Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing update...again.

I have got to stop doing these things without anything to show for it, I know.  Anyway, here's what's been going on in Ye Olde Writing Life:

1) Sea Change is currently with the first of the betas, the lovely and perceptive Aud, to see if there's anything worth saving in there.  I have a good feeling that I'm going to have to leap-frog Siren over it; it's rare that I stumble around a book with such an overwhelming feeling of wrongness without being able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be retooled.  This is unfortunately going to put me way beyond the one-book-every-six-months schedule I've been trying to maintain, and the sales of Leech are definitely suffering for it.  Allow me to reiterate my long-standing position: do you want a free book?  Do you like to talk about books?  Write a review!  Let me give you a book!

2)  Since Sea Change is officially sitting in the corner to think about what it's done, I've moved on to doing the edits on Siren, Naomi's book.  The past year has been sort of rocky for me in terms of mental health (how's that for an understatement, but I'll save it for the next post), and the first thing to shut down whenever I'm going through a depressive patch is always my sense of words.  What used to be as easy for me as breathing is still like breathing...through glue.  It's taken me a little while to get my groove back on Siren--I used to do 3500 words a day without a hitch, and now I'm proud of myself when I hit 1800--but I'm getting there.  Working on a book that's already 80% there structurally and just needs some shoring up at the beginning and end helps; I can see the path laid out before me.  (Yes, I am describing writing as both water and paths in the same paragraph.  I told you that I'm still coming back to full strength.)

3)  Editing Siren has rejuvenated my excitement for my next two projects, Bulletproof and a heretofore unnamed novella.  They're both about Bonnie.  If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I, ah, really like Bonnie.  Possibly on the level that I like Catherine.  My love of Bonnie doesn't get me the looks my love of Catherine does, however, possibly due to the part where Bonnie is not a psychopath.  (What?  Catherine was fun.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fire With Fire free on Amazon for Memorial Day Weekend!

Hi, boils and ghouls!  (Yes, I know it's May rather than October.  Don't take my cheesy puns away from me.)  In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, Fire With Fire is making one of its periodic dips back into the KDP Select program and will free for four days starting at midnight tonight.  Because J throws fire, and I'm sure there are going to be fireworks somewhere.  Or something.  Honestly, I'm just feeling one of my periodic urges to hurl glitter.

So mark your calendars, folks, and please accept my advance apology for the absolute lunatic I'm going to become on Twitter.  Should the overwhelming urge to thwap me steal across you, it will not be taken personally.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

REVIEW: Star Trek: Into Darkness

'WARE: as per usual, I'm going to play fast and loose with spoilers.  Also as per usual, I am much more about character growth and momentum than I am plot twists, but some things happen in the movie that affect the characters in very significant ways, so...'WARE.

This review came extremely close to being subtitled "Holy Hell, It's Like They're Adults."  Previously on Star Trek, the Romulans made their appearance several decades ahead of schedule, leading to a Spock who is much more defensive about his mixed human/Vulcan heritage.  Rather than growing up in a stable, apple-pie home, James Kirk is alternately neglected and abused and is heading towards nowhere good.  And the nature of the Federation itself is different, warier and less inclined to trust.  (Nyota Uhura remains a BAMF.  Every universe needs a through-line.)

Bringing the Romulans in early in the first movie was a stroke of genius, as 1) it allows for a darker Federation to fit a more cynical generation, but 2) gives the characters a reason to state why their moral stances matter.  Cynicism is easy.  Optimism--real optimism, not naivete--is difficult.  That's why it's laudable, and that's a big part of why I love the rebooted Star Trek so much.  This crew knows the universe can be an ugly place, they just choose to focus on the beautiful parts.

