Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ben Hurry

that's his formal whip
My son calls this movie Ben Hurry.  I love the 1959 Charlton Heston version and it is an Easter weekend tradition for me to watch at least a little of it. I have ever since I was a small child.  Now I own a copy of it and can pop it in for a viewing whenever I might have a few hours with control of the television. But I rarely have control of the television or about three hours of time with nothing else requiring my attention, so Ben Hur is unwatched.  Except at Easter.
But enough about my schedule, let’s get back to Ben Hur and why I love it. It’s a really great dramatic story with all sorts of characters and themes and overt tie-ins to Christianity. There is slavery and betrayal and redemption.  The costuming and set decorations are simply wonderful (I think they are the reason I collect Fontanini nativity scene pieces). Plus a wonderful Roman naval battle and the epic chariot race sequence.  What more does a movie need?

They make a cute couple
Judah Ben Hur is complicated; a decent man who makes mistakes and comes out transformed by tragedy and the goodness of others. He’s the hero and rightly so.  But I have a sneaking admiration for the evil Messala.  First off, Stephen Boyd plays him perfectly; handsome, smart, and very clearly making a choice between being decent and being ambitious.  He’s wonderful to watch and whenever the two handsome leading men share scenes it’s hard not imagine some sexual sparks between them. Ah-hem. Messala has the best death scene.  I always fall for a great death scene.  My husband jokes that I only really like a movie when the hero dies.  Which isn’t very HEA. The story is still incredibly romantic and I sigh a lot when I watch it, even on what is surely the fifty-plus viewing.

blame Stephen Boyd for my slight addiction to be-toga'ed men
So, anyway.  Despite the floggings and leprosy and ships in flames with galley slaves still chained in the holds, Ben Hur is romantic to me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mark Rothko has Themes and so do I

Yesterday we went to see the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art.  It was a very interesting retrospective of his work.  I ended up appreciating his later, more famous pieces after I was able to view his earlier work which the curators hung to allow the viewer see the evolution of some of his trademark themes.
It made me feel better about the themes I keep returning to in my writing.  I thought I was in a rut, but I realize that just like Rothko’s use of horizontal bands, floating backgrounds, and division of an image into parts, my elements of protagonists searching for something missing, men willing to speak their feelings first, and characters having jobs that interfere with their social lives are components of who I am as a writer.  Those are my building blocks and I shouldnt' be afraid to use them to build new tales every chance I get. Now what those themes say about me and my subconscious is anyone’s guess.  Also anyone’s guess is why in every story I’ve written, my female protagonist gets physically hurt.  It’s another common theme for me. Maybe it's just me working through some of my accident-prone anxiety.
In any case, if you are in Columbus, Ohio go see it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tri Cars and My Lack of Imagination

Here is some writing/research trivia for you:
Campanga Motors T-Rex Tricar-I don't own copyright for this image but it is cool anyway. I want one. A T-Rex tricar, not a copyrighted image.

So here's the situation.  I am working on re-writes for the second in my series of (so far) three Sci Fi romances.  There is a fourth one but it's not done and I don't like where I've gone after about 60,000 words so I am ignoring its existence right now.  And I'm already planning another Sci Fi romance for my April NaNo book.  The thing is I don't have a contract on any of these books so I want to polish this one very brightly indeed and pitch it to an editor next month.  More on that whole thing later.  Right now I'm talking about research. Ah-hem!

So in my fictional future on my agricultural planet of Sayre, the inhabitants drive tricars. I had a vision of these things before I knew they already existed here on Earth.  In my story they are called carts and I came up with a neato spring-loaded propulsion system for them too.  Not that the propulsion system has factored in any of the stories I have written.  It's just there in the back of my head where the whole planet and everyone and everything on it exists.  My cranium is pretty crowded at this point.  So for inspiration's sake I have managed to find a few that fit the picture in my head.  Like the one above.

