30 November 2010

Marketing Harry Potter

As I was walking out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 last Saturday, I had this crazy vision that involved the marketing strategy Warner Brothers might use.  Immediately after thinking this, I thought "My Dad should not fall into this trap!"  I don't want to fall into it either.  You can fall into it if you want -- that's entirely your choice.  But this is the strategy *I* would use if I were in charge of marketing the latest Harry Potter movies.  This is to say that this entire post is speculative and is in no way associated with the real marketing plan for Deathly Hallows.

First, they're only going to keep the movie in theaters for a few months.  Perhaps once the hype has died down, they'll take it out.  In June, they're going to release the DVD for Part 1.  This way, everyone will buy it right before they see Part 2 coming out in July.  Part 2 will stay in theaters until they start to lose money from it.  Then they're going to release Part 2 on DVD.  For the holidays next year, they're probably going to release both movies together on one DVD with two extra discs loaded with special features and the like. 

My plan:  wait until both movies are on one DVD. 

I wanted to wait to buy Avatar because I had heard they were going to re-release it in theaters and then probably re-release the DVD too.  But, really, no one knew what else to get Dad for his birthday.  And now look what happened: there's the Geek-Version of the DVD with all the extra stuff they cut out and deleted scenes and you can watch the whole thing, including the deleted scenes in one go!  I want that version for Christmas!  (It shall be mine, as in, it will be with me in Madison and not with my parents.) 

So Dad and the rest of my family, don't fall into this marketing trap.  Be patient and wait until the entire Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is on one DVD.  It's so much more cost effective.

24 November 2010

News Updates

Six more days until the end of November.  Do you know what that means?  It means that NaNoWriMers should be putting the finishing touches on their novels (or loosing sleep the rest of the week to do so if they haven't given up already).  Keep going NaNoWriMers!  You can do it!  Don't give up now!

Speaking of aspiring authors and their exploits, Patrick Rothfuss is auctioning off critiques for manuscripts on his Worldbuilders fundraiser going on now.  If you're an aspiring author with money to spare, bid on an editor and get your manuscript critiqued by a professional!  And while you're at it, donate to Worldbuilders and get your name entered for a chance to win one of many awesome books and swag.  There's even a store this year in case you want something specific (like a tee shirt or poster).

If you're unfamiliar with Patrick Rothfuss and his book The Name of the Wind, then go read it.  It's great; trust me.  I love it.  It's a wonderful frame story about a hero telling his tale to a historian.  And that's all I'm going to say on that because I discovered what it was about as I read and it made the experience even more enjoyable for me.  So check it out!

In other news, hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is being rebooted for the big screen without Joss Whedon.  Since I just heard about this, I don't have much of an opinion.  I got through four and a half seasons before I stopped watching it (only because my roommate took the DVDs back to New Jersey for the holidays and didn't bring them back).  But I would be willing to start up again if only for corny teen-hero goodness.  Even so, Buffy without Whedon is about as sad as a Firefly reboot without Joss Whedon.  Makes you really upset about the whole thing, no?

22 November 2010

Fancy Pasta recipe

**note** The following is my favorite recipe.  Add/delete items as you see fit.

- peppers
- mushrooms
- celery
- carrots
- zucchini
- 1 small jar of tomato sauce
- 1 package pasta (any kind)
- 1 package of beef
- Italian Herb blend

To Make:
First, cook the meat in a frying pan.  As it's cooking, start boiling water.  Meanwhile, begin chopping the vegetables.  Personally, I keep the meat cooking until the veggies are all chopped.  Once it's all cooked through, I add the vegetables.  Treat the meat and veggies like a stir fry and just let it all sizzle until it's lightly toasted all around.  Meanwhile, add the pasta once the water is boiling and keep that going until pasta is tender.  Once the veggies are lightly brown, add the sauce.  Stir that around until the sauce evenly coats the veggies and meat.  Let that cook on low until the pasta is done.  Once everything is finished, I like to mix the pasta with the sauce together.  But if you're not the only one eating it, feel free to serve separately.

Serves roughly 1-3 people.  Maybe 4.  I don't know, I just know I have quite a few meals after I make this.

13 November 2010

Chicken Soup for the Ambitious Soul

And I really mean chicken soup, because it's what I made tonight for dinner.  There wasn't a printed recipe I followed anywhere, so I quickly wrote one up to share with the world.  I can also be a bit of an annoying and inept cook when it comes to reading recipes, so I added a few questions I would have asked if I had read one. 

