Monday, May 30, 2011

Back from NYC, and Special Guest Review of THOR!

I've returned from the Massive Apple and, boy, am I feeling the 'small cheetah in a big/huge/ginormous pond' soak out of my system. I miss it already!

I have so much to share about the Backspace conference. Even the word Awesome can't describe it, and that, my darlings, says something. Throughout the month of June, I'll pepper in some of the knowledge I gobbled up over my three days in NYC, recommend a ton of books by a group of amazing authors, and generally inundate you with why you need to go next year.

But for today, it's Movie Time!

I have a generous follower (mwahaha!) who volunteered to take over my weekly review while I was out of town. May I introduce...

Andrew Leon!

Check out his blog here, and enjoy the review!


If Marvel Studios has shown us one thing, it's that it knows how to cast a movie. I didn't know Chris Hemsworth before he was cast as Thor, but I can't think of anyone who would have done a better job. Everything about him says “Thor!” Men, make your significant others close their eyes when he has his shirt off. The Warriors Three are included, which is great, especially Ray Stevenson as Volstagg. Marvel could have pulled Asgard right out of a Jack Kirby drawing. It's amazing! Weak link? Natalie Portman. Anyone could have played Jane.


Thanks so much, Andrew! Any other thoughts on Thor? Love it? Hate it? Want a shiny hammer of your very own? Should I mention the, um, abs? Hello!?! ;)

June's almost here, people, and summer's around the corner! Break out the tank tops and flip-flops!

-Marie 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Building Marketable Products into Books

Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.

Bella's wedding ring.

A Mockingjay pin.

Authors do a fantastic job of extending the reach of their story through the creation of marketable products. Is this intentional? Probably not, but it's smartsmartsmart. It's all a part of the visibility game.

Have you ever sampled a Chocolate Frog? I sure have! It's about two inches of solid milk chocolate shaped like a flattened amphibian. Absolutely nothing special, right? But I paid my two bucks and enjoyed every bite (yep, just the one). The magic of Rowling's books made that sub-par sweet a mouth-watering thing of beauty.

Have you created something like this in your book? Something small, maybe, that moves your story forward, but could also be sold to readers wanting to show their love. Like a golden pin with a bird and an arrow. I'll have one before the end of March 2012. I can almost guarantee it. And speaking of, have you seen the latest Entertainment Weekly? Yeah...awesome!

I'm leaving for Backspace today (YAY!), so my Friday post will be invisible, but I'll be back next week with a movie review from a Special Guest, as well as a recap of my first trip to a major conference!

But before I go, I wanted to mention the disaster in Joplin, MO. I don't live in Missouri, but I am a Midwesterner, and like the earthquake in Japan and the tornadoes in Alabama, this one hit me very hard. Some people lost everything they owned. Cars, homes, photo albums, Christmas ornaments. Large things, small things, some replaceable, and others so sentimental and loved that are now gone forever. There are people still waiting for loved ones to be found.

So, why do we ever wait in life? I mean, my wonderful mother is the classic example of 'well, I'm sure I'll do that before I die.' No! Prioritize the things you want to try/experience/see, and do them. Live. LIVE. LIVE!  And enjoy every second of your life. I realize there are financial hurdles that have to be cleared, but make it happen. My heart flies out to that town and the others affected yesterday, as well as those that will be touched today (yes, that storm system is doing its best to introduce itself to the entire Plains, Midwest, and Southern states). Please be safe, take warnings seriously, and remind those around you how much you care. I appreciate all of you for being part of my life. You give my cheetah her wings! 

-Marie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pirates...On Stranger Tides, a Swashbuckling Review in 100 Words

No Knightley. No Bloom. But the latest Pirates doesn’t need them. In the spirit of the first movie, we get elaborate swordfights set to daring, dramatic music. Like the second and third installments (which I loved), there are plotlines galore. Jack, as usual, wants the Pearl, Barbossa wants Blackbeard, Blackbeard wants the Fountain of Youth. Actually, most of the characters on the border of the story want the Fountain of Youth (hello, PLOTLINES). The mermaids terrify and amaze. I loved them! And, oh yeah, there’s a shirtless, scrumptious missionary.
With a cliffhanger ending, I’m game for another round. Savvy?

