Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simpsons Episode a Barrel of Laughs

My hubby and I were watching Sunday's episode of The Simpsons, and I found it very amusing. So much so, I've decided to blog about it.

I'm referencing Season 23 Episode 6- The Book Job

Okay, so the whole 'fake author' behind the group of marketers was funny, though sad at the same time. What author hasn't thought/dreamed/unrealistically hoped, "I'm gonna be the next Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling?" I think as we've all started out, we've had the dream of making our book into an enterprise of sorts. It's a dream, something we writers like to do a lot. No harm, no foul in a dream. We know that unless we hit it big like the literary giants aforementioned, it is highly unlikely we will be cashing any six or seven figure checks from our measly one or two works.

But, the Simpsons take on the next Tween Book phenomenon was a creation of a group of market savvy minds working together and one, lone individual being branded as the next big author. This person had to do nothing but allow their name and face to be used. No sweat and tears. No grueling hours sitting in front of a blank computer screen. No writer's block. No write, re-write, write it again moments. This was all done for them in the confines of a little conference room full of five or so individuals.

Sure, that may sound nice and cushy, but where is the heart in the writing? Where is the love and magic of creativity? It is absent. Proving that sure, maybe a book can be written by a group for the sole purpose of monetary gain, but as Lisa Simpson showed us, the readers want to connect with an author. They want to know that one person's thoughts and imagination soared onto the pages, creating for them hours of guiltless pleasure and escape from reality. At least, this reader does. (*waves hi*)

Back to Lisa and why I laughed so hard at this episode. Lisa decides that she will write a novel. She gets her trusty little laptop in place, opens it up, and realizes she needs some music. Going in search of a CD, she finds her collection in total disarray and decides to organize it right then. Returning to the computer, she completes a few mindless online Boggle games before beginning her writing. A short clip of her washing her window so she can have a clear view out of it while she writes made me laugh even more. When she finally sits back down to the laptop, she faces her huge word count of two: Chapter 1.

Why is this funny? Obviously you've never been there before if you can't find the humor in it. My husband laughed and looked at me, knowing Lisa was me on screen. Creating the perfect atmosphere to write, assembling everything at your fingertips that you may need, allowing the silliest of distractions to tear you away from writing your novel are just excuses. (um, hello, I was working on my novel before I decided to blog about a cartoon--can we say distracted much? Yeah. I am.)

When I write, I have to close out all Internet tabs, ignore my phones, turn off the TV, etc...I can't write when there are so many distractions available to me. What is the reason for this? Why can't we (I) have more willpower to stay on course? I'll tell you what it is. It is a fear of failure. It is a fear of success. It is a fear of everything in between those two. We create the distractions, or at the least, we allow them to happen. If it isn't the kids, it is social media, or the dogs. There is always going to be some excuse as to why we don't write. We know we have it in ourselves to write a brilliant story; if only we could overcome our fears and put the dang thing down on paper.

Now that I've got this blog post completed, I'm gonna try to add more to my daily word count goal---after I check facebook and twitter first. What? There might be some life altering information on there. Not likely? Well, I don't want to take that chance. lol

In all seriousness, if you want to be a writer you merely have to do one thing and one thing only: WRITE.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Movie Review- Breaking Dawn Part I

*image borrowed from

The anticipation and built up excitement of this movie had me dancing in my seat as the long and unavoidable previews began. Just get the movie started already! Wait, what? We are having technical difficulties? For the love of all that is holy, of course I'd get the theater where crap breaks. So, after calming the audience, and ten grueling minutes later, we resumed where we'd left off...with more previews! Aghhh! Finally at 12:40 a.m. the movie began.

**I don't want to give away any spoilers in case there is anyone reading that doesn't know the book backwards and front like I do. Feel free to comment on what you thought, but please keep those people in mind and don't ruin the movie for them.**

My Review:
I'm always critical the first time I see the movies, so that is why I go twice. I like to see how much it relates to the book, how the characters did with their acting, the makeup, the action, the love, etc... The second time around, I'll allow myself to forget about the book and enjoy it as just a movie with less critique.

