Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Favorite Holiday Movies

I’ve decided to do a top ten list—my ten favorite holiday movies.  So, in no particular order, here they are, complete with links. 

1.      Three Godfathers: John Wayne in a Christmas movie? You betcha. This one was another of the Wayne/Ford works that stands the test of time. Here’s the description from Amazon: Fugitive bank robbers Robert (John Wayne), William (Harry Carey Jr.) and Pedro (Pedro Armendariz) stand at a desert grave. Caring for the newborn infant of the woman they just buried will ruin any chance of escape. But they won't go back on their promise to her. They won't abandon little Robert William Pedro. Director John Ford's Western retelling of the Biblical Three Wise Men tale remains a scenic and thematic masterpiece. Ford adds color to his feature-film palette, capturing stunning vistas via cinematographer Winton Hoch, who would win two of his three Academy Awards for Ford films. Again, populist-minded Ford asserts that even men of dissolute character can follow that inner star of Bethlehem to their own redemption.

2.      Die Hard: Let’s see, Bruce Willis as John McClaine, the iconic line of “Yippee kiyay, mother-f@^%#r,” and a younger Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. What wasn’t to like? From Amazon: This seminal 1988 thriller made Bruce Willis a star and established a new template for action stories: "Terrorists take over a (blank), and a lone hero, unknown to the villains, is trapped with them." In Die Hard, those bad guys, led by the velvet-voiced Alan Rickman, assume control of a Los Angeles high-rise with Willis's visiting New York cop inside. The attraction of the film has as much to do with the sight of a barefoot mortal running around the guts of a modern office tower as it has to do with the plentiful fight sequences and the bond the hero establishes with an LA beat cop. Bonnie Bedelia plays Willis's wife, Hart Bochner is good as a brash hostage who tries negotiating his way to freedom, Alexander Godunov makes for a believable killer with lethal feet, and William Atherton is slimy as a busybody reporter. Exceptionally well directed by John McTiernan. --Tom Keogh

3.      The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasDr. Suess at his best. Narrated by Boris Karloff (yes, THAT Boris Karloff), this Christmas classic is a perennial favorite in my house, and the grand-daugther and I can often be found watching it any time of year. The songs are catchy—“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…” I mean, seriously, how much more of an insult can you hand anyone than to call them a toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce? 

4.      It’s a Wonderful Life: Yes, George’s disbelief in Clarence can carry too far, but this is a lovely, happy movie full of uplifting messages. Every life touches so many others, in ways that we often never see. From Amazon: Now perhaps the most beloved American film, It's a Wonderful Life was largely forgotten for years, due to a copyright quirk. Only in the late 1970s did it find its audience through repeated TV showings. Frank Capra's masterwork deserves its status as a feel-good communal event, but it is also one of the most fascinating films in the American cinema, a multilayered work of Dickensian density. George Bailey (played superbly by James Stewart) grows up in the small town of Bedford Falls, dreaming dreams of adventure and travel, but circumstances conspire to keep him enslaved to his home turf. Frustrated by his life, and haunted by an impending scandal, George prepares to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. A heavenly messenger (Henry Travers) arrives to show him a vision: what the world would have been like if George had never been born. The sequence is a vivid depiction of the American Dream gone bad, and probably the wildest thing Capra ever shot (the director's optimistic vision may have darkened during his experiences making military films in World War II). Capra's triumph is to acknowledge the difficulties and disappointments of life, while affirming--in the teary-eyed final reel--his cherished values of friendship and individual achievement. It's a Wonderful Life was not a big hit on its initial release, and it won no Oscars (Capra and Stewart were nominated); but it continues to weave a special magic. --Robert Horton

5.      Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Seriously, if you’ve never seen this, crawl out from under your rock and rent it. Santa is a bit of a tool (sorry, Santa, just calling them as I see them) in this classic and incredibly mean to Rudolph and his family, but as with so many other Christmas stories, there are excellent messages for kids of any age.  Added bonus, Burl Ives narrating and singing.

6.      The Little Drummer Boy: You may have to search to find this as it was originally recorded because the versions offered on Amazon are not the best quality. However, the story of Aaron, the little boy who refuses to smile after his parents are murdered and is taken in by three kings travelling to Bethlehem to give their gifts to the newborn king, is beautiful. When Aaron’s small lamb is struck by a Roman charioteer careening through the streets, Aaron offers up the only gift he can give to the newborn king. He plays his drum for him and Aaron’s small lamb is miraculously healed. I cry every time I watch this.