Jumped right into it, didn't I? :)
Thinking of the Pirates franchise, I'm reminded of the very best episode (my opinion) of Ask a Ninja. Watch it here. Keep in mind, again, I liked the second and third movie. I ooohed when Elizabeth kissed Jack. I oh-no'd when the sword pierced Will's heart. I'm a fan. I also liked the last Matrix movie. Please, no rotten vegetables! But the Ask a Ninja review is hilarious. If you haven't seen it, scroll up and click.
Go see Pirates! Let me know what you thought of it!
-Marie
  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Encouragement When We Need It the Most

You must, Must, MUST read this post.

I've lurked on The Rejectionist's website since I joined the blogging community. Remember my Wednesday post about Cleverness? Yeah, well, the comments are always so amazingly, snorting-laugh Little Bear's Porridge!* Anything I write may fall flat, but I had to get my Sentimental Cheetah on for that awesome post.

Read it. Wallow in it. Take encouragement from it. Then go write 1,000 words. :)

-Marie

* That JUST happened! Make it stick, people. hehe

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Not Funny if You Have to Explain It

Some people are born clever. Their jokes make us laugh in that startled way where your brain has a hiccup before it realizes it's in the presence of Awesome. And comebacks? Please! Quick, yet well thought out. The perfect combination.

Other people have to work for Clever, and alas, there are those who try for it, but never succeed. I'll quickly admit I sit on the fence between those two. Not a bad thing, but true as can be. I have to explain my witticisms. *cringe* I know! They're never funny when you have to explain them. By then, that moment of magic is gone, scooped up and tucked away by the lucky ones in that first group.

But Talking Clever and Writing Clever stand worlds apart. When we write, we can throw it all out there, then edit out the crummy, not-funny stuff. Think of a first (or second or third) draft. You wrote/typed until your pinkies cramped and your eyes went on strike. When you went back through your masterpiece, there were inside jokes and the most hilaaaaaarious quotes that on second thought need more explanation for your reader to 'get them.' I've backspaced my way through many gems (sarcasm, sarcasm).

My personal favorite held on for a couple drafts. I'm the Pierce of YA apparently, because I want so badly for a phrase to catch on. Little Bear's porridge. You say it when something's perfect, when you're feeling all kinds of spectacular. And now that I've explained it, 1) the smidgen of cleverness flew out the window and 2) you're all wondering why you follow this blog. :) Ultimately, that beauty and many (MANY) others like it died a painless death before my current version. And we're all better for it. Trust me.

Does this sound familiar? What are your truly shining mistakes? So laugh-out-loud funny when you wrote them and beyond embarrassing a month later. Sharing is caring!

-Marie

Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Review! Priest in 100 Yummy Words

The weekends fly faster than the Cheetah!


It's Monday all over again, darlings. I'll give a rousing Good Morning to at least a dozen people who will answer with a groan and an exaggerated eye roll. In Office-speak, they're saying 'well, good morning, Gorgeous!' That's how I choose to hear it anyway. :)


But enough about me. Let's talk about Paul Bettany's Priest.



The previews scared me. Eyeless vamps snapping at an American-accented Bettany and the always yummy Cam Gigandet (another Twilighter who shows us what a difference a tan can make). I expected to jump out of my seat often. But Priest isn’t just a vampfest. Think V for Vendetta meets Vampire Western meets samurai hero drama setting itself up for a sequel. Bettany and Maggie Q create fantastic chemistry, but Karl Urban’s creepy factor misses the mark. Should’ve taken a lesson from Blue in Sucker Punch. An interesting world has been built into a not-so-terrible action movie. Give it a try.  


I'm your classic case of Loves Vampires mixed with Enormous Wussy. The Lost Boys gave me the heeby jeebies. The new Fright Night, which stars Colin Farrell and previewed before Priest, launched a flying V of goosebumps in under two minutes. Any Rated R Valentine's Day release? Not for this girl. But I heart Paul Bettany. A Knight's Tale, Beautiful Mind. Sigh. Love that man. So I braved Scaryville and don't regret it.


