Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

Stories that Stick

Happy Friday everyone! Casey Wyatt here.

In the Garden of IdenWith the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some of my favorite books in case you’re looking for gifts or something different to read in all your “free” time.

Either because of the characters or the adventure, these are the stories that have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes, I re-read them (except for #6, explanation to follow), other times, the memory is enough to make me smile.

By no means, is this a list of all my favorite books. Absent, but no less loved, are The Lord Of the Rings trilogy, A Christmas Carol and all of Harry Potter. Instead, I wanted to offer more obscure titles that maybe you’ve never encountered. And I do admit that some of these have a sci-fi/fantasy bent (but I can’t help that!).

1.In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker – a 24th century cyborg named Mendoza time travels to Elizabethan England to the garden of Sir Walter Iden. While there, she falls in love with a monk name Nicholas Harpole. While there’s a romance, this is really speculative fiction and is the first of an epic series about the mysterious Company – Dr. Zeus, Inc.

2. Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Boa Lord – I first read this book as a teen. I distinctively remember that you could choose among an assortment of different colored covers. I choose a pink one with red lettering (which I still own). At the time, I knew next to nothing about China, let alone about the turmoil at the turn of the twentieth century. But I never forgot this tale about Spring Moon and how she survived her country’s massive social upheaval. I re-read this Spring Moonbook several years ago and it was still as poignant as I remembered.  If you are a fan of Lisa See, check this book out.

3. A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes – this book was out of print for many years but returned in the early 2000s, when I first learned about it. This story is a dark comedy about a group of siblings on their way home to England after their Jamaican plantation home is leveled by a hurricane. Along the way, their ship is hi-jacked by pirates who have no idea what they are in for. And it begs the question, who is more wicked? The children or the pirates?

4. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – A wacky variation of the story about the guy in the in the red suit. In the land of Discworld, Hogswatchnight is in danger when the beloved Hogfather goes missing.Death’s granddaughter has the task of finding him before disaster ensues. With appearances by a down on her luck tooth fairy, a nasty assassin, and Death himself, this is a satirical holiday tale like nothing you’ve read before.

5. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote – A short story that I read in high school English class. Young Truman recalls holiday visits with his aunt and their annual mission to find ingredients to make fruitcake. I believe this tale sneakily contributed to my fascination and enjoyment of fruitcake. Yes! I admit it. I like fruitcake!

World War Z6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – This book scares the crap out of me. Written in fast-paced, first person, documentary style, this story is so plausible, it’s freaky! And, since Brad Pitt will be starring in the movie version (which I am sure will bear no resemblance to the book), you might want to check this out. If you read Stephen King, you can handle this. Don’t be put off by my nightmares! I’m just a big scaredy cat when it comes to zombies

7. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley –  Everyone has a book that they read a zillion times as a kid. This was mine. I took it out of the library so often that I knew its exact shelf. My love of Beauty and the Beast traces back to this book. And I suspect my love of romance too.

Who wants to share their favorite (not as popular) stories? And what books are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

The Oscars — a Confession

Hi, everybody. Happy National Pig Day! (click here to learn more about this fascinating holiday) . Suze here on a fine and snowy Thursday in New England. Hope you’re all warm and comfy, wherever you are.

So — did you watch the Oscars last weekend? I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can never sit all the way through them. I always have to work the next day and, trust me, I’m not the friendliest puppy in the pet shop if I don’t get enough sleep.  So I just wait for the recaps the next day. Is that bad?

Let it happen, Cap’n!

I’m never all that interested in the winners, either. If Meryl Streep doesn’t win every year, she should, that’s a given. Who’s that French guy, the best actor? Didn’t see the The Artist, never heard of the actor. I read The Help  but still haven’t seen the movie. Christopher Plummer? Well, I’m happy for him, but I prefer to remember him as Captain von Trapp singing Edelweiss or dancing with Fraulein Maria in a moonlit garden.

What I really love are the gowns. Who was best dressed? Who was worst? I used to do quite a bit of sewing (before it got to be more expensive to make your own clothes than to buy them ready-made), and I still occasionally drag out the sewing machine if I want new curtains or throw pillows, so I know a bit about how gowns are constructed. Let me just tell you that there is a reason couture gowns are so expensive. There are hours and hours and hours of painstaking work that go into them.

