Melina Gunnett

December 18, 2012

The Sun, It Burns!

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:27 PM


I have seen sunrise three times in the last week and not in my usual way. Normally sunrise is an indicator that I really, really, really should have gone to bed. This week it has been an “Oh my it’s dark outside. Why am I awake? Hey, what is that big blob in the sky…”

It would have been four times, but I’m living in Portland, and having the sun actually visible through the clouds isn’t the norm. I have this concept in the back of my little brain that if I keep trying to be a morning person, some day it will stick. I know I’m just fooling myself, but it is an illusion that I like to hold on to, especially on days when I need to get up and be somewhere.

I try to convince myself that if I get up early, I will go to bed early. It will become a cycle! All I have to do is repeat it enough and it will stick… Not bloody likely!

No, what happens every time I try this is what happened this week. I get up, I come home tired, I pass up on a nap because “I am going to some how drag by butt to bed on time!” Bed time comes… Bed time goes… I’m half zoned out, but have caught enough of a second wind that I can’t go to sleep. No matter what plausible explanations I give myself, for some reason anything before midnight seems more like going to bed in the middle of the day than a reasonable time for sleep.

Whenever I try this experiment the results are much the same as they were this week. I often end up sick and by the end of the week I will inevitably have a migraine. Lack of sleep isn’t the only thing that will set off one of my migraines, but after a few days it is pretty much a guaranteed method.

Apparently negative reinforcement isn’t one of my learning method, because I have repeated this stupid cycle more times than I can count.– and it is stupid, stupid on my part because it is so easy to end. All I have to do is go to sleep.

Enough already. I survived this rounds migraine. I can always hold out hope that I learned something. Tomorrow is another early day. Maybe I’ll manage to sleep tonight.

December 9, 2012

Why it takes forever to write a story.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:47 AM’ve been writing for a while now and every time I sit down to write a story it still amazes me how long it takes. I do have other things going on in my life, so they take up part of my time, but even if I put all those distractions aside, it still takes me a while to write even a short story.

I am pretty good at creating characters and, hopefully fairly good at make them come alive on the page. I am also good at creating concepts, those unique little twists that make a setting or situation interesting. Plot is harder for me and the first place a start to lose hunks of time. I can have the most interesting character in the world, but if they don’t do something, why bother writing about them.

I would love to be one of those writers that just puts words down as they go and lets the characters lead them. Maybe some day I will be, but for now I have to outline my plot ahead of time. If I don’t I will end up with 20 pages about my characters trip to the grocery store and the interesting conversation she had with her friend about the latest pop song on the way. By the time the characters get back from the store they won’t have learned anything, they won’t have accomplished much more than acquiring a carton of ice cream and my reader will be off trying to find the amazing pop song that doesn’t exist on youtube.

Once I finally have a plot, I can start to write. This is the easy part – until I hit X. X can be a location, a name, an object… just about anything. The only thing I can say for certain about X is that it will be something I don’t know about. Most of my work is either science fiction of fantasy, so you would think I could just make something up, but you would be amazed how many times it just doesn’t work like that.

For example, the story I just finished writing was pure fantasy, but it was based it our world. My main character was from the past so modern conveniences, like flush toilets, were new to him, or so I thought. I wanted to take a moment for him to marvel at the differences, so I looked up what plumbing was like in his time. That little scene was deleted. It turns out that plumbing in the far past, at least if you had a bit of money, was almost as good as it is today. The Romans had lead pipes that brought water in to their bathrooms and even hot and cold running water was not unknown in some areas.

Another hour disappeared as I tried to figure out what China would have been called 1000 years ago. By the time he got around to staring out a window, I had to wonder wither or not large sheets of glass were really a new thing. At least in that case it turned that it was. They did have some large sheets of glass, but they were expensive and difficult to make so they were used for mirrors. Windows, if they had glass, used smaller pieces and they usually had small imperfections which caused distortion. What I’m trying to say, is no mater what I end up writing about, it seems like I always end up having to do some type of research. (On the up side, I get to find out all kinds of neat trivia.)

Even the things I choose to make up can take time though. Every world has its rules. We have the laws of physics and in a fictional magical based world, there are laws to magic. If I’m making up a world I need to know what they are. Does my character need to know spells? Do they need components for these spells? Can they just think about something and make it happen, if so are there limits?

