Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Beginnings?

On the one hand, I like the idea every new year is a chance to start over, to do things that didn't get accomplished in the previous rotation around the sun.

On the other hand, I don't like New Year's resolutions. If something needs to be changed, NOW is a great time to change it! Make goals right away, as soon as they need to be made. I do understand that New Year's Eve is a great time to set goals with a specific "Achieve-by" date (the next year), and that's great. Just not how I like to roll.

So is this year a year of new beginnings? In some ways, yes. Much by coincidence of timing, and much by design. With this podcast hopefully going in new, exciting directions, we'll be able to mark our progress throughout the year in an orderly, calendar fashion. But overall, I'm going to continue to pursue goals, regardless of what month it is.

Stay safe, have fun, and happy New Year!

Giles met with an advisor today, along with his wife, to help make good decisions over the next few years. Something everyone should consider, on this the day of resolutions.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Whole New Year [of Toiling]

Please feel free to get A Whole New World stuck in your head for the entirety of this blog. It’s stuck in my head right now, and I can’t get it out. Except…I may have changed some of it:

A whole new yearA new year full of things to doNow that my book is doneIt’s time for fun“Fun,” which means some toiling

So yeah. That was just a little taste of me being weird. Actually, I really like my version of the song. Kind of catchy, you know? I especially like the trade of “dreaming” for “toiling”, because both words could technically be used. But “toiling” is way more appropriate. You see, I just finished the first draft of what has to be my favorite thing ever.

Supercurses and mountain lions. Quests. Unrequited love and traitors and a revolution.
If it was a person I would marry it, but then our relationship would be fraught with awkward moments, and a crazy general would try to kill us during a race for superpowered healing.

Now that it’s done, it’s time for beta readers and editing and the ever-looming Writing of a Synopsis and a Query Letter. In short, now is when the toil begins.

It’s crazy to think that I began this project a little over a year ago, and now I have a product ready to refine. Hands down, this is the fastest I’ve ever finished a first draft. Heck, it’s the first time I’ve actually finished a first draft with an ending I liked. It’s awesome.

Which brings me to another song…

Everything is awesome!Everything is cool when your first draft is done!Everything is AWESOME!But my work is never done!





Much like a Disney princess, Michelle tends to break into random song. 
It creates a lot of awkward moments. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I know today is Christmas Eve, and all of you are busy. So I'll just say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and have a safe, fun week!

Mini-bio that nobody reads. Just kidding. Go have fun!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Wars

Some people hate Christmas. Some people ignore it, and some people go all-out crazy (I’m talking to you, house completely covered in twinkly lights and blow-up decor). For my part, I really like Christmas. 

When I was little I loved it for the presents, because…well…presents. Then I got a little older and was able to look at Christmas – and all holidays, really – as a time to just chill out and enjoy the moment. I don’t get to do that very often, since I’m generally in uber-productivity mode any time I’m awake. So the respite of a holiday is always welcome.

One of the things I love about Christmas is the menagerie of holiday traditions my family has come up with. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we go and cut down a real tree in the mountains, sometimes hiking for hours to find one that my sisters deem “appropriate”. About a week later, my mom makes cinnamon rolls and finger foods and we decorate the entire house.

But of all the traditions that I get the most excited for, besides the stockings or staying up until 2 a.m. finishing handmade presents, I think my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THING is the wrapping contest between me and my youngest sister.

Oh, it’s not just a wrapping contest. It’s a war. Not for Prettiest or Coolest or Most Inventive, but …(drumroll)… the Most Difficult to Unwrap.

Yeah, we’re kind of weird. One year it literally* took us both two hours to unwrap our presents. Two. Hours. We have rules like “No knives” and “No outside help”. I have spent an hour wrapping a gift only to see it ripped apart in five minutes flat**.

The best part is that I don’t even remember who holds the record, or even who won last year (I think it was me. I think). It’s just the best thing ever to see my family’s faces when Stephanie and I pull out our presents for one another and smile at each other like this:




What kind of awesome holiday traditions do you have?




When it snows enough to build things, Michelle and her two awesome sisters create Calvin & Hobbes style snowmen. And an igloo. It seems random in hindsight, but in the chill of the moment it’s totally appropriate. 



*Yes, literally. I'm not exaggerating or joking. Literally two hours. 
**Duct tape, while appearing “tough” and “impenetrable”, is actually really easy to tear, just fyi.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reflections

As I think back on this first year of podcasting (even though we're still a month away from our anniversary), I find myself awed at how much we accomplished. Don't let that fool you, I'm humbled by it all, too.

In the last eleven months, I've had the opportunity to go to Denver Comic Con and introduce Max Brooks, moderate a Steampunk panel, a YA Fiction panel, and interview three amazing Fantasy and Science Fiction authors. I was honored to bring friends on the show to talk to them about their careers (thanks Angie, Warren, and Aaron!). I interviewed my favorite author, Jim Butcher, and didn't do a bad job. We also met an awesome band, went to TWO of their awesome shows, and spread the word so well that a navigator on a U.S. Navy destroyer gets to geek out about their music while steering a ship IN THE OCEAN!

But I think my favorite opportunity this year is still getting to see and review The Frame. More than that, the episode where we interviewed Jamin and Kiowa Winans (the creators of The Frame) is probably my favorite interview of the year. They're both SUPER passionate about what they do, and that came through so well in the interview that for several days after we talked to them (and after I re-listened to the episode to make sure I didn't need to edit it), I was pumped, inspired, and excited about my own passions.

Over the next year (as with the last), I'm going to pursue opportunities that are supposed to help launch my career. I'm going to take risks (like going back to school and pitching workshops to local cons). I'm going to agree to help out at events (announcements to come). And I'm double-down on this podcast and my writing to build an audience and spread the word about art in genre fiction. This is what I'm passionate about. This is what I need to pursue. Jamin and Kiowa made some big decisions when it came to their filmmaking. As I move forward, I want to be prepared to do the same.

Finally, I couldn't let a post like this end before taking the time to thank my awesome co-hosts, Emily and Michelle. It's been so much fun, and I'm looking forward to more fun and more work in the next year, and hopefully for years to come. Thank you.

