Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quick update

I've been busy with writing-related stuff the past couple of days. I've written about 1,000 words on the work-in-progress and plan to add another 500 or so tonight. I've also been catching up on slush reading. And I'm taking on another long-term project with a friend that involves writing one flash piece (1,000 words or less) per month, trading stories for quick critiques and getting them out on submission. It'll be good for me to jump back into doing flash. I haven't written one in more than a year.

Chuck series finale: The responses I've seen on message boards have been pretty evenly split between those who loved the finale and those who hated how it ended. I fall in with those who loved it. The final episode was a skip down nostalgia lane, re-enacting some of the best moments from the past five years (the Wienerlicious! Chuck downloads the Intersect!). The supporting characters all got happy endings (Jeffster as German pop stars! Subway buys the Buy More!). Most of all, I loved how the final scene on the beach was not an ending for Chuck and Sarah but a beginning. A new adventure. No, they didn't get their little house with the white picket fence. This was better: It was romantic and hopeful and perfect.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chuck versus The End

I don't latch onto many television shows for their full run. "Chuck" is one of them. For five years, I've enjoyed watching Chuck Bartowski - a Buy More employee with a protector in his pocket and a government computer in his head - save the world from evil alongside CIA Agent Sarah Walker and NSA Agent John Casey. But now it's over. The series finale airs tonight.

Really, "Chuck" should not have made it this far. Every season, it was in danger of cancellation but somehow managed to pick up another 14 or 15 episodes. That was partially due to several determined fan-based Save Chuck campaigns. The best one: fans went to Subway on air dates, bought footlongs and filled out little response forms saying they were there to support "Chuck." The next season, Subway was a major sponsor of the show, and Buy More employees frequently bit into juicy footlongs. Great stuff.

But the head of NBC entertainment recently (and with more than a little nastiness) said that those fan campaigns did not translate into viewers. Thus, we have reached the end.

What I will remember "Chuck" for the most is its ability to wink at the audience. This was a show for and about geeks. The characters often quoted from classic geek movies: "Come with me if you want to live." They referenced geek shows: "This is just like what happened that one time on 'Alias!'" They hired geek actors. Scott Bakula and Linda Hamilton played Chuck's parents. Timothy Dalton was the Big Bad one season. Carrie-Anne Moss came on this season as a love interest for Casey. Guest stars included Morgan Fairchild, John Larroquette, Bruce Boxleitner, Nicole Richie and many, many more. The casting directors were absolute geniuses.

I work tonight - as I do every Friday night - so I will be watching the two-hour season finale after I get home. I will probably shed a few tears, especially if Chuck and Sarah finally get their Happily Ever After. And I will do a little boppy dance as the opening theme ("Short Skirt/Long Jacket") plays one last time.

Also in honor of five years of "Chuck," creator Josh Schwartz wrote some thoughts on the show. Go read them here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I write in crazy

This morning, I got a phone call from my grandma, who is 80+ years old. We talked about this and that, and she said she had read the latest batch of my stories that I had sent to her and Grandpa. She said my writing has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years and that I'm so good at it. Then: "But the things you write about are crazy." I laughed so hard. That is the funniest thing anyone has said to me in weeks. Thanks, Grandma.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And the nominees are ...

I'm a sucker for the Oscars, and this morning we have the nominees. Last year, I made an effort to watch all the best picture nominees, which I succeeded in doing ... but not before the winners were announced. This year, I have a long list of watching because I have seen exactly zero of movies up for best picture. I would have liked to see the latest Harry Potter or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on that list, but alas no.

However, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close got a nomination? The critics were ho-hum on that movie and no one went to see it. But I suppose it's important, being a post-9/11 film, and therefore Hollywood's elite feel important by giving it a nomination. (Wow, how did I get to be so jaded?)

What I have seen: Dragon Tattoo, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rango, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Jane Eyre and The Muppets. I love that the song "Man or Muppet" was nominated. Obviously I have seen none of the big ones, and my best catagory is animated feature. You can tell I have kids.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Applying to Boot Camp

One of my goals for 2012 is to apply to Orson Scott Card's Boot Camp writers workshop, but my worry was that he might not hold it. I had nothing to worry about. Boot camp applications are now available, for June 18-23 in Greensboro, N.C.

Going to this would require I pay for tuition, an airline ticket, room and board. Not cheap. But I've heard from many fellow writers that the cost is worth it. If all goes as I hope it will, I'll be spending a week in beautiful North Carolina this summer. If not - because only 14 spaces are available - I will continue to save my pennies and apply again next year.

