Monday, April 7, 2014

Captain plot hole and the repetitive threat

(SPOILER WARNING)

I saw Captain America: the Winter Soldier on Saturday night and even though I enjoyed it immensely there were a few plot holes that prevent me from calling it the best Marvel film of all. Yes, the predecessors in the franchise all had their flaws too (I'm still trying to forget the first Thor film) but I don't feel that their flaws were as far reaching as CA2's. Remember that I still liked the film. The action sequences were excellent and I love Steve and Natasha's interactions. I also loved the congruity with the TV show. However, those delights didn't compensate for the rest of the film being poorly written.

Two of my friends have commented on their blogs that Hydra's presence within S.H.I.E.L.D. should have been discovered years prior. They're right. Someone would have let something slip in conversation or an intercepted communiqué that would have started an internal investigation. I also have problems with Hydra's reasoning, as explained by Zola. He claimed that the only way for them to succeed was to have the people freely surrender their liberty but when they were allied with the Nazis that's exactly what they had. Not across the entire globe of course though they had enough of it. If that approach had already failed than why try it again?

I also had big problems with the Winter Soldier. First was that he had supposedly been operating for fifty years without anyone catching him or discovering his identity. Again, someone would have found something in all that time. They also eluded to his having been repeatedly frozen, thawed, and had his memories forcefully repressed. Unless he possessed the healing powers of Wolverine he shouldn't have been able to survive that. One freeze and thaw, sure. But a repeated course over fifty years? No way. And since we're on the subject of his abilities wouldn't the changes resulting from the Hydra experiments have manifested during the many operations he, Steve, and the rest of the team carried out in Europe during WWII?

My second problem with the Winter Soldier was that he was Bucky. In the first Captain America they used him for the gut-wrenching plot twist. That they did the same thing with the same character a second time is lazy. They could have expounded on Steve's dissolution with S.H.I.E.L.D. or the fact that the Winter Soldier was a Hydra operative and that would have been enough, I think. The fact that they went ahead with this copycat twist when they took the time to give Thor and Iron Man new and interesting conflicts is appalling. Especially when they negate all Steve's "I don't want to fight my friend" stance in the final fight scene. If Steve was so against it why did he throw the first punch?

The last plot hole that should have been addressed was Zola. If his mind and the algorithm was so essential to Hydra's operations why hadn't he been uploaded to a more modern interface? Those circuit boards shouldn't have been operable and the speed of modern components would have made the transfer worth the risk.

In any other film all of these flaws would have made me call it a massive failure. Fortunately for them the first class fight scenes made me a very happy bloodthirsty girl. Oh, and the relationships and the continuity with the TV show. But mostly the violence.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Some difficult decisions

I have come to the realization that I need Hermione's time turner. There is too much to do. I always thought that when I broke into the business it would be either a short story sale to a small magazine or a  novel sale. In the case of the first, I didn't expect it to be widely publicized or in an issue with a lot of big names so it would go largely unnoticed. In the case of the second, I figured I'd have a year or two to get a (real) website up, and do all the business and promotional things that I haven't had time see to. Well this mega short story sale falls in between since there are a considerable number of big names in these anthologies and I can't afford to miss out on the momentum it will create.

What exactly does that entail?

Building a website
Updating my business cards
Updating my bio
Having professional bio pictures taken
Spreading the word about these sales to all of my friends and clients
Have a will drawn up (I have intellectual property to secure)
Submitting more stories
Writing more stories
Oh, and completing all of my edits on time and I have to juggle all that with my day job and prepare for Avenue Q auditions next month...

With that in mind I'm going to be cutting back on my blogging. I'll only be posting every other week. I hope that this will only be temporary because I really enjoy blogging but I have to do this. I've been working too many late nights lately and I need to be smart about this now before my health suffers because of it. (I'm walking a fine line as it is.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

I'm editing and not pulling my hair out

Sigh.

I still have too many things to do. I finished one edit and crossed one business item off my lengthy to do list. Since this is my only free day this week I'll be spending most of it offline so I can finish the first polishing pass on the story for Pulse Pounders. I need to send it to Kevin soon. I'm actually enjoying the edits and polishing passes this time -- probably because I'm still full of first sale excitement. It's also really gratifying to know that my work only needs a little tweak here and there to make it right for these anthologies. I can't remember if I've mentioned this before but I really had no idea that my writing really  could hold it's own when compared to my published peers. It's a revelation that's still sinking in but it also may be what's making these edits easier. I don't have to stress and wonder if the changes I'm making are the right ones. If I err, my editor will tell me and I'll go back and fix it. Simple.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oregon Coast Anthology Workshop

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a lovely post about the anthology workshop. Kevin J. Anderson did as well but his post included the names of the bestselling authors that have stories in the Pulse Pounders anthology. I'm thrilled to be in the same volume as these wonderful writers and even more thrilled that my work is worthy of that honor.