My male protagonist, Lazlo Casta, works in Security so he has to drive a patrol model.  The image of that one exists in my head but I am unwilling to spend much time scouring the internet to locate a picture that suits me, so here's a picture of what Lazlo would RATHER be driving:

I don't own the copyright for this one either but it's a pretty lovely looking machine as well.
Lazlo is a big guy, so I'm not sure how he'd fit in there, but I know he'd love to try as long as Del Browen, his love interest is along for the ride.
Now Del is a different sort of person.  She works as a recycler on Sayre and when she can get away, she likes to prospect for interesting minerals in the unsettled areas.  Lazlo has to hire her as a guide and that's how they meet and fall in luuurve.  He's nice, she's grumpy, he's tall, she's short, opposites and all that. So sweet. Anyway, research. Ah-Hem!
So Del can't drive such a super-cool looking cart.  Where would she put the bins of compost and bags of rocks?  So she needs something a little more functional.  Like this;

This isn't my image yet again, so if anyone anywhere objects to me using these, I will of course remove them.

My point is this; even though I think up all sorts of amazing stuff, most of the time someone else has already thought of something quite similar.  My job is to put together all sorts of ideas and themes and images in new ways. And that's hopefully what I've done well enough with these stories that someone else will want to ready them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hobbit or Where Has Thorin Been Hiding and How Can I Get There?

(I don't have the copyright to this photo and if anyone objects to it I will of course remove it with some sadness)

I finally saw it.  When you are a stay at home mom to a five year old, the free time to go and see a ‘grown-up’ movie is usually nil.  I’d wanted to see the Hobbit since I’d read that Peter Jackson had signed on to make it, so it’s been a long wait indeed for me.
So after picking up my son at pre-school, we went to a big box store that shall remain unnamed because I hate to shop there.  Truthfully, I would be willing to bet money that I have visited this or the other big box store no more than three times in the past couple of years. But my aversion to these stores is not really the topic for this post.  The Hobbit is the reason for this post. Ah-Hem!
And speaking of Ah-hem, where had Richard Armitage been for the last few years and why was I not looking there?  A real failure on my part to have only noticed him today.  Again, I have been missing out. I even indulged in a little fantasy involving hiking in New Zealand while wearing lots of leather and carrying a sword.  I’m sure that upon further viewing of the film I will develop this into a very vivid narrative.
Back to the movie.  Good.  Not sure that I like the deviations from the book which I just finished reading to my son in December.  It took about a month of bedtime reading to get through it, but it was worth it.  But having just re-read it, I was taken out of the film whenever they diverted from the ‘classic’ storyline.  I’m not saying the deviations were bad, it’s just that I noticed them.  But I was all for seeing lovely Frodo again. Martin Freeman did a great job and I was even further convinced that I was an elf in another life because; salads!
Oh, and for anyone who is wondering how I watched this movie with my five year old, the answer is called a fast forward button. I am like a Wild West gunslinger with that thing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Busy Again!

At the beginning of the week I set some goals; continue editing my sci-fi romance, try to track down a local printer for my swag, finish up some promo stuff, plan my story for next month's NaNo.
Silly me to make plans!
Yesterday I received an email from the head editor at Musa  Publishing assigning the editor for my book and now I need to go through the whole manuscript and insert all the Musa house style rules that I can and get it to my editor.  And as I'm doing this I'm also fixing all sorts of little mistakes. Me being the overachiever that I am promised to have this done and turned in by the weekend.  I don't have to wonder at my mental stability, I am well aware that it rests upon the shifting sand of unreality.
Arg, so I now have so much work to do over the next three days and have exactly NO time in my schedule where I am not taking care of my son on my own.  Other than the few hours I have on Saturday to attend my local RWA chapter meeting (hey Central Ohio Fiction Writers!) thanks to my parents coming to babysit. But it would be rude to edit my book while attending a talk on time management.  I'd be a terrible example of taking on way more than a reasonable person should.
But I have to wonder, who finishes editing one book on February 23 and starts editing the next one on March 13?  Of the same year? Oh, right, me, that's who.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Goals Please!

