Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Out-of-Body?

About six weeks ago, I listed four of my books with ACX, an audio site that used to be Audible.  Now it’s an Amazon company and it’s dead easy to turn your written words into a listening experience.
If you really want to.
I’m pretty familiar with the spoken word.  My mother was an actress.  Her forte was community theater, but she did have a couple of parts in movies, enough so that she was a SAG member. 
She and some of her friends also gathered a group of actors together and set up an interpretive reading ensemble.  They called themselves The Readers’ Theater and did lots of gigs at local schools, trying to give kids an alternative to TV (and encouraging them to read).
For a very brief time, I was a member of the Readers’ Theater.  The best use of my time was writing the newsletter and applying for grants, but I did a few performances.  My painful shyness and fear of speaking in public was a drawback, though.
Fast forward to now, and I’m an author.  I sit at my computer with only my old, lame cat for company and spend days in my fictional worlds. I found a way to communicate that doesn’t involve public speaking.
I like my worlds, particularly the one where the Kandesky vampires live.  They’re uber-rich, urbane and sexy.  I know what they look like and sound like, so it’s cinchy to imagine them in an audio form.
Well, not so much.  It’s odd. It feels like an out-of-body experience. Suddenly, my words took on different meanings and had a life of their own, and I listened, thinking “Who wrote that?”
It’s not a bit bad. I contracted with an actor from Australia who used a slight accent, just enough to give my European vampires interest.  And we communicated as he was producing it about pronunciation of names and places. It was a pleasant experience.
The first one, Plague: A Love Story, was finished yesterday. It should be available on the ACX site as an MP3 download in 10 days.   And he’ll be reading a second book, Danube: A Tale of Murder, sometime in December.
I used to think I wanted to be a playwright.  I’d stand at the back of a darkened theater, watching as an award-winning cast did my play.  At the end, the entire audience would rise and over a cacophony of applause, they’d shout, “Author, Author”.
Not any more.  I’ve found that I like the anonymity of my computer, my lame cat and my fictional worlds.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chocolate on the Brain- 13 Interesting Facts about the Sweet Stuff


            
Dark Chocolate Burbanet Assortment from exquisitechocolate.webs.com
Ever had one of those days where chocolate seems to be everywhere? On the TV, in the magazine you peruse, or stacked by the grocery store checkout?

I’m having one of those surrounded-by- chocolate days and it’s bad because I’d like to sample a piece of the luscious goodness at each opportunity.

I can’t indulge if I want to stay in my current-sized jeans, but I can think about the candy, do a little research and fill my mind if not my stomach. Here are thirteen facts you might not know famous sweet.

  1. “Death by chocolate” really has occurred. 17th century, when the church banned eating during services in Chiapas, Mexico, some parishioners were so addicted to chocolate, they stopped attending and may have organized the assassination of the bishop who passed the law. The poor man died after drinking his daily cup of chocolate, which had been laced with poison.
  2. Chocolate is made from the South American cacao tree seeds.
  3. The name chocolate comes from the word “Xocolati”, which means bitter water in the Aztec language.
  4. Chocolate was important to the Aztec. They believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac and there maybe something to that notion.
  5. Chocolate contains phenyl-ethylamine (PEA), which creates that giddy, falling-in-love feeling.
  6. Today, many people believe chocolate is healthful because it contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which can help keep a person’s cardiovascular system healthy.
  7. If you’re eating chocolate for its health benefits think about eating dark chocolate because it has twice the amount of antioxidants.
  8. Speaking of indulging in chocolate, how much chocolate do we eat? Plenty. The average global consumption of cocoa beans is 600, 000 tons.  
  9. Chocolate, of course, is a big business. Consumers spend more than $20 billion a year on the sweet treat.
  10. Which country buys the most chocolate? Well, several websites say America. One of these sites states, “Almost half the world’s chocolate is consumed in America.”
  11. Other countries known for their chocolate consumption are Switzerland and Britain.
  12. The Lindt website, “Chocolate Unwrapped,” says, Americans “eat an average of 22 pounds of candy a year. Half of that is chocolate.”
  13. And what kind of chocolate do most Americans prefer? Seventy-one percent choose milk chocolate.

Do you like chocolate? What’s your favorite? Please join me in this virtual chocolate feast.

Sources





Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deana Barnhart’s Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blog Fest.(GUTGAA)-Thirteen Things about Mia Celeste




Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

In an effort to keep you and I from falling into an insanity rut, I’ve decided to combine my typical Thursday Thirteen Meme with something different—Deana Barnhart’s Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blog Fest.(GUTGAA)
http://deanabarnhart.blogspot.com/2012/08/gutgaa-meet-and-greet-sign-ups-and.html



Week One of GUTGAA kicks off with a Meet and Greet, where writers connect with readers, agents and fellow writers. We share tidbits about our writing routines and aspirations. Deana has thoughtful provided questions and since I’m a fan of Thursday Thirteen, can guess how many I’ve chosen to answer?



