Friday, September 30, 2011

My First Interview

Hey readers, my new blog friend Mel Fowler over at Adventure Writes interviewed me as the prize for winning one of her contests. Check it out!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The All Time Greatest Action Heroines

Last week I came down with a cold and spent a lot of time in bed watching movies. To offset the invalid’s combination of chicken broth, Kleenex and pajamas, I chose movies with lots of explosions and fight scenes like Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And then I got to thinking – there are a lot of male action heroes. John McClain, Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones, John Rambo, James Bond . . . the list goes on and on. But like I said, they’re all MALE. So, I decided to come up with a list of their female counterparts. Women who don’t wave their kerchiefs like a damsel in distress when the chips are down, but instead pick up an AK 47 and start shooting.

And so, without further introduction, here’s a list of what I consider the all time best female action heroines. Or, as I like to call them . . .

The All Time Greatest Damsels of Distress

Sarah Connor (The Terminator and Terminator 2):
Though she starts off as a semi-helpless female in the need of rescuing, Sarah Connor quickly transforms into ultimate female fighting machine. Raising the future leader of the resistance is no cake walk, especially when locked away in an insane asylum or fleeing a killing machine bent on murdering her and her son, but Sarah makes it look easy. No bake sales and mini-vans for this butt-kicking mom.

Ellen Ripley (Alien Quadrilogy): 
If Sarah Connor deserves recognition as number one on my list, then Ripley gets recognition as the oldest (chronologically, not age-wise). When Alien came out in 1979, Ripley was one of the very first female characters who really kicked butt. Up until this point most women were of the helpless variety – characters like Tippi Hedren in The Birds who go to the attic to check on suspicious noises knowing there were dangerous, man-killing birds on the loose. Unlike her previous counterparts, Ripley was a gun-wielding, alien-killing badass who forever changed the role of women in the male-dominated science fiction genre.

Trinity (The Matrix Trilogy):
Ah Trinity. Her favorite accessory is an AK 47 and she’s as comfortable wearing leather as a cheerleader is wearing pink. With her awesome one-liners – “Dodge this.” – and her incredible mastery of driving in high speed freeway chases, martial arts, helicopter piloting, and pretty much any other skill she tries her hand at, she’s the ultimate weapon in the fight against the machines.

Selene (The Underworld soon-to-be Quadrilogy ):
This leather clad killer is one of the few on my list that isn’t human. That’s right, she’s a vampire. But don’t hold that against her – she’s not the sparkly kind. Allergic to sunlight and around for hundreds of years, this British badass is a traditionalist. And in the war against Lycans, she’s the best.

Lara Croft (The Lara Croft film and game series):
Yet another Brit, this member of the aristocracy is no swooning lady. She tears it up in video games and feature film. Portrayed by Angelina Jolie (one of the best female action stars ever to grace the big screen), she’s both elegant and lethal. Furthermore, while Ripley is often considered the progenitor of the film action heroine, Lara Croft is sometimes credited as the first major female lead in a video game.

Alice (The Resident Evil Quadrilogy): 
Though not a character in the game series, Milla Jovovitch’s Alice lights up the screen in the Resident Evil films. And by lights up, I mean literally. Alice is no shrinking violet when it comes to guns, explosives, or any other kind of weapon. With her T-Virus bonded blood and psychic abilities, she’s a match for zombies and corrupted corporations alike.

Leeloo (The Fifth Element):
Also played by Milla Jovovitch, Leeloo, otherwise known as our one weapon against evil, comes from one of my favorite sci-fi movies of all time – The Fifth Element. Furthermore, the scene in which she beats up a hoar of bad guys is perhaps one of my favorite fight scenes (male or female) of all time as well. Set against the backdrop of a blue alien opera, this scene is both beautiful and awesome. Like Leeloo.

Nikita (La Femme Nikita films and ORIGINAL TV series): 
Now let me be clear. When I added Nikita to my list, I was NOT talking about the 2010 WB series. Beautiful though that actress is, she looks more likely to be knocked over by a less-than-stiff breeze than kick anyone’s butt. The Nikita I’m referring to is Peta Wilson in the 1997 Canadian TV series (or Anne Parillaud in the 1990 film). Wilson’s Nikita is as tough-looking as she is beautiful, and I have no trouble believing her as an operative of the covert Section One.

Sydney Bristow (Alias): 
An operative of the CIA, Sydney Bristow is one of TV’s best action heroines. Like spy legend James Bond, she’s a master of disguise and the queen of gadgetry. She’s saved the world from more than one nuclear attack and brought down several terrorist cells practically single-handed. But even more impressive, she kicks butt while wearing stiletto heels – and that’s impressive.

