Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: "Rainshadow Road" by Lisa Kleypas

I impulsively purchased a copy of Rainshadow Road in the drugstore recently as I was killing time before going to a wedding with my significant other. I knew without even reading the back cover copy that I'd enjoy it. Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors (and she's super nice in person too), the cover instantly expressed women's fiction and magical realism (two of my faves) so it would, of course, be a win-win situation. Of course, I did read the cover copy after I purchased it:

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington.  She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal:  her fiancé Kevin has left her.  His new lover is Lucy’s own sister.   Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life.   Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

I was engrossed from page one by Lisa's richly drawn characters, layers of complex emotion, and smooth and memorable diction. Her writing has always astounded me, inspired me even. She's one of the only commercial fiction authors I have ever quoted because she is that good. Her words speak to some part of my soul, as silly and cheesy as that sounds. And in Rainshadow Road, even though I'd hoped for more magical realism and a little less coincidence, she was at the top of her game.

I read and read and read. I couldn't put it down. But then life stepped in about three-quarters of the way through and changed it for me. My relationship hit some pretty big rocks and I'm not so sure it's going to survive, even now, almost two weeks later. As a result, my bleeding heart couldn't handle watching Lucy and Sam fall so amazingly in love, to see them find everything I've always dreamed of when I continually seem to lose grasp of it myself.

But even though I wanted nothing to do with their love story, I was incomprehensibly drawn back in. That's what this author does--she makes you feel so much that you can't do anything but feel more--and want to. It made me cry and smile and laugh and want to tear out my hair, but her love stories are so honest and true and palpable that those things would've happened even if I weren't in the place I am now. I am impressed again and again when I read her books.

The Last Word: If you are a hopeless (or hopeful) romantic, if you enjoy feeling like the characters in a book are your best friends, if you want to smile and laugh and be inspired, pick up a copy of Rainshadow Road. Now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Special Gift from a Special Author

When I first read Allison Pang's submission for the novel that would become A Brush of Darkness, I had no idea she and I would become such amazing friends. I also didn't know I'd only be her editor for one book and then my entire professional life would change drastically over the course of two years, but ya know. What can you do?

Anyway, today, Allison sent me the most lovely gift. A hand-drawn and inked illustration of my favorite scene from A Brush of Darkness by the super talented Aimo.

I don't even have words to describe how much this surprise meant to me. And the fact that it arrived on a day where I was very much in need of some love, kindness, and support from the people in my life was just plain perfect.

Allison also sent along a digital copy of the image, if you want a closer look:

Now, I've just gotta get this gorgeous baby framed. =)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest Blogger, Paul La Rosa: On Writing a Memoir

I consider myself an experienced writer. After all, I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a producer for CBS News, and the author of four true crime books. But I had never written a memoir until I began trying two years ago.

Writing a memoir is different.

My first challenge was deciding which tense to write in. Initially, I chose to write in the past tense, as I’ve mostly done in all my previous books. But then I went to a memoir writing workshop on in Guatamala and began to change my mind. I don’t remember if one of the writers leading the workshop (Joyce Maynard and Laura Lippman) suggested switching to the present tense or if it was one of the other students but that’s what I did.

That might seem minor but it made a world of difference. Writing in the past tense means seeing your life in hindsight, with 20/20 vision, and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be always making judgments about the past, as if “Wow, it was much harder being a reporter without the internet.” Boring.

I wanted to experience the past as I had done when I was living it, at least as much as possible and the present tense allowed that to happen. I was seeing my life through the eyes of a kid who was kind of clueless and overwhelmed by most things. I also tried to temper my voice a bit, not using as big words when I was seven years old as in later chapters when I was a college student. That was tricky but one reviewer picked up on it so I thought I was successful.

One is also influenced by other writers, and around the time I began my book Leaving Story Avenue; My journey from the projects to the front page I was reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I loved the rushing, kind of staccato pace of his writing and tried to give my own writing that feeling of immediacy.

If you read the first chapter of my book – about the fast-paced Daily News city room at deadline -- I think you’ll see what I mean. After that, when my book goes into my backstory, I had to slow down until I got back to writing about the newsroom again.

