Category: Blog Topics


AwesomeConEmails went out to all the speakers and panelists at AwesomeCon 2015 yesterday, and four out of seven of my suggestions were accepted. I was expecting two at most, so this is fun.

If you’re planning to go to AwesomeCon this year and want to see me talk, three of the events will be on Friday, and one (mostly of interest to gamers) will be on Sunday.  Continue reading

Interview on the Hugo Awards

I’ll be on an Internet talk show, Dead Wrong Radio,  this evening to talk about the Hugo Awards. Other guests include Brad Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, and Tom Knighton, though we won’t be on at the same time.

The show is a (very) right-wing conservative podcast, but if you’re expecting me to go on a political tear, you’ll be disappointed. I save that for other shows (which is why I don’t post about them here) and for Facebook. The whole reason I’m backing Sad Puppies is because I believe that entertainment should not be beholden to politics. The show starts at 8:30 Eastern, and I’ll be on at 9.

Strangely, the show description refers to me as their “inhouse expert.” I’ve never been associated with this show before, so I’m not sure where they get that.

Cinderella

Editor’s Note: Lori wanted to review and analyze Cinderella, so here she is in her second guest blog. Enjoy!

~ Matthew Bowman, Supreme Editor Monkey at Novel Ninja.


CinderellaI’ll say it right at the outset: Cinderella is one of the best movies I have seen recently.

Now, after I reviewed Old Fashioned — a movie I wanted to like — Matthew and I were both told on Facebook that we’re not qualified to review rom-coms, so I guess I’m not qualified here either. Or the haters can just go jump in the nearest lake.

The movie is visually beautiful, with a bare minimum of CGI.  The music is compelling, the acting is quite well done and convincing, the humor is tasteful and just enough to make the story light and pleasant (but not enough to make it silly) and the story is almost perfect.

Comparing this version to the original Disney Cinderella (1950), this one is superior in every way, and not just because it is a modern film with real actors.  The original Cinderella is a child’s movie, with a child’s plot.  There is no real development of anyone’s character, including Cinderella’s, the prince is barely in the movie at all, and most of the screen time is spent with Cinderella’s talking and singing animal friends.  This is not a bad thing in itself; I loved Cinderella as a kid (but not as much as Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid).  It’s not a bad story; it just could have been so much better.

Fortunately for fans of the fairy tale, now it is.

I don’t think any SPOILER ALERTS are necessary here.  Even if you haven’t seen this version of Cinderella (you should do so as soon as possible), we all know the story, and we all know how it ends. Continue reading

Coauthored Books

CO_Authoer-ImageA lot of fans have dreams. Meeting their favorite author. Getting sneak peeks at an anticipated book. Getting two favorite authors to team up — oh, yeah, that’s one that will get people excited.

But that brings up a can of worms that might not be obvious at first look. Who’s ultimately in charge? If there are disagreements, how do they get resolved? Whose name comes first on the cover? If it’s not a 50/50 royalty split, why? And how is that determined?

This is something that shows up a lot in academia, because whomever shows up first in the list of authors has pride of place (unless possibly, but still often the case when, it’s just determined by alphabetical order). In a multi-author academic paper, the first name is not always given to the one who did the most work, but rather the one who will get the most notice and bring the most credibility to the findings. The last person on the list might well have been the one who did the lion’s share, but the first name usually gets most of the credit.

Unfair? Well, there’s a reason for this arrangement.  Continue reading

In Defense of Fanfic

fanficLast week, when talking about how Agents of SHIELD seems to have been written like it was MCU fanfic rather than a true member of the franchise, I mentioned that fanfic isn’t a bad thing and can, in fact, be quite beneficial. It occurs to me that this probably deserves extra attention.

Yes, fan fiction can be beneficial. It’s a great way to encourage creativity, practice writing skills, and generally provide a sandbox for fans to play in.

It’s also a type of fiction that is notoriously riddled with bad writing. We’re not just talking about grammar and spelling. We’re talking about fiction that, quite often, shows little understanding of plot structure, character development, setup and payoff, or even why the source material it draws on is told the way it is.

fanfiction copy Continue reading

Something Good at the Oscars

Note: If you’re not interested in a breakdown of why I don’t think the Oscars matter, scroll down to the end. You’ll know what I mean. I admit, it’s more like two stories in the same blog post, but there’s a reason I’m stringing them together.

I don’t watch the Oscars.

I really don’t care much about them at all. Usually anything that wins is something I’m not interested in anyway.

I remain convinced that this is the only reason that The Lord of the Rings won.

I remain convinced that this is the only reason that The Return of the King won.

