Monday, April 30, 2012

4 Mini Reviews -- Graphic Novels

Review No. 1 -- Batman/Grendel by Matt Wagner

Thoroughly enjoyed this, mostly because I'd read a Grendel collection last year and found it fascinating.  And Batman is my favorite superhero.

I don't want to spoil the story (told in three parts), so I won't delve into the details.  But it's a solid read with beautiful artwork.  This was probably my favorite of the ones reviewed in this post.

Review No. 2 -- Nightmares & Fairytales, Volume 3: 1140 Rue du Royale by Serena Valentino

Thoroughly despised this book.  There is a way to revenge the death of poor souls who were cruelly mistreated, but a creepy comic book is not one of them.  (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a much, MUCH better book that does something similar)  This book was disturbing, but not because of the subject.  It was more akin to a horror story (and I really don't like much horror), which didn't give value to the deaths, it just added grisly detail.  Yuck.

Review No. 3 -- Catwoman, vol. 6, "It's Only A Movie" by Will Pfeiffer

Not bad.  My favorite Catwoman story arc (the only one I really love, actually) is the six-issue mini series "When in Rome" which ties in with my favorite Batman story arc, "Dark Victory".  This story has a fascinating villain, movie references (always a hit with me), and a surprise.  Pretty good.

Review No. 4 -- Daredevil, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid

Probably my second favorite of the bunch.  This had a solid story, an intriguing superhero, and great artwork.  Also a suspenseful ending, which was awesome.  Having only seen part of the lackluster Daredevil movie, this was surprisingly great.  I'll have to read more.

More graphic novels to come, but I think my next review might be a book.

Also: Finished my ScriptFrenzy project this morning!  Which means I've now won ScriptFrenzy three years in a row.  Woohoo!  Maybe after another three years I'll actually publish something.  ;)

What are you reading these days? Do you have a list of books you ONLY read in the summer?  Or do you read whatever strikes your fancy all year long?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


It just dawned on me why my character is so messed up.  Her back story flashed into my mind today, and the whole story made SO MUCH SENSE.

I can't wait for this draft to be complete.

I'm writing 10 pages tonight and 10 tomorrow and I will be DONE.

And then I can re-visit and make it a million times better.  Hopefully.

Next post will be a review, I promise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ScriptFrenzy Update: So Close and Yet So Far...

I'm on page 76 of my 100 page script for ScriptFrenzy -- I can almost see the finish line.  I wanted to be done by tomorrow but I'm not sure how many pages I can crank out in between play practice (and performance this weekend) and work (and normal things, like feeding my husband and doing laundry).

I'm a bit disappointed with my script.  I was going along fine until I thought up some ways to make the script better and then my momentum just sunk.  So I'm yanking these pages out like individual hairs and it is PAINFUL.

But I really, really, really need to remember that this is a first draft.

And next month I will be less busy and can re-structure and re-write to my heart's content.

and the next month I'll be even freer, with a lighter work schedule and no commitments aside from a few weddings and church activities.

Writing is re-writing, as my husband reminds me.

I do have some good stuff -- there's a scene that just makes me laugh when I picture it.  There are even little symbolic things popping up here and there.  And while the dialogue and theme will need some work, I have a partial structure and sense of where I want to go.

Which is vastly different from the usual plunge into the deep end that a writing project is for me.

Writing this script has also made me want to go back to writing books.  So maybe my NaNoWriMo novel will be more planned out this year.

Progress has been made, even if I don't feel like it.  Baby steps.

Also: I am reading a ton more graphic novels, a book on stop-motion animation, an art therapy book, and the other 8 books I'm supposedly reading right there will be more reviews coming up after this week.

Question:  What do you do to amp up your creative juices?  Something visual (like drawing/photography)?  Something kinesthetic (gardening)?  Something auditory (listening to music, talking)?  Something mundane (walking, folding laundry)?  Tell me in the comments.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Without death,' he answered, 'life is meaningless. It is a story that can never be told. A song that can never be sung. For how would one finish it?”
-Seth Grahame-Smith, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Whatever I was expecting from this book (which honestly wasn't a whole lot), I received 3,000% percent more than I thought possible (and that really isn't exaggeration).

