Wrapping up 2020…. And good riddance!

Looking back through the year that was, a lot has happened, but a lot did not… It’s kind of a 2020 thing. All my friends are saying the same. My yearly goals have mostly been thrown out the window because of Covid-19 and a cancer diagnosis (again, sigh) but let’s get this wrap up done and put a positive spin on things.

Book worm:

My last catch up was in October leaving my TBR at 423, I didn’t post a November wrap-up because I’d not long started chemotherapy and was focusing on my health and wellbeing, so any work and reading goals felt superfluous. (Plus I was tired and in pain all the time and it was difficult to concentrate.) Though I did read 2 books in November, and completed 8 novels in December, taking the TBR down to 413. I’m still on my buying ban until I get below 400.

I set my reading goal to 52 books for the year, but was really hoping to reach 104… I kept it light with all the financial stresses, health issues, etc… but managed to complete 68 book for the calendar year which I’m happy about.

Thinking back over the year though, I would have to highlight my top five reads:

This Mortal Coil (trilogy) the first two novels were outstanding, it’s action packed and choc full of STEM themes of what the future could look like under heavy influence of genetic manipulation and body modification.

Highway Bodies is a zombie apocalypse with diversity. Highly entertaining and so proud of a fellow Aussie author.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a comedic historical fiction that had me laughing up a storm, really looking forward to completing the series.

I’ll Give You the Sun was a surprise hit out of the park. Bring your tissues for this roller coaster ride.

Reckoning a non-fiction title by Australian darling Magda Szubanski was beautiful melancholic writing that captured a lot of my youth and challenges what it means to not only be an Aussie, but a human being.

Scribe and scribble:

I only managed a paltry 1500 words for the year. With distractions, having to work long hours, being the only one to stay employed through the Covid-19 lockdown for six months, then having to manage doctors’ appointments and chemotherapy, not only did I have little time to write, but my mind simply wasn’t in the right headspace to get creative. It was a depressing year, but I am thankful the worst is behind me.

Levelling Up:

I still haven’t completed my marketing course, it had to put on the back burner in favour of other priorities. But I am still keen to complete it in 2021 and am eyeing off a few other short courses. I love to learn!

Social Butterfly:

My biggest goal for 2020 was to be more social, get out and about more… and well, it goes without saying that it didn’t happen. Lockdown and being immune-compromised has meant I’ve become a bigger homebody than ever. Oh the irony! On the upside, I’ve caught a lot of good television. Australian series ‘Glitch’ has been a big favourite, tv series ‘Insatiable’ had me in belly laughs, ‘Dickinson’ staring Hailey Stansfield was strangely hypnotic, I re-watched the ‘Teen Wolf’ series and making a start on re-watching ‘Supernatural’ now that it is ending; props to ‘Love, Victor’ and ‘Never Have I Ever.’ Fell in love with ‘Little Mix : The Search,’ squee’d over ‘Julie and the Phantoms,’ and like everyone else got a big sci-fi hit with ‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘Star Trek Discovery’ and ‘The Expanse.’

Some movies that brought me joy include: ‘The Invisible Man,’ ‘Underwater,’ ‘Like a Boss,’ ‘We Summon the Darkness,’ ‘My Spy,’ ‘Enola Holmes,’ ‘Love and Monsters,’ ‘Happiest Season,’ ‘Uncle Frank,’ ‘Freaky,’ ‘Godmothered,’ ‘Superintelligence,’ and ‘Monsters of Man.’

Work that body:

I was working out before the Covid-19 shutdown, and was making progress, though it wasn’t until 6 months later that the gym re-opened and I only got in a month before getting diagnosed with cancer and not being able to return. Though as a part of my treatment and recovery I am doing stretches, getting adrenal massages, and anything else the doctors have recommended to increase my chances for a quick recovery. I have lost some weight, my hair has been falling out, I feel a lot of aches and pains and lose my breath easily; but with a prognosis of 100% recovery I know it is all temporary and am looking forward to normalising my health in the new year. Some scary emergency hospital stays knocked my confidence a bit, but the idea of simply being able to take my dogs for a walk around the park keeps me motivated – I mean those soulful eyes would heal anyone!

As much as 2020 has been a dumpster fire, it’s forced me to focus on what is important and plan out my 2021 – it’s going to be a cracker of a year, because I don’t think I could do worse that 2020 anyway. The only way is up!!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. 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.

Book Review – ‘You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)’ by Felicia Day

Deconstructing feminity in a male-driven industry… plus gaming and D&D and stuff.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

No. of pages: 272

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

I have to admit I was a massive fan of Felicia Day, mainly for her acting chops in shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Eureka,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘The Magicians,’ ‘Supernatural,’ and ‘Dollhouse’ and the film ‘Red: Werewolf Hunter.’ I loved the fact there was another red headed actress out there making strides. I also knew she was kind of a geek, but that was the extent of what I knew of her. Delving into this memoir I became infinitely impressed with her drive and determination despite crippling anxiety and depression. She has two degrees, and effectively launched her own television production company (through web content.) Wowzer! What a chick.

