Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« April 2009 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Book Reviews
Life
Movies
Writing
S.G. Cardin
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Book Reviews and Movies
Topic: Book Reviews

With my son, Joe, having SID, I had to educate myself on what SID was.  Here's a great book I highly recommend.

Book Review for “Raising a Sensory Smart Child”
Written by: Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske
Penguin Books
ISBN: 014-303488
399 pages
$15.00
5 Stars

Biel and Peske share their personal stories dealing with Sensory Integration Dysfunction in order to help other parents cope with sensory integration issues. SI Dysfunction is separate from autism, but often presents with autism and autistic spectrum disorders.  In SI Dysfunction, a young child receives sensory input correctly, but misinterprets the information. The most likely cause is a neurological condition, but the authors spend a chapter discussing reasons why SI Dysfunction would present, including genetics, head trauma during birth, and fragile X syndrome.

Biel and Peske explain there are seven senses a young child uses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, vestibular, and proprioception. Vestibular involves one’s sense of balance and proprioception involves the compacting/expanding of joints. Without careful integration, a young child might seem a little off and in a child’s young development, they might present with speech and developmental delays.  When SI Dysfunction presents by itself, a young child will usually make all their physical milestones on time, like sitting and walking, but when it comes time to start to use utensils and start talking, they’ll demonstrate delays.

Biel and Penske explain that children with SI Dysfunction have hypo or hyper sensitive symptoms. Hyper means they tend to avoid an activity and hypo means they seek out behaviors to calm themselves down. A hyperactive sensitivity to touch might have a child pulling the tags off his shirt because he can’t stand the way it feels against his skin. A hypoactive sensitivity to proprioception might have a child jumping up and down to feel the compression of her joints.

Biel and Penske’s explanations are easy to understand and help give the reader a sense of what the dysfunction is, how it’s caused, and what to look for in your child.

The book also discusses intervention options and how to best help those children with SI Dysfunction. An occupational therapist plays a crucial role in helping parents and children manage their sensory seeking or avoiding behaviors. Most children with SI Dysfunction can lead productive lives. There is also a list of resources and tips on how to create a sensory diet. A sensory diet is used to manage a child with sensory issues.

Biel and Penske write in a conversational style that’s easy to read and understand. The book is full of knowledge for parents who have children with sensory issues. The writing is crisp and sharp. The book is well organized. “Raising a Sensory Smart Child” is a good read to learn more about SI Dysfunction.


***************

Easter was okay. We went to grandma's and had Easter dinner. I made an Italian Chopped Salad for the occasion. The highlight of my off days included watching Dancing with the Stars and watching the movie, "Sideways."  Being a wine lover, and near the Santa Barbara wine area, I was so tickled to finally watch this movie!  I loved seeing the familiar sights, as I've been to the area.  "Sideways" itself is a very character driven movie, and I have to admit, I didn't care for Miles's friend. He was a big heel, to put it mildly.  Two thumbs for a great movie.


Posted by sgcardin at 3:17 AM
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 13 April 2009
Highlights & a Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Book Reviews

Just a couple of highlights plus a book review to hopefully catch up.

PERSONAL: 

Andrew's birthday party was on 28 MAR. He turned 7.  We had a party at Scooter's Jungle.  20 Adults and 25 kids! It was great, but expensive.  Joe had a great time at his brother's party and went down the giant side a milion times!

We went to Sacramento to see the State Train Museum. It was nice to get out for a little bit.  Joe did okay (he's 2 1/2) but he fussed when we let.

I made Easter perogri's on 4 Apr. We had a great time - it took all afternoon. It was a nice family day.

Easter was okay. I hit my head on a tree in the back and now I have a big lump on my head.

 WRITING:

My children's short story, "THE GIVING MEADOW" is set to be published with 4RV Publishing in May 2011. It's two years out, but I'm very excited by the news.

Writer's Bump featured my story, "The First Flag of New Hampshire" in Issue #7, 7 APR 2009.

