Sunday, August 29, 2010


I was reading an article on a current best selling novel. It features child rape and the aftermath of such rape. I had been considering reading said book because as an author I think it's important to read current trends and big hits. But right then and there I decided I will not read this book. The article was about how this book will be used to help victims of such violence almost as therapy. Wonderful. I think that's fabulous. I think that such books should exist and people can read anything they want to read and if it helps people, so much the better. But >I< don't have to read it.

I don't bury my head in the sand. I read newspapers daily, listen to real news, keep myself politically informed (sometimes too much I'm afraid). I grew up on stories of hardship from my parents who grew up during WWII (They experienced bombing, hunger, death, injustice) and then the takeover of Hungary by the Soviets. So really I'm not ignorant or hiding from reality.

When I read a novel, I want to escape. I want to be carried away to a different world and I want to celebrate the triumph of the human will. OK, I don't know how said book ends, and I am inferring that it does end with the triumph of human will, but my own soul doesn't want to wade through the morass of human cruelty and depredation to get there. I want entertainment. To me, the subject matter isn't entertainment. Hell, I write romance novels. I want the HEA (happily ever after).

One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption. It, too, has a difficult subject matter, but, my God, how uplifting it is. Love that movie. But another of my all time favorites is Notting Hill. I love the post-apocalyptic YA novel The Hunger Games, but one of my favorite novels is also Bewitching. I am not a one note individual. I read and watch things for entertainment, and becoming thoroughly depressed is NOT my idea of entertainment.

So I'll pass on that best seller. I tried one before that everyone raved about and the story left me feeling ill. I won't do it again. Does it mean I'm not as strong as some people? Who knows? I've never been tested to that extreme before. Can any of us predict how we will respond when faced with horrifying situations? But I've had my share of troubles, some of them major and on-going, and I'd like to think that I've faced them with aplomb and have come through them with an optimistic outlook. I try to improve the world I've been given rather than weigh it down with more horror (not speaking about the horror genre here; I'm speaking of real horror, the horror humans do to one another).

Give me escapism and don't judge me. In return I won't judge you if you read novels that need Prozac to get through.


Books I'm reading now:
The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton
(only one this time because I'm on deadline and back at work)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I love genre fiction (and movies too)

This weekend I read a quote from Sylvester Stallone (yes, that Sylvester Stallone) that I can't get out of my mind. He said, "Good action films are really morality plays. They deal in modern mythic culture"(Time Magazine, August 23, 2010). I agree with him. We need to feed our souls with the mythic, cleanse the ugly in the world with a healthy dose of good vs evil where the good wins, feel that, at least in the story, things are as they should be.

This is the reason I love genre fiction. In genre fiction you can count on things to be the way they should be. The good guys win, the bad guys get their comeuppance, the murder gets solved, and people fall in love forever. In genre fiction we don't have to worry that the corrupt banker gets even more money and a hefty bonus after cheating the hard worker out of his life's savings. We don't have to deal with companies so greedy that they ruin the environment yet post major profits in following years. We don't have bombers escape justice year after year after year. In genre fiction, the banker goes to prison after having to pay back all the money he steals, the company and its CEO's collapse to be replaced with a company with a conscience that saves the otters, and the bomber is taken out by a Navy Seal, who also happens to be good looking.

In the movie SECOND HAND LIONS (love, love, love this movie), there is a speech given by the character Hub, played by Robert Duvall:
“If you want to believe in something, believe in it. Just because something isn’t true, that’s no reason you can’t believe in it. There’s long speech I give you young men. It sounds like you need to hear a piece of it. Just a piece. Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power, mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this: that love, true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in. Yeah. Got that?”


Books I'm reading now:
Kitty goes to War by Carrie Vaughn
Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Harry Potter Pic

Me, very excited about Hogwarts.

Harry Potter World

So I'm late with this, mostly because I'm in a writing frenzy getting the rough draft of book 3 finished by the end of the month, so I have time enough to revise before it's due Oct 1. (If you're reading this Heather or Marlene, no, worries, I'll have it done.) It doesn't help that I had to be back at school early for textbook training, which is a blog in and of itself and I'm trying not to think about it except when I absolutely have to.