Mindy McCready aka. Hit Girl (Kick Ass Movie and Comic): 
The youngest member of this list, Mindy McCready is perhaps one of the most deadly. Unlike the other women on this list, Mindy is a true comic book superhero, taking on the persona of Hit Girl when she’s crime fighting. Trained in martial arts and weaponry since she was a child, she’s out to avenge her mother’s death, and not afraid to take out anyone who gets in her way.

Zoe Washburne (Firefly and Serenity):
Over the years, Joss Whedon has gained a reputation for writing strong, warrior-like female characters, and Zoe is the epitome of a Whedon woman. The first of his Holy Trinity of Action Heroines, she makes her living as a space outlaw and gun for hire. As a former rebel soldier and second in command aboard the Serenity, I love Zoe’s sharp wit, loyalty . . . and ability to kick the butt of any of every space thug and bandit that comes her way.

River Tam (Firefly and Serenity):
Though an excellent character on Firefly, it wasn’t until the movie Serenity that she gained her title as an action heroine. There aren’t many seventeen-year-old girls who can survive an attack from the vicious and cannibalistic Reavers, but River manages it without even the use of an automated weapon. With her balletic combat skills and her psychic abilities, no power in the verse can stop her.

Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer film and TV series):
Last but not least and Whedon’s coup-de-gras, Buffy Summers is the “chosen one”, the slayer brought forth to take on vampires, hell-beasts, monsters and all manner of underworld demons. With the help of her Watcher and “Scooby gang”, she manages to save the world from apocalypse again and again. An amazing fighter and one of the greatest characters of all time, I will forever remember Buffy Summers as the hero of my childhood.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Worst Movies Ever

Alex over at Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting a bloghop, and though I’ve sworn to take a break from blog contests to focus on own writing, this one was just too good to pass up. It’s the worst movies EVER blogfest:

So here are my entries for the worst movies I’ve ever seen:

Wicker Man – My senior year in college a few friends and I went to see this movie on a sleepy Wednesday night. Though it was by and far the worst thing I’ve ever seen, we’ve never regretted this decision. Not only has it provided YEARS of entertainment, it is now the yardstick by which we compare all bad movies. When I’m warning my friends that some movie I just saw was terrible, the first question they ask is, “Was is Wicker Man bad?”

2012 – For those that missed out on the apocalyptic Wicker Man viewing of 2006, the backup “terrible movie” yardstick is 2012. Though the trailer looked ridiculous, my friends and I went to see it because it was slated as the big blockbuster movie for Summer 2009. All I can say is . . . really?

The Number 23 – So, as previously mentioned, in college my friends and I often ventured to the nearby theater for a mid-week movie (Wednesday nights had promotional discount rates). My friend Jonathan and I were often in charge of picking the movies, and we made the very serious mistake of selecting The Number 23 one week. A decision I’ve had to live with for four years.

Premonition – The last in the Wednesday night college catastrophe series, this movie was terrible. So terrible, my friend Sam promised never to watch a movie Jonathan or I picked out ever again. Not only were there some serious inconsistencies, but the plot itself was ridiculous and boring.

Random Hearts – Last but not least, the film which will be forever remember as the most boring movie of my childhood, Random Hearts. This movie was so bad people were cracking jokes the whole way through (these comedic routines were perhaps the movie’s one saving grace). Unfortunately, my friend Kalina and I weren’t able to fall asleep like the man sitting next to me, though we made a serious attempt.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – The movie that ruined the Indiana Jones franchise. Why George Lucas? Why?

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (Episode I - III) – See comments for #6. Repeat.

To sum up, don’t go see movies on a Wednesday night. Don’t go see movies with bad trailers purely because they’re labeled “blockbuster hits”. And don’t go see ANYTHING George Lucas wrote, directed or produced after 1990.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic: What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?
So, here goes. . .

When I take a critical look back at things I've written over the years, beginning with those first crayon "books" in elementary school to my current works in progress, I find that I often chose to write about characters that consider themselves rebels or loners (I'm sure psychologists would have a field day with THAT one). But I LOVE a good misfit. In fact, the manuscript I'm currently slaving away to get publish-ready is all about three high school outcasts working together to become the newest members of Team Evil Overlord (aka. superheroes in villain clothing). And they might just be the best three characters I ever wrote.

I also really like teamwork to accomplish a group objective. Like completing a heist or taking down the school bully. I enjoy sticking the three kids most likely to get picked last in gym class and forcing them to rally together to save the day. My story is about using the special talents we bring to the table, the ones that get us labeled "nerd" or "geek", to make a group of individuals stronger, smarter and more unified. As Jack - my main character - states, "The rebel, the brainiac, and the loner. . . we make quite a team."