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup:
Serves 2-4

- 1 package gnocchi noodles
- 2 cans creamy chicken soup
- 1 chicken breast
- 4 mushrooms (small size)
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 giant carrot
- Italian herbs
(additional ingredients*: onion, lentils, bok choy, bean sprouts, peas, herbs that go nicely with chicken, a glass of white wine as you cook and while you eat)

Boil the gnocchi noodles in a large enough pot.  While you're waiting, chop the chicken breast and fry it until it's cooked.  Also slice the mushrooms, chop the celery, and slice the carrot.  Once the chicken is cooked, add the vegetables to the frying pan and cook them as well.  When the gnocchi is done, drain the water out of the pan.  Add the creamy chicken soup to a large pot.  Right away, add the gnocchi, chicken, and vegetables.  Stir around until it's heated.  Add the Italian herbs for flavor.  Let it cook until it's really hot when you taste it. 

Annoying questions I might have if I had read a recipe:

- Exactly HOW MUCH of the Italian Herbs should I add?
If you can barely see the herbs mixed in the stuff, then you've added to little.  If you see giant clumps of it, then you've added too much.  Add enough where you see a reasonable amount mixed in with everything.  

- What do you mean by Italian Herbs?
I mean a small container with a label "Italian Herbs".  I found my container at a Tesco in the UK.  Hopefully there's something akin to it in the US.  Otherwise, ask to see which herb would go nice with chicken or just omit the herbs entirely.

- How small should I dice everything?
Small enough to be bite size.  If you have to eat it in two bites, it's too big.  Take a fun size candy bar and cut it in half.  That's the size the chicken and vegetables should be (roughly).

-How do you know gnocchi is done?
Gnocchi floats when it's done (which suggests that it sinks when it's not).  I added a lot of water when I boiled them so this would be obvious.  Make sure to stir them around a bit once a bunch of them start floating, just to make sure everything is floating and ready to be consumed.

*Ingredients I did not have in my own soup but they sound nice enough to be added in another attempt.

I'm Donna Noble! (hell ya!)

Look which Doctor companion I'm most like!

Donna Noble
Donna Noble
Take Which Doctor Who companion are you? (girls) today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You're Donna Noble!

Oi! Wotch it, Martian boy! The Doctor thinks he can spout all kinds of ridiculous technobabble and 'Last Time Lord Angst' at you just because he's from outer space, huh? Well, you're not having any of it! You've got a heart of gold and a will of iron, and you're a rather boggling combination of a romantic idealist and a staunch realist. But you never let logical paradoxes get to you; you prefer to shoehorn the universe into a little box of your own perception. More often than not, it fits... probably because the universe is too intimidated to argue!

Go on! It's fun! Click the link and see who you're most like!

12 November 2010

Story Confidante

Do you have a story confidante?  If you get this grand idea in your head, who is the person you first tell this idea to?  Does this person also bounce ideas off of you?

My story confidante is my friend (secret codename) Herb.  I met her when I got involved in the local writing group on campus.  She's really awesome in that she sees stories in general from a different perspective than most readers, according to her.  An example would be her view of the hit book Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins as compared to other people I've talked with.  While some people don't like Katniss's character in the third book, Herb loves it.  She loves how it really shows how war is a destructive force that rips you as a person apart.  It destroys Katniss in the Hunger Games trilogy.  And Herb embraces that fact and loves how its showed to the reader. 

And its this kind of perspective I value in a reader because that's how I want my stories to be interpreted.  So, whenever I get an idea for something, she's usually the first person to hear about it.  Such as the case this past summer.  I got this idea for this book.  It didn't come with a grand finale, it didn't pop out of no where and get me so giddy and excited that I just started writing without bothering where it was heading.  No.  This started as an idea.  And my talks with Herb help to strengthen this idea.  And then it became more than an idea, and it became an outline, and then several outlines.  And then I took my own advice and just shut up and wrote.  And then the characters did their own things and the story took a different turn.  Before I knew it, I was doing something other than what I intended to do.  I would bounce ideas of Herb to see if she liked them or not. 