I've had a busy couple of days (volunteering in my daughter's preschool class, going to the theater with my husband, getting my annual medical checkup), so I haven't done much beyond tweaking what I've already written. I can't keep skipping days like this. Even if it's only a couple hundred words, I need to write every day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Broncos, day after: Over and Ouch

The game was ... well, probably the less said of that the better. It was a better-than-expected season, a promising start for the future, and never, ever boring. But as was shown twice this season, the Broncos cannot hang with the Pats. Oh well. I hope the Patriots go on to dismantle next week's opponent.

In other news:
  • I'm reading Carrie Vaughn's "Kitty Takes a Holiday," which I checked out as an e-book from the library. I love how the Jefferson County Library system has pretty much everything Vaughn has written available on e-book. So far, I'm enjoying the story.
  • I went running this morning (OK, it was more of a jog) for 3.5 miles without wearing myself out too much. I got one small blister. I really need new running shoes.
  • I haven't done a whole lot of writing in the past few days but I plan to make up for that today. The goal: Get to 2,500 words on the work-in-progress before the day is done.
  • I've signed on as a slush reader for Triangulation anthologies. Submissions for this year's anthology are open through March, and the theme is "morning after." Get to writing those stories!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Go Broncos!

I don't expect us to win today. Then again, I didn't expect us to win last week. Serves me right for underestimating the Power of the Tebow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

USA Today's top 100 books for 2011

USA Today has published on its website its top 100 best-selling books for 2011. Some interesting tidbits I noticed about the list.
  • Four of the top 10 books are young adult. Three are written by Suzanne Collins. One is a biography. I've read five of them, and my 7-year-old son has read one (not hard to guess which one).
  • You have to go down to No. 18 to find an adult fantasy book, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, which was originally published in 1996. Martin's newest installment in the series comes in at No. 26.
  • Stephenie Meyer doesn't show up until No. 38 with Breaking Dawn, and it's her only entry on the list.
  • There's a heck of a lot of James Patterson. I wonder how many of these books were released this year.
  • At No. 56 is The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan. I read about this book recently and that Chan published it herself as an e-book. As far as I can tell, it's the only self-published book on the list. (But I'm probably wrong about that.)
  • There's a lot of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (by Jeff Kinney) and teenage Olympian gods (by Rick Riordan). In fact, there's a lot of YA in general. Parents must be buying loads of books in the hopes that their kids will actually read them. I hope they're succeeding.
  • A couple of oldies but goodies: What to Expect When You're Expecting (No. 85) and To Kill a Mockingbird (No. 88).
  • Hey, look, it's J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is No. 99.

Friday, January 6, 2012

More on e-publishing

In my quest to gather more information about electronic publishing, I came across a guest post by self-publishing novelist Elle Lothlorien at JA Konrath's blog. Hers is an interesting story because without much apparent marketing and by raising the price on her one novel, she has made several hundred sales per month since last fall.

This sounds contrary to common sense, that increasing the cost of your book results in more sales. She has theories about why this happened. But her post doesn't explain to my satisfaction the big question, probably because there's no easy answer: Why did lightning strike for her and not for the hundreds (or thousands?) of other self-publishing writers out there?

Part of it is probably the genre she chose to write in: romantic comedy. Part of it is probably the stellar reviews her novel was receiving. Out of curiosity, I opened the free sample on "The Frog Prince" and got about three paragraphs in before coming across a Denver-centric reference to the Brown Palace Hotel. I went back to read Lothlorien's bio and saw she lives in Denver. That sealed the deal. I clicked on the "buy" button. Why? Partly because I want to judge for myself why this book took off the way it did, and partly because I want to support a fellow local writer. It's my first purchase of a self-published book. We'll see how it goes.

Writing progress: Another 400 words written last night, for a running total of 1,200 on the work-in-progress.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sweating with the resolutioners

Today in real life: I made my first trip of the year to the health club. It was crazy crowded. I'm guessing the influx comes from all those people who made a resolution to get into shape and that the crowding will lessen in about two to three weeks.

And I saw the excellent new movie version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" yesterday with my dad and sister. I've read the book. The movie made some omissions and minor changes - and one big change that surprised me when I saw it but I later decided I liked because it tightened the plot. Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander, exactly as I had imagined her. Because I read the book knowing that Daniel Craig would play Blomkvist, I would have had a hard time imagining anyone else in the role. It worked for me.

Today in writing: This is the first time I've included a daily word count in my blog for weeks. I'll take that as a good sign that I'm coming out of my writers depression. I wrote about 400 words on the beginning of a new story. It takes courage to start a story. As I've said before, the story is absolutely perfect in my mind before I start writing, and it's hard to give that up by putting words on the page. But it must be done.