I’m always amazed at how the designers make each gown unique. You’d think there would be only so many combinations out there: Start with your choice of strapless, spaghetti straps, cap sleeves, elbow-length sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, or long sleeves. Add a jewel neckline, sweetheart, or plunging vee.  Choose a peplum or no peplum (that’s the extra, longish ruffle that sits at the top of the hip — see Michelle Williams’s dress this year for that detail). Choose a fitted or full skirt, and skirt length (short, at the knee, tea length, or to the floor).

That’s pretty much it, right? Well, no. That’s only the framework. Leave out any of these items, and you don’t have a complete gown.  In fact, you’ve probably got a pretty serious wardrobe malfunction.  But once the basic choices are made, the artistry comes into play. The selection of a fabric or fabrics, the addition of embellishments such as beading or sequins, the way a gown is fitted to the individual wearer — it’s these details that make each creation unique.

Writing is a lot like that. All stories have a basic framework. But if you gave the same set of characters and circumstances to two different authors, each would come up with a completely different tale (now that I think of it, that might be fun!). That’s because each author brings her own beads and sequins and feathers to snazz up her own story.  How much fun is that? The sparklier, the better, I say.

Now, because I know you’re all just dying to know my opinions, here are a few of my Oscars fashion hits and misses. Click here to take another look.

1. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt – You’re both stunningly gorgeous, but what’s with Angie’s slutty pose?  Perhaps a few remedial lessons at a charm school would help. And Brad’s overgrown, shapeless hair borders on creepy – Get thee to a stylist immediately. Sorry, but thumbs down.

2.  Meryl Streep — Some people didn’t like the shiny bronze gown, and this made a lot of worst-dressed lists. Personally, I liked it, even though the top didn’t seem to be fitted properly.  Thumbs up.

3.  Octavia Spencer — I loved your simple gown, I loved your womanly curves, and I loved that you were so excited about your win. Thumbs up.

4.  Jennifer Lopez — You are also stunningly gorgeous, but why do you insist on such painful-looking, severe buns on the top of your beautiful head? And why do you so often choose gowns that look as though they weren’t quite finished? Or did a bodice-button pop off and roll under the limousine just before you were to go into the theater, with nary a safety pin to be found to hold the whole hot mess of a dress together? Whether or not there was nip-slip, or it really was just a shadow, this look was not daring or edgy. It was just distracting, like a twisted car wreck on the side of the road. Thumbs down.

5.  Gwyneth Paltrow — If her dress were gray, Gwyneth would look like an undernourished German prison matron. It’s both strange and severe. I might have liked it better if it had some color, or if Gwyneth had chosen a less awful hairdo. Although I dig the extra-large jeweled cuff bracelet, the overall look is a Thumbs Down.

Perfect!

Drum roll, please … my top pick …

6. Viola Davis– I absolutely adore this stunning green gown. I love the color, I love the style, I love the unusually funky earrings, and I love that Viola flaunted her hair in that cute, coppery style.  Way to rock your natural assets, Vi. Definitely thumbs up!

Your turn. What’s your favorite part of the Oscars? Which gown did you like best? Which did you hate?

Casting Call – If My Book was Turned into a Movie

Happy Friday! Casey here.

When I completed my first full length novel – Ascension, my friend and trusted beta reader said to me, “When this gets turned in a movie, I want dibs on casting.”

I smiled, then laughed, not being able to imagine anyone buying the book, let alone wanting the movie rights. I filed the comment away. Since my post last Friday – Book vs. the Movie, I started thinking what if my books were turned into movies.

Who would I cast to play Valerian, my dark brooding elf and his love Kyra? And who could portray Nix and Cal, my heroine and hero, from Mystic Ink?

I panicked. Ready made images of actors/actresses don’t appear my head. For me the opposite is true. If I try to visualize someone like Brad Pitt or any number of dreamy men speaking my character’s words, it doesn’t work.

Many writers use a hot hunk or a sexy model as inspiration for a character’s physical characteristics. When I wrote Mystic Ink, I dutifully combed magazines for images of a man I thought was Cal. While I did find a few candidates, none of them were my Cal. Nope, not working for me.

In the end, it’s all academic. Since I don’t have the clout of J.K. Rowling, if my books were ever made into movies, I would have to trust the producers to cast the right people.

Let’s hear from you? Who would you cast to play your favorite book characters? Dish, dish, dish!