But I thought I'd report about Harry Potter World. First, I am glad I went. I would have hated missing it. That said, I give it a B/B-. It looks great. Just like the movies. But as you can see from the pic, it's crowded, which is odd because we didn't have trouble getting on the rides at all. We'd heard horror stories about the lines, but they proved untrue. So...

The Dragon Challenge was a challenge for a woman who hasn't been on a big roller coaster in years because her youngest is frightened of anything with loops. But I did it, although I have to confess my eyes were closed for parts of it. It's disconcerting to see the sun shining in your eyes at weird angles. We didn't even ride the Hippogriff after the Dragon challenge. It looked cute, but it's a small simple roller coaster. We stood in line for Olivander's to buy wands. The little show is cute but disappointing in that they only chose one person to measure and go through the wand choosing process. I understand (think back to the crowds) but it was disappointing nonetheless. Especially since I share a birthday with Harry Potter (and JK Rowling for that matter).

So the big ride was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is the one where you walk through Hogwarts. Some of the paintings move and speak just as you'd expect, and in Dumbledore's office, he speaks to you via a hologram projection, and it looks 3-D (-ish; close enough). You move to the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom where the coolest part of the ride happened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear from under the invisibility cloak to talk to you, but Ron says something and gets excited and his wand goes off, and Hermione says, "Oh, Ron, you made it snow again." At this point the everyone in line let out an "Oooh" in awe, because SNOWFLAKES FALL FROM THE CEILING! Really. Snow. A couple landed on me and melted. And it was totally awesome hearing a room of people gasp in awe.

The ride itself is a combo of virtual reality and storybook ride (picture Haunted Mansion at Disney only the chairs --school benches that seat four--except the chairs swing, lay back, and whirl.) The 3-D film virtual reality part is really cool because it's 3-D without glasses and you slip almost seamlessly between the animatronics parts and the film parts. You go through a chimney to get "outside" and fly around the castle, then you see Hagrid looking for a dragon, then the dragon chases you, then you make it to the quidditch field, then the dementors appear, you end up in the forbidden forest with the giant spiders who spit "poison" at you, then you're in the chamber of secrets with the basilisk skeleton, and then you fly back to the Great Hall and it's over. It's not too bad.

But here are the negatives: the dementors look hokey, even though the blowing of cold air on you is a great effect. The spiders look fake too, but they're better than the dementors. The rest of the ride is good, but let's talk about the line. I've already mentioned we didn't have to stand in line long, but we wouldn't have minded because they entertain you along the way. In fact the second time we went on it, we decided we'd let people get ahead of us so we could take in the details. Dumbledore's Office and the DADA classroom were cool, as were the hallways with the talking portraits, but part of the line takes you through the greenhouse, where they had some mandrakes planted, but they were just figurines. They really should have been moving or squirming and they should have also had some of the other plants(they have some plants in hanging baskets, but not plants from the novel). The house hourglasses were the most disappointing. They look like those candy bins from candy stores (you know the ones--the huge tubes where you serve yourself out of the bottom) and they were filled with tiny bead size "gems." I really pictured them bigger, the gems I mean. And It would have been cool to see gems being added or taken away and the total points registering somewhere. That couldn't be too hard to do. And frankly I think walking through Hogwarts would have been a bigger thrill than an actual ride. To see the potions classroom and the common rooms. I guess I just think they could have done more.

Hogsmeade was so crowded with people, I was wondering if they miscalculated the flow of the area. And it was small. I mean I know they couldn't build an actual village, but it was surprisingly small. And while some of the window displays move (the Book store carries copies of Gilderoy Lockhart's books with Kenneth Branaugh primping on the covers) but there could have been so much more. Owls on the rooftops, more "magical" movement in the windows (The music store has some). I don't know. I just would have liked more. One semi-neat touch was Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom (at least the girls' room--I didn't go in the boys' convenience), but the acoustics were so bad that you can't understand her (the reason for the semi-neat).

So I'm glad I went; I had a fun time, and I won't even complain here about the humidity, heat and the thunderstorm that all but shut down Universal (everything except three rides).

Books I'm reading now:
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle
Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips