Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
So, I didn't actually see any movies this weekend because we went on a weekend family vacation. Often, we'll rent movies in the hotel, but we were so blasted tired by the time we got back to the room, that we passed out soon after our girls :-). Those of you with kids know that a vacation with kids, isn't so much a "vacation" in the sense of relaxation. It's one of those vacations that you need a vacation from.
I decided therefore to talk about how my writing tends to be more influenced by television and movies than reading, which in turn, brings me into the topic about why I have not always been an avid reader (as I mention in the About Me tab of the blog). This will be the longest post I probably EVER have so please don't be intimidated to come back!! :-)
When I sat down to think about why I did not grow up loving reading, I had to really dig deep and think about the why's behind it and what I have found is that I'm not totally sure I can attribute it to any one thing, but several.
Reading, from my earliest experience/memory, was something I remember being associated with work. I never really loved school, wasn't one of those kids that it all came easy to. My entire scholastic career (up to my masters in elementary education) was always a struggle for me. I even wanted to quit high school when I was 16, but my father somehow convinced me to stay in and I'm glad he did. But why did I hate school and reading so much? Because my teachers did not inspire me. Period. Education is quite different now then it was back then (at least here in NY, which I know because I have taught in the system). Back when I was in school, reading for me was associated with an assignment, usually a book report which I DREADED. I found it very hard to read a book and summarize it. I remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew books and loving them, but I read them not just for pleasure, but for homework. As I said, school was always a bit hard for me (and truth be known...I was also dealing with a lot of emotional issues that stemmed from having an alcoholic mother who was constantly in and out of my life--my father raised me from the time I was 6).
I also believe that there wasn't the availability of the great and amazing amount of MG and YA literature back then that there is now. At least I don't remember ever being introduced to it. And when we read in school, we often all read the same thing as a class and it didn't matter what level reader you were. Instruction was not differentiated back then, which meant the lower level readers had to try and keep up with the same stuff that the more advanced readers were flying through with ease. Talk about a struggle!
Another reason I believe I was not an avid reader was because books weren't a huge part of my home life. My father was always a reader, but he was a reader of Non-fiction (mostly biographies and autobiographies), and newspapers (which to this day, he reads 2-3 newspapers cover to cover every day). Obviously, as a kid, current events was not all that interesting and again, it was associated with school: Read an article from a newspaper and summarize what you learned. Bleh. How friggin' boring!!!!
Another major, contributing reason (and maybe one of the biggest) was television. Not that I sat in front of the tv all day because those of you old enough to remember, before VCRs and DVR and all the other VRs in the world, there was only a limited time to watch kid shows and if you missed it, you missed it. No rewinding, no recordings to watch it later, no hitting a button on the remote control to give you a menu of all your saved shows. Television dramatically changed during my childhood with the invention of cable. We went from having 7 channels to God knows how many. I even remember sitting around my living room with the Rock Reggae band from England that my dad was managing at the time to watch the very first music video ever (back when MTV was actually about music :-)). I found television to be very entertaining and easy to enjoy and it wasn't associated with school! It was pure pleasure and therefore I was drawn to it.
There's also the fact that I kind of grew up in the heart of NYC. I spent more time indoors than I believe kids in suburbs do. I had a place to hang out with my friends in the building (a large plaza area that was private to residents), but there was no playing in the driveway or riding bikes with friends around the neighborhood. It wasn't safe to hang out in the streets of Hell's Kitchen when I was a kid. I went to the theater growing up (and to see amazing ballet performances and concerts at Lincoln Center) with my grandmother who adored the theater experience. I also went to a LOT of movies because that was the big thing to do for me and my friends. Every weekend we'd go to the movies (I grew up 3 blocks from Times Square)--sometimes we'd see 2 movies if we could sneak into another movie in the theater unnoticed. I also sort of grew up in the entertainment industry. I had an agent when I was younger and went to a lot of auditions, but I was just too nervous in front of the camera to ever land a real role (though I did shoot one commercial for Honey Comb cereal, but I'm not sure if it ever made it to screen). My father (and many of his friends) was a stand up comic for many of the early years of my life and later many of my father's friends went on to become writers of many well known programs, and my father went on to become...well, himself, for which you can discover who he is here (I'm pluggin' for ya daddy-oh :-) haha, and yes, I used to be a blonde LOL) so I was constantly surrounded by that world and still am to an extent, as I have a lot of people I grew up with that have gone on to become very successful actors who I love watching on television and on the big screen. I even studied acting at the famous Actor's Institute for a time because I thought that was the path I wanted to go and God knows I had some crazy connections in that world, but alas, it was not what I wanted to do even though I was told I had talent for it. I tried to picture myself in California, living the life that actors live and I realized it was not what I felt would be a fulfilling life for me.
