Friday, January 28, 2011

The Jersey Shore

I was riding the bus today and couldn't help overhearing a conversation between two teenagers on the next seat.

"So!" one of them said, "I watched the Jersey Shore last night."

"Yeah?" The other one replied. "I've never seen it. Any good?"

"Well, there's this couple," the first one replied, "Sam and Ronnie, and they had a huge fight. Sam was going to leave the house -- and the show! -- but her roommates talked her out of it. Anyway, Sam and Ronnie were lying under the covers together having a personal conversation -- Sam was saying how sorry she was for getting upset -- it was an intimate moment -- and then there's this other guy in the room! He'd been there the whole time. He said, 'Look, if you guys want to get busy, I can go and sleep downstairs.' Oh my gosh, it was _so_ funny!"

Both girls laughed then the first girl said. "I like watching The Jersey Shore because it's so funny, they're a bunch of old people trying to party like they're teenagers."
It was the last line there that made me want to laugh.  The guys and gals on The Jersey Shore all seem young to me, but I guess not if you're a teenager.

I guess that perhaps age, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Picture of the day:

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Skins

I watched the first two episodes of Skins the other day. I thought the show was well put together and was surprised that it was rated so low in IMDB (2/5 out of 10) compared to the British version (8.8 out of 10). Makes me want to watch the British Version!

I'm a big one for titles. If the title of a book or movie doesn't make sense it irritates me and I'll like the book or film less. I know, I'm weird, but there it is. That's one thing that I thought was cool about Skins, I guess "skin" is another name for, ah-hem, cigarette wrapping paper. Of course the title likely means various things. Teenagers are often not comfortable in their own skin, etc., etc. Still, I thought it was clever.

Here's our picture of the day:

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Canadian Heritage and the Legal Deposit

Usually I blog about issues related, however tangentially, to writing and keep my personal life out of it but, today, the two have combined. 

"What is so special about today?" you might ask.  Well, let me tell you.  Today I got an ISBN number for my book, The Sandman.  What I didn't know when I applied for the ISBN number is that every publication in Canada -- I guess any publication that's assigned an ISBN number -- has to be submitted to Archives Canada for inclusion in a vast archive to "collect and preserve the nations published heritage."

I think it is incredibly cool that my book -- which is a retelling of a story my father told to me -- is considered part of Canada's heritage.  I know, I know, it really isn't that big of a deal, but for some reason I'm thrilled by it.

So, there it is, that's my blog for the day. :)

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Day After

As I announced in my blog yesterday, I recently published my first book, The Sandman, on Smashwords.  I had written the story two years ago for a public reading I was doing.  My main goal in publishing the story was to share it with others and help build my platform.  In this blog I thought I would share what, to date, the response has been.

- So far 49 people have downloaded the book
I am thrilled with this number!  Stories are meant to be shared.  That 49 people were interested enough in my story to download it ... well, I was over the moon.  I know that just because 49 people downloaded my book for free doesn't mean they all read it, but if even 1/8 or 1/16 of the people who took the time to download the book read it then I will be very happy.

If anyone who has read the book wants to give me feedback, that would be wonderful!  You can get in touch with me at mail@karenwoodward dot org or even post a review of it on Smashwords.


- Traffic to my blog has increased by 373%
I use Google analytics to get an idea of how many people have come by to take a look at this blog -- there aren't many! -- but since I published The Sandman traffic has gone up 373%.  I know this is probably temporary, but, still, it was nice.

Overall, so far, my experience of publishing on Smashwords has been very good.  I will post again about this in a couple of days to let folks know how things are progressing.

Thanks for dropping by!


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Sandman: A Maria Ordin Adventure

I just published my first book! I shouldn't say that I've published a book since The Sandman comes to only 4,000 words or so. Oh, and IT'S FREE!




Here's my description:

Seven year old Maria and her parents go on a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. They have reservations at the best and most expensive resort in the world, the Dolphin Club. Little Maria looks forward to tanning on the warm white sand of the beach and swimming in crystal clear waters of the lake. Then something terrible happens, someone takes away all the sand from the beautiful beach and leaves behind nothing but mud and rock. Will Maria be able to discover the culprit and get the sand back before the Ordin's vacation is ruined?

When I was a little girl my father used to tell me a story every night before I went to sleep. Sometimes he would tell me about his life as a boy growing up in Russia, or about his little red hen who knew how to count, or about his two huge wolfhounds and how they caught rabbits. Other times he would make up stories for me, stories like The Sandman or How the Lion Got to be King. I loved all of his stories and asked him to tell me them over and over again.
A few weeks ago I asked my dad to tell me his stories one more time so I could write them down, but as I wrote a funny thing happened: the stories became longer and new characters sprang to life.
Although I have been careful to keep the main points of The Sandman exactly as my dad told it, I have taken a few liberties with the story, adding things here and there.
For the last few years it has been my passion to take tales I loved as a child and to retell them in contemporary settings and, where possible, include female heroes while preserving the original magic of the story. I'm not going to speculate on whether or to what degree I have succeeded, but if these stories are used to entertain a child before they close their eyes and drift off into the land of sleep then my efforts have been well spent.

You can find the book on:
- Smashwords
- www.silverlandpress.com
- It will soon be up on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Seth Rogen, George Lucas and 2012

Seth Rogen: Lucas believes we'll all die in 2012.

This article has nothing to do with books or writing but I thought it was very funny so thought I'd share it.