Giles will be back next week with a brief message. For now, go listen to the interview with Jamin and Kiowa. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just Some Melodrama

A few days ago I talked writing with a friend, and part of the conversation has stuck with me. I keep thinking about it because honestly, my day job is not going too well this week. It makes me yearn for fun writing I actually like, which makes me think about how hard work is. And how hard it is to stay sane amidst it all. Here’s a snippet of the conversation (I'm the italics):

Sigh. Thinking about agents makes me nervous for querying. 
Querying sucks…but you can do it!
Haha there is no “can”. Only “are required to”
Well…yeah, there is that.
Yeahhhhhhhh
Why do we do this to ourselves again? 
We would die if we didn’t.

All right, so writers wouldn’t actually die if they didn’t write or query agents. I was being melodramatic. But I do think that if writers don’t write, or if painters don’t paint, etc., we lose a part of ourselves.

Sometimes we creatives need to remind ourselves just WHY we do what we do. Why, in the name of all that is holy, do we drive ourselves crazy trying to create something everyone in the world wants? Why do we keep toiling even through depressive funks, discouragement from the trolls, and even discouragement from people close to us? It’s enough to make us pack up shop and call it quits forever.

I needed to be reminded why I do this to myself. Amusingly enough, just hours after the above conversation, someone else asked why I love writing. It took me a solid two seconds to come up with an answer:

It’s like tapping into a soul charger that makes me excited about everything else in life. It’s pure creation and I can do anything and learn to become just about anyone…and I’m addicted to stories.

My response is melodramatic* and completely true. I never feel as comfortable or as right-with-the-world as I do when I’ve written something good**. I love the research it takes to put together a believable story. It’s work. It’s painful work, but it’s fulfilling, too.


Why do you do what you do?





Michelle has been very philosophical and melodramatic this week, which might explain why she suddenly wants to spend all her time writing angsty poetry and baking sugar cookies. 






*Apparently I get really melodramatic where it comes to writing. I wanted to think of a synonym but it’s such a perfect word I kept using it.
**Keyword: “good”.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Guest Blog: Bwillett Talks Holidays and Comics

Bwillett again, and thanks again to the good people of Beyond the Trope for their awesome opportunity to write for their blog. 

I love the holidays. Starting from about the first week of September when the back-to-school stuff is shipped off and the black and orange decorations are brought out, to the prematurely displayed Christmas stuff, I can't shake the goofy smile on my face. And like every nineties kid I grew up watching just about every animated Christmas special (and the even rarer Halloween specials) known to man, from the original Simpsons' Christmas special with Santa's Little Helper to every possible iteration of Dickens' The Christmas Carol. 

As such, I have a certain fondness for comics and cartoons that continue the tradition and attempt to incorporate the holidays into their story. I would love to do the same thing, but web comics are a hard thing to coordinate with any given holiday. Mostly this is due to the kookiness of an update schedule. When you release a page a week, or even do monthly updates of entire chapters, it takes incredibly good timing, or even putting your regular story line on hiatus in order to make it work.


Which is why, despite my affection for all things holidays, I rarely incorporate the current holiday into my story line. It's sad, I know. While for Midnight Menagerie, my horror series, Halloween will be a reoccurring theme, the first Halloween-based chapter won't show up for at least another two years (like I said in my earlier entry, when you do web comics get ready to plan things out long term). Instead, to celebrate the holidays I usually just produce some festive art. Between running two active series, commissions, paid projects and the day-to-day nuisances of real life, sometimes that's all I really have time for. 

But by all means, if you little miracle workers can find time to have your characters celebrate a holiday beyond embarrassing them in dorky costumes (as I am wont to do) go forth and be well.




Bwillett lives and works just outside of Denver, where she reinvents genres and character tropes in her web comic series. She does all of her own writing, art, and post-production work (whew!). And in photos she poses with a squirty toy fish named Icthyus Ignatius Bonaparte Fisherton III. Seriously, you just can’t beat that. Her work is a fantastic blend of anime and Western styles, and lovers of 90s-era anime will find a kindred spirit in Bwillett’s creativity. You can find her online at bwillettcomics.com/, on Facebook at /BwillettComics, and on Twitter at /BwillettComics

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guest Blog: Bwillett Talks Writing and Planning for the Long Haul

Hi, I'm Bwillett, and I was asked by the gang at Beyond the Trope to do some guest writing. For those who have never heard of me, I've been doing web comics for over ten years, starting with fan comics before moving onto my own original series: Midnight Menagerie and Sorcerer's Apprentice. I have a LOT of experience working on web comics and a lot of my fans come to me asking for my advice on writing and drawing their own series. So I've decided to talk here on Beyond the Trope about what it's like to write web comics.

Most of what these guys talk about has to do with the tropes more commonly used in books, which, along with movies and graphic novels, where you get big ol' chunks of plot all at once, is a completely different animal than working on a monthly series. Those differences are even more apparent with the frenetic pacing in the world of web comics. As such, this style of writing has developed its own set of tropes, good or bad, that an aspiring writer has to be aware of. While people tend to think of web comics as more akin to the daily gag strips more commonly seen in newspapers like VG Cats or Penny Arcade, there are just as many web comics that have an ongoing, engaging, long-term plot. It's just as possible to produce award-caliber writing with a strip that updates only weekly, or heck, even only when the artist/writer/team/what have you has time, as for someone who created a graphic novel. It just takes a bit of thought. And a heckuva lot of planning.

On one hand, you have to make sure that each and every page you put up is at least somewhat engaging. You might be in the middle of a dramatic scene, but a new visitor may only see your newest page. If you want them to start checking out the archives, each page counts. The other thing you need to remember, especially if you only update once a week or so, is that important plot points may not pop up for months or even years while the story is playing itself out. So a big dramatic reveal that would seem very sudden in a book or movie may take a few weeks to play out. People have short memories. A good device to use is recaps. Either have a 'story thus far' page or within the story itself remind your readers who people are and why things are important. From your angle you might be repeating yourself a lot, but from your readers' you are reminding them who someone is and what's going on. If you're lucky enough to make it to print editions, you can always edit these recaps down a bit.

Another thing you need to keep in mind when you create a web comic with an ongoing plot, especially one you plan as one big long story rather than a series of story arcs, is to always remember what direction you are going. The most common piece of advice I give my own readers is to always know how your story begins and how your story will end. This way you avoid painting yourself in a corner. Even if it takes years before you get to that point, as long as you have a fairly sure destination you'll avoid head-scratching changes in a story that will make your fans rage-quit. You can always change details along the way, especially if you get new ideas or if characters become more or less popular with fans, but a fairly concrete ending in mind will keep the ship on its course. I knew how Sorcerer's Apprentice will end, down to the last line of dialog, even before I posted the first page online.

