TGIF: Writing, Finding Nemo and Richard Gere

Do you ever noticed that after a four-day workweek (that happens because of a holiday on Monday), you’re exhausted because you’ve crammed five days of work into four?

Since Labor Day, I’ve been trying to catch up and it has taken me until today to feel like I’ve accomplished something. Thank goodness the next big holiday isn’t until Thanksgiving (I can’t include Veterans Day because I don’t have off). I’ll be almost normal by then.

Anyway, Happy Friday!

The weekend is looking good. I have my writer’s group on Saturday. If you haven’t joined a group, think about doing so. It’s the best thing you can do for your writing career. I belong to an amazing group: Romance Writers of American-NJ Chapter (NJRW). I look forward to each meeting because I know we’re going to learn something different or we’ll learn to look at things in a different way. Our program this Saturday is on pitching your book and honing your PR skills to promote your work.

Finding Nemo 3D hit the big screen, and although I’m not a huge animated movie lover (I do love Toy Story though), I’m thinking about seeing Finding Nemo, particularly since I never sat through the original one. I may go with my daughters and grandson. Watching my grandson juggle those huge 3D glasses on his little nose is worth the price of the movie!

I really want to check out Arbitrage, the new thriller starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. Of course, I’ll be taking mental notes. Something may trigger an idea for a book.

I loved them in “Shall We Dance” and their on-screen chemistry is great. Jennifer Lopez also starred in the movie and played the dance instructor. This clip is one of my favorite scenes in the movie because they danced the sexy tango!

Hope you have something good planned—even if it’s just kicking back and relaxing. Whatever you do, make sure you leave time for you.

See you Monday.

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The Words: another lesson (and reminder) about integrity

Over the weekend, I saw the motion picture, “The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons.

When I first saw the coming attractions at, “The Expendables 2” showing, I knew I had to see it. The movie tells the tale about a writer who, at the peak of his literary success, discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work.

I’ve heard the lukewarm reviews from the critics. However, I rarely listen. I tend to lean on the side of what I want to see, as opposed to what’s being touted as the next best thing. After all, the opinions are largely subjective—as are literary reviews.

Personally, I loved the movie. Anything that features a typewriter, computer, library, books, ink, pens and thoughts, hooks me. It’s the kind of movie with which all artists, particularly writers, can relate.

I wouldn’t dare spoil the opportunity for you to see this movie for yourself. But I will tell you a line in the film that really had me thinking. One of the characters (the soon-to-be disgraced publisher) told the soon-to-be disgraced writer, “You’re not the only author who has done this kind of thing [plagiarized].”

I thought about that comment and wondered how many amongst the greatest writers of our times have put their names on someone else’s works? For starters, I know that William Shakespeare’s, work had been questioned.

Now here’s a little more food for thought:

As a struggling, unpublished writer, would you take a potential literary masterpiece that fell into your hands without anyone knowing, and put your name on it? If so, would you be able to live with the consequences?

In a nutshell, “The Words,” is a thought-provoking journey that will make you ponder your life as a writer and the possible “what if.” I certainly did. Go see the movie and then tell me what you thought.

Fifty Shades of Bewilderment

They’re locked away in their bedrooms. They have tucked it inside a decorative book cover. It’s hidden from prying eyes on a Kindle and Nook. Everyone is reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Everyone except me, perhaps.

Lately, the first question I get, (from those who know I’m a writer or someone who just found out) is, am I reading, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Nope. Sorry. But more power to you. Read on.

There are so many pros and cons about this book (which is great for the author) and the attempt to analyze its success and influence would be mind-boggling on so many levels. So I’m not going to try.

I won’t even comment on the article that spoke to calm the publishing industry’s uncertain future. I’ll let you read it. (That’s another topic entirely.)

Don’t get me wrong. The author found a niche, and she’s working it. Wouldn’t you? I have no problem with that. Not at all.

What I want to know is where the heck have the women who are latching onto the “Fifty Shades” like a life raft on the sinking Titanic, been? Women are going nuts over bondage and S&M. You’d think that “mommy porn” “women’s porn” or Erotica for that matter, was just invented.

Really.

At one point I thought it might be a generational thing. My coworker pointed out that there were young women satisfying their curiosities about S&M and bondage, or those wanting more experience so that they can spice up their sex lives. Point taken. But then I see older women gravitating toward it like a youth serum, and I start to wonder all over again.