What I thought would be a silly re-imagining of some aspects of a past president's life instead became a socio-political and philosophical commentary on the past and the present.

Talk about something you can really sink your teeth into.


Upon finishing the book, I attempted to broach the subject with some of my friends, who either didn't get it or disapproved upon hearing the title. (Which is entirely fair -- I get why some people will not enjoy this book) The thing that seemed to upset them was that the title led them to believe that the president was not being properly respected. As in, the book was making light of President Lincoln's life and experience.

All I can say is, "Not so!" Instead, this story is a post-modern attempt to recognize that President Lincoln was a strong and heroic character, a light in one of the darkest periods of our history, and who, frankly, was a badass.

The post-modern shift has led to an almost universal belief that there is no absolute truth (and therefore nothing is sacred). History? Written by people with a bias -- those who won, and those who lost. Therefore, we can change it to something more endurable -- we can revive a man who was assassinated for (among other things) his fight against inequality.

While being half historically accurate, AL:VH relies on the fantastic to give a purpose behind Lincoln's political agenda. His stance on slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation and even his physique are (at least in this story) all for one purpose: to rid America of vampires.

The vehicle of vampirism brings about an entirely different side of slavery. Are we blame-shifting in order to deal with our past?

Or is the author, instead of blame-shifting, interested in pointing out just how much blood and sweat we poured out in order to satisfy our economic cravings? After all, if we can't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

While the book is highly entertaining, there is also a seriousness to it. The facts of Lincoln's life are put plainly here. He was a man of little education, who rose above his background to serve a country fraught with tension. His guidance created a New Era, which, sadly, had to leave him to the ages. The heightened stakes only serve to highlight the President's tragic yet awe-inspiring history.

In the words of "Henry Sturges" (per S. Grahame-Smith): “Most men have no purpose but to exist, Abraham; to pass quietly through history as minor characters upon a stage they cannot even see"; but "...some men are just too interesting to die."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 100 Cupboard Series (books 1-3) by N.D. Wilson

I started reading the 100 Cupboard series earlier this year (back in January?!).

Book 1 -- 100 Cupboards
Book 2 -- Dandelion Fire
Book 3 -- The Chestnut King

(All three on my Kindle from the local library.  Have I said how much I LOVE that?!)

The first book was, in one word, INTRIGUING.  I loved that it began in Kansas (a nod to Frank L. Baum?), that there were several things going on (space/time travel, an evil plot, a lost child, magic, and relationships) and that there was enough going on in Kansas and the magic space-time travel storyline to keep everyone busy and things moving along at a great pace.

The second book, in a word, was THRILLING.  You have scary situations, fights, curses, reveals, enchantments, a new magic and more background.  I think my heart was racing during parts of it.

The third book, in a word, was...CLUNKY.  I felt like there were too many words crowding out the main theme.  It wasn't bad, but it felt like I was sifting the text for the threads of the story.  The ending was unexpected (in a good way), with the redemption of a character I was fond of.  I love when that happens.  I think it was just too long, which ended up inhibiting the theme from being portrayed very strongly.  I'm not exactly clear on what the theme was (the first book's seemed to be BELONGING, the second might be DISCOVERY or IDENTITY) which always lessens my enjoyment of a tale.

All in all, a highly enjoyable read.  The book covers are some of the best I've seen in a while, which make the books themselves feel better to me.  I'm big on book covers (I think they communicate the quality of story sometimes).

Next up: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  Have any of you seen the movie trailer or read the book?  If so, what are your thoughts?  I think there's a lot going on philosophically, specifically from a post-modern viewpoint.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Leave Me A Comment!

I'm on page 48 of my script -- meaning I'm still behind.  I'm writing in large spurts, about 9-10 pages at a time.  I can write 8 pages well, which is super, so I need to just stick with that instead of trying to cram in the exact page count needed.

I even got in some funny bits as homages to my favorite screwball comedies (What's Up, Doc? and Oscar).  And I made my husband laugh, which is a good sign.

And I'm reading even more books --

The Books of Elsewhere: Book 2
The Wolf Gift

I'm halfway through The Chestnut King and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Batman/Grendel so maybe I'll get those finished up today.

My question is:

What do you think I should read next?  Got any recommendations for me?  I eagerly await your response.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I'm wading through several books at the moment.