Once you have your ending set and keep things engaging, the sky's the limit. One of the greatest freedoms of web comics is that absolutely no one can censor or change your work. You don't have to worry about genres or demographics or what an editor will tell you will sell. No one can ever really tell what will take off or why. Just look at the explosion of the Homestuck fandom. Write what you think is good, think beyond what's already being published, and do what you think will do the story justice.


Bwillett lives and works just outside of Denver, where she reinvents genres and character tropes in her web comic series. She does all of her own writing, art, and post-production work (whew!). And in photos she poses with a squirty toy fish named Icthyus Ignatius Bonaparte Fisherton III. Seriously, you just can’t beat that. Her work is a fantastic blend of anime and Western styles, and lovers of 90s-era anime will find a kindred spirit in Bwillett’s creativity. You can find her online at bwillettcomics.com/, on Facebook at /BwillettComics, and on Twitter at /BwillettComics

Monday, December 8, 2014

Introducing our Guest Blogger: Bwillett

New things are brewing at Beyond the Trope, and one of the first things we’re changing up is the way we do blogging. Don’t get me wrong – we love blogging. It’s awesome. But while we’re all about pounding out words and getting our own thoughts out into the great unknown, we’re more about hearing from other people! We also love to introduce our fans to other creative people we think they might love. So, instead of our regular blogs this week, we’ve invited local artist Bwillett to join us in the Interwebs as a guest blogger.

To jump-start Bwillett’s week of blogging, we did some fun Q&A to get to know her a little better. Read on!


Q: What kinds of things do you fangirl over?
A: I'm a huge Magical Girl junkie, I pretty much give any new series out of Japan a chance no matter how cheesy it looks. Right now I'm super stoked about that new Sailor Moon anime. I'm also a huge DC comics nerd, especially Batman Beyond. That show just did so many things right in terms of story. I am also the biggest Egytology freak. If I didn't end up doing comics I'd probably be an archeologist.

Q: If you could go back and give your middle school-aged self a superpower, what would it be and why?
A: My first instinct would probably say Magical Girl powers. Cute outfit, awesome powers, fighting evil by moonlight, and middle school would be the right age for it. But in reality I'd probably want invisibility or something. Middle School SUCKED. Invisibility would be vital to survival.

Q: If you could be a character in someone else's comic, who would it be and why?
A: God, there are so many series and universes I'd love to be a part of, but I'd say my true fictional home would have to be...Death City from Soul Eater. I love the universe  Atsushi Ōkubo created and it seems for the most part it'd be pretty safe. Gotham has Batman, but also really bad crime, and pretty much any swords and sorcery world I'd more likely be just one of the anonymous peasants that always gets eaten by the monsters or something. Second place would be Berk from How to Train Your Dragon. I think having a pet dragon would be pretty awesome.

Q: Will you ever sneak out of the anime genre and create a different type of comic?
A: I like to think of my style as more of a hybrid than strictly anime, since most anime fans say my work looks more western, while western comic book fans tend to say I'm more anime. My style is an influence of all sorts of things: CLAMP, Disney, Will Eisner, Kazuki Takahashi, Bruce Timm. But I have to say that so far Midnight Menagerie is way further away from my earlier more 'anime' style. The expressions and backgrounds are more realistic, and it's actually in color, which is a new thing for me.

Q: What is your all-time favorite trope?
A: I am a sucker for the burly broad and femme boy relationships. I think it's really cute when a writer puts together some tough, burly, no nonsense women with a slightly wimpy or feminine man. And I really think it's cute when that man still thinks of this kick ass woman and the most beautiful thing ever. I'm talking like Astrid and Hiccup, Fix-it Felix and Calhoun, etc.



Bwillett lives and works just outside of Denver, where she reinvents genres and character tropes in her web comic series. She does all of her own writing, art, and post-production work (whew!). And in photos she poses with a squirty toy fish named Icthyus Ignatius Bonaparte Fisherton III. Seriously, you just can’t beat that. Her work is a fantastic blend of anime and Western styles, and lovers of 90s-era anime will find a kindred spirit in Bwillett’s creativity. You can find her online at bwillettcomics.com/, on Facebook at /BwillettComics, and on Twitter at /BwillettComics

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sick Day

Sorry everyone! No post today; Emily's too sick to concentrate on this thing called words. Be back next week!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brain Drain

With NaNoWriMo officially behind me, I feel comfortable in saying that my brain is melted. In January, I'll go over more specifics of what I learned throughout November, but for now, let me say that it was a lot of work that taught me many great things.

I'm back to working on my "finished" novel. I say "finished" because, in it's current state, it is polished and something I would be proud to send out, if asked. I'm working on it, though (in a new document), to see how I can improve the opening pages. With previous books, this would be the point where I look at it and say, "This is done. I'm not submitting it anymore, time to go in a trunk."

But now that I've returned to it, with more than a month between even thinking about it, I believe there's still something there worth working on. In the last two days, my going has been slow. My mind is still in "first draft" mode from NaNo, but as I recollect my brain, I know I'm going to get moving in a hurry.

There could be a lot more worth exploring in this post today, but as it's Wednesday, and (as previously mentioned) my brain is draining, I'm going to leave it there. Go check out Epic Rap Battles of History if you want something cool to do in the meantime, and we'll see you on Friday!

Blah blah blah, blah blah, argle-blargle, duh. Something something, musings of broken brain, blah blah blah.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Can't Handle the Tension!

Tension is everywhere, and there are about a gazillion ways it shows up in the things we read and watch. Some of my favorite movies have such tense moments in them that it’s physically painful. There’s this part in While You Were Sleeping that is so embarrassing for Sandra Bullock’s character I spend the five minutes leading up to it with my knees to my chest and my hands over my mouth.

Then there’s the tension in books. Oh, man, book tension is the worst. For me, seeing tension in a movie is painful, but you can often see it coming before anything happens. Movie tension leans more toward the “Oh, please, God, don’t open the door…don’t…no…don’t open it!” side of the spectrum, and book tension leans to the “WHAT?! HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN??” side.

