to watch), I’ve heard a buzz that Charmed is being remade as well (much to the witch sister’s chagrin). My mom and dad keep telling me to watch the new FX show Fargo based on the hilarious movie a decade or so ago. There are even rumors that they’re going to remake or create a new installment in the Star Trek TV franchise (we’ll see if that’s true in July at the LV Con – yes, you heard me…).

Remakes happen in tunes all the time, often you’ll hear the remake in a movie soundtrack. The Bauhaus song was v. appropriate for the Vampire movie. Not sure what goes on behind closed doors to allow remakes, but I’m sure some sort of permissions/dollars pass hands from the original artist to the next. Some of my favs… Lorde’s version of Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Hunger Games Catching Fire soundtrack), Johnny Cash’s version of NIN’s Hurt, Gary Jules’s Tears for Fears Mad World (Donnie Darko soundtrack) (still following?), Everything on this album… Anywhooo – plenty of remakes, I’m only covering a scant few.

That brings me back to novels and the seven plot theory. You don’t see a lot of ‘remakes’ of books, I’m guessing because that would be plagiarism of sorts? You do see writers reworking classics occasionally, once those classics are in the public domain. For instance, I am reading a YA series right now based on fairy tales (Marissa Meyers Lunar Chronicles – great spin on Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and currently reading the spin on Rapunzel). You do see themes repeating over and over and some how people, gifted authors, make those themes their own unique stories for readers like myself to enjoy. And lucky us that they do.

Writing Rituals & More Reading

Hello Happy Readers (aka Mom and P),

It’s time for an update.  I stayed up too late last night finishing a book and didn’t have the energy to get up and head to the gym at 5:20.  Therefore, I’m writing a blog entry (and if I finish in time I’ll start on a bit of a novel overhaul).

We are two weeks into our third quarter at the University of Washington’s Popular Fiction 1 course.  During this quarter we are discussing the finer points of getting published with our novels and writing the ‘end’.   In our first few classes we’ve learned about how to and are writing a Query Letter for our books, as well as perfecting our elevator pitches.  Mine is still a little weak (e.g. P and I were chatting a week ago and I was telling him about class and he asked me what my elevator pitch was and I had to look up what I wrote in class…).  The fact that I’m struggling so much to get my story into a couple of sentences and a page (for the synopsis) makes me think I need to give the draft another edit and perhaps pull out the parallel story and just focus on my one protagonist for this go.  But need to noodle on that.

The other thing we have talked about in class are writing rituals and how folks who are serious about being professional authors all have them.  This writing ritual is something you do that helps you get into a regular writing groove; go to a coffee shop around the same time each day and order a drink and sit and start writing, wake up at 4am and writer for two hours before work, walk around greenlake to get your thoughts together then write for a couple of hours.  I personally do not have a ritual yet.  I am a morning person – and should set up my writing ritual in the AM before work.  I have to work out a few challenges 1) I like to go to the gym (I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM) M/W/F at 5:30.  2) T/Th present day I’ve been getting up and playing video games… which while part of my job, I could forgo to write if I really WANTED to… I am feeling inspired though, and our latest game (Elder Scrolls) has been a little lame so perhaps now is the time to start a new writing ritual.

The reading challenge is still ON like Donkey Kong!  I’m actually a couple of books ahead right now in part due to a nice plane ride down the west coast and a short little book of poems written by a dog… 🙂  I’ve read eight books since my last post on March 2nd, even some from the list I said I was going to read next!  ha!  Here are some quick notes in the order that I personally liked them:

1) A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron I agree with another reviewer- this W. Bruce probably is a dog.  The book, written from a dog’s POV, is one of the best I’ve read this year.  Touching, funny, and an interesting exercise in point of view.  AND since my two loyal blog readers are reading now I won’t give away any spoilers – but it’s good.  GET reading!

2) Carrie by Stephen King – yup, Stephen King.  That’s right folks.  My second Stephen King book, though not sure we should count his autobio/writing book, as it was all non-fiction.  I really liked Carrie.  I’ve never had the urge to read Stephen King.  His stories and movies always seem so overwrought.  But after reading the story of how Carrie came to be (his wife pulled a draft out of the garbage and loved the flawed, SERIOUSLY flawed main protagonist, encouraged Stephen to finish it and turn it into his publisher – and it became his first published book).  It was pretty fantastic.  All over the place from a POV and setting perspective as it jumps from Carrie’s story, to a bystanders story, to telekinesis researchers articles, to newspaper clippings and interviews of ‘the incident’.  Short book – must read if you’ve never read a Stephen King book.  I may actually read another of his… 🙂

3) Scarlet (the Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer.  First, Marissa is my hero. I know I’ve written a review about her already.  She’s in her 20’s, wrote both Cinder (her first published book) and Scarlet during NaNoWriMo and lives just south of me in Tacoma Washington (plus she wrote me back when I sent her a note through her blog.  :))  I love that she’s taken fairy tales  (Cinder is about a young borg servant who works for a mean lady and her two step daughters, and it culminates at the prince’s ball… and Scarlet is about a young French woman with lovely red hair who meets up with a gruff young man who’s in a gang called a wolf pack while investigating her grand-mere’s disappearance) and turned them on their head in her Lunar Chronicles series.  I also love that her protagonists are kick ass young women.  I’ve already downloaded Cress which is the third in the series.

