Saturday, December 20, 2008

In the Service of Samurai Book Video!

Well, after way too many months of avoidance and procrastination, I was finally able to carve out a chunk of time to get all the pieces together and finish the first of my much needed four book videos!



Woot!!!! The Book Video for In the Service of Samurai is COMPLETE!

If you care to take a peek, you can find the bugger here.

It's not going to win any Academy Awards, but hopefully it will get the point across. Heh heh.

Now to get my eyes to quit twitching from strain. Whee!

Heh heh. See ya!

Gloria

Sunday, December 14, 2008

As you know, Bob...

Going on a major splurge of absorbing 10 years worth of SG-1 in about 1.5 years makes a few things stand out in the watching. One of the items that kept popping up over and over is a big no-no in writing, so I was quite saddened to see poor Captain/Colonel Carter stuck with it over and over and over again - the old dreaded "As you know, Bob..."

Handling of information already known to the characters but which the reader might not know and needs to be told is a tricky item to handle in writing. There are right ways of dealing with such a situation and a wrong way - and the use of "As you know" being a bad one should always be one avoided like the plague. (Just heard the phrase again a few days ago while watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still - sigh...) It's a crutch, and not a good one, which can be avoided with a little effort or difused enough that the reader won't realize it's information being offered for their benefit and not one the characters would actually bring up and voice otherwise.

In TV regurgitating info for the audience's benefit is a little more restricting than for writing, but doable all the same. Let me see if I can work up an example.

Not so good way: "As you know, General, the enemy is at the border. We may have to use the gamma weapon sooner than anticipated."

Better way: "With the enemy at the border, General, we may have no choice but to use the gamma weapon sooner than anticipated."

In a written medium, you have the added option of the information never actually being said out loud but the character imparting the information instead by their thoughts or reactions.

Another way: As the colonel hurried down the hallway to the breifing, he realized that with the enemy already at the border, they might not have any choice but to use the gamma weapon sooner than anticipated.

You can mix dialogue with character thoughts/reactions to break up info dumps or add data that again would be known to those speaking and not the reader and do it in such a way that it does not disrupt the story but enhances it.

For example: "We may have to deplay the gamma weapon." Colonel Barns felt his stomach clench as he made the suggestion, only too aware of the weapon's theorized capabilities. With a range of up to two miles, once fired, it would create an ever widening zone of destruction unlike any other weapon ever used up to this point in the history of man.

Okay, I went a little over the top with the melodrama, but you get the point. Heh. While everyone at the briefing is probably already aware of the weapon's potential for destruction, and would not therefore mention it, I still got that information across to the reader. There are many ways to forward information yet not detract from the writing and characters themselves, you just need to get creative. Crutches may be quick fixes but won't satisfy anywhere near as much if you take the extra time and effort.

Keep your ears open and see how many time you can catch or stumble over the dreaded "As you know, Bob..." Steer clear of it in your own efforts! For all our sakes! Heh heh.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Willing Sacrifice is a Finalist in the 2009 EPPIES!


My YA book, Willing Sacrifice seems to be on a roll!

Eppie 2009 Finalist

It finaled earlier this year for the Dream Realm Awards (didn't win though - I suffer from one of those "always a bridesmaid never a bride" type things, but I am NOT complaining! Better to final and not win than never final at all! That's my story and I am sticking to it! Bwahahahaha.) and it has now also landed on the finalist list under the Fantasy Category for the 2009 EPPIES!

Will find out if it wins in March 2009 at EPICON. Fun con for authors too! Always lots of stuff to learn on promo and the awards ceremonies is always a blast, especially when Jeff Strand is the MC! Looks like the convention will be at Lake Las Vegas, NV in early March.

Wish me luck! And if you want a taste of what all the excitement might be about (hey, who knows what the judges were thinking?) you can check out some sample chapters at the website.

Here's a quick blurb in case you're curious...

To save the world she must die! Or does she?

For as long as she can remember, La'tiera has known her purpose, her destiny. As the Bearer of the Eye, she will wait until the appointed time then sacrifice herself to the demons so the lands will be safe.
Yet as the time approaches, she is snatched from her home by strangers and is told it is for her protection. These strangers tell her she is not to be a sacrifice, but must fight to live in order for the world to be saved.
La'tiera will not be swayed, however, her duty clear. Despite their clever lies, she will follow through on her destiny and do what is required. Her every effort will be put to freeing herself from her kidnappers and meeting her fate as planned.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Books as Gifts and MORE!

A couple of my publishers and other organizations I am connected with are having either sales or charity events so I figured I would list them here in case anyone was interested.


ARE - All Romance eBooks is taking donations for Conservation International. Only $5 in donations will qualify you to select a free gift of either 2009 Wallpapers or a 2009 Wall Calendar. Click on the graphic below to get more info...



Zumaya Publications is having a Holiday Book Sale! Titles will be rotated everyweek so feel free to check more than once. Sale begins 11/21/08. Info below. And click on the graphic to go to the store site.




'TIS THE SEASON! And with books being one of the greatest gift ideas anywhere, anytime, there's plenty of reason to be jolly.
Books, compared to other forms of entertainment, are relatively inexpensive. They last a long time, and you can enjoy them more than once. You can trade them for other books, or share them with friends. Most important, they take you to places you might never have been before, where you'll meet fascinating people and enjoy fabulous adventures on this world and others far more economically than a Prius.




For the next three weeks, beginning Friday, November 21 through December 12, our best-selling books will be on sale for 30% off, and shipping is absolutely free in the US.


And last but not least - Yard Dog Press is also having a Sale~!

It's our first ever
GIANT MEGA CASH FLOW SALE!

That's right we aren't even trying to make an actual profit we're just trying to get some cash flow heading in our direction.
And we have books for adults and children, role-playing games and the card game. There is something at YDP for everyone on your gift list and at these prices you can't help but save yourself some money and still give a great gift.
We all know the holidays are coming up and that the economy is in the toilet. We have bills to pay just like you do and right now our cash flow problem can help you with your holiday shopping needs. Now I know you can just go to Wal-Mart and buy a bunch of cheap crap to fill those bags and boxes but you know what Wal-Mart is rich! They don't need you money and we do!
Look, I'm going to make buying books from us for the holidays easier than ever.

From now till January 15th (so you can use any holiday money you get to buy the books at these prices) we will be holding our first ever GIANT MEGA CASH FLOW SALE!!!

What's on sale? All perfect-bound books for the time period mentioned above will be $2.00 off the already unbelievably low YDP price. My Meisha Merlin Titles—Strange Robby, Recycled, Chains of Freedom and Chains of Destruction—will be on sale for $10.00. How's this for a deal—if you buy all three Chains books you can get the brand new Chains of Redemption for the same $10.00 price tag. In other words you can get all three Chains books for $2.00 less than you'd normally pay for two of the books. Such a deal!
Also on sale for the same $10.00 price tag, Best of the Bubbas of the Apocalypse. That's right. This book has all the best stuff from the other four BOTA books. What a great gift for that friend or family member you want to introduce to the BOTA universe.
Chap books, murder games, and the card games aren't on sale, but would make great holiday gifts and are already priced to move.
Here's the big deal…

…buy more than $50.00 of any merchandise and we'll throw in free shipping!

That's right buy sales items, buy things that aren't on sale; it doesn't matter because the minute your ticket goes over just $50.00 you get free shipping and handling.
And how's this for a deal? You have a friend or family member you want to send a gift to but you don't want to deal with it?

Then for an extra $6.00 we will wrap your book and ship it to that person on your gift list by priority mail.

Think about it, you can do all of your shopping on line, you don't have to leave the house and fight your way through the stores, you'll save money, you'll give the best gifts they'll get, and you'll make me happy and after all that's what's important to me. You just go to http://www.yarddogpress.com/, go through the catalogue, make your selections, and then either e-mail Lynn (lynnstran@cox.net) or me (selinarosen@cox.net) and we'll get your order rolling. You may pay via PayPal after contacting us, or you can give us your credit card info. If you prefer, you can just send us your order and a check made out to YARD DOG PRESS. Mail it to 710 West Redbud, Alma, AR, 72921-7247.
Either way, we’d be as happy as elves if you’ll let us fill your order.

Have a happy holiday!
Selina

So if you'd like to give a book to someone you love, this is the perfect time!

Happy reading, ya'll!

