Monthly Archives: March 2010

Redux

Okay, a few weeks ago I wrote about The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. I read the book. Tonight I saw the movie, and I feel like I can tell you what Paul Harvey always called “the rest of the story.”

Movies and books are two different entities. I know this, although I’ve never written a screenplay. When I was a kid and would see a movie based on a book I’d read, I’d sometimes take the book with me to the movie theater, intending to follow along. Sometimes it would work. Often it wouldn’t. I didn’t realize at that time the difference between a novel and a novelization. So I didn’t understand why the book Benji was exactly like the movie while the book Little Women was so different.

I have said from the beginning that, as a writer, The Last Song intrigued me because of the way it was written. The screenplay was written first, therefore, how could the book be anything but a novelization of the movie?

How indeed. I’m still puzzled. And impressed. The movie stands on its own. While both book and movie use the same characters and tell the same story, the book goes much deeper into the motivation of the characters, telling a story of love, family and devotion. The movie, on the other hand, uses some amazing scenery and draws on the talents of the actors to depict the story with just as much intensity of emotion.

I foresee some awards in this movie’s future. Miley Cyrus has definitely broken away from Hannah Montana. In my opinion (very humble though it is), Greg Kinnear did some of his best acting yet. But the Oscar (again, just my opinion), should go to Bobby Coleman, who played Jonah, the little brother of Cyrus’s Ronnie. Jonah was one of the constants for me in both book and movie — my favorite character in both.

Other highlights of the movie include a pretty cool fire juggling scene (though this was not as integral a part of the movie as it was the book — to my disappointment); a hilarious portrayal by Nick Searcy of “Tom Blakelee”, whose slightly clueless character I enjoyed much more in the movie than the more straightforward good dad in the book; and Carly Chaikin as “Blaze”. I have a feeling she’s an actor worth following, though, again, her character did not play as integral a part as she did in the book. Oh, and let’s not forget Liam Hemsworth, who was the epitome of “Will Blakelee”.

Overall, another winner for Sparks. The book debuted as a number one bestseller, and I look forward to hearing that The Last Song, which follows close on the heels of Sparks’ number one movie Dear John, has led the box office for this weekend. Go see it. It’s good, and it’ll make you cry.

Clean those tear ducts out.

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Save the Bees

My Haagen Dazs Bee

I’m taking a break from boring you guys about my novel (which is still with the line editor, anyway) to tell you about an issue that terrifies me, not only because it could be horrific for all of us, but because it’s getting so little attention in the mainstream media.

Seems like, if something was happening that would threaten one-third of our food supply, it might be a mainstream media issue, doesn’t it? Seems like, if this issue had been steadily growing worse over a four year period, it might get a little attention, right? And maybe, just maybe, if that problem suddenly got three times worse, it might make the evening news.

Yet nobody cares about the honeybees. They’re quietly dying, taking with them the art form of pollination, and nobody’s paying any attention. According to studies, a variety of pesticides have been found in the pollen and wax of beehives in 23 states. Fortunately, that pesticide doesn’t affect the pollen and honey people consume, right?

Wrong. If these pesticides are getting into the bees’ food chain and driving them away from hives causing colony collapse disorder, guess what? Bees die, plants die. We could lose one-third of our food supply and that’s not even taking into account the loss of food for other animals that we use for food. Hey, maybe there’d be no more hamburgers or chicken nuggets, either.

Might solve the obesity crisis, at least.

Some interesting reading on this subject:
The Bee Project
Bad Winter Deepens Worsening Bee Crisis
Save the Bees Petition
Help Save the Bees
Help the Honey Bees (from Haagen Dazs, pretty cool site, you can even build your own bee, which I finally figured out how to post, see above.)

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Your Mandala

Things are really speeding up with my novel, at least that’s how it seems at the moment. I’ve written my dedication and acknowledgments, which was quite simply the funnest thank you note I’ve ever written. Now the manuscript is with a line editor, and I’m quaking because I don’t know quite what to expect. “Line editor” sounds sort of frightening.