I know some of you are waiting to hear my take on the workshop but I fear that time won't allow that at the moment. I'm already in the first round of edits on the stories that sold and the submission period for Women Destroy Fantasy is drawing near. Plus I was ill a good part of last week and that put me behind a bit. Hopefully I can catch up this week so I can share with you how amazing the workshop was.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fantastic news!

I had a wonderful time at the workshop. Everyone there was so warm and welcoming, both the writers and the hotel staff. I got an insightful look into what editors have to take into consideration when they select stories for an anthology or magazine. It's a lot more complicated than I thought and seeing it in action completely debunks every rejecomancy theory I've heard. But enough on that. I promised you news.

Three of the stories I submitted to the editors sold! Wahoo!!!

My stories will appear in three separate volumes of Fiction River. The first in the Kobo special edition of Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. The second will be in the print edition of Alchemy and Steam, edited by Kerrie Hughes and the third will be in the print edition of Sparks, edited by Rebecca Moesta. I'm super excited to have real deadlines instead those that were self-imposed and working with these three is going to be a great experience.

If you want to see what the anthologies will look like you can go to Fiction River's site. The cover for Pulse Pounders is up but it's too soon to see the other two. You can also check out the other editions of Fiction River. Each volume has wonderful stories.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Babes in Spyland

Since I'm at Dean and Kris' anthology workshop this week my friend, Jo Ann Schneider, has graciously agreed to make Ninja Keyboard part of her blog tour. Every blog on the tour has a different character bio and snippet from her novel, Babes in Spyland. There's a link to her blog at the bottom of this post if you want to read the other bios, as well as the Amazon link so you can buy a copy of this fun book.




Agent Amphibian Queen:

Height: 5’-9”
Years with The Super Secret Agency: 2
Preferred Gun: Kahr P9
Strength: Stealthy, subtle and artistic. Blends in.
Weakness: Tiny things. She thinks they’re adorable.
Name origin: Something involving a frog. She doesn’t talk about it.


The aromatic garland of white orchids, yellow lilies, and baby blue morning glory hung over the metal detector like drapes, failing to hide the dirty, off-white housing underneath. Even after calling in a third florist and an extra bundle of greenery, Super Secret Agent Amphibian Queen couldn’t figure out how to disguise the machine.

“Maybe a few more on this side,” she said, squinting her eyes in an attempt to picture the results of her suggestion. The sun beat down on them like a hammer, and she really wanted a cool, refreshing Hilly Dew.

“It’s a metal detector,” Agent Bunnynose said, crossing her arms over her stomach and glaring. Sweat plastered the stray tendrils of hair to the back of her neck. “It’s not supposed to be pretty.”

Amphibian Queen ignored her partner. Agent Bunnynose had been rampaging since they’d touched down in LA the day before. She must be at a delicate time of the month, Amphibian Queen decided. She would need to send someone for snacks. Agent Bunnynose was prone to random acts of violence if not kept sufficiently fed.





https://twitter.com/JoSchneider_1

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the little things aren't so little

Back in October I picked up a stack of advances at a trade show. Most of the titles were YA spring releases and they all sounded really good. Last week I started reading one during lunch. I'm not going to say which book nor by whom because it was that disappointing.

I had high hopes for this book. It was by an author whose previous work had received praise on a prominent morning show, the title filled a much neglected area of the market, and the author possessed the expertise to make the unique nature of the story work. The parts of the story that fell within the author's expertise were great, and exactly what I'd hoped they would be. So why the disappointment?

Because the author doesn't understand modern teenagers.

Oh, the book had the angst, the relationship drama, and mischief elements right. What the author erred on was how teens use of technology. In one scene the protagonist and friends headed out to their favorite hangout for an afternoon of fun. On the way they turned on the car radio. Now, most of the teens I know would plug in the iPod or connect to their favorite internet radio station on either the in-dash system or on their smart device. I'll admit that it's not out of the realm of possibility that they would tune into the local popular music station on a car radio. Unfortunately, the author didn't have them listening to a music station. No, they were listening to an NPR news report.

Maybe the teens the author knows are different, but all the teens I know wouldn't listen to NPR news for love or money. It's not that they don't care about world events, it's that they don't have the patience or the desire to listen to the persistent monotone of NPR's reporters. Heck, I don't have the patience or desire and I'm twice their age. If teens want information they're going to look for it on the internet. Even if they're on the go, they're still going to turn to their phone or tablet before they even consider TV or radio.

Teens are smart. I mean, scary smart. I recently stumbled across a photo of a High School classroom. The teacher had put information on the overhead screen and gave the class permission to take notes. Rather than use pencil and paper, all of the students were taking a photo of the screen with their phones.

Like I said, scary smart.

I don't know how teens may react to this scene. I suspect it wouldn't be any better than mine and given how tech savvy and connected most teens are it probably wouldn't be long before their dislike was posted for the whole internet to see. That could potentially damage the author's career. I hope it doesn't because as I said earlier, the premise was quite good and there were some very well executed scenes. But this certainly illustrates (at least it does to me) how important it is to understand your audience.