Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Nines: A Movie Review

I thought for this posting I would write a review of one of my most favorite movies. This movie will knock your socks off. It has one of the most unusual formats I've seen in a movie--and I see A LOT of movies. Between the way it is organized and the general theme, I can't watch it enough.

The Nines (2007)
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, Melissa McCarthy, Elle Fanning
This intriguing film debuted at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival
The Nines feels like an Indie film with its artsy concept. Divided into three ‘Acts’, each reveals more and more of the concept until by the end of the movie the viewer understands the main character’s motivation. The acting is superb, keeping the story suspenseful throughout.

"Part One: The Prisoner" tells of a troubled actor, Gary, who is wearing a green string tied to his wrist. This string carries through the entire movie until its significance is revealed and the viewer goes, “Ohhhh.”
Gary is under house arrest living in another person's house (who is away) because he burned down his own. P.R. 'handler', Margaret (Melissa McCarthy) moves in to keep Gary out of trouble, and the single mom next door, Sarah (Hope Davis), tries unsuccessfully throughout the movie to separate Gary from Margaret. Gary finds a note in his own handwriting saying "Look for the nines". He also sees flashes of different versions of himself around the house. He becomes obsessed with finding nines in the newspaper and elsewhere. Asking Sarah about ‘9’, worries her and she cryptically tells him "I can get you out of here".

"Part Two: Reality Television" tells of a television writer, Gavin (Ryan again), trying to get his pilot made. The show, Knowing, is about a mother (Melissa) and daughter (Elle Fanning) who are lost. Susan (Hope Davis again), a television executive, tells Gavin to look for the nines which he then writes on a piece of paper, the same piece which Gary found in Part One. Susan pushes for Gavin to ditch Melissa as lead actress, in favor of a more attractive, well-known actress. This causes an argument between him and Melissa. After a heated exchange with Susan, he slaps her in the mouth. Insulting his manhood for hitting a woman she scoffs "Do you think you are a man"? She walks away, which leads to him telling the reality TV cameraman to leave him alone. A pedestrian then asks him who he is talking to—the cameraman doesn’t exist. He notices for the first time everyone has a ‘7’ floating above their heads while he has ‘9’ floating above his own head.
A flashback reminds him what the numbers mean.

"Part Three: Knowing" tells of an acclaimed video game designer, Gabriel (Ryan), whose car breaks down in the middle of a forest. Gabriel leaves his wife, Mary (Melissa), and young daughter, Noelle (Elle) who doesn’t speak, to try to get a better signal on his phone. He meets a woman, Sierra (Hope), who leads him off into the woods to her ‘car’, so she can give him a lift to the gas station. Meanwhile back at the car Noelle watches a video on a digital camera showing Gavin talking to Melissa from Part Two and Margaret talking to Gary in Part One. She is confused and shows her mom, who appears confused as well.
Meanwhile Sierra holds an intervention for Gabriel, trying to get him to snap out of his delusion and return to ‘his’ reality.

That is as far as I can go without giving away the twist. But suffice it to say, if you enjoy a movie you have to think about and one that will stick with you weeks and months later, this is that movie.
5/5 stars
Rebecca Ryals Russell

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Exiled Autumn's Peril... character interview...

Creating characters is half the fun of writing a novel. When they come alive for you then you know they are more than just cardboard cutouts, or 2 dimensional characters. So, to see how well we know our characters, lets see if we can arrange an interview with Caleath, the hero of the Science Fiction Fantasy ‘Exiled: Autumn’s Peril'.

The novel is set on the planet of where Caleath has been surviving in exile. This is a planet where nano-technology is considered magic, while magic is considered commonplace and doesn’t involve microchips or gene enhancement.

Right... This is embarassing. I think we know Caleath a little too well.
He is nothing if not reclusive. Never mind, at least he's behaving in character. That's something. Pity. He would make an interesting guest. Still.. all is not lost.  In the meantime, we have managed to make contact with Nasith, the female lead character from the novel. Let's see what we can learn about our character/s from talking to her.

Interviewer: Nasith, thank you for taking time to talk with us.

Nasith: Hello. Are you a disembodied spirit or another of Caleath’s alien artifacts? He’s no longer with us. South. He rode south. Alone.