The Academy is voted on by a relatively-secret elite, usually solidly upper-class, and who typically live in a Hollywood-shaped bubble that has a rather warped image of what the rest of the world is like. Becoming a member is basically about being popular among the membership committee, rather than having any knowledge about what movies are like as an art form. (Though I should point out that Mother Delores Hart, the semi-famous actress who kissed Elvis and then became a Catholic nun, scrupulously watches every film to cast an educated vote.)

That leads to an odd collection of what they consider worthy of a prize. Since the membership is so insular, it seems to me a good recipe for voting for a movie because you know someone who was involved with that movie; or because you don’t want to face someone at the metaphorical watercooler after voting for something that was merely a good film rather than the right film. Continue reading

An Old Fashioned Review

Editor’s Note: One of my authors, Lori Janeski, had a lot to say about the film Old Fashioned, which premiered last week alongside 50 Shades of Grey. I invited her to turn our conversation into a guest review here on Novel Ninja, giving her analysis of why Old Fashioned failed not only as a romantic alternative to 50 Shades, but also why it just plain failed as a means of promoting “old fashioned romance.”

~ Matthew Bowman, Supreme Editor Monkey at Novel Ninja.

I’m not into rom-coms, I’ll admit that at the outset. If you were to ask me to choose between, say, It Happened One Night (Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert) and Twelve O’clock High (Gregory Peck and Hugh Marlowe), I’d pick the war movie, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

So the fact that I voluntarily went to see Old Fashioned on Valentine’s Day by myself should tell you something. In fact, the main reason I bothered was to try to make sure that Fifty Shades of Smut didn’t make as much money at the box office on their opening weekend.

Knowing that, any review of mine must be taken with a significant grain of salt, because I am not a big fan of the genre in general (with a few exceptions, like Pride and Prejudice). With that in mind, this is what I thought. Continue reading

A Valentine’s Day Message

I wasn’t planning on posting something for Singles’ Awareness Day, but that was before this happened.

So there I was, innocently browsing Facebook, when what do I see before me but a book challenge, one of those memes that tells you to pick up the nearest book and find a certain line. “These are always fun!” I thought.

This one was simple. Turn to page 45 and find the first sentence. That sentence would explain my love life.

I looked around for the nearest book, and realized it was the old D&D manual I use for a mousepad.

Uh-oh . . .

“Your blade tints red as it draws your enemy’s blood to strengthen you.”

*gulp*

I think I need a new mousepad.

. . . Happy St. Valentine’s Day, everyone!

A Light in the Darkness

It’s Christmas.228283_564760040220120_6873465_n

I stay away from politics and religion on this blog. I don’t do that because I don’t have any or don’t want to discuss them; on the contrary, as my conversations and posts on other sites bear out, I do indeed have them, and I do indeed discuss them. In fact, I stand firmly behind my literary hero G. K. Chesterton in this regard, who (when he was instructed he could write about anything other than these two subjects) said “There is nothing else worth writing about.”

Rather, I stay away from discussing them (aside from the occasional review) because I don’t want to argue about them. Not, at least, here on this blog, which I have always intended as a source of information about stories, whether written or being written. These two subjects are divisive, despite being — by definition — unitive at the same time.

But I am going to talk for a moment about “the reason for the season.” Not a Jesus lecture, not some sermon about how getting together with a bunch of strangers to read from a 1,700-year-old book of 1,900-plus-year-old words on a cold day is the most important thing you can do on an arbitrary day of the last month of the equally-arbitrary year. It’s not even something Christian, really — or rather, not exclusively Christian. And that’s fine. We celebrate a lot of holidays without having a direct connection to the origin of those celebrations.

I look around, in fact, and see a lot of people celebrating a holiday that belongs to a religion I profess, yet they themselves don’t profess the same beliefs. Sometimes they differ a lot. Other times, just enough to really notice. And as I look around for a common denominator, asking myself why Christmas matters to so many non-Christians, I find myself settling on two ideas: hope and family.  Continue reading

The Reason for the Silence

So, another long period of no posts? Oh, I’ve been around. You just can’t see me . . .

Actually, a large part of the reason has been that I got an offer on a full-time job that has morphed from being simply a managing editor for a new journal to . . . well, a lot more. My skills as an editor are a large part of it, but my new company is also interested in using me in other ways. It’s really very exciting. I won’t be working with fiction, but it’s really surprising how many ways my creative writing experience is helping to move their project forward.

So what does that mean for this blog, and the Novel Ninja Freelance Editing business? Well, the blog is still going to continue, and I’m still going to accept manuscripts. Odds are, though, that I’m going to be even more picky about what I take on. The new job will mean that I won’t depend on income from NNFE, but I still want to continue with my passion for stories.  Continue reading

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