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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Movie Review/rant: Music & Lyrics

I GIVE AWAY PLOT POINTS, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED


Review:

I really enjoyed this movie, in fact it's one of the best movies I've seen in the last year or so. The "POP goes my Heart" video was awesome and the premise was fresh and different, the romance and the comedy was really well done. Grant and Barrymore had great chemistry and it was very enjoyable. I watched it four times in a week and it's the next DVD I will buy. I even thought Cora was well done. Yes, she was skanky and ill dressed, but her character was essential to canvasing the motivations of both main characters because it was based on her, that their differences were brought to light. I'd have liked her to be a bit more clothed, yet being as this is a Hollywood film, there was far more they could have done with her and upped the Skank factor. However, despite how much I liked it, I have some complaints.

Rant:
First off, Barrymores character is introduced to us as a quirky, unusual girl. She leaves their first meeting abruptly because she pricks her finger on a cactus and needs first aid. She's weird, and it's very cute. A couple scenes later, her sister comments on her weirdness. And then it's over. Barrymore is no longer quirky. Her characterization was built up, and she was still very likable, but the quirkiness disappeared and that bugs me. Why put it in there if you're not going to extend it? It was wasted effort, and manipulative hooking for the reader. They got us to say "Wow, she's weird, wonder what else she'll do?" but none of THAT trait came to fruition (though several other ones did). In my ever so humble (and correct) opinion, they should have left out the quirky stuff or drawn it through the whole movie. It would have been a very simple fix.


My second rant is:
Why oh why did they have sex? Under a piano no less! Yes, I'm glad they didn't show the actual scene, and I for one think there are certain stories that have to have uncelestial sex in them (see To Have or To Hold and Unsung Lullaby), but this story did not need it. What the story needed was simply a bonding for them, something that would make their relationship move up a level, something that pulled them together and would make it harder for them when their paths diverted. BUT it didn't have to be sex. It could have been a very passionate kiss, or a line such as "I don't know what to do with the way I am feeling." It could even have ended with Grant pulling away and saying that he didn't want her to be lumped into the same catigory as all the other women he'd slept with over the years. All the angst would have stayed in place if they had both come to realize that the other person had feelings for them. This kind of stuff is so frustrating to me. It's Hollywood, and they put the sex in because someone at their meeting said "We have to have sex because that's the only thing the American people understand as a bonding moment. " Au contraire! Return to Me is one of my favorite movies of all time, one of the best romances out there--no sex. It could have been there, but it wasn't necessary and the brilliant writers kept it out. Music & Lyrics could have done that too and it could have been a movie I could watch with my daughters without any disclaimers (okay, I'd still have to break out the modesty lecture, but at least Cora makes the immodesty look bad cause she's an idiot)

Anyway--them's my thoughts on this. Two things that could have been easily fixed. The good thing, is it reminds me to be consistent and not to use a backhoe when a shovel will do the trick. Anyone else have a thought on this movie or others? And did Grant really do his own singing? I don't know if I believe it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007: Counting Stars


I pre-ordered this book and yet with the insanity of adjusting to summer vacation had a hard time finding time to get into it. The author Michele Holmes, is a wonderful writer and her first book is a sign of good things to come in LDS fiction. Counting Stars is one of the books that reflects a growing trend in what readers want from LDS fiction--we want meat. We want emotion, and conflict and a book that shows good, yet imperfect people--people like us. Counting Stars does a great job of this.

The story is about Jane; plain-Jane, thirty-something
-single-Mormon Jane, Hopeless-romantic-lonely-Jane. A girl who wants more than she has and doesn't know where to look for it anymore. And then suddenly her life not only changes when she answers a personal ad in the paper, but it is rolled down a hill at break neck speeds. Suddenly, lonely Jane, is not so lonely. And yet the new circumstances of her life are NOTHING she could have imagined. Through the story we see Jane's nature reflected in the lives of many people, you truly do laugh and cry and unless your kids exhaust you like mine do, it will keep you up at night. The last fifty pages of the book were incredible--don't plan anything for that last little stretch--you'll be late if you do. I can't tell you a single thing more or I'll give something away, and I hate giving things away.
Suffice to say that I enjoyed the issues she tackled--those are my favorite books, the ones that delve into the hard situations and this one is definitely one of them and it's been a long, long time since I've read a book that required Kleenex.

