Category Archives: Movies and TV

Got back to Fort Lauderdale to find these two beauties waiting…

Got back to Fort Lauderdale to find these two beauties waiting for me! I must now apologize to all people, books, events, and plans I may have promised to catch up with after my current deadline is met. These books have just bumped everything else down the list.

Via:: Tumblr to WordPress

Breaking the suspension of disbelief.

I rewatched Transformers this weekend, a movie I haven’t seen in a while. In the middle of the movie, I ran into a scene I almost forgot about. Then I watched it and I remembered seeing it for the first time–not just seeing it, but sitting there and going “What? No way! How can they possibly expect me to buy that?”

This may seem like an odd thing to say in the middle of a movie about living robots that like to hide in plain sight as cars, but that’s the thing about suspension of disbelief. It has limits.

Transformers-posterNow, before I pick on this scene in detail, I have to say that I like this movie. Which is probably one of the reasons this scene bugged me so much.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, the story establishes that giant transformable robots exist and that they’re searching for a giant cube that has the power to turn anything mechanical into one of their kind. Or destroy all life as we know it. You know, as giant cubes tend to do. They set this up as true, and I’m fine with that. Cool. Giant robots and the All Spark. Got it. And the story is set on Earth as we know it now. No problem.

Within this world that they’ve built, there are rules that we accept. We also accept that the humans follow the rules we know. Those rules collapsed completely when the blonde computer analyst working for the government managed to copy and sneak out a top secret file and bring it to her computer hacker friend. This friend, by some stroke of luck, has an alien language decryption program in his computer or something because as soon as he plugs in the SD card, he not only knows the signal’s strength, he can see the code hidden in the file and read part of what they downloaded from the government.

Umm… what?

An entire room of the best technical minds the government could acquire and equipment more powerful and advanced than anything available in the commercial sector couldn’t break this code. Couldn’t even figure out what the code was. But some hacker kid puts the information into his computer and BOOM! SOLVED!  No time lapse, no growing pile of coffee cups as he struggles through the night to crack the impossible code, no work AT ALL. Just done. Solved.

That moment bugged the hell out of me. I couldn’t buy it. Even in a world of giant robots, you can’t expect me to believe that one kid cracks in two seconds what an entire room of brilliant people couldn’t. Especially when he barely demonstrates any level of exceptional intelligence through the rest of the film. The blonde girl, however, is obviously a near-genius. She comes up with the brilliant ideas and she should have been the one to find some way to crack the code, but she wasn’t. She took it to the comic relief and let him do it.


Image credit Paramount, Hasbro, and Dreamworks 2007

At this point I could easily turn this into a post about taking away an important moment from a strong, intelligent female character, but I’ll save that for later.

The point of this post is this: no matter how entertaining or well-written the rest of the story, shattering the audience’s suspension of disbelief for even a moment can ruin everything. What do I always remember most about the first Transformers movie? That stupid hacker scene. Also, explosions. But mostly the hacker scene.

It’s why world building and consistency and listening to beta readers is so important. It’s why it’s worth it to take the time to dig into your world and figure out how everything works. What are the rules of your society and what technology is available to them? What are people capable of? Figure it out, establish it, and stick with it. If you do this, readers (or viewers) will stick with you. If not, you may end up with a lot of people shaking their heads and walking away muttering, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Time to get back to work!

Since I got home from work on Friday, I have done next to nothing. I spent most of the weekend in my room watching movies and TV on Netflix and making jewelry. One thing I learned? If you haven’t yet seen the first season of the SyFy show Continuum, GO WATCH IT. That show is pretty freaking awesome. It also helped recharge my head. I don’t feel nearly as braindead as I did last week and so it’s time to get back to work.

We Are Drawing (c) Zsuzsanna Kilian

Right now, my WIP is just titled Project 1 in the word count sidebar (and also on my Pinterest page). I began working on the draft last fall, but other projects that had priority pushed it aside time after time. The same thing will probably happen again soon as I can only work on this draft until I get my second round of edits on Sing Sweet Nightingale or edits on a contemporary my agent is looking at right now. I’m determined to get this draft done, though! Soon! Maybe It’ll actually happen by the end of the summer. I can hope, anyway. 🙂

Wish me luck! And time. I need more of that.

Pardon me while I geek out over here.

Okay, so as you may or may not know, I grew up on Star Trek. And science-fiction/fantasy movies and stories in general, but Star Trek: The Next Generation played every weeknight in my house. So how excited was I when I heard JJ Abrams was putting together a Kirk/Spock Enterprise reboot? Causiously thrilled. And then it came out and I was all, “See? I knew I loved you for good reason, JJ!”

So Star Trek was amazing. And now it looks like he’s going to do it again!