BOOK REVIEW:

 

Book Review for “New Moon”

Written by: Stephenie Meyer

Little, Brown, and Company

ISBN: 0-316-02496-1

563 pages

$10.99

5 Stars

 

Meyer weaves a tale of true love, rejection, deceit, and suspense that gives “New Moon” a resounding bite and vibrant potency. Meyer’s crisp writing allows her supernatural world to encompass the reader, leaving them breathless and hungering for more.<p>

 

The novel starts with Bella celebrating her eighteenth birthday. The Cullens have something planned for her at their house. As they shower her with gifts, Bella, in all her clumsiness, cuts herself. Jasper can barely contain himself and attacks her. Edward fends off his brother. Carlisle attends to Bella’s wounds, but Edward is shaken by what has happened. He becomes moody and after much thought, breaks up with Bella. The break up is swift and decisive, leaving Bella emotionally naked as she crumbles, lost in the forest that surrounds Forks. One of the local Native Americans from La Push finds her after an extensive search. Bella’s dad is grateful, but Bella is only a shell of her former self.<p>

 

Months go by before Bella can even emotionally “feel” something again. Wanting to take up extreme sports to drive out the pain of losing Edward, she buys two motorcycles that don’t work. She seeks out Jacob Black at La Push to help her fix them so she can ride them. Bella and Jacob become quick friends. Soon Bella realizes that Jacob is essential to her – at least his friendship is, and she can’t lose it.<p>

 

Unfortunately, Jacob gets sick and tries to alienate her. Bella is unrelenting. After confronting Jacob with his friends, Jacob is mean and Bella is forced to walk away from him. Jacob visits her room the following night and apologizes. He encourages Bella to guess his secret. She does – he’s a werewolf. The La Push Indians have a certain few tribe members who are bred to change when their tribe and land are threatened by vampires, and Jacob has changed.<P>

 

Bella accepts him and is soon, reluctantly, accepted by the other wolves. They have a problem – a vampire has been attacking the area. Bella and the wolves quickly figure out it’s Victoria, wanting to avenge James’s death on Bella. The wolves manage to keep Bella safe, but they can’t catch Victoria. One day at La Push, Bella decides to go cliff diving. Jacob saves her, but this action was “seen” by Alice Cullen in her mind’s eye. Alice thinks Bella might have tried to commit suicide and rushes to Forks to find out.<p>

 

Alice finds Bella alive and is grateful for it. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding between Alice’s vision, Rosalie, and Edward leave Edward believing Bella is dead. Edward goes to Italy in the hopes that an old vampire family, the Volterra, will kill him. Alice, with Bella in tow, rush to Italy to save Edward. They do so, but only after the vampire family captures them. The head vampire, Aro, agrees to let them all go after witnessing one of Alice’s visions. When Bella returns to Forks, Edward stays and Jacob is devastated by her romantic rejection.<P>

 

“New Moon” offers what “Twilight” didn’t – tight characterization. Meyer knows her characters better in this sequel and it shows. Bella easily carries the novel. She’s less “whiney” as she deals with heartache, an emotion that many readers can connect with. Jacob’s development as a character is a delight to read.<p>

 

What young adult readers will be able to relate to are the “Romeo and Juliet” comparisons throughout – this made it easier to understand why Bella is so set on Edward, despite Jacob’s consistency and friendship.<p>

           

The book moves at a quick pace and the plot is tight. There’s plenty of action and mounds of suspense – especially on the trip to Italy. Meyer’s dialogue captures the essence of her characters. The book doesn’t dwell on a natural, sensual appeal that vampires and werewolves bring to a story, in fact there are only a couple of kissing scenes. It’s this innocent, yet, smoldering sensuality which will engage the reader’s imagination leaving the reader ready for Edward and Bella to take their relationship deeper.<p>

 

While “New Moon” is lengthy, Meyer’s brisk writing will make it impossible to put down. “New Moon” is a sequel that delivers a charge which accelerates past “Twilight” faster than the moon’s light reaches Earth.<p>

 

 


Posted by sgcardin at 10:07 AM
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 10:09 AM
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 9 March 2009
Book Review for The Wicked Games of a Gentleman
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Book Reviews

Here's a recent book review I'd like to share.  Any other Jillian Hunter fans out there?  Can to share?  What was your latest Jillian Hunter book you read?  Love to hear your thoughts. I really enjoyed this book and I'd love to read more.