My complaint (because I don' t think it's fair to be less than honest in a review even when I love, love, love the person that wrote it) was that the middle 100 pages seemed so slow down for me. Certain motivations didn't seem to be carried through as well as I would have liked and the pacing was different. The beginning and end were fast and tight, which is probably why I noticed the difference in the first place.

I'm excited to see Michele's next book and loved that the first chapter of the sequel is included in the book. I definitely recommend Counting Stars, it's a great book.

Monday, June 25, 2007

200 Today!

I will spare you all the redundant lamentations I've given in regards to my current WIP and simply bask in the accomplishment of hitting 200 pages today. Okay, I'm just kidding, I have to repeat my lamentations because it's all so HORRIBLE! This book has been started 4 different times and as of last week I had . . . gulp . . . 460 pages of cuts--and that's not counting the three 'attempts' that I have not yet added to my cuts folder. I'm not sure I dare. I'm also not sure why this book has been so particularly hard, other than my latest book Sheep's Clothing was so different from the other things I've written and this one is kind of a combination of my earlier style and newer suspense, and it's been hard trying to balance it all.

Anyhooooooo, last Wednesday I cut another 10 pages or so and decided I was sick to death of writing up to 150, then cutting, then getting back to 150 and cutting again. So I set a goal to write hit 200 pages by Tuesday June 26 (that's tomorrow). AND I DID IT! It was hard, cause there are things I know I need to cut, but for the most part I didn't let myself do it. I didn't revise much at all (though I couldn't help but cut six pages that were seriously giving me a rash). But my goal was to move forward. Since I plan to write 300 pages, this means I'm 2/3 of the way through the book! I might just finish this thing after all!

Anyway, it was an exciting thing for me, to actually accomplish something of significance. I'm still not sure this book is as good as my previous ones, and I know I will have a lot of editing to do, but at least I've hit my 200. With a little luck and discipline, I won't dip below that mark again. The big question is, can I write another 50 pages in a week? I'm not sure, so I haven't written it on a post it note and taped it on my wall yet. I do have an ultimate goal of being DONE with the book by August 1. revisions will be done by August 15 and then I will be begging my readers to tell me how badly it sucks--so that I can fix it. And this time, I will listen (Tristi, that's for you :-) and will have this book turned in by Mid September.

It's gunna happen. I can feel it . . . finally!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What the Dr. ordered

I'm a bit of a TV addict. If I could, I'd have the thing on all day long. It's not that I sit down and veg in front of it, rather I go about my day, checking in now and then and distracting myself from the cooking and cleaning I'm doing by trying to figure out who done it. I watch a lot of syndicated shows--things like Without a Trace, Law & Order, Charmed and Lifetime Television for women. I'd say 75% of what I watch are shows I've seen before, which makes it easier for me to go about my day and check in at certain parts and still know what's happened.

However, I have kids, and they DON'T go about their day with the comforting voices of Jack Malone and Lutenint (It's words like this that make me wish we'd grown up speaking Latin--even spell check doesn't know how to spell it) anyway, Lutenant Brisco simply existing in the background. No, they instead go into TV-comas to the extent that they don't even laugh at the funny parts. It's weird. And so, I have to limit my TV time, because they seem to think that if I'm watching TV upstairs, they can watch TV downstairs. If only this theory worked with, say, making the bed, not leaving dirty underwear on the floor, and showering on a regular basis (okay, that one's not really fair--but I'm working on it. So far I'm up to twice a week.)