Interviewer: Easiest answer would be ‘an artifact’. Nasith, you sound disappointed that Caleath left, yet he took you as a hostage. Would you tell us a little about your experience?

Nasith: I have time on my hands. For once, we are warm and reasonably safe. What would you like to know?

 
Interviewer: First impressions are always interesting. What did you make of being abducted on your way to Sharyac’s Tor?

Nasith: (sighs) Seems like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then.

Interviewer: The same peril still threatens the south.

Nasith: I guess I mean the way I feel about Caleath. That night I tried to kill him. He’s not easy to kill but I wonder now if my heart was in it. One of the men I traveled with was trying to kill him. I was not.

Interviewer: You tried to kill him? That’s not surprising given the circumstances.

Nasith: Before he grabbed me and threw me across the shoulder of his horse I had no dealings with Caleath, but I knew of his plight.
When he threatened Teale, my hawk, I was more than ready to kill him. He didn't harm her. He wouldn't, but I didn't know that then. If asked at the time I would have said I felt pity for the man. The men who hunted him were driven by dark magic. I had no reason to want to see him hurt, until he used me as a human shield. He bruised my ego, rumpled my pride, nothing else. Now I realize I overreacted, but then it was a dark and desperate night. I felt justified in my actions. Later I came to regret them.
I am rambling. Being clean and able to relax, it’s such a pleasure. What was the question?

Interviewer: We are interested in your first impressions of Caleath. Wanting to hurt him seems natural, since he abducted you.
Nasith: The assassin hunting Caleath gave him little scope for niceties. He took a hostage, me, rather than having to kill the man. I didn’t know that at the time. Then I was afraid. He seemed so angry, frighteningly confident despite being hurt, and somehow vulnerable at the same time. He’s still confusing, but he doesn’t frighten me anymore.

Interviewer: When did your impression begin to change?

Nasith: It was only later, when I managed to get him to talk that I discovered more about him. He actually took good care of me. Despite the hurt I caused. When we faced danger he would protect me, leaving himself vulnerable rather than risk my safety. I was his hostage for only a short time. When he discovered who I was, I believe he saw my presence as a burden but he accepted responsibility even though he says he doesn’t belong on this world.

Interviewer: You knew from the start that he was from another world?

Nasith: The assassin spoke freely about his origins. Only Caleath seemed to find his past a painful topic. Revenge drove him, and the need to escape from this planet. The things he has done, to survive, to escape. I find myself wondering if I know him at all. He confuses me, even now. I miss him and long for his touch one moment and want him out of my life the next. How odd is that!

Interviewer: What does the future hold?

Nasith: Our immediate future is blighted by the looming threat from the south. Here in Sharyac’s Tor we hope to arrange an alliance to combat this unnatural menace. Or do you mean a future that involves Caleath?

Interviewer: I was thinking more along the lines of a relationship between you and Caleath.

Nasith: Some moments I dream of nothing else. As I said, in his arms I feel safe. Looking into his eyes, they are as changeable as the ocean, I am afraid of drowning. I have spent too many hours watching him wondering what makes him do the things he does. The way he moves, it’s almost poetry. A lethal sort of poetry, it’s like watching a predatory cat and it is as compelling. And yet, he has the ability to make me feel extraordinarily special and more sensual than I believed possible. He is considerate, strong, has a depth of compassion I have never seen before. His touch is electric. (sighs) Then I find myself despising him and the lengths he has gone to, the long-term threat of invasion he has created, and I tell myself I am glad he is a dead man walking.

Interviewer: Dead man walking? That’s an odd term for someone who is hard to kill?

Nasith: He took me hostage. My people will see that there is retribution. It does not matter that he took care of me, or that I chose to accompany him in the end. My abduction is unforgivable. He will pay with his life. I cannot let myself become involved. Do you think me heartless?

Interviewer: It is not for me to judge.

Nasith: There, now you sound like him. I think we have spoken long enough. Good night.

(transmission ends)

Well, to learn more of Nasith and Caleath and the adventures they shared in Exiled: Autumn's Peril  visit the website of The Chronicles of Caleath  or Ramblings from Lady Rosalie
There are now three books in the series available from Museitup Publishing Exiled: Winter's Curse and Exiled: The Legacy of Lathraine's Pledge

Thanks for your time... 

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's Your Story?



