I Won

free_texture_friday_541-1024x682_Fotorr

Read the official statement here!

See my winner’s page here!

When it was announced that I was the official Soundtrack Winner of the Hugh Howey Booktrack Contest, I tumbled down the stairs to my mom and managed out, “I won it!” We started jumping up and down and hugging each other. It felt surreal yet thrilling, especially on top of my poor nerves. I’d been apprehensive the day before and slept so badly that entire night. Not even Lady and the Tramp had helped calm my spirit enough to sleep soundly. Somehow, all the suspense was both lifted yet escalated at the same time!

I feel so blessed and incredibly excited and even surprised that Hugh Howey liked what I’d added to his story and thought it worth the grand prize. As a writer, I know the protectiveness one can have over how someone else is interpreting or viewing your story and characters; so when I added the music and sound effects, I wanted to honor and build up what he had already so skillfully written, while having fun myself. I feel so happy that that must have come across in my work in some fashion! That feels very fulfilling–especially against so much good competition!

So, three months since first learning about the contest and thinking “ooh, sounds fun, what’s stopping me from giving it a try”–I’ve won 5,000 dollars! On top of that, I’ve won an opportunity to co-produce another Hugh Howey book on Booktrack! How quickly this changes everything! I have money I can save for editing and publishing purposes, money that I can put into making myself a real author in the near future. I have the opportunity to work with a well-established author as well, which will be so good for me and I hope I learn a lot from him! This all IS HUGE, especially since I come from a background where I was told by authority figures and the pulpit it wasn’t God’s will for a woman to have a career outside of marriage and motherhood, leaving me so insecure about my abilities. What an incredible boost this is!

booktrack winner

I want to say a big thank to my two test readers; my sister Kayla, who told me it sounded great when I was insecure about the music selections, and James, who pointed out a couple spots of inconsistency that were easily fixed and also assured me it sounded great! Your feedback was very encouraging to hear before I hit that publish button! I would also like to thank Booktrack and Hugh Howey for hosting such an amazing competition! What a summer this has been for me!

I hope to very soon write a post on my process and tips for creating a Booktrack; I think it would be fun and I hope to encourage any of my fellow writers to check this program out if they haven’t already. I also hope to claim my prize money soon! Haha!

When it gets down to it, I’m feeling so stunned and thrilled and curious about the future and just–wow. I’m really floored.

I know I will sleep good tonight.

~Jamie

Advertisements

All About Doctor Who

{includes discussions about verbal abuse, the Matt Smith era, and thoughts on Season 8.}

Doctor WhoI haven’t talked about Doctor Who on my blog in quite awhile, and with Season 8 finally here, I think I need to get around to discussing it again. The reason I haven’t talked about it in awhile is because I didn’t enjoy Seasons 5 through 7 and that saddened me. I love Seasons 1-4 very much, and wanted to keep liking Doctor Who. As it turned out, my opinions on the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who is a very unpopular one–everyone seems to love 5-7 a lot.

It’s uncomfortable when my opinions form on the unpopular side; it makes it harder to be true to myself. I’ve struggled merely writing this post for about two months because of fear of hitting the publish button.  However, I’m going to stop feeling uncomfortable for being different and share my thoughts just as I need to. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything as there is one serious issue in particular that needs to be addressed and I hope everyone reads at least that part of this post.

tumblr_mi8217YrC51r5pjkqo3_500Before I begin, I want to address everyone who’s thinking I carried prejudices into these seasons because I didn’t want to like anything after David Tennat’s leave. This is not true. Although I was hesitant, I gave them an honest try and left it up the writers and actors to win me over to their side. That’s their job, after all. It simply didn’t happen that way.

I hated almost everything about Seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who. A lot of that stems from the fact that I couldn’t stand most of the characters that populated the show.

Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor was awful and almost ruined the character for me. Eleven’s silliness and rudeness was very distasteful; I could neither take him seriously and I couldn’t respect him. He wasn’t whimsical or lighthearted; he became a blundering, smart alec-y, catch phrase-spouting fool. The gravity of the character was gone and the attempts for gravity in the last season was a hit and miss. On top of that, we as the audience were told “The Doctor lies” which waters down the moral compass that is The Doctor. The Doctor was someone I could trust before Eleven. But suddenly, I’m supposed to believe he’s a liar? Why?!? Just so the writers can change some time traveling rules? Overall, Seasons 5-7 were incredibly hard to watch because of the main character’s drastic and distasteful personality change. I never warmed to Eleven and am very glad Peter Capaldi has taken over at last.