I also enjoy commercials. I know most people don't, but I find it fascinating that people can get a complete product tag and scenario laid (lye, lay, lieth) out in forty five seconds. Some make no sense at all (Perfume commercials mostly) and other's are just dumb (Pringles and Lagoon--dumbest commercials on the planet). But the other day I'm watching TV and a commercial comes on. I hear vague words like Prescription strength and strongest prescription. Medication, right? Wrong. Deodorant. They actually have an over the counter Deodorant that is touted as 'prescription strenght' which means there is actually a prescription deodorant available. And so I wonder, who gets a prescription for deodorant? "My pits are smelling bad, doc, and that stuff at the store, it just ain't cuttin it." Or are there conditions that make BO even worse than it usually is? Maybe someone needs to tell them to stop wearing synthetic fabrics, that's what gets me ( and my kids) smellin like road kill.

By the time the commercial ended I had created this entire character in my head, a man who has this outrageous body odor problem that keeps him from finding love. I titled it "One whiff at a Time" and I think it's gunna be huge. Stay tuned.

Yes, I do have a point with all this--and the point is . . . inspiration is everywhere. My second book Surrounded By Strangers was directly inspired by a TV movie. To Have or To Hold was directly inspired by a cliche and overdone story line used in Regency romances where two people marry for convenience. I've taken countless scene ideas from Law & Order episodes and I often find names, cities, and occupations from shows I watch as well.

So while I also advocate gardening and flossing, don't treat your TV as an evil brain sucker, rather consider it an idea manufacturing device that when properly used can lead you to story ideas that you may not have come up with otherwise. I mean, who knew there was prescription deodorant out there? And how can I introduce a few people I know to the idea that they might just need it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting to know me

I've generally tired of tags, but I liked this one. Three blogs in three days, you must think I have nothing to do...

I got this from Annette Lyon--but a bunch of us at Writers In Heels got tagged. In fact that's why I'm doing mine now, cause we're all going to run out of people to tag soon and I don't want to be the last one.
______________________________

Remove the blog from the top, move all the blogs up one, and add yourself to the bottom.

Twas Brillig
Ennui in the Grocery
Novembrance
The Lyon's Tale
Sundial in the Shade


What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago was 1997. I had a three year old and a one year old, we lived in Sandpiper apartments in Salt Lake and we were watching our first home be built in Draper. It was a fun time. I was feeling better about being a mom and homemaker, my hubby had graduated from with his nursing degree and we could pay the bills when they came in instead of a week late. I was second counselor in the Primary Presidency and was a lousy visiting teacher.

What were you doing one year ago?
Marketing Unsung Lullaby like crazy and finishing up Sheep's Clothing. I was on top of the world because I felt like I had a second chance at making this writing thing work. And, just like this year, I was working in the yard, trying to get used to my kids being home on summer vacation. I was Activities chairperson and planning our summer picnic. I started jogging and I was a lousy visiting teacher.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Thinly sliced Braeburn apples with cheddar cheese
2. Chocolate covered cinnamon bears
3. Almonds
4. Lime flavored Tostitos in salsa mixed with sour cream and a hint of garlic
5. Cookies--any kind.

Five songs you know all the lyrics to:
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Queen)
2. "Glory Days" (Bruce Springsteen)
3. "It's Still Rock & Roll to me" (Billy Joel)
4. "Right Here Right Now" (Jesus Jones)
5. "Beth" (Kiss)

Things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. Pay off that stupid mortgage
2. Invest in someone's really cool idea
3. Throw away all my clothes and most of my furniture--then replace it all
4. Build a covered porch outside
5. Pay of my parent's house

Five bad habits:
1. Snapping at my kids even when I don't HAVE to (they just move faster when I do)
2. Procrastinating (I'll leave after I write just one more paragraph--what do you mean I'm late?)
3. E-mail and blog-reading addiction (It's truly chronic)
4. Being critical
5. Not doing things I know I should do (exercise, reading scriptures, snuggling with kids)

