High Def Daring

Sometimes living large means flexing your brain muscle!

Image

 Picture courtesy of Kate Frovola

ImageIn the past few weeks I have managed to play with some alternate book covers for my works in progress (it helps keep the project fresh and new – plus it’s nice to have a break from the non-stop writing) and had an afternoon at the movies to catch the latest incarnation of Godzilla. I have to say I enjoyed the movie; it was an ohmage to the original Japanese Black and white films with massive monsters battling it out while reeking havoc on a grand scale.  The CGI version was so similar to the plasticine and suited versions of Godzilla’s conception – I thought he looked a bit spoony – but then again, it fit in with the features which started the whole craze. But I’m not reviewing the movie (but if you are a die-hard Godzilla fan it is a must see).

I was more astounded at the behaviour of other movie-goers… where has everyone’s manners gone? I like to go to a movie to submerge myself in the full High Definition experience: massive screens and the volume turned up so loud you feel it through your seats threatening to release your bowels; not compete with constant talking, excessive crackling of plastic wrappers and open-mouthed eating – some guy was even listening to his iPod so loud I could hear it four seats away – honestly dude, why bother watching a movie at all!? I felt like a Nanna reprimanding inconsiderate viewers at their ordasity. I attend screenings quite often – but this time I seemed to cop a bad crowd.

Hopefully next time I hit the cinema I’ll be able to indulge in bombarding my senses without distraction once more. Otherwise I’m going to have to switch to other comparable real-life experiences: swimming with whale sharks, skydiving, or being lost on an alien planet – the first two of which are on my bucket list, the latter is in development.*

Image   Image

Photo courtesy of www.globallygorgeous.com            Photo courtesy of Dan Wayland

I’m hoping to get back on track with crossing some items off my bucket list this year, hardships in the recent six months have meant putting a lot of achievements and dreams on hold – but it’s all behind me now and it’s time to live and live large. Casey in HD!

*A new science fiction series LONERS hit me like a tonne of bricks out of the blue. Evolving from a recurring dream over a week and a half (just how Elliot for keeps started), It has grown into four volumes added to my WIP. You may have to wait a while to read an excerpt though, at this stage I won’t be finished my entire writing list until the end of 2016! Here are some of the ‘Craptastic Covers’ for the titles (I love designing covers for all my books to keep things fun, but they are not used for publication and images compiling these are purely for my own entertainment and not for distribution.)

 Image  Image  Image  Image

Image© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

Red-tape-rage!

When is our hi tech, no paper computer age going to catch up with Births, Deaths and Marriages?

Red Tape Rage Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

A little off topic with this post, but something I felt the need to share – I’ve thumbed my way through brick sized piles of forms throughout the various incarnations in my administrative career, but nothing prepares you for the red tape which needs a chainsaw taken to it while wading (or should I say drowning) through when dealing with administering a deceased estate.

Red Tape Rage Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgThe biggest hurdle to overcome is how emotionally charged everything becomes: anxious knots when you see emails from the Solicitor. Endless hours repeating yourself to yet another telephone operator from a different department within the same company you’ve been talking to while the day is stolen away accompanied by the tune of brain-melting on-hold music.

I’ve coined the phrase ‘red-tape-rage’ for the conditional eye twitch and tight neck muscles that flare up regularly as I endeavour to sort matters, which in my opinion, should be so much easier in today’s society of online technology.

The amount that is involved in this process – the number of people/organisations that are drawn into every little transaction, and the ridiculous tree wasting copies of paperwork that are compulsory make me wish for Harry Potter-esque magical powers. Completicorious! And it’s all done.

The one lesson I’ve learnt from all this is that I’m going to be putting some money aside and have all the details planned for at my demise. Forget a morbid church service – I want a Celebration of life – a multimedia presentation of the fun and madness that is my life. Great food, delicious champagne, lots of colour and sparkly things. I’m nutting out my will as right now – down to the last detail. I want everything to be as automated and go as smoothly as possible. Who wants to bog down your loved ones with the crap I’ve had to wade through over the last six months (unless you really don’t like them), plus it’s still not over. A bunch of money picked away from lawyers, hospitals, funeral homes, government agencies, and the list goes on.

Make sure you take care of your family and plan ahead. Go out with a bang and leave people smiling!

