Mr. Nina had a terrible time with the lights this Christmas. Poor baby 😉

With Christmas only days away I’m completely off any semblence of a writing schedule. So I’ve sort of thrown up my hands and I’m diving head first into grocery shopping for all the company and wrapping presents. And to me there is nothing more festive than watching some Christmas classics while the paper is cut and the ribbons are curled. I don’t think any of these never-fail-to-watch classics will surprise many of you.
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I don’t know if Hollywood is getting lazy or if there are just so many cineplexes with 8 and 10 movies running, but it seems like more and more books are being brought to the big screen. Of course it may be the phenomenal successes of the Harry Potter and the Twilight series that are fueling the frenzy. I’ve read a few of the books that have been made into movies and seen a few of the movies without reading the book. Since there’s always the question of whether the book is better than the movie or vice versa, I’m never sure which way I want to go. But let me just share a few of the book/movies that have come out recently or are soon to be released.

Water For Elephants
This is a movie I saw, but didn’t read the book. The movie was well done in that the violence toward human and animal is intimated, but done off-screen. I’m not sure how they handle it in the book, but even in writing, violence is very hard for me to handle. I enjoyed the movie, but the ladies sitting in front of me from a bookclub enjoyed the book so much more.

The Help
My mother read this book last summer and highly recommended it. And though it was on my TBR list, I hadn’t gotten around to it by the time the movie was released. My daughter and I saw it. I haven’t cried so much in a movie in a long time. What I liked best is the story of these african-american maids was told through the eyes of a caucasian author who is simply trying to share the trials and tribulations of their lives in a book she is writing. It is so well done and I have no doubt the author of the book, Kathryn Stockett based the stories on a lot of research. Thankfully, it’s interspersed with lots of humor and the movie is very enjoyable despite its difficult subject matter.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I read this book. Correction … I tried to read this book. But I was part of that 1% that just couldn’t get into it. And I did something I don’t usually do, I forced myself to keep reading, convinced that if so many people enjoyed it, surely I would get to the good parts. It never happened. I abandoned the book with a mere 50 pages left. Really, I couldn’t get through it. I will however, go and see the movie. I desperately want to know what the “mystery” was around the story. The missing girl? The murder? I’m not sure. I did read into it enough to know what happened (or didn’t happen) to the girl … yeah, well I figured that out the first time she was mentioned. Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy the movie, though my son already told me the ending stinks. His girlfriend, who loved the book, said it was true to the story, which is not surprising since there are two other books in this series.

Hunger Games
I’ve been hearing so much about the book that when the trailer showed at a movie I was watching I knew it was time to check it out. I’m currently reading the book and the premise of 24 young people battling to death is intriguing. I’m only half way through, but since I can’t put it down, I expect to finish it in the next day or so. Since I’ve just admitted I don’t like violence, I’m wondering how the author will handle the visciousness that will be the killings. I really don’t want the heroine of the story to commit any horrible murders even if it is to save her life. Anyway, this is one of the few times I’m actually reading the book with the anticipation of seeing the movie.

One For The Money
This is another example of a genre I just couldn’t get into. I listened to one of Janet Evanovich’s stories on audio books, but wasn’t moved to read any others. There’s such a huge following for Stephanie Plum who find the books laugh-out-loud funny that I have no doubt I’ll drag Mr. Nina to the movie when it comes out. I’m sure it will translate well to the big screen.

So what about you? Do you enjoy book to movies? Are there any movies that you’ve seen or books that you’ve read that you would recommend?

I know. I know. So many of you out there really don’t care for the The Twilight series.

I love the premise of the story. I loved the books. There I’ve said it. It’s not a popular feeling among my collegues and I almost didn’t say anything about my love of these stories because I know so many who visit here don’t like the stories at all.

Yes, some famous authors and some not so famous authors have said that Stephanie Meyer is basically a hack writer. I don’t know about that. Many say the same thing about Nicholas Sparks. But both of these authors have found a voice and stories that resonate with readers.

Isn’t that what we want as authors? Isn’t that why we tell our stories? To connect with readers and hope they fall in love with our characters even as they fall in love with each other? As much as many people don’t like either Meyer or Sparks, they definitely have connected with a significant number of readers, including me. And at the moment I couldn’t tell you what has me devouring these books when I pick them up. Maybe because they are quick reads and fit the bill when I’m looking for something that isn’t deep with complicated twisting plots. Ya know, kind of a “beach read”.

What do you think? Love ’em or Hate ’em? (I don’t think there’s any middle ground.) And will you be among the masses (like me) making your way to the theater to watch the movie? Here’s the trailer…

I started reading romance in the late 19th century … well, okay, not that long ago, but suffice it to say I’ve been hanging out with sexy heroes and the woman who love them for a really long time.

I’ve always enjoyed the culmination of the romance with the sweet and tender (or very hot) sex scene. But I’ve noticed, as no doubt you have as well, that these scenes in main stream books have become *ah hem* very detailed.

