28 February 2011

Movie Monday- (500) Days of Summer

This movie, (500) Days of Summer stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. I had initially been made aware of this little Indie film because Joseph Gordon-Levitt had been nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Actor in a musical or comedy. He had been a child actor on “3rd Rock From the Sun”, one of my favorite comedies of the ninety’s. Zooey Deschanel is the sister of Emily Deschanel who stars in the tv show “Bones”, and has appeared in many films such as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Happening.

The heart of this story lies in the theory that even though you might find Mr. or Miss Right, it may not be a mutual discovery. Tom (Gordon-Levitt) works as a greeting card writer, who falls instantly in love with his boss’s new assistant Summer (Deschanel). And from the very beginning we are told that although this is a romance story, it I is not a love story. But I disagree, but it does teach us about love, only a different version of it.

Throughout the film, the timeline of where Tom and Summer are in their relationship flashes up to propel us along their journey. Tom is one of those romantic, wear-your-heart-on the-sleeve kind of guys and Gordon-Levitt has played him so well and convincingly that-in my mind-he is now propelled into Hottie status. Summer is a little harder to figure out. She is a woman looking for her own true love even though she tries to deny it by saying she doesn’t want to put labels on what she and Tom share.

But this story is really about Tom. In the 500 days that they have together, he runs the gamut of every facet that Love can be. Joy, hope, passion, despair, reconciliation, anger, and finally, acceptance.

Every shot and frame of this film is artistic. The director, Marc Webb, has done a fantastic job bringing each segment of this film to emotional life. It is one reason I like Indie films, because I always get done watching them with the moral or tale replaying through my head.

I won’t give anything away, but the ending, though not the happy ending one might expect, is satisfying. Tom does find his closure. And in turn leaves us realizing that the heart truly is big enough to hold all types of loves and loss.

26 February 2011

Bethcapeds- A Bug in the Ear is Worth....

Ever wonder what it feels like to have a bug inside your ear, burrowing its way toward your eardrum? No? Me neither. Until this morning, that is. I was awoken around 430ish by a sharp pain inside my ear and what sounded like “swishing”. I felt something odd fluttering around inside so I woke Brian up and had him look in my ear.

Nada, he said. He saw nothing, and being still somewhat asleep, he quickly dismissed me and went back to LaLa Land. I sat on the couch with several Q-tips trying to dig whatever it was that was nesting in my ear out. To no avail, I must admit, though I was secretly hoping that I was completely bonkers in thinking that a bug had crawled inside my ear while I lay peacefully sleeping.

Because…ew. Yuck. Gross.

After flipping through absolutely nothing on the television, the squelching in my ear stopped as did the pain, so I decided I needed to get some more sleep. Because I just had to have imagined it, right???? I grabbed my pillow and warm blanket from the bedroom and settled down on the couch. Immediately, pain shot through my ear as well as the crawly sensation of something alive deep in my ear. (Again with the ew, yuck and gross)

And when I say pain, imagine someone with a large needle or pin playing VooDoo Doll with your eardrum. That’s when I woke Brian (again) and told him I was going to the ER. So after driving with my head titled to the side (like, did I think the bug would fall out via gravity?) I arrived at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. The one good thing about visiting the ER at six am on a Saturday morning is that you can find parking in front and there’s no wait! Of course, after I’m admitted and sitting in a triage room with a gown on does the damn bug decide to go toward the light (in this case, out of the ear canal) where I felt it wiggling it’s way up. I scooped him out with my nail just as the Doctor walked in. Great. He looked in my ear and said that there’s still a wing left behind.

Really? A wing? I had an insect wing in my ear! Ew. Yuck. Gross. A hundred bucks later I walk out of the ER, sans pain and creepy crawly things, thank goodness, but I decided to keep it. I should have the damn thing dipped in gold. The Good Doc said I did the right thing and that I was lucky…he’d seen stuff like full grown roaches in people’s ears. W…T…F? How do you not feel a huge roach going into your ear????

Now, I need a nap but paranoia is now my copilot. Damn bugs.