Likewise, she's been doing the same for me.  She sent me an email with two different scenarios.  And then she told me about a completely difference scenario.  Before I knew it, I was telling her my opinion about various other scenarios that seem totally different but apparently revolve around the same central theme.  I didn't mind.  Although I couldn't keep track of which aspect of the theme was being brought out in each scenario, I could give her feedback on which was cliche and which was more interesting.  She took my advice and stuck with the Eastern influences (I think -- she didn't really specify what made her return to them).  She also listened to me when I told her that her mermaid idea wasn't strong enough to stand on its own (this she argued, but she told me that she slept on it and the urge to write it really was weaker the next day). 

In a way, we shape each other's stories based on our initial opinions.  When we talk about these things, we talk about how a reader might react to such and such.  Most importantly, I look for Herb's responses.  If she doesn't like something, I'm more likely to change it.
It's probably a bad idea I have this kind of influence that affects decisions, but not always.  When I first proposed my own story to her, she didn't like a few of the characters because she couldn't fully understand their motives.  Being new to me as well, I didn't fully understand their motives either, but as their writer I knew they were important enough to stick around.  Although a rational part of my brain told me to drop them and write about the people Herb likes, I didn't.  And now that they're more developed in my head and I'm able to describe their motives and characterizations better, Herb is more sympathetic towards them.  So although she does influence my decisions, she doesn't have full control over them.  Likewise, I can only do so much when I tell her to "shut up and write.  I want to read what you have, for Pete's sake!"  She refused to get anything solid until NaNoWriMo this month.

I don't know if we'll collaborate again like this for later stories, but for now, I like our little mutual-partnership.  What about you?  Do you have anyone you confide in when it comes to new ideas?  Who are they to you and what is it about their opinion that you value?

11 November 2010

In Defense of NaNoWriMo

I'm going to go redirect you all to this post by John Scalzi on his Whatever blog.  Because I didn't know professional writers didn't like NaNoWriMo.  And Scalzi makes some awesome points for it.  Which means my respect for him just increased a smidgen. 

I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo, but I know people who do and I admire them.  Because it's hard being a student and writing 2,000 a day.  Seriously, it is!  There are papers to write and odd-ball things to read for classes.  And THEN you have to do your personal work.  And if the personal work doesn't get done, your weekends are suddenly so much more cramped with things to do than usual. 

Keep working NaNo writers!  Don't give up just because it's close to slum week!  Add a new character into the mix.  Continue the story.  Write random scenes from random places in the plot!  Just keep going because those 50,000 words don't have to be the most gorgeous writing you do on the planet.  Just get it all done!

Also, when you're finished, print off your entire story and drop it.  That's right.  Drop it on a nice, hard floor (not carpet) or a table for the satisfying whump of completion.  My friend DanPan said it does wonders.

06 November 2010

NaNoWriMo contestants, meet Dr. Wicked

Greetings fellow storytellers!

This is a late congratulations to everyone participating in this year's NaNoWriMo competition.  I won't be involved this year, but come find me when April comes around and I try my hand at screenwriting.  I might also have a personal NaNo some other time of the year (probably around spring semester finals, because I love to torture myself like that).

Now, NaNo folk, I know how hard it is to make that damn blinking cursor move with something you're willing to accept as your story.  So here's a useful tool I recently discovered that will help me get going on my own work in progress and will hopefully aid you in your endeavors be it NaNoWriMo or otherwise.

I present to you . . . Write or Die by Dr. Wicked!

The link will take you to his blog which is updated quite frequently.  Over on the right toolbar, you will see a few options.  There's the Write or Die desktop edition, which is an offline edition of the program and costs $10 for a direct download.  Below that, there is the Online edition, which I had just used myself.  All you do is input the amount of words you want to write in the amount of time you want to write it in.  Set how strict you want the program to yell at you, and off you go. 

Not only do you write, but it makes you write.  Isn't that awesome?  A program that notices when you've stopped typing for a few seconds that goes "You aren't writing! Keep going!"  The encouragements change depending on the setting you want, I believe.  But it's fantastic.  If you only have twenty minutes to dish out 1000 words, this will help you do it.  If you can't get that first draft done because you're too distracted by things around you, this will help you too. 

I read that Jodi Picoult doesn't believe in writer's block because, when she first started to write, she would only have twenty minutes here and ten minutes there.  Being a stay-at-home mom, those small times add up to hours and hours on end.   She doesn't believe in writer's block.  When you only have small amounts of time between mommy-errands, you wouldn't either.  This program will help you restrict the amount of time you have to write.  And it'll scold you if you don't make your goal. 

So go play with it for a while and when you're done, spread the word about it to other writers.  Trust me, you'll love it as much as I do!