7.      Miracle on 34th Street: From Amazon: Delightful Christmas fantasy of a charming old man who believes he is Santa Claus, and the wonderful change he brings to the people around him. This perennial holiday classic is on many short-lists of the all-time great Christmas movies. The film just oozes with warm-hearted humor. Very young Natalie Wood sparkles as Susan, who learns to stop being so grown up, and enjoy childhood, with all its wide-eyed wonder. Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, and lives the role. He totally connects with the kiddies who visit "Santa" at Macy's department store. The brief scene with the little Dutch refugee girl is a definite emotional high point in this movie. The combined reaction of relief and wonder in the child's face as she visits Santa and finds he speaks her language is memorable. Gene Lockhart as the harried judge, and William Frawley as his street-wise political advisor provide the needed comic relief to keep the court-room segments from becoming too overwhelmed by lawyers and their tactics. Even Jack Albertson shows up as an ingenious postal clerk who helps Kringle solve his legal problem. The on-location scenes filmed on the streets of New York assist the viewer in suspending disbelief. An enthusiastic cast, crisp direction by George Seaton, a sentimental holiday message, and great humor make this movie a solid holiday treat for the entire family.

8.      A Christmas Carol: This remake with George C. Scott (Patton) as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is incredible. It is one of the best versions and telling of the tale. From Amazon: George C. Scott gives one of the greatest performances I have ever seen an actor give; he truly becomes Ebenezer Scrooge to the fullest degree possible. Scott can say more with just the slightest hint of a facial movement than many actors can say during the course of an entire movie. All of the performers here are excellent, bringing to life adored characters such as Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge's nephew Fred. All four spirits are remarkable, none more so than Scrooge's old partner Jacob Marley; having Marley's jaw drop after untying the burial cloth holding his mouth closed is an important aspect of the story and certainly does make an impression on the viewer. This is just one example of the moviemakers' faithfulness to Charles Dickens' original story; another would be the inclusion of the two miserable children, Ignorance and Want, beneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. This timeless tale works extremely well on its own, but the unsurpassed acting skills of Scott make it almost more than real. The change wrought in him during the course of the night, as he changes from a man of crass materialism and unkindness to a repentant soul pleading for a chance to change his ways, is powerfully presented and really touches the viewer emotionally. The simple happiness revealed in the lives of Bob Cratchit and others are as heart-warming as the forgotten mistakes and pains of a younger Scrooge are agonizing.

9.      The Bishop’s Wife:  From Amazon: No classic holiday collection should be without this joyous tale. It stars a divine Cary Grant, a lovely Loretta Young, and a "doubting" David Niven. As Christmas approaches, Bishop Henry Broughm is feeling the pressure of raising money to build a Cathedral. The money is out there, a wealthy woman has volunteered to contribute what's needed to complete the task. But...there's a catch....it must be done her way…and Henry must decide whether to accept and put his principles aside or decline and have no Cathedral. He is so preoccupied with this problem that Julia, his wife feels she is losing him. Henry prays for guidance...and it arrives...in the form of one dapper angel..."Dudley". Dudley has got his work cut out for him with this assignment. Henry is a tough case. But along the way of trying to enlighten the Bishop of the joys of life(not to mention all the hungry people the money could feed),Dudley, played by Cary Grant touches the lives of all those around him. Most of the women are simply in awe of his presence, an aging history scholar(played impeccably by Monty Woolley)finds a renewed zest for life and even a cynical cab driver is reformed by the mere presence of Dudley. But can Dudley get through to Henry in time to restore his wonderful marriage to Julia?....Can even an Angel resist the charms of Loretta Young? You'll be smiling all the way through this touching, classic Christmas story finding out. The supporting cast are legends in their own rights, as well.

10.  The Polar Express: From Amazon: Destined to become a holiday perennial, The Polar Express also heralded a brave new world of all-digital filmmaking. Critics and audiences were divided between those who hailed it as an instant classic that captures the visual splendor and evocative innocence of Chris Van Allsburg's popular children's book, and those who felt that the innovative use of "performance capture"--to accurately translate live performances into all-digital characters--was an eerie and not-quite-lifelike distraction from the story's epic-scale North Pole adventure. In any case it's a benign, kind-hearted celebration of the yuletide spirit, especially for kids who have almost grown out of their need to believe in Santa Claus. Tom Hanks is the nominal "star" who performs five different computer-generated characters, but it's the visuals that steal this show, as director Robert Zemeckis indulges his tireless pursuit of technological innovation. No matter how you respond to the many wonders on display, it's clear that The Polar Express represents a significant milestone in the digital revolution of cinema. If it also fills you with the joy of Christmas (in spite of its Nuremberg-like rally of frantic elves), so much the better. --Jeff Shannon

Any of your holiday favorites I’ve missed? 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Classic Ginger" It Goes On and On and On - Rerun #multitasking

I used to consider myself successful at multi-tasking, but now I'm beginning to question my capabilities. The more I do, the more I have left to do.  How does that work?

This morning I awoke to 300 emails, even though I'm on digest.  I skim the digests, but all I see in the subject line are: excerpt, promo, contest, new release.  OMG, it seems that everyone who was a "reader" when I first started this venture is now an author.  I spent several hours yesterday on Facebook and anything I posted was lost in the avalanche of book promos.  I pictured authors everywhere huddled at their computers, vying desperately for the attention of a "reader."  Yes, I know authors read, too.  I do, but I'm looking to tap into someone who isn't competition.  Is that selfish?  I don't think so. All who have books available are hoping to find the mother lode of readers and achieve a best-selling status.  Honestly, it's more like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

When I got to my individual emails, I found the usual few word posts: Thank you, I'm sorry, I forgot, I'd like to blog, put me down, happy birthday, happy holidays, condolences, and of course, I'm blogging at ______today, please stop by.

