Category Archives: Movies

The “Good Parts” Version

Hello, friends.  Casey here. I was all set to write a Halloween themed post, but instead, I’d rather recommend a book and a philosophy.

I recently read Cary Elwes book, As You Wish:Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.  When I heard this book was out, I did a very strange thing. I ran to Barnes and Noble and bought the hardcover. And I paid full price! 

Normally, I buy digital. Largely because I am drowning in books. So obviously, to me, this was a special “must have” book.

After purchasing my copy, I dropped everything I was doing and read it. I laughed, I cried (especially the parts about Andre the Giant) and I remembered my own life back then with this strange nostalgia.

It’s hard to believe that when the movie was released in 1987 that it wasn’t a theatrical success. It’s popularity arrived after the video release of the movie. Then, I’m sure there were plenty of people who’d wished they’d seen it in the theater.

I’m one of the lucky people who did see it in a theater. And, while many years have passed, I remember that experience. My college housemates and I went to a matinee (probably to escape studying) in nearby Virginia. It was LOVE at first viewing. I remember thinking it was the most amazing movie I’d ever seen. In short, I knew I’d seen something special. Almost life changing.

It wasn’t any one thing either but a combination of the perfect actors, with the right director and, by golly, the dialogue. So many gems. These  are some of my favorite:

“Inconceivable!”

“Get used to disappointment.”

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

And, the most romantic way of saying, I love you - “As you wish.”

Now close to thirty years later, as a writer, I can’t help but think, “Damn. This is like the most perfect fairy tale. Ever.”

And not just the movie version, but the book too. Somehow, I managed to completely miss reading the book growing up. I rectified that when the 25th anniversary edition came out. One of the writer lessons I learned (and must have internalized) was the subtitle: The “Good Parts” Version.

And it means exactly what it says. No long, boring dissertations about landscapes, clothing, room decor, etc. In short, all the things I hate as a reader. All the parts that I gloss over or skip right past.

I’m in the process of editing my first contemporary romance- Over Easy. And I’ve been cutting like a fiend. I’ve been creating what I hope is, The “Good Parts” Version.

And really, that is what editing should be all about. Creating the best, grab the reader by the pants, version of a story.

Friday Favorites – 5 Fabulous Book/Film Adaptations

Happy 1st Friday of 2014. Casey here!

While I’m STILL finishing Lachlan’s Curse, I thought I’d share some of my favorite book/movie adaptations. In all cases, I’ve read the books and seen the movies. This is by no means my only favorites nor are they necessarily blockbusters (i.e. JK Rowling, Jane Austen or Tolkien).

I’ll be first in line for Dangerous Curves Ahead: The Movie!

If you’ve never read the books or seen the movies, give these a try.

1. The 13th Warrior - based on the book - Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. Not for the faint of heart if you don’t like warrior violence but the payoff in the end is spectacular. This movie was highly rated at the time it came out and yet didn’t really spark at the box office. The director, John McTiernan has publicly stated the theatrical version was not what he wanted. I say – whatever!! It’s still a fun action flick loosely based on Crichton’s book (which is a take-off of Beowulf). The final battle sequence has the best “speech” I’ve ever seen. Obviously, I favor the movie version.

2. The Namesake - book by  Jhumpa Lahiri. Both the book and film offer an honest glimpse into family life and what it’s like to grow up in two different cultures (American vs. Indian). Don’t miss this one if you enjoy quiet stories about families and want to learn more about a different culture.

3. Stardust - book by Neil Gaiman. Set in the fantasy world, a love-struck hero embarks on a mission to locate a shooting star hoping to impress a girl. Instead, he tangles with witches, flying pirates, vengeful princes and a falling star with a mind of her own. I’d argue that the movie version is actually better than the book. The ending is a million times more logical and the cast knocks it out of the park. If you’ve read the book, then you know what I mean.

4. The Prestige - book by Christopher Priest. Wow. The movie’s story (about a grudge match between two magicians) is a head rush and really not much like the book at all. Again, another situation where I think the film ending was better (and more coherent). This is also a film where you should watch it more than once to get all the nuances. (Also starring the hunktastic Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale!).

5. Little Women (1994 version) – Okay, I know there are other theatrical versions, but this is my personal favorite. I love the cast, the setting, well, everything about this movie. While it is not an exact adaptation of the book, it still rocks the story of Jo March and her sisters (and a young, handsome Christian Bale doesn’t hurt).

So there you have it. Back to writing I go!

How about you? What are your favorite books turned into films?

Frosted #Loki Charms – They’re Maniacally Delicious!!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

I took a break from writing this past weekend and caught Thor: The Dark World.