Writing aside, I also had to make some big decisions about content. When you’re writing about a life, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions: What goes in? What stays out? How honest do you really want to be? Some of what you’ve experienced is bound to be embarrassing; can you stand exposing yourself that way?

Of course, the answer is that you have to be honest to pull a reader into your story but you can never put in every experience you’ve had. That too would be way too boring. So I was always honest – there’s no James Frey moments in the book where I said I spent time in jail but did not – and told some embarrassing stories about myself, but I also left out some moments that would have made me too uncomfortable.

I also decided to end my memoir in 1983. People ask me why and there are several reasons. I felt the story had come to a natural end. The point had been made. I wanted the book to be about my journey from being a clueless kid in a Bronx housing project to being a sardonic writer for the largest circulating newspaper in the country. How did that happen? Well, if you read the book, you’ll hopefully understand.

I’ve lived a lot of life since 1983. I left The News, the paper I grew up with and loved, for television. I also had children. Again, I was placed in situations where I was clueless and had to learn but, you know what, that’s the subject of another book somewhere down the line.

One final note: This time, instead of being published by one of the Big-6 publishers, I’m being published by a small independent in Brooklyn just starting out (Park Slope Publishing). Why? Well, the Big-6 editors loved my book but weren’t giving me the love I wanted to feel. This house in Brooklyn did that, so I traded in broad distribution for mostly buying the book online.
I think that’s how most people buy books these days anyway. I love bookstores but, even when they carried my other books, they were always hard to find. Let’s see how it goes just being available online and in a few bookstores near where I live. I did want the book to be available as a trade paperback and it is because I did not want to ignore those people who love the feel of the page.

At the same time, we made the book available in all e-reader formats so as not to shut someone out. I hope our plans work. We shall see but, hey, you can help by, you know, buying the book. It’s relatively cheap and it’s online everywhere!

About the blogger: Paul LaRosa is a journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and television. For nearly 20 years, he’s been a successful producer for the CBS News magazine “48 Hours.” He’s written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and has authored four previous non-fiction books. To read his blog and for more information, please go to his website:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Are Now Part of a Classic Novel

Just something amusing to share on this not-so-awesome Thursday (at least for me!). But putting yourself into a classic novel? THAT sounds pretty awesome:

Galleycat has the scoop:

For $24.95, the customized book company U Star Novels will reprint a paperback edition of a classic novel starring you and your friends as the main characters.

The titles include everything from Pride and Prejudice to Dracula to A Christmas Carol to Anne Of Green Gables. The company will also create customized customized romance novels for lovers. What do you think–brilliant idea or literary cannibalism?

Check it out: “Upon selecting your desired novel, you must then chose the cover you would like and spend 5 minutes filling in the questions for the book you have chosen to provide us with the details we require to personalize the story for you. The books are produced with the answers that you provide, exactly as you entered them. As such, we strongly encourage you to carefully check the spelling in the questionnaire form before you submit an order – this includes proper capitalization of names and locations. We will not be able to refund your purchase as a result of spelling errors.” (Via Reddit)

See the original post HERE

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Pulitzer Prize Surprise

Today marked the 2011 Pulitzer Prize announcements, one of the most exciting days in the trade publishing industry. But oddly enough, not all categories announced winners. The "Fiction" category, in fact--one of the most looked-forward to in my opinion--went empty, despite having nominees, according to GalleyCat:

There was no Pulitzer Prize for fiction awarded this year. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace were all nominated.

Stephen Greenblatt won the General Nonfiction award for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and John Lewis Gaddis took the Biography award for George F. Kennan: An American Life.

Tracy K. Smith won the Poetry award with Life on Mars. The Drama award went to Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable won the History prize. Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts by Kevin Puts was awarded the Music prize.

Here’s more about the fiction prize jury this year:

Susan Larson, former book editor, The Times-Picayune and, host, “The Reading Life”, WWNO-FM (Chair)

Maureen Corrigan, critic in residence, Georgetown University and, book critic, “Fresh Air,” NPR

Michael Cunningham, novelist & past Pulitzer Prize winner, New York, NY

See the original post HERE

But the question of why still goes unanswered.