As much as I want to support my fellow authors, if I visited every blog or attend every FB event to which I've been invited, I would never get anything else done. So how logical am I if I expect my fellow authors to visit mine?

I've already given up Farmville and most other games on Facebook, taken a leave of absence from my critique group, gone  digest on most of my yahoo loops, and tried to find a new avenue of promotion on the Amazon Communities, only to be beaten to a pulp by some of the folks there who are very territorial.  It seems there are those who don't like authors who talk about their own work.  What's up with that?  If I don't, who will?  I still crave Farmville, but I'm staying strong.  I imagine my crops have all withered and died, and I've probably been reported for cruelty to my animals.  I'm sure my farm is generally in  bad repair, but there's no way I can have a look without wanting to fix everything.  At least I kicked the habit on my own and didn't even need counseling.

Honestly, the towel is looking pretty good lately.  I've considered throwing it in a few times, or at least waving a white flag, but I'm too invested in my love of writing to quit.  I keep visiting shared links and viewing success stories written by authors who had sold hundreds if not thousands of copies on Kindle. I want to post that announcement just once.

I have several works out now, so maybe one of them will be my ticket to stardom... or at least a few sales.  :)  You can find them all on my Amazon page, and I'm always working on something new.  Coming soon, The Pendant from Books We Love, Sarah's Soul from Books we Love (as soon as I finish it), and I'm working now on Desperation's Bride.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?

No.

Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Ready?



Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.
If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.
2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.

Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…

“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”

A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding. Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Ltd.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.

Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

For part 2, stop by next week.

(Feel free to post idea :-))

Connie 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

You Cook With What?

A couple of years ago, I got the proverbial burr under my saddle blanket and I decided that I wanted to spend a few weeks doing food prep and cooking without benefit of electricity or natural gas so that I would have a slight idea what the characters in my books went through while making a meal. I wanted to try living without some of the modern conveniences we’ve all become accustomed to. I told my DH my brainy idea and he asked me how often he was going to have to run out for pizza or burgers during the course of this adventure, and “please tell me we’re not going to be without electricity or the air conditioning.” I was not amused.

Anyway, I set about purchasing the tools and cooking utensils I would need for this grand experiment: hand held potato masher, hand operated mixer, a charcoal powered stove/oven (which can be purchased at the larger camping outlets, BTW), and a few other odds and ends.

My first attempt at baking homemade bread was an utter, unmitigated disaster. It resembled hard-tack, though it was a tad bit chewier. The bottom burned and the middle wasn’t fully cooked. And, for some reason, the bread didn’t rise. Okay…not to be deterred, I got online and started asking a few friends that I know bake all the time what I did wrong. I got a few suggestions and the next two loaves weren’t so bad, but they still weren’t that light, fluffy airy stuff I was used to. Not even close. But, at least it wasn’t hard-tack and this time, the bottom of the loaves didn’t resemble a charcoal briquette.

I discovered if I wanted supper to be ready by six, I had to have that oven fired up and ready to cook no later than three in the afternoon. And then I had to babysit it to make sure the temperature remained steady while the food was cooking. It really was like babysitting a temperamental, tantrum-throwing, burn the crap out of your knuckles while pulling a pan from its depths spoiled brat. How in the name of heaven did our ancestors manage this? Making mashed potatoes was fun. I could take out a lot of frustration on those poor things as I mashed them into oblivion. I discovered I like to use the hand-held masher over the electric mixer, even now.


However, by the end of my two week experiment/adventure, I’d become comfortable with the little stove/oven’s quirks, could actually cook a meal without it being overdone or still cold in the middle, and gained a greater appreciation of what my grand-parents went through. My dad’s mom cooked in a wood stove until the city told her she couldn’t burn wood in the city limits any longer. At the end of those two weeks, even the DH said I surprised him. I never gave up, I kept trying, and for the most part, he didn’t starve. He did admit to stopping at the Golden Arches a time or two on his way home in the evening and eating in the car before he pulled in the driveway—you know, just in case.

So, now if the power goes out for a long time, or the world tries to come to an end, I think I’ll be able to keep us fed for a while. Just don’t ask me to bake bread. I never did master the art of light and fluffy.





Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Classic Ginger" I Hear Voices, Do You? #pantser

I wonder now at people condemned to asylums because they insisted they had "voices in their heads." Could they have been authors? Especially, 'pantsers' and don't do any plotting?

I never had voices in my head before I started writing...now I've had more than I can handle in this lifetime...all screaming their ideas at me and wanting me to tell their story. I'v found myself so confused at times, I don't know which one to listen to, so I just didn't work on any. I've tried revising my writing style to plotting, but I just can't do it. I need my characters to lead me, but when they're all shouting???

Here's a typical day in my life, from the perspective of me and my 'crew.' Mot of these books are finished and available on Amazon, but I do have one pending.  All have new titles and covers.