dr-who-s6-01I disliked River Song a lot. River  never came off as a “strong woman” to me. The actress attempted to make her come off strong-willed and smart but she was only ever over-dramatic and annoying. I couldn’t connect with her. She was also a know-it-all, which I absolutely hate in almost any character. Although that was her whole character’s thing–knowing the Doctor’s future–it was not pulled off well, at least not in a way that made me like her. I also didn’t care for her romance with Eleven as it felt very forced and not at all natural. Overall, I sighed very hard whenever she appeared in an episode and I will be glad when she stops appearing on the show.

fab59890a76b9426a8e8b80555ad61bcRory Williams was the only character I liked from the Matt Smith era, even though he had his own faults. He was a very sweet, adorable character and had a fantastic growth from a insecure boyfriend to a strong adventurer who could roll with the punches. His faithfulness to Amy–who I will talk about in a moment–was endearing, but only to a degree. Overall, Rory was the one bright spot in these three seasons and is definitely one of my favorite companions. The only thing I didn’t like was his relationship with Amy.

Amy Pond. Wow. What an abusive woman. The show attempted to show her as a “strong independent woman” but that was not at all what she was. A strong woman does not need to whip-lash people with her tongue and this was a huge problem in these seasons. Amy put Rory down all the time–in fact, the few times she seemed to care even a little bit about him was when his life was in greater danger then usual. This was very off putting. Her “witty” comments were not at all funny but merely rude, unthoughtful remarks. I do not consider this an aspect of a strong woman. And sadly, I didn’t see any character development in the character throughout the seasons at all! This was disappointing.

tumblr_mjpd9wcRK41qksmhwo1_500I did not appreciate how verbal and emotional abuse was shown as normal and “funny” in Amy and Rory’s relationship. Amy did not want to do the work of building proper trust in their relationship, and insisted that Rory just “trust” her when he had doubts, WHICH IS NOT AT ALL HEALTHY. People. Please understand that this is not healthy. I know this from first hand experience. I come from a family that has suffered from verbal and emotional abuse and it is wrong and needs to be talked about more and it is not funny or healthy. What does a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship look like? LOOK NO FURTHER THAN AMY AND RORY’S RELATIONSHIP AS THAT IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE. I plead all of you, both men and women, please learn from my own suffering from this abuse and do not be Amy in any of your relationships. And either sex, men or women, if you’re in a relationship with someone who is treating you like Amy–GET OUT. Now! They do not truly love you, what you see on the screen is not going to play out so great in real life. 

This is a serious problem and it made many of 5-7’s episodes very hard to enjoy when they were saturated with abuse. Sadly, I’ve never seen anyone else even have a problem with Amy’s behavior and that simply reinforces the fact that very few people are aware of what verbal and emotional abuse is or understand that this type of behavior is very dangerous and harmful. It makes me sad that so many girls see Amy as a positive role model.

Clara-D-doctor-who-32962678-933-1280There is one last character I should cover quickly and that is the current companion to The Doctor, Clara. As of right now, I still do not really care for Clara. She’s okay at best, but usually she comes off as overly confident, in a way that I can not relate to, and the actress annoys me. It’s also annoying that now, each new companion The Doctor meets is suddenly, unbelievably important to the entire ticking of the universe to some degree or another. To quote Syndrome from The Incredibles, “When everyone is super, no one will be.” Come on, writers of Doctor Who. This is getting old. What happened to just having ordinary relate-able companions go on adventures? Those are characters I can personally relate to best! (This is why Rose will forever be my favorite companion.)

Overall, because of unlikable characters, bad writing that led to the show trying too hard to be funny, and some very obvious rule changing to time travel that made me very mad, I found that I did not enjoy the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who. The show seemed to be caught up in have “smart” fast dialogue and overly complicated story arcs rather than delivering solid, likable, healthy characters and strong simple stories.

To round off my thoughts on Seasons 5-7, I will highlight the only episodes I manged to enjoy from the three seasons. There are only eight of them, and I will keep my thoughts brief.

Doctor Who 1

Doctor Who 2I liked Flesh and Stone a lot for the Weeping Angels. They’re cool. I liked Amy’s Choice as the plot was actually fascinating and enjoyable. Day of the Moon with the Silence was great; they instill some great terror. 🙂 And Rory was awesome in A Good Man Goes to War. Night Terrors was all around great; it had some fantastic horror elements and was a nice simple story. The God Complex reminded me of old horror films as well, as while I didn’t enjoy some of it, the first half was good. Hide, again, had the horror/scary element that I enjoy. Finally, The Crimson Horror I really enjoyed for the period setting and creepy element. And, yep, those are the few episodes I ended up enjoying to certain degrees.