Red Tape Rage Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg
* pictures used: The Herald UK, headache_skratch.com and SydneyFuneral Homes.com respectively

 

Book Review – Anna Dressed in Blood

ImageA hellacious little book which is more surprising than scary…

From Goodreads:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

I passed over this title a number of times in my collection, its first impression did little to excite me. Even after the first few pages, I just about put it down – the language and set up of the storyline felt cliché and overused. Quite possibly it took a beat for the author to warm up to her subject, because after that, I was gripped.

Kendare Blake has written a fun and captivating novel. Macabre – check! Horror- some, but definitely not scary. Suspense – not overly, but expertly kept the tension going right to the last page. Her writing style is pleasant making Anna Dressed in Blood an ultimately entertaining and easy read.

I was a little annoyed in the first few chapters at the repetition of “Anna Dressed in Blood,” like some sort of ominous omen. It destroyed the reverie of the book and instead had me rolling my eyes – reminding me of those ‘80’s horror flicks with the compare staring down the lens using a radio voice in attempts to make us shiver.

ImageTold through Theseus Cassio Lowood’s point of view, who goes by Cas, a young male ghost hunter who travels from town to town eliminating restless spirits before they can add more hapless victims to their body count. He is a likable and sensible young man, and had me cheering for him in no time. His fixation with Anna Korlov, a powerful ghost came off a little weird, but I found I loved the dynamic. Kendare introduces most of the characters as fitting into a overdone stereotype, but then systematically destroys it leaving the cast as interesting and ultimately entertaining.

Granted the characters didn’t face that much difficulty outside of the storyline, abandoning the potential for the novel to become much darker through increasing the problems and anxiety they faced. The addition of parental (and grand-parental) involvement also had me cheering, adding credibility to the plight of Cas and Anna.

I was aware of the author’s voice at some points – inadvertently using language in an effort to sound like a teen. Plus I felt like she let circumstances explained off to easily. With so many unexplained deaths in the backstory, it felt a little too convenient. I felt raising the difficulty for Cas would have added some much needed suspense and intrigue.

Although being able to predict the direction of the book, I was unable to foresee the events which took it there, delighting me with surprises chapter after chapter. It also had the added benefit of having a double climax: just when you think the story is over and things are wrapping up Kendare reveals another set of problems. I know some readers are not a fan of this, but I welcome any break from traditional story telling. With a follow up novel, Girl of Nightmares, I am expecting much more and have already added in my reading pile.

Anna Dressed in Blood is not a horror, not a paranormal thriller, and not a romance, but elements of all three.

Image

It was announced recently that Anna Dressed in Blood in currently under development for a screen adaptation by Stephenie Meyer’s company Fickle Fish, and I’m really excited in anticipation to see how it unravels on the big screen. What elements will they keep, will it be terrifying, or dark and comedic (along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) because it could certainly work either way. Needless to say I will be keeping an eye out for a trailer sometime next year.

Image

*photos used from book+filmsplanet-blogspot.com and 8tracks.com respectivelyImage

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures Review by Casey Carlisle.jpg

A blend of Southern charm and Caster-goodness

 

I reveled in both the book and the movie!

Ethan Wate Beautiful Creatures Film vs Novel by Casey CarlisleThe film was very entertaining in its own right. It remained true to the southern charm and language of the book. That elegant gentlemanly style Ethan Wate exuded is cast perfectly with Alden Ehrenriech. In the film, Alden played Ethan as a little clumsy and awkward which in my opinion made him more realistic and adorable. Lena Duchannes (played by Alice Enflert) was a little less developed, but nonetheless I was able to connect with her character’s dilemma and appreciated that she wasn’t as dramatic as her written counterpart. It feels slightly off kilter to like the Film version of Ethan and the written representation of Lena – the reasons being the Ethan in the novel felt a little too good to be true, he always appeared to be so sure of his convictions and was the rock to Lena’s storm (sometimes literally) of emotions. The smiling and, at times uncoordinated, actions of Alden, along with an infectious chuckle lent a vulnerability and insecurity to Ethan which immediately had me wanting to give him a big hug. Lena in the book was everything you want from an outsider: reserved and secretive, difficult to get to know, brooding and emotional. It added to the stakes and drama showing the angst in her actions and inner thoughts. Comparatively Alice’s interpretation on the big screen felt a little stiff and non-expressive, it left me feeling like they had cast someone too old for the role rather than a character that was an extreme introvert.