I'm still looking for a guest movie reviewer for the weekend I'm at Backspace. If you're interested, let me know. Thanks for visiting the Cheetah!


-Marie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Technological Tailspin, but Back on Track

I planned a Friday the Thirteenth post for yesterday, but with the Blogger mushroom cloud, it didn't happen. Obviously. So, in the spirit of the blogging community's issues yesterday, a post about technology sprang to mind.

First question: Do you save often?

Second question: Do you save elsewhere?

Third question: Do you protect what you save?

All of these questions revolve around NOT losing your data. All those lousy first drafts, delicious outlines, to-die-for manuscripts polished to a gleaming shine. Save them on your computer? Well, if it kicks the bucket, they're gone. Flittering off to the Heaven of the Technological Tailspin. Even auto-save couldn't help you there.

So, how do you keep it from happening? I'm the queen of the flash drive. Do you email drafts to yourself? Save on Google docs? Store on multiple computers? But how much is too much? Is there ever too much? :)

Some reminders of awesomeness happening RIGHT NOW!

Crits for Water - Kat's almost halfway to her goal. There are a ton of fantabulous agent/author/editor critiques to be won!

Help Write Now - There aren't many days left to bid! Signed books/ARC's, critiques for queries/synopses/partials/full manuscripts. You name it, they're auctioning it off. Wow! Between this one and Crits for Water, my greed monster is gnawing the bars of his cage. 'I want, I want, I want!' he snarls between bites. Feed your own green monster and BID!

All 4 Alabama - Another great cause after the Spring storms of April/May tore through the South. I haven't looked closely at all the auctions, but it's on my to-do for to-day (harhar, I'm hilaaaarious). But ignore my dorky humor and help those who lost, well, everything. I'm still a firm believer that disasters bring out the very best in people!


One last thing! I need a guest movie reviewer for the weekend of May 27-29. I'm so super excited to be going to Backspace (SQUEEEEEAL!), but I'll miss that weekend of movie-going. Any volunteers? My only rules are that the movie is still in theaters (first run, second run, doesn't matter), I haven't already reviewed it, and your review is not more than 100 words. Whoever is kind enough to do it will get a little thank-you something in addition to having your review posted on the Cheetah. Let me know!

-Marie

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yin and Yang - Finding that Beautiful Balance

Opposites exist only in relation to one another.

Ahhh, the wisdom of Wikipedia. :)

But there is wisdom in that statement. Without love, could we have hate? If there were no poor, would there ever be rich? Weak and strong? Diet and regular? Chocolate Frosty and Vanilla Frosty?

You get the idea. So, if all of that holds up, well, except the Frosty one (or especially the Frosty one...), then Miss Yin and Mr. Yang exist in our writing. Good boy and bad boy. Dark and Light. Good and evil. And the opposites intrique us. Take Lisa DesRochers's PERSONAL DEMONS. Luc and Gabe (Lucifer and Gabriel, Hell and Heaven) are after Frannie. Luc has dark hair, wears dark clothes, drives a black muscle car. Gabe is a blondie bear in light colors with all white furniture in his house. By the way, the author admits she included the cliques on purpose. But my point is that without the distinct opposites, we may see, GASP, similarities and be tempted to ride the fence.

But isn't it more thrilling when the cut-and-dry falls away. When the villain shows us a hint of something, just a whiff of goodness, and we start to think, 'Wait a minute...did he just...but I...' Or the hero narrows her eyes when she shouldn't. Decides not to show mercy when she knows it's right.

Yeah, you know what I mean. It's the gray area that hooks us and reels, reels, reels us in.

Do you ignore Yin and Yang in your writing? Prance about in the wonderful world of gray? :) What do you prefer as a reader? Are 'gray' characters more realistic? Do you expect to see the more black-and-white characters in books for younger readers? Do they deserve the gray as much as us old-timers (for the record, I'm twenty eight and seriously kidding about the whole 'old-timers' thing)?