It’s a subtle difference, where the line is drawn between seeing it about to happen versus suddenly realizing it’s happening around you. Of course there are a multitude of exceptions – books that use lead-up tension and movies that suddenly surround you with immediate tension. I love tension of all kinds, and it’s often what drives me through to the end of the book. Even predictable books are enjoyable if the author knows how to wield tension.

Here are a few examples: Everyone knows that Charles Xavier ends up paralyzed, that Rapunzel’s long hair gets cut short, and that Westley is the Dread Pirate Roberts. Yet we still let the tension get to us. Why? We love it! It’s like an adrenaline rush. The tension is a thrill, and it fills us with the feeling of the story.

Take the Harry Potter books, for instance. I’m assuming everyone here has read them (if not, mild spoiler alert!). I read all the books in one go, so I can’t separate any of the books from the entire storyline, but I do remember a certain rhythm that repeated in each book. JK Rowling is a certainly a genius. But Harry Potter books can be counted on to begin in the summer, feature a holiday celebration, and end at the finish of the school year. It’s kind of like the original Pokémon episodes* – Ash and his friends find a problem no adult can fix, Team Rocket shows up to make things worse, and Pikachu saves the day.

It’s the tension in each story that pulls us from the beginning to the end (not to mention glorious writing on Rowling’s part). Even though we are pretty certain of the impending outcome, we have to read to the end and we need to watch all the way to the credits. Without story tension, readers and movie-goers have almost nothing to connect to. You might have the most fascinating character on the planet, but if we aren’t worried about the situation they’re in, none of that complexity matters.


What are some of your favorite tense story moments from books or movies?





Michelle lives in Colorado, which is disappointingly empty of snow, and now that she is a grown-up she gets excited about silly things like fancy puppy-proof trashcans, wall-mountable paper towel holders, and free kitchen utensils. 






*I haven’t watched any Pokémon since my high school days, so I have no idea if the stories are still laid out like this…I’d bet they are, though. Anyone know?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaNo Near the End

With only five days until NaNoWriMo is over, I've found that I can, indeed, punch out 50k words in thirty days. I'm not there, yet, but I'm so close that if I don't make it, it's basically because I got lazy, or tragedy struck. So there's a 50-50 chance that I have no excuses.

So what else have I learned? I learned that, often enough, it's important to write, even when the words, narration, plot, or characterization are VERY bad. All of that can get edited later. But I also learned that, as much fun as it's been to "pants" my way through this draft (writing by the seat of my pants), I don't particularly care for this method. The work that goes into outlining helps to keep me on track. It makes the story mesh and meld together. And it makes sure that (like we discussed in this week's episode), my characters have agency.

Right now, I'm not sure what my character wants, why she wants it, or what she has to do to get it. Or, for that matter, why I or any reader should CARE.

Again, this is what revision and editing are for, but this is going to be a much more daunting task than previous books have been. Getting all of that information into the next draft may take as long as a "normal" first draft, which means this book could take longer than I typically like to edit.

That being said, I'm still learning with this whole writing thing. We'll see where things go with this book, but if it doesn't go anywhere, it has, at the very least, helped me get my brain working with STORY again. I'm excited to write! So I'm going to go write.

Giles is excited about books and stories. He has so many ideas, he kinda hates the fact that he only has time to work on one project at a time. But at least he's writing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Character with Agency: Harry Dresden

Every time the podcast team gets together, we wait for the moment Giles will mention Jim Butcher or the Dresden Files. We don’t usually have to wait for very long. Mention fantasy, mystery, detectives, humor, heroes, or great style, and Giles will launch into something about Jim Butcher.

This is not to say that it’s a bad thing. It’s just that until a few weeks ago, Emily and I were totally in the dark. We had never read Jim Butcher’s work, so the most we could do was nod and smile. But after we talked with Mr. Butcher, I knew it was time.

…and it was awesome.

If you haven’t read anything by Jim Butcher, go do it now. Right now. I could give you several reasons: the first book in the Dresden Files series is hilarious, it was a well-written rollercoaster crime show. It was like Castle meets The Thin Man meets your favorite fantasy series. I don’t think I’ve ever read an urban fantasy that so easily made me think its world could be real.

Harry Dresden is like a study in character agency. Every time he is faced with a decision, he walks through it using his own logic. I loved seeing him choose between terrible and awful things and then sticking with his choice. How can you argue with a guy who so plainly knows the consequences of each of his actions?

We talk about character agency in tomorrow’s brand-new podcast episode. It’s all about having a character who makes things happen – not someone who lets things happen to them. A character with agency makes decisions, moves the plot, and then makes more decisions. Butcher’s character of Harry Dresden does this with gusto. Sure, there are some plot things that are there to push back, like his backstory and the way magic works in this world. But on the whole, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (yes, that’s his full name) kicks butt in just about every sense of the term.







Michelle has a problem with reading the first book in a series, getting impatient to wait for the second to arrive at the library, and starting a completely different series in the meantime. Going from Storm Front to Steelheart to Divergent is interesting, to say the least. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Priorities

On the podcast this week, we interviewed Jim Butcher and talked about writing communities. So, I'm not going to talk about either in this post! Listen to the episode if you want to hear my thoughts. [Insert evil laughter here.]

With the holidays coming up, I've been thinking a lot about how I'm going to squeeze writing in between celebrating and seeing family and trying to make sure I don't fall behind in my day job. It's a rather intimidating task, if I'm honest. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for me to shove writing and creating into the lowest-priority spot on my to-do list. I don't have solid deadlines (yet), and it's incredibly simple to make excuses--"oh, I'm too tired," or "I can't brain," or "I'll just write double tomorrow and catch up." Spoilers: that double-writing never actually happens.

I know I'm not the only one who has this problem. I think it's a pretty common thing about us creatives, especially when we're under stress or are in the "I hate everything" phase of creating.

So, how do we get around that? Find a way to make your creative time a priority. It's important! As human beings, we're wired to express ourselves and art is a great way to do it, no matter your medium. As hard as it is, find a way to carve out time to focus on your art, even if it's only half an hour a day. Any time is better than none. Reward yourself on the days you get your creating done. Or (what I'm thinking about trying) tell a friend that you'll write them a check for something that feels perhaps a little too tight on your budget if you don't get your word count/goal finished in a set amount of time.