Five things you like to do:
1. Write
2. Bake
3. Watch TV
4. Snuggle with my honey-bun
5. Read

Things you will never wear again:
1. My wedding dress (I rented anyway)
2. The silver hoop earrings back in high-school that touched my shoulders--I loved those things
3. Braces
4. A sweater dress
5. Birkenstocks--they are just ugly

Five favorite toys:
1. My Mac Book. I love it love it love it love it.
2. DVR. I don't know how I watched TV before I had it.
3. My pampered chef cheese slicer.
4. My Kitchenaid mixer. I think I use it at least every other day.
5. Hand held Tetris game. Video games have all gone downhill since Tetris.

Where will I be in ten years?
I have no idea. I think I'll be here, but I'm married to an adventurous man. I could be living in the Philippines, Costa Rica, Idaho--anywhere. My oldest will be 23, so I could be a grandmother (I already have a couple grand babies from the niece we raised, but it's a little different). My second oldest will be 21, my boy will be 18 and just finishing high school. My youngest will be starting her sophomore year. I think I'll enjoy that phase. I love em, but I'm excited for them to be independent.

I hope I'll have ten more books to my credit and I hope that I'm also a better person, with a stronger sense of myself. I also hope I'm a better visiting teacher by then.


Five people to tag:

Katie Parker
Alison Palmer
Inksplasher
Anne Bradshaw
Karen Hoover


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Whitney Awards


In 1888, Orson F. Whitney, a member of the twelve and the grandson of Newell K. Whitney, said the following: “We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God’s ammunition is not exhausted . . . In God’s name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth.”

We at LDStorymakers believe that day has arrived and we are THRILLED to introduce The Whitney Awards, celebrating the excellence in LDS fiction. Basically, readers nominate; at five nominations a work becomes an official candidate and after the year is over a committee made up of industry professionals will cast a final vote. Though this is sponsored by LDStorymakers, and we are both the manpower and the financial base for this endevor, it is open to all LDS writers, and the committee is made of a wide range of professionals.

Nominations are being taken now, and though they don't have one specifically for "Gripping LDS novel about a family whose daughter is communicating with an internet preditor," They do have Mystery/Suspense which would be a good fit too :-) . . . oh, and Best Novel of the Year is also an option. Vote here.

Here's the official press release that hit the internet by storm yesterday--
_____________________________________

PROVO, UT—JUNE 18, 2007

WRITING GROUP ANNOUNCES PRESTIGIOUS NEW LDS FICTION AWARD

“We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. . . . In God’s name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth.”

When Latter-day Saint Apostle Orson F. Whitney first spoke these words, the literary canon of his people didn’t contain many works. Fast forward over a hundred years, and literally thousands of novels are published, enjoyed by readers each year.

The quality of fiction has significantly increased in recent times. New writers are finding it harder to break into the industry each year. This is hard for upstart writers, but great for readers.

While LDStorymakers began several years ago to serve only as a support group and opportunity for networking for LDS writers, it has morphed into a powerful force into LDS market.

Today they unveil their newest project, the brainchild of LDStorymaker and novelist Robison Wells: an annual fiction award named after Orson F. Whitney, honoring his vision of having LDS “Miltons and Shakespeares.”

“The Whitney Award will be given annually in conjunction with the LDStorymaker writing conference each March,” Wells, the author of three novels published through Covenant, explains. “This is an exciting time to be part of the LDS fiction industry, and we hope the Whitney will become a prestigious and sought-after award.”