Completely unrelated! I owe you all an apology. I've been a terrible blog follower lately, and I can't even blame the fact that my Blogger dashboard has been wiped clean (although, oddly enough, that has happened). Busy month, post A to Z laziness, new WIP. Pick your excuse.

I'm sorry! I love you all! I promise to try harder!

-Marie

Monday, May 9, 2011

100! Word! Review! Something Borrowed

It's that time again!

What time?

Ummmm, well, movie time! Yep, Movie Time! Here are my thoughts on Something Borrowed in one hundred, marshmallow-filled word sandwiches (no idea...just, no idea).


I LOVE John Krasinski. Seriously. His character supports, but never lies, and he pushes Dex to, well, be a man about what’s going on. What is going on, you ask? Well, Dex is sleeping with Rachel, his fiancĂ©’s BFF. Trust me, you’ll root for them after seeing Hudson play the cliqued ME-ME-ME bridezilla. You'll tune her out and watch the adorable Krasinski. He’s pretty hilarious too.
A cute dance scene, one awwww-worthy I love you, and the shy pushover wins in the end. It felt rushed, though, so I bought the book. Oscar-worthy? Um, no, but just plain fun.  

That's it! Hope you enjoyed. This movie's light-and-happy mingles well with next week's dark-and-evil (Priest). Have you seen Something Borrowed? Any movies you just can't wait to see? How about books? Any word on the new Sookie book? No, I haven't started mine (I know, I know. Awful!).

-Marie

Friday, May 6, 2011

April Books. What's on tap for May?!

April showers? Umm, let me think.

May flowers?

Seriously, how many of you at least thought about pilgrims? No one?

The month of May has so much in store for us. Summer movie season kicks off, I'm going to Backspace (!!!!!), Mother's Day, Memorial Day. Anyone planning on camping? Cookouts? Bonfires? How about Sookie? Yes, the new book comes out this month. Mine arrived yesterday, and I can't wait for an Eric fix. Yum.

The New Year's (fitness) Resolutions are going strong! YAY! I'm still kickin' it vegetarian style. It's a lesson in discipline and makes me feel lighter, stronger. My second round of TurboFire continues. By the end of June, I hope to be in my target weight range, as well as see some proof of abs (a hugely tough goal, let me tell you). We'll see what happens. Excited!

My April books were...diverse...yes, that's the best word.

4/10/11 - Room by Emma Donoghue
In the spirit of The Lovely Bones, I thought this was a good book, a unique idea, but ultimately one of the creepiest stories I've ever read. You watch life from an 8x8 soundproof shed through the eyes of a five year old who thinks Outside isn't real, that Room and Ma and Bed and Duvet are the only really real things in the universe. After finishing that book, I was in serious need of a light and fluffy YA about vampire hotties. Or, you know, the next Sookie book. :) Did I mention that's coming out in May? Oh, I did? Hmm...

4/17/11 - Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett
I wanted a less serious book, and that's exactly what I got. :) Glory's a curvalicious vamp who rocked the twenties and is opening her own business in the here-and-now. Two hotties want her, she has a shifter living across the hall, and a religious fanatic is taking out vamps in Austin. I doubt I'll read the sequel, but the idea of shedding the super skinny female vamp image was cute. A little long, though, with sex scenes out of nowhere, and more accent in the dialogue than I like. The labradoodle bodyguard probably has the best lines. And he eats Cheetos!

4/18/11 - The Hating Game by Talli Roland
Such a cute, quick read! British entrepreneur Mattie Johns goes on a dating gameshow for the prize money, but gets a heckuva lot more. This book reminded me of Elizabeth Young's Asking for Trouble and A Promising Man, both of which I own and love. Snappy Brit MC with guy troubles and an attitude. It also makes me think twice about the 'reality' of reality shows. :) Definitely recommend. Talli Roland has a great blog, too, if you're interested.