Gloria

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Cottage


Do to life, time constraints, what have you, I haven't done any movie or book reviews for a while. But, I will be doing one today as this little movie is unusual enough and off the beaten path enough it needs all the help it can get. Besides, it stars Jared Padalecki and since he is in part responsible for my OBSESSION with the TV show Supernatural, I want to do my part. And I wouldn't do it if it wasn't worth watching anyway. :P



Premise: (Based on a True Story) Thomas Kinkade goes home with his brother for Christmas to find out all is not well in the town or at home. Already dealing with some dissatisfaction at the lack of direction his art is going in, Tom must now also deal with the failing health of his mentor and the coming unknown foreclosure on his mother's home and more.

Stars: Jared Padalecki, Peter O'Toole, Aaron Ashmore, Ed Asner, Richard Burgi, Marcia Gay Harden (Loads and loads of familiar faces in this one!)

Review: As I stated above, this film is based on the real life experiences of famed artist Thomas Kinkade. While you may not recognize his name, you will definitely recognize his art. For years it has embodied winter, Christmas, and all other sorts of life settings always imbued with the soft tones of light.

The movie deals with a pivotal point of Mr. Kinkade's life. One he wanted to share with us. This is not a young children's family Christmas movie. This is more a slice of real life Christmas (though even real life can at times appear over the top) and so it is for a more mature audience. A great family film for teenagers and adults. There is some language and adult themes, so beware, just basically think of it as PG-13 and choose accordingly.

This story is about Mr. Kinkade, but also about his family, his mentor, his town. About the things we forget and shouldn't, about those we can rely on, about making amends, making choices, but most of all remembering what is important -- community, family, love.

If you have ever cried during a film, I suggest you keep some hankies handy. I was teary eyed about 90% of the time and even my hubby succumbed toward the end. A lot of acting gems in this film. Many totally unexpected and some very very subtle.

Jared does a great job, though I think if they'd given him a little more of Kinkade to work with, it could have been even better. (Found out later that they did!! Those scenes were all deleted. *sigh* Should have kept them in... Go Jared!)Peter O'Toole was fabulous. Richard Burgi had some utterly amazing moments, the best I've ever seen from him. Even the cliched roles, the types of people you normally expect to meet in large group setting/dynamics were done well, and some again with flaring moments that added a lot but if you blinked you might miss them. Many subtle little touches, giving the whole a depth you'd not expect from a first look.

This is a journey of discovery, not only for Mr. Kinkade but for all others involved. And though the road was hard and some were lost, the light found in the end and the people touched by it would carry them forward for the rest of their days. Sometimes it is the little things that change the world.

A truly touching film and an intimate revelation of what shaped Mr. Kinkade into the wondrous artist he becomes. A definite soon to be Christmas Classic.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Auto Killer Aura

I've owned a lot of cars in my time. Of our household, my car is normally the least used, its main function to ferry me to and from school/work. And most cars I've owned have actually performed marvellously with very little problems. However...

When they go, they go BIG! It's almost as if in order to serve me and give me the least amount of problems, they save up all those little bits and let them grow and grow until one day - WHAM! Major issue, kaput, done, gone, money-pit-if-you're-crazy-and-really-want-to-keep-it bad.

My first car was a used Mustang I drove back and forth to UTA. One day on the way back home I hear this gigantic BAM sound and was forced to pull over to the side of the freeway as the car would not go anymore. I'd thrown a rod. It was but the first Auto Death I would suffer.

I've destroyed transmissions, engines, assemblies, if its big I've done it in. And every time it has been totally out of the blue. No warnings, no little hints, just utter and total death.

Friday found the latest victim. My poor Black Ion... Halfway to work I went to shift gears and got nothing. Tried again, got only engine reving noises. Pulled into a parking lot on momentum realizing something was totally amiss. Got a little freaky when I parked and could move the stick shift without using the clutch in any direction I wanted. Oh dear!

Over three hours later, hubby and I had the car at the Saturn dealership. Knowing my killer aura and the fact the car was now paid for and out of warranty despite the low miles, we're having to weigh how much cost we want to absorb before just giving in and getting another car. Already we know the damage is related to the transmission, never a good sign. They have to do diagnostics on it and will take a while -- just to look at it is $100. So starving by this point, we go have lunch and run errands, the day pretty much shot by this point. In comes the call - the gear shift assembly casing fell apart. At least it wasn't the transmission. The price to fix it is below the threshold we'd calculated so we give the go ahead. Should be Monday/Tuesday before they get the part and can fix it. Awesome! Curse averted!

Or so I thought...

Saturday we're scrambling to get to a rental place and get a car before they close at noon so I have wheels to go to work in Monday. Got that settled and the car home and are about to go to lunch when in comes a call from the dealership. They got the part early, fixed the problem, took it out on a test drive and shifting into first and second gear is a little difficult. Did we have a problem with those two gears before? Uhm, no? Could be a piece of the assembly went into the second chamber of the transmission, but to find out would be a whole lot more cash and that's just to take a look. Or you could just take the car as is now. Could drive fine forever or could have the same problem again tomorrow -- no way to tell. Ever get that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? Sigh...

So off we went to look at cars! (Hubby gets very paranoid about me being out and about so no way was he going to let me drive a possible breakdown tomorrow car - I wasn't feeling too great about it myself. And of course we'd already spent over $1k so far. Grrrr) I'd actually spent a couple of hours the day before doing some research on cars I'd been wanting to do trying, thinking of possibly getting a hybrid and looking for some cheap wheels. Hybrids are cool and depending on the one you're looking at, quite fuel efficient, but the price tags are not on the cheap and that's just for the basic model. One thing we learned yesterday was that the basic price is never one you will find when you go to buy. As multiple places get a hold of the car after it leaves the factory, they do stuff to it, and every time they do something, the sticker goes up. I wanted to check out the Toyota Yaris which starts at $12K. (Would have loved to check out a Smart Car, but with their waiting lists, I knew there was no way I could get one that DAY, so that was out.) All the Yaris's in the lot had been souped to $17K minimum. Dang! And since I needed a car NOW it wasn't like I could order the base model and wait for delivery. Grrr.

Drove a couple of used models as they were pushing those pretty heavily and the warranty for the POT is 7yrs 100K miles which is a lot longer than the standard warranty. Also with my aura of death, sounded like a smart thing to have. Still we looked at new and used - the used ones he was showing were low mileage 2008's. Didn't feel comfortable in the Yaris so the guy had me try out a Scion. Oooo pretty pretty metallic red! Felt strange, but I liked. (I kept trying to shift. Have been driving manual transmission for 20 plus years, so automatic is taking some getting used to.) So...many hours later, I ended up with a car. Didn't get lunch till about 4:30PM eek! (Surprised I didn't eat someone's arm. But then I was freaking enough as it was.) And I have wheels again! Woot!

Now to find where all the buttons are... Ugh... :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Real Life - ARGH!

As an author, the last thing I want is Real Life intruding while I struggle to create Fantasy Life in a novel. But, that's the thing about Real Life...it's real and you have little control of it sometimes and it tends to intrude when you least expect it.

Back at the beginning of the year I mentioned how 2008 was the Year of the Fire Rat. That chaos, both good and bad, would reign supreme. And it has! In spades! With two plus months to go before the end of the year, it doesn't seem to be slowing down one bit either.

Same week I found out my good friend Vaunda was gone, I had to make a very tough decision on a personal level regarding where I work. Despite years of being there, getting rather close to a number of individuals there, and knowing the mess which would occur if I left, (our numbers dwindled down so far there was very little coverage in duties) I had no choice but to resign.

In a five week period the introduction of one person caused such utter chaos and madness, I had to bail. It is a very sad thing to have a place where you have enjoyed working and have good rappor and where every one worked very hard and the atmosphere was good and then have to watch it all go down the toilet, and there not being a darn thing you can do about it. (Well, I tried to do something but it backfired - naive fool that I can be - but I at least tried.)

We all have stressful moments in our lives where we are shoved into corners and forced to make tough decisions. I've gotten to watch a handful of people have to try to deal with the same situation and due to circumstances or who they are all take different routes to deal and/or put up with it. Mine may have been one of the more extreme ones, but it was on my terms not the troublemaker's. It was probably one of the hardest days of my life. Yet weirdo that I am, I didn't let anyone in on what I was about to do, and worked my buns off to get as much of my work done as possible before I left. The emotional rollercoaster I was on trying to decide on whether to go ahead and take that final step was hard enough to make without letting anyone know I was thinking about it. Not that, in the end, I believe anyone was surprised by the decision. Yet it was a very very hard one to make.

