Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #49 SYTYC Season Eight

It's here, it's here, it's here, it's here, it's here! :fangirlly flail:

Season eight begins at last, with auditions in Atlanta and San Fransisco. Already some massive talent:

Melanie Moore was absolutely mesmerizing

Deon and Damon's friendship, teamwork and choreography are the very definition of a happy dance. While I loved their audition, I kind of don't want them split up...but if they can partner with others as individuals that well, we could all be in for a treat.

I've always loved the energy at an audition, and when it's a huge bunch of dancers, that energy feels ramped up to eleven.

My DH is, alas, not a dance fan, but he did happen to pass through the room last night during one of the final auditions of the evening and asked me if "the guy who did the floating moves" made it through. I told him no; the judges informed said gent that he needed to learn how to pick up choreography. DH agreed. Yeah. Not watching. Love you, hon.

I will let Mary Murphy (whom I am very happy to see back on the judging panel) close this one.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Medieval

I'd planned to hold off on getting The Sims Medieval for a while, but when I stopped by Target to make my planned purchase of the Ambitions expansion pack for Sims 3, there was Medieval at a ridiculous discount. I still meant to be strong, but I didn't count on the generous friend who was with me. Said friend doesn't want to play, herself, but likes to hear what my Sims are up to, and so it came home.

Timesink. I'm glad I waited until the weekend, because as soon as I turned it on, it was like stepping into a slightly bizarre, oddly realistic, very painterly picture book. Monarchs! Bards! Knights! Several quests involving romance in some aspect. Plus the pit beast, kingdom building, gruel, sailing to far off lands to trade goods - haven't done that last one yet, but oh be still my heart. Historical romance fans who are also gamers have got to get a copy of this.

I am tempted to call this research. As soon as I got started, I had plans - I could marry my monarch to my knight and secure an heir, which will be useful in case one of the quests results in my monarch being um, not as alive as she currently is. That was the plan, but then other quests came up and my monarch and knight are cooling their heels while my physician (who is now courting my bard, so somebody's getting some love) and merchant race about to cooperate in attempting to cure a plague. My blacksmith, when last seen, was training a lovely female apprentice and completed a legendary quest to get rid of his flaw of uncouthness, replacing it with Herculean strength. My monk has been freely distributing sacred texts. I have yet to place a wizard's tower or spy headquarters, or for that matter, a kingball court, but any of those will add another layer to the unfolding story.

Because that's how I play any of the Sims games - they are stories, told in pixels rather than words, and because I am me, they are heavy on the romance. Doesn't matter in this case if my physician is gathering leeches or my blacksmith is making armor, my brain is always spinning things. When can I get back to some loving for my monarch and knight? Do I marry my physician and bard now or make them wait for one of the quests when I need a wedding? For that matter, what about the barmaid who keeps bringing my bard a tankard of ale every time he comes home? Sure, the fate of the kingdom is at stake, but for me, the love is the heart of it all.

All of which puts my mind in historical romance mode, which, being a historical romance writer, is a perfectly good place for it to be. Also makes me hungry for a great medieval read in the very near future.

Readers or writers who game, how does your gaming affect your story construction/consumption?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Dance Friday #48 - SYTYCD Anticipation

funny dog pictures - Ur a Excellent Slow Danser!
see more dog and puppy pictures

Only one more week now until the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, which will mean the return of my twice weekly bone-deep yearning to be a twentysomething professional dancer. Though my calendar tells me I would have to be two of them, the heroine of my time travel ms is right at home; this is the language she speaks.

This show never fails to reach right to my creative core, and I can't wait to see what we have coming our way this year. I'm hoping some great choreography from Mia Michaels or Travis Wall. Some Wade Robson would be a much needed shot of adrenaline and I will of course require some elegant ballroom.

Whether it's

or Solos

every year brings a new chance to "meet" dancers who will entertain, inspire, provide catharsis and even healing. Can't wait to see who this year's picks will be. In the meantime, more classics:

I can feel my toes tapping already. How about you?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #40 - Jude Law times two

Thanks to a recommendation from my friend, Carol, I jumped on The Holiday as soon as I saw it in the library's DVD section.