Smiles,
Steph

***************

Book Review for: “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Ivy Books/Random House
ISBN: 0-345-48760-5
371 pages
$6.99
5 Stars

 

Hunter plunges the reader into the Regency period of England in this deliciously sinful romance, “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman.” This novel is a continuation of her Boscastle series. Drake Boscastle is a scoundrel who has everything – money, good looks, and charm. However, he believes he’s incapable of love until he meets a woman who challenges him in ways he never thought possible. Hunter’s pacing never lets up. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is a gem of a romance that’s hard to put down.

The novel starts with Drake planning to meet famed courtesan, Maribella St. Ives. Before he does, he attends a party and immediately becomes involved in a scandal when he’s unwittingly drawn into a duel against his cousin, Gabriel. As Drake stalls for time, he meets Eloise Goodwin, a ladies’ companion who has temporarily lost her charge, Thalia Thornton. Drake coaxes Eloise into a dance and they share a spontaneous kiss. Drake then leaves to meet Maribella, but his mind lingers on Eloise. His evening with Maribella is spoiled when Gabriel shows up with Eloise. Eloise asks Drake for his help in finding Thalia. He agrees to help, leaving Maribella.
 
The next morning, Eloise discovers her employer, Lord Thornton, has left, due to his gambling debts. She’s got her hands full trying to manage the house, keep the creditors at bay, and finding Thalia.
 
Drake, to his chagrin, finds himself irrevocably drawn to Eloise. She’s beautiful and clever, two traits he can’t resist. To win points with Eloise, Drake finds Thalia and brings her home, ignoring Maribella. Eloise thanks him appropriately, but Drake steals not only a kiss, but intimate caresses as well – caresses which Eloise simply can’t resist.

Soon Drake finds himself spending more and more time with Eloise. Maribella creates a bit of a stir when she leaves Drake, but its Drake’s family that threatens his growing romance with Eloise. After an old boyfriend comes into Eloise’s life and attempts to blackmail her, she agrees to let Drake be her protector. Their physical consummation is all consuming. Drake wants to make Eloise his wife, but is apprehensive about his family will react.
 
Hunter writes in a third person omniscient point of view, changing perspectives with no clear line breaks or divisions. This is known as a “Lonesome Dove,” perspective and most professional editors discourage it, but the romance genre is very forgiving of it. The story moves fluidly. Drake, Eloise, and the supporting cast are likable and interesting. Hunter’s dialogue is crisp and sharp. Her descriptions put the reader in the moment, and her love scenes are vividly passionate. The story’s ending gives the reader rich satisfaction. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is one romance that can’t be put aside easily.


Posted by sgcardin at 10:10 AM
Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, 7 March 2009
The Soul of an Isle - A poem about St. Patrick's Day
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing

Thought I'd share this poem about St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy. Steph

***

 

From Dublin to Derry,
there's one day to make merry.
Top o' the mornin' to you
on St. Paddy's Day.

It's time to wear green,
and revel in the dreams
of an Irish saint,
on St. Paddy's Day.

Irish raiders took a young lad prisoner,
but that didn't stop him from becoming a minster.
He'd walk'd the forty shades o' green
with no fear or malice
on St. Paddy's Day.

He paid homage to Easter with bonfires,
musical notes on a lyre.
A sun on a cross;
three leaf shamrocks
honor St. Paddy's Day.

Three leaves of clover,
found in Dover,
helped explain the Holy Trinity
to those on St. Paddy's Day.

Four leaves of clover be rare,
yet they compel care.
Hope, Faith, Love, Happiness all,
bring joy on St. Paddy's Day.

Maewyn now Patrick;
no ill-will to prick.
Visions from God,
began his good mission,
on St. Paddy's Day.

A man's soul bound tight,
An Emerald Isle bathed in light,
A tale woen in myths and legends
inspire all on St. Paddy's Day.