Todays Picture:

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Paranormal stories are still selling

Paranormal stories are still selling. According to TheBookseller.com, Simon & Schuster bought the rights to three paranormal thrillers by debut author Sarah Alderson. Yay Sarah! Congratulations.

Editorial director Venetia Gosling had this to say:

Hunting Lila is a slick romantic thriller, with great sexual tension and a gorgeous hero, as well as a fantastically page-turning plot. It’s a really commercial read, from a talented and highly promotable debut author, and we’ve already had a huge amount of international interest. We’re delighted to welcome Sarah to our list and urge you to keep an eye out for this great new talent!”
To read the entire article, click here.

The picture of the day:

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011: The year of the tablet

Looks like tablets are going to be the hot item this year. Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, now an author and CNET employee, wrote yesterday that, "if there's one hot device out there this year it's the tablet. Tablet tablet tablet".

He makes the point, which I think is a good one, that once a person owns a tablet there is no further financial impediment -- such as buying a kindle or other dedicated reader -- to purchasing and reading an ebook.  Since ebooks are, in general, less expensive than hardcover books and even sometimes less expensive than paperbacks, this is likely to increase the number of ebooks purchased and read.

This could be the year that more ebooks than pulp-and-paper books and bought and sold. 

How does it feel to live in the midst of a digital revolution?

Picture of the day:

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Party Down, a gun in the first act, Chekhov's gun

The other day I was watching a great show I recently discovered, Party Down. One of the characters -- Casey Klein -- says something like, "You know what they say about a gun in the first act."

I had never heard the expression before and was curious. When a cursory internet search yielded no results I told myself it was likely something that applied to writing a screenplay and, as an aspiring novelist, I didn't need to know. Well, over the past few days it became like an itch I couldn't scratch so, today, I vowed I would find what the phrase meant. Thanks to the blog Thinking Television I found out. The author of the post notes that the quip was in reference to Chekhov's gun. Wikipedia did the rest.

Chekhov's gun is a literary technique whereby an element is introduced early in the story, but its significance does not become clear until later in the narrative. The concept is named after Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, who mentioned several variants of the concept in letters. Chekhov himself makes use of this principle is in Uncle Vanya, in which a pistol is introduced early on as a seemingly irrelevant prop and, towards the end of the play, becomes much more important as Uncle Vanya, in a rage, grabs it and tries to commit homicide.

The phrase "Chekhov's gun" is often interpreted as a method of foreshadowing, but the concept can also be interpreted as meaning "do not include any unnecessary elements in a story." Failure to observe the rule of "Chekhov's gun" may be cited by critics when discussing plot holes (Wikipedia, Chekhov's gun).

That's useful! It is amazing what one learns watching TV.

After I read about Chekhov's gun I read Wikipedia's entry on Checkhov. Wow! He not only put himself through university but he supported his family on top of that.

To support them and to pay his tuition fees, he daily wrote short, humorous sketches and vignettes of contemporary Russian life, many under pseudonyms such as "Antosha Chekhonte" (Антоша Чехонте) and "Man without a Spleen" (Человек без селезенки). His prodigious output gradually earned him a reputation as a satirical chronicler of Russian street life, and by 1882 he was writing for Oskolki (Fragments), owned by Nikolai Leikin, one of the leading publishers of the time.[30] Chekhov's tone at this stage was harsher than that familiar from his mature fiction.[31]

Daily! It sounds as though Chekhov wrote a story a day, stories which he sold. That is amazing.

Picture of the day:

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Big Trouble in Little China

This morning I was working on my rough draft for the second novel of my trilogy, writing a juicy bit of bad guy versus good gal violence, and found myself thinking about the Storms in Big Trouble in Little China.  I realized that my bad guy was looking and acting a lot like the guy with the ... what color was the lightening? ... phosphorescent blue?  Mmmm, that might be an excuse to watch the movie again.

Anyhow, back to the topic of this post.  The points of similarity between my bad guy and the Storms got me wondering about those characters and what, if anything, they were based on.  Were they based on Chinese mysticism or, perhaps, some of the recurring character types in Kung Fu movies?

After about a half hour of research (it's amazing what gets to be called research; but it was, it really was) I had no answers to my questions but had found out some amazing things about the movie.

(I guess I should say up-front that I love the movie Big Trouble in Little China, if you dislike it the following tidbits probably aren't going to be all that interesting.)

- Big Trouble in Little China -- although regarded by many (or at least by me) as a great movie -- actually lost money, a lot of money, at the box office and garnered a less than enthusiastic reception from the critics, including Rodger Ebert.   Ebert wrote,

"special effects don't mean much unless we care about the characters who are surrounded by them, and in this movie the characters often seem to exist only to fill up the foregrounds", and felt that it was "straight out of the era of Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu, with no apologies and all of the usual stereotypes (Wikipedia, Big Trouble in Little China)". 

(Here's the link for Rodger Ebert's original review, it's well worth the read.)

- Carpenter cited the film as the reason why he became an independent film maker.  He said in an interview that:

“The experience [of Big Trouble] was the reason I stopped making movies for the Hollywood studios. I won’t work for them again. I think Big Trouble is a wonderful film, and I’m very proud of it. But the reception it received, and the reasons for that reception, were too much for me to deal with. I’m too old for that sort of bullshit”.


I'm not sure how similar it is, but currently many writers are blogging about the pros and cons of going independent.  I thought it was interesting that Big Trouble was the movie that pushed Carpenter in that direction.  Interesting and cool.

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