I particularly loved how she approached each roadblock in her unique way. There was no ball-busting bitch. Day is a self-confessed delicate flower, yet she found ways to stand up against the Hollywood meat grinder, internet trolls, and financial struggles. It was such a delight to read about the antithesis of the cold, stone-faced, barren, corporate spinster women thought they needed to be to achieve success in a male dominated society.

She is pretty witty too. I laughed a few times, and enjoyed the memes she included in the books format to accompany the narrative. It wasn’t a laugh-riot, but has an upbeat quirky tone that I haven’t experienced in another memoir to date.

There is a lot of content about ‘The Guild’ and ‘Geek and Sundry’ – which is a major life achievement for her, but I was unfamiliar with a lot of that stuff, and not really into gaming, so my interest waned on the material… which is like, one third of the book. But underlying all of that content are gems and life lessons you learn as you navigate your way through self-discovery, and building a business.

I was particularly confronted towards the end around the internet hate, trolling, and doxing. Such an extreme form or bullying and so obviously done by white men throwing their opinions around and trying to tear down anyone who does not fit into the image they want them to. Felicia Day never comes out and says it directly – probably for legal reasons – but there is some plain-as-day misogynists out there in places of power, and hiding behind the anonymity of the internet that need to be checked, or simply removed from their thrones. Period. My heart bleeds for Day that she had to live through that experience.

This was a lovely read, and some of the content I could not relate to directly, but the core messages, and Felicia’s personality shine through. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in acting, YouTube, gaming, or struggling with online hate. She has since published another book ‘Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity’ which I am particularly interested in, as it sounds to be more focused on life-lessons and strategies for a creative driven business. Right up my alley.

Overall feeling: Brilliant insight.

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

Tip Sheets – and why it is important to create at least one for your book.

There are many aspects to launching your book and creating awareness, tip sheets are a must-have element to include in your marketing strategy.

Launching your book, or gaining exposure through media outlets can give you immediate results and boost not only your sales, but your profile as an author. When you have toiled for months and years writing your novel and honing it into a masterpiece, you would want it to have the best possible chance to become a commercial success. You can outsource this kind of task to a publicity or PR firm, blast it on social media. However, creating a tip sheet for release to the media can save you some big dollars and give your marketing schedule a massive boost.

I know numerous authors who have created their own tip sheets, and implemented them with local media outlets and seen immediate results. Below is information I have collated from several sources and examples to help you create and implement your own tip sheet for your book launch, or increase exposure in conjunction with a special offer.

What’s a tip sheet?

A tip sheet is a short publication intended for media outlets containing the latest information, anecdotes, theme-related content, and quotations pertaining to your book, usually in easy-to-read bullet form.

It is similar to a press release – a self-contained story focused around elements of interest from the book (not the book directly) that can be run as-is for the media bodies

Generally tip sheets showcase a novel’s content, theme, message, or author related subjects, while getting the book title in front of the target demographic.

Tip sheet topics and elements

If you hire a PR company or publicist they will do all the hard yards for you and provide a proof for approval before release, but if you want to save some bucks and tackle this yourself, here’s some examples of things you could include. Don’t throw everything and the kitchen sink in your tip sheet, keep it succinct, on topic, and easy to read.

A must is an attention grabbing headline. Something that will not only peak the interest of the media outlets, but also your target audience. It should directly lead to the topic you are discussing in your tip sheet information.

Have an opening paragraph that introduces your topic, or raises a problem/issue that your are going to provide solutions for.

Don’t forget to have a concluding paragraph with information about you, the author, and your book (and it’s release date.)

Here are some ideas to prompt you in crafting your tip sheet:

  • Providing factual or historical information on what your book is about/ where it is set
  • A unique anecdote about the author, or material/themes from the novel
  • Solve a problem that is introduced in the book in some way, or something that the author overcome to write the book.
  • How topics or themes in your book relate to trending news stories.
  • Something that is unique about you, or your book.
  • A top 10 tips list

The list is endless, it’s about hooking the interest of your reader – but remember a tip sheet is not directly about your book, it’s a publicity tool that relates to your book. We’re not spruiking ‘buy my book because it is a fun read with great magical elements and a tough-as-nails protagonist.’ Instead we are creating ambient buzz. For instance, you could be discussing the influence of pop culture on the rise of wicca from tv shows like ‘Charmed’ and ‘Buffy’… and then mention at the end of your discussion how your interest in this topic lead you to writing a unique magic system for your novel.

Breaking it down

HEADLINE

Think of a tip sheet like a news or magazine article – a catchy headline. Click-baity. On-trend words and phrases. What titles grab your attention when skimming the newspaper, what blog article headlines do you click on when browsing the internet? Pay close attention to those elements and you’ll have a roadmap to creating a great headline.