I think my experience and love for acting (even though I chose not to pursue it as a career) further influenced my love for movies and television and to this day, I LOVE watching both.
I dont' think it's true that you have to be an avid reader to be a great writer. Although, now that I have discovered a new found love for reading, I do believe that it can only further add to my ever developing skills in the art of writing. I think what makes a good writer is the ability to tell a kick ass story (no mater what the genre) and some basic knowledge of grammar and writing mechanics. I read a LOT of plays during my years, especially while studying acting, and I think that it has really helped me in my ability to write dialogue. I also have the most important thing that any writer needs and that is 1. a good imagination, and 2. life experiences. And part of my life experiences that I believe has helped me in my writing is all the movies and television I've seen because when I write (and even when I read), it only works if I can see it like a movie in my head.
It's funny that writing has come in to my life not too long after a real love for reading has. I do see now that they are intertwined, but I believe that I do have a knack for this writing thing and it didn't come from a life time of reading, but a life time of experiences and yes...television and movies. As an example, when I tried to figure out how I came up with my story, what it was that influenced my idea for the story, plot and characters, I realized that my book can be best described as X-Men meets Girl Interrupted with a large slice of Taken. Reading is now a very important part of my life (although I still tend to stay away from all things poetry, but that my friends is a sad story for another post) and I know as I read more and catch up on a lot of great literature that I have missed over the years, it will only add to my experience and make my writing that much stronger. But I will always have a very strong passion for televsion and cinema and I for one don't believe there is anything wrong with that.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
26 Aug 2010
26 Aug 2010
|Photo by Hubert Schriebl|
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
If you haven't read chapter 1, you can read it here. And feel free to leave a comment or feedback if you'd like :-). Or you can click on the link at the top of the page that says WIP chapter 1.
So, this is my first teaser that shows something that's not part of chapter 1. The only people who have seen anything other than chapter 1 are my BETA readers so this is extremely nerve racking for me! Okay so this is the opening scene from Chapter 2. It takes place in the cafeteria of Alina Lodge, which is a facility for troubled teenage POPs (Person of Powers). These kids aren't necessarily mentally unstable. They are there because they have "issues" or have gotten into some trouble with the law (usually for using their powers for illegal means). Also, if you haven't read chapter 1, you should know that when Sam (Samantha) and Josh are talking in italics, they are talking telepathically.
Here is what I learned: To turn off the curly quotes so they are straight ones,
1) Go into the Tools menu and click on AutoCorrect
2) Click on AutoFormat as You Type
3) Uncheck the box that says, "straight quotations marks" with "smart quotation marks"
Now I had to figure out how to change all the quotation marks in my ms without going one by one cause God knows that would have taken a year! So, I posted another "How do I..." question over at the ever reliable AW website in the Tech Help forum and again, I received the help I needed from some very smart people. It wasn't as hard as I thought. Here is the Microsoft link that someone referred me to: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/change-curly-quotes-to-straight-quotes-and-vice-versa-HP005190124.aspx?redir=0 I'll be honest, that I actually found it easier, since I had changed to straight quotes and had changed a few of them manually in the document, to highlight one of the curly quotes in my document, go to the Edit menu, click on Find, paste it in the Find box and then hit Replace with tab and type in my straight quote and then hit replace all and voila, my entire ms was replaced with straight quotes (over 4000 of them :))
So, that's the tip of the day, hope it has helped someone and that I continue to discover I'm not the only lost soul with this computer stuff.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Yesterday I was riding in the car on the way to a wedding and my husband played a song I LOVE called As Fast As You Can by Fiona Apple http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbxqtbqyoRk&feature=av2n
I absoltuely LOVE this artist. Her album, When the Pawn, is one of my all time favorites. I can listen to that cd from beginning to end. Every single song on it is amazing. But the thing I really love about her music and lyrics is the raw emotion and passion behind every song. It is a very YA album to me because many of her songs deal with relationships and all the intense and raw emotions that one deals with during those early times of one's life. I listen to her songs and I can hear/feel her sadness, anger, desperation, frustration, etc. She had a pretty tough life early on which is both fascinating and gruesome. You can read about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiona_Apple
As I was listening to this particular song in the car, it suddenly dawned on me that Fiona Apple's music was a huge influence in the creation of the MC in my current WIP. My MC, Sam is hard, tough, angry, sarcastic and doesn't easily trust...on the outside. On the inside, she is desperate, sad, vulnerable, hurt and trying to cope with who she is, what she is and things that have happened in her life.