My family supported me 100% though, ragardless of whichever way I decided to go. And trying to be smart for once, we did budgets and calculations to make sure we could survive doing without the income for the duration it would take to find another job. The situation was way over the top to even consider looking while still working. In 20+ years out in the work force I'd never run across a situation like this. Not all my friends had the support or means to get out though.

I switched stressing about work to stressing about getting a job, but still the load lightened so much it was bliss in comparison. I slept 12 plus hours everyday for the first week. For me, sleeping more than 8 when I have no time I have to be up by is a miracle. That's how emotionally and physically messed up the situation had made me. I wouldn't wish this type of thing on anyone.

Of course a couple of weeks after I'd gone, some of the more aloof powers that be got a clue that a lot of stuff was not being covered with me not there. They tried to woo me back to work as a consultant but the first time I flat out refused. No way was I going to go back there and work with the individual at fault for the misery of so many people. Just the thought of it had wrung me out. It's amazing how much damage something can cause to one's phyche. (Only good thing about it is that as a writer, any experience can be used and milked later - once you can push it to the side that is. :P) Second time they called, they pretty much made me an offer I couldn't refuse and put it in writing I would not have to deal with my main issue for leaving in the first place. Still feeling guilty about the position I left everyone else in, I said yes.

Though I am now an outsider, I can't help but still care about all the people I know there. Things have not improved. Moral is at an all time low. Lots of stuff fell through the cracks and people are at their wits end in some cases. Yet those in power still have no clue. Currently working like mad to catch up and find out all that has been dropped and fill in holes on processes for another job there that was crushed before they figured out what the person did. (It's amazing how some people can come into a place with their minds already made up on what you do, and truly have no idea at all. Then they act surprised when stuff is not getting then when you're not there. Well duh!)

I got lucky and have a new job lined up for when the contract is over at the end of the month. Some of my friends are not so lucky, still stuck in their corner with no place to go. I'll be praying for them and hooking them up however I can. Worse, I've made a couple of new friends, poor unsuspecting people thrust into this mess with minimal information. Busting buns to give them as much info as I can so they can fill the vacuum which will once more appear when I am gone, but it's a crap shoot. Will be praying for them too!

I'm a paranoid, pessimistic, worrier, but I hope to hey this works out for them all. I really do! If you are a believer of any kind, please send some good thoughts and rays of sunshine their way. I would really appreciate it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vaunda Perry - I miss you!



On 9/1/08 I received some terrible news. Just the final touch to an utterly nasty month. My long time friend, Vaunda Perry, had passed away on Wednesday 8/27.

I'd know she'd had some troubles back in 2007, but from all reports she'd recovered from those and life was good. Came to find out that in actuality when she had a cyst removed from her abdomen, the doctors found cancer growth in the lower bowel section. Though she went through treatments and the bad section was removed, it was not enough. Vaunda was told she'd have about a year to live, in which she planed to move to a hospice and then slowly inform those close to her as to what was going on. Fate had other intentions. The cancer spread very quickly and led to organ failure. She was gone.

Though I'd only met Vaunda face to face back in 1996 when I broke down and after much prodding by my friend Wendy, went to Japan, she and I had been friends for years before that. Vaunda, Wendy, and Dee, had moved out to Japan a number of years before and had made what came to be known as the House of Three Gaijin. The three had gone off to the Land of the Rising Sun as English tutors. Vaunda eventually found work at an Engineering Firm and even had a side business with some partners to bring more choices of dog food and care products to the people of Japan.

I met Vaunda and Wendy through the oddest of places - an Amateur Press Association aka APA. Back before the days of what the internet has become, quarterly zines or APA's were the easiest ways for fans of particular shows to get together and share stories, ideas, art, etc. The one we met up in is called Bird Scramble (still active to this day) and is for those fans of the Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets in the late 70's, Eagle Riders, G-Force, and a couple of other incarnations since have been shown in the states).

I began corresponding with Vaunda in Japan (first by *gasp* letters then later email), even making care packages for her and the others of Sunday Newspaper Comics of all things, which I would send by seamail every few months. In turn, Vaunda sent me manga (Japanese Comics) and got me hooked on all manner of authors/artists. Even sent anime BGM's (Back Ground Music), which I am a total junkie for.

In '96, after caving in the year before and resigning myself to the fact I was going to Japan (I honestly tried to get people to talk me out of it (the money and all) and instead they pushed me to it!) the first person I met upon my arrival was Vaunda. She was there for many firsts for me - first ticket for trains, first train ride, first car ride on the left side of the street, first genuine Japanese home (cool two story garden home, with tatami rooms and modern rooms, and heated toilet seats!!!!), first super narrow set of stairs, first time sleeping on Japanese bedding, first time eating home cooked Japanese food, first time in a Japanese style bath, and many others!

Over the next couple of days she shared her home, her town, and what delights she had discovered in Japan with me. These included the nice little town of Sakura (not named after the flower but rather the fact it was an old Samurai warehouse/depot), roadside shrines, and a couple of preserved country samurai houses called Sakura Buke-Yashiki, as well as the National Museum of Japanese History, which had some awesome small scale models of towns, shopping districts, and other things. Narita-yama was another location she took me to - way tons of temples and shrines. Utterly fab. She made my first chunk of my trip to Japan totally unforgetable. I've been grateful to her (and Wendy and Dee!) for those experiences ever since.

Vaunda had a fun heart, had a truly unique art style, and was a good friend through and through. She'd worked for NASA back in the early days of the Space Shuttle program rigging electronics in the cockpits. She often remarked how from the moment she'd first set foot in Japan, she felt like she'd come home. She adored the food, the people, the enviroment and the history of the place. Her dogs were her happiness. Goro, and later, Sena, totally filled her life and made her very happy. (She spoiled them rotten!) I've been assured her two kids are being well taken care of.

I'm going to miss you, my friend!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Goober Factor

I've been horribly remiss on posting the last few months aside from Promo stuff. Very sorry! Life has taken some unexpected directions and something always has to pay. Ugh. At times we don't get to choose what, however...

Anyway, I'd been thinking about this topic for months since my writer's group had a party over the summer and now I will finally share it with you -- The Goober Factor.

What is the Goober Factor, you ask? Well, first you have to look at the word Goober. According to Wikipedia, it is a derogatory word from contemporary American English similar in meaning to idiot or "scatterbrain". (On a side note, it was actually a little fascinating to find out it is also a slang term in Australian for things I cannot mention here...) In my own definition, I take it a little farther than that. It is a state where one is foolish, silly, leaning toward fun stuff. Like the shedding of the normal serious skin.

The Goober Factor then is a hidden strain which sleeps in all of us, with it being buried deeper in some more than others, which when combined with the right person or people, activates to the amazement of others and themselves. Those of normally serious or shy persuasion will suddenly become totally less so. These usually reserved individuals will be seen cracking jokes, laughing like loons, and generally adding to the silliness perpetrated at the scene.

Like calls to like. So the secret ingredient for the Goober Factor to activate is an active Goober. Active Goobers will cause the Goober Factor to resonate when in proximity to those they are compatible with. The resonance increases the longer the subject is exposed to the tuned Goober until synchronized Goobering ensues, leading to tons of silliness, laughter, and fun.

With the right synchronization, people you would never have suspected of being capable of silliness or open mirth will be laughing, poking fun, and basically be not be their usual selves.

You should keep track of any resonance you encounter, and keep track of what Goobers set off whose Goober Factor. Then try to get those people together as often as possible so a fun time can be had by all.

The Factor is out there~! Beware! (And milk it for all it's worth! You won't be sorry!) :P



Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
www.gloriaoliver.com

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dream Realm Finalist and New Release!

Big news this weekend!!!!


First -


Willing Sacrifice, one of my YA Fantasy novels, has been chosen as a finalist in the 2007 Dream Realm Awards! Winners will be announced in August at Armadillo Con.




Second -


Ripple Effect, a charity anthology from Tears of the Phoenix is now available for purchase! Stories are based on suggestions by Louisiana Librarians. Foreword is by Rachel Caine. She also has a cool science fiction story in there as well. My story that was included is called "Serving the Public". A lot of sweat and love has gone into this puppy of a book, so purchasing will help get people books to read and yourself a nice time as well. Woohoo!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My First Video!