I read Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, Vol. 1 yesterday and it made me want to go back and read the Blackest Night run (this one is part of Brightest Day).  Other than Batman, Green Lantern is my favorite superhero although I haven't read as much on him/them. 

I also read Batman: Red Hood -- The Lost Days which was tragic and wonderful.  Really, really liked it.

I'm reading Batman Grendel right now (!!!) and I've only read a little of Grendel but loved it so I'm hopeful this is another good one.

I'm also reading:

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder (screenwriting)

The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboard Series

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

and a few other ones but I'm only dipping into them occasionally.

As for my ScriptFrenzy project, I'm on page 36 (meaning I'm right on schedule with ScriptFrenzy but about 12 pages behind on my own schedule) and I aim to write 8 pages again today.  Which means I can write 8 pages tomorrow and be all caught up and on schedule!!  Whew.  

Next post I will be asking you all a question that I really, really want an answer to -- so be prepared!

Question for today:  What are YOU reading/writing?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I got the requisite 8 pages typed yesterday and have been reading Blake Snyder's Save the Cat in an attempt to have a not-quite-as-crappy-as-it-could-be first draft.  Which then led to my thinking about re-structuring the whole story.  Which led me to thinking maybe I should start over.  Which led me to thinking about bribing myself to finish this draft.

Which leads us to this post.

I know the first draft is supposed to be rough.  I know it's usually something you hide in order to spare yourself embarrassment at a later date.  But I keep hoping that MY drafts won't be so unpolished.

Which is silly and unrealistic.  Reading through early drafts of Beetlejuice, Labyrinth and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, I can see things that changed, got cut out, dialogue that got tightened, action sequences that were interspersed...even Labyrinth (I came up with a much better least I think I did) and Beetlejuice, while not extremely great movies, ended up much better because someone took the time to polish draft after draft until it was as good as it could be.

These things take time.  And several more drafts.

I just have to remind myself that if I think of a better way to structure my story, I need to write it down and then keep working on this draft.

And maybe bribe myself with a piece of chocolate every day I meet my page goal.

Do you bribe yourself with a treat (a new book, a shopping trip, a snack) in order to get work done?  This is a common trait among NaNoWriMo participants.  We live on sugar in November.  Almost literally.

Do you think up better ways to craft a story WHILE you're working on it?  What do you do with those ideas?

Monday, April 9, 2012

ScriptFrenzy Update

So, I'm still working on my script for ScriptFrenzy.  But I misplaced my thumbdrive and consequently didn't do any writing all weekend.  I'm 16 pages behind but I can write 8 pages for a few days and catch back up.

I did do some research (watched The Breakfast Club and picked up a copy of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder to read), thought out a bit more of the story and wondered about printing out a script for reference...

But today I'm going to try writing in a different spot.  The university I work at recently renovated their library and there are some big desks perfect for concentrating.  I'm going to take my wee computer (its name is Pigwidgeon) and attempt to close in the gap on that page count.  I like it in there because it is clean (not like my house most days), quiet and conducive to solitary productivity (which my house also is not -- there's a million things screaming at me -- the harp, my voice music, sewing, painting, collage, crochet, the cleaning, the laundry, etc.).  There's a lack of interesting things to draw my attention elsewhere.  (At least upstairs -- downstairs there are iPads, Kindles, sofas and magazines)  The colors in the library are also helpful -- deep blues and browns that direct my focus to my bright computer screen.

Finding a good writing spot can be tricky -- J.K. Rowling prefers coffee shops (a pretty popular choice), some people prefer having a shed out back, and some prefer the attic.  It all depends on where you need to be to avoid distractions and/or the outside world -- the art of crafting story is (mostly) prone to solitude.

Hopefully the library setting will enable me to set to work and get those pages churned out.  I'm just about to get to the exciting part -- an airplane ride to a luxurious island...although these poor guests are in for a nasty surprise.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Frey by Joss Whedon

And so continues my glut of comic books -- I've read a half dozen -- Batman: Faces, Serenity: Better Days, X-Men Noir, Axe Cop, Frey and The Cleaners.

Axe Cop you can read about below.

The others were good but I don't feel like they all *need* a review.  So I'm picking the one I really loved -- Joss Whedon's Frey.

