Sunday, May 30, 2010

You CON duit!

Have you ever played the game Jenga? It's a game where you remove blocks one at a time, and the tower stands precariously, wobbling and threatening to fall with every move. Such was the cleavage of the pirate wench who took my registration for CONduit on Saturday. At one point she leaned over, bending to reach the paper on the table. "No!" I shouted with too much enthusiasm. "I've got it."

For some people, CONduit is a conference to imagine being a Jedi, flying aboard the Starship Enterprise, or dressing up like a space pirate. For the rest of us "non-believers," it's another conference to network and learn the craft of writing. I got to hang with the King of Awesome, Graham, so despite all the weirdness, I had a great time.

I didn't stay too long (really, how many pirate wenches can one woman take?) but I did glean a few tidbits that I thought I'd share.

On a panel, hosted by James Dashner and Jessica Day George, they talked about how young adult fiction has become a lot edgier, to the point of nearly anything goes. Then some creepy guy in the audience talked about his book where a 13 year old girl is intimate with a 40 year old man. They both told him that doesn't fit into the anything goes realm.

Graham and I had lunch with Dashner (along with a group of very lovely people) and after lunch we enjoyed a great story told by Jessica. Fabulous story. In fact, if you ever see her, make sure you ask about "Dom Con."

My favorite part of the conference was the Writing Excuses podcasts that I got to sit in on. I particularly enjoyed the episode titled, "Mating Plumage" inspired by Dan Wells. It was about book covers, titles and first lines, and what grabs a readers interest. Very good stuff.

While I can't necessarily recommend the conference for everyone, if you have a high capacity for weird, than it's worth your time!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Something I think is considered universally annoying is when you go to a movie theater and someone sitting near you does a running commentary throughout the movie.

However, it occurred to me as I was watching a movie rental recently and as I was watching some TV shows this week that I am guilty of routinely doing that at home. Not content to sit and merely view the entertainment before me, I speak out, sometimes even scream out - chastising characters, complimenting performances, or booing results.
As stated in previous blogs, I do not watch many hour dramas on TV (I can't talk about the Lost finale yet. I'm still recovering, in more ways than one.). So, most of the time my commentary is directed at "reality" fare such as Survivor or American Idol, a format that is much easier to interrupt and still follow what is going on. My TV watching partner, the hubby, doesn't seem to mind my outbursts and adds his own more occasionally.

In fact, I see our mutual commentary as a bonding ritual and an enhancement to our entertainment, if you will. That's a good thing, right? A couple of examples from this week's American Idol finale:

Hubby: I never liked Hall and Oates and I reallllly don't like them 30 years later.

Me: This is painfully embarassing (covering eyes). Make her stop. Make her stop! (During Paula Abdul's monologue)

Rest assured, I have never exhibited this behavior in a public venue. However, I understand why I instantly liked Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Famous Failure

This week our town begins 12 days of craziness known as the Pony Express Days. This city celebration is all out fun from the Rodeo to the country music Concert 12 days later. There are contests and tributes and tournaments and carnivals and even helicopter rides. All to commemorate one of the most famous financial failures in US History...The Pony Express Trail.

Historically and innovatively the trail represents a dynamic change in the perception of America. Suddenly when mail could be sent across the country in a matter of days rather than weeks or months it didn't seem so vast. The wild West became connected to the sophisticated East and then the telegraph and railroad made travel and messaging so much easier. BUT financially the Pony Express Trail never prospered. Mail only traveled on the trail from April 1860 to November 1861, a mere 18 months. Not a lot of longevity for a business.

My point is that sometimes what is a failure in one aspect is a triumph in other ways. Something every writer can learn from and appreciate since we all know that our manuscripts and stories will be flawed. That doesn't mean that they won't be remembered for 150 years or more.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hooray for Mac N Cheese

I was sitting down to a bowl of Mac n Cheese with my daughter and her friend.  They started telling me their game they were playing before lunch and ta-da!  a story idea comes right out of the conversation!! 

Kids are a great place to get ideas.  Their rules for how the universe works are awesome. (In part of the conversation, where I was asking for clarification, she said, "yeah, its only fair".)