That being said, lets talk about how it falls in line with the book. I'd say it was pretty streamline with a few tiny details that were off course. The dream that Bella has in the beginning was altered slightly, which was surprising seeing the way it is in the book is far more insightful to the whole story. Nonetheless, it was dramatic and worked well. They kept some of our favorite lines from the book, making you smile because you knew verbatim what was coming, as if you'd seen this movie a thousand times...and will see it a thousand more. (like the tribute to Christina Perri's perfect and beautiful song?)

It has been mentioned over the years that the acting has been off, there has been a disconnect between Edward and Bella's characters, there was less emotion that we'd imagined in our heads. Well, when you look at how far these actors have come from the start of Twilight, you will be extremely amazed at the depth and love they have put into these characters. I no longer saw Rob and Kristin playing Bella and Edward...I saw only Bella and Edward on that screen. Can I just tell you that there were like two or three times that Kristen got me emotional enough to tear up? Yes, Kristen did an outstanding job in this movie. It's truly remarkable to see how much she has grown as an actress. Any awkwardness between Bella and Edward--gone. In it's place, undeniable and unconditional love--truly making for a much more enjoyable movie. You could feel the love in the way Edward looked at Bella, the way his body language was around her. Kudos to Rob. Taylor, sexy, sexy Taylor. He too had me choked up on two occasions.

Let's talk about sex baby. As an intricate detail of the book, the much anticipated honeymoon has finally arrived. The book pretty much fades to black, leaving the reader to use their imagination. I thought it was tasteful and sweet how Meyer kept it an intimate moment between the two characters, but honestly I felt short changed. I was flipping the pages thinking something was left out. In the movie; however, we get to witness some of this love. It had the audience giggling at some of the cutest and most memorable moments. Queue the headboard breaking and the feathers. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they showed and allowed for PG-13. The directors found the balance between the two audiences, Twilight Moms and Teens to satisfy both without getting too graphic or leaving too much out. Very well done.

The action scenes were very fast, so if you were in the front few rows like me, it made it tough to keep up. I'll be sitting further back next time for sure. The wolves were pretty cool, this time we got a look at how their telepathy works. That part, hearing the words through their head, was very weird. It sounded like the characters were under water when they did the voices. I get that they were trying to portray the words spoken in the mind and not verbally, but it wasn't very smooth in my opinion.

The makeup. This my friends is where I have a problem. I didn't like the makeup on Esme, Carlisle, Jasper, Emmett, and even at times (gasp) Edward. It was caked on too thick, coming off looking more like plaster rather than portraying a porcelain, pallid complexion of a vampire in all it's beauty. Rosalie, Alice, and for the majority of the time, Edward, obviously had better makeup.
The makeup for Bella...FANTASTIC portrayal of her innocent beauty at the wedding, her gaunt, sunken features during pregnancy, to well...I won't say any more. Whoever did her makeup did a phenomenal job getting it just right.

The pivotal birth scene was done very well. I think the directors and actors alike did a great job convincing us of the truly horrific emotions that were to be felt during this traumatic time. Blood, yes. Did you get the impact that the birth was awful in every way imaginable? Yes. Was it too much for young viewers? Well, I'd just say the parent(s) need to view it first before allowing any youngsters to watch it. Personally, I think anyone over 11 is good to go, but that is only my opinion.

Oh, let's not forget the dress--stunning in every way. The fit was perfect on Kristen, and she looked great. The wedding decorations--elaborate and elegant, just what you'd come to expect from Alice.

***Stick around during the credits for a small scene with the Volturi.***

My Rating: 5 of 5                                                             

Thursday, November 17, 2011

EEEK!!! It's FINALLY here!