Shellie Neumeier
Every writer has a story…the story of how they became a writer. As for me, I haven’t been a writer for long, but I’ve been a storyteller for longer than I can remember. My first recollection involves a few relatives, the dark of night, and the promise of a camp-out. My cousins gathered around, bored and looking for something to do. The night’s choir of crickets and critters cleared its throat as the four of us crept inside the old army tent set-up in the back yard. We nestled deep into our sleeping bags, and I began to tell a story. The musty canvas flapped from an occasional breeze punctuating each beat of the tale and I smiled into the flashlight’s gleam as my characters trudged through thick fields, dank forests, and web-covered cabins. By the time our mothers came to tuck us in, I’d sufficiently frightened them all. If memory serves, we slept on the family room floor that night.

It didn’t take long for word to spread of the stories told by moonlight. When Christmas rolled around, my cousins, nearly a dozen this time, sat around the cookie platter and begged for another story. That night I told a holiday tale which held them in place till the platter ran dry and my Aunts began calling. I honestly don’t know who had more fun, me or my cousins. 

On second thought, me for sure. 

As I grew, so did my tales. Anyone within earshot was fair game; my younger brother, the children I babysat for, the cat if he sat long enough. I toyed with writing for a little while, but high school English nipped any hope of publication in the bud. My grammar skills lacked, the details fell flat, and the plot-lines grew unfocused. I simply couldn’t do it. In college I declared a Psychology major and eventually graduated with a secondary education degree minoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Social Studies, hardly an MSA. 

I remember my first day as a substitute teacher. Twenty-four sets of eyes stared at me with various levels of disinterest (trust me; disinterest has many levels in high school and teachers see them all). My hands began to sweat and I shifted from side to side as my gaze slipped over each face. With a deep breath, I introduced myself. Then I told a story. 

Over the years, I’d collected a number of most-embarrassing moments—other people’s, of course—and I shared them all that day. By seventh hour kids crowded into my room saying, “hey, isn’t she the sub who tells stories?” 

Yesss! Substitute success. Story success.
But, write? Oh no.

Nearly twenty years would pass before writing would take center stage. Four children, seven dogs, and three careers needed to pass first. Then one night after the children scattered to their rooms, I faced my husband across the kitchen table and asked, “now what?”

Out of fear for our budget or what may happen to his power tools, my husband arched his eyebrows and said, “you know those stories you always tell?”

“Yeah?”

“Write ‘em.”

“Huh?”

“Write. Them. Down.”

“Me?” Suddenly I was a woman of few words.

“Yes, you. Give it a try. Couldn’t hurt.” 

That’s what he thought.

Three weeks later, my first novel, DRIVEN, was birthed. Multiple rewrites, overhauls, and edits landed that manuscript on the desk of an amazing editor willing to work with my grammatical weaknesses. In the span of three months, from first word to signed contract, my world as I knew it changed. 

Please don’t mistake me. I say none of this with arrogance or pride, but with humble astonishment that God would take someone like me and offer them a gift like this. For that is what this is…all of it. A gift. The gift of storytelling to a child. The gift of life experience to an adolescent. The gift of authorship to a grateful soul. So if you ask me why I write, I’ll tell you this, “it’s what I was made to do.”

Now it’s your turn…Do you write? If so, what made you start? If not, what holds your pen back?

Tell Me. Tell Me.
Twitter: shellie_c
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001729933656

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Release Announcement - Bad Spelling

On October 14th, MuseItUp Publishing released Marva Dasef's first book of the Witches of Galdorheim trilogy.

BONUS Story "Spellslinger" if you buy direct from MuseItUp.

BAD SPELLING
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

MuseItUp Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/DasefBadSpelling
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005URFJ0Y
Marva's Website: http://marvadasef.com/
Marva's Blog: http://mgddasef.blogspot.com/

Description:

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo.  A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.



Excerpt

Kat ran to where her brother and the three trolls faced each other. The trolls stood shoulder to shoulder, their big, splayed feet firmly planted in front of the footbridge. They bared their chunky yellow teeth and growled at Rune. Although hardly reaching Rune’s shoulder, they each outweighed him. Clearly, the trolls did not intend to let him cross. Looking up and down the streamlet, Kat wondered at their careful guarding of the bridge. Kind of silly, she thought, since anyone could easily step across the rivulet without even getting their feet wet. She wondered if these were children, given their short stature. However, their long knives looked very grown up.