OMFG YAY! And to make it even more spectacular, it comes out just after my birthday next year. Which is way too far away, but I’ll deal.

And, um, Benedict Cumberbatch joining an already amazing cast? YES, PLEASE.

Readers: Prejudice And Misinterpretation

You spend months, maybe years, creating a world and developing a cast of characters. You’re in love with your story and you can’t wait to share it with the world. But then other people start reading it and you suddenly realize they’re not exactly seeing things the same way you are. Apparantly, this is what has happened with the release of the Hunger Games movie.

First, I saw the movie this weekend and I thought it was fabulous. I am a notoriously tough critic on book to movie adaptations, especially for books I already love, but I have to give the screenwriters, director, and crew recognition for a job well done. Were things taken out or changed? Yeah. Did those changes make perfect cinematic sense? Totally. Did they miscast any of the characters? Not a single one, but according to this article, not everyone agrees with me on that last one.

 Already, the Hunger Games has crashed through multiple opening weekend records and is only stymied by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight which both have the strength of an established series of movies behind them. Viewers, even those who have read the books, didn’t expect what they got from a few characters, though. This excerpt is from the article I mentioned above:

But when it came to the casting of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, many audience members did not understand why there were black actors playing those parts. Cinna’s skin is not discussed in the book, so truthfully, though Lenny Kravitz was cast, a white, Asian or Latino actor could have played the part.
But. On page 45 of Suzanne Collins’s book, Katniss sees Rue for the first time:

…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that’s she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor…

Later, she sees Thresh:

The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He’s one of the giants, probably six and half feet tall and built like an ox.

Dark skin. That is what the novelist, the creator of the series, specified. But there were plenty of audience members who were “shocked,” or confused, or just plain angry.

 The author of the article goes on to directly quote a bunch of Tweets and other internet posts that range from confusion to outright racism. One of the worst, in my opinion, states “Kk call me racist but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad”.

A moment of silence, please, to contemplate the myriad of ways that statement is utterly sickening.

Okay, moving on. 

Rue looked exactly like I thought she would. Actually, ALL the characters seemed to be plucked straight out of the movie that plays in my head when I read The Hunger Games. It was a little freaky. Not only did Rue look like I thought she would, she was also adorable! And she played the part very well.

I always saw Rue and Thresh with dark skin. IF ANYTHING, I thought Suzanne Collins was playing off racist expectations by making the only black tributes in the Games come from the agricultural district. (Come on. Field hands? Really?) If you look closely, the people in district 11 are practically the only black actors you see in the entire movie. Whether this was intentional on Suzanne’s part to demonstrate another facet of the Capital’s expectations and control or an unconscious reveal of her own prejudice… well, we can speculate all we want, but we can’t know unless we ask her. Either way, fury over a black actress and actor playing black characters (and playing them well)? That’s just flat out stupid.

Talent: The Indescribable Something

When in full bloom, talent is a beautiful thing to behold. When squandered or lost, the tragedy feels almost insurmountable. Despite this, we don’t know much about how or why it occurs, which is probably why talent is one of those quirks of human nature that makes me think there might be some kind of higher power.

One of my favorite things to watch on TV is So You Think You Can Dance (and, before anyone asks, no. I do not watch Dancing With The Stars). SYTYCD is one of the most incredible things to ever appear on national television because it not only showcases some incredible dancers–some honed by years of training and some raw–it helps nurture new talents it discovers. For example, Travis Wall was a contestant on season two. He didn’t win (though he came mighty close), but now he’s an Emmy nominated choreographer because the producers at SYTYCD saw a spark of talent in him and gave him a chance to show what he could do.

What’s tragic about talent is that it’s not always discovered. How is a child going to know they can play piano by ear if their fingers never touch a keyboard? Will they go through life feeling worthless because they never found that one thing that made them special and allowed them to shine? It’s a heartbreaking prospect and one that, as current or future parents, my generation should be aware of.

In celebration of talent, I’m sharing here two YouTube videos featuring some extraordinary people. The first is a recomposition of IZ’s ukelele version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Simple Gifts written and performed by The Piano Guys. These two have a whole series of videos and you can support their efforts to bring classical music to mainstream ears by buying something from their store. The second video is clippings from the previous season of SYTYCD, specifically the solo of the season’s winner Melanie. Even if you know nothing about dance, watching her perform is like watching grace in motion. She is incredibly gifted.

Movies: HappyThankYouMorePlease and Valentines Day

I added a movie to my list of favorites last night: HappyThankYouMorePlease. Awesome cast and a great story, but I swear it was this one scene in particular just caught me. Out of context (and without the action and expressions of the actors) some of the impact is missing, but maybe after watching the movie (it’s on Netflix, fyi) some of you will see why I think this is arguably the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen:

Sam#2: What are we feeling? Red or white?

