I Need a Hero(ine)!

There was much celebrating in the Denatti household yesterday. After months of captivity, my seven-year old daughter’s Favorite Movie of Ever was pried from the hungry jaws of our minivan’s busted DVD player. And despite sitting beneath a metal roof in the blazing Texas sun, it played perfectly. My daughter was so happy she watched it twice last night. If not for bedtime, she would have watched it a third time!

Confession time: I actually like the movie, too. Mostly because it contains certain scenes I can watch over and over again. Like a dripping wet Daniel Craig, fresh from the shower.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait … what? Since when does The Little Mermaid feature a naked Daniel Craig?"

Since never. Wouldn’t it be awesome if it did, though? Appropriate, too, given the phallic imagery on the castle in the original VHS release.

Darling it's better / Down where it's wetter / Take it from me.

Apparently, life is hard under the sea. Or maybe King Triton is REALLY happy to see you. Note to self: begin more Mondays with a Google search on “Little Mermaid phallus.” Good times.

Also, what’s up with Triton’s hand in this particular crop? No wonder Ariel had Daddy issues.

Time for your blowfish impersonation, Ariel.

Okay, I’ll stop now. In lieu of brain bleach, I'll give you a dose of the aforementioned Daniel Craig.


I repeat: Darling it's better / Down where it's wetter ...

Another note to self: Forget about the Little Mermaid phallus searches. Start each day with a Google search for "wet Daniel Craig."

Mmm. Wet Daniel Craig.

What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. My kid's favorite movie. As you’ve probably guessed, it's not a cartoon. It’s not even G-rated. It does not feature adorable talking animals, and it’s not a product of Disney Imagineering.

It’s Tomb Raider.

You’re familiar with the movie, right? Angelina Jolie plays Lara Croft, the disproportionate heroine who sprang from the wet dreams of some optimistically imaginative videogame designers. I’m guessing they were fans of Indiana Jones but felt the franchise could be improved upon with boobs and guns.

I’m looking for King Triton’s castle. For, uh … archeological purposes.

As role models go, I suppose my daughter could do worse. I’m not wild about the unrealistic body-shape expectations this might create, but it’s not like she sees anything different from the Disney Channel, the magazine rack, or the Barbie aisle at Target. At least Lara Croft kicks ass while being objectified.

Speaking of kicking ass, I initially thought my daughter would enjoy other superhero-ish, action-adventure movies. Boy, was I wrong. She had no interest in Iron Man, Spiderman, Batman … pretty much anything that ended in “man” was right out. She wants a strong female character with which to identify, and I don’t blame her.

Problem is there aren’t many movies, outside of Tomb Raider, that not only feature such a protagonist (sidekicks and minor characters don’t count) but also remain more or less appropriate for a seven-year old.

I loved Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight and Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return (apparently, I haven’t watched any movies since the 90’s), but both movies earned their R ratings. In fact, all the franchises with kick-ass women seem to be rated R—think Kill Bill, Resident Evil, Underworld, and the Alien movies.


If there's one thing Hollywood has taught us, it's that it takes a lot of leg (and very tiny panties) to fight genetically modified alien werewolf vampire ninjas.

So, it’s time to weigh in, my lovelies. Can you think of any PG (or even PG-13) action-adventure movies with a female lead? As fun as it is to watch American Angelina Jolie speak with a British accent (and British Daniel Craig speak with an American one), some diversity would be nice. And if we could avoid the utter silliness of the Charlie’s Angels movies that would be good, too. 

Help a girl out!



Video Didn't Kill the Radio Star - Poor Grammar Did!

I know I’m a freak when it comes to grammar. Split infinitives make me twitchy (I’m looking at you, Gene Roddenberry), and when my friends tell me they’re going to lay down I tell them I don’t want to hear about their sexual exploits with geese. It’s “lie down,” okay? Unless you did it yesterday, of course. No wonder people hate the English language. And me.

The funny thing is I’m not that good at grammar. I mean, I know a preposition is something you shouldn't end a sentence with. Er … or something with which you shouldn’t end a sentence. That’s better. Clearly, I’m no Grammar Girl. I couldn’t diagram a sentence to save my life.

Why, then, does poor grammar in songs irritate me so much? Shh … if you listen closely, you can hear my sister screaming, “Because you’re an anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive FREAK!”


See? I just typed a sentence without a subject to prove it. And I am not going to go back and fix it. Nope. I’m making a point here, dammit. What was it?

Oh, yeah. Incorrect grammar in songs.

I know all about creative license and blah, blah, blah. I’ve read beautiful prose that didn’t just thumb its nose at the rules of grammar but flung a great big sticky booger at them. Cormac McCarthy won a Pulitzer for The Road, yet the book is littered with run-on sentences and ignores the whole quotes-around-speech thing. The novel earns high praise—not despite its grammar, but rather because of it. McCarthy made a conscious decision—an artistic choice—to write outside of the box. But here’s the thing: you have to KNOW the rules before you can decide to break them. Otherwise, it’s just lazy writing.