It seems a little wrong to me, to not pick a winner when you have three contestants. Clearly they can't be all that bad if they were in the first place. So why would the P.P. jury just not pick one? Are there not rules in place for ties? Or preparations for massive disagreements? I'm not going to presume to know the answer to either of those questions, but I am certainly baffled.

Stephan Lee at Entertainment Weekly seems to agree:
Wow, Pulitzer committee. That’s cold.

For the first time in 35 years, no Pulitzer Prize was awarded in the fiction category. The message from the committee to any author who published a novel or short story collection in 2011 seems to be: Sorry, you’re just not good enough. The Pulitzer Board failed to reach a necessary majority to determine a winner based on the three fiction finalists determined by a panel of three jurors.*

The fiction jurors were Susan Larson, former book editor of The Times-Picayune, Maureen Corrigan, book critic for Fresh Air on NPR, and the novelist Michael Cunningham, who won the 1999 Pulitzer for his novel The Hours.

The jurors chose three finalists — Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace — and it was up to the Pulitzer Board to make the final decision. To be fair to the Board, the jurors may have made the decision more difficult than it should have been. Johnson’s Train Dreams is a novella that was re-issued from 2002, and the board may have felt as though it was something they’d seen before. The posthumously published, incomplete The Pale King wasn’t the late Wallace’s best work. But why not give the award to Russell? Swamplandia! isn’t the typical Pulitzer winner, but it’s an intelligent, inventive, and thoroughly entertaining read. In a time when people aren’t buying books — especially literary adult novels — it seems counterproductive and insulting not to hand out a Pulitzer Prize, which translates into sales. Last year’s winner, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, got a huge boost in paperback after the announcement.

Getting a mass audience to buy a challenging literary novel is an uphill battle, and there better be a good reason for depriving the reading public of a quality recommendation. My mother, whose first language is not English, would always buy and spend a painstakingly long time to read and understand the Pulitzer-winning novel each year. For her and a lot of other readers, the Pulitzer Prize is the ultimate, authoritative stamp of approval, and it got her to read books she wouldn’t normally read — and she gained a huge sense of accomplishment from finishing them.

There were plenty of worthy books in 2011: The Submission by Amy Waldman, Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta, and The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht come to mind. What books do you think were deserving? Was the Pulitzer Board just being curmudgeonly, or do you agree with its decision?

Read the original post HERE

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rowling Entering the Adult Fiction Realm

It's been nearly five years since J.K. Rowling's final "Harry Potter" book was released. Since then, there have been multiple film releases, Pottermore, and the HP eBooks were birthed. And now, Rowling's UK publisher Little, Brown announces her return to the shelves with her first foray into adult literature.

Here's more from the publisher's website:

The book will be published worldwide in the English language in hardback, ebook, unabridged audio download and on CD on Thursday 27th September 2012.

The Casual Vacancy

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

See the original post HERE

I've got to admit, I'm not convinced that this book with be a hit. I have a sneaking suspicion it will make that sad and painful belly-flop noise. The Rowling name is linked so closely with children's literature and the fantasy genre that a jump to a "blackly comic" literary adult novel seems too drastic to work. It's also such a vastly different style of writing and Rowling is so well-versed in her past technique/voice/etc. that I can't imagine her writing something so different. But I am eager to find out if she pulls it off and learn just how far her writing chops span.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Guest Blogger, Danielle E. Bowers: "The Hunger Games" Film Adapation in Review **Spoiler Alert**

As a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I waited for the movie with a mixture of glee and dread. I wanted to see these amazing books brought to life, but at the same time I knew it couldn’t measure up. Unlike Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings books, The Hunger Games was written by an author with a strong background in scriptwriting. Her style of writing, the lush descriptions, and the non-verbal communication between the characters transferred well to the big screen.

From setting to costumes to casting, meticulous care was given to the slightest detail. It was obvious that everyone involved with the making of this movie wanted to show Suzanne Collins’s vision of how The Hunger Games looked from her eyes. From the point of view of a fan, I was delighted by this adaptation of the book.