The answer to that last question, by the way, is a resounding YES. There has to be limits. If there are no limits and the character is all powerful then no one can stand against them and there is no story. Even if they appear to be all powerful there has to be a limit, a weakness, of some sort.

Most of the research and much of the world building takes place as I write. Sometimes I will have to adjust the plot to take in facts or ideas I hadn’t considered when I started, but eventually I manage to string it along into a story. Once I have it all written out on the page – I’m still not done.

Next comes the re-write. This is where I go over the story and marvel at what I have written, usually because I can’t believe that I thought that sentence made sense. There are times when I have had to re-write almost every word, not just the ones that I misspelled, mistyped or left out completely. The thesaurus and I have become very good friends. I would say that I am my own worst critic, but I have beta readers for that.

Beta readers are my wonder, patient, friends and acquaintances that, once I have the story in a form I consider readable, do just that. They read the story for me and get back to me with critiques. No mater how many times I go over my own work, there are things I will miss. By the time I finish a story, I know it. I know my characters background, I know the world the live in, and I know how the think. These wonderful people are a fresh pair of eyes that can read the story and let me know if it someone who doesn’t have all that background information can still understand it. – Oh, and if I am really lucky, they will also catch any technical mistakes I may have missed.

Once I have incorporated any changes I want to make based on my beta readers feedback, I do one last read through to make sure I haven’t missed anything, the I am finally done. I have a story ready to send off into the world.

This is why it seems to take forever to write a story. I know there are some authors out there that can pound out a book an a couple of months. When I first started, I thought I might be able to do that too. Now I am happy if I get at least one, well written, short story out a month. I can hope that, as I gain more experience, the processes will go faster. Only time will tell.

December 3, 2012

And another month fades away.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 4:02 AM

So, I have flipped the page on another calendar month. Yeah, the first was yesterday, but I had a lot to do in November, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it spilled over by a day or so. Amazingly enough I actually got most of the things I really wanted to done.

My job, which I took to help organize my time has been taking up more and more of it, but that’s Okay. I love my job and it is keeping me in coffee. Things will calm down on that front in the next week or so, in the mean time it his really helping me learn my way around Portland.

For those of you who don’t know, I am working as a Mad Scientist. Yes, that is actually my job title. I teach fun, amazing science stuff to elementary school kids as part of an after school program and lately I’ve been doing birthday parties on the weekend. I used to work for the same company in Boston and it is one of the best jobs I’ve had. (And I’ve had some pretty amazing jobs). is my day job, by night (or sometimes morning and, occasionally, even during the afternoon) I am a writer. Lately I have been writing a lot of movie reviews – 8 in the past month. Not a bad way to pass the time. I attend free advance screenings and then let the rest of the world know what I think of the movie.

It has been interesting, trying to find the balance between telling the world my opinion of a movie and not giving away so much that it will spoil the movie for others. Deciding wither or not I like a movie is one thing, figuring out why is another. It means that I have to think about and understand why a plot or a character works and where it breaks down. I think the processes is going to make me a better writer as a whole and I plan to continue. To that end I have spun off a new blog REEL SOON which only contains my movie reviews. You can look forward to review for On the Road and Playing for Keeps this week.

Part of being a writer is writing. In spite of my slightly crazy schedule, it has been a fairly good month. One of my pieces, Of Cats and Coins, sold and will be coming out in an anthology next year (I’ll tell you more about it when I have all the dates and details.) and I finished another piece I have been working on and managed to get it out the door before the submission deadline.

One of the things I hadn’t taken into account is how much research I end up doing for anything that is set in the real world, fiction or not. I’m beginning to realize that only about 20 percent of my writing time is spent writing, but it is almost midnight here and I have to be up and awake tomorrow, so I think I’ll save that for another post. For now I’m off to bed. I need to dream up my next story. 😉

November 24, 2012

Rise of the Guardians

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 9:40 PM

Rise of the Guardians.

But you already have a blog…

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , — Melina Gunnett @ 7:10 PM

But you already have a blog….

The link above will take you to my new blog where I will be posting my movie reviews from now on.  I’ll post reminder links for the next few weeks, then I am going to let it spin off on its own.

Hopefully this also means that you can look forward to seeing some more substantial posts from me here.