I tried to avoid this as long as I could, figuring I already had way too much to do (not counting writing!) but this year I saw it was inevitable so...

Here is my first book video!

Since branding is in, I made the first one of myself and quick flashes of the books.

Had to wait till my logo was finished and have gone through much technological agony. (I swear it's like I am cursed!) But stubborness has persevered and so -- voila! Video! (Now I have to dry my eyes out looking for stock pics for the four more I need to make - one per book - ugh)(Try finding stuff for Fantasy too - double ugh)

If you have time, please take a look!

Gloria Oliver Video

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gloria Oliver's New Logo

Well, in the last few years a lot of the talk has moved toward the importance of branding. Nowadays you need to push your name, a tag line, and even a logo just like any other product out there on the market.

Thanks to friends, I was able to get a tag line that fits me and what I do - Unveiling the Fantastic. Now thanks fo more friends, I have a logo that fits me as well.

So for your viewing pleasure, I'd like to introduce my new permanent logo!


Gloria Oliver Logo Medium

Woot! Now to spread it everywhere. Heh heh heh

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Linda Ballou – Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai’i – Her Epic Journey - Interview

Hi all!
This week I'm posting an interview with Linda Ballou and her book based on Hawaiian history called Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai'i.

What brought you to this story?

While I was living on the north shore of Kauai a special issue in the local paper about Captain James Cook caught my attention. The fact that Captain Cook was killed in the Islands intrigued me. I wanted to know why. I was curious about what was happening in the Islands when Cook arrived. I wanted to know the Hawaiians side of the story. Most accounts depict the Hawaiians as blood- thirsty savages who ganged up on the world’s greatest explorer. I learned this was not an accurate picture and felt that the Hawaiians had gotten a bum rap.

Cook made a lot of mistakes that eventually led to his demise. I wanted to show the dynamics of the Hawaiian society and tell the story from the Hawaiian point of view. This brought me to Kamehameha the Great/ and his favorite wife Ka’ahumanu.

Kamehameha was one of the warriors that greeted Cook. I found his story fascinating. The day he was born a comet lit the heavens marking the birth of a great chief. It was prophesied that this chief would unite the Hawaiian Islands. This story reminded me of the story of the star burning bright over the manger leading the wise men to baby Jesus. It was also said that the warrior who lifted the Naha Stone, a huge volcanic boulder, would be a great chief. Kamehameha, an athletic warrior lifted the stone when he was a teen. This seemed akin to King Arthur pulling the sword lodged in stone.

Joseph Campbell was alive at the time. I read his books and became fascinated by universal myths and legends. I felt this story was every bit as powerful as any in western annals and warranted re-telling.



What are people going to learn from this book?

Bare minimum they will come away with a better understanding of the Hawaiian point of view and a greater sensitivity to the nuances of the culture. They will be able to decide whether Ka`ahumanu should be revered s the Mother of the People, or whether she should be remembered as the “flaw that brought down the chiefdom.” I have tried to capture the poetry and sensual beauty of the Islands as well as the deeply spiritual aspects of the Hawaiian people. Hopefully, the reader will feel that they have been on an epic journey in a time and place that they can’t get to any other way.



Was there a pivotal event in your life that brought you to writing?

Yes, when I was thirteen my parents took me to Alaska. I left sunny Southern Cal an honor student trying out to be a cheerleader. When I arrived in Haines, population 2,000, with twelve kids in my class and only 60 kids in the entire high school, it was a shock to my psyche. Even though I had fun being the new girl in town and was into the extreme beauty of the place, I was lonely. I turned to books for companionship. People who read often become writers.


What was your greatest opportunity in life?

I was able to take a year off in Kauai to think about things before committing myself to a career pattern. I graduated with a B.A. in English Lit. I wanted to find out for myself if I was a writer, so I gave myself a year of unfettered, lazy time to contemplate my life plan. After putting myself through school selling real estate in California, I felt I deserved it!

This wonderful year was a turning point for me in many ways. I had a spiritual awakening, got my priorities straight and have been a more centered human being ever since. The seed was planted on Kauai for Wai-nani. I decided that, yes, I am a writer, but that I would support my eating habit selling real estate. This would allow me to be an artist free to write about what is important to me. Of course, it also meant it would take me ten times longer to get anything done in the writing world. I believe that money is a corrupting element in art. I did not want it to tear myself apart trying to fit into a commercial mold.


Why Ka’ahumanu?

I identified with her spirit of adventure and rebellion. During the sixties and seventies women were breaking out. I am athletic outdoorsy and independent and childless by choice. She was childless not by choice, but she found other meaning in her life.
She questioned authority and the established ways of her time.
She insisted on having sexual freedom
She stood shoulder to shoulder with her warrior husband and was a source of strength for him.
She was strong brave, athletic, sensuous and deeply spiritual. In short, I saw her as the forerunner of the modern woman.
I learned after writing my first draft and sharing it with a Hawaiian scholar that even though she was loved by the common people, she was a controversial figure. She was perceived by male power figures, namely priests, as a threat. Some people even believe she was part of a conspiracy to kill Kamehameha the Great and remember her as “the flaw that brought down the chiefdom.”



I thought Michner pretty much covered Hawaii. What does your book offer that his didn’t?

His story begins where mine ends. He touches lightly on the pre-contact days and dwells on the impact of the missionaries who arrived in 1820.



What was the biggest challenge for you in writing this story?

It was difficult to write the story without using modern words that would jar the reader back into the 21st century. Keeping Wai-nani’s voice consistent over a 40-year time frame in which European contact brought huge changes to the Hawaiian point of view was difficult.



What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Trying to represent the ancient Hawaiians who were filled with contradictions in an honest, even handed way. Even though they lived under a harsh and extreme caste system that included slaves and called for human sacrifice, as a whole they were nurturing to one another. They shared the fruits of their labors in a communal, caring way. The Ohana, or extended family, was the most important unit and no child went unloved. When troubles came there was a time for talking things out. “No job is too hard if it is done all together” is a basic Hawaiian precept. Even though the high chiefs siphoned off the riches of the commoners they were also the first conservationists. They placed kapus, or restrictions, on fishing during spawning seasons to ensure enough for all.



What has given you the most pleasure in the last year?

Getting Wai-nani out of my drawer and into the streets. She deserves it, and I need to move on to my travel collection Lost Angel Walkabout.


How can someone buy your book?
Go to www.LindaBallouAuthor.com and click on books.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Know if You're Obsessed

Since I have suffered what seems to be My First Obsession Ever, I figured it might be helpful to create the Top 10 Ways to know if you're truly obsessed so I can make sure. Here we go! (Please feel free to add any others you think might be applicable.)

10. You watch/read all new episodes/editions three times during the same weekend. (Check! This one I am at 100%)

9. You have joined groups online to fanatically discuss your obsessed topic and froth along with others as obsessed as yourself and keep on top of all news relating to said obsession. (Check! Only one group though, so maybe I am not totally there on this one. Hmmm)

8. Read/write fanfiction to get a little extra more of said obsessed topic, especially after horrid cliffhanger or season ending. (Errr, yeah, mucho guilty on this one...)

7. New unexpected collecting habit. Must have all things commercially available on said topic. Cards, photos, mugs, t-shirts, stamps, books, comic books, guides, jewelry, hats, clothing lines, signatures, etc. (Hm, only have some books, have some jewelry, some t-shirts...looks like I am not obsessed enough.)

6. Know all about full career of author/actors/directors/anyone associated with said obsessed topic. (Hm, I know some of the names. Some of the history. Even know a director's name or two and what they worked on before. Hmmm. Need to work on this one.)

5. Have dreams about the universe, characters, storyline. (Dang it! No! Not yet. Why?????)

4. Must infect others! Purchasing multiple copies to throw at friends and coworkers so they too can enjoy (be assimilated) by said topic obsession. (Oh yeah! Three down, more to go! Bwahahahaha)

3. All manner of movies, TV shows, books, and life situations somehow bring up said show/topic. Almost like you can't escape. (Bwahahahaha it is everywhere I look! Bwahahahaha)

2. Hours and hours of quotes are on the tip of your tongue and used for any and all occassions. (Yeah right! I'd have to have a memory to be able to do that! Hah! Now get me some PIE!)