Whether you're a Twihard or a complete hater, collectively one thing you're unlikely to escape is the excitement and buzz around the release of Breaking Dawn Part I. That's right, in case you've been living under a rock or in a comma induced state for the past year, today is the day!!!

Haters hate; it's what they do. The main thing I'm hearing is "How old are you?!" Well, I'm 30 years old and have never been more excited for a movie release than now. I'm going with an equally enthused friend tonight at midnight to watch Bella and Edward say "I do." You don't have to be a teen or tween to be in love with this series; in fact, I find it more appropriate that a more mature crowd be the die hard fans. Had it not been for the overwhelming influx of youngsters to claim allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob, this movie would be rated R, as it should be according to the book. I must say I'm really curious as to how they lightened the birth scene to make it suitable for younger viewers while maintaining the horrific intensity that the book portrayed. Look for my review on the movie tomorrow.

While you're awaiting the clock to strike midnight, reread the book, watch the previous three movies yet again, or have a party. Do whatever it is you want to do to commemorate this special day. Forget the haters. Let them say what they will; they have to have something to dislike. Bella and Edward's love have given the hopeless romantics like myself the escape from reality we all need from time to time. For that, I thank none other than the author, Stephenie Meyer.

Some of the famous quotes from Breaking Dawn:

"Stop fidgeting, Bella. Please try to remember you're not confessing to a murder here." (Edward)

I opened my eyes and found his open, too, staring at my face. It made no sense when he looked at me that way. Like I was the prize rather than the outrageously lucky winner. (Bella)

"I've been waiting a century to marry you, Miss Swan." (Edward)

How different it would be when he didn't need to worry about me anymore. What would he do with all his free time? He'd have to get a new hobby. (Bella)

"No one will dare to call you plain when I'm through with you." (Alice)

I tried to comprehend, through the film of tears blinding me, the surreal fact that this amazing person was mine. (Bella)

Fire and ice, somehow existing together without destroying each other. More proof that I belonged with him. (Bella)

"Why am I covered in feathers?" (Bella)

"You...bit a pillow? Why?" (Bella)

"We're just lucky it was the pillows and not you." (Edward)

"Sex was the key all along? Why didn't I think of that? I could have saved myself a lot of arguments." (Edward)

"I'm a little worried about Edward...Can vampires go into shock?" (Bella)

This child, Edward's child, was a whole different story. I wanted him like I wanted air to breathe. Not a choice -- a necessity. (Bella)

"Even you, Jacob Black, cannot hate me as much as I hate myself. (Edward)

"I don't care about anything but keeping her alive. If it's a child she wants, she can have it. She can have half a dozen babies. Anything she wants. She can have puppies, if that's what it takes." (Edward)

I couldn't think about what he was suggesting. It was too much. Impossible. Wrong. Sick. Borrowing Bella for the weekends and then returning her Monday morning like a rental movie? SO messed up. So tempting. (Jacob)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review- Meant to Be by Tiffany King

Product Description:
Meant to Be is book 1 of the Saving Angels series

Krista Miller feels like she has lived her entire life in a glass box with her every emotion on display. She can’t help feeling like a defect as her sensitivities have made her socially inept and without any real friends; the one exception being the boy that visits her each night in her dreams.

Krista’s emotions are put to the test when a move to California triggers a devastating change to her fantasy world. The nightly comfort that the boy provides has now become a recurring nightmare as he is taken from her by an unseen force.

Struggling to appear normal, Krista enrolls in a new school and finds it to be nothing like she thought. Her new life is sent spiraling out of control from a strange connection with a boy, Mark, who claims to know all her secrets.

As Krista begins to explore the emotions that Mark evokes in her, secrets about their mysterious past and their predestined purpose threatens to separate them just when they have found each other.