Odessa: It's been days since you've typed a word of my story. Here I am, all goosebumpy over the fellow who found me in the middle of the desert, I'm dying to kiss him, and you've just left me hanging. Get on with it, would you? Odessa should be a first priority.  NOW TITLED;  ARIZONA SKY

Carrie: Whoa, hold on Dessie. Wait your turn. Ginger started First Degree Innocence long before your silly tale. You just jumped in and interrupted her with the ploy about your pa being trapped under a wagon or some such nonsense. Your urgency is a "kiss"? Really. I'm stuck in prison for something I didn't do, some ballsy chick called Jet is after me to help her set up a friend by planting a shiv, and all you can worry about is when you're gonna get kissed. Give me a break.

Meagan: Shut up, both of you. I gave Ginger the idea for a story that just might qualify for the Harlequin Undone series, even though she's not so great with steamy love scenes. *whispering* Don't tell anyone, but I think she's a prude at times.*back to yelling* The story requirement is only 15,000 words, so if you'll just take a seat and hold your tongues, maybe she can get creative and finish the damn thing. Crap...this just in. She shared the story with some cronies of hers and they tell her it's not hot enough. Now she's got this crazy idea to just make it an historical novella, called Tender Return. Geez, and I gave up my virginity for this?  NOW TITLED:  TIME INVESTED

Clarence: God, is bickering all you women ever do? I have murder cases to solve and lives to save. Sort of makes your silly little plot lines look weak, don't you think? I think The Pendant should take precedence. Right now, I've only had two deaths and I'm working on the cases, but  Ginger just submitted this to Books We Love for re-release so I'm waiting to find out who gets the necklace next, or where the darned thing came from. So stop your yammering so she can listen to me! WAS TITLED THE LOCKET.  IS AVAILABLE NOW ON BWL AS THE PRIZE FOR THEIR VALENTINE'S CONTEST.

Faith: *sniffing* What about me? I'm still waiting for her to start In Search of Joshua. How am I ever going to find happiness if all you keep taking cuts. FAITH IS PART OF AGES OF LOVE AND I STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN TO IN SEARCH OF JOSHUA.

Clarence: Taking cuts, my ass. You already have a book published with you as the heroine. Give someone else a chance. Geez, talk about greedy.

Faith: Well, it's not just me that's anxious. The people who read the first book...at the least a couple of reviewers, didn't care much for the ending because I didn't connect with Joshua. I have to find him.

Carrie: Take a chill pill, Faith. Try living behind bars and worrying your cellmate is going to snuff you out during the night and then come talk to me. I wish I knew if I was going to survive this story or not. I'm not getting any younger, ya know.

Joy: Hey...don't forget me. I know she only typed a paragraph of my story, but I have a wonderful one to tell...and with a twist none of you have come up with. I think she's stalling on mine because she just can't get kinky. But, I intend to keep yelling in her ear until she finishes Joy's Revelation. JOY'S REVELATION IS NOW PART OF DISCOVERY...A SEVEN SHORT STORY RELEASE IN WHICH EVERYONE DISCOVERS SOMETHING.  :)

Odessa: Revelation, smevelation. It's late. We all have a gripe, but we'd better shut up so Miss EPPIE nominee can get some sleep or she'll never finish anything. At least we know she must have some talent. *laughing*. Good night guys. Talk to you tomorrow.

Clarence: Okay, Goodnight. But I get first crack at her in the morning. It's only fair because lives are involved.

Faith: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Whoever screams the loudest... Goodnight everyone...you too John Boy!

Everyone giggles.


If you are interested in any of my books, you can find them all on Amazon.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Who's That Interviewing I.B. Nosey?



Greetings, cybernuts! This is I.B. Nosey, your official unofficial reporter!

Can you believe it? Today I'm being interviewed by none other than that Klutzy News reporter, Ms. Quotes.

But don't worry, fans and fiends...er, I mean, fans and friends, heh heh. She's nowhere as nosy as your nosiest Pukelitzer Award winning journalist.

Uh, that's me, by the way.

Heh heh.

So, welcome, Ms. Quotes, and let's see if you know how to handle that microphone.



MQ: Mr. Nosey, why is your name spelled to include that “e”?

NOSEY: It’s catchy and it certainly caught your attention, heh heh.

MQ: Why does your site still include “blogspot”? Shouldn’t you have your own domain by now?

NOSEY: Yeah, I wondered that too. But every time I ask my boss, Gander, he sends emails with: ‘Prove you’re worth the cost.’

MQ: Tell us why anyone should schedule an I.B. Nosey interview. 

NOSEY: Because they’re fun! They’re original! They’re unusual! And because I’m the hippest interviewer in all of cyberspace. Plus, I always force— er, supply an autographed fan photo as an extra incentive.

MQ: You’ve been compared to the likes of Inspector Clouseau. How do you feel about that?

NOSEY: I dunno. Who’s Clouseau?

MQ: A question about your blazers—

NOSEY: Classy, huh? Heh heh. These are going to be collector items one day.

MQ: You never appear without your microphone. Why is that?