1. Can spout every episode name/each volume name, order in the series/season and give a synopsis of same on command. (Eek! Just a little outside my reach. Bad Brain Cells.)

Hm, looks like I am not all that obsessed after all. Huzzah! I am still sane! Woot! (Shshshsh let me have my little delusions okay? Heh.)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

May 2008 Newsletter

Greetings!


2008 seems to be flowing past fast! It's May already! Eek!

Index
1) News
2) Marketing Madness
3) Latest Appearance Schedule
4) Upcoming Appearances
5) What's Up?

1) News -


New reviews are up for Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles!

Also more reviews for Willing Sacrifice!

Not a lot of other news on the writing field though. Have finished the Supernatural essay, but am now waiting on the beta reader who's also hooked on the show to give it a once over before I send it in and see if I can squeeze in there - wish me luck!


Sent a story out for Sword and Sorceress 23 but got rejected - not quite what they were looking for. Thinking of using the same story to get on the Baen critique site and see what they make of it. It's a weird mix of fantasy and police procedural. Might be hard to find it a home!


A couple of other stories are still out in the ether waiting for approvals or rejections. One for an anthology and two I am trying to get into the Dallas Museum of Art's Reader Program where they get actors to read short stories to an audience. I think this would be a blast to see!


Did submit Willing Sacrifice to the Dreamrealm awards but haven't heard squat. Their trophies are gorgeous, but the communication is abysmal. Entered two other books with them before but they went nowhere - don't think the main person enjoys my writing style. Got my fingers crossed anyway.



2) Marketing Madness -


Have made a little progress here - Cross-eyed/Willing Sacrifice's two sided bookmark templates got done and the completed bookmarks are now here. Went once more for the larger sized ones since I'd messed up the original Samura/Vassal set. Not sure if it makes a difference to peeps or not. Guess I'll find out when I put them out for promo.


Also got the postcards done and they're now here too. Even got the Cross-eyed flyer done! So I guess I've been somewhat productive on the marketing side of things!


Need to revamp my Sampler yet again and get some CD's burned for A-kon. It's only 3 weeks away! Eek!


3) Latest Appearance Report -


I had nothing! I was free! Free! Which is good since I had to contend with getting my daughter's wedding done and dealing with foundation people putting pilons under the house, busting our pipes, and other assundry issues. Wheee!



4) Upcoming Appearances -


A-kon in Dallas on May 30 to Jun 1st! Then off to Oklahoma Friday and Saturday on June 6th for Soonercon! (Sneaking back late Saturday night to make the last day of the Supernatural convention in Dallas!)


5) What's up?


Still alive at work. We're pretty much taking it one week at a time. Stress is still very much up there, which stinks. The wedding and having foundation work done and some bad stuff there has not helped at all. I'm going to be totally broke by the end of 2008. Luckily the wedding went off well! The kids seemed to enjoy it very much and that's all I could as for. Don't ever want to do it again!!! At least that's over - huzzah!


On the reading front, finished "She" by H Rider Haggard - really had some unusual stuff about it and I enjoyed it alot. While in Oregon at Powel's I picked up a book in Spanish called "Zorro" (it's about Diego's parents and then him growing up and what events led him to become the hero we all know and love). The author's style is a little off to me, but the info and speculation is fascinating. Figured it would be a good way to get some Spanish back into my brain. I go anywhere from 99% to 90% understanding. Taking me a while too. People at work are freaking because I've been on the same book for over a week. lol.


I guess that's all for this time around. Hope you all have a great month!



Gloria Oliver

Unveiling the Fantastic

http://www.gloriaoliver.com/

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quirky Top 10 List of Things Never to Do!

1) Never ask a vampire if he'd like a drink

2) Never ask the bride's mother how she is holding out an hour before the wedding

3) Never sign insurance papers when you and your sweetheart are gazing down at Niagara Falls

4) Never lend a relative money if you expect to get it back

5) Never just do something because someone says "I dare ya"

6) Never not use a condom just because your partner says "It's just this one time, nothing will happen"

7) Never offer to put a flea collar on a werewolf

8) Never leave a ferret in a room full of open cans and half filled cups

9) Never assume that a weather forecast is correct in Texas

10) Never say Never, you just never know when it could be now!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April 2008 Newsletter

April Showers are upon us! (As evidenced by some huge storms this past week! Eek!)


Index
1) News
2) Marketing Madness
3) Latest Appearance Schedule
4) Upcoming Appearances
5) What's Up?


1) News -

"Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles" is now out in Trade Paperback! Woot! The day is finally here. Available at Amazon and directly from the publisher HardShell Word Factory.

The Anthology, A Time To...Volume 2, which includes my story "Mentor for Hire", is now OUT! Not quite yet listed on Amazon, but can be purchased through Lulu for the trade paperback version. Also available in Kindle and other ebook formats. More info can be found here



No real new updates on The Phoenix Project anthology to help the Louisianna libraries. Still no cover that I know of, but the project is proceeding. There will be illustrations for the stories too, which should be fun.



Now on version 3 of the essay on Supernatural for trying to get into the Smart Pop book they are organizing for the TV Show. Didn't help that the first two months of 2008 I had ZERO time for writing. Was twitching in withdrawal. Had to dump #2 as it was too broad in scope, I'd hit 5K words and still had half more to go, so...picked one vein out of that and hopefully #3 will be the one. Hopefully I won't be too late getting this done. I want in there BAD! lol. :D



Have received a couple of reviews for "Willing Sacrifice " and "Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles ". The one for "Willing Sacrifice" comes from MyShelf.com and the one for "Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles" is currently posted at the Mist and Stars blog on an entry for March 26th and should make its way eventually onto the Enternal Night website. Just click on the two review name links if you'd like to see what they had to say.:p


2) Marketing-

Have been going nuts the last couple of days trying to catch up with the promo to do list I made from the last EPICon. Way too many items to follow up on and too many still not done from before. Just as I did last month I still need to set up bookmark templates for Cross-eyed and make the postcard templates for it and Willing Sacrifice. Also need to remember to do my flyer for Cross-eyed too. Realized I was definitely missing stuff when I set up shop at AggieCon last weekend. Eek!



No news on the new logo yet. I am frothing a little in eagerness as it looks like I will need to break down and try to do some book trailer promos but can't get going on them till I have the new logo. No point in branding myself with something I plan to drop. So it's the waiting game for me. Not like I don't have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime though.



Spent an hour or so Saturday putting up info on the books at Free Ad sites. Seems it is one of the newest gimmicks for promotion. No idea if it will do anything, but most let me upload the book covers so couldn't hurt.


Even as I was working on this, I came up with at least three items I've forgotten to do! lol. Marketing is never ending. I rather be writing!!! lol.


3) Latest Appearance Report -



In the first part of March I got to attend EPICon. This year's event was held in Portland, OR. The day I left, I was thinking to myself that I was going from sunny warm Dallas to probably cold and or rainy Oregon. Life, as usual, likes to show humor in torture. That morning, we had an ice storm come in, which hit hours earlier than expected, so not only did the wings get caked with ice, but our engine actually froze. We got to sit in the plane for 3 hours before we were able to leave for the 3.5 hour flight. While it was way cool seeing them go through the process, it did make for a long day. When we got to Portland, it was a totally gorgeous day there. Also found out 300 or more flights got cancelled in Dallas, so we were lucky we got to leave at all!



Jeff Strand was making a stop over in Dallas, and we ended up on the same flight. This was a good thing for me, as he was able to tell me the gate had changed, because I'd not heard the message over the PA. Since he had started out at 5am or so that morning, it was a TRULY long day for him.



I had expected to help out with voluntary functions and whatnot at this convention, but ended up not having to. I was also surprised because we did get some new blood on the panels and this got me a huge to do list from the Promo Track! Also found the coolest, evil, warped looking tree ever in the park across the street. Another treat was the field trip to Powell's, the US's biggest new and used bookstore. The place was awesome!



And as always the banquet night was a blast! Jeff's MCing was a thing of beauty, as always! (I teased the heck out of him all weekend too - which is not my normal self - don't know what got into me!) I got up there and read my assigned category and the winners and didn't fall, trip, or make a total fool of myself, so the evening was a total thumbs up! Even had great company at the table and much fun ensued. Also Kathy Sullivan got kudos from the podium for doing volunteer work despite having a broken ankle. Go Kathy! And, believe it or not, I took pics !