My Review:
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was an easy read for the most part, minus a few editorial missteps. The beginning of the book worried me that I'd be annoyed with Krista's character. She was like, "I'm so brilliant, so smart, I have a high IQ, I stand out," was too much emphasis on her intelligence in my opinion, especially since it didn't seem to play any huge part in the overall story. Sure, the rest of the people have a high IQ, but that isn't the only thing they have in common. 

Sam was a great character. It was nice to see Krista find someone she could relate to finally. I enjoyed Mark. Sure it was weird to be in love after only one week, but they sorta knew each other all of their lives so that made it work.

As far as Cindy's reaction when she met Mark...I didn't buy it. She was always so easy going with Krista and I don't see her being the way she was. Then, she did a one-eighty almost immediately. It would've been more believable if she had just accepted him with a little trepidation given the odd reason he appeared in Krista's life. 

I love the idea of dreaming about someone, only to find out they do exist and that you are truly meant to be with them. It makes for a wonderful love story. I think there needed to be some more action earlier in the book, as it didn't amp up until the last quarter or so. But, once I got to it, I couldn't put the book down. It was good!

I'm gonna go with a four star on this one for two reasons. One, editing issue. Two, the overuse of the same word in a paragraph. I read one paragraph that was referring to window blinds and the word blinds appeared literally like four times in that one paragraph. There were other times that this happened throughout the book, making for a choppy flow. 

I do recommend the book because it was a fun read, and I'll buy the next one in the series to see how things turn out for Krista and her friends. 

My Rating: Four Stars

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Writing Exercises Lesson 1

Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I'll take notice of how the writer will focus too much on one of the main character's features. Perhaps they're thinking readers have a case of amnesia from one chapter to the next or just simply weren't paying attention, so they inundate you with unnecessary reminders of those sparkling blue eyes. It's not so much that they overstate the color, but at times they use the same phrases to describe them. This annoys the reader.

So, as a writer, I don't want to bore my audience in this way. It got me thinking of how I can keep my material fresh from one scene to the next. How do I keep the reader engaged and make them love the hot guy's features as much as my female protagonist does? Well, here is a little exercise I like to do to keep me on my toes.

Directions: Pick about five random pictures either from your own collection of photos or from celebrities from the web. I find it easier to use a stranger's face because I'm getting to learn their features just like my reader is. With someone with whom you are too familiar, you can make the mistake of understating things because your brain assumes that what you see without saying, you assume your reader sees...which isn't the case. If you are trying to be descriptive, you need to lay out all the information.

For each photo, come up with about five to ten sentences to describe their features. You can hone in on a particular feature in one sentence and move to another in the next. Or, if you know you have really got to shake up your verbiage when it comes to eye descriptions, make all five sentences different descriptions of the eyes.

I do this exercise in two parts: (5) males and (5) females because the sexes have such contrasting features. Remember, although these models you chose may be beautiful, they too are human and have flaws. Find the flaw, point it out, and tell how it is an endearing quality. (For example: The tiny scar above his left brow was a jagged line that was a lasting reminder of his reckless youth.) From that, we get that he is a daredevil of sorts, a chance taker, or perhaps an adventurer. With more description later on, we can give our readers a glimpse of the character's past as well as their present, resulting in more well-rounded characters.

I've seen writers take three stances when it comes to description: 

The under-describer: The writer who is too vague with their description, often leaving the reader a bit confused when it comes to trying to picture a scene or character in their mind due to lack of detail.

The right on describer: The writer who provides just the right amount of detail to scenes and characters so that you can picture it, feel it, and add a bit of your own imagination into it. There is room for interpretation on the reader's part, which is good because not everybody pictures a character the same exact way.

The over-describer- The writer who writes in so much detail of scenery and character's appearance that you could practically build a replica of their house down to the tiniest detail of what clothes are hanging in their closet. This type of writing is not necessary, and to be completely honest, I skim the overly elaborate details of the buildings and surroundings unless I see it is going to be significant to the story in some way. The reader's mind is now boggled with an overload of info that they have a hard time concentrating on the plot. This is not a category that you want to fall into.