Where have these women been? Or am I so unfazed or used to erotic books that “Fifty Shades” is like a preschooler’s first Dr. Seuss book? Perhaps. 🙂

There have been authors, good authors, who have been producing erotica, S&M, and bondage for years. Lora Leigh, who I consider one of the best erotic romance writers, can make whips and chains downright sexy.

Erotica and Erotic romance publishers (e-publishers at that), Allora’s Cave, Samhain and Loose Id have been producing these types of books for quite some time, with the help of some very talented authors. Maya Banks, (she can write about a threesome that will knock your socks off), Delilah Devlin, and Silvia Day aren’t just writing erotic romance—their books have a plot, which makes the sensuality climb the charts. Even the author Zane, who is known for her highly erotic tales, has been around long enough to give folks a refresher course in everything!

So what’s with all the hoopla? I don’t know. I haven’t voiced my opinion about “Fifty Shades …” before this. But walking into Target, yesterday, and seeing the books lined up on the shelf with the sign “New” flashed across the rack, did something to me.

So, I bought Nicholas Sparks’, “The Best of Me.” When I want well-written “mommy porn” (I hate that tag, by the way), I’ll seek my usual sources.

An Affair to Remember: I Met Joe Black in Australia and he became my Bodyguard

If you haven’t guessed from the blog’s title, I’m a movie nut.

Okay, let me start over. (Remember, confession is good for the soul.) I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic.

Ahh …just breathe. But hold on, there’s more.

This condition has been perfected over the years. When I was a pre-teen, I kept a notebook (five one-subject brown notebooks to be exact) of all the movies I’d ever watched, rated them and noted (with stars, in ink) whether or not I would watch them again.  My records were so meticulous that Siskel and Ebert, now Roeper, would be jealous. Yeah, I know no life. (Hmmm …I wish I knew where my old notebooks were.) 

But later on, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. For most of us, movies—like books—are a means of escape. Movies often deliver messages, influence behavior, spark reflection and literally change lives.  

Now, that’s a powerful medium.

I also find that movies serve as a vital and (wonderful) source of information and research. I recently blogged about my favorite fictional heroes and heroines of the silver screen who influence my writing. However, there are a few movies that also get me in the mood to write romance. They have a way of continuing to make me believe in happily ever after. (I also have to keep a box of tissues nearby.)

I tried to limit my list to the top 27 movies for writing romance and I can’t tell you how difficult that was.  Why 27 movies?  Because everyone always does the top 25, and I wanted to stay below 30. 🙂

So, here’s my list of favorite romantic movies. Each are special and have had an influence on my writing, and in some respects, my life. Perhaps there’s a few here on your list of favorites. If so, tell me about a favorite scene or line or why you could watch it over and over again.

  1. The Way We Were, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand
  2. Somewhere in Time, Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour,
  3. Australia, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
  4. An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
  5. Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep
  6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton
  7. The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones
  8. Sabrina (remake) Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear
  9. Someone Like You, Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear
  10. Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt, Julia Ormond, Aiden Quinn
  11. Meet Joe Black, Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani
  12. Love Jones, Larenz Tate, Nia Long
  13. The Notebook, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams
  14. The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
  15. The Wedding Date, Dermot Mulroney, Debra Messing
  16. Romancing the Stone, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
  17. A Walk in the Clouds, Keanu Reeves,Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
  18. The American President, Michael Douglas, Anette Bening
  19. Message in a Bottle, Kevin Costner, Robin Wright
  20. The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez
  21. Pretty Woman, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts
  22. Sweet Home Alabama, Josh Lucas, Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey
  23. You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan
  24. City of Angels, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan
  25. Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Dougray Scott, Drew Barrymore
  26. Hitch, Will Smith, Eva Mendes
  27. Out of Africa, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep

Uh oh it’s only the beginning of the week and I feel a movie weekend coming on. Better go stock up on popcorn. 😉

Perils of a Romance Writer (Okay, a writer. Period)

One of the downsides of writing is the evitable “writer’s block.” Some don’t believe in it. Others will swear it’s a common malady among people with a creative pen. (Or computer)

I tend to sway on the side that it exists and is generally connected to that other known malady-lack of motivation.

For the past few days, I haven’t been motivated to write anything, but my blog. And I guess that’s okay because I’m STILL writing. Lately, this blog has been my saving grace.