Since the past week has become such a total creative write off (ha ha, a pun!) for me, I have just decided to SET SOME GOALS to MOTIVATE myself. 
All I have really accomplished is rewrite about forty pages of a manuscript that I remain on the fence about.  I have suggestions from a new critique partner, which is a first for me and I have truly enjoyed making changes and improving the story based on her great suggestions.  BUT it is more tiring to edit than it is to write fresh, at least for me, so I really need to do something creative this week or I'll feel like the well is dry. Plus I'll keep editing this story and hope that I start to gain some confidence about it.  It is SFR and I am very insecure about my sci-fi writing chops, so I might never send it out.  Which would make spending all of this time on it a huge waste. Ah well.

On to GOALS.  Hm, I thought if I typed that in all caps it would impress me a bit more. Not working yet.

-continue to develop my story for NaNoWriMo in April.  I had contemplated writing something a little different for that but my lack of confidence lately is shooting that in the foot so I think I'll work on a contemporary story.

-finish editing the sixty pages of my SFR that have comments and send some more to my critique partner.  If she still wants to work with me.

-get some quotes on producing some swag locally.  I want to go to a local printshop if possible, but that means finding one within a reasonable distance.  Hm again.

Those are doable.  If only daylight savings time/cooking/laundry/childcare/personal hygiene/moody disagreements/grocery shopping hadn't wiped me out today I could get started tonight.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Writing anxiety

This week has been pretty topsy turvy with a houseguest, problems with our new dog, a snow day, and a leaky fish tank, so my writing life has been nearly subsumed by the real world attention-takers.  I think that's when I miss writing the most; when I don't have time to do it. 

And part of my inability to find time (and energy) to write lately has been because of anxiety. I have these horrible thoughts about my new/first/only book.  No one is ever going to read it, let alone like it. Why am I putting all of this time, passion, (and money) into this very insecure undertaking? It doesn't make any sense to me today.  Why do rewrites of stuff I've already written?  Why try to decide if something else I have created is worth the effort to polish and parse and send out to people I don't know with the hope that they will want to sell it?  Especially if no one ever buys or likes my first one?

I have genuinely tried not to worry about the first book.  My philosophy was to let it go once it had been edited and not think of it as a commodity, but that is proving hard to do.  After all, I sent it out with the hopes that it was marketable, and my publisher has invested in it as a potential money maker.  If it doesn't make money, they will be disappointed.  If it never sells a copy I know I will be dreadfully hurt.  Almost as hurt as if someone does read it and hates it. So I worry and I feel inadequate.  Like a poor imitation of a writer.  Feeling that way makes it very hard to write another word.

Friday, March 1, 2013


So this last week has been overwhelmed with writing promotion 'stuff'.  My book was released unexpectedly early and despite my best efforts to have laid the groundwork for promotional activities, I have been scrambling every day.  In the last few days I have made posts on Facebook accounts, here and on my website, Dear Author, my local writing organization's newsletter (Central Ohio Fiction Writers), and sent out material to four authors who have generously agreed to post it on their websites.  I have one to go with that, and I plan to post a blurb at the LoveRomances Yahoo group on Monday because I missed it this week.
I also need to set up an Author account at Goodreads but I'm waiting until my book is on Amazon, B&N, and other sites which should hopefully be next week. Whew!

I also started looking at swag and think I know what I want to purchase.  More on that later.  I also paid for an advertising slot on my publisher's tshirts to be given away at the Lori Foster Reader and Author Get Together which I will register for this Monday.

In addition to all of this, I started writing a new book Sunday night which was probably not the best timing, but I have managed to produce over 6,000 words, so that is good.  I reached the 'cannot concentrate any more' moment about fifteen minutes ago because the dog started to bark and the son started to shout, so maybe I'll have some peace later.  I just figured out something about my heroine and I should probably reflect on that before I write any more for her.  She's turned from someone who is tough and gruff to someone who has a lot of fragile barriers. Right now I am going to make some popcorn and find a movie for us to watch this cold afternoon.

So whenever I think I haven't accomplished much lately, I will go back to this post and try to cut myself some slack.