 

*********
3/6/2009
in Honor of St. Patrick's Day.


Posted by sgcardin at 12:20 PM
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 16 February 2009
THought of the day - Life & Ebooks
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Sirius XM Sat. Radio
Topic: Writing

I know it's been a while as usual, but last week was crazy.  I didn't have Monday off as I usually do, so that threw me off. Then I had to stay up on Tuesday while we paid a visit to the taxman.  I wasn't too happy with our tax returns but a little something is better than nothing.  We're supposed to get 400 back from California. {e:laugh} Cold Day in Hell, I suppose. The state is tetering on bankrupcy. Well, let it go. Every poltician in this state is corupt - but that's a post for another time.

I couldn't even find time to make my gym appointments for my trainer last week. I did make it to Weight Watchers were I droped 1.2 pounds.  This week has been a challenge for me.  We visited our favorite French restaurant on Friday in early celebration of Valentine's Day. I had my usual, the filet mignon which was delicious as usual. (Actually, it was a little red in the middle. I asked for medium and well, it was rare,) but I ate anyway. It was a nice dinner, but I'm still recovering from that.  If I lose .2 this week I'll be thrilled.

The weekend wasn't too busy, but it rained and it's torture for two boys under 6 to be in the house due to the rain. Joe's doing good w/his therapies. His child development therapist has evalutated him at 23 months which is fantastic from his first eval.  (He's now at 30 months) There's still work to be done, but thrilled at the progress.

That said, I thought I'd share the thought of the day with you: EBOOKS.

So, how many have ebooks?  How many ebooks do you have? How do your read them? On your computer or on a Kindle or a similiar ebook reader?  Why do you like ebooks. What's the appeal to you?

I ask because I don't have an ebook. Well, I have two ebook short stories, but that's about it. They're on my computer. Personally, ebooks don't appeal to me (right now) because I love getting my hands on a paper book, but that's not to say I'm not totally turned off by ebooks.

So what's happening with ebooks? Amazon is releasing Kindle 2 on 24 and it's going to have a new "controversal" feature - text to speech. What's text to speech? It's where the Kindle will read the text of the book outloud in a computerized voice.

The Author's Guild calls this a violation of copyright law since only an audio book has rights to read a book out loud.  BUT DO THEY? That's what they claim. Amazon says this is different. This is a computer reading the book, not actors giving voice to a story. Amazon and a lot of the experts in the field think they have the law on their side, but if they go ahead with Kindle 2 then their might be a lawsuit from the Author's Guild.

So why buck the trend? Is ebooks the next BEST Thing?

Well, heck, there was unhappiness with CDs and and the Internet when they first started out, too.  A lot of the Author's Guild complaints stem from the fact that they don't want to open the gates to an area they can't control. Even the publishing houses are afraid of change.

Think of it this way - if you self publish and offer a book through your website - you take 100% (or most of) the profit without having to go through the publishing gatekeepers.

Is that cool? Well - self publishing doesn't have a good rep. Sadly, most of what is self published is not up to par, suffering from editiorial and proofreading mistakes. Self published books like "The Shack" are few and far between. Until self publishing gets a better rep, ebooks (at least the self published ones) won't take off.  The crux: Most ebooks are self-published.  Traditional publishers are afraid to go there - yet.  That said, if they could jump on the techno bandwagon, they might see their profits increase at a time when the traditional market is suffering right now.  Heck, Harper and Collins just recently laid of 25% of it's workforce.  Not Cool.

If the publishing industry wants to be innovative in this publishing downturn my advice would be to explore ebooks. But that's just me.  Anyone else have any thoughts on ebooks?

Smiles,
Steph


Posted by sgcardin at 5:40 PM
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 6 February 2009
Catching up, life, reading & writing
Topic: Life

Just thought I'd log in and catch up with you all. 
 
Well, I've been on Weight Watchers for a month now and I've lost 3 pounds.  It hasn't been easy, but it is a life style change and I have to remember that. I also  have to remember my 40 year old body just don't have the same pep as it used to.

I don't mind being on AM watch at work. (10 pm to 6 am) My hardest struggle is to stay awake a 3 am.  The work load is easy though.  I have a trainee at work, so I'm not getting much writing done. Hope to work on stuff tomorrow while my rug rats run wild around the house! haha.