I'm an unabashed Whedonite -- so I can't believe I didn't know about this comic book before (although I have not read his Buffy Season 8 comic -- which will soon be remedied as I am borrowing them from a friend this week).

Frey is set in the Slayer 'verse, years and years and years after Buffy's time.  It's an even weirder universe, crowded with monster mob bosses who live underwater, people scarred by radiation (missing limbs, etc.) and "lurks" (the new word for vampire).

I didn't expect to love it as much as I did -- and I'm not really sure why.  I think it might be because I wasn't sure how he would translate his amazing characters, witty banter and awesome fight scenes into comics.  Well, I shouldn't have worried.  Joss knows what he's doing.

The main character, Malaka Frey, is full of personality -- Joss made sure she wasn't just another big-chested fight machine who manages to somehow be mostly decent while scantily clad.

I felt like she was a real person -- albeit a real person who lives in crazy-land.  She had to figure out what was going on, make tough choices, and make a few mistakes.

Of course, Joss also pulls a typical Joss-y thing: killing off characters you actually liked.  But it made sense with the story, so I guess I can handle it (just hand me a tissue).

While wondering what Joss was going to do after Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers (both of which I am ecstatic about -- going to see Cabin in the Woods next week!!), this was a good reminder that whatever he does, it's going to be AWESOME.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Axe Cop (Volume I) by Malachai & Ethan Nicolle

I went on a comic book binge at the library on Sunday and came home with a treasure trove: some X-Men, Green Lantern, Batman, Grendel, and...


If you miss the amazing brilliance of Invader Zim (which was written by comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez) or if you are a fan of the new and hilariously zany show Adventure Time, get your butt over to the Axe Cop website and enjoy.

Written by Malachi Nicolle (who was five or six when this all started -- he's now eight) and drawn by his older brother Ethan (who is in his 30's now), Axe Cop is the type of webcomic that makes your entire life better.

What I love about Axe Cop is that Ethan may ask Malachi questions, but the stories are entirely from the mind of a kid -- who loves unicorn horns, dinosaurs, policemen, and poisoning the bad guys (while also chopping their heads off).

In a world full of rules, boredom and adults that can be (if not always) stifling, Axe Cop is a wave of kick-butt awesomeness that is sure to overturn the darkest of days (like Tax Day).

There's so much to love about this webcomic -- the fact that Axe Cop looks like he's from the 80's, Uni-Baby (a baby with a unicorn horn), and the phrase, "It was a secret attack."

I think I giggled through the entire thing last night.

My favorite part of Axe Cop is the "Ask Axe Cop" (questions Ethan poses to Malachi from readers) section -- do yourself a favor and get in some laughs today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bed-knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton

I read the Borrowers books quite a long time ago -- as a child, it fascinated me to imagine little people roaming in search of things to 'borrow'.  I never read Bed-knob and Broomstick as a child and consequently love it a little less, for one reason:

It reminded me of Mary Poppins and Nurse Matilda.

I don't like either of those ladies -- they are mean and somewhat emotionally abusive to the children.

Mary Poppins takes the children on grand adventures and then tells them they're idiots to think it was anything but make-believe.

Nurse Matilda is just plain mean.

The main adult in this story is sometimes given to scaring the children -- which I'm sure is fun for little kids but I never liked being scared.  But this was dangerous scary -- as in, she considered killing them to keep her identity as a witch secret.  Untrustworthy adults are common enough in real life -- I don't need one more to make me unsure about joining adulthood!

There were some really funny moments and a bittersweet ending, which was nice, and I think by the second half of the story Miss Price grew on me.  But those poor children -- whenever you get a taste of magic, it never really wears out, and they are forced, at the end of the book, so say goodbye to magic forever (probably a good thing, but try telling that to a twelve-year-old who is used to flying around the world and into the past on a magic bed!)

I just found out that there have been several adaptations of The Borrowers -- one including TOM FELTON (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter Movies)!!  It is the 1997 version, if you're interested.  There's also a new one from 2011 that stars Stephen Fry that I want to see, but as it is British-produced, Netflix doesn't have it (yet).  Boo.

Have you seen any of The Borrowers movies?  Were they good?  Which one should I see?