(Pretend there's a segue here.)  A massive part of why I love Chris Pine's take on Kirk so much is his warmth and lack of ego.  He keeps the essence of Kirk, but adds to him a generosity of spirit, an instinctive kindness, that Shatner's Kirk lacked.  It grounds him and keeps him likable even while Kirk is doing incredibly bone-headed things.  (Original recipe Kirk was the youngest captain in history after training for fourteen years.  Reboot Kirk did it in three.  Yeah, he's gonna be a bonehead a few times.)  In the first movie, Kirk isn't thinking about leadership, he's just trying to burn out lingering self-destructive impulses.  Into Darkness Kirk still isn't really thinking about leadership at the onset, but he's emotionally healthy in a way that 2009 Kirk wasn't.  He's processed his issues, he's moving forward like a grown-up.  While he's basically allowed to have daddy issues for the rest of his life at this point, Kirk's Batman in the second movie moments are born of freshly-laid grief rather two decades of festering wounds.  Twenty minutes and one sharp look from Spock, and he came to his senses to be the legitimate hero again.  The big theme of this movie was the nature of good leadership, so I might have squeaked and flailed when Kirk's Crowning Moment of Awesome involved sacrifice rather than testosterone.

No, that moment went to Nyota Damned Uhura.  One of the (many) excellent things about the 2009 movie was the way it singled out each character and gave them a moment to shine before a new audience.  The sequel is no different (Sulu!), and I freaking loved that the big moment of kicking ass and chewing bubblegum came at the hands of Spock and Uhura rather than the ostensible leading man. Kirk is not the only one who doesn't have a scrap of ego to him; well-done, writers.

Kirk isn't the only one who went about the business of growing up, by the way.  Spock is still struggling with his dual natures, he's just pushing himself towards numbness rather than rage.  (And he gets taken to task for it by both Kirk and Uhura in the movie's funniest scene.)  This Spock has had a rougher life than the 1960s version, this one is still looking for his balance...but he's pointed in the right direction.  The kid's going to be all right.

And now we address our bad guy: I will freely admit that my eyebrows went up when I heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was going to be playing Khan.  In retrospect, I retract my reservations.  Star Trek tried very hard and broke ground in a lot of ways, but it's still a universe in which the world was nearly ended by those weirdo Asians.  Casting one of the whitest guys who ever whited as the most notorious villain in this particular universe is probably a wise choice when you're carrying around that kind of baggage.  And Cumberbatch was good.  He knew exactly how to ping the right notes to make Khan appear sympathetic without tripping over the line into being a woobie, as well as being a fantastic foil for Kirk in terms of the movie's themes of leadership and character being what you do in the dark.  The heroes are only as good as their villains.

So there you go.  Watch this movie now, there is hardly a false note in it.

And, honestly, if there's a deleted scene somewhere involving Kirk, Spock, and Uhura realizing that they just had a three-way lover's spat, I will laugh until I pee.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Iron Man 3

All right, I admittedly have some complicated feels about this movie which I've been tussling with over the past day and a half or so.  Most of my wiggling is centered around the last ten minutes or so, though, so let's just get down with what works.  (As always, I have no respect for spoilers, so 'ware.)

1) The Mandarin was.  Freaking.  Awesome.  My eyebrows went up into my hairline when I first heard that he was going to be the major villain of the third movie, 'cause, whoo-boy, there is a lot of racism in them thar hills.  Turning an unintentional racist caricature into an intentional racist caricature deliberately and cynically used by a white villain in order to provoke fear is brilliant.  Excellent trolling, Marvel.

2) Literally every single thing about Pepper Potts.  I was a little worried that she was going to wind up fridged, but introducing Extremis would have actually made it palatable to me if they had decided to go that route.  (No body, no death, baybees.  It's the comic-book way.)  But Pepper getting to be an honest-to-God superhero in her own right was, like the treatment of the Mandarin, completely brilliant.  I'm going to pretend that Tony's making-everything-better in the last ten minutes mostly meant him speed-reading enough books on the human genome to keep her from going 'splodey while still letting her remain an awesome fire goddess.  Did I mention that I liked Pepper in this movie?  I really, really liked Pepper in this movie.

3) Breaking the hero down to his most basic components and then building him back up.  This is actually a textbook heroine's journey, which I love.  Let's face it, if you slot the Avengers into a Five Man Band format, Tony's The Chick, not Natasha.

The only two things I didn't like:

1) I'm still torn about removing the arc reactor.  I know, it fits the movie's theme of Tony shedding his crutches and realizing that he's a hero because he's a hero, not his traumas, but...the arc reactor.

2)  They explained the rabbit.  I was perversely hoping they wouldn't.  :)