While I am a fan of the luscious Chris Hemsworth, I must admit (and I’ve said it before) that I love the bad guy – Loki! Largely due to Tom Hiddleston’s fun and charming performance, I only wish they’d give Loki his own movie.

In my opinion, nobody does it better!

Now, I hate to blog and run, but I have another book to finish before 2013 ends. So, I leave you with this burning question and a funny video clip- Who is better: Thor or Loki? 

Where do you stand? 

Irrational Fears

Hi, Scribelings. Suze here, talking about irrational fears.

We’ve all got them. Things we’re afraid of even though the chances of them happening are remote, maybe even impossible. Today, I will share with you some of mine.

th[7]Vampires. Yes, I am afraid of vampires. I’m pretty sure I know where this fear originated. I saw the movie Dracula starring Frank Langella about eight times at our little village movie theater l when I was a teenager. I blew a lot of babysitting money to see the first hot movie vampire over and over. He was no old, creepy, cartoony Bela Lugosi or weird, scary Christopher Lee. Langella was dark and sexy and irresistible to my young self. My bedroom had a tall window, and my bed was right next to it. Seriously, Dracula could have flapped up to that window and come in any old time he pleased.

Unless it’s insanely hot, I still sleep with the covers pulled up around my neck.

th[4]Rats, Mice and Other Vermin. This also stems from a traumatic childhood movie experience. I saw the movie Willard on television (not sure why my mother allowed this!). I still shudder every time I think about it. Rats swarming everywhere, gnawing and chewing, their obscene naked tails undulating as they kill Willard at the end. Oops, that was a spoiler. Well, if you haven’t seen it, don’t make plans to watch it, or the sequel, Ben. Save yourself.

Now, as an adult, I don’t like vermin for other reasons, such as sanitation issues and, oh yes, that little thing called the Bubonic Plague. I have never allowed my son to keep a pet mouse or hamster. (Don’t feel too bad for him–he’s got a cat and fish and kept a hermit crab alive for 6 years) I don’t care how cute and furry and soft those pet vermin are. If they got loose in the house, I might have to move out. Although the cat is a pretty good mouser…

Feral Pigs. But Suze, you say. Those things only live down south in Texas and Arkansas, far away from your New England home. Well that’s true now, but according to a documentary I saw, they’re moving north. Pigs are such prolific breeders that it’s almost impossible to keep their population under control in the wild, and they’re expanding their territory. Have you seen the tusks on those vicious things? Their nasty brown hair? Their evil, beady eyes? Watch this but only if you dare. Remember Jody the Pig in Amityville Horror? I rest my case.

150px-Communion_book_cover[1]Alien Abduction. I’ll admit I’m not as afraid of this as I once was, now that I’m physically incapable of gestating an alien baby. And I no longer think that every weird mark on my body is the site of either an implanted tracking device or the extraction of a tissue sample. As a kid I read a lot of UFO material, including the famous Betty and Barney Hill case and the Whitley Streiber accounts, and I still can’t resist the documentaries. Add to that the fact that my junior high social studies teacher claimed that he had been buzzed by a UFO while driving along a lonely stretch of road in his Gremlin and, well, you’ve got a recipe for a lifelong phobia. I still get a little freaked out driving alone at night. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced an episode of missing time–I think.

Confession time! What are your crazy fears? We’re all friends here.

The Pixar Universe

Hello Scribblers!  I’m so sorry I nearly missed two Saturdays in a row, but we spent both days in the family truckster hauling our way to the beach and back!  But I wanted to take a minute and give you all a link to a BRILLIANT thesis.  If you like Pixar movies, or you are a parent who has seen every one of them 437 times, this year, then this link is for you! 

In this long but interesting thesis, Jon Negroni ties all of the stories into the same universe and gives a plausible reason for why and how they are connected.  From a story-telling perspective, this is a really cool, and complicated idea.

Here’s the link to the original theory.  Enjoy.

Oh, tumblr, how I love thee!

PJ here, and I’ve finally found a form of social media I love! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy checking in with friends and readers on Facebook, but many of those folks are writers, friends, family, high school alumni, and adults who enjoy reading YA fiction, and it can often take up a lot of time getting caught up on everyone’s happenings. I engage in twitter on a regular basis, but as with FB, most of my twitter followers are other writers. After taking a Publicity 101 workshop with Heather Riccio recently, I was prompted to reach out more directly to my audience (namely teens), through tumblr. It turns out, tumblr is easy and really fun!tumblr icon 2 (2013_06_02 00_59_02 UTC)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I can reach readers and looking at where I’ve had my focus in terms of marketing and social media. Recognizing that I have to expand that all-important sphere of influence and try to connect with readers wherever they may be, tumblr was on the no-brainer list. It was highly recommended by my YA writing peers that tumblr and Instagram are the go-to locations for teens. For sanity’s sake, I chose only one.