Find something that pushes you to be creative, whether that's a community, or a routine, or something else entirely.


Emily's trying not to be what one might call a professional procrastinator, but she's not so great at baby steps. In the meantime, she'll be over in the corner staring at her manuscript and trying to force the words out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finding the Right Community

In this week's episode, we had a chance to talk with Jim Butcher. And he talked about how he got the idea for Codex Alera (a great series!) in an online writers forum.

Over the years, I've found that those forums are difficult for me to get involved with. I waste so much time on the internet when I should be writing (like this morning), and it's easy for me to get lost reading conversations where I really have nothing to say.

One of the reasons I stopped writing my other blog is that I didn't have a lot to write about over there. Here, there's always a topic of the week to discuss. On the forums, I feel like I have nothing to offer. By the time I get into a post where the topic is interesting, or I might have something of substance to contribute, someone else has already said basically the same thing I would. And I hate when anyone posts in a thread just to say, "Yeah, I totally agree with this." I never want to be the guy who says something just to say something. Not unless there's something to add.

On the podcast, we've talked quite a bit about joining a community. And for many people, the forums are the best option. I didn't start to feel a part of a community until I met people in real life. That's how I work. That's how I connect. I've met a few awesome writers through the internet, but out of every thousand people I've chatted with online, only three of them turned out to be people I could have substantive conversations with online. As opposed to less than a hundred people met in real life who led me to my critique group of awesomeness with five members (all of whom I can have conversations with), and two of those members are my amazing co-hosts.

The tough part about communities, especially for us artistic types who want validation of some kind, is finding somewhere safe to be yourself. With the anonymity of the internet, that's almost impossible to find online. For me, anyway. I spend a lot of time trying to craft my words in a way that won't be misconstrued because I don't want to even accidentally say something rude or disrespectful. And if I'm ever going to be a professional writer, I can't spend my time in the forums.

Because if I do, I won't spend it writing. And professional writers have to write.

Giles wants to talk to a TON of other authors, but he doesn't always have the time. If he did, NaNoWriMo wouldn't be going as well as it is for him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Creative Community

I never thought that one of the things I would love most about writing and being creative is talking to people. Ten years ago I was fairly certain I would become a gazillionaire, buy a cozy cabin in the Alps, and never need to talk to people ever again.

Ha.

Not only does the creative community make writing more fun, it supports all the highs and lows a writer goes through. We each would love to make it on the bestseller lists, but if one of our colleagues gets there instead, we know how to celebrate. Won an award? Let’s have a party. Got an agent? We’ll make you cake. Hit a word count goal? We’ll drink to that.

The creative community is phenomenally friendly. Just check out the interviews we’ve done with writers, directors, artists, and beyond. These hard-working souls are incredibly busy, and the mere fact that they responded to a request for an interview makes me feel all glowy inside. And we didn’t have to do anything fancier than ask for some talk time*.

We Americans tend to glorify fame and forget that behind every famous person is…a person. I used to approach interviews with an awed "Oh, my gosh, I am so unworthy" kind of attitude. Now that I've done a few, though, my feelings are much more accurately described as, "Oh, sweet, another fun person!" Of course, that doesn't keep me from getting just a tiny bit nervous. I do want to leave them with a good impression, after all. 

The point is, the more I get to talk to other creative peeps, the more I like people and the more I realize that I could never hide myself a way in a hermitage – I would miss out on way too many cool things from really interesting people. 

Of course, I still want that cozy Alpine cabin. Please.




Michelle likes to ask quirky questions during interviews, so if you are ever on the other side of the conversation, you might like to be prepared to talk about your dinosaur counterpart, your most-repeated jokes, and what your favorite shoes look like.




* “Ask” as in “beg”, really. And make expert-level puppy dog eyes. Just kidding! We’re just so nice, how could you not want to talk to us? 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chemistry Club in Concert!

Last night, Michelle, Giles, and I braved the frigid cold to see Chemistry Club in concert. If you listened to episode 24 of Beyond the Trope, you heard us interviewing the band (and you've heard snippets of their awesome music in several episodes since).

I have to say, I love seeing live music--and it's a bonus if you kind of know the band! Chemistry Club has a great on-stage presence, with lots of energy and a super-fun performance. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend hitting up one of their shows!

Like maybe the release party for their new album on December 5th. We're incredibly excited for their new album--which is going to be the beginning of a scifi concept album (aka a scifi story told through music, with some comics on the side). Epic science fiction told in music? What more could genre-loving nerds like us ask for?!

To sum up, Chemistry Club is great--great guys, great music, great shows--and you should totally check them out and come to the release party next month. We'll probably be there, too.


Emily is pretty good at falling head-over-heels for new, awesome bands, books, movies, and more. You could say she's a total fangirl (and she wouldn't even deny it). Keep up with her obsessions on Twitter @Emilyksinger.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winter Writing

Winter is by far my favorite time of year. I know it's not winter yet, but it's 2 degrees outside, so I'm going to pretend fall is over. For now, anyway.

I love snow, as long I don't have to drive around other people. I love sitting under a blanket with a mug of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. And when it's this cold out, I love setting my warm laptop in front of me and typing away at a nice story.

If I could live in a land of perpetual winter, sit indoors and write all the time, I would never want for anything. Except, maybe, a trip to the summer lands every couple of years. But for no more than a week.

What do you like about winter? Does it energize you to get writing done? Or does it make you sleepy (like I know it does to several of my friends)?

Giles is warm at home right now, even though he spent several hours this morning remembering why most people shouldn't be allowed to drive in the snow. He's working his way through NaNoWriMo at the moment, so this is a short blog post.

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Reasons I Need to Buy More Books

For those of us who need excuses to justify our addiction, here’s a short list of reasons why I should definitely jump over to my local bookstore with a wad of cash in hand:

1. My house could look like these heaven-sent photos: 
 

 Images from bookshelfporn.com. (yes, that’s the actual name of the actual site)

2. I would learn to recognize SO MANY MORE emotions

Image from http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/01/10-things-i-hate-about-you-the-fault-in-our-stars-by-john-green.html

3. Having more books will make me cooler. 

Image from Google…because apparently memes aren’t easy to track down.