First, casting: there weren’t many casting choices that seemed out of place to me. The casting of each character was a long, drawn-out process with "The Hunger Games" and it shows.

Katniss Everdeen- Jennifer Lawrence hit Katniss out of the ballpark. So much of the story deals with the internal conflicts within the character and she pulls it off beautifully. At the reaping you can see the stunned shock in her face and her struggling to hold it together as she answers Effie’s questions. Someone nominate this girl for an Oscar please.

Gale Hawthorne- Liam Hemsworth brought Gale’s confident masculinity to life. He didn’t get enough screen time in this movie, but what he did get he made the most of. We get a taste of his partnership with Katniss and his intense bitterness toward the Capital.

Peeta Mellark- Josh Hutcherson did a fine job with Peeta, but the movie could have done a lot better with the characterization. We didn’t see a lot of the motivations behind his devotion to Katniss so he came across as simple. Maybe it’s just my general dislike of the character, but I couldn’t connect with him in the movie. The expression on his face when he was reaped was awesome though. This was a kid who knew he was going to die. Maybe if they played the angle that he knew he couldn’t make it out of the arena, but he was going to help Katniss get out, it would have worked better. I couldn’t figure out his motivation for helping her to the point of suicide. Yes, he loves her, I get that. But why? Show me the reasons.

Haymitch Abernathy- I think Woody Harrelson was too good looking in the movie (Haymitch is not that handsome!) and not repulsive enough in his behavior. This is man who has mentored twenty-three years of tributes only to see them die. That’s 46 children. He was too…cheery. But the movie did need a touch of comic relief and he provided it. Maybe in the next two movies we’ll see a darker Haymitch. I did enjoy his reaction to Katniss shooting an arrow at the Gamemakers. It was more in character for Haymitch than how he reacted to that scene in the book.

Cinna- The casting of Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was perfect. The warmth and kindness of the character glowed even if he didn’t g et much time on screen. Another of the small details from the book is the lack of makeup that is rampant in the Capital. Kravitz wears the simple clothing with only a touch of gold eyeliner, just as Collins describes Cinna wearing in the book.

Effie Trinket- I can’t say enough good things about the casting and portrayal of Effie by Elizabeth Banks. Her costumes, the way she talked, and the casual way she treated the tributes going to their death was true to the books. Even the antagonism between Haymitch and herself was shown in the movie.

President Snow- We see a lot of Snow in the movie and he wasn’t what I expected. I thought he’d be shorter, clean shaven, with a greasy feel to him. It didn’t take long for me to get used to Donald Sutherland’s Snow though. He looked like a grandfather, but you could feel the controlling menace coming from him.

Primrose Everdeen - Prim, played by newcomer Willow Shields, doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but in what time she had, she nails the character: fearful, sweet, and too delicate for the harsh world she’s living in.

Now, on to the plot, setting, presentation, et cetera!

The movie doesn’t waste any time launching the viewer into the story, so I’m going to do the same and report as the scenes unfold.

From the start of the film, the viewer sees that the dynamic of Katniss and her mother is complicated. The director and actors pulled it off beautifully here. The tension between the two women is always there and they don’t have to say a word. Small facial cues, awkward conversation, and camera movement spelled out the strained relationship. Whenever Katniss would interact with Prim in a motherly way, their mother would stiffen and interrupt.

District 12 is painted exactly the way I imagined it from the book: depressed, repressed, and faded. The Hob was even portrayed perfectly for the one scene it got. The look and feel of a flea market crammed into a space too small to hold it was right on too. I loved the attention to detail in the District 12 scenes and I can’t find a thing to complain about.

One significant area where the movie deviates from the book is when Katniss gets the Mockingjay pin. Instead of a gift from her friend Madge, who also happens to be the Mayor of District 12’s daughter, she gets it at the Hob from a vendor. This change is a better fit for the movie and allows for a scene between Katniss and Prim where she gives the pin to her sister and promises that if she wears it, nothing bad will happen to her. It becomes a different kind of symbol in the film as a result.