OPENING PARAGRAPH

In that opening paragraph when you state what this story/tip sheet is about – use facts, statistics, and/or quotes to ground your article. This shows you are coming from a place of knowledge. An expert.

A well researched tip sheet is a successful one. It lets the media outlets your pitching to sound like experts too. The less work the journalists, presenters, or bloggers have to do, the better. They are usually time-poor, so the less preparation they have to do, the better your chances are for them picking up and running with your story.

Provide a quote from yourself, or someone else (cite sources) that add something new to the story – a new fact or perspective, a twist, or even inject some humour.

INTRODUCE your tip sheet topics in one sentence.

TIP SHEET Topics

List your tip sheet topics in bullet form, short, to-the-point  and easy to read.

CONCLUSION

The final paragraph ties everything up with two or three factual sentences about the author and the book.

Here’s some examples of what a tip sheet looks like to get you started on creating your own:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

4th September 2020

FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR CANCER… AUTHOR JENNIFER DUGGAN TAKES PART IN A VARIETY SHOW TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE CANCER COUNCIL

On the 20th of November the Town Hall will be transformed into the glitziest venue in the city for a charitable variety comedy show to raise funds for cancer sufferers. Author Jennifer Duggan brings her unique style of stand-up in a star-studded event. Miss Duggan asks that the audience make a donation upon entry for the Cancer Council.

Audiences will see six performers, Jennifer Duggan, Michael Plott, Michelle Foley, Frederick Grainger, Kate Millichamp, and Doug Deep bring the funny in ten minute sets, with drag sensation Willma Fingerdo as MC for the night.

With her cutting and sarcastic wit Jennifer Duggan has paved a successful career with her comedy stylings, and with one her sister currently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lympoma, Jennifer Duggan follows her passion of stand-up and raising money to help those like her sister who are fighting cancer.

The Olivia Newton John Foundation states that “We all know at least one person who has been affected either directly, or indirectly by cancer.” With members of the foundation in attendance along with some support staff from the local hospitals oncology ward.

Jennifer Duggan has said “It’s important we get the funds needed to fight this thing that is taking so many members of our family. Research into a cure is paramount. Nobody wants to be sick. Being able to laugh in a time of such difficulty has been important for me and my sister, so I wanted to share that with everyone. That’s why I’m taking part in this variety show. It’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart.”

Jennifer Duggan also has a memoir being released on 5th December that further showcases her humour and anecdotes of growing up in Australia and a behind the scenes look at the world of stand-up comedy.

Don’t miss all the action on the 20th of November at the Town Hall. Come down and support our local artists and raise money for our fight against cancer with all proceeds going to the Cancer Council. Doors open at 7pm. Visit http://www.jenniferduggan.com.au for more information.

ENDS

For further details, interview or photographic opportunities please contact:

Jennifer Duggan

Telephone 555-456-9910

email author@jenniferduggan.com

Contact: Jane Doe, 555-727-3910, Janetheauthor@janedoebooks.com

Nine tips for writing op-eds that get published

ROCHESTER, NY – November 15, 2014 – Op-eds – essays that appear opposite the editorial pages of newspapers – are powerful communications tools for nonprofit organizations working to influence public policy or initiate change. But one communicator says that too many local nonprofits miss some of their best opportunities to inform readers through these opinionated essays.

“National headline news stories give nonprofits the hook their opinion pieces need to catch an editorial page editor’s attention, but nonprofits don’t always take advantage of this because they can’t react quickly enough to write and place an essay when it’s still timely,” says Jane Doe, author of Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions (Kaplan Publishing).

Jane Doe recommends having at least one op-ed written in advance to use when a news event brings the op-ed’s topic to the public’s attention. She cites recent headlines as examples: The latest celebrity starting a family before getting married creates a news peg for pro-family organizations while a weather disaster provides a hook for groups helping businesses and individuals prepare for disasters.

Jane Doe’s book offers these nine tips for writing effective op-eds you can update according to the news story for immediate publication:

· Introduce yourself to your newspaper’s op-ed page editor by telephone or e-mail and request the publication’s op-ed guidelines. Then follow them.

· Determine your goal. What do you want to achieve through your op-ed? Do you want people to behave differently or take a specific action? Keep this goal in mind as you write.

· Select one message to communicate. Op-eds are short – typically no more than 800 words – so you have room to make just one good point.

· Be controversial. Editors like essays with strong opinions that will spark conversation.

· Illustrate how the topic or issue affects readers. Put a face on the issue by starting your essay with the story of somebody who has been affected or begin with an attention-getting statistic.

· Describe the problem and why it exists. This is often where you can address the opposing viewpoint and explain your group’s perspective.

· Offer your solution to the problem and explain why it’s the best option.

· Conclude on a strong note by repeating your message or stating a call to action.

· Add one or two sentences at the end that describe your credentials as they relate to the topic.