I tend to doubt the scattered use of that/who in Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World” was an artistic choice.

Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world
Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love
Like I'm the only one who knows your heart
Only girl in the world

Like I'm the only one that's in command
'Cause I'm the only one who understands
Like I'm the only one who knows your heart
Only one

This one really drives me crazy. Whoever wrote it obviously knew to use “who” when referring to a person some of the time. So why the random “that’s?” Were they trying to avoid repetition? Doubtful.

Rihanna is hardly the only artist guilty of this. This summer’s ear worm of choice, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” has the offending error right in the title.

And Selena Gomez’s “Who Says” is teaching a whole generation of kids to abuse grammar with these lyrics:

Who says, who says you're not perfect?
Who says you're not worth it?
Who says you're the only one that's hurting?

Don’t misunderstand me, though. This song sends a super positive message to kids, and I’m not knocking it. I realize I’m probably the only one out here who lets improper grammar ruin a song.

Or am I?

What say you, my lovelies? Have you ever stopped liking a song because the wording drove you nuts?

I remember taking Pink’s “Just Like a Pill” off my iPod because I couldn’t bear the line “I can’t stay on your life support, there’s a shortage in the switch.” Um … I think you mean short. And yes, I know her name is written as P!nk, but that’s a rant for another day.

I look forward to learning what songs annoy you. Come on—ruin a few more for me!


I'll leave you with this one. If the content doesn't make you cry, the grammar will.





Movie(ish) Mondays - Sorkin, The Newsroom

It's Monday. Bleh.

Did you have a nice weekend? I’m so happy for you.

I stayed up way too late watching The Newsroom on HBO. My cable froze a few times during the 9pm showing, so I just HAD to watch the 11pm re-broadcast. Aaron Sorkin’s writing is such that missing three seconds of dialogue is an acceptable excuse for re-watching the entire show.

Yeah, that’s right. I fangirl Sorkin.

And because I admire his writing, I can share this brilliant compilation of “Sorkinisms” without hesitation. This is too funny not to share.

Any other Sorkin fans out there? What do you think of The Newsroom thus far? I know the critics are polarized, and I agree with much of what was written in The Daily Beast about the "womens issues" inherent in the show. But for the most part, I’m enjoying it. I don’t think I will ever love anything of his as much as Sports Night, though, and, to a lesser extent, The West Wing. But Sports Night had a way of getting to me each and every time. It was only a half-hour show, and when you deduct commercial time, it was what? Twenty-four minutes long? Twenty-five? And yet in those twenty-odd minutes, I experienced a range of emotions I hadn’t thought possible from a show with “sports” in the title. The writing (and excellent acting) had a way of reaching through the screen, wrapping around my chest, and squeezing so hard I thought my heart might just burst.

And it STILL does that to me, despite having watched the show so many times my DVDs are nearly worn through.

I didn’t experience that with the premier episode of The Newsroom last week, although I felt a twinge of it last night in the final, closing scene (when the camera panned to NY Harbor). I expect it will happen more as the show progresses. Some of the characters (Will McEvoy, for example) show a real promise for emotional complexity and depth, and I'm eager to watch them develop further. Others are archetypical Sorkin characters (NatalieMaggie, IsaacCharlie), but no less enjoyable for their familiarity.

Critics hate the speechifying, but I love that the script isn’t “dumbed down.” I also like how the characters use acronyms with which the general public might not be familiar (EP, RINO, SOT) but that are appropriate to their roles. For writers, the show is a study on how to craft pacy dialogue and flawed characters (some might argue TOO flawed). I love strong female protagonists, and I wish there was less ditziness from those in this show. But I'll keep watching. And hoping.

Here’s a trailer, in case you missed it:

 And because I talked about Sports Night, here’s a clip from one of my favorite episodes.

If you don’t already own Sports Night on DVD, buy it. NOW.




Freaky Friday - Twilight, Kardashians, and Other News from the Land of Odd

It's Friday, and you know what that means!

You don't?

Oh, right ... because I haven't told you my Brilliant Blogging plan. See, when I decided to blog regularly, I realized something startling: I'm boring. My life is dull. Snooze-worthy. I'm putting myself to sleep writing this, in fact.

So I did what I always do when I have a problem. I made a list! Wheeee! (Told you I was boring.)

Spontaneity is overrated (and really hard to spell). If you know about my issues with prime numbers then you'll know how much I enjoy orderliness. And how badly I need therapy.

Anyhoo ... I thought I'd try to structure my blog using the following topics:

  • Movie-star Mondays - Actors we love and the shows in which we adore them.
  • I'm-a-Tool Tuesdays - The craft of writing/the business of publishing.
  • Wild and Woolly Web Wednesdays - Featuring wonderful web sites.
  • Thumpin' Thursdays - All things music. But I'll try not to get too street, yo.
  • Freaky Fridays - Anything weird, funny, or funky.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally jazzed about this. I think it's the alliteration. Does it to me every time. That said ...