23 February 2011

Jillian Chantal's new book and hero!

First, I want to thank Beth for having me here today. I read her blog a lot and am privileged to be part of it today. Let's have some fun and a give away.

My second book published with Book Strand Publishers is called Surfer Bride and was released on February 22, 2011. The name comes from one of the lines in the book. My heroine's a professional surfer. She's the world champion long board surfer caught up in a scandal. She picks up a newspaper one day and reads the headline- it refers to her as Surfer Bride and she immediately says, "What an awful title." So, I couldn't resist using it for the title of the book.

Speaking of the book and inspiration for the title reminds me of my inspiration for the hero, Finn. I'm a member of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Romance Writer's of America. At the first meeting I ever attended, the fabulous Cynthia Eden bebopped over to my table and introduced herself to me. She and I hit it off immediately and became friends. She's a doll and such a fun person. One day last summer, we were talking about Mark Strong. He's an actor that usually plays villains or anti-heroes. We were talking about how hot and sexy we thought he was and bemoaning the fact that he was always the bad guy (he's so good at it). I said, "Someone needs to write a story where he's the hero." Cynthia looked at me and said, "You do it." So, I did. He's definitely the inspiration for the hero in this book. One error that almost got through the editing process was that I initially described him as brown eyed as Mark is in real life. Later in the book, I decided that green would be better due to something the heroine says. Neither I nor my editor caught it the first set of edits. The night after I sent in the first edits, at 3 am, I woke up in a panic- checked the manuscript, and sure enough, big boo-boo. I fixed it and went back to bed. I love the way the subconscious works but that's another blog post for another day.

Check out Mark Strong's filmography at http://www.imdb.com and check out his pictures. He's one fine man! Now, mind you, the hero of my book has hair, but Mark is sexy with or without the hair.

The book can be ordered here: http://www.bookstrand.com/jillian-chantal
To watch the book trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVPI7QrsF0A

I'd like to give away a Live, Love, Surf magnet to one commenter- For a chance to win, leave me a comment on which bad boy actor you'd like to see become a hero. I'll have random.org pick a winner tomorrow at noon.
You can find me here: http://www.jillianchantal.wordpress.com and email me here: JillianChantal@gmail.com or tweet me http://twitter.com/JillianChantal

21 February 2011

Matched- A Book Review

The reviews of this book has it being a ripoff from the novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, and even though there is a lot of similarities, the tone and feel of “Matched” is completely unique.

“Matched” is the story of Cassia, a girl who has grown up in a society that is ruled by the Officials, where everything is based on calculations. Officials calculate who would be each other’s perfect husband, what job is best suited to whom, even when is the best age to die. Because of their perfect analysis of humans, disease is completely wiped away, crime no longer exists, and everyone is well provided for.

Except, of course, if you break the rules. They you could be cited, given an Infraction, and if you get too many you might be labeled an Aberration and thus unable to be matched and given a low standing labor job.

In this world, the Officials have done away with writing, art, poetry, music, everything that invokes free thinking and feeling. In this society, emotions are regulated as well as love.

Cassia is matched to her best friend Xander, but as she looks at his datacard, another face pops up as well, another boy named Ky. Confused, because the Officials are not to supposed to make any mistakes, Cassia begins to look at Ky differently, to learn about him, and discovers he holds many secrets. He can write, he has stories to tell, and is labeled an Aberration, unable to become a full citizen because his father was a fighter in the Outer Provinces.

But these two people defy the odds and fall in love. They risk their freedom and lives to be together. And when Ky is taken away because of that love, then Cassia vows to find him. She rebels against what she has known her whole life in order to love Ky.

This novel lingers with you for several reasons. First, the writing is engaging, thought provoking. There isn’t a lot of action in this story, mostly it weaves through Cassia’s journey from being totally in support of The Officials and Society to realizing that love is worth any risk, any price. Second, while this book is like other dystopian works, Ally Condie has really brought her characters to life. The love between Ky and Cassia is real; it’s almost heartbreaking at times. But her relationships with others around her is equally engaging.