The Reaping. There is so much to say about the Reaping. The filmmakers managed to make it look and feel as grim as it was and the defeat in the children was heartbreaking. Effie Trinket’s garish makeup and costume were appropriately out of place, as was her cheerful attitude. The hot pink against the muted browns and grays of the audience really exemplified the stark difference between the Capital and the districts farther away from it. The three-fingered salute the citizens of District Twelve give Katniss at the Reaping as a farewell and acknowledging her bravery and sacrifice was also powerful imagery and a great choice.

We then see the Capital of Panem through the eyes of Katniss and Peeta while on the train and again when they arrive. Wigs, bright colors, and makeup that would make Lady Gaga jealous fill the screen. It’s here that we get a good look inside the Hunger Games and are given a sense of just how removed the Capital is from the reality of places like District 12.

The movie takes good advantage of being able to show what is going on elsewhere in the story, rather than being limited to Katniss’s point of view as we were in the book. We meet the character of Seneca Crane, for example, someone who is mentioned in the books but who Katniss never meets directly. He is the Head Gamemaker and through his point of view we can see how the Games are the height of entertainment for the Capital. Every stage of the Games is choreographed to a science. The POV flexibility also lets us see the tributes on their chariot rides through the city from the perspective of the audience. We see Katniss and Peeta in their fire costumes and can watch Claudius and Caesar skip over half the tributes, showing the impact the pair was having.

One scene I was looking forward to seeing in the movie was when Katniss gets the opportunity to show off her skills for her score to get sponsors. When she shot the apple out of the pig’s mouth and said, “Thank you for your consideration” I wanted to cheer. The look on the faces of the Gamemakers was perfect. Her out-of-character formal courtesy was also just right.

I was underwhelmed, though, by the start of the Games. In the trailer there is a mechanical voice counting down to 1, providing more suspense, but the voice-over disappears in the movie and is replaced by silent, fiery red, visual numbers. However, when Katniss enters the arena from the lift the filmmakers switched to handheld cameras, making the chaos of the bloodbath at the cornucopia feel real: glimpses of people running, screaming, and locked in battle as Katniss grabbed a bag and was attacked. While it was a strong message, this makes for shaky footage and after a few minutes I felt car-sick, but the overall effect was impactful. The cameras also cut to shots of Prim and Mrs. Everdeen watching the start and Gale sitting alone in his and Katniss’s meadow. That, in particular, was a good shot to add. The fact that Gale can’t stand to watch Katniss going into the bloodbath makes his feelings for her all the more palpable.

While the Games continue there are several scenes involving the control center and the Gamemakers. Obviously, in the books we’re told and shown that the Gamemakers steer the tributes and do things to spice up the action. But in the film, now the viewers can see Seneca Crane ordering the forest fire. One line from the movie that haunts me is Crane laughing, “Get the cannon ready” as he steers Katniss toward the pack of Career tributes.

Then we have the scenes with Rue. If the next two movies are going to be a success then these really had to hit home…and they do. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theater when Katniss was singing and covering Rue’s corpse with flowers. Another scene that stuck with me after the movie was the three-fingered salute she gave the camera to bid Rue farewell. Seeing District 11 watching this and returning the gesture was beautiful. In the book District 11 sent Katniss Rue’s bread as a thank you, but I found the movie’s choice even stronger.

Aside from small changes like Haymitch leaving physical notes in the sponsor gifts, the movie sticks to the book pretty closely during the Games. Peeta and Katniss team up after the rules change and the movie slows down. In the books the connection formed between Katniss and Peeta is subtle and layered; he is the ying to her yang. He needs her strength; she needs his kindness. There is the history of him taking punishment to give a starving girl some bread. He has reasons for his self-sacrifice. Peeta’s blind devotion to Katniss in the movie though, as I mentioned earlier, didn’t hold my interest.

An earlier scene showed Snow explaining to Seneca Crane why it was bad for the underdogs to win the Games. It would improve the moral in impoverished districts and give them hope. In the books, Districts 1, 2, and 3 were always represented by Career tributes who were children trained to compete. These districts are the wealthiest and with the strongest ties to the Capital. Most of the Peacekeepers of Panem come from District 2, for example. Snow’s words in the movie show an interesting facet I never considered in the books, that the Games were rigged so the Career tributes won most of the time.

