A writer reading aka their happy place.

IMG_0257I haven’t been reading much this year, just a novel here and there. I know, I know, a writer not reading is like an astronomer not looking at the stars. It’s like a five star chef living off of microwaved burritos. It’s like an artist throwing out their paint brushes. It’s like, well, it’s like a writer not reading.

I’ve just been so busy recently. I have so many side projects, besides work that actually pays the bills, that now I have to schedule everything in. At the end of the day, I just don’t have a schedule block left for reading. I need to get at least six hours of sleep in, or I don’t function well the next day and it ends up throwing off the rest of my schedule.

IMG_0302I miss the days when I was young and resilient. When four hours of sleep was more than enough. Ahh, I was so productive back then! FYI, you know you’re a life-long insomniac when you start remembering fondly about the times when you didn’t sleep.

Anyway, my reading dry spell finally came to an end when I found a copy of Howl’s Moving Castle at my local library. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and HMC is one of my favorite movies, so I thought it might be fun to read the novel that the movie was based on. I already know that whatever format you first see or hear a story, that’s the format you’re going to like the most. So people that saw the Harry Potter movies first before reading the books almost always liked the movies better, and it’s the other way around for people that read the books first. So I started this novel with the expectation that I just naturally wouldn’t like it as much as the movie.

After the first couple chapters, I was completely surprised. I really loved the story. But I still loved the movie too. Weird, right? The novel was like the Ghibli film, but expanded. It’s just as visual and quirky as the lush animation that Ghibli is known for, but you also get all sorts of extras, like the background story of Howl, and Letty plays a bigger role in the story, and you get a little bit of Markle/Michael’s background story. And so much more! Like have you ever wondered why Sophi was so defeatist in the movie? Well, the book explains that. I really loved this book and it just made me love the movie even more. This is the way book and movie duos should be.

IMG_0383It was really a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone that’s a fan of Ghibli films, fantasy stories, or funky quirky British lit.

 

P.S. I added in these photos because when ever I think of Ghibli’s animation I always think of lush beautiful scenery filled with flowers.

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I’m not a fan?!

broken heart in two 3

Disney princesses around the world are crying! Their long time fan as failed them. Sorry Ariel, Belle, Mulan, I really tried to get into the story, but this icy tale just isn’t for me.

See, I’ve never watched the Disney movie Frozen. I was busy with college classes when it first came out in the theaters, and I just never got around to seeing it. This is pretty unusual for me, because I’m a really big fan of the Disney princesses. I grew up watching The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast,  and I continued to watch the princess movies long after it was age appropriate.

 

But tonight everything just seemed to come together, so I could finally see Frozen. A local TV channel was airing it at just the right time that I would be back from work (I tend to get home late) but not so late that I wouldn’t be able to stay up to see the ending. And there was nothing else I needed to do tonight. (Thank God Christmas shopping is over with!) So, this was going to be perfect. I mean, I really liked the theme song “Let it go” (I even have a post by that title) and this movie was so popular when it first came out. So, this was going to be great, right? right?

Um, not so much.    broken F bits4

I guess the writer in me just couldn’t help but get hung-up on some glaring storytelling problems in this movie. For one thing, having two protagonists is rarely a good idea, it almost always dilutes the story. And there was plenty of action, but where was the character development? There didn’t seem to be a clear plot goal or even a clear villain. There wasn’t really any story structure either. And what’s with the random characters that just seem to exist to fill plot holes, like the trolls and Hans. The third act was truly cringe worthy. Like how the story needed a villain to come to a classic Disney end, so surprise, suddenly Hans becomes evil! Huh?

I just really feel like Disney didn’t even try to write a good story for this movie.

Sorry, Disney princesses, this is one princess movie I won’t be re-watching. Maybe Moana will be better?

Must see!

IMG_0147For every fantasy writer there are three movies you absolutely must see. It’s important to watch them, not just because they are good, but because they set the foundation for all the fantasy stories that came after them or they are an example of the best of their kind. Yes, most of these movies started as books, but watching the stories as movies really helps with visuals.
The top three must see movies for Fantasy writers are:

IMG_0096Princess bride– Pirates, evil princes, Spanish swordsmen, giants, and one beautiful princess, this is a classic Damsel iN Distress story. What makes this movie a must-see is its quality, it is the number one best DND story I’ve ever seen. There’s a reason why this is a cult classic.

IMG_0151(Jim Henson’s) Labyrinth– There are so many classic Fantasy themes in this movie I don’t even know where to start. This movie definitely leans more towards fairytale than high fantasy, so no surprise, the main character is a girl. But there’s also a huge, ever changing maze, fairies, dwarves, monsters, goblins (a goblin king) and traps she has to get through to save her loved one. In contrast to Princess bride, this damsel might be in distress, but she’s taking care of the problem herself.

IMG_0070Lord of the rings, Fellowship of the ring– You had to know this was coming. No list of fantasy movies could be complete without at least mentioning the LOR epic. Tolkien literally wrote the book on elves, dwarves, and so many other fantasy story staples. Even if you’re not up for the six volume saga (the Hobbit + Lord of the rings) you have to watch at least this one movie.

IMG_0147Bonus movie
Almost any version of Alice in wonderland– This is the story that started the “Down the rabbit hole and back again” plot device. In fact, I think that’s the title of one of the chapters in the book. So many wonderful fantasy stories have been created around the idea of traveling to a strange world and then coming back home, and this one story helped to make all of those stories possible. Try watching Alice in wonderland that then the Lord of the rings, notice some plot similarities?