So, with my latest literary endeavor still pending, I’ve been looking back at some of my old ones. You can see a few under “My Stories” to the right. These are all online and free, so have a look if you’re interested. Some are better than others, and a few might shock you. :) Most are really short, either micro- or flash fiction. Somebody once described flash fiction to me as “being afraid of words” (sorry, I can’t remember which one of my friends it was, but if you want to step forward and claim it, I’ll be happy to attribute that quote). I don’t actually agree. Flash fiction was an essential step in my development as a writer. Flash fiction writers learn to write concisely, digging out the heart of the story.

One of my favorite stories actually qualifies as a short story. I’ve seriously considered trying to convert it to a screenplay, but that’s a whole new kind of writing I have yet to experiment much with. The story is “Your Mandala”. I loved this story from the moment I wrote it because the characters spoke through me rather than me speaking for them. Plus, it was the first story since third grade that actually won a contest. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Last, but not least, I finished a book by a friend. Gone is the last book in Lisa McMann’s bestselling Wake trilogy. Though technically classified as “Young Adult”, I can tell you there’s plenty there for adults. My favorite of the three was the second, Fade, but Gone wound up the trilogy in the best possible way. Loved every word and read all of them!

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Shakespeare revisited

If you’ve already bought your copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works, get ready to take it to the used bookstore. Surprise. Scholars have discovered another one. Check it out here: Lost Shakespeare.

What gets me is not so much that Shakespeare’s got another contender for the bestseller list nearly four centuries after his death, but that there are people who actually care. Shakespeare did what every serious writer wants to do: he’s lived long past his death through his words. I mean, how cool is that? Even I, chicklit and romance writer that I am, would love to think that someday, even twenty years after my death, people might still be reading things I wrote. Four hundred years? Well, that would be cool, too.

William Shakespeare might not have been trying, either. Although I’m not an expert, I think Shakespeare was a working writer. Respected, yes. Acclaimed as a genius, no. At least not during his lifetime. Quite possibly, Shakespeare was just a man with talent who was trying to earn an honest dollar doing something he loved. And yet his work lives. I know that for a fact. My high school teacher made me read some of it.

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Myself as a reader

I just finished The Last Song, and the most important thing I can say is, I read every word.

To understand that statement, you have to know what kind of reader I am. When I was a kid, I read everything word for word. I even read the typos because it felt dishonest not to. I never liked to be without a book, preferably a novel, preferably from the mystery or sci-fi genres. I didn’t just devour these books. I savored every word and phrase. It might take me a couple of months to finish one book, but during those months I was happy, lost in that other world. My nose, literally, almost always in a book.

When did it change? I wail to the sky. When did I lose that ability to lose myself in a book? Was it motherhood or was it getting serious about writing my own books? Either one might have caused it, but I imagine it was a combination. After all, between those two, my opportunities for reading are confined to a few minutes before bed (unless I’m working at that time) and in the mornings when I’m brushing my teeth and combing my hair.

I still read when I can, but I read differently now. I usually scan the first chapter or two, then I (gasp) skip to the end. If it looks like a good ending and I’m intrigued by how the writer got there, I go back and start reading. Sometimes I read for a while, scan when the book loses my interest and go back to reading. Sometimes I skip forward and backward. Sometimes I completely lose track of where I was. Then I have to figure out whether the story is worth continuing. After all, I already know how it ended.

How did I read The Last Song? Obviously, as I’ve said before, I was intrigued by how the book came into being. I started out and read the first chapter. Then, realizing I really wanted to know what happened to the main character, I skipped ahead and scanned the last chapter. Yes, I thought, I want to know how they get here. So, I started reading. For the most part, I managed to keep myself on track, only getting impatient a few times and skipping ahead a few pages to find out if what I hoped would happen actually did. And when I finally closed the covers and emerged from that world, I added The Last Song to a pile of books that is a dying breed: Books I have read word for word.

What other books have I read word for word? The Harry Potter series (although I did read the last chapter of book 7 first), Watership Down, Little Women, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, Pet Semetary, Wake, and (quite) a few others.

What’s the next book I’m planning to read word for word? Mine. Secrets of the Lotus by Michelle Garren Flye. I’m about halfway through it now in an attempt to make sure I don’t miss any mistakes.

If I weren’t the author, would I read it?

Interesting question.

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