With the death of Thresh from District 11 the Games are down to three tributes and Katniss knows that this is the finale. We see the Gamemakers again and Seneca Crane ordering the release of the designed Muttation dogs. With the scenes between Crane and Snow, it is not surprising when the plot deviates from the book here. In the book, Cato is fleeing the muttations and leads them to the Cornucopia. Peeta and Katniss are the original targets of the dogs in the movie, possibly because they weren’t supposed to win. In the Gamemakers eyes the star-crossed lovers from District 12 would be killed, leaving Cato from District 2 as the victor.

Instead of being chased by the muttations, Cato was lying in wait on top of the Cornucopia. He was mortally wounded and the scene from the book with him getting Peeta in a strangle hold over the rim was present. Instead of drawing an X on Cato’s hand, Peeta just taps it. Cato falls into the clutches of the dogs thanks to a well-placed arrow to the hand.

The muttations were in the movie were CGI creations with faces that looked almost human. They were identical and I found myself looking for characteristics of Glimmer, Rue, and others in them as they had in the book. This was a little disappointing, but it didn’t ruin the movie for me.

Now, the berries. I liked this scene when many didn’t. It showes that Katniss knew what she was doing. She wanted it to look like the act of two people desperately in love and, while Peeta may have been there, Katniss was doing it knowing that the Capital had to have a victor. It was the ultimate game of chicken.

The ending didn’t have that suspenseful “did he make it or not?” question it does in the book either, as in the movie, Peeta didn’t suffer the leg wound during the battle with Cato and the mutts. In the book he’s bleeding to death even as they are being named the victors. It would have been a powerful scene to include showing Katniss pounding on the glass while the doctors worked on Peeta.

Instead, the viewer is shoved right from the scene where the hovercraft picks them up out of the Arena into a scene with Katniss and Haymitch. There is no fear regarding her or Peeta’s health. Instead, Katniss is cleaned and dressed up, and Haymitch is warning her that the Capital is upset about her double-suicide stunt with the berries.

Then we come to the end when, if a viewer hasn’t read the books, one might be confused by Katniss’s sudden pulling away from Peeta and her decision to forget their time together in the Arena. The books make it clear but the end of the film is so rushed that I left the theater feeling unsatisfied—and I read the book. We’re flung through an emotional and visual wringer and there wasn’t enough mental runway left for a landing. We get scene after scene of the aftermath, but not enough time to process.

For example, the image of Gale waiting for Katniss at the train station was compelling. And seeing how Seneca Crane meets his fate (locked in a room with a bowl of nightlock berries) was a wonderful addition. Even the closing shot of Snow watching Katniss arriving home was a great way to end this movie and a hint that the Games aren’t actually over. But we don’t get to absorb—it’s all just thrown at us then the credits begin to roll. This was probably done on purpose to hammer home the point that there isn’t a happily ever after…at least not yet.

Final thoughts on The Hunger Games: Isn’t it nice not to walk out of a movie in horror whispering, “What did they do to my favorite book?” Finally, the filmmakers are taking the original audience of a movie—the readers—and honoring the vision of an author that made them love the book. Instead of saying, “I can do this better!” filmmakers are taking beloved scenes from the books and bringing them to life. If I were rating this movie against other movies, I would give it seven out of ten stars. As an adaption of the book--eight out of ten stars.

There were small things I didn’t like about the adaption of The Hunger Games, but the new POVs added more than made up for it. If I hadn’t read the books I think I still would have enjoyed the movie. Maybe not enough to go see it again the second night, but the previews would have lured me in. I’m glad I read the books prior to going to see the movie though because I was able to appreciate the scenes, the small details, and the characters better for having enjoyed the story beforehand.

About the blogger: Danielle lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children. A former Veterinary major in college, she now writes full time and travels.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Different Kind of Happily Ever After

One of the things I struggled with when I worked in editorial at a traditional publisher was the fact that I couldn't always help the writers who I felt had potential. Sometimes the book in question just wasn't there yet; sometimes it wasn't right for the publisher's list; and sometimes it just couldn't get enough in-house support to warrant an acquisition.