“Matched” is the first book in a trilogy so, while the ending is satisfying for now, Cassia’s story is not done and I look forward to reading her journey.

17 February 2011

In Dreams by Z.A. Maxfield

The other day, I dreamed I was responsible for teaching a cooking class. I don't remember why I was doing it. The students were mostly seniors, and it was a dream that had somehow spun off another dream. As usual, at the time it made perfect sense. :D

I think I had a huge pot of berries, all different kinds, fresh spring strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and maybe some other kinds like Marionberries. I don't know why I was cooking them, except to concentrate them a little and make them pop. Maybe I wanted make them a syrupy to serve over ice cream.

I saw that they were still mostly whole, just shiny and warm and sweeter, as if the heat had concentrated their juices, but watery. I handed them off to my assistant -- someone in the group -- and said, “Go drain these off,” as if it were just a matter of pouring off water or something.

While he or she did that, I chatted with the group. We were talking about how a fresh berry topping is wonderful on pancakes and I invited the class with me to go to tan ice cream place to try it like that. But then a lady I didn't know brought my dish back to me and when I opened the lid, it wasn't whole berries, they'd been pureed, and there was something in them that made them the wrong color -- as if they'd added a dairy product.

I wondered how it would taste, so I tried it. Well. It wasn't the same as what I'd imagined at all, but I thought it tasted all right. Then someone else produced a giant bowl of whole-wheat pasta and said it would be best to serve my berry sauce on that. @.@

I woke up with the idea that the analogy of creating something, then having to watch and wait while others reduce it, add to it, and serve it up in ways I never dreamed is a lot like my work as a writer. Each person who reads my work, from agents, to acquiring editors, to primary editors, to line editors, and proofers will see an entirely different story. And they might need me to change it. (Seriously, I have discovered this is not necessarily a bad thing.)

Readers live in the same world I do, but we all have vast and varied experiences. When they sit down to read a book, they bring everything they know to the party. As each person reads my book they imbue it with layers and layers of different meanings, motivations, and messages whether I put them there or not. It’s a fascinating process, and not one for the faint of heart.

As a writer, the thing I hold on to, the thing I need to have on my desktop for when the going gets rough, is this quote from Franz Kafka:

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

Even when I make changes, and I make a LOT of changes, it’s always with this thought in mind, because in the end, it’s hard to regret anything if you know you did what you knew in your heart was right.

-ZA Maxfield’s links
Website: http://zamaxfield.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ZAMaxfield
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ZAMaxfield/165809416786338
Livejournal: http://abstractrx.livejournal.com/

14 February 2011

Just Say It! by Belinda McBride

As I’m sitting down to write for Beth’s blog, my 22 year old niece is in the room next to me, screaming her lungs out.

Sound’s pretty dire, eh? Yes, she’s 22 and screaming, but she’s got Angelman’s Syndrome, a genetic defect that includes autism, (which is rare in girls) seizure disorder and mental retardation. Why is she screaming? Honestly, I don’t know, but usually it means she’s hurting or that there’s a big cluster of sh*t on the horizon. Most likely a big seizure or the flu.

The major issue here is that something is wrong and she lacks the ability to tell us what it is.

Can you imagine lacking the part of the brain that regulates communication? I write about love and relationships, and in fantasy, as well as in life, our success is based on our ability to convey our needs, our emotions and our desires. Oddly, the issue that I have the most trouble with in my personal relationships is…communication. Under stress or confrontation, I tend to either lash out or walk away. When someone compliments me, I’m never certain how to take it. I have no idea how to comfort someone, beyond being there. And it’s very difficult for me to express my love for another.

Some of our ability to communicate is inborn. Some of that ability must be learned. I was raised in a family that walked in fear of the patriarch. Dad wasn’t big on sharing feelings…LOL! Mostly he had two emotions…surly and angry. Surly wasn’t so bad, generally he was watching TV then and didn’t want to be bothered. Angry…well, he’d come looking for something (or someone) to take it out on. He wasn’t physically abusive, but ours was not a warm and fuzzy household when he was around. (He was a long-haul trucker, so mostly, we were spared.)

