Movies and Me

This past month has been theater going, as promised. I’ve been to four movies in as many weeks, which is twice as many as I usually attend in a full year.

First up was Ender’s Game. Since I’d recently read the novel—as well as Ender’s Shadow—the storyline was a bit disappointing. Chop and hack galore. But the actors were great and it was visually impressive, as well as moving. My eyes were moist once, maybe twice. I think I hid it well.

Thor: The Dark World was epic! I’d waited almost two decades for Thor on the big screen, and all the movies featuring him have been awesome, but this one was fabulous. I cried once, and my husband didn’t tease me about it until afterwards.thor dark world

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was amazing. I went to this one alone and used my hoodie sleeve to wipe the tears running down my face more times than I can count.

Frozen was our Tuesday bargain today. I took two out of the three kidlets and we had the theater to ourselves, which is always good. My teen with autism isn’t the most quiet movie watcher and the little princess switched seats often. I was moved to tears during the “Let it Go” musical scene, even while the youngest was climbing around my lap.

Notice the pattern?

I’m sure I’ll shed more tears when I make it to The Book Thief, and probably for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. That should hold me over through New Year’s.

Have you enjoyed any of the new releases? Do you cry during movies? Please tell me I’m not alone.

The End Game

I don’t usually review books but once upon a time I listed them here and wrote a blurb about each one. Scaling down was the best option for me a few years back, but if you’re interested in what I’m reading, you can track them on Facebook. It’s not as visually pleasing but I update whenever I start something new.

That being said, I’m not going to post a book review, rather praise a novel’s introduction. Yep, the introduction. Though from what I’ve read so far, the book is good, too.

The fastest way to bump a book up on my TBR (to be read) pile is to release a movie. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card has been on my “pile” for at least a decade. (The pile is too big to stack: I have books on random shelves around the house plus a list of books to get—at some point—from the library or at the bookstore.) This November is gonna rock in theaters! I might go to the movies twice a year, but with THOR: THE DARK WORLD, CATCHING FIRE, THE BOOK THIEF, and ENDER’S GAME all releasing in November, I might be going weekly. I used to collect THOR comic books (still have them), I’ve read The Hunger Games series as well as The Book Thief, and now I’m into Ender’s Game.

The old paperback that's been around the house for YEARS.

The old paperback that’s been around the house for YEARS.


Two nights ago, I started Ender’s journey from the beginning. I read books from beginning to end, from copyright page all the way through the dedication and to the author’s biography at the end. I love introductions and author’s notes and the introduction to the “Author’s Definitive Edition” of Ender’s Game published in 1991 was no let down. Orson Scott Card imparted reader/writer wisdom in a way that everyone can understand.

Here’s the breakdown of the main points that spoke to me:
1. A writer is always developing.
2. Simple writing does not equal weak writing. (One of the reasons I love children’s literature—it is powerful.)
3. Truth in fiction is what the reader learns about themselves while reading the story.
4. Writers bring the tools; the readers build the story in their own minds.

If you’re an avid reader or a writer—of any genre—I recommend tracking down a copy with the introduction and read it for yourself. It made me want to rush out and tackle my literary dreams as well as lose myself in a great book.

Escape into Reading

This month has been filled with family and home. I’ve been surrounded by a few nieces and many more nephews, and all the things that accompany them. Laundry, food, messes, and noise. And of course fun, laughter, love, and adventure. But I’ve had to cope with lack of quiet and thinking time. So I went into literary hibernation.

I escaped what was going on around me by snuggling into books. Forget the army battle sounds coming from down the hall and the trail of toys stretched from the sofa to the bedroom–I’d rather be in Kosovo or playing middle school soccer.
So, as you can see from my list of books in the past two weeks, I’ve been hibernating a lot! A couple of these books were read in less than 24 hours.

A great closing to The Hunger Games series. A kindred spirit gave me the first book for my birthday and immediately loaned me the other two books so I could read the series straight through. Loved how it ended, though about ten pages before I was about to scream at Katniss for one of her decissions.

Katherine Paterson has been one of my favorite writers since I read Bridge to Terabithiacirca 1989. This book came out about two years ago but I finally purchased the hardcover (thank you Books-A-Million bargain tables, for this and two other books on the list) last month. I had no clue about the wars in the Kosovo area during the past two decades, other than people were dying. This book made me want to learn more about recent history I’ve been blind to.

Nice summer romance with a HEAVY dose of southern spice. This is the most southern sounding book I’ve read in recent years, if not ever.

I was able to meet the gracious author, Crickett Rumley, at a local book signing last week. Fun read–laughed out loud many times.

Wow! This is the best contemporary middle reader book I’ve read in a LONG time. Amazingly deep. Will be looking for more by Edward Bloor!

Does this make half of my books this time southern? Even Tangerine was set in Florida, with scenes in TX and AL. This was one of my 24 or less books. Adventure with heart. Enjoyed it enough to want to purchase my own copy to have for my kids to read.
So, what have you been feeding your mind this month?