The other convention I attended in March was AggieCon. The hotel was even farther from the University than last year, so I was quite thrilled I got assigned a driver! Lance picked me up from the airport and would make sure I got back to the hotel at night, so that was awesome.



A lot less guests this year, but I thought attendance was as good if not better than last year. I sold six out of the eight books I brought with me (being so far from the hotel making lugging things around a little more restrictive) so I was thrilled! Got to spend some time talking with Rachel Caine, Darlene Bolesny, and Mel White so that was great! Saw friend Tom Knowles again, and he was pushing a new Texas non-fiction book as well as the opening of Lone Star Publishing and Dark Star Books . Also had a really entertaining panel with Todd McCaffrey, Steven Brust, and Rachel Caine. This is where the sentence of the weekend came up and was used and abused throughout (it's a little racy so figured it would be best not to repeat it), and also a point of contention was brought up having to do with the art show and censorship. What was fun about the censorship part was that a number of the guests and congoers put blue tape X's on their chests at strategic places. One gentleman, who was costumed as an ogre, (darn nice job too!) proved he was an ogre to the core as he put his giant X on his belly button, totally missing the point as an ogre would. It was great!



Main media guest was actress Ellen Muth, who played George in the TV series "Dead Like Me". A new movie based on the series will be coming out on DVD in July 2008! She was incredibly sweet, beyond skinny, and looked to have had a good time. Also JM McDermott was making a big splash pushing his author cards toting them as "dangerous and that they could cut you". He was having way too much fun! Heh.



It just occured to me that Mary, who was running the con suite, messed up her ankle during the convention (got attacked by a couch). That's two people in two cons with messed up ankles. I hope this is not some kind of new trend! (Like Kathy, Mary was a total trooper going beyond the line of duty and sticking it out all weekend making sure people were getting fedf! Heck that morning she was making waffles! Kudos to her!)




4) Upcoming Appearances -

I've got no more conventions till the end of May, which is awesome as I have way too much to catch up on before then. A-kon falls this year on May 30 - June 1st. My understanding is that this year they are asking as many people to come in costume as possible as they will be trying to get the con on one of the world records books! That should be a blast to see.





5) What's up?



Finally was able to get a little writing done this month but not as much as I would have wanted. Still, grateful for whatever I can get! Work is getting more and more...ugly? As unexpected issues with one of the major projects came up and the nasty stuff looks to be hitting the fan. It is very possible the company will not come out unscathed if even in business. The next week will say alot. Need to make sure to polish up my resume. Eek! Not looking forward to any of this at all! (Need to win the lotto more than ever! lol



The Citizen's Police Academy is over. Very well worth it and would recommend it for anyone. My understanding is that some sort of program of the same type is available at most cities, so if you have any interest, do it! Learned lots of fascinating stuff. I think one of the more eye opening statements that people don't think about is the fact that police enforce the laws, they don't make them. So there's no point berating them for it. Heh heh



On the reading front, finished Dume Key by Stepehen King - the total bomb as usual! Terry Pratchet's Night Watch, love those characters! And am currently reading an older book called "She" by H Rider Haggard.



May the April showers not wash your home away! Have a great month all!






Gloria Oliver
http://www.gloriaoliver.com/
Unveiling the Fantastic

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles NOW AVAILABLE in Print!

HI, all!


Just wanted to announce real quick that "Cross-eyed Dragon Troubles" is now available in Trade Paperback!





Can be purchased at Amazon or for a bigger discount directly from the Publiser at Hard Shell Word Factory

"Harry Potter meets the Dragon Riders of Pern"

Talia didn’t want to be apprenticed, not even to the prestigious Dragon Knight’s Guild. She is taken to the school by a cross-eyed dragon and his partner, Kel. A dizzying, madcap ride that leaves her less than eager to be a knight, but soon she finds out the guild has need of many types of people. Running into the dragon and squire again and again, she comes to realize the unlikely pair are outsiders in their own school—participants of the dragon-human pairing ritual, which in the end didn’t work quite as intended. They are stubborn loners who are determined to overcome the obstacles in their path and make a true pair, as was intended. Or are they?

As Talia’s first year at the guild evolves, she must deal with the quirks of the Administrator, her lessons, the odd rules of the school, the students, the mystery of Clarence and Kel, and somewhere in there, possibly decide what it is she wants for her own future.

Sample Chapters


Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Worst Promo Idea EVER...and yet...:P

Stress has been high this year what with work going full tilt, needing to do Promo for myself and the new books (which is far far behind), scraping time to write, and dealing with getting all the stuff done for my daughter's upcoming wedding. So I've been a little on edge of late.

As hubby and I were ridding around from place to place getting things for the wedding, a thought came to us of such awesome scope and so horribly tempting...I must now share it with you. (Just remember, the temptation is purely due to stress levels. No...really!)


Step 1 - Place postcards for my books inside the invitations.

Step 2 - Call the cake decorator and have her change the cake color to green with purple to match the cover of my latest book. Write my web address on one side.

Step 3 - Place my banner on the gifts table.

Step 4 - Make the bouquet for the bride be made of my book covers.

Step 5 - Have books available for sale!

Step 6 - Do a signing during the wedding reception.

Step 7 - Decorate the car with "Buy My Books!" and post my url. The cans can be made to show the different book colors.

Step 8 - Write off the whole wedding as Promotion and Marketing for Taxes! Booyah!

Life can be sweet! :P

(No I am not doing it. Not quite that far over the edge...yet...) :P

Monday, March 03, 2008

Supernatural – My Very First Obsession

(This is something I actually wrote to try to get into a Smart Pop book before I found out Regular Joe turning into a Raving Fan stories were a dime a dozen. Did a lot of work on it, and it did get someone in my writer's group to check out the show, so figured it was worth sharing! Heh heh)