  1. Where do you write? I have a laptop so I can write anywhere.
  2. Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? My writing kitten. I’m trying to train him to curl up next to me while I write. So far, I’m not that successful. He’s playing with a yarn toy, looking cute and being a distraction.
  3. Favorite time to write? Mornings after my children go to school.
  4. Drink of choice while writing? Tea.
  5. What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript? The concept of my novel Dark Bringer came from a childhood game I used to play before bed where I’d imagine the darkness was real and would take link up to take different shapes.
  6. Do experiences in your daily life influence your stories? Definitely. When a storm knocked out our power for a few days, I realized how reliant I am on electricity. This birthed the second half of Dark Bringer, how regular people would use electrical light to keep the dark at bay.
  7. When writing , do you listen to music? Sometimes. I’m a fan of mood music, instrumental background stuff when I write.
  8. Do you write with others? Sometimes, when I’m doing the first draft I’ll take part in writing challenges where we type as many words as we can during a time limit.
  9. Do you use a computer or a pencil/pen? Computer.
  10. What’s your favorite writing craft book? I read a lot of craft books so my favorite one changes, but my currently it’s Being a Writer by Dorothea Brande.
  11. Is there a writing resource site you’d recommend? Yes, here’s one a friend shared with me recently: http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/
  12. And another site that’s fun is: http://iwl.me/ Where you get to compare your writing with a famous authors.
  13. What's your most valuable writing tip? Keep at it. Each time you write, you improve.

            Well, you’ve read my answers, but I’m always collecting advice and suggestions? Do you have a writing tip for me? A site I should visit? Please share.

Sources:
http://deanabarnhart.blogspot.com/2012/08/gutgaa-meet-and-greet-sign-ups-and.html


What Was The Point?

By Eilis Flynn

A few days ago, we noticed that The Amazing Spider-Man (or, as the marquee read, “Spiderman 4”) was playing at the local second-run theater, and as we didn’t see it when it first came out, we decided to check it out. Ordinarily, we see super-hero movies when they first come out (specifically, DC and Marvel movies), but as this one had struck us as a “WHY?” movie, we had decided to wait.

What’s a “WHY?” movie, you ask? There was no point to it. Remakes are generally in this category. We always thought that a movie remake made sense if the idea was sound but the execution wasn’t, but most of the time—have you noticed?—the remakes are of movies that were successful the first time around. And such as it was with the first round of Spider-Man movies. And, of course, my favorite example, Superman Returns.

Superman Returns, if you’ll recall, was supposed to be the great savior of DC movies. Brandon Routh, the actor stepping into the blue and red uniform, had an uncanny resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve. Kevin Spacey replaced Jack Nicholson as Lex Luthor. Kate Bosworth pretended to be Lois Lane. And apparently that was all that was necessary for a movie remake, as far as Warner was concerned. And it didn’t work.

First of all, Routh couldn’t act. Nope, nada. Or so little that it wasn’t worthwhile. All I can assume is that once the producers realized this unfortunate fact, they had to do a bit of rewriting. So all there was for Routh to do was not to act, but react. He didn’t speak much, because it was just best for all concerned if he didn’t. And between the disappointing storyline (been there, done that), the really disappointing acting, and the clear lack of concern about coming up with anything NEW, this movie was definitely a WHY? movie. Don’t need a new villain, don’t need a new plot. Let’s just use a mishmash of some old stuff, that should be good enough.

The Amazing Spider-Man, otherwise known as Spider-Man 4, was cut from the same cloth, but better done. Most of the Marvel movies have been better done than DC ones, and even the disappointing ones have been better done. (I even enjoyed Ghost Rider!) (Okay, the Nolan Batman ones were good. And Anne Hathaway was a wonderful Selina Kyle.) Spider-Man 4 got made because Sony still had the rights and it could, and so not even a decade after the first successful Spider-Man movie (and barely five years after the third), there was a new one, with a new cast. It was almost a new story, even.

Unlike the Superman remake, this one had a good lead (Andrew Garfield, a promising young British actor), a new girlfriend (or the earlier one, played by Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy; she was believable as a bright young thing who goes to a school for smart kids, as opposed to Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, a seasoned, award-winning reporter. I giggled at that one). And Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors, a character who had a passing reference in the earlier movies, but not really used. That actor I was mostly familiar with in comedies (Notting Hill, The Replacements), but he did a splendid job as a scientist gone gonzo. And Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben? My only disappointment was he didn’t use the classic Spider-Man line about great responsibility. Sally Field as Aunt May was fine, but she needed to lay off the hair dye. (Quibble: I know Midtown Science High was supposed to be a stand-in for Bronx High School of Science, a New York City school for the mathematically and scientifically gifted, but I couldn’t believe there would be a bully like Flash Thompson in a school like that. But he was there in the original comics, so there you go.)

Anyway, I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man, otherwise known as Spider-Man 4. Did it need to be made again? Nope.

 
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