November 14, 2012

Review – Red Dawn (2012)

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 10:52 PM

I can’t wait for the new Red Dawn to come out on video. Okay maybe I’ll wait for it to hit Netflix. Either way it is going to make a great drinking game. One rule – Every time you see or hear an overused cliché or war trope, drink. You’ll be soused 15 minutes into the film. On the up side, the rest of the movie will probably be better that way. One of my friends that saw the movie with me summed it up nicely. OMG, it really is a remake. Up until we actually started watching the movie she had been holding out hope that they had re-done the movie and fixed the oh so many problems the first Red Dawn had.

The original Red Dawn had its place. I remember seeing it back when it came out. It had all the hot young actors of the day. It’s problem wasn’t the cast, all of them were good actors, most when on to long successful careers. I suspect many of the actors from this movie will do the same. (I’d tell you who was in it, but I suspect they are already hoping that people forget that they were involved.)

The problem wasn’t even the concept. Everyone loves an underdog story and there is nothing more underdoggy than a bunch of high school kids trying to fight back against overwhelming odds. They could have handled the concept, lets be generous and only say, A LOT better. To their credit the writers did try to fill in some of the plot holes for the remake.

They setting was moved from some agricultural town in Colorado to Spokane, which at least has an airbase and decommissioned missile silos that might make it a strategic site if someone was to invade the United States. They also made the point that the kids weren’t trying to beat the invaders, but act as insurgents, making trouble where they could.

The new movie does offer a nice training montage and lots of high quality explosions. Sadly the dialogue is just as painful to listen to as it was in the first movie. Too bad they didn’t spend a bit less on the pyrotechnics and a little more on the script, but hey, it does have a lot of things that blow up.


And don’t forget to drink up, because someone is probably saying something cheesy. 😉

November 13, 2012

Review – Silver Linings Playbook

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 9:38 PM

Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent glimpse into insanity.  This isn’t so much a romantic comedy as a crazy romance.  Pat (Bradley Cooper) lost it when he caught his wife having an affair with another teacher.  Now he is trying to get it together so he can get back with his wife.  She has a restraining order against him, but he believes that, if he can just become the man she wants him to be, she will take him back.

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) never really had it together to begin with.  Her husband died and she is also trying to put her life together, trying to become the person she always wanted to be.  Neither one is having much luck on their own, but together they just might be able to help each other out.  Tiffany agrees to get a letter to Pat’s estranged wife if he helps her with her dream – to take part in a couples dance competition.

Sliver Linings does a good job of showing what it is like to live with and be around someone who is not mentally stable without it seeming like a cliché.  Parts of this movie can be uncomfortable, they are meant to be.  Neither of the main characters has much of a filter and tend to say what they think as they are thinking it.

Pat comes by his insanity honestly.  His dad is OCD and fanatical about the Philadelphia Eagles (The movie is set in Philadelphia.)  There is no miracle cure for anyone in this movie.  What the characters do find is support.  They have to learn to live with and accept each other eccentricities.  In this regard Silver Linings tends to reflect real life, because in the end, that is the basis that all good relationships.

November 10, 2012

Review – Skyfall

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:09 AM

Why yes the new Bond movie does feature James Bond as well as most of the trappings we associate with him – casinos, shootouts, chases, beautiful women and of course, a villain. This is the third Bond film feature Daniel Craig as James Bond (Casino Royale 2006, Quantum of Solace 2008) and once again features Judi Dench as M and introduces Naomi Harris as the lovely Eve Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as the new Q.

What this film doesn’t have is the misogynistic attitudes so prevalent in the early bond films, nor the suggestively named female sidekick/opponent. To make up for it they added plot. In fact this movie had more plot that I have ever seen in a Bond film, but it still starts out with an amazing car/motorcycle/train chase.

Bond has been sent to retrieve a hard drive with a list of agents planted in terrorist cells around the world. Arriving too late, he and Eve give chase. The chase ends when Eve is given the order to shoot the thief. She doesn’t have a clear shot had ends up shooting Bond instead.

With Bond falling to his death 15 minutes into the film and the villain getting away, it makes you wonder where the story is going to go. The names of the agents are being released (5 per week), M is called in to answer to parliament, the MI6 building is bombed, everything is falling apart and there is no Bond is sight to save the day.

Okay, it’s a Bond movie. No one expects that he is really dead, but he was trying to stay that way. Once he sees a news report he feels obligated to resurrect himself and return to M and Country. With him he brings the crucial clue to tracking down the man who had stolen the list of names. Despite his injuries, Bond returns to active duty to hunt him down and find the person behind the theft and bombing of their headquarters.