“With this approach, when your issue is suddenly making headlines, you can write an introduction that connects the news to your essay and e-mail it to the editor quickly,” adds Miss Doe.

Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure that Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions is available at neighborhood and online booksellers or by calling 800-245-BOOK. For more information, go to http://www.nonprofitpublicity.com.

  • Simply substitute in your details, quotes, resources, and information and there you go!

Useful hints to remember when creating your tip sheet:

Remember to look at a plethora of newspaper and magazine articles before writing the tip sheet. The news writing style is informal and factual. 

A tip sheet is commonly written to help people solve a problem. State a problem . . . offer your solutions.

Offer an incentive or reason to buy your book.

Promote something important or unique in your story.

How to use tip sheets

Distribute tip sheets to media outlets that would be interested in the content.

There are interesting tutorials on skillshare.com about this if you need more of a visual learning aid, coming from people who successfully use what they are discussing. You can pay for a month’s subscription for a small investment in your career, get what you need, and cancel the service.

There is information on media outlet websites with guidelines on how to submit your material, so be sure to check those out before emailing. Make sure that your story is similar to the types of articles they frequently publish.

Alternatively there are services like eReleases  that can help.

Welp, I hope there’s enough information here to get you started. And remember, tip sheets are just an aspect of your book launch, or growing your author profile. You should calendar out your book launch and use tip sheets in conjunction with many other activities like social media marketing, book signings, talks, interviews, blog tours…. start building your marketing schedule today!

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 Rook – Picture vs Page

The Rook Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

This story had everything that I loved. The paranormal, a mystery, a strong female lead, a dry comic wit, interesting characters, a supernatural secret service, and plenty of weirdness.

A warning though: be here some spoilers as this is a comparison between the book and the television series.

The biggest draw-back with the novel was its propensity to excessive info-dumping. In the form of diary entries, letters, re-tellings… and they went on for pages. You would get some sort of background information, flashback, or journal entry every 5 pages or so. It really bogged down the pacing of ‘The Rook,’ and frankly, had me losing interest many, many times. The subject matter was interesting and slightly relevant to the plot, but altogether longwinded and far too common in the narrative. I feel like this novel could have been 150pages shorter and been one heck of a read. The television series handled this a lot better; instead of lengthy letter reading, we get succinct video files. A more omnipresent form of narration meant we got to see things unravel for ourselves. This story is built better for television.

Consequently I had started this novel twice and abandoning it before getting 50 pages in because it was, well … scattered. At my third attempt, I pushed through as many pages as I could before I was again bombarded with all-too-many info-dumps. It wasn’t until I got just passed the halfway point (pg 260 or thereabouts) that I felt like the plot had a direction and a driving force for protagonist Myfanwy pulling the story into focus. I was hooked on the television series right away however. It is more in the tone of a spy thriller though… and to that end a lot of the paranormal happenings, and the outlandish comedy of some of these things from the novel were ignored by the small screen version to keep a more serious tone. A bummer really – I loved the concluding scenes of the novel, and there is nothing like that in the tv show.

I have a bit of a thing with amnesia as a storytelling device. It’s an overused trope and can either be executed poorly, or brilliantly. Thankfully ‘The Rook’ falls into the latter category. This wasn’t an ‘I bumped my head and my memories are slowly coming back’ type plot, but a part of a paranormal mystery. In the novel Myfanwy never gets her memories back, but the television show had her gaining back her memory in short snippets which I felt was a massive disservice to the story (and the abilities of paranormals)… but I guess it works better for a visual presentation. But Emma Greenwell’s portrayal of Myfanwy Thomas is definitely a highlight of the series. I was also bummed out at the special effects and how she uses her powers – like she was having a seizure – and the blackened fingers. I felt this was an unnecessary addition to add drama. I liked the fact her abilities were more covert like it was represented in the novel.

The Rook Season 1 2019

Daniel O’Malley has a quaint writing style with a dry sense of humour. He has a gorgeous way of painting a picture for character descriptions, and I thoroughly enjoyed – and got lost – in the narrative. Again, my only gripe is – edit! Edit lots! I’m uncertain if all the information we get in ‘The Rook’ was relevant to the storyline. Is all that superfluous information going to be resolved in the sequel ‘Stilletto,’ or was it just that Daniel was so immersed in the world of ‘The Rook’ that all the details felt like they were important? There are no pacing issues with the small screen version, but I was repeatedly wondering why they made the tweaks to the story they did. The show felt a little bland. The humour is gone. The tension of Myfanwy having nowhere to turn, not knowing who to trust was great in the novel – but in the show, felt a little all over the place.