4). I Could Chew On This: and Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano.  This is a sweet little book of poems written by dogs.  Super fun to read these out loud to friends and family members who also appreciate a good poem by a dog.

5). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  This is an acclaimed story written from the POV of an autistic teenager.  V. interesting but a little frustrating to read.  This was recommended during class by the same person who recommended The Fault in Our Stars.  I didn’t like it nearly as much as the Fault – but it was still a well written story.  Not much about the dead dog – I don’t want you readers to think all I read are books about dogs… not true! 🙂

6). ttyl (Internet Girls #1) by Lauren Myracle.  I picked up this book after the AWP conference.  An excellent exercise in point of view, this YA book is written entirely with text messages between three best friends.  The author actually gets away with using pink font in this best seller to differentiate one of the texters.  I liked a couple of things in this book 1) that it is completely in text and therefore there is practically NO setting in this book at all (I struggle with setting!) and 2) that you can actually see the story progress through a normal story path, even while written entirely in text messages.  Brilliant.  I didn’t like it enough to read the next one in the series though.

7). The Boyfriend List:  15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (#1) by E. Lockhart.  This was another AWP find.  I went to a panel with the author on it.  This one I didn’t really enjoy, mainly because the protagonist was so annoying.

8).  Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison.  Another AWP find.  Went to a reading of this and a few other humorous memoirs.  Loved the writer and her reading of the memoir, but upon reading the book myself found that I wasn’t a big fan of memoirs or yoga and was a little bored.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 17 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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The Rubber Meets the Road…

Okay – my University of Washington Popular Fiction course started last night.   The class is broken into three quarters and she is going to use them to work on the beginning, the middle and the end of our books.  We will write and critique in each class, and then work on rewrites after class as homework.  We will have one on one time with her to discuss our novels as well.   I liked the instructor.  She had spunk and enthusiasm and seemed to know what she was talking about, she interjected lots of examples into the short lecture that weren’t about her own stories.

As our introduction to the class our instructor, author Pam Binder, had us each write our name, book title, genre, and a synopsis of our book on a 4×6 card.  We then went around the room – introduced ourselves and talked about what we wrote on the card.  This shit just got real.  EEEEEEK!   (sorry to be crass mom – love you).

Everyone in the class seemed to have a pretty decent idea of what they want to write about.  I faked my way through my synopsis riffing on an idea that I’ve been mulling over – but after hearing everyone else’s ideas I started rethinking mine.  It seemed so pedestrian.  My idea was to write about a new college student who’s previous life had been lived as a famous pop star/actress  – sort of a Hannah Montana – except more disguised so she can start a new.   Nothing super natural or fantasy or sci-fi about it.  I always assumed I’d write something paranormal and interesting.  That is (mostly) what I like to read – but alas, every time I try to head down that path I chicken out because what I write seems so dorky.

Yes.  I just used the word dorky.

Today I had coffee with a colleague who has recently published a book and has plans for 8 (!!) more.   It was very inspirational.  We talked about plot points, how to get started, how he manages his time, what lessons he’s learned already about what he learned after being published about nasty reviewers.   We also talked about the importance of an ‘opening’ and hook for your book.

My homework for this week is to create an opening for my book.  Which means I need to get serious about what I want to write.  Bubblegum YA or something more fantasy/scifi adult… I would love to do the latter – I just am not sure I have the depth to get there.  It has to be about 3 pages, double spaced, Times font, and with proper structure. Oh and, we can’t use an exclamation point the entire year! (that was a deserved ! for sure! Don’t you think?!). But ready….set… go.  Need to just get rolling.  AND decide.

Two people today recommended the same book to me “Ready Player One”.  On the SAME day.  Spooky.  Read the synopsis.  Looking forward to reading it once I finish my instructors romantic fantasy.

ReadyPlayerOne

Also – I’m on a major Person of Interest tear.  Have now watched 4 episodes this evening on demand and almost finished with season 1. This was a show recommended by my dad two years ago, and I finally have time to catch up and it is really fun to watch.  And hey – Caviezel is a fellow Husky!  (turns out we probably hung out in the same circles in school – one year difference, living about 4 houses away from each other).

thCAEITLFW

One thing I like about our instructor (and the instructor from this summer) was that they use lots of TV and popular book references to make her points.  She pointed out the opening and closing from Pretty Woman (and encouraged us to watch it again because we’d talk about it later in class).  She talked about the incredible hooks in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And recommended The Originals to my friend to help him understand immortality and the fantasy genre.  She’s batting 3 for 3 with me!  🙂

now I just have to get writing…