Balance is the key. Learn to be creative with your words. Learn to vary your line of sight when you describe. Learn when to add more, what is just enough, and when to cut some of the unnecessary details. This is where your beta readers will come in handy.

Playing around with exercises like this will help you keep your writing fresh, especially if you are in a rut. Have fun with it!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Who's Your Vampire?

Hollywood has done the vampire thing over and over throughout the years.  There have been various takes on what exactly a vampire should be and what they look like. I thought it would be fun to recap on some of Hollywood's versions of vampires throughout the years so we can see if there is a commonality or a complete disconnect when it comes to their likeness.

The Lost Boys- ruthless, lawless, punk-ass vampires that own the night

Interview with a Vampire- cold, destructive and ruthless vampires

Twilight- The Cullens are a friendly, humane group of vampires that feed on animal blood and don't believe in killing humans. The kids attend high school and they sparkle in the sunlight.

  True Blood- blood sucking, sexually hungry vampires that can be     ruthless, and other times show true human emotion. The best of both worlds.

Priest- Vampires of another kind. Strictly horrific and non-human, complete with scaly skin, talons, and huge fangs.

So there is a brief recap of some of the different forms that vampires have taken over the years. From the creatures of Anne Rice novels, to the sparkling delights of Stephenie Myer, we have found intrigue and devotion to the paranormal genre in its many forms. While some argue that the uglier, more sinfully portrayed vampires are more true to what they should be, others will argue that it is nice to see the not so demonic side of them. What is your preference?

The above, with the exception of the vamps in Priest share a common bond- they stay in human form.
The outcast when it comes to feeding remains to be the Cullen with their 'vegan' approach to dining, while the others are happy with a neck, a wrist, or wherever they can sink their teeth into a warm-blooded human.

Do you like the blood and gore, loss of humanity, action-packed kind? Do you prefer the alien approach to the features? Do you prefer the dazzling delight of high school drama, animal blood eating vampires of Twilight? Or, do the vampires of Bon Temps satisfy your blood lust and sexual hunger?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review- Wildflowers Come Back by Sarah Spann

Product Description:
Lyss is beginning to realize that sometimes we never really escape our mistakes...

Lyss Brewer is a quirky twenty-something with a flip flop habit, and a penchant for snark. Her dream of escaping her hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico to see the world is squelched by the fact that she habitually lives her life according to the expectations of others.

After the break-up with her long-term boyfriend rocks her world, she is given the opportunity to start over with a live-in position at an historic inn; an opportunity which takes her down a path that will forever change her life. She will discover her gift, the trappings of sin and the outlasting effects of karmic bindings, as the past comes back to haunt her.

In the meantime, the resurgence of a serial killer in Santa Fe has left everyone on edge. Has a murderous cult–once believed to be dormant–reawakened? Only one person can help stop the violence, but she doesn’t even know how to help herself.

Will Lyss listen to the voices that haunt her? Or will she trust the one person who can’t be trusted?

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book! The character of Lyss was fun, snarky, with a bit of deep-set angst. She found she has a gift of seeing, which makes her think she is crazy. I liked the relationships she had with the people at the inn. They were all unique characters that Lyss grew to love like family. I do wish there was a little more of Gloria because she seemed so eccentric, but the reason for her absence is understood and explained. 

The history behind what's going on is a great story in and of itself. The words of the author had me turning page after page wanting to see what happens. As I was nearing the end, I feared I wasn't going to uncover who the culprit was, but of course Spann didn't let us hang. She revealed not only the culprit, but something else very significant that literally gave me goosebumps! 

I don't want to give any spoilers, so I have to keep this review brief. There is a lot I want to discuss, all great, but the readers should get to experience it themselves. This book is highly recommended by me. Spann has a way with words. The fact that this is her debut novel shows that we can expect more great works from her in the future. Pick this book up today!

My Rating: 5 Stars