Writing:  I'm working on a short genre story for the 77th Annual WD Contest.  I've got two projects pretty much done, a script/play called "War and Wine" which takes place in France in WWII and a horror one called "The Cat."  As far as my WIP, "The Hungarian," I've got some more work to do, but I've pretty much got the plot shored up and I just have to find the time to write.

Reading: Immediately: The Other Boleyn Girl. Next up: New Moon.

Music: I'm hooked on Coldplay. I hope they do well at the Grammys. I recently got Sirius Sat. Radio and I love it. I love the selections. I'm hooked on the "1st Wave" channel which focuses on the 1st Wave of alternative music.  Anyone remember Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD and Souxie Soux and the Banshees? Consider me a fan.

Movies: I haven't seen any recently. I re-watched Underworld 2 the other night. I found "Tristian and Isodole" and I'll watch that one next. Hehe. I love James Franco.

Here's my book review on "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Thanks for hanging out with me.
*****
 

Book Review for “Twilight”.

Written by: Stephenie Meyer

Hachette Book Group.

ISBN: 0-316-03838-5.

498 pages.

$10.99

4 Stars.


 

At “Twilight” those paranormal forces beyond our control come out, and Isabella Swan (Bella) must suspend all reasonable belief to accept those forces exist – and to fall in love. Meyer’s writing is brisk, easy to read, and readers will discover they’ve turned over more pages then they’ve realized..

.. ..

The story actually starts a bit slowly as seventeen-year-old Bella moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her father. As she establishes her routines, she notices a strange family of teenagers, the Cullens. They are all beautiful with pale skin and chameleon-like eyes. They also tend to stick to themselves. Bella is surprised by Edward’s initial cold treatment of her. She doesn’t know what to make of it – or him. It’s only when he saves her life with his lightening quick reflexes and unexpected strength does she begin to think there might be something unusual with him. When her Indian friend, Jacob, tells her about the “cold ones,” his story inspires her to do some research. With all the evidence in front of her, Bella concludes Edward is a vampire.

.. ..

When Bella confronts him, he admits it. He’s fallen in love with her and tried to push her away, but he can’t fight the attraction anymore. Edward gives into his love for her and Bella gives into her love for him as well. There’s no physical consummation of their love, it’s a love cultivated through feelings and emotions which provides an intense high for both.

.. ..

Edward discusses some myths and truths about the vampire world with Bella. He tells her how Carlisle created him during the Flu outbreak in 1917. Carlisle, Edward, and the vampires who live with them have learned to curb their blood lust for human blood, but some vampire covens and families haven’t. To that end, Edward’s family meets three vampire strangers while playing a game of baseball and one, James, decides to track Bella. Edward and his family try their best to protect her, but James tracks Bella to Phoenix, Arizona. James does bite Bella, but Edward draws the venom out of her. The book ends with Edward taking Bella to the prom. Bella asks for the bite of immortality from Edward who refuses to give it.


 

The book is written in the first person from Bella’s perspective. Meyer does a great job staying in perspective, but there are times when Bella’s determination crosses the line to irritating whininess, and it’s hard to understand how Edward finds this trait of hers attractive.

Edward is “tempted” over and over again to taste Bella’s blood and he does an admirable job holding his temptation in check. In that regard, that aspect of his character wrestling with temptation seemed a non-issue since temptation really wasn’t an issue.


 

The book is geared for a young adult audience. The plot comes together well. It’s easy to read and a page-turner. While there are some suspenseful elements, especially with James on the hunt for Bella, toward the end they are overshadowed by the melodrama teen angst that emotes throughout. Meyer does create an original world and gives her vampires twists and nuances of their own. “Twilight” is an interesting read just to devour Meyer’s creative spin on the vampire world. 


Posted by sgcardin at 7:27 PM
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Book Review for Dreams From My Father
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: XM Sirius Sat. Radio
Topic: Book Reviews

Book Review for “Dreams From My Father”

Written by: Barack Obama

3 Rivers Press

ISBN: 978-1-4000-8277-3442

pages$14.95

4.5 Stars 

“Dreams From My Father,” is a moving story about President Obama’s early years. It focuses on race and its inheritance. It’s the journey of a young man searching to discover himself in his roots. Along the way there are friends and challenges to stimulate him. “Dreams From My Father” is an elegant and compelling read.