My own marriage didn’t last long, but I determined to raise my children with more open communication and sharing of feelings than I was raised with. Was I perfect? Absolutely not. But I mastered the ability to say, “I love you” to my kids. It never became a habit, and I found that every time I say or write it, I feel it and I mean it. As I watch the girls stumble through life and love, I see that they aren’t afraid to express their emotions, so it appears that my mission was accomplished with some degree of success.

Today is the big V day…the day to show love to your sweetie, as well as your friends and family. Make it deliberate, make it intentional. Most of all, say the words because you mean them. Say it even if you aren’t feeling it at the moment, because that’s when we need to say it the most. That’s when our loved ones need to hear it the most as well.

And it doesn’t hurt to throw in a flower or two as well. :-) Happy Valentines Day!

-Belinda McBride lives in far northern California. She shares her some with her family and a pack of unruly Siberian Huskies. She writes erotic speculative fiction for Loose Id, Changeling Press, Dreamspinner Press and Passion in Print.

Please visit her website at: http://www.belindamcbride.com
Or her blog at http://www.belindam.blogspot.com

"Dos Lunas"

Middle brother Diego Lobos has everything he needs. Friends, family, a
business, even a great truck, yet there's always a hole inside him that
won't be filled. When cool, controlled Victoria Talbot brings in a
badly stained dress, he knows she's the one to fill that space. Can he
trust her with his secrets if she hides her own?
This is part of the print anthology LUCKY IN RED.


Victoria Talbot chewed her pencil as she viewed the footage playing out on her
laptop. Figures moved in and out of camera range, sometimes silhouetted under the light of the full moon. They were eerily familiar, yet she couldn't quite identify them.

There was some distance between the camera and its subjects, but it recorded laughter and snatches of conversation, mostly in Spanish. There were three men, all similar enough in appearance to be brothers. They were tall and well built. All three had dark hair, but she couldn't make out their features. She frowned, tilting her head as one man knelt, picking up a stone and tossing it into the woods. A handsome profile was momentarily etched against the moonlit sky. Her heart leapt. She
knew him! Well, maybe they'd never met, but he was so familiar. She leaned forward, willing him to turn his head, to look toward the camera, but he remained hauntingly aloof.

Without any preliminaries, the man vanished. He simply wasn't there. A smudgy cloud of smoke whirled and coalesced until a wolf emerged where the man had been. The pencil snapped in half between her teeth.

She clutched the broken pencil in her sweaty palm and kept watching as the scene repeated itself, until there were no more men in the image, only smoke, and then great, dark wolves.

One raised his head to the moon and howled, prompting the other two to join in an
impromptu melody. They shook their luxuriant coats, romped for a moment, and then vanished from view, leaving only a lingering image of the heavy white moon and an empty clearing. And then the screen went blank.

"Goddamn son of a fucking bitch."

Victoria pushed back her chair, dropping her head between her knees, breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth. Once she'd recovered her equilibrium, she sat up and started the clip again. And then she watched it again and again--and again.

***Available NOW
***Buy at:http://passioninprint.com/ShowBook.php?CR=SS_DOSLUNAS

09 February 2011

Eroticia Romance in Verse

Experimentation is what helps an author to grow. It allows them to stretch beyond their comfort zone and broaden their skills. And an author’s mission, at least in my opinion, is always to broaden those skills.

An author never stops learning. Regardless of what genre you write, there is always something new to learn. But one of the best ways to learn it is to branch out into something different. When you pare down your writing to the essence of the words, switching genres or even lengths helps to uncover new means of presenting the same story.

I experiment like this all the time. Along with writing romance (all subgenres), fantasy, and young adult, I also test the waters for other genres. My one attempt at horror failed miserably, and I seem to have trouble writing mystery if it isn’t a subplot hidden beneath a larger arcing plot. I’ve experimented with points of view, writing in third person omniscient (most of my works are third person limited), using two points of view in first person perspective (separating those by chapter), and trying out second person point of view.