Lena Beautiful Creatures Film vs Novel by Casey CarlisleThe storyline for the film remained true to the novel (apart from the ending) and I appreciated how screenwriters weaved elements from the book, so that you got to see all its best elements on screen. Granted the stories weren’t identical but I felt an excellent job was done for the medium. If you included all the elements from the novel in the film adaptation it would be left busy and overdone, eclipsing the soul of the story: Ethan and Lena’s romance. The novel had a quickened pace and flourishing language where I was gripped from page to page. The fight scenes were more intricate and involved a larger cast – I would have liked to have seen the same grandiose climax on screen, but appreciate how it would not have worked with the adapted storyline.

Overall the film was a much lighter and charming version than the novel – which I found truly beautiful. The landscape, the music, it all worked for me. The darker tone in the novel made it an enthralling read, and thought the climax and end happened rather quickly, it was ultimately satisfying. Definitely one of the best reads this year by far.

 

Beautiful Creatures Film vs Novel by Casey CarlisleYes, the movie was somewhat predictable, and many of the reveals in the plot shown too early (in my opinion), where the suspense was timed to perfection in the written version. As I mentioned the endings are different, but I don’t think the movie did any disservice to the book, or the series. It’s sad the movie under performed and no sequels are slated for production, I would have at the front of the cue to reserve tickets.

I’d recommend both, although maybe read the book before the movie to save you from spoilers. In deciding on which is better: I’d have to say it is a tie! They both stood out on their own merits and I found little fault in either.

For both the film and the novel: endearing and full of charisma.

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Interesting conversations : writing dialogue for Young Adults.

Why what you overhear in the local shopping outlet does not belong in our literature.

photos.demandstudios.com-getty-article-110-142-78196150_XS

Photo courtesy of demandstudio.com

“Dialogue in books needs to be more interesting than real life counterparts.”

I put this statement to the test recently in a little exercise deciding on how to write dialogue for my YA novels. I spent a day down in my local shopping centre inconspicuously eavesdropping on conversations between students, praying that I was not outed as a sex pest or lurker.

By the end of the day, bloated and waterlogged with copious helpings of cake and cups of tea, I used my sugar-fuelled high to compare the results of dictated ramblings from shopping mall adolescents with that of my imagined versions. It did not paint a pretty picture for the youth of today. I was horrified. Without sounding too old, back in my teen years, a danger was the copious use of ‘um’ making us sound unsure, or a little slow on the uptake. Today it seems to have been superseded by ‘like’ – in addition to IM acronyms and pop culture slang. “Like, OMG that dude was like, totes clocking you’re A double dollar signs.” They all mimicked an American fourteen year old girl from a plethora of teen movie blockbusters.

It was in every conversation, infecting our English language with irrelevant words clogging up sentences. Even their topics of incessant babbling were laborious. At times I was in danger of lapsing into a coma from boredom. I had decided that I was nothing like that as a teen, and perhaps the target market of my novels weren’t the type that hung out in shopping centres, but rather, anti-social in their bedrooms and lounge rooms with nose in a book… well most likely a kindle or on a smart phone.

I know I hoped I wasn’t going to sound too old; but it’s apparent – I’m ancient! A bitter, appalled at the attitudes and intelligence of young’uns today, aging bitty!

Writers in my genre occasionally use slang in their narratives to give a modern edge to their novels, but I’m glad that no-one actually writes the way I heard over the last few days – I’d be burning the book instead of returning it to the shelf.

So what should we be doing to keep in touch with today’s young adult readers? We want to have fresh, hip and witty banter without it melting our brains right? The main difference between what is overheard at the Mall, and what is written on the page is motivation and intent. Most of the real life conversations I eavesdropped on were simply inane chatter – filling the emptiness and finding a common ground for acceptance in a group. Writing dialogue for your characters generally has a purpose, so of course they are going to sound completely different. What would happen if you asked those Mallrats an intelligent question? Their language would change.

While it’s a great exercise in social behaviour and to glean colloquial terms and slang, it’s not something you want to use as a template for writing your novel. Most teens read to be entertained, connect with a character and learn something in the process: about the world, about relationships, about language. So writers are given leniency in creating dialogue that is a tad unrealistic.

The kind of thing I transcribed while drowning in warm cuppas and sugary snacks are the conversations we skip over in our writing. It’s space-filler. The only merit I could garner was tuning in to current fads and phrases. Comparing writing from ten and even twenty years ago in the same genre – are they any less relatable now? Do they still ring true to today’s audience? The answer is yes! So in my quest for ideas to create captivating dialogue, another source is needed. Some controlled studies and conversations with the target audience; movies and television, novels released in the same genre… they are all great tools for inspirations, but in the end it has to be your own instincts that make the decision.