Anyone can nominate a novel published during the previous calendar year in any of six categories, and a final academy of industry professionals will vote on the final ballot. Nominations are being taken for books published in 2007 by LDS authors at the Whitney Awards website: www.whitneyawards.com

Did you vote yet? If not Vote here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007



Karlene at Inksplasher has started up a Summer Reading Thing 2007, basically a reading motivation program that has prizes attached. The basic rules are to post a book list by June 29th, and be sure to link to it through Mr. Linky (a link tool, nothing scary, no membership required). Then you simply read the books on your list, post reviews if you want to, and at the end of the summer report back and be put in the prize pool.

Sounds like fun to me, and since I'm going to be reading anyway, what's there to lose? So here are my ten books with links added so you can go read up on them yourself. I have had a horrible time lately finishing books, I read them, then misplace them and don't get back to them. So beyond the expectations of this program, I promise to FINISH every title :-)

You're supposed to link your book titles to Amazon, but they didn't have them all so I used Deseret Books online store for some of them.

1--Counting Stars by Michele Holmes
2--Simplify by Carolyn J. Rasmus
3--Finding Peace, Happiness & Joy by Jeffery R. Holland
4--Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
5--A bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
6--Three Tickets to Peoria by Lael Littke, Caroll Morris & Nancy Anderson
7--Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaackson
8--1st to die by James Patterson
9--Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich
10--Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

If you would like to participate, go to Summer Reading Thing 2007 to sign up and read the full instructions. And then let me know too, of course, so I can check in and leave a comment. Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What do I DO with them: Part two

Bless your little pea-pickin hearts! Really, you guys are the best. Not only did you give me great suggestions, but even though I knew summer was hard for other mom's, I didn't realize it was as hard for them as it was for me. I'm not an alien life form! (that probably doesn't make you all feel better, to know we're so alike, but I'm feeling LOTS better)

I thought I'd give you an update on what I've implemented this week--all of it based on help from you guys. LuAnn Staheli sent me a copy of the chore list she does with her kids. I adjusted her chart to fit my house and each of my 3 older kids (13, 11 & 8) have 3 chores a day. My youngest (5) will take turns helping one of her siblings for a week, therefore learning how to do it. They don't get rides or computer, Nintendo or TV til their chores are done but they ALSO get a Popsicle when they finish--so there is double reward. Granted they are usually on their first sugar high of the day by 10:00 a.m. but who really cares? Not me.

I had heard something about a movie program for kids at our local theater but hadn't searched it out, turns out it's a free movie every week. My kids will be there, with a dollar a piece to buy a treat. That's two hours of NO KIDS every week. It will be my sacred time for nothing but writing. I have insisted on a ten o'clock bedtime, as per LuAnn's suggestions. They can stay up in their rooms, but not around me! And I'm getting up at 7:00 so that I can get an hour of computer time in before any of them wake up. So far this has worked, I don't close my blinds at night so the sun keeps me from sleeping too long. It's wonderful to have a quiet house.

I will be purchasing a Slip and Slide and a sprinkler of some kind this week. I made a list of daily things I need to do too, so I don't get buried in housework, and I do them while the kids are doing their chores and constantly interrupting me anyway. Once they've finished their chores they are starving for lack of animation and I get a little more peace as they toke up with Spongebob and Lego Star Wars. I made a list of dinners and posted them on the fridge so at least I know what my options are. We'll see how that one goes, but at least it's a start.

I really appreciate all of you guys talking me out of the straight jacket I was beginning to feel was inevitable. As an extra bonus, my daughter is volunteering in Salt Lake one day a week all summer and I was grumbling about taking her down there today (an hour each way) but then I remembered Rob Wells saying he liked to write at the Salt Lake Library. So I tried it, and wow, it was great! I wrote for almost two uninterrupted hours. Pure joy.

Anyway, the point is that I think I will survive after all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, may you all have good sunblock and marshmallows on hand at all times.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What do I DO with them?