Every now and again, I revisit my quest to write something in a way no one has before. I take a look at what’s been done and try to brainstorm new ways.

That’s how His Smoldering Eyes came to be. This free read, found at http://www.lbelow.net/lkbelow/books/free-reads/his-smoldering-eyes , began when I asked myself, “What can I do that no one has potentially done before?”

Now, I’ve read quite a few novels written in verse. But these have been young adult or mainstream novels. I’ve even read erotic poetry (largely from the Restoration era or ancient Greece and Rome, but some modern poets as well). However, one thing I’ve never seen is an erotic romance novel written in verse.

Some people -- my boyfriend included -- look at me and tell me than a novel written in verse is essentially poetry, and therefore has been done. Maybe it takes a connoisseur of both poetry and erotic romance, but I see a difference. Writing a novel in verse is different from writing poetry, even long poetry. Books written in verse bridge the gap between poetry and the popular mass market paperbacks found on the shelves. They have many plot devices and other things in common with normal books, but are written in a more poetic style.

When I sat down to write His Smoldering Eyes, I was thinking about how I’ve never read an erotic novel written in verse. I was thinking about how it might be a challenge to write one -- and I love nothing better than a challenge. And lastly, I was thinking about the act of sex -- which can be poetic in itself.

But, as with all of my experiments, I need feedback in order to know whether it was a success or not. I highly encourage you to take a peek at this short erotic story and let me know -- do you enjoy stories told in this format? Would you read a longer book in the same style? I can be reached through email at lbelow(at)lbelow.net.

And now, for those writers out there reading this -- go! Experiment! Regardless of whether or not the end result is a success, you’ll be able to knock one more thing off your “things I haven’t tried” list. And good luck!

-L. K. Below writes poetry, romance, and speculative fiction. Under her full name, Lindsay Below, she pens young adult novels. Visit her online at www.lbelow.net or at her blog at http://lbelow.blogspot.com.

06 February 2011

Welcome Josephine Templeton

When the opportunity arose for me to participate in Beth Carter’s Guest Blogging venture, I leapt before I looked. I am not an everyday Blogger. I am extremely cautious about what I put online, and so after she confirmed my participation, the thought occurred to me – what am I supposed to write about??

After about a day of pondering, the solution hit my while listening to an online interview of one of my teenage heroes, Simon LeBon. I hope you enjoy my trip down memory lane as I contemplate a lifetime of My Favorite Things. Perhaps it shall give us all insight as to what makes Josephine Templeton tick!

The road to creativity began with Elvis Presley. I remember as a young child watching his movies. Or perhaps I should say, dancing around and jumping on the couch while watching his movies. In particular, I love Jailhouse Rock – not only because of the lively beat but because of the line ”Little Joe was blowing on the slide trombone” … for obvious reasons.

This is about the time I wrote my first story. It was about a witch, and my sister Joan never lets me forget that I had a nightmare about it that same night.
I’m a little blurry on when some of this list became part of my all time favorites.

Movies - The Sound of Music, Romeo & Juliet, and Indiana Jones.
Books - The Hobbit (and all subsequent J.R. Tolkien works), the V.C. Andrew’s series beginning with Flowers in the Attic, Little Women (I associated a lot with the main character Jo, who was also a writer, and Beth because one of my older sisters is named Beth.) and many romance novels.

TV Shows - I used to love The Dukes of Hazzard (Bo Duke in particular), and Moonlighting with Bruce Willis. Since all my siblings were out of the house by the time I became a teenager, my summer up-all-night-fests started with Star Trek and ended with The Rockford Files. I played solitaire until the TV stations signed off at midnight, then listened to the radio and read or wrote until I fell asleep.

I loved country music until high school started. Then I gradually lost touch with it for the next four years. My country favorites included Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn. Then, Duran Duran entered my life when my brother Bill took me to their concert in the 9th grade. I was hooked and am still a Durannie. I bought everything I could afford – from albums to buttons. The walls in my room became a shrine to John Taylor and Simon LeBon. To say I was “gaga” over them is putting it mildly. I still have everything but the albums – they got left/ruined in the attic of the first house I owned. Now I am very cautious with what goes in the attic.

