Saturday, August 30, 2008

TV and Movies I Can't Wait to See!

So with the coming of fall and the start of school, at least there's a bright spot: TV shows coming back on and new movies coming out. Here are the ones I can't wait to see:


Prison Break - one of my favorites! Even though last season wasn't great, I heard a rumor that they're bringing back Sarah (the love interest for Michael, the main character), so that should improve things. See: a little romance even helps an action show!

The Office - love this comedy. The only problem is that it conflicts with Grey's Anatomy, which I stopped watching last year because I was so tired of hearing Meredith whine. I still haven't given in to paying the $$$ for DVR/TivO - but maybe I should.



(Careful: if you visit the links, you may see spoilers!!!!!)

"Burn After Reading" - by the Coen brothers, looks quirky and stars George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

"Blindness" - Julianne Moore plays the only person who can see in a city where everyone else has gone blind for some strange reason. Mark Ruffalo is also in it, the real reason I want to see this film, but it sounds potentially intriguing.

"The Express" - this one will be the feel-good sports movie of the fall, about the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy (that's college football, for all you non-sports fans)

"Changeling" - Angelina Jolie plays a woman who's sent to a mental institution after she meets a boy and doesn't know if he's her son or not. Already has Oscar buzz.

"Milk" - Sean Penn stars in this one, the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office. Same director as "Good Will Hunting," by the way.

"Defiance" - period piece (true story) about Jewish brothers who fought the Nazis during WWII.

"The Curiuos Case of Benjamin Button" - based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who is born old and gets younger as he gets older; Brad Pitt stars.

So there you go - you saw them here first! We'll see which ones actually turn out to be good.

And I never talk politics, and won't really here, but after this week, isn't the Presidential race shaping up to be an interesting one??

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thank You

"Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over." ~Gloria Naylor

Thanks, all, for your cyber-hugs and kind words yesterday. It's amazing how blogging can create this community of people you feel you know whether or not you've ever met them in person or have any idea what they look like. I think anyone who has a blog, or who visits them on a regular basis, has made this discovery as well. And it's a very cool one, in my opinion :)

While life goes on, regardless of the complications and crap, I've set a goal of finishing my revision of One Night in Napa in time to pitch it to an agent at the New Jersey RWA Conference in late October. I'm looking forward to the conference itself (and am going to participate in their Literacy Fair, selling my books) ~ and though I've never pitched a project to an editor or agent, I think it's probably a good time for me to give it a try. So fingers crossed and wish me luck...I have about 6 chapters, or 15000 words, to go. So it's managable. I just have to find the time!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Funny How All the Bad Things Happen at Once...

Readers, I'm plumb worn out today. All sorts of stuff going on in my non-writing life, some of it not so good, so I'm taking the day off from blogging.

I will say, though, that if things calm down in the next few days, I'll be sending out my September e-newsletter. If you're a newcomer to my blog and haven't signed up for it yet, there's a form right over there, on the sidebar.

See you tomorrow~

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with M. Jean Pike

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with author M. Jean Pike - sit back and enjoy!

Thanks so much for being here today! Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

Thank you, Allie. My latest novel, a literary love story called IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGONFLY, will be released in October from Black Lyon Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

From above the shadows ... light.

Orphaned and impoverished, Gray Baldwin is a lost soul in search of a home, a life, and most of all -- love. Kicked from foster home to foster home, at last a restored motorcycle and the onset of adulthood give him the means to leave behind all the old threats, struggles and losses that haunt him. When he accepts a job at Hanwell Construction, life's promising new start is both his hope and his torment.

The spoiled daughter of a well-to-do business owner, pretty Hope Hanwell has a past to reconcile and a few tragic secrets of her own. She wants for nothing -- and everything, pushing love as far away as she can until love pushes back. When Gray and Hope meet, theirs is a story of heartbreak, redemption and fate at its most devastating.

Sounds like a terrific story (and I love the cover!). How do you go about developing your characters?

When a character starts to take shape in my mind, I spend a number of hours thinking about him or her before I even start writing. I get a feel for what they like, how they dress, speak, and react to different scenarios. I think about their backgrounds, where they live, what their families are like. Once I start writing their stories I become obsessed with them. I lie awake at night creating obstacles for them to overcome and I go through my day trying to see my life and circumstances through their eyes. My characters are constantly evolving and they are full of surprises. After spending months, and sometimes years carrying them around in my head, I know them as thoroughly as I know myself. They become a part of me and they never really leave me, even after I’ve moved on to other projects.

