Tag Archives: Sound of Music

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?

So You Think You Can Blog

Katy Lee here. It’s Sunday, and the hills are alive…well, not really but here’s a little music to a writer’s ears:

“I couldn’t put your book down.”

Ah, the greatest compliment a reader can give a writer. It means you did your job right. You gave them just enough information on page one to keep them interested, and willing to stay with you, until page three hundred. You took the reader on a satisfying journey, unfolding the story little by little, bit by bit. You were careful not to overload them with too much information up front.

But If there’s anything I’ve learned since I joined my fellow Scribes, it is that being a writer does not make me a blogger. In fact, I have had to learn a whole new style of writing from what I was used to. It turns out that writing for the web takes on an opposite approach to writing fiction. But take heart, because it’s still all about satisfying your reader. Just in a different way.

Most traffic to your blog will come from search engines, like Google. People who are looking for an answer to some question or information on a certain topic. They’ve typed in a keyword that your blog contains, and Bingo, they’re on your page. They’re not here for entertainment and you probably have ten seconds or less to keep them reading. Talk about pressure!

So how do you do it?

Well, just like fiction, you give them a hook, but you can’t stop there. And this is where the change comes in, because you then have to follow it up with your best stuff right up front. It is no time to tease. Give them the answer they came looking for. Give them the same satisfaction in the first paragraph that your book readers have when they read your last page.

The Unlocked Secret:  Take more of a journalistic approach when writing for the web. Feature your most important information first, followed up by more good and necessary content to support your idea. By doing it this way, you earn the reader’s trust right up front, and they’ll continue reading to the very end. But wait, I think I hear music playing. If you earn their trust, they won’t hesitate to come back again and again.

And that is the greatest compliment a blogger can get.

Do you have questions about what it entails to start a blog? Or if you have a blog, what kinds of things have you learned from it?

Getting in the Mood…

I love music. L-O-V-E it. I’m one of those crazy people you see on the highway singing my heart out in the car or even (embarrassing)  dancing when one of my favorite songs comes on. Songs themselves are an art form. A good song tells a story and brings out some kind of emotion in about three minutes. I envy people who write songs. They are the ultimate short story writers. Harry Chapin’s Cat in the Cradle tells a beautiful but sad story in exactly three minutes and forty nine seconds. How many of us can say we have accomplished that? More than books, songs stay with us. Songs trigger a memory of a time and a place, a moment that won’t leave us. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Britney Spears sing. It was a Friday night and I was 13 years old sitting in the back of my mother’s blue Astro Van. My youngest brother (who will cheerfully kill me if he reads this), burst out singing, “Hit me baby one more time.”  He was only four then and just so gosh darn cute that moment burned in my memory.

Now I use music for a variety of things, to cheer me up, to soothe my soul, to get me motivated. I find  it a very good tool for writing. I listen to Adele before I have to write something emotional. Her voice is smokey and soulful, her songs are angry and depressing. Who could not be effected by a lyric that says, “Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.”  Justin Nozuka, with his soft breathy voice and  sensual lyrics, is the perfect person to listen to before writing a love scene. Check out After Tonight and you’ll see what I mean.

When my ego needs some pumping up I listen to Keri Hilson’s Pretty Girl Rock and repeatedly sing, “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful.” When I’m slacking off I listen to Kelly Rowland’s Commander, and change the lyrics to, “I command you to write.” Silly? Yes, but it gets me going.

Fergie will always be a favorite of mine because she taught me how to spell DELICIOUS, just like Aretha Franklin taught me how to spell RESPECT and Gwen Stefani taught me how to spell BANANAS.

When I’m feeling a little down in the dumps, Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves puts a huge smile on my face. Lonely Goat Herder from the Sound of Music does the same. (Odl Lay Hee!)

Music puts us in a mood. Sometimes it inspires us (We are the Champions)  and sometimes it causes us to do strange things like the Macarena but it has had an impact on everybody and without it my world would be a less fun place.

Now it’s your turn to share. What music gets you going? What song lyric is particularly powerful for you? What artist makes you want to get up and make a fool out of yourself on the dance floor? How does music effect you?