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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Mailing List

I've got a mailing list!
I have no idea why it took me so long, but from now on you can subscribe to my mailing list and receive news about promotions, sales, and new releases.

And no, I won't do this to you:
 

But once in a while I plan to do this:

I plan starting promotions, giving away gift cards and other prizes, so if you're interested, subscribe to My Mailing List. Be sure that I won't share your email, and remember that the unsubscribe button is always there ;)

Click here: http://eepurl.com/9xCv9, and join the list. It will be fun :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hobbit and LOTR bloppers

I thought you and I needed some fun and laughter.






Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I need to rant!

You know that moment when you think that everything in your life is at last starting to get better, when you say, "Hey, it's not really that bad," and then something happens that makes you feel even worse than you were? Well, that moment has just knocked at my door. Sadly, I didn't suspect it was so close. Yes, I'm that naive, I stupidly considered that the days of my forever depression might come to an end. At last my eyes were getting better. In case you care, I have had trouble with my eyes for the last twenty years. It's something that doesn't want to go away. I could tell you all the types and names of eye medication, but I probably will never be able to count the times my eyes have been injected. Yes, it's painful. Yes, I go through that a few times a year. Yes, I'm  tired. And yes, it's the shittiest thing that can happen to a writer. When your eyes behave like that you have to admire Life's sense of humor. Ah well, it doesn't stop me from writing 2000 words per day.
 
Wish I could write more, but I'm happy for these 2000. It could be worse.
So what was I saying? Oh, right, everything seemed to be going well. I had at last found a way to receive my Amazon royalties. I was in so much dept and the bank interest was so high, that it was gone almost immediately. "Never mind," I told myself, "at least you received your hard-earned money."

So what happens next? 
Shit happens. I mean, this happens:


And they are costly. Oh boy, very costly. And not mine. I don't care about expensive china, ceramics, vases and sets, but those are not mine. And I'll have to pay. No idea how much, but probably no less than $400 for each. Have been searching for similar vases everywhere, but no luck so far.

Yes, that sucks! And I wonder why I'm laughing so hard now. Maybe I'm going crazy?

Nah, not for two vases. I guess I should appreciate Life's sense of humor. But I will repay. Ohh yes, I will repay you, you cruel, sadistic, cold-hearted Life! And that will happen sooner than you expect! X-)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Do you have en elderly friend?

I just watched a sweet, beautiful video and have been crying for the last ten minutes. Watch this video and join me in this heart-warming moment. Brazilian students are learning English via interacting with retired Americans. This is why I love internet. It's a blessing for the humanity, as much as the new technologies are, when they are used for the good. They make the communication so much easier. And what do we need so often if not communication?


These elder people are so sweet, so generous, and so happy for helping the younger generation that I began crying again.
I have an elderly friend too. We met while we both were in the line to an ophthalmologist. I don't even remember how I started the conversation with the old grandpa sitting next to me in the hospital's corridor, but some time later we were already on our way to the store on the other side of the town to find the eyeglasses he had lost a few days before. Sadly, we didn't find the eyeglasses, but we found something better: a friendship. I encourage you to do the same. Find an older friend for you, you both will gain a lot from that friendship.
I always had a soft spot for elderly people; I love to hear them talk, tell me about the times when I wasn't even born, tell me how it was in the Soviet Union, how it was after, how it is now. I love stories, and who has the longest stories if not older people?
I'll leave you with this video (in case you're too much embarrassed to cry in my presence) and go call my old grandpa friend and see how he's doing today.
Stay well,
Irena

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I have found Pemberley!

Mr. Darcy's house exists! Jane Austen didn't just made up Pemberley, she was inspired by an enormous, astonishing, incredibly big British estate called Wentworth Woodhouse. And here's how it looks:
 
 Photo via The Telegraph

Yes, it's amazing. I hate adjectives, but Wentworth Woodhouse is jaw-droppingly incredible. With 365 rooms (one for each day of the year), 5 miles of corridors, the longest facade in whole Europe, it had to be tended by 1000 servants.

Just look at this lovely drawing room:
Photo via Dine

Seems that the Dashwood sisters will now come in and have a nice conversation with you about the weather or the bad roads.