But at the end of the day, I usually write about misfits finding their 'place'. They work together, they become heroes, but ultimately, they find a home together. And THAT is what I love to write about.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember 9/11

Today, September 11, 2011, marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It is a day we all come together to remember. And mourn.

Moments of silence are being organized around the country. The NFL held several tributes before today’s games. There are countless posts on Facebook dedicated to that fateful day ten years ago. Everyone appears to remember the exact place they were when the planes crashed.

My parents said it’s the same for those alive in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. These kinds of national tragedies create a collective cultural memory. If asked, “Where were you when…” we recall without fail.

I was in second period AP US History when someone told me about the first crash. Our whole class was in an uproar, wanting to know what happened. I’ll never forget that feeling of panic we all experienced:  Was it an accident? Why did the plane crash? Our teacher Ms. Hayley abandoned our lesson for the day and turned on the television so we could watch the news. It was in the upper right hand corner of the room, and we all abandoned our seats (I was in the second row on the left, fourth seat back) to crowd around it. There we watched the footage of the plane crashes, and the collapse of the World Trade Center.

One of the most shocking and violent moments in US history, the reverberations of those terrorist attacks still haunt us today. The long term financial and health effects. The destruction of an architectural landmark and symbol of national economic strength. The heightened fear – something we face every time we step foot into a US airport. A radical shift in foreign policy. War.

It still sometimes shocks me to think of how many victims one single day can yield. The lives of 2,977 innocents were lost, but the number left suffering cannot be calculated. I think of those killed on September 11th, and their surviving loved ones. And of all the soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan in our counter “War on Terror”, many of whom were killed or returned to face PTSD and other anguishes. And as much as it might be overshadowed today while we mourn our own American losses, I cannot forget the deaths of all the innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilians either.

September 11, 2001 was a day of terror and sorrow. We've rebuilt and reshaped and redefined. But we will never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blog Awards

I've been a very bad blogging buddy. WEEKS ago my friend Julie gave me a blog award (Thanks Jules!!!) and I was so caught up with editing I never got around to following up. Terrible! But I’m now prepared to make amends.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Julie’s blog From Pen to Paper, go check it out immediately! She's amazing. Her blog is HILARIOUS and her manuscript even better (I know because she’s let me read the whole thing from start to finish – jealous?). She’s also a stupendous editor and frequently hears the voices of my characters just as clearly as I do. I’d like to think several of our characters would get along great . . . wink wink.

From what I understand, this award is in German ("Liebster" apparently means "dearest," and is a term for close friends), and is given to awesome bloggers with 200 followers or less. Now the Rules!

1) Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you
2) Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
3) Copy and paste the award on your blog
4) Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers!
5) Last, but far from least, HAPPY BLOGGING!

My five AMAZING blog picks are:

1. Julie Tuovi – I’m not sure what the etiquette is involving re-awarding your awarder, but I’m doing it anyways. Julie is an INCREDIBLE writer (her blog has me cracking up on a daily basis), as I’ve already mentioned, and a terrific friend. Her novel is soon-to-be-snapped-up by an agent and her liberty-loving characters are a joy to read. Thanks Julie for ALL your support and for entertaining me endlessly with your writing!

2. Terry – my writing adopt-o-mom, Terry writes an tremendous blog called Texas Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives where she chronicles her adventures across the state seeking out hole-in-the-wall Texas cuisine. Every time I read her blog my stomach starts to rumble! Though she doesn’t post often (because she’s so busy writing and editing her awesome manuscript Saving Gracie), her posts are not to be missed!

3. Mel Fowler – one of my new blogging friends, Mel’s blog Adventure Writes is tons of fun! She loves ninjas (who doesn’t?) and, like my friends from my writing critique group and I, faces the never-ending struggle with adverbs in her writing. Her story Daughters of the Sky sounds incredible and I love reading and supporting fellow YA writers!

4. Linda – I’m new to her blog Wistfully Linda but have already found it terrifically informative! She posts all kinds of neat writing links which have made me feel tremendously better about my own writing (thanks Linda!) and has a lot of helpful tips for struggling writers. Not to mention her writing pet peeves are remarkably similar to my own. Thanks for posting Linda!!

5. Candy Lynn Fite – one of my new blogging buddies I acquired through Rachael Harrie’s Flash Fiction contest, Candy told me my story had a “true Narnia feel to it”, forever earning her a place in my writers’ heart! Her work in progress title Between You, Me and a Cupcake had me howling with laughter and her contest story was delightfully creepy and zombie-esque! I can’t wait to hear more from her!

