I just finished reading A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (that’s Game of Thrones series to you, if you only watch the TV show). Instead of reviewing it, I thought I’d give you a look at what’s going on inside my head as I read these things.
CHARACTER #1: I have a daring plan! It will bring me honor and/or glory!
ME: It’s a dumb plan. It will bring you death.
CHARACTER #1: Nonsense! I’m sure it’ll be fine.
ME: Yeah, that’s what the last guy said.
DEATH: Just so you know, I’m coming to kill you in 3…
CHARACTER #1: Who said that? Must be the wind…
CHARACTER #1: Silence, craven wind-speaker!
CHARACTER #1: Onward! For honor/glory!
ME and DEATH: I fucking TOLD you.
CHARACTER #1: Oh, oh, I’m dying! Woe! Woe! I totally did not see this coming.
ME: I refuse to feel sorry for you. You’re obviously too dumb to live.
CHARACTER #1: Oh fine then.
CHARACTER #2: Wasn’t that dramatic? Are you moved?
ME: Try annoyed. I’m gonna go read a different book.
CHARACTER #2: Wait! Don’t you want to know what happens to me?
CHARACTER #3: Or me?
ME: Are you as thick as the other guy?
CHARACTER #2: Umm….
CHARACTER #3: Err…
ME: That’s what I thought.
CHARACTER #2: Wait!
CHARACTER #3: Take us with you!
CHARACTER #2: Poop. I hate it when I don’t get everything I want.
CHARACTER #3: Oh but we CAN have what we want.
CHARACTER #2: How?
CHARACTER #3: I have a plan!
CHARACTER #2: Is it daring?
CHARACTER #3: Without a doubt.
CHARACTER #2: Will it bring us honor and/or glory?
CHARACTER #3: By the bucket! …if it works.
CHARACTER #2: Is this plan ill-conceived?
CHARACTER #3: Possibly. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.
CHARACTER #2: LET’S DO IT.
Transformers was dumb. I huffed and snorted so much during Transformers 2 that despite all the noisy explosions, by brother still had to tell me to shut up. Transformers 3 was perhaps the worst of all, in that it was so mediocre I didn’t even enjoy tearing it apart. There was no chance of me going to see Transformers: Age of Extinction, is the point I’m trying to get at. But since it was the only new movie playing this week at my theater, I present you this in lieu of a review.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d rather stay home this week than pay $11.50 to see another Riddick movie. Money’s tight and must not be wasted on franchises that are really one-offs which have overstayed their welcome. However, NOT seeing Riddick (and therefore being ignorant of the plot details) put me in the unique position of being able to create a best-guess story pieced together from the results of a Google image search for ‘Riddick,’ which, let’s face it, will probably be more entertaining than the real plot of the movie anyway.
So on we go with:
Four years ago, after watching way too much One Tree Hill and McLeod’s Daughters, I got fed up with TV cliches and wrote this. Please enjoy it in lieu of this week’s review, as I will not be anywhere with a movie theater this weekend.
Say you’re a television writer and you’ve got writer’s block, but you’ve got to keep the drama rolling if you want the paycheck that’s going to put food in your kids’ mouths. You’re doing 24 episodes a year, writing flat out. Your house looks like a bomb went off in it. Your kids are whining that they a) never see you and b) are hungry. Your boss keeps thrusting the ratings in your face. Your show is supposedly grounded in reality, so you can’t bring in aliens or magical fairies to poof you out of the corner you’ve written yourself into. What do you do?
You turn to the writer’s ammunition pouch and pull out the surefire guaranteed instant drama pills. Don’t let the fact that these magic pills are known as cliches in critical circles stop you. Remember: your kids need bread. If you’re new to TV writing, let me fill your ammo clip for you by giving you examples of instant drama pill storylines from the one hour drama series SATURDAY NIGHT TRAILER FEVER.
If you’re not familiar with this fabulous yet relatively unknown show, here’s the premise:
Mulleted idiot Joe Bob opens a discotheque with his brother John Bob in their trailer park after they discover they both love to imitate headless seizuring chickens to the beat of porno themes sung by men with voices only dogs can hear.
I complain about other people’s movies often enough that it’s only fair for them to have an opportunity to complain about mine. I’ve written a handful (okay… a lot) of screenplays and one (a short one) called iBrain, which is about a couple who are fighting over whether or not it’s a good idea to have an iPhone in your brain, is just about to be under production in Toronto courtesy of my brother Dennis and his pals at the Blue Flame Collective.
The problem is that making movies costs money and none of us have any. We’re hoping that by begging a few bucks off everyone we know, we can raise enough through Indigogo to actually make this thing happen.
So if you’ve got a pocket full of change and you think the project my brother and Oliver are pitching in the video below is something you want to see, go to the iBrain Indigogo page and chip in your lunch money. You’ll get presents out of it, AND you’ll get to see your name in the credits. How cool is that??
Even if you also have no money, you can still help by putting the word out to your friends and liking the iBrain Facebook page.