First off, I’m no spring chicken. And while I have enjoyed of a lot of shows, the majority being in the sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal fields, I’ve never thought of myself as all that much of a fan. I would go along, watch the show or movie, enjoy it, talk about it to others and move on. About every two years or so I might re-watch a movie or an episode of something I enjoyed here or there, but once it was gone it was gone.
That all ended for me once I ran across Kripke’s Supernatural.
Mind you, I didn’t go from mild mannered TV watcher to obsessed Supernatural fan overnight. It all happened in a slow insidious process I totally blame Sera Gamble, Raelle Tucker, Ben Edlund, John Shiban, Erik Kripke and the rest of the writing staff for and then the rest of show’s actors and crew for pulling it off.
I started watching the show originally for two reasons – one – I pretty much check out anything with a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal bent, and – two – I’d been enjoying Jensen Ackles’ performance in Smallville and thought it was great he’d gotten his own show. (Sorry, I know my Jensen and Jared cards will be in horrid jeopardy by this admission, but until Smallville, I wasn’t really aware of Jensen, and before Supernatural, I had never even heard of Jared Padalecki. Yes, a total clueless n00b I was. But I know better now! Honest!)
I went through first run for the first season loving the music, the plots, the great acting, but while looking forward to it every week, still didn’t feel about it any more avidly than others before. VCR issues made me miss the last three episodes of the season, but luckily the WB/CW showed them again right before season two started. Those last three episodes were chock full of great writing and absolutely fabulous acting on the parts of Jensen, Jared, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jim Beaver, and Nicki Aycox. I was very pumped for season two, yet was still totally calm.
The first three episodes of season two also packed a major punch with the additions of Frederic Lehne, Samantha Ferris, and Sterling K Brown. And it was at “Bloodlust”, season two episode three, where I finally lost my grip and started the descent toward obsession.
After “Bloodlust” 2.03, this poor simple mild mannered TV watcher began viewing each episode three times over the same weekend. Unheard of! I instantly preordered the season one DVD’s and waited for them with eager anticipation – especially after the horrid cliffhanger for the Christmas break in “Croatoan” – withdrawal symptoms started to rear their ugly head, I even went to a couple of Supernatural forum sites and posted as the question of the ‘secret’ ate at my soul! The descent picked up speed.
Yet the final straw occurred once I got those first season DVD’s. In rapid succession I re-watched season one with season two fresh on the brain. Suddenly I was seeing hints, patterns woven in the background of the monster of the week storylines that were subtle and evil in their insidiousness. While following the thread of ‘what’s happened to Dad and we need to find him’, clues that could be easily dismissed as nothing were being seeded every so often to build up the ‘secret’ which was told to Dean but not revealed in episode 2.01 “In My Time of Dying”, and this was ramped up as more seeds were planted toward the mid season cliffhanger of “Croatoan” 2.09.
The existing family dynamics between the three Winchesters, especially Dean and Sam, were peppered through season one, reaching several high and stressful points beginning with “Home” 1.09 when we find out John is in Lawrence, KS yet for reasons we are not made privy to, he doesn’t reveal himself to his sons. When they do finally get together, it is a heartfelt reunion, but doesn’t last long as all the old baggage soon resurfaces. Rather than help, the fact that some answers have been uncovered regarding the twenty two year old murder of Mary only serves to put even more strain between the rocky relationship between John and Sam.
Dean is caught in the middle trying to hold everything together. And as is seen in “Devil’s Trap” 1.22, to have his family is all Dean lives for. He needs them, the sense of purpose they give him, while his father and Sam are independent enough they could survive without him. (Some utterly amazing non-vocal cues from Jensen Ackles during this episode.)
Season two revved all this up a notch right off the gate. “In My Time of Dying” 2.01 there are several layers of dynamics and information that are easy to miss. (It took me four viewings! But then… I am slow.) This is where the writers and actors played things so subtly I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Mainly what I am talking about is this – most of the attention on the episode is focused on Sam whenever interactions with John were concerned. So his assumptions became the viewers’ assumptions as he is the one being watched. Once I had seen it about three times or so (wow, I really do sound obsessed – eek!) and I could pay attention to other things going on, I got whacked on the side of the head with an epiphany – John Winchester had decided to trade his soul for his son the moment he regained consciousness and found out Dean was dying.
What was so totally clever about how this was played was the fact that not only would the viewers be keeping up with Sam, but John himself was doing everything he could to distract him and us. So when actually hearing and seeing his conversations with this new idea in mind, they take an entirely different meaning than what is shown at face value.
This underplay basically sets up the whole manner and tone for season two. Dean has to deal with two major issues – the fact he suspects his father somehow cut a deal with a demon to save his life, and the heavy secret that’s been dumped on him about his brother. Sam himself is dealing with deep issues of his own. Not only is he having to reconcile himself to the fact his father is dead, but as has unfortunately happened to many people out there, he hadn’t been on the best of terms with his father at their parting. Trying to keep himself together, Sam is also concerned over his brother, who seems to be taking their father’s death especially hard, even more so, as both of them suspect their father’s death was in no way natural.
Some of the seeds planted aren’t even expanded upon or shown to have been seeds for years at a time. Episode 1.09 “Home” is a perfect example. At the end, Mary gazes upon Sam and tells him ‘I’m sorry’. The audience would immediately assume she meant for having died. Yet you hit “All Hell Breaks Loose pt 1” and a more sinister connotation appears, implying that what appeared on the surface was a red herring. I’m talking about that extra bit of life 22 years ago YED reveals to Sam. The one showing that Mary may very well have known the Meat Puppet YED was wearing at the time, if not the demon himself. Now a whole new can of worms has been opened for the characters and viewers, one that has only been slightly addressed so far in season three.
And it’s not all drama and death and angst all the time either. The show has a lot of comedy entwined within the episodes and some tailored straight out for that very purpose. “Tall Tales” with the exaggerated story telling by the brothers as they try to make each other look bad in little ways. “Hollywood Babylon” and its humorous glimpse at the TV and movie making industry, which even included actual suggestions sent from the studious to the real show! “Bad Day at Black Rock” debuted a whole unknown set of skills from Jared and Jensen as slapstick comedy came into the fore. All of these are perfect examples of how even the dark subjects covered in the show can be made to be a lot of fun.
Still, all these great plots and sneaky loops wouldn’t mean anything if those portraying the events couldn’t make us believe in them – giving us another great facet of this show. From our two leads, Jensen and Jared, to the ever changing guest actors and actresses that grace the show every week, 99% or more give all that they can give and are in every way believable. Jim Beaver, who’s become a regular, really strutted his stuff and etched himself into our hearts in “All Hell Breaks Loose pt2” with that awesome scene he did with Jensen when he took him to task about what he’d done to bring Sam back to life. Totally heart wrenching. Then throw in performances from people like Katharine Isabelle, who played Ava, and Wow. The way this secretary from Peoria went into a tear fest then just switched it off with a flick of a switch as she revealed her changed true colors – it was a thrill to watch. And the children! As often as child stars appear on the show, every one of them has shown an awesome abundance of talent -- and this in a medium and genre that could so very easily miss the boat. One need only watch episode 3.02 “The Kids Are Alright” to be a believer – Margot Berner has my vote! She turned into one creepy little kid. 1.03 “Dead in the Water” had a wonderful performance from Nico McEown as Lucas – there are adults that can’t act as well as these two. Kudos for the casting director and all those in charge of squeezing what they can out of the actors. Totally amazing. In my opinion (and for whatever little that actually counts!) only one actor fell flat for me in all these many episodes. I won’t name names, but his character’s name starts with a “J”. (Sorry, dude. Just didn’t make it.) But 1 out of hundreds sure isn’t a bad record in my book.
With 15 hours days and still giving us all they’ve got, Jensen and Jared will always have my undying devotion as to the extent of their acting ability. As heart wrenching as some of the scenes are, their shining skills make them more so. And they even do their own stunts. Be still my heart! (Jared, just don’t break any more parts of yourself, okay?) Add in all the wonderful emotions and words conveyed by both of them without their ever having to open their mouths and you will quiver in awe. Their body language and long looks speak volumes. Sometimes things just don’t need to be said to be understood, and our boys do that beautifully. Just watch the last five minutes of “Heart” 2.17 and you too will become a believer.
Then add in the more subtle pieces of the show, the ones hardly ever noticed but which can add so much more to any series – the music, the sets, the special effects, and the gurus who bring it all together, the directors.
Chris Lennertz and Jay Gruska do an amazing job of creating just the right type of music for the show. Unlike many programs, due to the constantly changing locations and creatures having to be dealt with each week, the two of them are continually coming up with new tracks to create the perfect mood for a scene. Re-watch the “Pilot” or “Croatoan”, and just listen to the background music and you’ll see how much it adds to the mood and feel. But Mr. Lennertz and Mr. Gruska didn’t stop there. They took some old time rock favorites and tweaked and wove them into episodes totally raising the bar on the end product. I can’t hear AC/DC’s “Back In Black” without picturing Baby/Metallicar racing down a blacktopped backcountry road. And the way “Silent Lucidity” by Queensryche was used in the episode “Heart”, in that amazing scene between Dean and Sam in the kitchen, where Sam makes the heart breaking decision to do as Madison has asked and be the one to end her life, while Dean must stand there and let his brother do it -- I still get goose bumps whenever I hear the song on the radio. Others that had a lot of impact and tie beautifully to their scenes were “Don’t Fear the Reaper” with its lovely instrumental only sequence working in as a subtle background as the jogger goes by in the park before the creature reveals itself and takes her life, “Carry On My Wayward Son”, which was used beautifully late in season one in the recap to show us where the brothers had been and where they are headed, “Stonehenge”, which is forever glued in my mind as well as that awesome fantasy painted van belonging to Andy, “Cold As Ice” used as a lead in through the radio to tell us exactly what Dean and Sam thought of Ellen as she sat fuming in utter silence on the front seat of the Impala after she showed up to take Jo home, “White Rabbit” haunted the dark street as one of the chosen gets stalked and killed by Gordon, “Lady in Red” had me rolling on the floor as it was the perfect slow dance song for the alien abduction/dance scenario and gave it just that right touch, and “Renegade” encapsulated the smelly stuff hitting the fan as Sam and Dean made their getaway after almost being caught by the FBI in the bank robbery debacle of “Night Shifter”.
Now throw in the sets. Done in and out of the studio, the set designers bust chops to try to make different parts of Vancouver appear as all sorts of locals over the US, their specialty being cheap motel rooms. It’s too much fun anticipating what kind of strange or creative environment the crew will be coming up with for the next room the boys will be staying in. The Disco theme including the hanging disco ball (“Provenance”), the bowling alley theme (Flashback motel in “Something Wicked”), the Milwaukee and Beer theme (with even real life pictures of some of the set crew’s family members who live there), the bigger than life Texas theme (set to be in Richardson, Jensen’s home town, in “Hell House”), the blue rose theme, the fishing theme with the room divider made of bobs (this one had me rolling, “Born Under a Bad Sign”), the sixteen wheeler mud flap babes theme -- the creativity alone screams of the fun these people are having and how much they love their work and the show. Their efforts at enhancing outdoor locals, or in some cases, having to recreate them indoors (Vancouver weather being a bit fickle). Each bit giving flavor and presence to each episode.
A show like this, dealing with the supernatural, will depend heavily on the special effects team assigned to it, and the crew working on Supernatural is definitely top notch. From the simple colored contact lenses to give the demon possessed just that icky touch of otherness to flickering ghosts and shotgun propelled rock salt dissipations, it’s the special effects magic that allows the audience to make the leap in imagination to truly submerse themselves in the world of Supernatural. Their attention to detail is amazing. Just check out “Born Under a Bad Sign” when Meg is forced out of Sam’s body. Not only do you have the black smoke coming out of his mouth, but they went the extra mile and you can see the character’s throat moving as the demon passes through, giving the scene just that extra added touch of reality. “Bloodlust” was given a heavy spray of blood, just what you might expect from a vampire getting his head decapitated by a chainsaw, but even better was the head the brothers found at the morgue and a touch inside the mouth pushing out hidden vampire teeth. And who can forget the artfully done and utterly icky scene in “Skin”, where Dean’s doppelganger rips off his skin and we see teeth propelled from gums and ears ripped and dropped on the ground – fabulous!
All of this hard work must be focused and directed, and Supernatural has some of the best and most acclimated to the genre around. Many of the directors of Supernatural come from impressive backgrounds, having worked on Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal shows before. Kim Manners produced and directed a large chunk of episodes for the X-Files. Robert Singer produced V and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Phillip Sgriccia produced and directed episodes for Lois & Clark, and directed episodes for Hercules and Xena. All of them are innately aware of how to make the incredible credible and better yet, how to squeeze the people and especially the actors they work with to give 110%.
More amazing is realizing how sweeping or cool shots, that as an audience we just take for granted, are actually masterful works of organization and timing. A 180 degree hallway shot taking hours to make, or the ‘now you see him now you don’t’ shots as the camera wound around Sam in Dean’s hospital room “In My Time of Dying” will make your jaw drop once you realize how truly difficult they were to make and the dedication it took to get them to work just for a few moments of an amazing visual.
As if all this great work wasn’t enough to get anyone to salivate in obsession, the crew for the show add in-jokes into the episodes as fan service! The license plate in “Nightmare” for Max’s father’s car told us a lot about the man before he was killed. “Provenance” has a license plate for Kripke at the auction house. “Croatoan” has one that let’s you know exactly what Dean is thinking as he comes across an abandoned car. The billboard in the town of Salvation has what looks like a bible quote but the book is that of JW. “Hollywood Babylon” not only makes fun of the problems TV shows have to deal with in real life, but poked fun at Jared by bringing up his previous employment as part of the Gilmore Girls (and boy did he run! Lol). There was also the picture of John Winchester in his baseball uniform in “What is and What Should Never Be” with the logo for Route 66.
It is all these elements that combine together to give the audience so much more than just the sum of the parts (even as clich├ęd as the saying is, it’s no less true). And what makes it all even more amazing is when you start realizing how all this was made despite the off sequence scene filming (no idea how actors can do that!), the fact each episode normally gets filmed in one week, two film crews working on different pieces, fifteen hour days, having to get approved by the powers that be in LA, having to attempt to work with their suggestions, cutbacks, and their own ideas on what should make the show tick. (Makes you wonder how any show actually makes it anywhere. The more I find out about the TV business the more it scares me.) :P
Now you have seen the reasons why Supernatural has done what no other show truly did before its time, drag me toward obsession (and having me doubt my sanity to boot!). But luckily I am not alone. And those of us with the fever are more than happy to infect others. Multiple sets of DVD’s bought (despite my daughter rolling her eyes at me – hey, the first person kept it too long and I was going into withdrawal!) and shared. List groups springing up in Yahoo, forums, fan sites, and postcard campaigns. Fanfiction has run amok with stories about the Winchesters that come in all kinds, shapes, and sizes – 13,000 last time I looked, rivaled only by CSI at 15,000, and that show is on the main networks, has a much larger viewership, and tons more exposure than our little gem.
So like me, wear your newfound obsession proudly! You know you wanted, needed one. And here’s the perfect vessel bar none.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I've been tagged! Nooooo!