Occasionally those books would get picked up by other houses, but more often than not, they'd fade back into the hoard of writers who just can't catch a break. But some writers choose a different path when traditional publishing isn't going their way and they'll publish the book on their own.

When I heard from author Carole Bellacera that she took this path with her novel Lily of the Springs--which I'd read numerous times, given notes on, and saw so much potential in--I was ecstatic for her. She even was so kind as to send me a print copy of the book as a thank you for my support. I'm super excited to see what she ended up doing with the manuscript!

It makes me so happy to see people making their own dreams come true, even if the rest of the universe isn't necessarily being helpful. So, in honor of her bravery--and her courageous and complex main character, Lily Ray Foster--I'll be giving away a Lily of the Springs bookmark this week, and Carole herself has offered to provide one lucky reader with a print or digital copy of the book! Just comment on this post by Friday at 3 pm to get your name tossed in the hat!

The 50’s…Drive-in Movies, Doo-wop Music…and Love in the Back Seat of a ’51 Plymouth In 1952 Kentucky, 18-year-old Lily Foster, the daughter of strict Southern Baptist parents, becomes pregnant by the town “bad boy”—and just like that, she finds herself married to a man who doesn’t want to be a husband. Jake has no intention of letting the inconvenience of marriage stop him from what he believes is his due. In actuality, Lily is the one who is trapped. She loves Jake—always has, since they were children playing in the woods on adjoining properties--and she’s convinced she can eventually make him love her. All it will take is desire and patience. Once the baby arrives, they will be the perfect little family.

From Lily’s home on Opal Springs Ridge to a four-year stint at an army base in New Boston, Texas, and finally, to life on their own in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Lily struggles to maintain a rocky marriage with a moody, immature husband while raising two daughters. Set during the “American Dream” period of the ‘50s and into the turbulent ‘60’s, LILY OF THE SPRINGS is a story of a woman’s indomitable spirit and her fight for independence and identity in an “Ozzie & Harriet” society.
The book has even gotten some great praise from fellow authors, including the historical romance and women's fiction New York Times bestseller Teresa Medeiros:
"LILY OF THE SPRINGS is like a slow dance to a Patsy Cline song in the arms of your one true love. From the very first page, it draws you back to another time and place and makes you want to stay there forever. Carole Bellacera is a master storyteller."
Congratulations, Carole! I'm so thrilled for you!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poetry Tuesday!

April is National Poetry Month...who knew? I certainly didn't.

But now that I do, this Poem-a-Day Challenge (with prompts!) launched by the Writer's Digest poetry blogger sounds pretty fun:

Happy National Poetry Month! Over at Writers Digest, Poetry Asides blogger Robert Lee Brewer launched the Poem-a-Day Challenge. At the same time, poets around the country have joined the annual National Poetry Writing Month.

The challenge is simple: write a poem every day in April. The challenge kicked off [on Sunday, April 1] and will run until May 1st to accommodate international participants. Follow this link for all the details.

Here’s more about the challenge: “If you want to share your poems throughout the month, the best way is to paste your poem in the comments on the post that corresponds with that day’s prompt. You’ll find folks are pretty supportive on the Poetic Asides site. And if they’re not, I expect to be notified via e-mail.” Will you participate? (via Debbie Ohi)

See the post on GalleyCat HERE

Now, though this has nothing to do with a poetry prompt of any kind and is not something I created recently at all, I figured I'd share with you a silly poem I wrote in a creative writing class many, many years ago:


Mad man Jimmy
Sure did know how to shimmy
Out on the old dance floor.
His knees they creaked,
His shoes, oh the squeak!
In the center of the grocery store.

With a tap of his foot
A black scuff mark he put
On his way down the shampoo aisle.
He boogied along
To a Neil Diamond song
And boy, did he have style!

“Hey, Jimmy old friend
Watch out for that blend!”
Called Cashier Joe with a start.
Jimmy slipped on his lace,
Coffee cans smashed in his face,
His body flung into a cart.

Now, he leapt to his feet
And stepped back to the beat
In a coffee-ground covered jive.
“Sorry, Joe,” Jimmy said
With a nod of his head,
“Clean up on Aisle five.”