 

 Composed in 1996, Barak Obama reveals his roots, their discoveries, and the impressions left on him. The book starts with Obama as a young boy living in Hawaii with his mother and her parents. He has no memories of his father, only stories that his mother and grandparents tell. Obama comes from a mixed heritage – a white mother and a black father who lives in Kenya. His mother is open minded, idealistic, naïve in one sense, world-wise another. His grandparents love him unconditionally. As a young boy, his mother marries a man from Indonesia and they go to live there. Obama speaks fondly of his step-father, and learns several life lessons from him, but unfortunately his mother’s relationship with his step-father doesn’t last. His mother send s him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents so he can attend a prestigious Hawaiian school. Soon, his mother and sister go back to Hawaii, but he stays with his grandparents which give him a sense of consistency. He learns his grandfather’s strengths and weaknesses, but never really comes to see him as the father figure he’s seeking. Obama has one encounter with his father when he’s ten in Hawaii. Obama is a little in awe, a little overwhelmed. His father’s visit isn’t long and leaves Obama with more questions than answers. 

The book then moves on to cover Obama’s life in Chicago as a community organizer. It’s challenging work that is rarely rewarding, but Obama gives it his all. Then a relative from Kenya calls to tell him his father has died, but Obama’s not quite sure how to feel about that or how to react. Several weeks later, his Kenyan half-sister, Auma, makes contact with him. Auma gives him a peek into his father’s life in Kenya. Obama is intrigued by the life Auma leads and wants to learn more about their father. Before he leaves community organizing to go to Harvard Law School, he makes arrangements to visit Auma in Kenya.<p> In Kenya, Obama discovers a family he didn’t even know. His father had at least four wives, and Obama has a slew of brothers and sisters who are living in their father’s shadow. Obama and Auma visit with one their grandfather’s wives, “Granny.” She tells Obama’s father and grandfather stories to him. It’s a riveting tale of two people and it helps to define those aspect of Obama’s self and his heritage he was seeking. “Dreams From My Father,” is an engrossing read. Verbose at times, Obama’s personal stories are heartwarming and easily connect with readers. The book defines the “mettle” behind a man – and a president.  


Posted by sgcardin at 4:17 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 27 January 2009 4:22 PM
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 26 January 2009
Thoughts on Amazon's Kindle
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing

Here's something that I thought was Cool - I was at work the other day and one of my co-workers had a Kindle by Amazon.  A Kindle is basically an electronic book reader. It always one to read e-books and e-stories. He was gracious enough to say he paid about $300 for it.  I was very impressed with it but I almost gagged on the price. He also said Amazon was backed up on orders until March and the backup was getting longer.  I got the impression that the Kindle was in high demand.

On my Writing Workshop group, I learned that there are other ebook readers that range from between $230-300.  Ereaders therefore, aren't cheep, but at my work, I can see why my co-worker liked it. I have a feeling ebook readers are going to get more popular.  Many on my writing group felt the price would come down as well.  Let's face it, I liked the Kindle but I couldn't afford it. Still - I liked the concept of reading ebooks like that.