I can't write more here--I need to get this idea saved on my computer.

Happy writing and idea hunting!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Why do girls wear perfume and makeup?

Because they stink and they're ugly!


Your turn. :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thai With The Tayler's

Saturday night, our writers group had the opportunity to eat dinner with Howard Tayler and his lovely wife, Sandra. If you don't know who these people are, you should. So click on their names. DO IT NOW!

Anyway, back to Saturday night...the food was excellent, and while my pallet could sing praises (I now dream in Tom Ka Gai), the company was even better.

Howard gave us some wonderful pearls of wisdom. The first was, "I like to eat babies."

I'm pretty certain you had to be there to get that one.

Then he said, "Do you know the difference between an onion and a clarinet? No one cries when you chop a clarinet."

I know, I know. I had to resist the urge to "boo" myself :)

But the advice he gave that I really want to focus on is this: "It's hard to get worse at something you do every day."

As soon as he said this, it was like a little lightbulb pinged above my head. I often fall prey to discouragement and even doubt when it comes to my writing, but Howard's words helped me realize I can accomplish what I want. All I need to do is put in a little time every day. It's a great formula. Pick a hobby/talent/dream and put in the time. You will see results.

Now I sound like an infomercial. But product placement aside, Howard's words were exactly what I needed to hear. Well, not the clarinet bit.

At the end of the day, there is always a little luck involved. But when luck comes knocking, if you haven't done the work, then your dream will pass by. Oh, Mighty Luck Guru, I'll be ready.

Thanks again to Howard and Sandra for the experience!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unfinished Manuscript

I haven't forgotten you,
staring at me,
untouched for weeks now.

My work-addled brain,
too tired to take you on,
tries to keep the story alive.

46,000 words of promise,
characters trapped in the same scene,
the cursor challenges me to move on.

Soon my normal schedule returns,
a reunion with my old friends,
Will I remember them?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Awesome Women!

Here are the quotes from my day!

Women are angels. When someone breaks our wings, we continue to fly...on our broomsticks. We're flexible that way. Quote from Bethel

Things don't always go exactly according to plan. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when. You decide what to do about it. Noelle Pikus-Pace

Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for. Dian Thomas

Dream more than others, Expect more than others. Mia Love

And my day ended with Sushi so what could be better.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

After All That Talk of Music...

I have Christmas Carols stuck in my head.  I was given lots of great music to look up yesterday, but I didn't. 

Now I am paying the price.  During my shower I was singing a Christmas song.  Maybe I should share with all of you . . .

Love and joy come to you
And a merry Christmas too.
And God Bless you and send you
A happy new year
Happy singing...

PS This is my kids moments before they smashed their gingerbread houses--the videos are priceless.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Get to the point!

For lack of a better post option, I was going to make up a top-ten list of my favorite lines in a book. However, as I perused my collection I realized that many of my favorite lines are connected to longer scenes and chapters that are really too long for a list of any kind. So, instead, here are two favorite scenes from Anne of Green Gables and Catching Fire, respectively.

"Were those women--Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond--good to you?" asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.
"O-o-o-h," faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. "Oh, they meant to be--I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don't mind very much when they're not quite--always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It's very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don't you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me."
Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had--a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne's history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of real home.

I've always loved this passage because it gets to the heart of the story. Here is Anne, the homely orphan girl who has all the potential in the world, but has never had a family and a home in which to raise her properly. What will happen to her when her opportunity comes? She survived abuse, but how will she handle prosperity? Will she become a snob? Will she pour strychnine in the well? But this is what a good book does, it gets to the point. Another great example is in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