My second favorite band during high school was Berlin, and when they came to Baton Rouge in concert, I was lucky enough to have met them. I was on a natural high for days, and I proudly showed the pictures I took with Terri Nunn and John Crawford to everyone!

As an adult, I have many more favorites. I wrote a lot of poems and short stories in high school but stopped from the time I graduated until my ten year high school reunion. I got back on the wagon and am so glad I did. The TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer spurred me to expand upon a short story I had written, and it blossomed into my vampire romance novel, Forever Yours. After I finished that, I wrote Convicted of Love, my historical romance set in Louisiana.

These days, I am writing freelance articles for 008 Magazine in Lafayette, Louisiana and Town Favorites in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I also have two completed but as yet unpublished novels – a pirate romance and an urban fantasy with romantic elements.

In retrospect, the most favorite thing in my life thus far is my husband, Mike. While our life has been one huge rollercoaster ride, I have to say that love has seen us through many rough times. So when I get the “look” from people about writing romance, I brush it off. Money may make the world go round, but Love gives us the courage and strength to deal with every day issues.

Thanks for asking me to blog, Beth!
Josephine Templeton

02 February 2011

The Dating Game by Roz Lee

I’ll admit it. I’m not an expert on the dating scene. I found my man thirty-five years ago, and I’ve been married to him for over thirty-two of those years. An article in a Los Angeles newspaper got me thinking about how hard it is to find someone to love these days. Four career women are suing the computer dating service they signed with for breach of contract. They claim the company took their money and provided inferior service. Among their complaints were the men they were paired with did not fit the criteria the women set forth. One woman said the only match they found for her was a man who lived in San Diego. Since she lives in Los Angeles, it was a deal breaker for her. She wondered if there weren’t any eligible bachelors in Los Angeles. Another complained that matching her with someone a decade younger, and who aspired to having children, wouldn’t work since she had clearly stated she was beyond her childbearing years.

If their claims are true I’d have to say they have a case. But what got my attention was the amount of money they paid for this matchmaking service. One woman claimed to have forked over $35,000. Again, I’m no expert, but this seemed like an excessive amount for a service that used to be provided for free by well meaning friends, neighbors and relatives.

Back in the day—after dinosaurs and before computers—we relied on a much simpler network to find a mate. A good number of us were successful, and it didn’t cost us a dime. Our world was smaller then. The pool of available males was confined to the ones we met at school, church, work, and when we were older, the local bar. The free matchmaking services mentioned earlier added a smattering of new flesh to the pool.

Today, computer-dating services are everywhere, and the new matchmaker on the block, the internet has taken the middleman out of the equation. Log on, fill out a form, pay the fee and hit ‘send’. Within seconds, you have a list of like-minded people who are also looking for love. So why is it so hard to actually find love?

Back when—because we understood the limitations on our search, I think we took the time to look beyond the surface to see the real person. Today’s methods expand the shopping from one store to a whole mall, and like looking for the perfect dress, sometimes there is just too much to choose from. We know we can’t try them all on, so we dismiss the majority based on a quick glance. Have you ever taken a chance on a dress you weren’t so sure of on the rack, but once you tried it on, you fell in love with it?

I know the single women out there can’t try on every guy they see. There are just too many choices, but I’m wondering if there isn’t a simpler way to find a guy. Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year, a holiday that lasts fifteen days. In certain areas, there is a custom I find intriguing. On the fifteenth day, single women write their name on an orange and throw it in the river. Single men fish the oranges out of the water. It’s a low-tech way to meet someone new, but if the high-tech way isn’t working for you, perhaps you should try throwing an orange in the river. Happy New Year!

In my debut novel, THE LUST BOAT, Candace has been burned by love, but if Ryan can convince her to give him a chance, they both might find what they’ve been looking for. THE LUST BOAT is available now from www.eredsage.com. Visit me at my website – www.rozlee.net.

Please leave a comment! I’d love to hear your take on The Dating Game, and a big thanks to Beth for inviting me over to play today!