Does anyone else have a Kindle?  Thoughts on it?
Smile
Steph


Posted by sgcardin at 6:56 AM
Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, 24 January 2009
Thoughts on the Underworld Movie Series
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: Underworld 3
Topic: Movies
I love the Underworld series. Sadly, I didn’t discover the series until UW2: Evolution. (Thank God for DVDs!) I didn’t realize UW3 was coming out though until I saw the billboard ads driving into work a week ago and I was excited. That said, I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts about the series and the new movie. Back in 2005/2006, I was working on my own werewolf series, (The Sigmaringen Saga) when a good friend of mine, Starr, started gushing about UW2. She said Kate Beckinsale kicked ass (as usual) and there was a really hot love scene with Beckinsale and Speedman’s characters. She also suggested I watch for research purposes since she knew I was writing a werewolf novel. I’m game to any and all of Starr’s suggestions because I know her writing instincts are great, so I became open to seeing the movie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it in the theatres because it’s hell trying to find a babysitter. I had to wait until DVD.  In hindsight, I wish I’d found that babysitter. I really should have gone to see UW2 in the theatre – just for the awesome action/fight scenes. Seeing those scenes in a theater is infinitely more desirable then watching them on a DVD. The DVD looses a bit of the fight/action powerful “punches.”             When I finally saw the movie on DVD, I loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Beckinsale rocked as the confident, yet slightly vulnerable “Selene,” and “Marcus” made an excellent vampire elder. There was just the right balance of action and story. The love scene between “Selene” and “Michael” was one of the hottest I’ve seen in a movie and totally convincing. What I liked about UW2: Beckinsale. She owned the part. She gave depth and dimension to “Selene.” The casting! I loved how the director paid attention to the casting. Every actor made their role feel authentic and believable. Notable casting: “Marcus,” “Tannus,” and “Alexander.” For me, the end didn’t leave much room for a sequel, so I was surprised to see the billboards for UW3. Anyway, after watching UW2, I watched UW1 with Starr. Watching #1 was just as exciting as watching #2. Again, Beckinsale was fantastic as “Selene.” Bill Nighy rocked as “Viktor.” In fact, his “Viktor,” inspired my own character “Viktor Bacau,” in the Sigmaringen series. “Lucien” was an excellent Lycan and his story generated sympathy with me. I liked how the movie ended with blood dripping down into Marcus’s tomb. I loved how the Lycans were looking into science and genetics and not mysticism to explain their condition. What bothered me about the movie? “Kraven.” This character was pivotal to the story, but this was probably the one casting choice in the series I didn’t agree with. “Kraven” didn’t have the edge I thought he should have, and that’s given that he was supposed to be “soft,” to an extent. UW1 actually hints at the back story which is told in UW3. Knowing that UW3 was coming out, I asked my husband to watch the kids so I could go see it in the theatre. He agreed. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I saw “Selene,” and “Viktor” on the billboards and I knew “Viktor” had died in the first one. Was this about how “Viktor” made “Selene?” I was curious. After looking up movie times online, I did a little research on the movie. It was about “Viktor” and “Sonia’s” relationship (his daughter) and the start of the Lycan/Death Dealer war. Kate Beckinsale wasn’t going to be in this installment. Immediately, I was a little disappointed. After all, what was “Underworld” without “Selene?” Then I thought about it – the series itself is more than just Beckinsale’s “Selene.” There was a whole history about the elders (Viktor/Amelia/Marcus) and the back story was just as compelling as “Selene.” With most of my favorite actors back, I went to see UW3. I was delighted to see UW3 in the theatre – just for the action/fight scenes alone. They were totally mesmerizing. “Viktor” is ruling with “Marcus” and “Amelia” in hibernation. His daughter, “Sonia,” is an ass-kicking death dealer on the council and well respected. The setting is many centuries ago in medieval Europe. In flashbacks, I saw “Lucien” as a baby and “Sonia” as a little girl and I couldn’t help but wonder – how did these characters age into their mid-twenties and then stop? That was never explained to me. “Lucien,” the first of the Lycans to control their transformation is spared by “Viktor.” The movie starts with “Lucien” and “Sonia” carrying on a secret, yet pulse-pounding hot affair. The actress playing “Sonia” invokes Beckinsale’s “Selene,” and in that regard, the producers got the story plot effect they wanted since its “Viktor’s” killing of his daughter which influences his decision to turn “Selene.” Also, while the actress doesn’t annoy me as much as the “Kraven” casting, she did have trouble showing that vulnerability needed to convince me that her character was totally in love with “Lucien.” I was convinced of “Lucien’s” love for her. The actor playing him was very convincing.  As “Sonia” faces the sunlight, her penalty death for loving “Lucien,” “Lucien’s” newfound hate spurns forward a war that lasts for centuries between Lycans and Death Dealers. In all, it’s a rich prequel, however it did leave me with a second question. In UW2, “Lucien’s” necklace is revealed to be one half of the key to “William’s” (the first werewolf) eternal imprisonment. “Selene,” in flashbacks, held the key as a little girl, yet here in this movie, it is a gift “Viktor” has given to “Sonia.” When she dies, “Lucien,” claims it for his own, a keepsake of his love for “Sonia.” If this necklace is truly the key to “William’s” coffin, then “Viktor” must have already made “Selene,” and yet that isn’t possible because “Sonia” has to die first. I really wish this would have been explained better in the movie. This nagging plot point is a glaring inconsistency in a movie whose consistency I admired.  The movie ends with a voice over by “Kraven” taunting “Selene” as she prepares to jump off a modern day building – UW1’s opening shot. It brings the series full circle and it left me feeling good just seeing Beckinsale as “Selene” again. Did I enjoy the series? You bet! It challenged me as a viewer to think about what was going to happen next.  For me, it’s a series I’ll enjoy for a long time to come. I’d love to see an UW4 – but only if it “fits” and is not done in a gratuitous sequel fashion.