"Why aren't you eating?" asks Octavia.
"I have been, but I can't hold another bite," I say. They all laugh as if that's the silliest thing they've ever heard.
"No one lets that stop them!" says Flavius. They lead us over to a table that holds tiny stemmed wineglasses filled with clear liquid. "Drink this!"
Peeta picks one up to take a sip and they lose it.
"Not here!" shrieks Octavia.
"You have to do it in there," says Venia, pointing to doors that lead to the toilets. "Or you'll get it all over the floor!"
Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together. "You mean this will make me puke?"
My prep team laughs hysterically. "Of course, so you can keep eating," says Octavia. "I've been in there twice already. Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?"
I'm speechless, staring at the pretty little glasses and all they imply. Peeta sets his back on the table with such precision you'd think it might detonate. "Come on, Katniss, let's dance."
Music filters down from the clouds as he leads me away from the team, the table, and out onto the floor. We k now only a few dances at home, the kind that go with fiddle and flute music and require a good deal of space. But Effie has shown us some that are popular in the Capitol. The music's slow and dreamlike, so Peeta pulls me into his arms and we move in a circle with practically no steps at all. You could do this dance on a pie plate. We're quiet for a while. Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.
"You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they're not so bad, and then you--" He cuts himself off.
All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can't give. More food. Now that we're rich, she'll send some home with them. But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway. And here in the Capitol they're vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again. Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food. It's what everyone does at a party. Expected. Part of the fun.

I love a book that can get right down to it! So tell me some of your favorites and why. It's this kind of discussion that reminds me of why I love to write and why I love great literature!

The third, and I think, final book in the Hunger Games series is called Mockingjay. It's release date is August 24th, 2010. I can't wait!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Musical Moods And Memories

There is a lot of power in music. Many times I listen to a song and it takes me back to some event. The Crash Test Dummies song Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm reminds me of a bus ride in middle school when I threw up my breakfast of a protein bar and Tang. To this day I hate that song, and I've never had Tang again. Another time I was at a dance with a boy that was definitely "friend" territory. The song One came on and he said, "I love you too." I spent half the song worrying he had misinterpreted my feelings, until I realized he actually said, "I love U2."

Like many writers, I have a special playlist to whip out as mood music. I'm a sucker for really good lyrics. The right words can either be poetry to my ears, or make me laugh so hard I cry. Here are a few snippets of songs that I've listened to numerous times because the lyrics keep calling me back (By the way, the links aren't great, but at least you can hear the song):

"Tell me would you kill to save a life?
Tell me would you kill to prove you're right?
Crash, crash, burn let it all burn
This hurricane's chasing us all underground."

"You’re a parasitic, psycho, filthy creature
finger-bangin’ my heart.
You call me up drunk, does the fun ever start?
You’re hideous... and sexy!"

"Inside my mouth I can hear all the voices say
do not lean over the ledge
I shouldn't look down and I shouldn't have found
that your lips I still taste in my head."

What music do you like? Are there any lyrics that inspire you? Do you have special mood music? How about a memory associated with a song?

And just for fun, I wanted to leave a link to one of my favorite music videos. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'll Have a Large Popcorn, and a Story Please

Excited for a rare movie & dinner date with my hubby today, we had planned to go see the new take on Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe & Cate Blanchett, directed by Ridley Scott. That is, until I researched reviews of the film (when you only go to a movie theater a couple times a year, it is not something to be taken lightly) and found it to be pretty universally panned.

I was surprised it wasn't better received, with the cast and director it has. However, the consensus seemed to be it was more CGI than substance. This is a trend I've noticed in Hollywood over the last fifteen to twenty years as technology has opened new frontiers in visual effects. Many directors are more focused on what they can do with effects to wow the audience, while the story gets kicked to the curb. I mean, the story of Robin Hood has been around since the 15th century, there must be something to it, right? Seems like you'd have to really go out of your way to screw it up.

So, what did we end up seeing? Well, pathetic as it sounds, we had never seen Iron Man, so we rented the DVD last night in a desperate cram session to be prepared to see Iron Man 2 today. Shocking as it may seem, I actually liked the sequel better than the original. I thought the backstory of how he became Iron Man dragged. In fact, I yelled out at the screen, "Just finish the friggin iron suit and get out of the Middle East already!"

You know, in a comic movie you expect to have to suspend disbelief a lot, but I really liked the supporting characters in the sequel (Samuel L. Jackson with an eye patch! Mickey Rourke with a Russian accent!), the dialogue wasn't too over-the-top, with many genuinely funny moments, and there was a nice balance of emotion and action. I especially liked the relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.