Before wrapping this post up, I want to touch briefly on the fact that Doctor Who is back on the air! As most Doctor Who fans are aware, Doctor Who has finally returned to television this past Saturday with Season 8’s first episode, Deep Breath. I ended up enjoying it! Capaldi was great as The Doctor, although what his Doctor will be like is not completely clear as we’re still meeting him. So far I like this version; some gravity to the character seems to have returned and I hope that remains because that was sorely lacking from Eleven’s personality. I had some quibbles with a few things about the episode but nothing to warrant conversation as of now.

About time … Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who and Jenna Coleman as Clara.I look forward to the future season with hope! I’m really hoping the characters will be less annoying this time around, which should make watching the show more enjoyable. I really hope I can get back to loving DW again. I dislike disliking Doctor Who. 🙂 Here’s to a brighter chapter in the future of this science-fiction show! Please don’t disappoint me like that again.

~Jamie

Shameless Self-Promotion (Need Your Help)

free_texture_friday_541-1024x682_FotorrI don’t do a lot of self-promotion, so stick with me here, okay? Thank you in advance for simply reading.

Because I love the world of writing and don’t have a steady source of income, I’ve entered a couple of writing contests on Booktrack; the amazing platform where reading and audio come together. It can easily be a disaster, but with my work I try to keep the sound effects realistic and the music appropriate as I never want the audio track to distract or detract from the main point: the story. That’s what I’ve attempted to do in this latest contest hosted on Booktrack.

I don’t know that much about author Hugh Howey, but I know just from his first chapter in Half Way Home he’s a fantastic writer! Half Way Home’s opening “Abort” is very intriguing and very sci-fi! I was thrilled to hear about his contest where anyone can take one of the chapters from Half Way Home and add an audio track to be in to win up to $5,000 dollars! That’s a lot and that’s what I’d like to win. I’d even be happy being a finalists, as they win $1,000 dollars! Even though I do what I do because I love it, I have to admit I’d really love to be a winner here as the stakes are so high and the money could really help me out. And here’s where I need your help.

Capture2
behind-the-scenes view of my work

I’ve done my part; I’ve listened to the extensive library of music, edited footsteps and breaking glass and the atmosphere and played with volume levels. I’ve finished my official cover for the chapter, too (up there, see, see! Isn’t it pretty?!) Now, what would really help me is:

A) Some feedback– are there too many sound effects, what did you find overly distracting from the story, the music doesn’t work in this part, ect–just any feedback at all. I have till the end of July to finish tinkering with my entry before the contest ends and the judges begin doing their thing. Any and all critiques would be appreciated before then so I know if I need to do any little (or large!) fix ups to my story.

B) Views. To be become a finalist, the contest states that the three entries with the most amount of views will become finalists. Two more will be picked by Booktrack to make a total of five. My chances of becoming a finalist go way up the more times my story is viewed by clicking the “read” button. If you all could do that even once that would be helpful.

Here is the link to my story below; it works best on web browsers Google Chrome and Opera (both of which I use for free and really like.) You can also simply go to Booktrack and type my username Jamie221b into their search bar. My three stories will come up, this one included!

My Version of Abort: http://www.booktrack.com/#!/bookshelf?booktrackId=99220c80cdcd4cdb8df77b29c57a5545

Booktrack: http://www.booktrack.com/#!/

The Contest: http://www.booktrack.com/#!/landing/hugh-howey

And as a little bit more of an incentive for you: if I’m one of the finalists or the winner of the contest, I will be able to afford my DVD giveaway I’ve been planning on hosting here! The items I have sitting here are Seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who (seems to be everybody’s favorite!) and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, which everyone should see once! I’d love to be able to throw this giveaway, so the money would definitely make it a sure possibility!

While I would be very grateful if you could help me out with A) and B), I’m also not meaning to hold a gun to anyone’s head like “HELP ME NOW OR YOU’RE NOT A NICE PERSON.” You’re going to do what you’re going to do, so I’ll only be asking this once. 🙂 If you have any questions, please ask. Again, thank you for at least reading this and have great rest of your day!

~Jamie

Top 100 Favorite Movies|10-1

The levels and elements of personal enjoyment, surprise, personal attachment/nostalgia, stand up to rewatches, and personal connection were fundamental in selecting these ten films. I include some personal connection in these reviews so they may look a little longer to read. 😛 Finally, a big thank you to my best friend James for inspiring me to attempt this list in the first place.croods-poster-emma-stone

10. The Croods | 2013 | PG

To everyone who assumes that once I’ve made up my mind that I will hate a movie and thinks “of course she didn’t like it then!”: let me present to you The Croods. I blame most of my first hate on the absolutely horrible advertising the film recieved–the films itself has so much more heart and deeper content than just slap-stick humor and modern family jokes. I liked it enough to rewatch it several times. Ultimately, what connects this movie to me so strongly is the story of Eep and her family leaving the cave and “never being afraid.” Almost literally my parents kept my sister and I in a bubble where “everything new was bad” and that everything in the world would result in our deaths. With my mom now trying to give Kayla and I freedom as young adults, I really feel like I’m finally leaving the cave and truly getting to live instead of “not dying.” 