I've known since I started writing that music can influence certain scenes I write in my works, but I never realized how music actually formed the basis of the main character in my novel. It was totally subconscious, but now that I've made the connection, I think it is pretty darn cool and I have Fiona Apple and her music genius to thank for that.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
So, I thought I'd dedicate Thursdays to some sort of discussion about the theater world. Sometimes it will be a show I've seen (or want to see) and sometimes I might just talk about something I've read regarding things happening in the world of theater.
I will admit it's been about year since I made it in to NYC to see a good show. The last one I saw was Mary Poppins and OMG, I'm still so in love with that show. The sets were phenomenal as was most of the acting (was a little disappointed with the young actress who played Jane) and the illusions (like Mary Poppins pulling out a full lamp from her bag) amazed me. I still can't for the life of me figure out how they did it.
I will also admit that I cried twice during the show. I know you may think that sounds so silly. I mean, who the heck cries for Mary Poppins? But I believe it had more to do with the nostalgia of something that brings back great memories from my childhood then the show itself.
If this show ever comes to your neighborhood (heck, it's worth a nice long drive, imo), you really should go see it. It is pure entertainment mixed with great talent, wonderful dancing and music that you can't help but sing along with, and a great walk through memory lane (if you're as old as I am :-) ).
Check out this video on the show. If this doesn't pump you up, I don't know what will. It is traveling around to a lot of different cities. If you click on the link below, there is a tab on the right side with where the show will be. If the show is coming near you, PLEASE GO SEE IT!!! I just watched the video and I swear I started crying again. There's just something about Mary Poppins!
The next shows that I must see and will try to get to this fall is
In The Heights http://www.intheheightsthemusical.com/
ETA: OMG!!!!!! Just found out that JORDAN SPARKS (Season 6 winner of American Idol) WILL BE STARRING IN THIS SHOW THROUGH NOVEMBER 14th! I sooooooooooo hope I can see it with her in it!!!
Burn The Floor http://www.burnthefloor.com/video.php
Sorry for the links, but I haven't figured out how to put the video clip directly on my blog. Still learning here so bear with me :-)
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 28th
About a dozen chairs sit in their usual, perfectly spaced out, circle. I can’t understand why they refuse to give us the ones with soft cushions for these stupid meetings. The hard plastic is cold and uncomfortable under my boney butt. Why don’t they just sit us on the damn floor?
I’m feeling extra fidgety today and can’t seem to find a comfortable position. I try to sit with my legs crossed, right over left.
Left over right.
I pull my knees into my chest, digging the arches of my feet into the edge of the seat but it’s bothersome. My socks won’t allow me to get a solid grip and with no energy to force them in place, I let them drop to the floor.
Ugh. My hair is coming loose. I pull out my ponytail holder, and throw my hair back up in a half-fast pony bun.
By this point I’m sure I’ve missed most of the introductions. There’s a new girl in the group today. Malina? Marina? I heard someone mention her name when I was walking in but I wasn’t fully listening. I’m not a morning person. Not that it really matters. Eventually I know everyone’s business whether they like it or not.
My foot shakes with vigor. It’s an uncontrollable habit. Anyone here who really knows me—which very few do—will know I’m tired or nervous. There’s only one person here who knows me well enough to know that it’s a combination of both and he’s sitting directly across from me.
My thumb finds its way to my mouth as my eyes dart around the tiled floor, sifting through the annoying swirly pattern for camouflaged spots of dirt. I try to find a piece of fingernail to gnaw on but most of them have been chewed down to the skin. I try my other thumb and find a tiny, thin layer of nail I must have missed. Yes! My teeth get a grip on it and tug with determination.
Ouch. Shit. That friggin hurt.
I look at my finger. It’s bleeding. I suck on it.
Sam! It’s your turn!
As usual, the familiar voice has managed to get through the barrier I’ve put up to block out everyone’s mental ramblings. I look across the circle. Josh is slumped in his chair, hands in his sweatshirt pockets. Like me, he’s too tall to sit with any sort of comfort on these school-like chairs.
He lifts his thick, dark brows, his jade colored eyes widening. Go! It’s your turn!
My eyes shift to Libby, the moderator for today’s meeting. She’s smiling softly, patiently. On a normal day it wouldn’t bother me so much but today I feel like slapping it right off her face. Not that it would make a difference. She’s one of those people who would only smile wider. I’ve never seen her lose it. I’ve never seen her angry or upset. It pisses me off. It doesn’t seem normal.
My hand goes up to say hello, but I feel more like an Indian Chief saying, “How.” My eyes shoot around a crowd who may or may not be looking at me. I don’t know. I didn’t actually make eye contact with any of them. I go back to sucking on my finger and continue my search for dirt spots on the floor.