And just imagine attending a ball in this marble salon and meeting a handsome but secretive gentleman, who awards you with a dark, long stare:
Photo via Dine

Now good news: Wentworth Woodhouse is for sale. 7 million pounds. And needs repairs that will cost 42 millions! While I'd never pay such money for this house even if I were the richest person in the world, I'd still love to walk across its corridors that stretch for miles, enter all the 365 rooms one after the other and feel the haunting presence of the people who have once inhabited the estate starting from the 1725.
Photo via Dine

Maybe one day I will visit this incredible place and feel a touch of history, as well as interact with the spirits of Austen's characters. Let's wait and see.

More on the estate HERE and HERE.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Hero 6

Oh, how excited I was about this cartoon. That big white zephyr that looked like the Michelin guy seemed to be a fun character. And he was, actually. But the story was so all over the place. I might give away spoilers, so you've been warned. But first, Michelin guy and Baymax:


My point is obvious, so I'll talk about the plot. In the beginning of the movie we learn that the boy, Hiro, and his brother Tadashi are orphans, living with their aunt after their parents have died. OK, Disney loves to have orphans as their protagonists, but at least the boys had each other. On the 25th minute the big brother dies. Not just dies, he explodes in the burning building along with their very nice professor. EXPLODES! In a kid's movie. I was one of the few adults in the theater, and I turned to my right and looked at the kids. They were staring at the screen with their mouths gaping. "He died," a girl whispered dejectedly, and silence again.
Seriously, what the hell was I watching? I had gone to the theater for some fun and laughter, and one of the protagonists, who was a sweet, caring big brother, explodes. Then there was the scene at the funeral, everyone wearing black and mourning. If I had gone alone, I might have just left then. That's how depressing was this cartoon.
And then the plot slowly (very slowly) began to turn into a cliche superhero story. Superhero costumes, stupid powers, overdone ideas. Oh, my!

Somewhere by the end of the movie we learn that the good professor's daughter has died too. Not just died, she has exploded in the portal. And yes, we see that scene as well. My goodness, I had no idea I had gone to watch a melodrama.
Also, the movie had one of the most underdeveloped villains. And Baymax, the heart and soul of the movie, suddenly turned into Flash, who had eaten too much donuts.


Edit: It was late at night yesterday, and I forgot to mention the thing that bugged me the most. In order to be admitted to the school of geniuses Hiro has to come up with an invention that would impress the professor. What he comes up with is so astonishing, innovative and incredible, that I couldn't understand why Hiro needed to get into that school. Possessing such genius and talent, he could easily found his own school and train his own students.

This has to be the most disappointing cartoon I had watched in years, or even decades. The only good point was the wonderful, truly masterful animation. But then, I have always preferred my cartoons in 2D.
I want to thank the Fall Out Boy for the song in the middle of the movie. At least that song helped me feel a bit better. And I still can't get it out of my head.

We could be immortals!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I will never write romance

Or new adult, as they are called today. Or erotica. Or anything containing phrases like: "I wasn't living before you came" or "before you came, I wasn't feeling alive."

A fellow author asked me to beta read her erotic novel. I'm on the 7th page and I want to die. Seriously, kill me please and end this torture. Even though I fear I might sound like an elitist I still can't help ranting a bit. Romance is not my genre, and I wonder if most of them go like this: I saw his curved body come out of the swimming pool, the water drops glistening across his washboard abs (no idea what that means), his long, wet, golden hair sticking to his temples, his perfect chiseled jaw covered with a stubble alluring me to lick it with my desirous tongue.
Oh, boy. No, this is not my genre. Never will be. On the second page they feel the electricity already (how do you feel the electricity? And shouldn't it be painful?). On the third page she wants to feel his strong arms, he wants to make her moan with pleasure. On the 4th page his arrogance makes a cameo. On the 5th page she says no, you arrogant bastard, while thinking, Oh, yes, oh, please! On the 6th page they kiss and twine into each other, she tries to resist, but he's soooo irresistible.

And then. . . I don't know, haven't read the rest yet. I don't want to upset a fellow author and tell her I can't finish her book, I know not through hearsay how hard it is to write a full-length novel (not that short stories are easier to write), but my eyes, MY EYEEES

And I was so enthusiastic at the beginning. I remember thinking why not, this might be a good idea, and I can do this once a week, provide comments to fellow newbie authors and help them with their undertakings.
  