4. My brain will make giant leaps in creativity.

Image from http://goldenbookwyrm.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/picture-monday-this-is-your-brain-on-books/

5. Owning and reading more books will give me the ultimate power over other readers’ happiness

Image from http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/01/10-things-i-hate-about-you-the-fault-in-our-stars-by-john-green.html



So there you have it. If I buy more books, my house will be awesome, I will be in touch with my emotions, I'll be super cool and creative, and I will be all-powerful. Please excuse me while I go indulge in my book addiction. 

Image from http://tysonadams.com/2013/03/28/book-addict/






Michelle is a registered book addict at her local library. Her current addictions include audio books, Harry Dresden, and Jasper Fforde. She finds the best therapy for book withdrawal is dark chocolate.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Challenges and NaNo

This is the first year in ages that I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo. It's kind of a weird feeling, not going onto the NaNo forums to whine about how poorly my manuscript is going, or to steal a dare or two because I'm stuck. It's also really amusing to me that my first year not participating is Giles' first year actually giving it go, but that's another blog post.

Why am I not trying to pound out a 50,000 word manuscript in a month this year? Because I'm already working on a novel (that I don't want to rush through), and I have other things to focus on--like this podcast.

We're heading into our last formal recording session for the year tomorrow! How crazy is that?!

Anyway, I guess the morale of my not-doing-NaNo story is that we've all got different creative paths, and it's great to try new things. Challenge yourself to try NaNo (or not, if you've done it before). Challenge yourself to write something off a prompt you hate. Challenge yourself to improve both your quantity and quality of writing.

My personal challenge is to finish this manuscript I'm working on by the end of the year and help shape Beyond the Trope into something incredible. What challenges are you tackling this week and beyond?


Emily's big challenges are motivation and consistency, but she's working on that! Follow her challenge-tackling on Twitter @EmilykSinger, and don't forget to download the latest Beyond the Trope episode!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaNo What?

Michelle isn't doing NaNo this year. As I said last week, this is my first year of participation. So what have I learned in the first half-week of this challenge?

First, I've remembered how fun it is to plow through a story that has real potential. It's been fun to create action scenes, chapters, and characters who pop in my brain. Obviously, it'll take at least one revision for them to pop on the page, but even in this first draft, they have a life that surpasses many of my previous manuscripts.

Second, I know, now, that I can hammer out two thousand words a day when I knuckle down and block out distractions. I've written more in the last few days than I typically get done in an average week. And that has me energized! I'm already a few hundred words away from the 12k, mark. In less than a week!

Third, my personal issues with NaNo may have been relevant to me when I voiced them, but I'm realizing more and more that my perceptions, whether or not they're flawed, shouldn't influence my decisions to write. By pushing those dumb ideas out of my brain, I've been able to accomplish something that I thought wouldn't happen until I managed to get myself writing full-time.

What have you learned about NaNo? About yourself? About your writing or reading preferences?

Giles is getting a ton of writing done. He posts about it on Twitter, and if you want to check out his profile on NaNoWriMo.org, feel free.

Monday, November 3, 2014

No, no NaNo

To NaNo or not to NaNo, that was the question. Every time November rolls around, in fact, that’s the question. Writers everywhere dust off their favorite pens, break out their typewriters, and check the charge on their laptops. For some it’s a yearly tradition. Crank out a book in four weeks? Um yes! For others it takes a little more thought. 

I asked myself “the” question from mid-October to last week. NaNo or no NaNo? Nix it or stick with it? It’s fun, gives you a goal to hit, and if/when you finish, you know you’ve accomplished something. In the end I decided that starting a brand new manuscript would not be the best idea right now.

You see, I have a problem. Always have, actually. I write about 3/4 or 7/8 of a book, and then I just sort of…stop. Something about writing those final scenes freezes the nerve impulses between my brain and my fingers. It’s not that I can’t think of endings. I totally can. But none of them seem good enough to be written down. Besides that, a finished book means you have a book that, if you are driven, then needs to be pitched. It’s scary in a hopeful way.

All that just goes to say that I have two manuscripts waiting for endings and editing, and I think that if I jump into another project for NaNoWriMo, all three will just end up in the trunk. So instead of powering out another beginning to another book, I’m going to power out the ending and edits for the book I already have in my back pocket.

In the end, November is more a celebration of written creativity than anything. It’s a chance to be virtually connected to an online support group of thousands of people who love writing and creating just as much as you do. So who cares if I write the end of a book instead of the beginning?


How about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year, or will your creative juices go somewhere else?




It is raining today. Therefore, Michelle should not have to go to work. She should be home writing, surrounded by a cocoon of blankets and pillows. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I'm lucky; I get to be the Halloween blogger! Halloween is my favorite holiday, mostly because I grew up in a theatrical family and inherited the love of everything costumes and makeup and make-believe.

When I was a toddler, my dad would dress up and hide in the yard to scare the trick-or-treaters. He'd take me out with him and I would laugh and laugh and laugh--I was never afraid of the man in the mask because I knew it was my dad. But my parents never got over that (and I think it's still funny to this day).

This year, I dressed up in costume all day because I love having the excuse! There's something incredible about being able to pretend that you're someone else without having people automatically think you're crazy.

And, honestly, I think that's part of what I like so much about writing, too--I get to pretend, and create new worlds, and get into someone else's head without getting recommended for therapy. Basically, writing lets me continue to be a kid as long as I want, and you just can't beat that!



Emily's not really into scary things, but she's going to have a blast tonight handing out candy to all the costumed kids. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter @Emilyksinger.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Year of False Starts

Last year I started pitching, arguably, the best book I've ever written. Since then, I've struggled to come up with the NEXT book to write. The book I'm pitching has series potential, but every piece of advice I've read from every editor and agent in the industry says that writing the sequel to a book that hasn't sold is a waste of time. It's investing time in a project that may never go anywhere, business-wise.

So I'm trying to write the next book. And I've started four different projects, only to have them fall flat. A few of them start out great, but once I get into them, the conflicts resolve themselves too easily. I outline another project only to find that the characters are flat. The conflict is irrelevant to the protagonists. Too much Deus (pronounced DAY-oos, not deuce, because it's latin for God, not 2) ex Machina.

It's a tough place to be as a writer. I hate sitting still and just "thinking" about writing. But I hate wasting time on bad writing that's also not going anywhere.

What does it mean for this writer? Well, I'm going to do something that, in seventeen years of writing, I have never attempted: I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Over the years, I've had many reasons not to participate, and they've evolved over the years. One of the biggest has always been that I've been in the middle of other projects when November rolls around, and I'm not going to put books on hold for something that's intended to get new writers to take that first leap.