Where American agent Monica Reed (played by Olivia Munn) was an ally in the novel, she has become more of an antagonist, or an alternate protagonist in the tv series, I was most unhappy of the treatment of the storyline involving Monica, Myfanwy, and Marcus Kevler. The whole thing had me going hrmmm…

The Rook Film vs Novel Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

The paranormal powers were so imaginative, scary, and hilarious in the novel. So many obtuse and unique abilities to rival the X-Men. There are a lot of characters in ‘The Rook’ too. Even with all the copious explanations and backstories, I didn’t start to identify all the cast separately until after the halfway point. It was much easier in the television series, but did not like the treatment and storyline of Conrad Grantchester (played by Adrian Lester.) It moved away from the ominous tone of the members of the Checquy, how Myfanwy has to face them… and the power struggle, political manoeuvrings that play into the novels epic conclusion. The tv show went in a different – and in my opinion, much watered down tangent.

The Rook Film vs Novel Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

There are definitely great characters in this story and to delve even further into them would turn this post into a novel in itself, but notable appearance and interpreted by some great actors were also Gestalt (Jon Fletcher, Ronan Raferty, and Catherine Steadman) and Lady Farrier (Joely Richardson.) Also of note – I was extremely disappointed to see Gestalts pregnancy ignored in the tv show… I thought that was a great twist.

The Rook Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The main plot of the story in the novel is that Myfanwy is basically an impostor, impersonating her pre-amnesia self as the timid paranormal agent (or rook) and discover the identity of which of her workmates was responsible for the attack. An attack which was a failed murder attempt (we find out later in order to cover up a covert takeover of the Checquy.) It is all about deduction, investigation, and following instinct; not to mention dealing with all the strangeness of the paranormal around her. Working out who to trust. ‘The Rook’ is definitely up there as one of my favourite reads. While the television show followed the same vein, much of the fear of the Checquy (and their awesome abilities) was removed, or humanised. I guess it makes it more palatable to the general viewing public and keeps the tone of the show in a paranormal spy thriller (and omitted all of the wit and comedy from the novel.) I hoped it could have stayed truer to the source material.

In the novel the characters are all colourful and fully realised – how can they not be with all the narrative O’Malley dedicates to each. The storyline is intriguing and was the driving force in me picking up this title. At 482 pages long – and the formatting is at a maximum to fit a lot of words on each page without it looking crowded means this is a long book. Which brings me back to the pacing… ‘The Rook’ felt waaaay too long.

But when all is said and done, O’Malley has written a marvellous novel and I will definitely be continuing on with the series, and I hope a lot of the elements introduced in ‘The Rook’ will be addressed in the sequel ‘Stiletto.’ The tv show has yet to be cancelled or renewed as yet, and I will be interested to see in what direction the next season will go: will it swing back to the tone of the novel, or continue on its path of power struggle and political intrigue within a covert spy organisation?

I’d love to recommend this novel to all, but knowing the issues I had with the pacing, I don’t think everyone will have the patience to see it through to the end. But if you can handle a slower pace and love paranormal detective stories, then ‘The Rook’ has a lot to offer. Otherwise the small screen adaptation is a cracker of a show and one I’d happily recommend.

The Rook Film vs Novel Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle

In the meantime, stay tuned for my book review of ‘The Rook’s’ sequel ‘Stiletto’ in the months to come. Another Aussie born author I’m glad to add to my shelves.

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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 – Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I have a lot of emotions about this novel. One is that I think is it an important topic, that it was valuable to experience life through the eyes of a teen pushed to a point of seriously considering suicide as an option. The other is the total despair and sadness, the loss of life of someone who had their whole life in front of them. That so much value was placed on silly teenage pranks and behaviour. That she couldn’t see that life does get better, that there is help. But the main theme of the novel is not about suicide, but what we can do for each other to stop it. To put an end to apathy. That everything we do impacts on someone else, and even the smallest gesture can turn someone’s life around.

Thirteen Reasons Why’ has been on my radar for a very long time, but I never picked it up. Suicide is such a sensitive, heavy topic, I didn’t want to put myself through the emotional ringer. I don’t like to think about the consequences for such actions. It’s dark and depressing. I did not want to put myself in that headspace. But this novel does not drag you into shadowed corners and lament at how hopeless life is. This is more of a factual account of circumstances that leads Hannah to her decision. Our protagonist Clay his hope. A shining beacon that lets the reader know that all is not lost. This tone is also reflected in the television series throughout the first season that follows the plot of the novel.

Though it is never stated outright, there are hints in the text of how Hannah is suffering depression, which it has been happening for a while. A condition that goes undiagnosed and it compounded by a series of unfortunate events… all narrated by herself on the set of cassettes she addressed to the main people who affected her life and turned her to a path of loneliness.

Thirteen Reasons Why Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The first half of the novel is a little slow, introducing characters slowly as each is discussed until about halfway when we start to get more shocking revelations. After that, I was glued to the page. A sort of morbid fascination. What drove Hannah to do what she did? What is going to be Clay’s reaction? So much more happened than I was expecting. The television show follows suit with flashbacks, but is has the luxury of multiple perspectives, where in the novel it is solely Clay, and Hannah through the tapes. Katherine Langford plays Hannah in the show and exudes that lost child putting up a happy front to disguise all the turmoil underneath. The novel focuses on Clay piecing together a timeline through each tape, where the screen interpretation focuses on events and hypes up the bullying more. We see many of the reveals in the novel much earlier in the screen version to keep an episodic pace.