NOSEY: It’s how I’m drawn, so it’s kinda attached to me.

MQ: Explain how you became the spokesman for Gum Drop Island confectionary plantation. 

NOSEY: Who better? I’m a pro at dealing with the public. To get the word out about Gum Drop Island, the job called for someone -as my bio states- who’s ‘fluent of tongue-in-cheek’.

MQ: And what does ‘fluent of tongue-in-cheek’ mean?

NOSEY: Beats me. I just read the lines they give me, lady.

MQ: You talk non-stop about winning the Pukelitzer. Wouldn’t you rather be considered for the Pulitzer? 

NOSEY: Hey. It’s all the one and same.

MQ: Any last words you’d care to share with your reading public?

NOSEY: You bet 'cha. Aren’t you…Feeling Nosey?

***Voice from overhead speaker***:

VOICE: Nosey, your interview is finished. You're wanted elsewhere.

NOSEY: Huh? What? Who are you?

VOICE: This is your author.  I'm prepping Gander's helicopter to wing you over to Hush-Hush Island. Scram! 

NOSEY: B-but...!

VOICE: Don't argue. You're to meet new characters, fun characters, maybe even dangerous ones. I haven't decided yet.

NOSEY: *gasps* Dangerous! You can't. You just can't!

VOICE: Don't tell me what I can't do with you, mister. I'm writing up a Dr. Cold Finger as we speak.

NOSEY: B-but...!

VOICE: Didn't you hear me? I said scram! Besides, the "Blonde" is waiting.

NOSEY: *gulps* B-blonde?

VOICE: Signing off now, Nosey. On our next installment, you will be somewhere far, far away. Bwahahahah *gives evil laugh*

NOSEY: Aiiiiii! 

*******

*****************

**NOTICE:** The "Blonde" and her adventures will be written by author Connie Vines.

*****

Learn more about I.B. Nosey and Gum Drop Island in our book, cleverly titled "Ahoy, Gum Drop!"



Also, visit Nosey's blog. Because, after all, aren't you...Feeling Nosey?


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Writing Process by Connie Vines



The Writing Process

1.      What am I working on right now?
I work on multiple projects at once.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not—but rebel that I am, I do it anyway.  I’m finishing up the Second Act in my novella, Bell, Book, and Gargoyle and I’m three quarters through my anthology: Gumbo Ya Ya (an anthology for woman who like romance Cajun). While all this is going on, Rand, Book 3 in my Rodeo Romance Series in bumping around in my head. And Book 4, Crystal Thunder, in my Rodeo Romance Series is being plotted in my Dramatica Pro a thought at a time.

2.     How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I write in multiple genres and each of genres have a different “tone and focus”—in other words, a different ‘voice’.  My YA novel, Whisper upon the Water (Dream Award Winner, Nat’l Book Award nominee), is told in the 1st person.  The novel is complex; not only a coming-of-age but also a transformation of society as a whole (Tay is Apache, Nde). My heroine begins as a girl on the verge of womanhood, a member of her band, speaking her native tongue.  Kidnapped, held hostage, and manages to escape. Taken to a Native American boarding school, Tay learns a new language, skills, and encounters prejudice but also experiences kindness.  Later, she must make a very difficult choice.  Her decision will influence her life, as well as the lives of others.  The novel is written for YA level and is reading selection for the G.A.T.E. program in numerous SoCal schools, and was selected as a “Teen Read” at libraries at the time of its release.  My novel is being read by 7th grade students at an IB school this trimester, and student feedback is great!

In my Rodeo Romance Series: Lynx, Book 1, is a contemporary western romance and set in Montana and Texas. This book is lively.  Rachel is spirited and Lynx is hot and sexy—but both have had hardships in life.  My secondary characters add elements of comedy and unexpected plot twists. (Winner of the Award of Excellence, Finalist: H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose and Rocky Mt. Gold contests).  Brede, Book 2, is a western romantic suspense, set in New Mexico.  Since the novel is romantic suspense, I do not wish create a spoiler in this blog post.  I will say everyone one loves old Caldwell, the ornery old cook, and his cohorts.  Brede is strong-willed and caring; Amberlynn is beautiful and in mortal danger.  Rand, Book 3, is told in the 1st person: ChickLit meets the Wild West and goes straight to Hollywood. Lights, Camera, and a boot-full of Action! I am having, fun, fun with this novel!
Crystal Thunder, Book 4, has a more serious tone and is set in the Dakotas.

My stories are diverse, because, like most of us my life experiences are unique.

My stories take place in places I have lived, or where I have vacationed. I know my subject matter.  My father rodeoed while in high school in Texas. I grew up in a career military family and my childhood was nomadic.  I have been involved in Native America culture and educational programs. My husband is a Louisiana country boy.  I now live in SoCal—where, of course, I have met Hollywood television stars and facilitated workshops.