Posted by sgcardin at 2:17 PM
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 23 January 2009
Writing thoughts on PLOT
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Underworld 3 - Rise of the Lycans
Topic: Writing

Hi all. I found an interesting article about PLOT the other day which got me to thinking about my own story plots and what works and what doesn't work.  That said, I thought I'd share some words about PLOT and PLOTTING and how important it is to a story and how it's effected my own storywriting.  I hope you find some useful info to take away with you.
 
For me, plot is a sequence of events that carries a story from beginning to end. It involves the evolution of the main character and tells a compelling story. Plot must compel the reader to turn the page - the character is that element which keeps the reader there.

So what's the plot? Introduce a sympathetic character who tackles a difficult problem and overcomes it by the end of the story.  As the character goes on this journey, he or she must change (or not).

So how do you start a story? One thing I've learned is to start in the middle of an action sequence and show the reader how the main character gets out of it. This beginning involves the reader.  At a MIN - put the main character in motion - have him moving - walking or running, but have them in motion.  That also engages the reader.

While introductory background information is generally discouraged - if employed carefully, it can work well. In my novel, "The Wolf's Torment," 10 year old Mihai (my main character in this novel) and his mother are being chased by an evil witch. THe action of the chase is met to draw in the reader giving the reader a little background information on Mihai and his mother which is important because Mihai always considers what she would do when he encounters major life decisions.

In my forthcoming novel, 'Twilight Over Moldavia," it starts in the moment. (No prologue) Michael and Stefan are in the heat of a horse race.

As you start keep this mind - do you start with action? Or do you start with a telling scene full of background info that doesn't engage the reader?  That's a very important PLOT element you have to consider when working on your story.

Another thing that works for me - make a ROUGH outline of the story - and I do mean rough. Start with your action orientated event then introduce a series of challenges for your main character to overcome and then by the end of the story show how the character has grown or hasn't. I mean rough because sometimes your character may dictate a different series of events you didn't originally plot. THAT'S OKAY. Go with it. At the end of the story the character should get to where you intended them to go.

By doing prelimilary work on my story including Drafting a Plot, it will show in a quality story that is engaging, compelling, and a page turner.

THOUGHTS On Meyer's TWILIGHT
I'm still reading this book but I'll be honest - I didn't find the opening sequence too enaging. Bella switching schools just felt like a routine sequence to me. I will say the character's voice was good - it had to minus the lack of an engaging opening, but if I didn't know Bella was going to met a vampire, Edward, that she falls in love with, I might not have stayed with the opening as long as I did.  I think a better place for Meyer to have started is where Bella, as a new student walks into her biology class and notices Edward's reaction to her. For me, that was the first engaging scene of the novel?

Thoughts?
Smiles,
Steph

Just a quickie note on some life stuff:  good news I'm down a pound at Weight Watchers this week so I feel like I'm off to a good start.  Two pounds total in two weeks and a total 16 pound weight loss in my journey - which by the way started in Jan 2007!! I'm also going to see UNDERWORLD 3 today and I'm very excited about that. I haven't seen a movie in a movie theatre in like 8 months.

Smiles to all
Steph


Posted by sgcardin at 12:35 PM
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older