Friday, April 30, 2010

The Beauty of Britain in the Spring: IM2 Early!

Forget about Paris in the springtime. Nothing compares to England in the spring or summer. Britain's landscape is evergreen, but at this time of year, rich and lush beyond reality. The sun finally reveals its glory, the days are impossibly long making you dare to believe night may never fall, and pools of sunbeams adorn the ground--expansive seas of rapeseed. England in the springtime inspires hope, love, and poetry.

The other great thing about England in the spring and summer: early blockbuster movie releases. My dh and I saw Iron Man 2 yesterday. Right now, I'm typing with one hand and biting the knuckles on the other, I can barely contain my glee. Where do I begin? Robert Downey Jr. He is perfection once again as the narcissistic, hunky playboy, who really doesn't need a publicist since he does a fine job of promoting himself. The movie is big, explosive, engaging, sexy, and it will not disappoint. Is it better than the first? I would say it is on par with the first, but takes the storyline deeper.

The movie picks up six months after Tony Stark announces to the world he is Iron Man. Mickey Rourke does an impressive job, without going over the top, playing the clever villain Whiplash, a composite of Blacklash and Crimson Dynamo from the comics. He left the brash and comical performance to Sam Rockwell, who plays Justin Hammer, Stark's rival. And I believe Hammer is well-served by Rockwell. Scarlett Johansson is quite Va-Va-Voom as Black Widow. Kudos to Jon Favreau for giving her a kick-ass, albeit small, fight scene, instead of simply making her eye candy. I must admit seeing her in that skintight costume made me wish I was ten pounds lighter and more agile. I'll have to blow the dust off my Pilates DVD.

Movies are a lot like books and I believe writers can learn a great deal from films. IM2's flaw is its sagging middle. Both a book and a movie should explain how a character gets to a certain point/solution. If the director, Favreau, rushed it, the movie would have suffered loss of depth. An action movie must seize depth where it can in my opinion. If a movie is all gunfire and car crashes, the audience can get desensitized and the big scenes can lose impact. There have to be moments when we take a breath and watch the character get to the next stage. My dh referred to those breathers as dead spots.

Every story is not meant to be a rollercoaster ride, but a writer must find a way to keep the tension/conflict on the page and avoid the dreaded dead spots, where our readers will skim. Fortunately, movie directors keep films around two hours and there's little chance someone is going to walk out while RDJ figures out the cure to his palladium blood poisoning.

If you are an Avenger fan, this movie will be foreplay heaven. It tickled me silly with little wet dream teasers about what is to come. Pun definitely intended. The tantalizing clip shown after the credits roll will only satiate those who are waiting for 2011. That's all I'll say about the clip because I don't want to give it away.

For IM3, my dh and I agree, we'd like to see a villain who doesn't require a mechanical suit. Go see IM2. Don't over analyze it and have a great time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The P Word

The other day, someone questioned me about why I have a website and blog when I'm not even published. The person, who shall not be named, even used the p word ... premature. Take a deep breath fellow writers and exhale slowly. The question did not fluster me. It was easy to answer because I asked myself the same question. As for my blog or website being "premature", to that I say the person simply used the wrong p word.

I didn't consider creating a website or starting a blog until I took a workshop on building an Author Brand. A great class that taught me about the importance of having a web presence before you're published. I'd never really given any thought to what I wanted my "brand" to look and feel like. I thought you write the best book possible, struggle to find an agent, then the publisher does the rest once you've finished your final edits. Say it with me people, NAIVE.

Publishing is a tough industry to break into with fierce competition. Landing an agent is like finding a unicorn. To catch the attention of these mystical and elusive creatures you have to hone your craft, produce a great novel, and show them you understand this is a business, which requires work on the part of the author long after you've finished writing the book. After the workshop, I still debated about when to create my presence on the web. Then I read an interview by super agent Holly Root and she said that she actually checks to see if a potential client is already out there on the web. I kept reading interviews. She is not the only one. Many authors advise the aspiring and naive to get started sooner rather than later. The pros will far outweigh any potential cons.

A farmer does not sit and stare at a barren field wishing for a bountiful crop. In order to reap a harvest, you have to till the soil, plant the seeds, and water it (yeah, I'm a city gal) or pray for rain. Success does not happen in a vacuum.

Someone once said success is when preparation and opportunity collide. I think it was Oprah :). Every book I write is me tilling the soil. This blog and my website are the seeds I have planted. Trust me, I am praying for rain.

One day, my magic 8 ball hasn't revealed when, my opportunity will come and I'm the kind of gal who likes to be Prepared.

Fellow writers, what steps have you taken to prepare for publication? Wise authors, what preparatory steps did you take that helped with your first sale?