3.     Why do I write what I do?
The story calls to me, it is that simple.  I have a feeling of time and place.  Then I begin hearing snatches of dialogue (like when you are sitting in a coffee shop and you over hear snippets of conversation).  The story invades my life (well it does, just ask my husband).  Today, I’m listening to Zydeco music and I have gumbo in my crockpot.  I am compelled to complete the story.  Native American culture says, “The story comes to the Storyteller.  The Storyteller must bring it to life.” 

4.     How does my writing process work?
For short stories, novellas and anthologies, I utilize the basic W-plot with extra twists and pivotal points.  When I am writing a novel, or a novel series, I plot in acts and work with three chapters at a time (1-3, 4-6, etc.).  With the exception of short stories, I compile detailed backgrounds, motivation, and personality traits. I also conduct interviews, research, and immerse myself in the ‘culture/environment’ I am creating.  It is then I begin the first draft of my novel.  This will change as my characters begin to take over the book.  Any writer will agree with me, under no circumstances can you force you characters to act against his/her will.  You can, however, place huge obstacles in the way and see what happens.

Is my first draft perfect? No.  Is my third draft publishable? It’s probably close.  At this point in the writing process, if I have any bumpy spots, I’ll have writer friend look over those pages. She will give her opinion and suggestions—that I may, or may not follow (though I always give the input careful consideration).  Writing, after all, is subjective—as is a reader’s preference for one novel over another. 

To read the first chapter teasers of my novels please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Vines/e/B004C7W6PE  


My Book Trailer to Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2




Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have stop by next week at Dishin’ It Out out to read my next blog post.

Remember I.B. Nosey is posting this Friday!  The Blonde will be here on Dishin' It Out! on Saturday!

Happy Reading,

Connie Vines




Monday, November 14, 2016

There's Still Hope

In 1851, on November 14th, Herman Melville published Moby Dick. With one of the most famous opening lines in all of fiction: “Call me Ishmael,” the book was a colossal flop when it was first published. Undeterred, Melville continued to produce novels, short stories (his most famous being “Bartleby”) and poetry, but unfortunately, writing wasn’t paying the bills. In 1865, Melville returned to the daily grind and worked as a customs inspector in New York for the next twenty years. When he died in 1891, Melville had been pretty much forgotten by the literary world. However, in the 1920s, literary scholars rediscovered Melville’s work, in particular the novel about Captain Ahab and his relentless, self-destructive quest for the great white whale.


Moby Dick has now become a staple in most high schools in the United States as required reading. The rediscovery of Melville’s fiction also led to the posthumous publication of Billy Budd in 1924.
Several versions of Moby Dick have been filmed, including the classic 1956 version starring Gregory Peck as the obsessed Captain Ahab. There was a two part mini-series starring Patrick Stewart as Ahab, and even the Ron Howard movie termed “not see-worthy” which was based on the real life event, the sinking of the whaler Essex in 1820, which inspired Melville to write Moby Dick.

The point of this I guess is two-fold. Don't become obsessed with chasing white whales and there's still hope for me to become a famous author. It might not happen until long after I'm gone, but, hey...it could happen.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Classic Ginger" First Breakup

A few years ago, I entered a Valentine's contest which required I write five various articles on firsts.  As February approaches again, I've decided to trip back down memory lane and share my first silly breakup with you.  Funny how we learn what's good in life as we grow older.  :)

Borrowed from Googleimages.com
It was over.  I couldn't believe I'd cheated on my boyfriend...and with his buddy, to boot.  What was wrong with me?  I had the most handsome boyfriend in the Air Force, stationed only a few miles from my house and I blew it.  Sure, my dad didn't approve of me dating GIs, but I'd gotten my neighbor to sign my permission slip to be a Jr. Hostess at the base dances.  All those nights my parents thought I was at my friends...well, I sort of was.  :)

But those memories were gone.  I'd thrown away a blue-eyed, blond hunk for a chance to go out with someone who looked exactly like Fabian Forte, and now I hated that I'd been so stupid.  I couldn't stop crying, and Woody's phone calls, while drinking, of course (yes he was older than me), kept reminding me that I'd broken his heart.  Still I questioned how much he cared for me when he refused to call me by name because he thought I looked more like a, "Sue."  Maybe that was an omen. Still, the thought of not being with him hurt my very soul.

I went to school the following Monday, depressed, upset, and wanting to be anywhere but in a classroom trying to concentrate.  All I could think about was getting Woody back.  But how?  It didn't matter...my dreams were dashed during lunch, when I overheard a friend, Diana, talking about how she was now dating Woody since he'd tossed me in the trash.  Broken heart my buttcheek!  He hadn't wasted a minute of time getting over me.

  Although I can't say I didn't smile when I heard her tell her friend that they couldn't actually "date" for a while since he'd broken both his legs jumping off the barracks balcony after he discovered I'd cheated.  Alcohol seems to make people think they're invincible or something. My immediate thought was,   I wonder if Bill, Fabian's twin, is still available.  To shorten my story, he wasn't, but I ended up with another cutie as my next possible conquest.  It's amazing how quickly your heart heals when you're young, and there are so many possibilities.  :)

Postscript:  I still wonder what happened to Woody, and wish he hadn't had such a common name (Johnny Woods).  I'd love to know if life was kinder to him after he left the military.  I know Diana and he lasted only a short time, and she married another of our classmates and they're still wed to date.  I went on to find happiness with my first husband, and we lasted thirty-two years, so that's not a bad track record.  :)  I'm on marriage number two now and we'll celebrate our 20th this year, although we jokingly tell people it's been fifty.  God, I'm old.  I've been married longer than most people have been alive.  Don't know how that works when I'm actually 35 in my mind.