We are now about 30 minutes into the movie, like I said, they added plot, a lot of plot. This movie is all about the past, M’s and Bonds. We learn a lot about the character’s background, but none of it is filler. Everything has a point from M’s time at the Hong Kong Branch to Skyfall. And there is no shortage of butt kicking action in any of the scenes. If someone isn’t being chased, hit or shot they are being hacked by a computer genius.

From the beautifully choreographed opening credits to the dramatic end scene, this movie is all Bond all the way. If you are a fan you will enjoy this movie, if you like well done thriller/action movies, you will like this movie, if you are just watching for the naked chicks, you might try something else.

November 2, 2012

Review – Flight

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:18 AM

An airplane crash and alcoholism: Had I known what this movie was about going into it, I probably would have skipped it all together. I’m not really a fan of movies about either one of them. If you are, then this is the movie for you.

The acting was good, the story a bit predictable but well done and other people seemed to like it. One guy compared it to Argo. I don’t see it. The only comparison I would make between the two movies is maybe in the costuming. Despite the fact that the movie was apparently present day (at least if you judge it by the cell phone technology they were using) most of the clothing and settings looked like they came out of the late 70’s. Actually, I think most of the music was from that era too.

They did do a good job of portraying alcoholism. Whip, the main character played by Denzil Washington, has everything going for him. He is a supremely talented pilot who pulls off an amazing landing, saving nearly everyone on board the plane. That is only the background for the film. The real story is about his addictions and the path of destruction they have rent through his life.

I left the theater feeling sad and depressed. This is probably because I have lived with an alcoholic and am far to familiar with the burnt wasteland they leave behind them. I doubt everyone will have this strong of a reaction to the film, like I said, many people seemed to like it. Me – I’m off to find something cheerful to watch so I can sleep tonight.

November 1, 2012

Of Resets and Research

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:51 PM


Somehow it always seems like everything hits at once. I stopped burning the candle at both ends a couple of weeks ago. It just seemed a lot easier to toss the whole thing in the fireplace at once and go for a complete melt down. By the end of last week I was certainly feeling like a melted pile of wax.

Half the point of start the new job was to have something to focus my schedule around so that I could be more productive. (The other half is that I simply love working with Mad Science – doing birthday parties and teaching the kids after school.) The last several weeks have been centred around getting my science back on – training, starting classes, working out my schedule – and with all the winter movies coming out, there have been a ton of screenings to attended in the evening.

Fortunately, between Halloween and a teacher work day, my schedule caught a break this week and I’ve had a bit of time to catch up on some much needed sleep. This is good. I was in desperate need of a chance to reset my world, figure out a schedule and re-gear my life around it. I’ve even be threatening to do my laundry and sort through my mail.

Aside form catching up on some of the household tasks I’ve also been working on research for a couple of upcoming stories. Normally I enjoy research, and the research I’ve been doing on the Green Man mythos has been a lot of fun, but the research of the other story has had me pulling my hair out.

The second story I’m working on involves a legal trial. That means digging into law books and trying to make enough sense out of the patch work of laws to figure out what legally defines a person as a person. Strangely, there is a law on the books defining what a monster is, but none defining what a human being is.

In many ways the law hasn’t caught up with some of the stuff science can already do (even if it isn’t ethical), I don’t actually expect there to be laws and precedents for what I’m looking for. If there was, it wouldn’t be speculative fiction, it would be non-fiction. I had been counting, especially on there being a bit more to work with though. There have been several cases defining when companies can be considered persons, and with all the legal cases surrounding abortion, I thought there would be something, somewhere about real people.

There was one – but it was overturned as unconstitutional a few years ago. There is probably something out there somewhere. I just need to find it. At least I finally hunted down a decent legal dictionary. I can’t say I’m entirely looking forward to doing more research, mostly because I feel like I’m out of my depth. Maybe I should hunt around for a nice geeky law student willing to explain to me how anyone ever finds the precedents they are looking for among our mess of legal red tape.

Hmmm… red tape doesn’t seem right. It’s more like masking tape – after it has been thrown, piece by piece, into a room full of cats.

At least this weekend is Orycon. I have an excuse to lay low on the research and enjoy myself at the convention. Next week my schedule clock resets and it will be back into a fairly regular schedule. Get up, take care of errands and tasks, teach a class, do some writing. Well, that’s the plan any way…

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