Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cora's Picks - Cool Online Stuff and Cloud Atlas

Synchronized snoozing under the
ceiling fan.
Fire up the trumpets of celebration. I have internets again.

I've only begun untangling things here at home, starting with emails. I swear no one emails me for six months, but the minute my net goes down, my inbox gets flooded with important emails that I can't respond to because I can't get to a file. *fainting couch*

So what's going on with me? I moved my office from one end of the house to the other. What a chore! I still have some organizing to do, but everything is pretty much in place. The dogs like it in here because there's a ceiling fan. They rush inside with their tongues hanging out, ready to drop from digging in the backyard, and instead of going to the water bowl, they come into my office and fall out under the fan. Lately it's been really pleasant temperatures outside, too. It's not like the pups are forced to bake in the sun. Living that domesticated life, they are completely spoiled to the air conditioning. Poor beasts.

I'm days away from uploading Trick of Light to Smashwords. This go around, I formatted the book as I went, so it's not quite the mess "Android" was. Android took lots of reformatting to make it ready, this one, it's looking pretty clean, thankfully. I'll definitely try to go this route again when I prep Twilight's Edge for release. That said, the cover for Trick of Light is ready to go. The stories are complete and edited. At this point, I'm going over it with a fine tooth comb before letting it go. I'd rather check and double check than fight with the Smashwords meat grinder.

Once Trick of Light is posted, that will take care of all my non-romance backlist save for one story, which is still in print. By the way, I will be releasing a print edition of Trick of Light through CreateSpace once I've reformatted it for print. I'll post release dates and all that information as it happens.

Some cool things I've discovered lately... 

Okay, this first one isn't exactly new. I love reading about writerly processes. How authors build their characters. How they plot. Their daily rituals. I find it completely fascinating. That's one of the reasons I'm addicted to reading Cheryl Corbin's Learn to Write Fiction newsletter (LtWF) - which is a free subscription available via email or rss feed. I've been subscribed via email for over a year, and I love the way she details the writing life of popular authors.

A few days ago, I was feeling really down about my writing. Yeah, yeah, one of those days. Anyway, while tinkering around with my phone, I found a newsletter in my inbox from LtWF. It was about the writing life of Judy Blume. If you're familiar with my Goodsreads page, you'll know I'm a Judy Blume fan. I particularly love her novel Summer Sisters and give it my highest recommendation. So, you can imagine how excited I was to read about Ms. Blume's process in the LtWF newsletter (Volume 78). The article even mentioned Summer Sisters. I'm calling it a gift from the writing fairies. I will totally accept inspiration where it happens. That article made me feel a little better about my very messy writing process. So kudos to LtWF, Cheryl Corbin, and Judy Blume.

Another thing I've discovered lately is Feedspot, a feed reader/news aggregator. There are free and premium editions of the service. The premium edition seems very reasonably priced. I received a free, one-year gold subscription from Feedspot, and I'm really impressed with the setup so far. I like how streamlined it is and how easy it is to manage subscriptions. I was using Blogger for tracking my favorite blogs, but with Google Reader/Friend Connect no longer in service, I can't edit my lists. For more about Feedspot, you can check out a review of their service at TechCrunch, and read about the company on their Wikipedia page.

SassiePup Toes
Need a free online image editor? I am totally in love with Pixlr, so much so I've added it to my sidebar. You can use this handy image editor for free online, or download it to your mobile device. I especially love the bandage tool. It even supports layers. I completely love this image editor. Five stars all the way.

Moving along, moving along...

A couple of days ago, I watched Cloud Atlas, which is based on the novel by David Mitchell. It basically shows multiple characters existing across several lifetimes. There were some parts of it I liked better than others, but oh man, what a great study in characterization. Ignore the bad reviews of this movie. It was an ambitious project to start with, and the film makers did a great job pulling all the elements together. If you haven't watched Cloud Atlas yet, check it out.

Minor spoiler warning: There is one part of Cloud Atlas that really sticks out to me as truly brilliant writing. In one of Tom Hanks's character incarnations, he plays a Celtic goat herder that is plagued by Old Georgie, a leprechaun/devil character. Of course, Old Georgie is a product of the goat herder's imagination, but it is so bothersome to him that he visits the village healer/seer (Susan Sarandon) for advice. The seer goes into a trance and tells him Old Georgie is after his soul.

In a different incarnation, Tom Hanks's character is a colonial doctor. A young man has come to him for help with a brain parasite. On board a sailing ship home, the man's condition seems to worsen. Tom Hanks' character has been poisoning him systematically, because the young man wears an iron key around his neck that goes to a chest of gold...and Hanks's character wants it! Once more, although Old Georgie has not been mentioned, something dark (greed) has come after his soul.

What a great display of character consistency, and across multiple timelines to boot. The same can be said of Hugo Weaving's character, who remains a powerful bad guy throughout all his interesting incarnations. He seems to be a direct expression of the movie's theme, which is spoken by Halle Berry: Why we keep making the same mistakes...over and over.

No matter what you think of the overall movie, Cloud Atlas is a brilliant look at the character arc and the possibilities available to us when writing. Very inspiring stuff. I highly recommend watching the film.

That's all for now. I have more catching up to do. Until next time, I wish you all a cozy weekend.  

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