4/26/11 - Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Holy. Hot. Dog. I couldn't stop reading. Writing, criting (sorry WH Crit girls), blogging, BREATHING! All were put on hold for this book, and at the end, I swear I screamed to the heavens. The government has labeled love a disease, and people are basically lobotomized at age eighteen to be 'cured.' A few months before her procedure, Lena gets infected (she falls in love). I'm still catching my breath. Everyone needs to read this, like, yesterday! I may have to pass on my copy in some kind of contest. Anyone interested?


Plans for May:

Umm, well there's that one book... :) Also, I won Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan in the Write Hope auction, and a girl at work loaned me a Nicholas Sparks book (Safe Haven, maybe. Can't remember!). That's my plan. I also want to get another huge chunk of my new WIP on paper/Word doc and go through my Kat Wake story again before Backspace.

How about your plans for May? What are your goals? Delirium? You will NOT regret it. Sookie? Yeah, me too!

Don't forget about Crits for Water! Check out Help Write Now too! And Teralyn's working toward the conference of her dreams. Stop by and help if you're able!

-Marie

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A to Z Reflections and an IMPOSTER!

The A to Z Challenge ended last Saturday, and I finished it! Congrats to everyone else who took the challenge! Whether you made it to the end or fell short, it was super fun while it lasted. We talked about everything under the sun, moon, and stars in April.

On Writing.
We debated using Accents in dialogue, tried to figure out why Edward and his vamp bros always think they're right, traded tips on beating reader boredom, and discussed Jar Jar Binks and characters that weren't as well received as the author intended. I told you about Secrets in my WIP and asked about yours. ;) We even talked about blog post titles being mini-pitches. Then we waged the battle of the eX's.

On Books, Movies, and Television
I recapped my Books from March and reviewed Sucker Punch, Arthur, Source Code (LOVED IT), and Water for Elephants (LOVED IT, the sequel) in 100 words each. We dived into the world of The Hunger Games, Atlas Shrugged, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, How I Met Your Mother, Twilight, and Peter Pan. And, oh yeah, Harry Potter! Holy hot dog, have you seen the new DH trailer? I finished my fan fiction discussion (hello, Mr. Malfoy!), and Taz made an appearance.

On Blogfests and Follower Praise
The Now Starring Blogfest and the Query Help Blogfest came and went. Thanks so much to everyone who sent feedback on my query! I did an I-Love-You-Followers post when I reached 100 and another gushy post toward the end of the month asking why you write ('because I must' was the top answer).

On Miscellaneous
There was a random post about balancing diet and exercise, which brought up balancing everything else in life. If I never had to sleep and could spend half as much time in the office for the same weekly paycheck, my WIP would never fall behind. :)

WOW! What a fantastic month. Tiring, sure, but worth every minute. Thanks to all of the hosts! We should do this again some time (like, next year maybe!). :)


And finally, an IMPOSTER!


Don't be fooled by the wings and spots! hehe


-Marie

Monday, May 2, 2011

Limitless Review. 100 Word Limit!

A to Z is over, but the movies never end. Thank goodness for that, right? Right.

Limitless hit the second run theater this week, and I was fortunate enough to see Bradley Cooper in a serious role. Sure, The Hangover wasn't all fun and games, but Limitless? Completely different animal. If you've wondered about this movie, here are my thoughts in, drumroll please, one hundred, delicious words.


Eddie Mora loses his girlfriend and his sanity in the same afternoon. The first because he's a loser. The second because he takes a magic pill. This untested drug opens up the eighty percent of the brain humans can't access. Now, Eddie's limitless. He finishes his book, cuts his scraggly hair, makes mega money on the stock market, but can't remember chunks of his life. Side effects? Ruh-roh! The cinematography made me dizzy, and the narration distracted from the story. And Cooper slurps blood off his apartment floor. *shudder* Interesting concept, but not as visually pleasing as I'd hoped. 


There you have it! I'll post an April book review on Wednesday and an A-Z Challenge recap for you on Friday. Summer movie season is here! What will you see? Well, other than that one on July 15. :) EXCITED!!!!!

-Marie