I’d set out trying to offer up a great tip for writing, but instead discovered, like many of our ideas,  it comes from the ether. A magical place where plots, storylines, and characters materialize from, forming and evolving in our grey matter before we finally put pen to paper and scribe out our inner workings.

As unclear as that answer is, our ideas and imagination also need to be tended to, fed on a diet of art, literature and life experience. As our bodies ‘are what we eat,’ so is the muse. Read widely, discuss ideas, experience many wild and wonderful things, it all matures and colours your writing. And as always – never give up! ‘Because, like, you know, it’s all tot’s awesome.’

If you have interesting tips on writing attention-grabbing dialogue for a Young Adult audience, I’d love to hear your feedback – or swap a funny story about your research.

Happy writing.

Image

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 5th Wave – Book Review

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, dystopia

No. of pages: 457

From Goodreads:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

The Fifth Wave combined many aspects I love, (and many I dislike) but enabled to keep me hooked until the last page. Rick Yancey brings the realism of survival at the feet of an alien invasion in bright, bloody and disparaging technicolour.

I know this book is currently in pre-production for a film staring Chloe Grace Mortez, one of my favourite young actors, and I’m hoping that some of the failings in the novel don’t make it to the screen – if they are able to ignore the large plot and scientific shortcomings it has the potential to outshine the novel ten-fold. Let’s hope it sticks to the original content and doesn’t stray into being too much like ‘Bodysnatchers.’

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 09The story itself was highly entertaining, I love battles against the odds, and science fiction, so combining both of these ensured this title was in my library. The main character, Cassie Sullivan reacted to the events described in the novel in such a raw and organic way, it was easy to put myself in her place. Instead of being the big superhero, Cassie’s survival skill kicked in, tuning into that pre-evolutionary instinct to run and hide. It was this aspect that kept me reading. If she had immediately turned into a super soldier I would have discarded the book right then and there.

The alien invasion and military angle throughout the book made less sense. The premise of ‘waves’ from a technologically advanced species; especially after reading about some of their advancements (space travel, teleportation, biological warfare), a passive invasion, even on the pretence of being careful not to damage the Earth’s ecosystem was untenable. It is quite possible that from the unreliable and adolescent point of view of Cassie’s that the real circumstances were not so – but this fact is never made clear. In addition, the conspiracy and military actions were also far fetched for such a superior civilization. For me, these facts had the aliens looking stupid – almost juvenile. Granted the premise for the story is ingenious – conquering in waves – but its execution pathetic.

The other aspect that had me cringing, and as much as I liked Cassie, she came across as fickle in the face of the world ending with boy problems. It wasn’t handled well at all. With people dying around her, her family struggling to live, and hiding in a crumbling town, her woes that Ben Parish, the cute boy at school was just as important had me gagging. If Rick understood girls at all, he should have played with her vulnerabilities in relation to her wanting to feel beautiful, and for things to go back to normal when dealing with these feelings to avoid the sudden change of focus. It felt cold and unnecessary in the beginning of her story.

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 02Other than that, the characters felt real and well-rounded. You could see motivations other than survival in different hues within the cast. The helplessness of human efforts, despair, self-sacrifice, came shining through. The graphic descriptions and action did not shy away from violence or impact of losing a loved one in the throws of war as things that occur daily adding a vulnerability and realism in Cassie’s world.

About two-thirds into the novel there is a change in point of view to Ben Parish (a.k.a. Zombie), which I felt was left too late in the story. You’ve invested a lot in Cassie and her plight, and then – yoink! Normally a change in storytellers play off each other, which this did to a degree – but I felt it cheated by using it as a tool to fill the reader in on important information on the invasion rather than develop Cassie’s character further.

The pacing of the novel was enthralling, granted there were a few spots where I put the book down because it was losing me, but overall I kept at it and completed the entire story in a few days. Rick Yancey’s style is pleasant to read, and certainly adds to Cassie’s inner machinations.

It reminded me a lot of the television series ‘Falling Skies’ and if you enjoyed watching that, then this is a book for you.

Judging The Fifth Wave solely on its storytelling, I’d have to reward it with four kisses rather than fall into a philosophical debate on advanced technology and civilizations. I’ve yet to read the next in the series, but will definitely give it a go, hoping that ‘The Infinite Sea’ uses the maturity Cassie has achieved to shed some light on the problems overlooked here.

4 out of 5 kisses a Casey Carlisle.jpg

 

Image

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.