Clay is a great protagonist. He reacts to the circumstances appropriately – a guide to how you should react to what is happening, as testament to so many characters in the story who lack that compassionate behaviour. He is the litmus test for all of the other characters in the story. The narration treated the events respectfully and lets the reader make pragmatic decisions with compassion. I too loved the depiction of actor Dylan Minnette’s of Clay; he captures the quiet nature and determination that is so strong in this character.

Thank goodness for the screen adaptation, otherwise I may never have read this book. It’s what spurned me to bite the bullet and read the novel before indulging in the series. Because, again, suicide = scary and depressing. I like to read fun, happy, escapist books much of the time.

Definitely thought provoking and I can see it as a great conversation starter for teens (or anyone) who feels they are in the same situation as Hannah. The novel even highlights that there were people who cared, who wanted to help, but she just didn’t give them the chance. So I never got that complete isolation and spiralling pit of despair that this topic generally deals with. We get a balanced view of all parties involved.

The novel ends on a great note too. Hope. Looking forward to see where the tv shows takes these themes beyond the scope of the book… dealing with real issues and hopefully not turning it into another overwritten teen drama.

Highly recommended. It’s not as depressing as it may seem. I didn’t fall into a sopping mess, rather just felt sadness and pity. At this point I have to say both the book and screen adaptation are a solid tie.

Thirteen Reasons Why Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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.

Revisiting Roswell

Revisitng Roswell Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Throwback to just over 15 years ago and I had a steady diet of CW television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, and of course Roswell.

I was having a moment (feeling despondent and procrastinating) so I thought I take a trip down memory lane and watch an episode or two – but I ended up binge watching the entire 3 seasons. Oi vey!

Revisitng Roswell Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleWhat alarmed me was how much more discerning over content I am now that I’ve been professionally writing for over 10 years. While I was filled with nostalgia and angst, quietly slobbering at Jason Behr, and wished Liz (played by Shiri Appleby) was me, the construction of the episodes delivered a sting I was not prepared for.

 

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There were some major issues with plot, continuity and believability. And don’t get me started on complexity.

The construction of each episode was great – they all told an important story, and even the scenes were framed perfectly… but the transition of scene to scene was shaky at times. Rational thought seemed to get tossed out the window. What happened to the path of least resistance and all that? I know it was manufactured the way it was to create drama, but couldn’t we have at least addressed the elephant in the room? I think this aspect was compounded at times by the special effects. Many were executed marvelously, where others resembled cheap, fake looking digital renders. I understand there is a budget for the production of each episode, and I’m subconsciously comparing it to today’s standards, but couldn’t they have filmed it in a different manner to eliminate the nasty look of the spfx? Some episodes were brilliant, where others screamed poor production and plot holes.

I’m still wondering about the whole alien abilities thing – which are supposed to be human abilities – when the human race have evolved to use a higher percentage of their brains. It’s not an unheard of mythology. But their abilities kept getting redefined and the past retconned on a number of occasions. Grrr!

Sometimes the cast were emotional, motivated, and complex; and other times, stereotypes… guest stars and supporting cast were often reduced to a cliché as well. But I think that is more a television thing than a Roswell thing. We are still viewing characters over-stylized into a role for easy identification. That’s the bad guy because he wears black and has a scar… I hate it when things get dumbed down for an audience. Especially in science fiction. You expect it in something like comedy, where you can overact, over-emphasize everything; but in sci-fi, it’s meant to be challenging, though provoking. Even if it is a teen drama. I would have liked to have seen the complexity set up at the beginning and slowly grow as the characters are tested with roadblocks each episode.

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Again, the issue of spfx let me down with believability – it’s hard to get sucked into an imaginary world when your spitting out your cup of tea laughing at sub-par digital rendering. So to goes for terrible dialogue and poorly constructed scenes. You want your characters to explore and find themselves in a precarious position, not feel like they were placed there by the author and have their options removed by some unseen hand of God… that’s cheating!

I know this is sounding over-critical and ranty. Roswell will continue to remain one of my favourites (faults and all) but I think it’s a great exercise in constructing a scene, and writing a novel for that matter, to actively and critically watch shows. You start to see what works and what doesn’t. What is relying on the actors’ good looks or interpretation of the character, and what is bad screenwriting. Other times elements of production let down the story – the way it’s edited together, the treatment… there are so many aspects to focus on. So many tools you can use to objectify your own writing and potentially improve it.

I love reading books and casting a critical eye over them; but a television episode is usually a story told in 45 minutes, and to that end, you don’t have to invest so much time to flex your critical eye. It’s fun to mix it up in different mediums: movies, plays, short stories, novels, tv shows… keep it interesting.