I guess there is hope for the marriage of CGI and story. Take a lesson, Mr. Scott.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Wheel

I sat down to blog and got so caught up in reading everyone else's blogs on my dashboard that I have run out of time to write my own. So while we gear up for an awesome blog contest here on Inking Cap, today's message is simple. The wheel is the coolest invention--second only to the discovery of fire in the evolution of humans. Big or small, it keeps us moving. It is universal, carts, cars, mills, roller coasters, elevators, trains, the wheel is everywhere.

Imagine an alternative to the wheel.

What are some other universal items we could replace and tell a story about? Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Anybody Out There?

All right dear readers it is time to hear from you!

We are wondering if you are out there.  If you actually are out there, let us know!!!  We are thinking of doing a giveaway . . . but if no one is out there, why should we?

OK, give us a shout out.  Then wait while we figure out a giveaway :)

Last night was our writer's group.  It was great to be together and get energized about writing. For me, writing is totally social.  I love talking out plot points with my group and getting their help.  I learn a lot from reading the other writers' work and listening closely to the critique.  I know I can apply it to my writing just as well as to the other's writing!

For you, dear reader, what is your writing style, solo or social?  Do you have a great group who helps you?  Or are you successful all on your own?  Let us know!!!!!

PS This is not the official giveaway.  It is just to see if it is a viable option for us Inkers. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beastly Work

I'm a firm believer in work. I'm talking actual, physical labor that gets you sweaty and tired and gives you a nice farmer's tan. For some reason, if I put a certain amount of work into a day or week, I feel entitled to some "me" time. For example, I spent the last one or two weeks doing various degrees of housework and yard work, filling up all my time with chores I usually avoid, but all for a good purpose which I'm sure you all can appreciate. (Not that I had this goal in mind at the time, it just happened to work out this way). I spent the entirety of Friday reading. It was glorious! Aside from taking care of the basic needs of my children, I sat on my couch with a pillow and blanket and literally read a book from cover to cover.

It was called "Beastly" by Alex Flinn, soon to take film form at the end of this July. When I saw it at the book store the other night, I couldn't pass it up. I mean, how often do I indulge in true chic lit? In answer, not that often, and it was worth every minute. Now, I'm not tauting this book to be anything but a fun read. It does happen to be based on one of my favorite fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast, which is probably why it caught my eye in the first place. I believe the author handled certain subject matter with a delicate hand. And having the pleasant experience of reading the story from the beast's perspective was incredibly satisfying. Enough said.

Oh! And the icing on the cake was that I finished the book right when my kids were getting out of school. So I packed them in the car and we spent the afternoon at McDonald's while I wrote.

Such a good day! :)

p.s. The first pic is a nod to fans of the movie "Return to Me", when they're walking through the zoo and watching the construction workers. If you've seen the movie, then you know the part that I'm talking about. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Love To Hate You!

There's nothing like a good villain. Not good as in "morally excellent," but good as in really bad. It's so rewarding to follow the journey of a hero who overcomes the obstacles of a villain we love to hate.

So what makes a good villain?

I'm going to borrow from Jeff Savage and his workshop, "Creating Believable Villains" from LDStorymakers. He said, "The best villains are like the hero if the hero had taken a different path." Now this isn't the only exclusively good thing about a bad villain, but it's something that made me think.

Let's take Darth Vader vs. Emperor Palpatine. I would say on a whole, Emperor Palpatine is more evil, heinous and icky than Darth Vader. If I had to meet up with one of them in a dark alley, I'd pray for Vader. However, Vader is a much better villain. Why? Is it because of the huge marketing potential of black helmets and voice changers. Maybe. But I think it's because we can sympathize with him, and see his motivations. And all through it we know that if he only had taken a different path, he would be the hero.

That makes a really good villain.

One of my very favorite villains is from the show, "Lost." You're never quite sure what side Ben is on, what he's going to do, or how he may react. He ranges from sympathetic to completely evil. I have many others that I could add, but I'd like to hear from you instead. What do you think makes a good villain? Who are your favorite villains in books or movies? Let's get this evil post going!

