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Writers of the Future XXIV Trailer on youtube

Posting this for my family and friends who’ve been asking to see the trailer for the 2008 anthology Writers of the Future XXIV which my story Crown of Thorns is in. It is such a great trailer and I’m still delighted by William Ruhlig’s illustration of my story. Have it hanging on my lounge wall! Enjoy.

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What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Apart from showcasing the lovely young version of Johnny Depp, and an even younger version of Leonardo DiCaprio, this is a pretty amazing film from way back in 1993. After watching today, it’s left me contemplating fatherhood, brotherhood, selflessness, and the possibility of being too sacrificial. Can a person be too good? Can they be so selfless they are eclipsed? Or is it by being eclipsed as they serve others in need that some people truly shine? Lots of deep questions… but here’s what the storyline is about in a nutshell:

Gilbert Grape (Depp) is a young man in rural USA who shoulders the emotional, financial, and physical responsibility of an unusual family. His brother Arnie (DiCaprio) is a joyous soul with a learning condition of some sort that constantly pushes him to experience danger – which he feels as joy. Gilbert fills the role of best-friend, brother, father and protector for him, but the job is more than one young man seems to be able to bear. Gilbert’s mother is a needy and ill woman whose fear confines her to the ‘run down’ house. The two sisters are engaging, but really just support characters. By the end of the movie Gilbert had undergone an interesting journey as the ‘sacrificial hero’. While he didn’t seem to save anyone overtly, and failed at times, he was a rock for those he loved. Through the painful experiences his heroic victory was realised, and it is this I love most about the movie. Gilbert finally finds the freedom to truly be himself. The self he was being all along. A man who loves his family, most especially his brother, above all else. From Arnie, the seeming source of Gilbert’s problems, he learns that the true joy of living by heart and simply being himself.

Hope this isn’t preachy, but ‘being myself’ is a hot topic for me right now. I don’t think there is anything more important or heroic than living by heart, and this film is a thought provoking take on this exact journey. For me, living by heart is a journey that offers far greater rewards than the path of fear where people become who they think the world wants them to be. It take strength and courage to truly be yourself, but the rewards are peace, joy and freedom.

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Despicable Me

It’s school holidays and we went and saw Despicable Me. The kids loved the evil-but-cuddly villain, Mr Gru, and I have to admit I found myself laughing, even snorting, at his escapades. I enjoyed the way the orphans wormed under his skin. Just lovely. A fantastic animation.

It got me thinking about writing though, and an audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. I went along to Mr Despicable willing to suspend a lot of disbelief just so I could enjoy what it was offering. Sure, even shrink the moon to baseball size, I don’t mind in this kid’s medium… heck, they even added some pseudo-science and made all the waves disappear and left the surfer’s stranded. But there was just one thing that broke it for me. They didn’t stick within the boundaries of the ‘pseudo-science’ they’d created. Inevitably, as moons do, the moon
grew big again and re-established itself in a closer orbit to Earth than usual. Not a terrible thing. Rather pretty in fact. But the film at that point broke it’s own psuedo-science… there was no mayhem on Earth. No tidal waves. The kids didn’t notice. But I did. Am I too big for this movie I found myself asking.. how dare they trick me with their pseudo science and then take it away so quickly.

I guess it was one of those cases where keeping to the rule would have ruined or changed the story. And the target audience didn’t mind at all. My kids loved the movie and are heartily recommending it. I do think people tend to get hung up on being correct in their artistic work, rather than connecting with their audience via a great story. This was a good story. Action packed and heart warming. Pure entertainment.

Would I recommend it? Yes, with one caveat: I seemed to bring home a budding young evil-scientist in the making… you might too!

Also, for daily updates, please friend me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sonia.helbig

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Yay! I just picked up my contributor copies of ‘Belong’ from Ticonderoga’s editor Russell B. Farr. What lovely books to hold. I’m happy to have a story in this one. The other 22 stories will provide some great Easter reading too. I will probably check out ‘The Hollow Ones’ by Kylie Seluka first to look for references to T.S.Eliot. I must recommmend Carol Ryle’s ‘Deeper than Flesh and Closer’ having pre-read it.