If you have time...I invite you to listen to my new favorite song that I would sing to my hubby if I could carry a tune.  :)



Who is that Blonde with I.B. Nosey? (Coming Attraction) By Connie Vines

Blonde:  I.B., my darling milacku, * gushes* I have been thinking of you since our last encounter.

Who is that Blonde with I.B. Nosey?
NOSEY.: Ah. . .* squinting* Lady I don’t remember--

Blonde: You must recall that magical time. *she pouts* We were discussing SteamPunk fiction and Zombies. My novel.

NOSEY.: SteamPunk Zombies?! *inching away* 

Blonde: Not SteamPunk Zombies! *snagging his tie* SteamPunk fiction. It is a fantasy world that employs steam power. Imagine the two of us, milacku, floating above the clouds in a lighter-than-air airship, shouting to be heard over the drone of the propellers. And the clothing, milacku. You, in your Mad Scientist Howie Lab Coat. I in my dark blue beaded flapper dress… there is a wonderful little Steampunk coffee shop in downtown Burbank. *gives provocative flutter of lashes*

NOSEY:  I, ah, *eyes bulging with fear* There are Zombies in Burbank?

Blonde:   No, of curse. . .I mean, of course not. Not yet, anyway. * tugging him nearer* Milacku, stand still. What is that nasty gray stain on your jacket lapel? I do believe I have a Tide stain stick in my Gucci handbag. *searches through bag*

NOSEY: Hey, now wait just a—

Blonde: What?

NOSEY: Is that. . that green stuff Zombie Goo?

Blonde: I.B. there is no reason to become—

NOSEY: Holy Gum Drop!  It is.  It’s--

Blonde: Almost Halloween.  Yes, I know.

NOSEY:  I remember you now.  I interviewed you.  There was a Gypsy. . .and Zombies . . .

Blonde: I.B. do not frighten our readers.  “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow” is part of my Sassy and Fun Fantasy Series published by BWL.  Available on Amazon.com.  For only pocket change.

NOSEY: Pocket change?

Blonde: Yes.  Did you download your copy?

NOSEY*tapping e-Reader hidden in jacket pocket* Yes. . . I interviewed someone in Forest Falls once. . .

Blonde: I know *gnashing teeth* that was me!

NOSEY:  Ah . . .I gotta run--

Blonde:  I sent you a basket of posies fashioned in the likeness of my little Chanel *running after him in her high heels*.  You never said thank you!  I.B.!  I.B. Nosey, to come back here!

The basket of posies The Blonde sent to I..B. Nosey


This is not THE END of the tale of I.B. Nosey and the Blonde.


 I.B. Nosey returns next month to Dishn' It Out!.  We will all discover, Who is that Blonde with I.B.?


Remember to download your copy of:  HERE TODAY, ZOMBIE TOMORROW!

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow available exclusively @ Amazon.com





 BWL- website  

This is the Coming Attraction for Saturday's feature.
Didn't you just adore my cyber-sweetie's appearance Friday on 'Dishin' It Out'?

Suspense is good for everyone!

Hop on along today's Sunday Snippet path!  You'll see me right back here on Thursday and Saturday.
The 'Blonde" will stepping onto the cyber stage.

Connie

http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/
http://connievines.blogspot.com/

http://triciamg.blogspot.com/








Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What does NaNoWriteMo Mean? by Connie Vines

National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo, "na-noh-RY-moh"), is an annual Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November.



National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

To win you must write a 50,000 word novel—from scratch—in one month. To break it up, you have to write 1,667 words a day, every day, for thirty days straight.

That’s a lot of words. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, how do you win? Here are five suggestions.

1. Write With Friends

Community can provide positive reinforcement.  I belong to Romance Writers Of America and my Orange County Chapter and others have this contest every year.


2. Write Fast

Today, writing fast is the most important thing you can do. Quantity begets quality, so write quickly today.

3. Don’t Edit

Editing is essential. Don’t be one of those writers who submits their unedited NaNoWriMo novel to publishers on December 1. But November isn’t for editing. November is for writing. The Oxford Comma and misuse of your/you’re  can wait for December.

4. Use a Timer

Your inner procrastinator may try to convince you otherwise, but there are only so many hours in November. Spend your time wisely by using a timer.

Set it for thirty minutes and see how many words you can write. Take a five minute break. Then, set it for another thirty minutes and see if you can beat your word count from last time.

5. This Isn’t Just About 50,000 Words

This is about mastering the craft of writing. Intrinsic motivation is always more powerful than extrinsic rewards, and becoming a master at something like writing is intrinsically good.

