Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Me

After months of waiting, watching the trailers more than once, searching online for clues and generally anticipating like crazy, last night I got to disappear into the Potter-verse again. My fabulous husband arranged for us to attend The Beastly Bash at the Gateway Theater.

The event was sponsored by The Ohio State University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. These people make their living reading literature, exploring the other literature and stuff that it was inspired by and writing academic papers about their findings. Then they teach classes on topics I would be very inclined to find interesting.

So, Dr. Friedman from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign gave a talk about the zoological and mythical sources for the Potter-verse. Which was interesting, but also not, because he totally read his paper out loud for an hour. He did, however, have some cool slides with pictures of mythical creatures from 1300 BC and pictures from the Harry Potter movies. I give the lecture 3 stars.

The five star fun started after that when Dan the Baker gave us all wands made of bread (check out the picture below!) and Dough Mama fed us treacle tarts (Harry's favorite!). We had Fudge and snitch shaped golden desserts and Butter Beer! Then we headed into the theater to see the movie. The Gateway is a nonprofit, independent theater and the manager shared with us that Harry Potter fans are always the kindest and best crowd because of the themes in the books about love. Bonus points to him for his Black Lives Matter t-shirt. I give the Gateway Theater 5 stars.

After that the movie started. My expectations were so high. Anticipation filled my lungs and then....

SPOILER ALERT*******************

The movie met every last expectation I had and then some. 6 star out of five! First of all, the main character was named Tina Goldstein. GOLDSTEIN! Which is my maiden name. And, so clearly JK Rowling has written this series just for me. Entirely for me. Obviously.

Okay. Okay. Not, really. But, still. That was cool for me. You probably don't care so I will share a few other things I loved.

Jacob the Baker. The most lovable muggle ever. I know I should say, No-Mag, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm just going to speak wizard with an English accent. Let's just assume I went to Hogwarts. I studied abroad.

This kind of thing happens. Get past it. But, please don't get past Jacob.

Evil guy who I knew was even more evil than expected from very early on in the movie. Spoiler Alert #2. I totally called the true identity of Graves in his third scene. I love being right!

Queenie. She saves the day and she reads minds, all while being loving and an awesome cook. She's the real deal.

Go see this movie now. I'm going to see it again in the theaters this week.

Fantastic Beasts is where you'll find me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Varied sentence structure

Today, I'm focused on varied sentence structure. Basic craft, right? It's all I can do not to scream, because this stuff seems so easy, but, apparently, it's actually hard. (Next up: figuring out what was wrong with the comma situation in that last sentence.)

Why? What in the world could possibly grab me and shake me and tell me I need to pay some attention to varied sentences? Contest feedback. One of my judges gave me feedback that I needed to switch up sentences more. She also hated my premise, had a real problem with my comma usage and was pretty hard all around on the book. My second judge in the same contest praised the writing, offered all kinds of detailed constructive advice and also questioned my comma use. (So, I'm definitely going to be tackling commas next!)

It would be easy to discount the first judge, since the second one was so complimentary, but there is truth in every perspective and I'm grateful for the feedback. Spending time on sentence structure will only make me a better writer. So, I say many, many thanks to all the contest judges out there helping other writers move along. Writing is subjective. It's like ripping out your heart and throwing it on the table for others to poke and prod. Yet, I can't think of anything more magical, awe-inspiring and connecting in the whole world.

If you're still confused about varied sentence structure, below is the quote that sorted it all for me:

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”
-Gary Provost

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pieces, Parts and Pain

I am deep in the heart of edits right now. Wading into pieces and parts of my books that I love. A moment of truth hit me square between the eyes after this year's Pitch Wars. I got three requests this year and each of the authors gave me input after on why they passed. Only one read past the first 50 pages. She read all the way to a point that I've been suspicious is the start of a story line that might, just might, have to go.

The thing is the book started with this story line. The very idea, the original title, came from this story line. I'm afraid the story has moved on and I haven't. The idea of writing out this story line is so terrifying and painful I am quaking with horror at the thought of it. But, I've been shopping this book for a long time. The first 50 pages are strong and they are engaging. I typically get requests for the full book from agents for this book. What I don't get is offers of representation once they read past those first 50 pages. So, it's time to be brave. It's time to pull the thing to pieces and parts and it's time to embrace the pain!

I need all the support I can get as I tear my baby to shreds and put her back together again. This year's Golden Heart she is going to be all shiny and ready to go.

As my teens would say "that's goals."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Me on the Olympics: It's not that I don't care, it's just that I'm not interested

I've been trying to get a good nationalistic fervor going about the Olympics. I really have. The idea of the Olympics inspires me, don't get me wrong. I like the stories that fill my Facebook feed-- like the one about that brave Syrian woman who swam all those people to safety and escape and then went on to win the Olympics. Or, the one where that kid beat Michael Phelps, his former hero, in that race.

The problem for me is that I just don't want to actually sit down and watch the Olympics. People swimming, no matter how awesome it is that so many people from all over the world are together doing the getting along thing, is just boring to me. Same deal with people running. Now, if someone was swimming from a shark or maybe running away from a vampire, I could possibly find the will to care. But, even then only if there's a good love story somewhere in the plot or at least some intrigue.

When I was a kid, I remember all these people on my grandparents' screened porch crowded around this TV watching the Olympics. I was spending the summer at the bungalow colony my grandparents owned and the only TV on the property was in their house. Even then I couldn't imagine why so many people would be willing to sit piled all over each other in a tiny room in the heat when the pool was just yards away.

So, with no pool available, my evening is going to be focused on writing. The Olympics will just have to go on without me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Time Outside Time

I'm stealing away each day this week for a few hours to write. I've got a few projects in the works that I'm excited about! I'm working on shaping final edits on my latest full manuscript, Crashing Melodies. I'm shaping up The Keeper's Daughter for a contest entry and I'm working on a new project with a great friend of mine, trading chapters and building a contemporary romance with a few twists.

This is the week we spend at what I call family camp-- catching up with friends we've missed all year, hearing from powerful speakers, doing tie-die and just relaxing with an ice cream cone. It's time outside time, although with not enough sleep to go around there are a few dramatic moments.

It's a good time to reflect, re-center and commit to something new in the upcoming year. (I still think in school years versus calendar years with two kids at home.)

My reflections are that I want to prioritize my writing more, keep up with my blog more and do a whole lot more social justice work, especially regarding public education and race relations. I don't know what shape the next iteration of my work will take, but I've got some ideas in mind after just the first few days of this week. I can't wait to share more!