And on a completely unrelated side note, check out Graham's blog about helping Nashville:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yo mothas

A special holla to all my fellow mothas (including sistahs, brothas, teachas, and leadas who motha) out there on this Mother's Day weekend.

Although mothering is often challenging, there is nothing the world can offer that is better than when my oldest son spontaneously puts his arms around my neck and says, "I just love you." Or, when my baby snuggles up to me and burys his face into my cheek.

Sleep in a little, sit and put your feet up, allow yourself to be pampered this weekend. You deserve it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


As I mentioned earlier this week I witnessed and IronMan Race last weekend. Here is what I learned about storytelling at the Finish Line.
Pressure applied in appropriate places makes the story richer. Take a thirty-something mother of 4, who has trained and overcome injury and struggled with inner demons of doubt, and have her decide to swim, bike and run in an Ironman Triathlon.

The 2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run are individually difficult. Combine them all on one day. Then lets make the swim an open water event with wind and reeds and other natural challenges. Let's set the bike route up one of the steepest hills in Ironman history, and lest we forget the run lets make it a 13 mile circuit that has to be repeated with inclines and ravines to test her.

That's not even the pressure.

Add 2,000 other competitors to get in the way, especially during the swim. And the piece de resistance...elimination time limits, 5 of them.
Now we have the recipe for a really great hero's journey. Will she fight her way through the sea of bodies clamoring to get through the water at the same time she is? YES she makes it, after throwing a few underwater elbows in order to breath. Will she make the first bike check point in time? YES she makes it. But then a recent back injury begins to cause pain with 40 miles still left in the bike and a looming 2nd deadline. Will she make it before the deadline?

Barely. (Shwoo, we were getting really worried.) Now if she can make it through the bike then the Marathon is cake, right? Yep lap one she makes in plenty of time. Looks strong, we are relaxing she will finish...but then on lap 2 at the final turn around she is later and later and later. The man with the broken shoulder who is walking the course wrapped in gauze with blood showing under the bandages has already gone by and our friend is still out there.
The sun goes down and the temperature drops. And then we can't wait any more. We begin to walk backward along the course, hoping that she is the next runner we see, nope. What about the next?

YES. She makes it over the crest of the hill and she's limping, her knee is swelling, but she is walking faster than any normal person would. She smiles...she is going to make it. Back at the finish line with thousands of cheering people all waiting for their runners to appear out of the dark. What is the earliest we can expect to see her? 5 more minutes 10? Wait is that her? YES she is walking but she is fast! And then the announcer proclaims her an IRONMAN and after 140.6 miles and over 15 hours of exertion, she crosses the finish and is caught in the arms of her twin sister.

Without the weighty responsibilities of motherhood to slow her training, the other competitors to get in the way, the time limits to keep her going this is just a story of a woman who is a little crazy. BUT with the pressure we have an inspirational hero. So the story is all about the pressure and the glory is far sweeter. Way to go, Lizz.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Effect of Creation

I love to create, it gives me such a thrill.  It could be a new skirt, or redecorating a room, or even creating clean clothes (sick as it sounds, sometimes laundry is even fulfilling).  I dabbled in scrapbooking and card making.  I love baking (which is another form of creation).  I love to create.

But I am totally ADD.  I never stay with one form.  Plus I rarely do a project that takes more then a few days.  (I think the reason I didn't stick with scrapbooking--it is never "done".)  Several years ago I made burp rags for the birth of my son (he's almost 9 now).  I was so pleased with my accomlishment that I laid them on the coffee table for days just so I could admire them.

I think this is why writing is hard.  There is no immediate sense of accomplishment.  You can't work for two days and lay your published book on the coffee table to admire.  It takes months and years before you can lay out your efforts for the world to see.  But maybe, just maybe, that is what makes it all the better.

After the months and years you can physically hold that story and your characters in a tangible way.  That beautiful bound book is your creation.  Here's to all of us who are holding on to that dream--may we reach it and hold our own books.  To all of you that can hold your creation--here's to you for putting in the sacrifice.  The world is a better place because of fiction!