Nonetheless Roswell is a guilty pleasure, the tween in me still swoons over the love-stories, and the geek in me salivates with the science fiction elements. There are constant nods to other icons in geekdom that felt like they were a personal call out to me as a viewer. I was distraught when the series was rushed to an end. It had so much potential, but seemed squandered in the wrong hands.

Revisitng Roswell Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleI did read the 10 book series that was commissioned to write by Melinda Metz, of which this television show was based off, (and a lot of fanfic after it was cancelled.) At the time, it enabled me to live in that universe just a moment longer, but none of it did the concept of this show any justice. I just had to kiss it goodbye and find something else to obsess over.

Now, when there is a trend to re-boot, re-make, and bring back television shows and movies, I wonder how this would actually happen for Roswell. The Romeo and Juliet vibe mixed in with stranded alien hybrid teen royalty, trying to find home… There would need to be a lot of tweaking of the original series for it to be re-introduced and engaging for today’s viewers, a darker and more sci-fi edge, but a character driven plot. Personally, I’d love to see it lead off with a group of healed humans coming to terms with their growing powers, trying to track down Max and Liz, and the rest of the gang (who are currently on the run.) Sherriff Valenti (also healed by Max, and now having his own alien abilities) could be running an underground alien alliance, grouping the growing number of new-humans-with-alien-powers spread across the globe back in Roswell to create a safe haven. A ‘hide in the least obvious place’ sort of thing. I’d like to see a re-imagined alien threat and a seemingly sympathetic government body looking to identify and help the human/hybrids, but have their own nefarious agenda… still a great concept! It would leave it open for guest spots or inclusion of the original cast, but primarily reinvigorate the original concept with a modern cast and contemporary edge.

I’m such the Dreamer…

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You can support the Roswell Revival that is currently gaining traction through social media here: https://www.facebook.com/roswellmovie/

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. 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.

Let me have a moment… (with ‘Teen Wolf’)

Let me have a moment Pic 09 by Casey Carlisle.jpgEvery now and then I find I need to take a few days off the schedule to gather my thoughts… or binge watch a tv show.

It’s my own fault. I set a grueling timetable, big goals and sacrifice a lot of other things to manage my time in order to achieve the dream ‘to do’ list. It’s in my nature to go big or go home. Whether its perfectionism, O.C.D, or having an imagination bigger that the wild outdoors, I don’t know; but I’ve always operated with enthusiasm.

Let me have a moment Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle.gifConsequently, you can only go for so long on maximum throttle before you need to stop. This last weekend was such a time, I dropped out of everything and spent a few days in front of the screen on a ‘Teen Wolf’ marathon. Yay for supernatural goodness with hot boys! It’s the first time I’ve re-watched any episode since their release (especially back to back) and, as a writer, I marveled at the story lines, arcs, and character development. I was also surprised at the darker elements of the show like the gore and emotional suffering. I didn’t remember it being so shocking when I first watched. There were some silly moments – and I don’t mean comedic – like the Beast of Gévaudan. The CGI was awful and didn’t portray any feeling of menace.

But at the core of the show, and the reason I was watching, boils down to the relationships between the characters. The Pack as it’s called. I found myself wishing I still had that collection of friends by my side, sharing the ups and downs that I had in high school. They are still around, but we have scattered across the continent and have separate lives, families, and careers; so friendships aren’t a day to day priority any more. The bromance between Scott and Stiles is epic. I can see that trope in the ‘Supernatural’ tv show as well between the Winchester brothers. For some reason, that buddy-ship appeals to me. It gives an authentic feel to the characters without saturating it in machismo. I also realise there is a lot of homoerotic undertones in the characterisation in both of the shows that I don’t take offense to. It’s light-hearted and fun and is not intended derogatory, but support and include that community in some way – like we’re all in on the joke. The other aspect that had me tuning in was the romance. ‘Teen Wolf’ has a great way of building a strong connection between the characters that allows me to get lost in the fantasy.

I know that Teen Wolf wasn’t initially envisaged to continue past the episodes that have already aired – and I really liked the note that Season 5 ended on. But with a new season speculated to air within the next few months, I’m still really excited to see where the show will take us. I did take a peek online to try and get some clues and couldn’t glean too much, but I did notice that Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien have their run for the next season ending in 2016, where the other characters have their run shown through to 2017 on IMDB, so I’m wondering if the characters of Scott and Stiles are leaving or getting killed off? Or maybe management aren’t updating the profiles just yet… but it’s got me anxious about what is going to happen, since they are the sole reason I watch the show. MTV have been tight-lipped about any spoilers or an air date getting leaked for the upcoming season. The producers and writers are going to have to bring in some amazing characters, storylines and friendships to ensure survival of this franchise.