What was I thinking?!

Yes, I used two, count them, TWO, punctuation marks because my situation is a question and an exclamatory. Read onto find out why.
If you’re a reader of this blog, know me personally, or even just hear about me from someone else, you probably know I’m a writer. People have paid me for my words, though not as often as I’d like, and my words have been read by possibly hundreds of thousands of people. (One of my articles appeared in a magazine with a circulation of over 500,000.)
And if you’ve been in contact with me in recent years, you’ve probably heard I’m working on a novel. My WIP. Corroded. My first long-term project in over a decade. It’s been slow, more often than not unsteady, progress.
Sure, I’ve got a list of prime excuses for being too busy to write, but the fact is, I could write a lot more than I do. I’m a procrastinator when it comes to things that make me nervous. Nervous energy and me are first cousins. I pace, which can be good because when I sit down, there are kids crawling on me within seconds. Typing with a kid hanging on your shoulders is difficult. Hand writing impossible. It makes me want Nathaniel Hawthorne’s desk in the third story writing tower he had built over his home in Concord. Besides being a floor above the noise of his household, he had a custom standing height desk. (Which is the perfect height for me—had a lovely daydream while standing at his desk and looking out on the forested hillside when I visited Wayside.) He stood while writing, so I’m thinking he was a pacer, too.
This past week I’ve been procrastinating my writing because I received an answer to my prayers—a literary dream come true. And that dream turned reality has caused anxiety.
A month ago there was a terrible tornado in Joplin, Mo. As with the response from the deadly tornadoes in northern Alabama not long before, several authors stepped up to personally donate money as well as hold fundraisers for relief efforts. One of my literary heroes, Laurie Halse Anderson, decided to give of herself to help the Joplin area.
Laurie Halse Anderson! If her name sounds familiar it’s because she’s one of the biggest young adult authors of the last decade (though she writers for younger readers, too.) Heard a bunch of smack talked about YA books in the press lately or about books being banned in school libraries? Read any blogs/articles where YA readers/authors of all ages defend teen books? More than half of those articles mention Laurie Halse Anderson’s books or quote her directly, both the pro and con. Tweet much? Try #YASAVES.
Several of my blogs over the past few years mention LHA. I’ve done her Write Fifteen Minute a Day (WFMAD) online writing boosts, taken her Blog Free February (BFF) to the highest level of commitment—no social media all month, and have traveled to New Orleans to meet her while she’s been on book tours—even made HER blog for that!
Back to the relief efforts… Laurie decided to auction/raffle a full manuscript critique in order to help raise money for the Joplin/Ozark area Red Cross. The requirements were for every $10 you donate, you get one entry into the raffle. I begged around to family and friends and a few people donated in my behalf to up the odds. And I prayed, as did others. And I won!
I need to get Corroded as polished as possible within the next few months in able to not waste LHA’s time and get the most help out of the critique. But that dream come true is looming like a thunderstorm over an outdoor graduation ceremony!
When I’m not pacing—or caring for kids or doing church work or planning writers guild events or any other number of worthy causes—I’m hiding within the pages of other people’s books.
Literally.
I was loaned this interesting adventure by one friend (who I let know not to loan me another book in a series until the WHOLE series is out. Must wait for the rest of the story…):

And then I FINALLY started reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m now on this borrowed copy from another friend:

I’m up into the wee hours of the morning reading. Too tired to wake up before the kids to exercise first thing. Without the physical conditioning my creativity and motivation is slumping. My brain is fried from the summer heat by the end of the day so all I want to do is lay in bed at night and read. Which leads to late nights with my book light and groggy mornings. Rinse and repeat.
Now, I’m breaking my silence and the cycle.
I will do some form of exercise daily, beginning today.
I will NOT open Catching Fire, or any other novel, until I have written at least 30 minutes.
I will set my alarm each morning and get out of bed in a timely fashion no matter how late I am up.
And I want you to hold me accountable. Send an e-mail, tweet, comment, or actually in person ask if I’m any closer to sending Corroded to Laurie Halse Anderson. Because that action now freaks me out.
Do I really want to know what a NYT best selling author thinks about my work?
Do I really want one of my literary heroes to tell me what is wrong with it? (And what’s good, but the negative always shouts louder in my head.)
Won’t rejection feel worse from someone I admire than a faceless agent or editor?
What was I thinking?!
That it would be an excellent opportunity to be read by someone whose work I admire.
That learning the strengths—and weaknesses—in the story will help me hone my writing/editing skills.
That a possible blurb from a NYT best selling author will be a great foot in the door to the publishing industry. And the bragging rights aren’t bad either.
There’s a motivational poster slogan that reads: You cannot fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all.
So, please, dare me to write. Dare me to finish Corroded and send it to Laurie Halse Anderson for critique. And then dare me to accept the advice and write on.