Although this movie is pretty temporary here at the bottom of my top ten, I am positive that I will always love this film for it’s message and special-ness to my personal story. (Also the movie features a lot of great elements like meta modern family humor, a teenage guy who isn’t a oily or slick but is actually decent nice person, beautiful animation, Emma Stone, and a creative prehistoric world!)

harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_part_two_xlg

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 | 2011 | PG-13

Considering my history of being opposed to Harry Potter, for one of it’s movies to hold position 9 is pretty darn good if you ask me. This movie is exactly how you want to end a big franchise. It is the strongest Harry Potter film, extremely powerful with emotion, action, and satisfying conclusion. Even though I knew of several deaths, I was very surprised by how much I was moved by them and the ending was so beautiful that I cried during that too. The great battle of Hogwarts is one of the best adventures I’ve seen on screen as well.

On a personal level, getting to the position where I felt free enough to watch Harry Potter without feeling like a bad Christian was big all on its own, so to get a great ending to a beautiful saga is like double the blessing. Although I’m not completely free of fear of what people might think of me, on the other side there is still something very freeing to be able to own my love for Harry and not let what other people think hinder me personally. It’s for these reasons Deathly Hallows Part 2 made it to my top 9 movies!Ben-Hur-1959-movie-poster

8. Ben-Hur | 1959 | G

My most favorite classic epic, Ben-Hur has been one of my favorite stories since my early teens. The themes of revenge and forgivness have never been caputered on such a scope of epicness to me before or since. This is my favorite story tied into Biblical events as we see how Christ’s touch on Judah Ben-Hur’s life eventually effects him in the end. The build to the magnificent and raw chariot race is one of my favorite moments in cinema history. I have always loved Stephen Boyd as Massala and Charlton Heston truly owns Judah Ben-Hur in a way that completely makes the movie. The soundtrack is one of my personal favorites, the cinematography is amazing, and the story and characters are timeless. Truly one of the best epics ever created.beauty_and_the_beast_ver1

7. Beauty and the Beast | 1991 | G

Easily my most favorite fairy tale of all times, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been a favorite of mine since I was small. The magic of it’s heart, music, animation and characters has yet to die from my soul. Just like The Prince of Egypt, the songs are not only emotionally moving but they also move the plot forward or really give you a great glimpse into a character’s dimension that will help build the story at the end. I consider this the ultimate princess Disney feature and easily one of Disney’s best, most unbeatable works of art. The animation is flawless and the atmosphere never fails to fill me with intrigue and bated breath. To me, this is the ultimate love story and the impact it still has on me today when I think of heroines, love, selflessness, magic and animation itself is truly special to me.hot_fuzz_ver4_xlg

6. Hot Fuzz | 2007 | R

Easily my favorite comedy of all time (sorry, 21 Jump Street, but the Brits take it.) Hysterically clever, the film delivers laughs that are strongly balanced by fantastic characters, a strong mystery and lots of metaphorical moments that completely respect but laugh at the action genre on a whole. Simon Pegg perfectly captures Nicholas Angel’s rigid love for justice while Nick Frost plays the perfect sidekick Danny Butterman who isn’t too silly and perfectly compliments Angel’s personality—these two characters and actors are one of the most ultimate duos in cinema and TV history. Yes, I just said that. However, the one thing I love best about this movie besides the humor, action spoofy-ness and characters, is it’s Miss Marple/English Village flavored mystery. It hearkens back to my first love–a good old fashioned who-dun-it! Rolled together it creates truly one of the best comedies/action/mystery flicks of all time.Star Wars - A New Hope (1977) Style A by Tom Jung

5. Star Wars: A New Hope | 1977 | PG

I know everyone loves Empire Strikes Back; I love it too. But whenever I think of my love for Star Wars, I always think of A New Hope. There’s just a special place in my heart for the very first Star Wars film and that’s how it beat Empire. This movie is just about the definition of the word ‘classic’. The soundtrack is amazing, the effects still hold up well today and the story’s plot flow is perfection. I love the introduction we receive to Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker , Han Solo, Chewbaca and of course the droids. Everything plays a role in the film with a solid opening and a conclusive ending which I prefer to the big cliff-hanger, even if that had a great impact on cinema history with Empire. There is so much to love in A New Hope but I really shouldn’t need to go on much longer here :P. There are few movies that can even come to rival the greatness of Star Wars and the impact it’s had on pop culture and intimate lives–myself included! All hail the great sci-fi film of the ages!posters12/11/08