Boy, aren’t you the happy camper. Forget to take your anti-pissy pill today?
My eyes shoot across the circle again. Shut up, Josh.
He’s the only one who can get away with talking to me like that and the only one in this entire facility who has the same telepathic ability as me, something that bonded us rather quickly. I never had a lot of friends. I never wanted them, but Josh left me with little choice. He’s been here for over ten weeks—well, not here at this location. He transferred from another facility a few days after I arrived. When he found out we had the same powers he refused to shut up, barging into my head and reading my thoughts relentlessly until I thought my brain might explode.
I glance at Libby who’s looking back and forth between Josh and I. She knows what’s going on, of course. Most of the people here do, but they don’t care. They’ve given up trying to figure out if and when we’re having a conversation and whether or not it’s about them.
“Sam, Josh, not here,” Libby says, sitting with her perfect posture, her blue eyes shining through her rimless glasses. “Using powers during group sessions is not allowed. You know that.” Her tone is even, placid.
From my periphery, I see everyone’s gaze bouncing back and forth between Josh and I, like they’re watching a tennis match.
“Sorry,” Josh and I say simultaneously. His apology sounds much nicer and more sincere than mine. Mine came out sounding like it was sandwiched between two slices of annoyance. It was. Maybe I shouldn’t have rolled my eyes. I mean it’s not her fault that today is Make Amends Day.
I’ve been dreading this day since I first heard about it when I arrived here seven weeks ago. Make amends? Ugh. The mere thought makes me want to vomit my half eaten bagel and tea. I mean, why the hell would I want to apologize or make amends with my mother? She’s the one who put me in this damn prison…I mean, “treatment center.”
Treatment center. Ha. Whatever. Like I need to be treated.
I’m here because I’m a “troubled, adolescent Person Of Powers.” I’m not a damn alcoholic or drug addict or someone with an eating disorder—although some of the kids here are those things as well. Nope. Not me. I’m just a freak of nature—a POP. So what? All of us here are. Our powers are not an addiction or disorder that can be treated. It’s not something that can just go away or be healed, or solved. There are no underlying issues that have traumatized us or caused us to have the powers we do. We were born this way.
God is a friggin comedian.
My hand goes in the air.
“Samantha, would you like to share with the group today?”
I’m sure she’s trying to sound inexpressive but the inflection in her voice rings surprise. She should be. I never share anything at these meetings. And I’m not about to break that streak.
“I feel sick. I wanna go lay down.”
I’m not being entirely dishonest. I do have a pounding headache, but I get them so often now that I’ve learned to deal with them…for the most part.
She takes a deep breath and cocks her head to the side. “Samantha, don’t you think—“
“Damn it, Libby, I feel sick.” My eyes lock with hers. I’m not afraid to challenge her and she knows it. My tone reminds everyone else of it as well. Some of them shift in their chairs.
As always, Libby remains calm and collected. I can feel my anger teetering on the brink of a major tantrum as she sweeps her bangs to the side and away from her eyes. Neither her facial nor bodily expression show any reaction to my insolence. What I wouldn’t pay to know the thoughts she’s really having—to call her out on her nobody-can-get-to-me pretense. The fact that she—and most of the staff—have the skill to block their thoughts from me at will only fuels my fire.
Chill out, Sam, Josh says with a hint of laughter. He finds my tough exterior humorous. He always has.
I ignore him, pushing the barricade of my mind further out to block what’s coming in or out, refusing to allow any distractions—even from Josh. I want to get out of here.
Refusing to avert my eyes and show submission, I keep them fixed on hers. I don’t even blink.
Damn her and that perpetual smile.
It takes every fiber of my being to not go caveman on her ass. I picture myself grabbing her by her long dark ponytail, dragging her into a corner and beating her with a club. Of course I would never do that for real. It would only land me another God knows how long to my sentence. I mean, “stay,” here at Alina Lodge. Besides, Libby can be pretty cool sometimes. More so than the other jerks who work here.
“Okay, Samantha,” she says. “Just make sure you sign out your time at the desk. Someone will be by soon to check on you.”
“Thanks,” I mumble under my breath as I get up. I don’t feel I owe her any appreciation, but I hope my attempt will satisfy her. I can’t afford to be an insufferable bitch all the time if I have any hope of getting out of here one day.
Josh, let me know when you’re done, I say as I make my exit.
You know it. Feel better, he says.
Already do, I say with a huge grin none of them can see.
I know, he responds. I don’t look back but I’d bet my left eyeball he’s shaking his head smiling.Ah…freedom for two whole hours.