Hope I didn’t overwhelm anyone with my use of adjectives, but these writers really are exceptional. So check out these awesome writers and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Blue Door

Rachel Harrie at Rach Writes is hosting a First Campaigner Challenge! The contest is this:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count. If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

So, with much trepidation (and in EXACTLY 200 words), I've written my own short short story about an opening door. I'm not sure how mine will compare with the other entries, but here goes nothing . . . 
I'm registered as number 262. If you enjoy my story, please click "like" to help me win the contest!! 
Here's the link:
The Blue Door 
by S. L. Hennessy

The door swung open – just barely. Just enough for Riley to see a shard of light spilling across the manicured rosebush she currently hid behind in an effort to evade Bobby Flannigan. She sat back, heedless of her white dress but careful to remain out of sight.

What on earth was a door doing in the middle of the garden?

She inched forward.

Was it there before? She hadn’t seen it when she fled the noisy party . . . had she? She couldn’t remember – but with a sudden urgency, she knew she needed to see what lay beyond.

Riley stood, eyes transfixed.

“There you are,” Bobby said from somewhere behind her. “What are you – ?”

But she wasn’t listening. Heart racing, Riley stepped forward and reached for the blue door.

She pushed, and as the door swung open light flooded into the night, wrapping around her. Anticipation shimmered in the air and the world went quiet as she stepped through the wooden frame, leaving Bobby and the twilight garden behind her. When her eyes lit on the world before her, Riley knew her life would never be the same.

Her laughter echoed behind her as the door swung shut. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Missed Connections and Love Letters

A few months ago a friend of mine introduced me to a blog called Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall. An incredible artist, she does amazing illustrations based on the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist. Tales beginning with “I saw you across the train station” or “We shared an elevator for three floors”, these stories are the modern equivalent of love at first sight, lost forever though circumstance, interruption or momentary cowardice. Recognizing the forlorn beauty in what’s tantamount to a series of classified ads, Sophie Blackall uses these stories as inspiration for her dream-like artwork.

Now one of my favorite blogs and perhaps the most provocative artist I’ve come across since my high school AP Art History class, Blackall’s pieces are poignant and heartbreaking. In an interview with New York Times, Blackall stated “these illustrations have recurring themes of love, loss, regret and hope. Even the most grim postings have this little kernel of unflagging hope which is just so lovely and optimistic.”

It’s these themes, and the unique concept behind the body of work itself, that makes her artwork so haunting. She is one of the few modern artists I can honestly say I admire as much as longtime favorites, and illustrators in their own right, like John Tenniel (Alice and Wonderland) and John William Waterhouse (Shakespeare’s Miranda and Ophelia, and Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott).

One thing that struck me about her site was the blog’s description where she states that these Craigslist posts (and her visual interpretation of them) are the modern equivalents of a message in bottle. A poetic notion, I’m in awe of the image she paints . . . rather than being tossed into the raging sea, these are love letters sent into the vast ocean of cyber space and digital strangers.

And there’s nothing so beautiful as a love letter.

But why are they so beautiful? Is it because they’re, in some small way, tangible proof of one’s love? Something we can hold onto when the words of devotion have long since faded from memory? I certainly, as a writer, value the intransient nature of a love letter.

Or perhaps it’s because we can articulate ourselves better in written form than in person, tongue-tied with emotion or fear? Jane Austen – the famous romantic novelist herself – seems to agree. Often within Austen’s work, the characters find themselves unable to express their love for one another while face to face. It’s only through letters that they’re able to articulate their feelings. Much like the Craigslist writers that so fascinate Sophie Blackall.

Some might argue that I devoted entirely too much significance to the combination of classified ads and blogging. But check out a few of my favorites and judge for yourself . . .

"Polka dots in the Strand. Ack! 'Round 7pm or so... I was browsing the shelves and saw you on the other side. I swear I glimpsed our entire future together in that brief moment. It was beautiful.  And then someone asked you for the time. I mean c'mon, who doesn't have a damn time-telling device of some sort these days! Oh, if only I'd thought of that."

"My dreamy neighbor who plays obscenely loud music. Sometimes when you have played music late into the night or come home in the wee hours and turn it on, I knock on our shared wall or scold you the next day, but all along I am thinking how dreamy you are and how I just want to make love to you."
"I saw you for maybe a second or two.  
I've read missed connections before and wondered why people just didn't say anything then and there. Now I understand...perhaps it's because the moment is extraordinary; containing a fullness of its own...and the thought that this person across from me is not a part of my everyday life, and at any second will disappear, didn't even occur to seemed that we were in it was together, and that sort of connection rarely, if ever, happens between transfers, so my mind was a little slow on registering that there would be no "some other time" if neither of us asked for the others phone or email. 
Now, horus later, the ripples created by those few tender seconds still gently rock something within me...and I become a missed-connections poster.  
Would you be interested in having tea or going on a ride?"