Experts say when you can’t get a scene, or a word, or a chapter to flow, (which has been my problem) you should do something else. Take a walk, clean the house. I have a friend (she’s a best-selling author) who makes spaghetti when she gets stuck. (Maybe I should start cooking. On second thought …)

One article in Writer’s Digest, (I love this site) said at the first sign of trouble, retreat. So, I did.

Because of my lack of motivation to write, I’ve started doing other things. And instead of going for a walk, or cleaning the house, I made another video. (Oh, yes I did!)

In one of my post last week, I shared a video that I’d done on my book, “The Heat between Us.” It’s an animated view of a scene made possible by Xtranormal.

Again, I can’t stop singing their praises.

This video is an introduction of the characters in “The Heat Between Us.” Besides reading about their trials and tribulations, I thought it would be a nice idea to hear from them, personally. I hope you like it.

I find that this form of creativity has, in fact, helped me with my writing. I’m back at work on the second book, which is the second of a three-book series. And I’m already thinking about a video or two or three. 🙂

Eavesdropping on a love story

I have a new toy. No, it’s not a telescope, new magnifying glasses or a writing pen turned camera (remember, Enemy of the State?)

It’s actually video and movie capabilities! I am the new Steven Spielberg!

Yes, I’m overdoing it.

But I am excited about another way to promote my book and perhaps, my blog. Or just have fun. We all know that we can make our own book trailers. And I’ve discovered a cool way to do just that, with animation.

I just happen to be browsing blogs in my Google alerts, and I ran across this cool blog where one writer made a video instead of an ordinary post.

Hmmm …the old brain starts to wonder if this might be something to look into to. It was. The site is called Storytelling: Xtranormal and it instantly turns your words into a 3D animated movie. Now, if you’ve heard of it, I have to shake my head and wonder, where the heck have I been?

It is amazing and so fun to create. There is a web version that I dabbled on first. All you have to do is create a login and password, and then you can get started. You’re given 300 xp (xtranormal points) which allows you to buy extra backgrounds, sounds etc.

The windows version of Xtranormal is downloadable, and can go on your desktop. This has a more actions for your characters to do, as well as more actors in a scene. I recommend playing around with the Web version first. Then try to download the Windows version. (Sorry Mac users, I’m not sure if there’s a version of this product for you.)

Now, nothing this cool is free. so note, that they have various plans that you can purchase for your filming needs. They also provide video tutorials and support.

I spent most of last night trying to make a video about one of the scenes in my book, (I can’t wait to get home to make another one!) and I’d like to throw caution to the wind and share it with you.

::::drum roll please :::

Be gentle with me, remember it’s my first. 😉

Hollywood: Lights! Camera! Your Novel!

With the literary successes of novels turned movies as of late,  “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “The Help” and yes, I daresay, even “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it’s evident that Hollywood is always on the lookout for what they can tout as the next best thing.

Which is why, it’s completely normal, and IMHO, highly recommended that we, as writers, dream of the day when a movie director/producer contacts us to say the studio wants to make our novel or WIP into a motion picture. 

We would squee with delight when they offered us a job as the film’s technical/script adviser, and gave us a say on who will play our characters.(Now that is dreaming!)

I admit. There are times when I’m writing that I pause to fantasize about who would play my characters. (I even made a trailer for my book. My very first. And it shows. 😉 That’s why I’m not sharing it just yet! )

My critiquing partner is very close to seeing his dreams fulfilled. He has an agent who is in the process of trying to sell his book, which is set in Burma 570 AD, to a major publisher. When we’re discussing marketing strategies for his book, we even go so far as to act as though we’re the casting directors, picking and choosing which actor or actress would do his work justice!

It’s fun to let your mind wander with the “what ifs” and not so much, “the why not me.” Writing is tough enough. Who needs to tack on negativity to an already taunting endeavor? We can’t let someone else’s success muddy our own ambitions. Positive thinking and a little fun in between chapters, scenes and lines is good for a writer’s soul and well-being.

So, what about you?

When that day comes …when Hollywood comes a knockin’ …will you be ready?  Do you know which actor or actress could pull off playing your hero and/or heroine? Or even better, your villian? Would they be a well-known actor or someone struggling to get into the business? Lots of choices, huh?

As for me, I think Antonio Banderas and Gabrielle Union would make a wonderful Marcus and Octavia, in my book.

Come on. It’s okay. Dream with me for a little while. Because, hey, you never know!