Carol, I owe you one. This was fantastic, and I am now the proud owner of a copy, planning some Christmas all year round double features with Love Actually. I've only had good experiences with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet and the more recent Alfie had put me on a Jude Law kick anyway, so the big surprise here was how much I liked Jack Black's performance, as his type doesn't usually work for me. Here, it most definitely did. Give me pretty much anything with "England" and "Christmas" in the synopsis and I am there in a flash. Adding a good love story to the mix makes it even better. This one has two.

Both heroines, Amanda (Diaz) and Iris (Winslet) are at romantic lows when they switch houses for the holiday with a stranger halfway across the world, which puts them in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Californian Amanda hopes to find refuge in an idyllic English cottage, while English Iris dives into the sun and glamour of Hollywood, to the surprise of Iris' brother, Graham (Law) and Amanda's colleague, Miles (Black.) The two unlikely couples find themselves perfectly suited, though not without realistic issues that must be dealt with before they can find their happy endings. The feel of old classic romance films is present here, with a modern flavor, and even the secondary characters are endearing. Iris and Miles' friend, a retired screenwriter, and two special young ladies in Graham's life provide exactly the right sort of support to further the love stories.

Moonlight fans may experience flashbacks, as the first few minutes include both Alex O'Loughlin and Shannyn Sossamon:

Continuing the Jude Law love, when I discovered that Alfie wasn't the only remake where Jude Law performed a role played by Michael Caine in the original, I had to find Sleuth.

Mr Law is now three for three with me. Loved this one. Taut, suspenseful, and while I've read some critics that called the film's look "claustrophobic," I count that as a plus, as it fits the story of two men locked in a battle of wills perfectly. I can easily see the roots of this story in its original play form and would love to see the play someday.

Andrew Wyke (Caine,) suspense novelist, and Milo Tindle (Law,) an actor and Andrew's wife's lover, meet at Andrew's high tech stately home so that Milo can persuade Andrew to give his wife, Maggie, a divorce so that Milo can be with her. It quickly escalates into something much more sinister when Andrew devises a plot for Milo to fake a jewel theft within the house, which will get Andrew a return on the insurance on the jewels and fund Milo and Maggie's new life abroad. From there, we get a game of cat and mouse, with cat and mouse switching roles more than once on the way to a chilling finish. Before long, Maggie isn't even the issue as the two men battle to see who will be the last man standing.

I am aware there are differences from the 1972 version where Michael Caine played Milo and will be on the lookout for that one. Would love to hear his take on having played both roles in different versions in the same story and if his former portrayal of Milo affected any of his choices in playing Andrew. I am grateful that the clown mask didn't make it into the remake. Never did like clowns, even before Stephen King and It.

What other Jude Law films would you guys recommend?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

NEC RWA 2011, part the first

Photobucket No, I did not bring a camera, so you get random picture from my collection.

It's the Tuesday after the NEC RWA conference, and I am approaching humanity again. Comfortably ensconced in recliner, with lap desk and laptop, legal pad and Micron at the ready. Post-conference adjustment is always a process. No free books on my chair at meals, no Lindor truffles scattered randomly, no workshops and much smaller odds that random strangers, no matter how friendly, are other romance writers.

Disorganized, general thoughts first. The day after the conference is for sleeping, rising only for personal ablutions and filling nutritional needs. Conference food and my allegies are often not friends, so it's par for the course to come back a wee bit peckish. My roommate/crit partner, Melva, and I did discuss nipping out to a nearby restaurant a time or two but conference stuff kept us so busy it wasn't an option.

Good workshops, as always. My choices this year included workshops on psychopaths, writing hooks, word choice and worldbuilding. I pitched twice, the results 50/50. One very good no, and one request for a full ms, both with very useful comments, so I count both pitches as a success.

Networking and talking with other romance writers is always my favorite part of these gatherings, and there was plenty of that. This year saw the addition of a scavenger hunt, a card with a grid containing unique things about other attendees, the object being to find people who fit the descriptors and collect signatures. Ironically, I did not turn mine in because I was too busy talking to others to get all the squares signed. Still had fun, and I have the card as a keepsake. Not to mention free books, bookmarks, and various other promo stuff. I will share some of the books, bookmarks and such, but the chocolate is mine, mine, mine.

More details to follow, as I'm still getting back into the groove of being home, but I did get a good dose of support and inspiration. Now to pound keys.