I've said before the most common question I get from up-and-coming writers is "How do you find time to write?" I've also said that the question I ask other writers the very most is "How do you find time to write?" It makes me absolutely nuts that after almost ten years I can't say "Oh, I do this and this and this--it's easy." And here I am AGAIN, tired of cramming my writing into ten minute segments, hungry for some structure I can stick to. I have my tricks--cleaning by fives, setting a timer, certain times of day--but they are on the fritz or I missed a payment or something. As I think I've sufficiently communicated--I've had a rough few months of writing. I'll get a great idea, work on it for two weeks and realize I took a wrong turn. I'm on my 4th version of my current WIP and still have 90 pages of cuts for my latest version (add that to the 350 pages of the other 3 versions for full effect). And then, all of a sudden last week I started getting ideas--you know, those wispy things that when braided together and sufficiently glued actually look like a story. Not only did I get ideas for the current WIP, but also for a national book I was working on a year and a half ago. But are those ideas written? NO--why? Cause school is out for the summer!
Back in November I talked about life moving at the speed of a semi without brakes. It hasn't stopped and I've realized (again) that I can't expect it to slow down. I just need to make wise choices and stay on the road. The four little faces that after a week are telling me they're bored are making it complicated. I have managed to create no routine whatsoever (you want 8 hours of TV, with 4 hours of Nintendo sprinkled in--okay) My house is a mess (Mom, do we have any clean silverware? Use the plastic stuff--and wash it yourself when you're done so your sister can eat too) and in another week I'll be crying about it.
So help a sistah out, huh. What's working for you? What is your plan? How are you adjusting your writing to fit inside the summer stuff? Julie Bellon mentioned her routine that works (it's in the comments)--I'd love to get more specifics. But for everyone, for the love of all things dusty and whining, please share.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Potpourri

Did I spell Potpourri right? I don't think I did, it looks really weird, but then again Potpourri is a really weird word anyway, and I don't think it's even English. Surely no one expects me to spell non-english words correctly. Heck I still can't spell "resautaunt" or "buisness" so Potpourri is out of the question.

So, I was on Good Things Utah last week. So fun, so exciting. They asked if I wanted to take my sunglasses off, I'm still trying to figure out why they mentioned it. Do my sunglasses make me look fat? Anyway, the people at GTU were so nice and it was really exciting to be there.

On the set, they have four camera's pointed at you the whole time. To know which camera they are using at any given moment there's a guy that stands behind it. Underneath each camera lens is a small black and white TV screen that shows you what the camera is filming. The hosts are obviously used to this and don't let it distract them, but I kept trying to watch those screens. Really, to give women worried about their sunglasses making them look fat an opportunity to see themselves my not be a wise choice. and the table was too short to comfortably cross my legs, so the wood was cutting into my knee under the table, but for some reason I knew I HAD to cross my legs--don't know why. Anyway, it was lots of fun, and here's the video clip if anyone wants to count how many times I tried to look at the camera or swallowed. Josi on GTU

The day after the GTU show, I came to California to see my sister and her new baby. AND, I drove California freeways to get here! I know! Look at how grown up I am. Granted I do have a navigation system, but I haven't had even one panic attach or hives epidemic. I must be some kind of genius among Utah drivers. So, I'm here and catching up on e-mail and I got the link to an article written by a good friend Alison Palmer. It hit on so many things I've been feeling, have felt all my life in one way or another and it got me reflecting on just how important it is to trust our abilities and trust the Lord. I highly recommend you check it out. I might have it painted on my bedroom wall for all those times I lay in bed and think "What is wrong with me? Why can't I do A, B, C, or D like she does?" It reminds me that Satan will use anything to bring us down, if Crack and infidelity won't do it, he'll use our own attempts to improve ourselves, or the talents we're still trying to grow, to keep us from keeping our feet from moving in the right direction. That's why, like Alison says, we have to keep our vision internal and focused on the Savior. What a great, great, article it was. Here's the link Desert Saints

So, I hope you are all having a wonderful day. I'm off to San Fransisco and later the CHEESCAKE FACTORY--yes, I'm screaming that.