4. Rocky | 1976 | PG

I love a great underdog story and this easily my favorite of them all. However, to me Rocky is more than just an excellent boxing story with a fantastic delivery of one man’s personal struggles in and out of the ring. To me, Rocky presents a strong representation of true manhood. Coming from a spiritual background where outward perfection was strived for more than a humble spirit in many of the men around me, watching Rocky was like a breath of fresh air and a strong reminder to me of what real men are made up of. Strength of body and mind are nothing in a man if they are not clothed in a gentle spirit. Rocky is one of my personal heroes because he is a very gentle man, shown by how he approaches people, goes out of his way to help others in his own way, and steadily attempts to win Adrian’s heart. For these reasons (and the simple fact that this is simply a stunning film) Rocky will always mean the world to me.tlk-new-poster

3. The Lion King | 1994 | G

The only reason The Lion King managed to beat Beauty and the Beast was because of my emotional connection, which even I find strange since I didn’t grow up seeing it a million times or anything. Recently playing the movie in the background of my day, I choked up about six times and got chills at least five and I wasn’t even paying that much attention. These are not even your classic moments like Mufasa’s passing; this is moments like Rafiki speaking to Simba and the log bridge scene during Hakuna Matata. I can’t explain my connection to this film, I only know it’s there. The songs and soundtrack, voice talent, and animation strongly combined with the grown up themes of throne-stealing, murder, and fear, creates one of, if not maybe Disney’s best animated film of all time.0103074_big

2. Thelma and Louise | 1991 | R

One of the best female-oriented films I’ve ever seen; this spoke to me and my own personal situation which is how it became my second favorite movie. I’ve always knew of the names Thelma and Louise; they’ like Lucy and Ethel or Lewis and Clark. 😛 But when I finally got around to watching the movie, I was so happy and surprised to discover it was a masterpiece must-see. Themed with timeless invaluable friendship and taking control of one’s own life and choices, Thelma and Louise both empowered and uplifted me as a woman and human being. Humorous and delightful while also being dark and somber, the film delivers a well balanced plot and character journey which I strongly related to because I myself am just beginning to make my own life discions. For more amazing reasons why this movie is fantastic, head over to my latest guest post on J and J Productions when you’re done here!5k8lv1eXe7vbeJ57eXLIKxFamAQ

1. Clue | 1985 | PG

Out of all the genres that could compete to win my number one film, my love for the who-dun-it mystery genre won out, and it actually won very easily. From the beginning of this list, I never had a hard time deciding that Clue would reign at the top. In fact, during the construction of this post, I rewatched Clue with my sister and about twenty minutes in, she turned to me and said, “This feels like it should be your number one movie, Jamie.” I definitely knew then that this movie was truly my cinema soul-mate.

It’s everything I want from a murder mystery; quotable dialogue, a fantastic period setting of the 1950’s, lovable slapstick humor that isn’t too over the top, continuous plot twists, a sly self-awareness of it’s genre, and truly quirky characters (all of them gems but my favorites including Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Tim Curry as Wadsworth the Butler.) The multiple endings hearkens back to the game board where you can get a different murderer each round; however there is an official ending that wraps up the film perfectly. I’ve rewatched this film countless times and continue to catch little things, expressions, or moments that add to the atmosphere or plot!

Interestingly, I’ve only played the board game a few times and my attachment to the film does not come from the game itself. Growing up, 80 percent of the books I read were mysteries, so it should be no mystery (HA!) that my personal attachment to the genre should transfer to films. Overall, Clue is simply a fantastically enjoyable mystery film. While one will either get it or not get it, either way I highly recommend it, because, after all, it is my number one favorite film of all time.

~Jamie

Laugh it up, Fuzzball.

tumblr_lpi230PfL81qjeyv9o1_500

It’s May 4th, Happy Star Wars Day! I don’t want to repeat myself a lot as I’ve now celebrated four Star Wars days, all on this blog. But to put it briefly once again, I have yet to fall out of love with the Original Trilogy and am quite positive that I never will. I love all the people I met because of Star Wars and all the movies and TV shows I discovered afterwards, too. My bathroom is all Star Wars themed, I use the force to open doors and turn on soap dispensers ;), and sci-fi permanently flows in my veins. The original trilogy still remains as the best movies my parents ever introduced to me.  May the 4th be with you today!

~Jamie