Courtesy of Rachel Caine (darn her!), I've been tagged, and now some of you will be too ... basically, I have to post a blog with sixteen random personal facts or habits, and then pick twelve of my friends to tag. No tag backs, if you're playing at home! (How did I get roped into this???)

1. Uhm didn't need glasses till after I hit 40.
2. In less than a year I was put on bifocals. *cry*
3. I've always fallen for guys with dark hair and blue eyes. Ended up marrying one.
4. Like Rachel, I too was a band geek. But late in high school life due to timing from moves.
5. Though I am short, I had big eyes - I played the trombone.
6. My native language was Spanish, though I've forgotten a lot of it.
7. I took Russian in high school, and Japanese later on. Not fluent in anything. Sometimes not even English!
8. I hate onions though there are some things that don't taste right if not cooked with them in it.
9. I like Japanese onions as they are sweet.
10. Love Batman, but always had the hots for Robin (Dick Grayson) back in my teens.
11. One of the few people who knows who Ike Eisenman is.
12. 14 years younger than Jim Beaver and 14 years older than Jensen Ackles - both actors on the same show - Supernatural
13. Jim's family lives in Irving (west of me), Jensen's in Richarson (east of me).
14. I burn easy.
15. I have Spanish blood, German Blood, and more!
16. I was a tomboy way back in the day. (Heck even now!) :P

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Year of the Dirty Rat

Every year I look up to see what the new Chinese zodiac animal will be. Not only do they use the 12 year cycle for the 12 animals, they also add in the five elements, which enlarges the cycle to 60 years. Japan uses the cycle as well, but they actually have the year change with the Roman calendar, while the Chinese new year will actually land sometime in late January to early Feb.



This year landed on the Rat. The element is earth/metal. Hubby is a rat. And the first thing he did when I told him it was his animal's year and what the element was, was say it was the year of the dirty rat. (He thinks he's funny! Not!) :P Oh the prophetic words that came out of silly hubby's mouth though. :P



I went looking to see what was being said about the coming year thinking since it was his animal he might be in for a treat for 2008. Also, since dragons are the most compatible to rats, I thought I might get some good stuff out of 2008 as well. My daughter is an ox, which also gets along very well with rats, but are pretty much in the outs with dragons (that so figures), so she could be in for some good as well.



I was so very wrong! Now for my daughter, yes, this will probably be one of her best years ever. But for hubby and I, the predictions were all portents of caution and possible doom. It seems the metal lies over the water, which is the rat's natural element, and this can cause all sorts of havoc. The gentleman whose predictions I was reading warned us both about possible problems with relation to cars and that finances would need to be watched! (The second was a no brainer for us as my daughter is getting married this year! Oy!)



Mind you, I normally only look at these things for fun and not at all seriously. But I might have to rethink that! 2008 has been giving me a beating in all sorts of ways! Two days into 2008 and I got my first ticket in about 10+ years - insufficient stopping at a stop sign - a block from my house even! I expected it to cost me about $75, what it cost my daughter in Plano for not stopping before a right on red, but it ended up being $180!!!!



Add to that an infection I got (which is bugging the crud out of me), and a week later when I leave work to go to the doctor's office, a young man in an SUV with a cow catcher fender, plows into me when he tries to go straight when I'm turning on a double turn lane. Totally crushed my back door and back panel. (Get to go have fun getting that fixed tomorrow.) I was okay though. And though I called the doctor's office to tell them I would be late (and got no sympathy other than I should call if I would be later than 10 minutes because they'd have to reschedule), I did make it on time, and got to wait another 15 minutes in the waiting room to boot. The car is drivable (thank goodness!) just looks awful.



Got to call hubby to tell him how I'd already made a prediction come true. Not that he hadn't as well, as he'd been home sick for three days, and guess what, the thing warned him he might have health issues this year.



I'm just hoping this will be all there is to it! Not liking what I've been served too much so far! Eek! So all you rats and dragons out there, watch out! 2008 might be out to get us! :P

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