The stories in ‘Belong’:

“Border Crossing”, Penelope Love
“Mrs Estahazi”, Barbara Robson
“Norumbega”, Linda L. Donahue
“Ice”, Zdravka Evtimova
“United”. Jennifer Moore
“Rekindle the Sun”, Mary E. Lowd
“The Gift”, Barry Rosenberg
“Prisoner of the Faceless”, Kurt Bachard
“Merpeople”, Gwen Veazey
“Feather-light”, George Ivanoff
“Speaking English”, Stephanie Burgis
“Green, Green Grass of Homeworld”, Donna Maree Hanson
“I Belong to this Red Land”, Edwina Harvey
“All Tales Must End”, Michelle Muenzler
“Namug”, Gustavo Bondoni
“Song of the Blackbird”, Sarah Totton
“A Friendly Gesture”, Chet Gottfried
“Initiation”, Sonia Helbig
“Slow Cookin’”, Angela Rega
“The Ballad of P’toresk”, Simon Petrie
“The Hollow Ones”, Kylie Seluka
“Trassi Udang”, Patty Jansen
“Deeper than Flesh and Closer”, Carol Ryles

Copies can be ordered here: http://www.indiebooksonline.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=88

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SF Story Sale: Initiation

My sf short story ‘Initiation’ is set to be published in the Ticonderoga ‘Belong’ Anthology, edited by Russell B. Farr. ‘Belong’ is an anthology of stories exploring migration. My story, ‘Initiation’, is set on a planet called Australis, years after a mass exodus from Earth. It explores themes of capitalism, patriarchy, and freedom through the eyes of its female protagonist. Russell punkrocker1991 makes beautiful books, so I’m proud to be part of this one. Even happier that my good friend carolryles has a story in it too. ‘Belong’ will be launched at SwanCon, Easter 2010. Hope to see you there.

Belong: http://www.ticonderogapublications.com/books/belong.html
SwanCon: http://2010.swancon.com.au

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Friday Night Fortnightly Writing Challenge Invitation

I’ve set myself a Fortnightly Friday Night Writing Challenge. My goal is to write or edit 3000 extra words every second Friday night. If I hit the target, I’ll squeeze 78,000 extra words out over the course of a year.

I figure I don’t need to spend every Friday in front of the box anymore.

I plan to write from 5pm to 10pm, every second Friday, with a 45 minute break for an easy dinner at 7.15pm. It will take commitment and dedication, but it will be worth it as the new word/edit tally grows. To set myself up for succes, the internet & phone will be off and the house will be silent.

To make it fun and inspiring, how about you join me?!

Solidarity is good, so please drop me a line if you want to do it together.

Happy writing!

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Interview with Jenny Blackford

My recent interview of writer and reviewer is up online at Specusphere: An Interview with Jenny Blackford and a Preview of ‘The Priestess and the Slave’

Set in Ancient Greece during the days of a plague that crippled an empire, ‘The Priestess and the Slave’ is compelling reading. Chapter One and Two can be read at: Hadley Rille Books

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I just read Vedran, a wonderful short story by Jonathan Carroll. It is a great reflection on love, loss and grief. About the power of objects to hold and recreate memories.

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Crown of Thorns Excerpt

An excerpt of my story “Crown of Thorns” is up online in the Writers of the Future Herald.

The full story is available now in Writers of the Future XXIV from Galaxy Press, and will hit bookstores in mid March. The anthology contains twelve other short fantasy, science fiction and horror stories by talented new writers whom I’m proud to call friends. It also has some great articles on the craft of writing in it.

Meanwhile, the Writers of the Future Herald also has an interesting article on “The Basics of Writing” by anthology editor, Algis Budrys. Happy reading.

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