I’m just getting started and I still have to work out a few kinks, but I really like tumblr. You can check out my new page here: http://pjsharonbooks.tumblr.com/ I will have to add my books to my page so readers will know where to find them, but I’ll add a little at a time as I figure out how to find teen followers. As with FB and twitter, it’s a slow build.

Tumblr is where I can post a cool pic right from my phone or computer, with a short blurb about the photo, about life, or about any number of things I think are awesome.

Basically, I’ll share snapshots of life as I see it—another way to share my message of hope with teens. I’ll post about my books as well, but 80% of my communication here is going to be about sharing pieces of me with teen readers.  You can add  a custom background, change fonts, and even connect your posts to FB and twitter, a great way for me to contribute to my brand on my FB PJSharonBooks page.

I realized a long time ago that blogging every day on a static website page was nearly impossible, despite the encouragement of publicity specialists who insist that consistent, frequent posts will garner attention and gain you an audience. Frankly, I don’t have the time or enough interesting, informative, or entertaining things to talk about every day. As it is, I currently use my web site’s home page as a way to keep readers updated monthly about sales, contests, and news about appearances. Keeping your content fresh and making your posts “value added” for readers is a challenge.  Blogs such as the one you’re reading now take significant time and effort and weekly blog posting is more than enough for most of us.

I figured a daily blog that literally only takes me two minutes to post would be a great way to start making a shift in the right direction. It’s kind of addictive and oh, so simple, I think I’ll be very happy there and don’t feel the need to explore Instagram at this point. I hope you’ll follow me or share with any teens you think might enjoy some clean, fun entertainment.

What about you? Have you tried tumblr? What’s your favorite mode of social media and why?

Additional announcements:

1.) The winner of last weeks audio book of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is Brenda Maxfield! Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll be contacting you to collect your FREE audiobook download.

2.) Readers have until September 11th to enter to win a FREE signed copy of WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. You can enter to win herehttp://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/61971-western-desert

So Bad It’s Good

Hi, all. Suze here. It’s great to have you with us!

Over the weekend I watched a movie. Big deal, Suze, you’re probably thinking. Everybody watches movies on the weekends. (Well, they might not if they’re in full writer mode, but you know what I mean)

MV5BOTE2OTk4MTQzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODUxOTM3OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_[1]But what if I say the word … Sharknado (Sharknado, Sharknado, Sharknado, echoing off into the distance)

Yes, Sharknado. The SyFy channel original movie that was so well received on its first showing that it’s now been aired several times since, and even got a mention on The Today Show. But its popularity isn’t due to its poignant dialogue, fast-paced action, all-star cast, gorgeous cinematography, or compelling message.

It’s popular because it’s so darned stupid.

But Suze, you admonish. It’s not nice to call people–or movies–stupid. But I mean stupid in the most complimentary way. ‘Cuz this movie is brilliant in its suckiness. A tornado rips across the ocean, sucking up Great Whites, hammerheads, and other shark species, then releases the chomping creatures where they eat their way (airborne, on land, on a boat, and back in the sea) through a large–and bloody–cast of actors. There are homemade bombs, a possibly tragic love story (no spoilers here!), conveniently placed chainsaws, and the destined-to-be-classic line: We’re going to need a bigger chopper. On August 2, you can actually watch Sharknado in the movie theater (check here for a location near you). Or you can stay home on Saturday night and watch it on SyFy.

And while you’re waiting for the sequel (yes, it appears there will be one), you can always watch Ghost Shark on August 22. (Click here for details). You know you want to.

I love the crazy, the ridiculous, the stuff that makes you roll your eyes, groan, and spit out your wine you’re laughing so hard. The Jerry Springer Show. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The Bulwer-Lytton entries/awards. Bubba Ho-Tep. Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. The Three Stooges. Weird Al. I watch/read/listen to this stuff and I instantly feel better about whatever’s going on in my life.

Low-brow? Sure. Slapstick? Yes. But laughter is the best medicine, baby.

What about you? Have you seen Sharknado? Want to see it? What are your favorite ridiculous-but-wonderful books, shows, movies, and music? The Scribes are a Judgment-Free Zone, so you can admit it here. Edited to add: Let’s have a party! Stop by the Scribes Facebook page at 9:00 on Saturday, August 3, for a Sharknado Watch Party. Edited to add: Let’s have a party! Stop by the Scribes Facebook page at 9:00 on Saturday, August 3, for a Sharknado Watch Party. Bring your snark. Or your snack. Whichever you prefer.  https://www.facebook.com/secretsof7scribes Invite your friends!