(PS Happy Cinco de Mayo)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Funk

Its shameful, I know, but I'm in a book funk. I haven't read anything new in some time. But, hooray! My friend loaned me a copy of "Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians". The title is fun, the possibilities are endless and the first chapter doesn't disappoint. The only problem is that I'll have this book read by dinner time, it being intended more for children than adults. Any other suggestions? I'm heading to Barnes and Noble tonight...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Um, Awkward!

Have you ever suffered from an uncomfortable conversational moment? That instant when you suddenly realize all eyes are on you and that you've crossed the invisible line from normal conversation into awkward?

Yeah, happens to me all the time.

Sometimes the faux pas is your fault. Sometimes it's not. In my opinion, it's not who throws the net of social blunder, but how one escapes after being caught. Are you a laugher? Do you shout out, "Awkward." Do you walk away, change the topic, or have a witty comeback?

Most of the time your reaction depends on the situation. Here are three conversational blunders to be aware of:

The Misunderstanding: Perhaps you are only partly listening. Or you may be listening intently and the person isn't completely clear. Either way, The Misunderstanding can cause serious foot in mouth.

Person 1: Life's been so stressful lately I can hardly bear it all!
Person 2: Yeah, I've got a great story about baring it all. It happened last summer in Cancun..

The Last Word: When a conversation topic is winding to a close and you speak last. A lengthy pause ensues.

Person 1: I think we're all in agreement that the scarecrow is the best character in "The Wizard of Oz."
Person 2: Yep. "If I only had a brain..."
...crickets chirping.

The Inappropriate Laugh: A person shares a thought that you think is a joke and you laugh only to realize that he/she was serious.

Person 1: My mom totally needs brain surgery.
Person 2: Ha ha ha, yeah mine too. Speaking of which, how was your mom's doctor appointment yesterday?

Let's hear your stories. Or solutions. Either way, I'm in need of a good laugh today.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Town

As stated before, I am not a big fan of the current crop of TV dramas, because most of them are so glaringly awful. There is really only one I watch with enthusiasm, although my hubby and I are giving V a try in spite of itself. Since I have vowed not to mention my fave here again until the series finale at the end of this month I'll just say it's a four-letter word that starts with an "L" and ends with a "T".

With my fave show coming to an end, I was intrigued by the promos for a new series on ABC called Happy Town. It evoked memories of Twin Peaks, a favorite from my younger years (okay, confession time - I was an official member of the Twin Peaks fan club and still have in my possession somewhere a Twin Peaks coffee mug).

Hubby and I recorded the premiere episode this week, as we do all our TV programming - to view after the little critters are in bed, and watched it last night. Here is a plot summary from ABC Publicity:

Henley Boone has decided to take up residence in seemingly idyllic Haplin, just as a shocking murder occurs at the local pond. This horrific crime rekindles Happy Town's dark mysteries, including the whispers about an unknown, evil force that has come to be known as the "Magic Man," who may be responsible for the past disappearances of Haplin residents. Tommy Conroy, a small town deputy and son of the long-time popular sheriff, must help solve the crime while easing the town's growing fears. This is made more difficult when it becomes obvious that the residents are hiding secrets, and that includes its newest resident, Henley.

Sounds pretty good, huh? Too bad it WASN'T. Crippled by a major info dump issue with the script (I understand in a TV pilot you have a short time to give viewers the gist of the story in order to hook them, but geeze, it was like the characters were competing in a "Can you tell this town's backstory in ten seconds or less?" contest in almost every scene), painful dialogue, and weirdness for the sake of weirdness. I stopped counting every time I groaned aloud.

Still, there were a couple redeeming things. Sam Neill, an actor I usually enjoy, made his character just the right degree of intriguing, although it's obvious they're setting him up to be the lead suspect as The Magic Man. There weren't many false notes in his scenes. I also like Steven Weber, who plays the rich owner of the town's major employer, a bread-making factory. His eight-year-old daughter is one of the missing people.

The final five minutes may be enough to give me the strength to watch a second episode. But, like Flashforward, if it doesn't improve dramatically (pun itended) and real quick, I'm headed outta town.