Thanks for watching!
iBrain – Indiegogo Video 2 from Dennis Nicholson on Vimeo.
If you live in the CBRM area and you’re free tomorrow (Saturday the 30th) between 3pm and 5pm, you’re invited to a book launch at the McConnell library in Sydney! Bring your friends! Bring your relatives! Bring your dog! (actually, maybe leave the dog at home)
The book getting launched is an anthology of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror called Unearthed. It’s the third in a series of books released by Third Person Press and I’ve had stories in all three. My story this time is called “One Word” and it’s about a guy who’s trying to escape from a Gulag on the moon.
There will be readings (not by me this time) and probably snackies too (what’s a book launch without snackies??) and also books for sale (this one plus the ones that came before it).
I’ll be there at the launch along with my friend Steph the Bare Knuckle Writer (who’s also got a story in there) and the rest of the authors so come by and get us to sign stuff so we can feel like we’re famous for a little while.
You know how I write screenplays in addition to reviewing movies? (You didn’t? Click here then) Well it turns out I don’t suck at it! I just found out this week that my script, The Wild Helicopters of the Outback (which is based on my short story from this anthology) won first place in the Family/Teen/Animation category of the 5th Annual Story Pros Awards.
Wild Helicopters is about a young Australian aerospace engineer who defies convention by befriending one of the pesky, artificially intelligent helicopters who steal power from her family’s floating wind farm. I started adapting it into a screenplay because an Australian animation company was looking for scripts. Even though I originally envisioned Wild Helicopters as live action, I figured the odds of getting it made that way were pretty slim given how many helicopters were in it, so I thought: why not go for it?
Sadly the animation company I wanted to submit it to went belly up before the script was done, so in lieu of any other likely companies turning up in my Google searches I decided to submit it to Story Pros for some exposure (Coast Guards had almost won with them a few years back, and I had a coupon). And I won!
Winning this contest is a pretty big deal. I get a bunch of money, a buttload of software and services, and (the best part) readings from producers and agents and stuff. Here’s hoping some Australian producer will like it, not care that I’m not Australian (Canadian is sorta almost as good, right?!) and make it into a movie with real live helicopters (well, not really live, but really not animated).
Cross your fingers! I sure am. If you’d like to read Wild Helicopters, Story Pros will shortly be posting a Winner’s Circle with a link to the script.
P.S. – Special thanks goes out to Meghan Lightle, who gave me story notes on the first draft.
Starting at 2pm Atlantic on Monday, November 7, drop by www.bittenbybooks.com for the Tesseracts Fifteen launch party. You can post questions for the authors (like ME) and editor to answer. Every question you post earns you more chances to win a $50 Amazon gift card, which will be awarded at 2pm Atlantic on Tuesday when the event ends.
If you go there between 9pm and midnight Atlantic on Monday night and ask wierd questions about helicopters and wind turbines and brain surgery or whatever, I’ll be there to answer them. And you might win a prize. Fun! Yay!
The following other authors will also be dropping by at various times during the event:
Michele Ann Jenkins
So be there or be the square loser who can’t win any free stuff! FREE STUFF!
Guess what? I’m in another book! Well, my work is, anyway. It’s called Tesseracts 15, or more accurately: Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales. The Tesseracts series of anthologies is put out by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing and has fifteen entries (obviously).
Each anthology has a different theme and different editors. This one that I’m going to be in (15) is young adult themed and edited by Julie Czerneda and Susan MacGregor, who are both a pretty big deal. The genre is speculative fiction (i.e. sci-fi, fantasy, and horror). My story is called “A+ Brain” and it’s about a teenage boy who who gets a brain transplant because he’s too lazy/dumb to get into college.
No word yet on when you can get your hands on a copy. I’ll tell you when I know. I do know it will look like this (on the right), and it will cost $15.95. You’re going to buy one, right? Of course you are!
Oh, and the ISBN is 978-1-894063-58-6, just in case you want to obsessively stalk Amazon or something (Mom).
Writers are, by nature, control freaks. When they’re writing a book or a screenplay, they’re in total control. They create the characters, decide on the setting, invent the plot, and just generally bend the story to their will. A lot of writers will give you that “oh, my characters have control, really” spiel, but that’s just their overactive imaginations talking. They created the characters (consciously or not) and only they are allowed to tell them what to do. They get very anxious when anyone else tries to horn in on their territory, such as an editor or a producer or even (especially) another writer.
How then, do movies get made? With a great deal of pain and suffering on the part of the writer, that’s how. Once all the various people get their filthy mitts on the original story (agents, editors, publishers, screen writers, ghost writers, producers, directors, actors, etc.) it barely resembles itself at all, and by this point the writer is nearly out of his or her head with agony. (If you don’t believe me, read this).
Without writers, movies can’t get made. But they can’t get made without directors and producers and all the rest of them either. So what’s the solution? I call it “Pre-Grief Counseling for Writers.” I imagine it would go something like this: