Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top 100 Movie Challenge

In response to Nathan Bransford's top 100 movie challenge, here are my 100 favorite(ish) movies. Unlike Nathan, I didn't spend much time on this list. It's really the first 100 movies I love as I thought of them, but it covers my tastes.

I love romantic comedies and Hitchcock, teeny bopper films and Wes Anderson. There's a lot of classic Gen X stuff, a few action flicks, and—just for fun—a smattering of surrealism. I pretty much love anything with Cary Grant in it, and I have a soft spot for summer camp hijinks. I'm sure there are a few great ones I missed!

1. The Princess Bride
2. Rushmore
3. My Fair Lady
4. Notorious
5. Casablanca
6. Vertigo
7. Rear Window
8. The Goonies
9. Empire Strikes Back
10. Star Wars
11. Return of the Jedi
12. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
13. Pretty in Pink
14. Sixteen Candles
15. You've Got Mail
16. French Kiss
17. Sleepless in Seattle
18. Dirty Dancing
19. Pulp Fiction
20. Ella Enchanted
21. To Catch A Thief
22. Bringing Up Baby
23. The Philadelphia Story
24. Suspicion
25. His Girl Friday
26. Bridget Jones' Diary
27. Pride and Prejudice (BBC)
28. 10 Things I Hate About You
29. American Pie
30. Reality Bites
31. To Kill A Mockingbird
32. Lost in Translation
33. The Life Aquatic
34. Darjeeling Limited
35. Moonrise Kingdom
36. Fantastic Mr. Fox
37. Sweeney Todd
38. Father of the Bride (both versions)
39. Roman Holiday
40. Adam's Rib
41. Dangerous Liaisons
42. Back to the Future
43. The Parent Trap (original)
44. Raiders of the Lost Ark
45. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
46. Sliding Doors
47. Office Space
48. Rosemary's Baby
49. The Shining
50. Belle de Jour
51. That Obscure Object of Desire
52. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
53. Repulsion
54. Stranger on a Train
55. The 39 Steps
56. The Man Who Knew Too Much
57. The Big Sleep
58. Mulholland Drive
59. Being John Malkovich
60. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
61. Contact
62. The Fifth Element
63. Adventures in Babysitting
64. The Incredibles
65. Superman
66. Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
67. Aladdin
68. Sleeping Beauty
69. Alice in Wonderland
70. Funny Face
71. Breakfast at Tiffany's
72. Sabrina
73. Wizard of Oz
74. Hunger Games
75. Terminator
76. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
77. Die Hard
78. True Lies
79. Scrooged
80. Camp Nowhere
81. Meatballs
82. Wet Hot American Summer
83. Only Angels Have Wings
84. North by Northwest
85. Charade
86. The Bishop's Wife
87. I Was a Male War Bride
88. An Affair to Remember
89. Grosse Pointe Blank
90. 500 Days of Summer
91. Better off Dead...
92. Midnight in Paris
93. Mallrats
94. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
95. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
96. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
97. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
98. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)
99. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
100. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good Indian Girl: A Long-Winded Post on How I Became a Writer

My dad always wanted me to become a doctor. I kind of ruined it all by fainting at the sight of a whale heart on a school field trip. At least, I've been told it was because of the whale heart—I actually have no memory of seeing it. All I remember is waking up on the floor, my classmates staring down at me.

So there went my medical career. My dad was pretty disappointed. But like all good Indian girls, I grew up undeniably practical. As if by osmosis, I understood from birth that writers and artists starve on the streets. I really didn't want to starve or live on the street...so I ended up getting a computer science degree.

There was something about writing code that really appealed to me. From my very first CS class, it just clicked. It was so logical and rational...all the things that good Indian girls like. But I felt like a part of me was under-utilized. I tried to be creative in the workplace but my bosses really only needed a code monkey. They had other people, people with MBAs, who could be visionary. Sigh.

Then in 2006, I attended my first writers' conference, a regional RWA con. My sister, a fellow programmer who wrote novels on the side, convinced me to go.

“If you're ever going to write,” she said, “This is where you start.”

The funny thing is that I never told her I secretly wanted to write. Perhaps she intuited it from our many childhood hours spent together at the library, gushing over our favorite books. Perhaps she'd seen the signs for a while. Overflowing bookshelves. Midnight Harry Potter parties. It was probably obvious.

At the conference, agents Kristin Nelson and Jenny Bent hosted an extremely illuminating pitch workshop. They laid out what seemed like a step-by-step guide to getting published. Write the novel. Revise the novel. Send the query letter. Get an agent.

“Aha!” said my logical, rational, practical brain. The marketability coefficient of the high-concept factor divided by the query word count multiplied by a uniqueness indicator == success!

Okay, so there wasn't exactly a formula for success, but I learned that writers weren't just pulled randomly out of a hat. I started obsessively following publishing blogs so I could better understand the nuances of the industry.

More importantly, I started writing. On nights and weekends, and here and there between jobs. I started several novels, and managed to complete and query one. Spending many, many hours on an interest that might never lead to anything...totally practical right?

At some point, I realized I actually needed to take a bigger leap. I had a bright new shiny idea that I'd been working on, and I really wanted to focus my full attention on it. But rents in San Francisco are high, my friend. Very high. How could I afford to leave my job?

Turns out, my outdoor nut of a husband had been hankering to move to the Pacific Northwest for a while. I loved San Francisco: the food, the architecture, the walkability. I would absolutely, positively never move!

Unless...

I could ditch the software industry to write full time.

We made it work. Last year, I completed SKY MAHAL, my YA cyberpunk novel set in near future India.

This good Indian girl has officially left the logical and rational behind.