Enunciating each word, Rune held his hands out to show they were empty. Kat had no idea what her brother was saying, since Rune was speaking Old Runish. Except for a few spell words, Kat didn’t understand the ancient tongue.

Evidently, neither did the trolls. Rune spoke again, louder this time, and took one slow step forward. At this move, the troll on the left lunged at them, jabbing at Rune with his knife. Rune sidestepped the rush and the troll, taken off balance, stumbled and fell flat on his face. Kat stepped over the troll and grasped his arm, but only caught hold of his sleeve. He screamed and pushed her away. The other two trolls ran at her with their knives raised, yelling as they advanced.

Rune stuck out his foot and tripped the middle troll. The last troll standing went after Rune. The young warlock threw up his hands, arms crossed to fend off the attack. A bright red light arced from his hands to hit the charging troll in the face. The troll dropped his knife and fell to the ground, screaming and rolling around with his hands pressed over his eyes. Rune snatched up the knife and held it to the middle troll’s neck. Kat sat on the one she grabbed, pulling the knife from his flailing hand. The recipient of Rune’s flash attack kept his hands over his eyes.

Rune spoke again in Old Runish, shouting to make himself heard. It didn’t do any good; the trolls all continued screaming and squealing at the top of their lungs.

Kat jumped up from the troll’s back and grabbed Rune’s hand, pulling the knife away from the troll’s neck. “Rune,” she yelled, “tell them we won’t hurt them!”

The thrashing troll froze, then turned his cumbersome head toward her.

“You can speak our language!” He slapped the troll nearest to him, who abruptly stopped screaming. The one whose neck Rune was holding the knife to spread his fingers to peek at Rune and Kat.

Rune released the troll and stood up, looking a little sheepish. “I just assumed–”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Advice for Unpublished Authors by Pembroke Sinclair

One of the questions I’m frequently asked as a published author is: What advice would you give unpublished authors who want to get published? Here are some of the things I would tell them.

1. Keep writing. It’s what you do; it’s what you enjoy. The more work you get out there, the bigger your fan base is going to get. If people enjoy what you write, they’ll want to see everything you create, so give them plenty to read.

2. Develop thick skin. You will get rejected. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Everybody gets rejected, even famous authors got rejected. But you can’t take it personally. Writing is a business, and a publisher has to make money off your creation. If they don’t think they can, they won’t take it on. The best thing to do is learn from the rejection and become even better at your craft.

3. Be persistent. Just because one publisher doesn’t like your story, that doesn’t mean another won’t. Keep putting it out there and keep making it better until you find the publisher who shares your vision for the story. With the advent of electronic publishing and independent presses, someone out there is bound to love your story as much as you do.

4. Be patient. The publishing world moves slightly faster than erosion. Editors are overwhelmed with submissions and getting contracted stories published. From experience, it takes about a year from the day you sign the contract until you see your book published. The process can be slightly faster if you are doing an electronic book, but it still takes months. While you’re waiting, work on your next project.

5. Network. Find people and friends who share your passion and talk to them. They will become a great source of inspiration and a shoulder to lean on when you need to vent. It will also put you in touch with readers and fans. The more you get out there, the more exposure you will get, and the more people will buy your work.

6. Find a publisher you enjoy working with. This is extremely important. You need to find someone who enjoys your work and wants to see it succeed, not someone who’s looking for a quick buck. Contact some authors the publisher has published and ask them how they feel. After that, go with your gut. No relationship is going to be perfect, but it should be professional. There should be mutual respect on both ends.

As I continue down the road of being published, I learn more and more. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to giving advice, but I have some experience. The most important think to remember is have fun. If writing isn’t fun, why do it?


Pembroke Sinclair has had several stories published in various places. She writes an eclectic mix of stories ranging from western to science fiction to fantasy. Her stories have been published in various places, including Static Movement, chuckhawks.com, The Cynic Online Magazine, Sonar 4 Publications, Golden Visions Magazine, and Residential Aliens. Her novels, Coming from Nowhere and Life After the Undead, are now available at eTreasures Publishing and Amazon.com. Her story, Sohei, was named one of the Best Stories of 2008 by The Cynic Online Magazine. If you would like to contact Pembroke, she can be reached at pembrokesinclair at hotmail dot com or pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com.