So why participate this year? Well, it starts on Saturday. I'm tired of starting projects and not finishing them. NaNo is a personal challenge for me to finish a first draft THIS YEAR! Finally, why not? I should just dive in and do it.

This year of false starts will not end badly if I have anything to say about it. I'm not a quitter. Just you wait and see!

Giles wrote this on a Saturday where he WANTED to give up. But, as stated above, he's not a quitter. He uses blogs, at times, to work out ideas in his mind and share his thoughts for success with others. Even if it doesn't work for him (though it did this time), it might help someone else.

Follow him on Twitter.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Surviving Online Comments

Feedback can be the life and death of a writer. When I go to critique group, it feels great to find out that a scene I struggled with actually worked for everyone. On the other hand, comments of “I didn’t understand this” or “This would not have happened with a real bomb” make me fidgety. I like hearing good things.

But that’s a safe environment. I know that when someone says they didn’t understand a scene, they will try to give me ideas for fixing it. If they know more about bombs than I do (and they usually do), they tell me. It’s very unlike the Internet, where trolls abide like the plague.

The most painful comments I’ve received online were for a bit of ghostwriting I did for a client. Every once in a while I look through the site to see how many views or comments my pieces have. I tend not to actually read many comments, since it’s not my job to answer them.

Last month, however, I read the remarks on one article and got a huge ego boost. Everyone said the subject really spoke to them. They loved it. So, of course, I decided it couldn’t hurt to read the comments on another one of my articles, one I was relatively proud of.

Big. Mistake.

It was like getting ding-dong ditched, punched in the nose, laughed at, and pansed in public, all at the same time. The comments were so awful that I read back through the article, trying to figure out what had offended people. My conclusion was that half of the people only read the first two or three paragraphs. A quarter read most of the blog while they were watching TV and talking to their boyfriend. And the remaining quarter read the whole thing with full attention.

If you want to be a professional writer, you will face months like this. People will read your short story or blog or novel or poem, and they will react like you said you like killing small children. It will sting, and it will be beyond frustrating. It hasn’t quite been long enough for me to say, “If you stick with it, look what happens!” I don’t know what will happen in my case or in yours. But I do know that writers before me have also received bad reviews and nasty online comments, and they’ve survived.

And, hey, if we can survive online haters, we can survive anything.



How do you feel about reading online comments? Yea? Nay?




This month Michelle has also survived a crazy wasp in a plumbing store, a texting driver on the highway, and ceiling tiles with a mind of their own. It’s been an adventure, to say the least. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Time Flies

It's the last day of plagiarism week, but anything I could possibly add on the subject has already been said, either in Michelle and Giles' blog posts or in the episode itself. So, instead of rehashing it, I'm going to go in a completely different direction!

November is right around the corner--and it marks the ten-month anniversary of our first recording day (the nine-month anniversary of our first episode launch). This is kind of mind-blowing to me.

When we started this endeavor, we weren't even positive we were going to make it past our first recording day. Now, we're staring a full year right in the face, and making plans to ramp it up after January. It's thrilling and terrifying and it'll require all sorts of forethought that I'm not used to.

But it's worth it. Hopefully, we're entertaining and informative to all of our incredible listeners. I know that we have a blast recording this podcast and putting it out into the world (and not just because it lets us go to amazing places like Denver Comic Con and Anomaly Con next spring).

I just can't wrap my head around the fact that 2014 is coming to a close already!



If you need her, Emily's going to be rocking back and forth in the corner, trying to figure out where the year went. Or, you know, rambling incoherently on Twitter @Emilyksinger.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On Plagiarism

When I was in college, I remember seeing the warnings agains plagiarism and thinking, "Why would you even do that?" You see, with all of the classes I took, real research had to go into almost every project. We were required to have a minimum number of sources, too. Which meant that ninety percent of the work took place off of the page. The idea that ten percent of the work was "too much effort" boggled my mind. With academics, it made sense to do the research, then write my own thoughts (where appropriate since the majority of academia frowns on the author using their own thoughts, anyway), and then cite, cite, cite.

In fiction, half the POINT of writing is to create something new to share with other people. The little stories running around in my head sound like they'd be more enjoyable if more people read them. The stories that have already been published: they're either SO exciting that I want to TALK with other people ABOUT them, or they don't hold my interest enough to bother with them (not a put-down on anyone's writing, it's just that it's all subjective, and I'm not going to put effort into something that didn't move me).

Either way, stealing someone else's story is a waste of time. If I love the story, I want other people to read it so that the creator GETS THEIR DUE! If I don't, then why should I waste my time copying the story?

Certainly not for the money. Even if I churned out five stories in a year by stealing someone else's work, and managed to sell them all for, let's say a year (and not through traditional pub because I'd be more likely to get caught), I wouldn't even come close to making enough money to justify my time. Then, when I got caught (notice I said WHEN not IF), I'd owe someone a TON of money, and I'd lose any audience I'd built, and then I wouldn't be able write anymore.

Not that plagiarism is writing. It's copying. In some cases, literally.

It doesn't make sense on any level, so my advice is: don't do it! It's also illegal.

More than that, it can ruin lives.

Giles doesn't steal stuff. He goes out of his way to give credit where it's due. And if he misses something, it's because his brain isn't working, and he'll go out of his way to make it right.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Laziness in Writing

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but as we talk about in this week’s episode, sometimes imitation goes a little too far. Plagiarism is a huge problem thanks to a coupling of laziness and the Internet.

When I was a teacher, the most frustrating kind of plagiarism was the kind I couldn’t prove. Now, let me just say, it was amusingly easy to spot copy-pasters in my classroom. I was a French teacher, and when students in Level One used verb tenses from AP French Lit, well, it wasn’t too hard to miss.

It didn’t just annoy me because it was stealing. It annoyed me because I saw it as one of the ultimate cop-outs. Every time I saw someone cheat like that on an essay or homework assignment, all I could hear was that student saying, “I don’t care enough about myself or society to actually do any work.”

You can argue with me all you want. I’ve heard every excuse there is:
“It was too hard.”
“I didn’t understand the assignment.”
“But you told us to use the dictionary!”

And my all-time favorite:
“I thought that [section] was there for me to use.”