Annie: Sam, we need to talk.

Sam#2: (laughs) You mean the talk where you tell me how great I am but you can’t get involved and it’s not me it’s you and you’re damaged and you wish you could (fake hacking cough). I refuse to have that talk. Now would you like red or would you like white?

Annie: Sam…. Look, I’m not good for you… What?

Sam#2: Are you happy?

Annie: No, I’m not happy!

Sam#2: I can make you happy. Seriously, let me love you. I am totally up to the task. Actually, I’ve already started.

Annie: I can’t. I can’t do this.

Sam#2: No, no, no, don’t. Come on. Don’t walk out on this before it even started, please. Look at me. I get it. Okay? I get it. I’m not the guy you had in mind. But what if you don’t know what’s best for you?

Annie: And you do? (sigh) Where did you come from Sam number two?

Sam#2: (shrugs) Westchester.

Annie: (chuckles)

Sam#2: Do you want to know why I hang out on the fifth floor? The first time I saw you? God. I thought, Wow. Her. The girl with the funny head wrap. I want to be near that girl. Trust me. I don’t normally talk this way, but I am gone over you.

Annie: (whispering) Stop! Okay? Just shut the fuck up.

Sam#2: Why?

Annie: Just stop, please. Don’t say that!

Sam#2: You can hear this. Close your eyes.

Annie: What?

Sam#2: I just want you to listen to me. Humor me, please?

Annie: (sighs and closes her eyes)

Sam#2: It’s not easy to be adored. You in particular, you have a tougher time with it than most. I get that. But I want you to give it a try. Think of it as an experiment. I promise I will be very wonderful at adoring you, Annie. It’s an area where I think I got a great deal of talent. You’re worth the adoration, Annie. You’re worth it. And the fact that you don’t believe it? That has nothing to do with whether it’s true or not. It is true for me. And that is all that matters.

To those of you with a Valentine this year, go adore them. It should be what you’re best at.And if you don’t have plans with your special someone, snuggle on the couch and watch this movie. It’s worth it.

Oh, and, by the way:

Happy Valentines Day <3

Movies: A Book’s Worst Nightmare

 I try to see movies before I read the book. This seems counter-intuitive to a lot of people, but let me explain.

I get really attached to books. The story, the characters, the little moments that only seem to work on paper. A movie changes all that and, sure, it may be great in it’s own way, but if I walk in expecting what I read in the book, I’m disappointed 99% of the time. The only exceptions I can think of off the top of my head? The newest version of The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe and A Walk to Remember. However, if I see the movie first (for example, the newer version of The Count of Monte Cristo) I can appreciate the cinematic qualities of the movie and then fall in love all over again with the book.

Thinking about it makes me wonder if I’ll be able to let go of the rights to my books when I’m published some day. Will I be able to trust some screenwriter and director to mold the story I’ve created into something worth seeing? Right now, I’m not sure, but I guess I’ll have to jump that bridge when I come to it.

Writing: Methods

One thing I’ve learned about my writing style over the years is that methods don’t work for me. How I approach one novel doesn’t work for another one. The lifespan of one book doesn’t look anything like the lifespan of another. For example, during my marathon writing sessions on Sing, Sweet in November I watched a lot of movies. I don’t know why, but I did. Working on my previous project, I usually wanted silence. Now? Bring on the music.

Maybe it’s because music is an integral part of the book, but I write better for these characters listening to my iPod. Listening to songs I love is helping me write songs for my bands and helping me imagine their life and their story. It’s working so well I’ve written about 20,000 words just in the past few days. But will this continue? Who knows. The scariest thing about my mind is not even I understand how it works.

What is the point to this post? There are a lot of people and books and sites that will tell you they have a “foolproof” way you can write a book in three days or a month or three months or whatever. The truth? There’s no such thing. What works for me may not work for you. The best thing to do is take all these suggestions in, try them out, and throw out the ones that feel more or less worthless. If you can, try to develop a system that works for you because you’re more likely to have consistent results, but don’t lock yourself into a “method” thinking that it’s the only way to get the job done. The most important things are the words in your mind and how best to translate them onto paper. Or computer screen… Whatever. You get the idea. 🙂

Movies: The Hunger Games

I do not often get excited about books being made into movies. Most of the time, they cut out too much and everything just feels… lacking. However….


The trailer came out this morning and I just watched it for the first time. I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR THIS MOVIE! It looks astounding. The cast seems perfect. From everything I’ve read, they know the kind of audience they’re working with and have tried to stay true to the book as much as possible. If this trailer is any indication, they are on the right track! I’ll be there for the midnight release. Will you?