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. 😉

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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!

The Irreplaceables: bad boys with nice asses (and other attributes)

You knew it was coming, right? How could I blog about bad ass heroines and not pay homage to their counterparts? Why would I give up the opportunity to blog about two of my favorite subjects? 🙂 Men and movies.

My romantic heroes/characters range in their level of bad assness (New word! Take notes, Mr. Webster). Since I love Alpha males, it’s surprising that my heroes aren’t all Alpha types. They’re actually a mix of Alpha, Beta and Omega traits, who adamantly refuse to be lumped into one category. It goes against their grain.

However, they’re all smart, sexy, attractive, down to earth, and compassionate. And guess what? Not perfect.

My characters are real estate tycoons, chief financial officers, journalists, police officers, and hot shot cowboy-like entrepreneurs from Nevada. For good measure, I have an ex NavySeal turned chef and a moody, talented musician to keep things interesting. Each have gripes, pet peeves, and unresolved issues like bad tempers, problems with authority, and playing the field. See? Nothing too major.

My heroes also have the innate ability to admit, (after fierce denial) when they’ve been outsmarted or outdone by that special woman who has finally captured their heart.

Now, I’ve been informed (by my heroes) that they’re no pushovers, and they will never lose themselves in a woman or let her have complete control over their feelings. (Yeah, right if they say so.) However, they admit that if the woman is worth it, they do learn to compromise. (Okay … compromise, I’ll buy that for a dollar.)

Some of my favorite bad ass heroes who have graced the silver screen often inspire me, and just out and out make me drool:

Hugh Jackman, X-men, “Wolverine.” When that eyebrow goes up, and he bites down on that cigar, it’s all over. Back up, and head for the hills.

Jason Statham, “The Transporter” is too cool for words. He fights, loves and drives like a madman. But he still has a touch of compassion for those in need of help.

Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a former assassin turned bodyguard in “Man on Fire” had me in tears. He was scary as all get out going after the bad guys, but a real “Creesy Bear” to Dakota Fanning’s kidnapped character.

Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” is always a winner. John McClain is as Alpha as you can get, but he loves his family and his job. And he’s a smart ass! Love that!

Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry,” always makes my day, Wesley Snipes takes charge on “Passenger 57”, and Antonio Banderas in “Desperado,” is a smooth and sexy bad ass with a guitar. Whoa.

Mel Gibson’s, “Mad Max” on his motorcycle—fierce. Sylvester Stallone as “Rambo” and his bow and arrow—all that. Will Smith’s Mike Lowery in “Bad Boys” makes me want to go to Miami. Right now.

And we can never forget classic bad asses, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner, and Bruce Lee.

Of course, I have to name literary bad boys that just knock my socks off. A Linda Howard classic, “Mackenzie’s Mountain” with Wolf, as its patriarch, is the beginning of a family of bad asses. His sons, Joe, Zane, and Chance all have books of their own and all are to die for.

:::Fanning:::: Let me stop. It’s getting a little warm at the computer. Anyway, the Mackenzie series is a serious must read.

Last year, I watched (and purchased) the “Expendables” starring a sweet collection of some of the toughest, sexiness bad asses around. Of course, I was in heaven. By the way, “The Expendables 2” starts in theatres on August 17. Check out the trailer. Guess who will be there taking mental notes. 😉

Oftentimes, I get inspired by a movie I love, and my fingers won’t leave the keyboard. On occasion, some of my favorite movie characters may be seen talking to my romantic heroes. It’s okay if they chat, I just don’t want John McClain or “The Desperado” taking over the pages. Let my guys do their own stunts. 🙂

In praise of bad ass heroines …

I devour romance novels. I write romantic stories. And while my heroines are day care center owners, pediatric nurses, artists and lawyers, they are by no means wusses.

I’ve always been fascinated with movie heroines, and not JUST any movie heroine. Bad asses. Ladies, who take no crap, love hard and get the job done. Now mind you, bad ass movie heroines have been around for years.

But nowadays, they seem more three dimensional, and robust with issues that we—the average mortal—can relate. They’re complex people, who for whatever reason, don’t plan on starting out they way they end up. There is always a catalyst for them having to hide out until it’s safe, come back for their love ones or stay and fight.

Back in the seventies, there was Tamara Dobson’s “Cleopatra Jones,” and Pam Grier’s “Foxy Brown.” The eighties and nineties gave us classic heroines like, “Thelma and Louise,” who tried to prove that a girl should be able to get gussied up to have a few drinks and a good time without getting assaulted.

Carrie Ann Moss in the “Matrix” trilogy kicked butt in her long, black coat AND kept her shades on! Uma Thurman made David Carradine think twice about full custody in “Kill Bill.” And of course, all “Alien” life forms steered clear of Sigourney Weaver. Again, women with purpose and guts. Woman pushed to the edge.

These types of heroines continue to grace the screen. Add intelligence, resourcefulness and wit to the already existing guts, and you’ve got the female counterpart of Indiana Jones played by Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. But Jolie’s portrayal of CIA agent, doubling as a Russian spy in “Salt” is forever embedded in my mind. Talk about resourceful, and being prepared. She made MacGyver look like a Cub Scout! There’s something impressive about a woman who arranges heavy artillery and grenades on a bed as if she’s trying to decide what outfit to wear. You go girl.

And Zoe Saldana in “Colombiana?” Please. You’ll have to watch the trailer.

But I’m also a big fan of literary bad ass heroines. Janet Evanovich can write a bad ass like no other. Her Stephanie Plum character, who hails from Jersey, rocks. Katherine Heigl brought the character to life in the movie, “One for the Money.”

Okay, so the women in my romance novels don’t necessarily pack a gun (though they have no problem learning how to use one) or they’re not running from CIA or drug dealers. However, they’re fearless when it comes to protecting their families, their livelihoods and their men. They’re smart, resourceful, and sexy and have issues like the rest of us. What makes these characters bad ass is how they deal with those issues, and overcome them.

Instead of bullets and karate kicks, my heroines use a stern warning, occasional doses of whip cream, and feminine wiles. A great example would be Katherine Zeta Jones’ character Elena De La Vega—Zorro’s better half in the “Mask of Zorro” and “The Legend of Zorro.” (But she, too, can swing a mean sword.)

I have a story about a Moroccan beauty that swings a mean saber brewing somewhere in my overcrowded brain. But rest assure, whether she’s in a contemporary or historical setting, anyone who tries to give my heroines grief, better watch their step!

There are so many notable bad ass heroines and I’ve only touched the surface. Who are some of your favorites in movies or books?