It’s not that it surprises me. What’s been allowed on the big screen without an “X” rating being slapped onto a movie has changed exponentially since I was a kid. I really don’t remember specific titles, but I recently watched a movie and remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t watching with my children or *gulp* my mother-in-law. It was less the yards of flesh and more the actions, explicit actions, that when watched with Mr. Nina were hot, but I was definitely surprised by how much they got away with. And now that’s translated to the small screen. Less with naked bodies and more with language.

So it’s not really surprising that romance books are following suit. It used to be the hero and heroine would have that one sex scene described in euphemisms. Now it seems like authors are being asked to put the sex in often and graphically. Like … really detailed.

Now here’s the interesting thing. In movies, woman can be shown naked. Everything. Breasts, butt, genitalia. For a long time. Men on the other hand can be shown in all their naked frontal glory for less than a second. And absolutely NO hint of arousal, otherwise the movie loses its “R” rating.

But books seem to go in the opposite direction. All the graphic euphemisms for men’s genitalia are found within the sex scenes. But the women? Nothing. They’re “entered” or “filled”. They have “most sensitive spots” and “tender flesh”. Because this isn’t erotic romance, it’s main stream. I’m currently editing a short novella that I “thought” was an erotic romance. But I think if I just change some of the intimate wording that my story will fall into the realm of just romance. Sexy romance, but not erotica.

But I wonder. how far can an author push the love scenes before a reader decides they’re reading erotica? At what point does it push the line from just sexy to over the top? Has the line become so blurred that even readers aren’t sure what they’re reading? Are there words/acts that you just don’t want to see? Because this whole thing is certainly confusing me and I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently. I love getting lost in them. All genres … save for horror. I can’t wrap my head around blood and mayhem. Besides they give me terrible nightmares, but I digress…

As I’ve been watching, my writer’s brain has been translating the images into the written word. Dissecting what makes the movies work … or not. Figuring out why I’m laughing or crying or sitting on the edge of my seat in breathless anticipation.

And one of the conclusions I’ve drawn is that in many ways movie makers have it so much easier than writers. First, you have the music. Running in the background, the tone of the melody creates the mood. It can be quick and happy or dark and scary. It can be used to build tension, slowly gathering to a crescendo and *wham* there’s that first kiss you’ve eagerly anticipated. And you release that breath you’ve been holding in a satisfying sigh of contentment.

And then of course there are the visual cues. The confused look when a hand is grasped. The dark lighting of a haunted house. The panoramic vista of a emerald mountain that underscores the epic journey about to be undertaken. There is no point-of-view character describing the scene. No one’s internal thoughts to engage the viewer. Just the images to carry the viewer into the story.

On the other hand a screen writer has only the dialogue of the characters to tell their story. There are no paragraphs of exposition to bring in the tragic backstory of the hero. No opportunities for the heroine to be in her head and share her innermost secrets. That all has to come naturally through conversations between characters. Maybe not the easiest job. But then of course, tears and smiles help do some of the work.

That isn’t to say I could ever write a screenplay. Writing dialogue just about kills me. But I don’t know, I still think movie makers have it easier than authors. What do you think? Am I off base on this one? And if you’ve seen any really good movies this summer let me know, I’m always looking for some good entertainment.

I love going to the movies, the whole sitting in the dark with a box/sack/feedbag of popcorn and a cup/gallon/drum of soda (because let’s face it the size of the snacks is insane … but I digress). I love the theater surround sound and the whole big screen experience. I go to be entertained.

Now, I’m no artsy critic. I rarely go for the deep meaningful movies that have everyone walking out of the theater quietly because they’re still trying to wrap their heads around the deeper message of the movie. And I love intelligent slapstick humor as much as the next person, though it can’t just be stupid for the sake of stupidity. What I dislike even more than stupid … degradation.

I can’t help it, I’m a middle child. It’s part of my psyche to make everything all right for everyone. I can’t stand when I think the underdog is being bullied. Which brings me to a couple of summer movies that have recently been released. (And let me preface this by saying I haven’t seen either of these movies and I’m judging them solely on the trailers.)

Bridesmaids is a movie about a woman who’s asked to be the maid of honor for her friend. I know it’s Hollywood’s answer to the “Hangover” movies, but I don’t think any of the men in those movies were made to look like idiots and losers. Just from the trailers I’ve seen, the main character is looked down upon and made to feel small. Then there is the part played by Melissa McCarthy. This actress worked all last year changing the image of plus size women in her role on “Mike and Molly”. And here she is playing a larger woman who is crass and very (in my opinion) man-ish.

And more recently released, Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher. Now this one–even in the public trailer–shows a teacher bullying her students. Whaaaat? There is just too much wrong with what I’ve seen in the previews for me to even consider watching it.

I know both of these movies are supposed to be funny. And I have no doubt there will be a really sweet ending in both of them. They’re about a couple of mindless hours being entertained and not about teaching life lessons. But I think some of these movies are just stepping over the line. In a world where we continue to encounter rudeness and bullying, prejudism and stereotyping, I’m just not sure some movies aren’t depicting the very things we’re working to stop.

I know this blog post sounds kinda preachy and it’s not really what I intended. It’s just that some of the movies that are coming out of Hollywood make me cringe and I was just wondering if I was the only one who felt this way.