Yes, that sounds familiar! OK, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

There’s a whole lot of advice out there and most of it can be pretty mind boggling. I guess if a new writer asked for my two cents, I would offer these suggestions. Firstly, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a more experienced writer, be it through a writing course, books on the craft of writing, or critique partners. Secondly, know your market and don’t ever submit blindly. This will waste all kinds of time and the process of getting published is slow enough as it is. If you want to write for a specific publisher, read their titles, get a feel for what they like, and then do your best to give it to them.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

A true book worm, I like all different kinds of books, from romance to suspense to classic literature. I love any author who can take me by surprise, make me cry buckets, or laugh out loud. Favorites? I have hundreds. The list includes Lee Child, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth Berg, Patricia Cornwell, Gail Godwyn, Eudora Welty, Maeve Binchy, and most recently, Emilie Richards.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I think every writer runs into trouble at one time or another. I wouldn’t say I get blocked, just sort of lost sometimes. When that happens, I handle it the same way as when I get lost in an unfamiliar city. Panic will do no good, and you can’t very well just sit with your motor racing dithering over what to do. I simply keep going in the direction I think might be right until eventually I find my way back to my story.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I do my best writing when I’m in a completely relaxed state of mind. For me, that means grabbing a pencil, a spiral notebook, and a good, strong cup of coffee and heading to the back porch. My back yard is my own private sanctuary; five acres of woods, water and wildflowers. I’ve been known to stay out there scribbling for hours when I’m chasing down a new story.

Oh, that sounds like an ideal place to write. Is there anything else you’d like to mention for our readers today?

I have excerpts of each of my books posted on my website, as well as news, contests, blogs, and upcoming events. All are invited to stop by!

Readers, I just wanted to mention that I read another of M. Jean Pike's books, Winds of Autumn, and loved it. This is one talented author ~ and I highly recommend adding In the Shadow of the Dragonfly to your "To Buy" list. It releases October 1st!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Revising: Switching from Narration to Dialogue

"I think the hardest part of writing is revising. And by that I mean the following: A novelist has to create the piece of marble and then chip away to find the figure in it." ~ Chaim Potok

OK, this is the morning I settle down and get back to revising One Night in Napa. First order of business? Fixing Chapter 2, which my critique group said was too narrative-heavy. Sigh. Of course, they're right, to an extent. So that means killing off some babies today. But I do have an idea that will change some of the narration to dialogue, tighten some of the setting and character details, and bring part of Chapter 3 into Chapter 2, so we get things moving a bit earlier. We'll see how it goes.

By the way, I'm reading a short story for review right now that has some beautiful narration, but it's trying too hard to be self-consciously different and beautiful. The first few times, I admired the language. Now it's just getting in the way. One of the top rules in writing: if the sentences draw attention to themselves, the reader is jolted out of the story ~ not a good thing.

And *that* is something I'm still working on learning, myself...

What about you, my fellow writers? What do you find most challenging when you begin to revise?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Meme

Here's an interesting meme ~ Diane tagged me for it.

I am going to list three categories of books: 5 MUST Read Books, 5 Books on Your Nightstand, and 5 Look For These Soon. Anyone I tag should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. (I've highlighted my additions) Then they should tag at least 5 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing as they go around the blogosphere!

(Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.)

5 MUST Read Books:
It Only Takes A Moment by Mary Jane Clark
A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson
Cast in Stone by Kerry A. Jones
Yellow Moon by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon

5 Books on the Nightstand:
Sun Kissed by Catherine Anderson
Nightswimming by Rebecca James
Pleasure by Eric Jerome Dickey
From Harvey River by Lorna Goodison
Trading Dreams at Midnight by Dianne McKinney

5 Look For These Soon:
Wanted by Shelley Shephard Gray
Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins
After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival by Robin Gaby Fisher
Midnight: A Gangster Love Story by Sister Souljah
The Hood Life: A Bentley Manor Tale by Meesha Mink and De’nesha Diamond

And I'll tag these 5 bloggers, if you want to take me up on it!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

"If you come home as happy as you leave, you have had a good vacation." ~Anonymous's always a nice feeling to sleep in one's bed, after a week away...

What I'm Reading Now ~ The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak ~ I bought this book a couple of years ago and am finally getting around to reading it. It's won all kinds of awards and is considered YA fiction, I guess, though it's tremendous so far and definitely fit for adults as well. It's the story of a young girl growing up in Germany during WWII - and it's told from the POV of Death. Fascinating, with a really unique writing style, and I'm loving it. Anyone else read it?

What I'm Writing Now ~ This week I'm finishing up some reviews, working on an article I'm writing for WOW about author collaboration (I'm interviewing The Price sisters, who write novels via IM/email, since they live in the US and Ireland - how interesting is that?). And I need to get back to revising One Night in Napa.

What Else is on Today's To-Do List ~ Laundry! And grocery shoppping, and catching up with email, and paying bills, and getting ready for school tomorrow (I teach half college courses and half high school - the college ones begin tomorrow)...

So, what about you?