Every time you feel your energy flagging and procrastination taking over, ask yourself, “How can I get better today? What can I do to become a great writer today?”

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Please post a comment and let me know how you are doing. If you have any writing tips, please share.

I must confess that my day job prevents me (yes, it is an excuse) from meeting my daily word count. UNLESS unless I am writing a novella (this year's personal challenge), or a YA novel.  I know this keeps from participating in an actual contest but that isn't my real reason for participating.  I participate to complete my stories.

Happy Writing!

Connie




Monday, November 7, 2016

Goat? What Goat?


Anyone who has been on my either my personal or my professional persona pages at Facebook has to have figured out I am a Chicago Cubs’ fan. I have been a Cubs’ fan since I was old enough to rudimentarily understand baseball. Growing up in a family of Chicago White Sox fans wasn’t easy but I learned at a young age to say, “Wait until next year.”

Forcing Game 7
Since last Wednesday night (actually, the first small hour of Thursday morning), I have been floating. Someday finally arrived. At 12:47 local time (that’s 11:47 in Chicago), Kris Bryant charged a slow-moving ground ball in the infield, threw a freaking bullet to Anthony Rizzo at first base to get the final out of the seventh game of the World Series and for the first time in my life, and the first time since 1908, the world heard “THE CUBS ARE THE CHAMPIONS!” Surprisingly, Joe Buck said two things in that whole series I could tolerate his voice for: “There will be a game six,” and “The Cubs are the champions.”


World Series Champions--FINALLY!
I screamed. I cried. I truly dropped to my knees and cried. Ugly cried. It was not a pretty sight, but it was the most beautiful feeling in the world. My Cubbies, the team I have stuck by through thick and thin, finally, finally were the World Series champions. The best record in MLB this season wasn’t just an asterisk. The curse of the goat was broken. It took 71 years from their last World Series appearance, 108 years since the last time they won a World Series, took all seven games, took the Cubbies clawing their way back from being behind down 3 to 1 in the best of seven games, took extra innings and a rain delay—but the curse was broken.

I woke up Thursday morning and the first thing I asked my husband was, “Did that really happen last night? Did we really win?”

His smile said it all. He isn’t a Cubs’ fan—his loyalties are with the Cardinals—but he understands (or tries to) just how important this is for a Cubs’ fan. At Wrigley Field, during the week and a half of the World Series games, people were writing tributes to Cubs’ fans who didn’t see this historical win—fans who passed away without being able to celebrate. The memorials to players and broadcasters have filled my newsfeed on Facebook, as have all the video of the games. Most of the videos that have been shared with me are of that last out or the reaction of the crowd outside of Wrigley when one second before the marquee flipped to “CUBS WIN” a fan shouted, “Cubs win!” There was a bit of stunned silence as this man’s smart phone was a bit ahead of everyone else’s there. Then the marquee flipped and the roar was primal, was deep, and was full of so much joy. The long drought was finally over.


Maybe because I’m so in the habit of telling people to wait for next season that it seems strange not to say “Wait until next year” so I think I will say it, because between you, me, and that ivy clinging to the walls of the outfield at Wrigley, I’m up for back to back wins. You think you saw the “Cardiac Cubs” play great ball this year? Just wait until next year. We are a young team. 

Right now, I just want to bask in the after-glow. My Cubbies, my team, are the World Series Champions. And, they did it with guts, with determination, by refusing to quit, by never admitting they were defeated, and with teamwork. Yeah, it's great to be a part of Cub-Nation. (more fan reaction here)




Sunday, November 6, 2016

"Classic Ginger" Joke Day - Share One

thirdmonk.net
I remember my mother-in-law sharing this joke with me...and she did the accent so well, then Anita Davison, who lives in England, shared it via email....I could still hear my MIL's voice.  Of all the jokes I've heard, this ranks as one of the best.  Feel free to share you own joke.  I hear that laughing prolongs our lives.

beyondthebox.org
Historical Joke: (read with an exaggerated southern accent)

Two elegant southern belles stood in the corner of the ballroom, fanning themselves and chatting.
The first one patted her bosom. "My Gerald has been most generous. He bought me a new plantation."
Her friend continued fanning. "That's verra nice, dear, verra verra nice."

Bothered that she wasn't able to really impress her friend, the first woman fluttered her left hand. "And look, my darling, Gerald brought me this diamond ring from New Orleans."
Her friend continued fanning. "That's verra nice, dear, verra verra nice."
"And did I mention that Gerald purchased a contingent of slaves to do my bidding?"
"That's verra nice, dear, verra verra nice."
Now the woman is getting really frustrated and wanting to see a glint of jealousy on the other's face. Her rapid fanning shows her ire. "Well, dear, do tell. I've told and shown you what my Gerald has done is prove his love for me. What exactly has your husband done for you?"
Without missing a beat, the unimpressed woman grabs the side of her skirt and curtsies. "My husband sent me to charm school."
"Oh, and what exactly did you learn there?"
With a slight smile and continued fanning, the answer comes. "They taught me to say, "verra nice, dear, verra verra nice," instead of "who gives a flying f**k."

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