No matter which way you spin it, plagiarism is cheating and lazy. In school it tends to only hurt the student – the more they copy, the less they understand, the worse their test scores. In real life, it hurts the original thinker by taking away their rightful recognition and, sometimes, hard-earned money. And as a writer and person who gets excited about every penny she earns, the idea of stealing from another writer makes me just as mad as grading papers and seeing plagiarism.

On a positive note, plagiarism is avoidable. It’s easy – be creative, work hard on your own craft, and make sure that if you do ever borrow tropes, they look completely different once you’re done with them. Seek a novel approach, not someone else’s novel!





This post was brought to you by Michelle. She doesn’t really like Halloween, but if you invite her to a costume party she will (almost always) show up as Wonder Woman. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ode to Fall

Fall is my favorite season. I love the way it smells here in Colorado, and the crisp weather (you know, when it's not swinging back into summer every other day), and the pumpkin-flavored everything. There's something inspiringly beautiful about the way the leaves change, and how they crunch underfoot.

In most mythologies, fall is the time when the sun and/or the god of light dies or retreats into darkness. In the Norse myths, it's the time when Baldr is slain by the mistletoe dart (there are debates as to whether or not the trickster god Loki was actually involved; it's an interesting linguistics conversation, if you're interested). In Celtic myth, Lugh is slain by Balor of the evil eye, to be reborn again in the spring. (There are more stories of the sun god's death throughout the world, but those are the two I know well enough to rattle off without thinking too much.)

Halloween started as a celebration of the dead, a remembrance of our ancestors. It still has remnants of that ritual, though we've moved onto worshipping candy and creative costumes.

Fall is a time of death, but we know it will lead into rebirth and renewal by the spring--and that's part of what makes it beautiful. It's like that time when you're on the verge of finishing a project and preparing to lay it aside for a while before jumping into edits. It's a time to look at what we've accomplished over the last year and finish laying in supplies to carry us over into next year.

I've got Avengers-shaped cheese nips, a stock of comics and books to read while it snows, and two manuscripts to finish; what've you got?







Emily did her best to keep her mythology obsession out of the blog, but it just seeped through. When she's not podcasting, writing, reading, or goofing off on Twitter as @emilyksinger, she's probably staring wistfully out the window and imagining different worlds. Because what else is a girl going to do when her imagination won't shut up?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Movie Review: The Frame by Jamin Winans

Last night, I was given the opportunity to view and review the new indie sci-fi film, The Frame, by Jamin Winans (writer and director of Ink).

Before I jump into the review, let me say that, first and foremost, I'm not a professional film reviewer. That only matters because it means that I have the privilege of picking and choosing which movies I actually bother to review. For the record, this rule applies to books that I review, as well. And my rule is that if I don't like a movie, I won't review it.

So, with that said, let's move forward.

I went into The Frame without a clue as to what I could expect. The trailer (which is more of a teaser) left a lot open to speculation. I feel that the best way I could review this would be to sit down and watch it at least one more time. I could come up with a better description of what I saw, analyze the finer points of the writing, filmography, and overall artistic style. But as I said, I'm not a professional reviewer. What's important is that I walked away WANTING to see it again. Certain movies are worth seeing once, and then I'll never see them again for one reason or another. This one begs at least one more viewing.

This review may go off the rails for a moment, but that's okay. You'll see my point, soon. Even though the story, style, general feel of The Frame is completely different, it reminded me a LOT of Akira. It took twists and turns that I didn't expect, surprised me from the very beginning, and kept me wanting more, even after the credits started to roll. Aside from style, there's one major key difference between Akira and The Frame, in my mind: I needed, and I mean NEEDED, to see Akira twice before I could decide that I liked it. I genuinely liked The Frame right away.

The acting was great, the scripting (dialogue and character depth) elegantly done, and the production quality reminded me of many of the better films that have come out of Focus Features over the years.

Now the big question: would I recommend it to other people? That depends. Unlike The Avengers, The Hobbit, or any other major blockbuster (which is the type of entertainment candy that I go in for time and time again), The Frame is subtle. At times it felt tough to pin down. Sometimes, I expected it to turn into an action-thriller, then at others, it reminded me of a serious take on John Scalzi's RED SHIRTS.

If I had one complaint (and it would be minor if I did), the sci-fi elements took a lot longer to appear than I expected from a movie billed as a sci-fi thriller. A few of the more sci-fi-ish elements didn't show up until the final act, and while it all tied together in the end, I personally would've like a bit more science fiction from The Frame earlier on.

Let me stress that this did not in any way diminish the overall experience that Jamin produced. But it does make it harder to recommend. If you're into the artsier side of sci-fi (i.e. Philip K. Dick), then I think you'll love this movie. If you want Star Trek or Alien, you may be disappointed.

In all honesty, though, one of the reasons I'm struggling with this review, and why I want to see it again, is because it left me emotionally weighed down. Not in a bad way, and not with negative feelings. But it touched SO MANY emotional cords that I NEEDED to block it out RIGHT AWAY or I wouldn't have slept last night. It felt good, like getting a deep-tissue massage. But it's not for everyone.

So, again, would I recommend this to anyone? Yes. Go see it. Watch it anywhere you can. If you enjoy it, awesome: tell your friends! If not, I could understand that. It's great, but (and here's another analogy for you) it's a lot like fine wine (I know, it's not a beer analogy from the beer guy, but more people understand wine, I guess): the people who KNOW wine love love LOVE the vintage that earned a high price tag. The rest of us (if we enjoy wine at all) know how to appreciate what's in the bottle, but we may not get it. The Frame is a lot like that (even though that's a broken analogy). If you like it, you'll very much understand and appreciate it. If you don't, chances are you'll "get it," but it won't be "your thing."

Finally, I want to thank the producer, Kiowa Winans, for inviting me to the private screening. It was an honor, and I hope this review did the movie justice. It's obvious that a lot of work went into it, and I hope for nothing but the best for everyone involved.

UPDATE: For more, listen to our interview with Jamin and Kiowa Winans here.

Giles slept in way too late this morning because the movie drained him so much. Again, in a good way. This turned out to be an experience he needed, even if he didn't expect it.

He hopes to start discussing movies more in the future, but at the very least, several book reviews will be coming out in the near future. Follow him and Beyond the Trope on Twitter for more.