I have had some issues with this show, but on the whole love it for the feast of characters and the kind of escapism I haven’t been able to find since the ending of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ Some came close, like ‘Lost Girl,’ ‘Orphan Black,’ and of course ‘Supernatural.’ They all have elements of horror, comedy and built in great friendships/relationships of all kinds. Let’s hope more addictive television keeps appearing on our screens worthy of a weekend binge session. Complex characters, diversity and character driven storylines are just the recipe for this gal!

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What television series inspires your writing?

 

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. 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.

Book Review – Bossypants by Tina Fey

Anecdotes that had me chortling off my chair.

Bossypants Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Memoir, Comedy

No. of pages: 272

From Goodreads:

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy. 

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This was a surprise read for me. Mainly because it was much funnier than I had expected, and its approach to the narrative gloriously feminine and unique.

Tina Fey broaches a lot of relevant topics of being female without being aggressive and feminist. It’s a human approach for a human experience. And I loved that message.

It was also fantastic to hear anecdotes about periods, childbirth, breast feeding, parenting, career vs motherhood dilemma, and the perception/expectations male colleagues in her industry have… it felt like – finally an intelligent voice was given to topics that have most people sticking their fingers in their ears and singing ‘la la la la la.’

Additionally, it was interesting to hear about the behind the scenes goings on around improv and acting, be it in clubs, theatre, television or film. The creative process, and creative people working in such a fast paced regimental industry offers a unique juxtaposition. All of Tina’s narrative is thoughtful and intelligent. As was the topic of identity and sexual orientation. But you’ll have to read it to hear how she feels about this in her own words. It led me to think of her as a visionary, and someone who is an example for everyone’s attitudes towards life.

It’s all delivered in her sarcastic and satirical tone. Deadpan and humorous.

I’ve loved some of the movies I’ve seen her in, but after reading ‘Bossypants’ I have much more respect and adoration for her as an artist, business woman, comic and human being.

She is goofy awesomeness at its best.

Overall feeling: So much funny

Bossypants Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Bossypants Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 © Casey Carlisle 2016. 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 – The Nine Lives of Chloe King … by Casey Carlisle

Forget vampires and werewolves, cat-people kick butt!

The Nine Lives of Chloe King Review by Casey Carlisle

In response to the emails I’ve been getting for some more reviews since posting a blog on ‘The Host’ comparing the film to the novel; I’ll be writing more in this genre. Adding to the Film vs. Novel, I’ll also review some of the latest YA fiction from my reading list, and hopefully give you some insight into other great YA Authors.

To kick off reviews in 2014 I thought I’d begin with a comparison of The Nine Lives of Chloe King ABC’s television series to the novels by Liz Braswell – only because it was one of my favourite shows, and that in turn prompted me to read the books over the Christmas break.

Overall the television series is a sanitised version of the books – as are many adaptations these days. Keeping the broadcasts within a PG rating to connect with the intended target audience and ABC’s typical treatment of after school specials removed the ‘grit’ and realism from the storyline. But having said that, I found the characters in the television series much more loveable. The protagonist ‘Chloe’ in the books, was much harder to make a personal connection with, whereas, in episode one of the TV version – I was hooked in the first ten minutes.

Both storylines had sensational elements to add the drama and supernatural elements, but the way they were introduced into the story didn’t sell me for the novels. The written version of Chloe, a reluctant and flawed superhero, warrior princess, felt vapid in comparison to her film counterpart. Granted the version of Chloe on screen was a happy-go-lucky, sarcastic, nervous teen as compared to a bitchy, naive, and impulsive version in print, so it’s hard to pitch them up against one another when the main character is wildly different in each representation.

The books held that whole ‘secret society with lots of money operating right under your noses,’ and while that was present in the television version, it wasn’t so extreme. I loved the mythology that formed the drive for the novels and it was the main reason – apart from the love of ABC’s version – that kept me reading. If you are hoping for the same exploration with the televised version, you’ll be disappointed. There were small amounts introduced with each episode, but unfortunately the series got canned before it was able to really sink its teeth into the subject matter.

Both interpretations were a pleasurable experience, and the stand out sensation I got on completion of both consisted of – ‘Why did they cancel that!?’ when viewing the last aired episode of The Nine Lives of Chloe King… I was still totally hooked on the show. Plus it ended on a cliff hanger … argh! Frustrating! Upon reading the last page of the novels, although a satisfying read, I found myself sighing out loud many times at Chloe’s actions, annoyed that the most realistic options were never even considered, like she was being guided by the writer in a certain direction and never allowed to make her own decisions.

Secondary characters in the novels had that same frustrating trait as Chloe, resulting with me grinding my teeth. Actions they took were inconsistent with their age and the situation. Their screen counterparts were age appropriate and even quite comical at times, while not appearing two dimensional thus escaping my furrowed brow.

So in the case of TV series or novels?  – it’s a resounding win for the screen adaptation. It left me much more satisfied and had a plethora of characters to easily identify with.

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© 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.