NO! NEVER AGAIN!

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind romance in books, characters falling in and out of love, but when love and sex are on every other page, and the plot is nonexistent, the book stops being interesting. Give me Gillian Flynn or John Grisham any day of the week, but please spare me his chiseled abs and the musky smell of his skin. Nothing against the genre or those who love it, but this is so not my type of book that I couldn't help ranting a bit. And where else could I rant if not on my blog? :)

And I just googled washboard abs. I was seriously expecting something like this:

It was a bit different though. Just a bit. 

But then, I learned a new term today, although I'm probably never going to use it in my entire career. Ha-ha-ha!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview

In case you have missed this, Stephen King is interviewed by The Rolling Stone. He talks about his career, religion, money, and writing. It's always interesting to learn more about the King of Horror. Glad to see King agrees with me that The Tommyknockers is terrible, as well as The Dreamcatcher. I remember being bored out of my mind with these books. So bored that I began skipping pages--something I had never done before. But despite that, the ending of The Tommyknockers was awesome. I'm talking about the last 2-3 sentences, where--SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS--Gard is lying in the pool of his own blood and the flying saucer is hovering farther into the space, taking him into the unknown and the unexplored. And still, I'm not going to say that those 600+ pages were worth it. What I'm going to say is that The Tommyknockers were ten times better than the The Dreamcatcher. If The Tommyknockers were reminiscent of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, then The Dreamcatcher was a more perverted type of the Alien. Turns out there can be something worse than aliens bursting out of your chest while you're alive, and that is when aliens burst out of your butt while you're alive. I thought maybe the movie adaptation would be better, but can you keep a serious face when Morgan Freeman's eyebrows look like this?
 
Yeah, neither could I.

Oh, and The Tommyknockers and The Dreamcatcher are not King's only bad books. I am on the 900th page of Under the Dome, and I can't remember a time when I had to struggle so much to finish a book. I don't even know if it's a thriller, a sci-fi, or just Santa-Barbara TV series. But I can swear with my life it's not scary. And not even thrilling. It's just a bunch of guys under the dome being nasty to each other, good guys doing idiotic things, bad guys failing to spread menace. 
So why am I still reading King? Oh, right, I need to learn to write in English. I meant to say to write well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'

In case you have missed this wonderful post by writerswrite.co.za, here's the link: 45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'.
I hate the word 'very.' I try to avoid it at all costs. It cheapens the sentence and most of the time is useless. Never rely on 'very' for expressing a character's emotion. Find a word that is expressive by itself.
In my recent 107.000 word novel the word 'very' appears 70 times. After the final edit I will get rid of at least the half. No, I will get rid of 60 veries. Get rid of them. Clean up your MS, your readers will be very happy.

photo © Amanda Patterson

Matt Corby

Why oh why I hadn't heard of this singer before? What an amazing experience I had been missing! Thank you, internet. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Funny story: I learned about Matt Corby from an article about. . . man buns! At least you heard of him from my blog :-P 
Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eliza Graves

As I had previously said, I was planning to watch Eliza Graves on Halloween. I am so pleased with my choice. It was great! Really great! It had been a while since I had enjoyed a movie so much. Suspenseful, thrilling, with great costumes and decorations. I loved everything about it. 
And what an outstanding cast! Michael Caine, Ben Kinglsey, David Thewlis, Kate Beckinsale. And I totally loved the way Jim Sturgess looked in the movie. Always considered mustache to be creepy, but Jim Sturgess wasn't creepy at all. On the contrary, I'd say that he looked vulnerable and confused. Well, who wouldn't be confused to appear in an asylum where the stuff behaves like a group of demented loonies, and where the superintendent encourages the sick illusions of his patients.
There were some good twists in the movie, and sadly, the trailer gives away one of them, but it didn't make the movie less entertaining or suspenseful. And the twist in the end! I hadn't seen that one coming. What a surprise it was! No, I won't spoil it. You'll have to watch yourselves.
The movie did have its weak points and slow moments, but what movie doesn't? I absolutely loved the Gothic atmosphere. The devices used in a Victorian era asylum were bone-chilling, the lack of knowledge of human nature catastrophic in its consequences.
Overall, it was a great movie. But how else? It's based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story, it was doomed to be good.