It's Friday, and you know what that means! Time to get our freak on! Allow me to tickle your funny bone and then possibly make you vomit.

Today's snort-fest was brought to my attention by the lovely Rebecca, whom I adore (and not just because she pimped my Facebook "Author" page and brought me lots of new Likes). But also because she knows quality writing when see reads it. Obviously.

Here is an Honest Movie Trailer for the wonderfully mockable Twilight:

"The romance of a lifetime ... expressed entirely in stares." These people are brilliant. I snorted my tea at the ketchup comment. And the cast of characters.

Speaking of things that become enormously popular despite a suspicious absence of talent ...

The Jenner sisters (from 'Kardashians' fame) are writing a novel. Yay! Because it's totally easy to write a book and like, every 14-year old should totally do it. The good news? They haven't even finished, and it already has a publisher. That's right, an imprint of Simon & Schuster will publish the as-yet-untitled book next summer. The better news? According to E!, it "could be the first in a possible series."

In other news ... a piece of my writer's soul just died.

Hope y'all have a fabulous Friday and a wicked-cool weekend.







Self-Promotion: The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly

I had a lovely time at the Writer’s League of TX 2012 Agents Conference in Austin this past weekend. I made new friends, met some of New York's best literary agents, and learned a ton about the wacky world of publishing.

Two topics came up time and time (and time and time) again.

Self-Promotion is a Requirement

Whether published by the Big Six or Kindle Direct, an author handles the bulk of their own promotion. I expected this for indie houses, and it goes without saying for self-publishing. But it was surprising to learn that even successful, multi-book-deal authors, published by Hachette or Simon & Schuster, for example, must spend a good chunk of time building and maintaining their “platform.”

In one respect, I think this is good. Nobody’s more excited about my amazing plot and fabulous characters than me. Who better to sell it? From an integrity standpoint, self-promotion is great.

Time-wise, however … not so much. I’m not a marketing professional; I don’t know the first thing about branding. And yet I am the brand, so it behooves me to figure it out. Establishing an online presence takes time, and keeping it going takes longer. As if it weren’t hard enough to grab a few hours of writing-time to begin with, all this time spent promoting means even less time writing. Not good.

Love it or hate it, resistance is futile. This is the new reality of publishing, a point so universally accepted it’s written into contracts. At the conference, I met a best-selling author who’d published over 20 books with HarperCollins, and she spent just as much time on self-promotion as self-published authors.

If you think being traditionally published means less work on the business side of things, you’re fooling yourself. You need a strong presence, and you need to start building it yesterday. The good news is …

Social Media is Your Friend

Like all your other friends, it loves when you take advantage of it. Okay, maybe not, which is why you must cultivate the hell out of this relationship. This is a friend you want to keep around for a long time, after all. Those kind of friendships don’t just happen overnight. Don’t expect to join Twitter and have a Neil Gaiman-like following in a week. Especially if all your tweets go something like, “My book is on sale,” “Look at my amazing book,” or “OMG PLZ BUY MY BOOK YOU WON’T BE SORRY!!!!”

Yeah, I already am. Or not, because I clicked “unfollow” ten tweets ago.

At the conference, this aspect of social media was likened to newspapers (but without the dying-medium aspect). Papers tell us what’s happening in the world, right? We learn something new, we’re touched by poignant human-interest pieces, and we laugh at Dilbert. Bottom line is we-the-reader get something from the experience. Sure, there are ads. It’s a business, after all.

But imagine if EVERY SINGLE PAGE offered nothing but ads. We’d stop reading pretty fast. Likewise, readers will stop following your Twitter feed if you do nothing but slap them in the face with your book. Put some time and effort into it. Don’t be afraid to tweet about something off-topic. Chances are if it interests you, it will also interest your followers. Better yet, make your tweets relevant to your book. If you wrote a thriller about a cutting-edge prototype, go forth and tweet about the latest tech advancements. It’s a great way to reach potential readers in your target audience. But use book tie-ins sparingly. The goal is to inform and enrich—not alienate.

Not a fan of Twitter? Not a problem. There are plenty of other outlets for authors to connect with readers. Experiment with Facebook, start a blog, decorate a board for your book on Pinterest, connect with professionals on LinkedIn. And don’t worry. You don’t have to do them ALL. Take a test ride and choose whichever you like best.

Keep your audience in mind when deciding, though. Someone writing YA will probably reach more readers on Twitter than, say, LinkedIn. But the author of a non-fiction book on management trends may find the opposite.

One last tip: set a goal and stick with it. Whether you decide to blog monthly, post to Facebook weekly, or tweet daily, your readers will appreciate consistency. Just as no one wants a newspaper full of ads, they’ll be equally frustrated by something that arrives on a whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it schedule.

So do some research, take the time to tailor your social media interactions, and be consistent. Your readers will thank you for it.