Tag Archives: Stephen King

When Ka Decides Book to Movie Adaptations

The last time I addressed this topic I had been jaded and disappointed in Hollywood and most screenwriters for “screwing up” or “mis-interpreting” a beloved book/series. If you wish you can read it HERE. Warning, it is nit-picky and kind of pretentious.  My younger self (even just a few years ago) would throw out an entire movie just on some little details or expectations that far exceeding the truth of what book to movie versions represent.

This hard truth, a pill some fans are resistant to swallow (including my slightly younger self), is that each work of art (story, film, song) is interpreted by each reader/fan. They bring to that interpretation their own past, their hardships, their memories, which change the experience and perception of the art. And those interpretations that make it through the vetting process of a studio and a screen writer, the ones that make it onto the big screen might not match our own.images (1)

And it’s OKAY that the interpretations don’t match the source material. (Yes, even the most widely agreed upon as the worst of interpretations. Cough The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore cough cough). Because the interpretation isn’t a reproduction. It is the viewing of the source material, quite literally, through the lens of someone else’s mind.

thought-policeThis may be an obvious reminder, but if we interpreted works of art the same then our lives would be worse than those in 1984 where they were spoon-fed their opinions by the government. If we are imposing on ourselves such an exclusive thinking, that our interpretations are better than other, then we are the ones to blame for hampering creativity. That’s the last thing the artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers of the world want. That’s the last thing the readers and fans want (even if they don’t know it). Because without the independent, unique thoughts of the individual, we would deprive ourselves of some of the most beautiful creations known to man.

I’ve had a few of my favorite books turned into movies (most recently the sci-fi favorite Ender’s Game) and out of every possibility that could go wrong (inconsistencies, plot changes, terrible casting choice) I always left the theater with a huge grin, squealing my fangirl squeals all the way back to the car.
Undoubtedly, the phenomenon of having a non-pictorial story come alive in a very graphic and visually-appealing format….is a satisfaction that goes beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. To have story, its characters, its setting brought to life in front of my eyes—how can I NOT watch in awe? Some books are so vivid and so rich that they can play like a movie in your head. The scenes and character descriptions built in your mind are now standing in front of you on the screen. Voices are given timber and accents, bodies are given shape and clothes, and gestures and mannerisms are played out on the screen.

Even if every scene has one flaw, there is something magical that happens when someone takes the colors of prose and paints the filmstrip with them.

Speaking of Ender’s Game. Yes, I’m a fan. No, I will not be discussing the author’s private views in this blog. Yes, I have read every book in the main series and still don’t care about the author’s private views.

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The movie…blew my mind. Not in its accuracy (since the ending did not match the book it was titled from), but in the simple fact that a book I had come to love and revere for its intricate analysis of human emotion and psychology and sociology, was alive before me.

Were the actors everything I imagined? I will admit my poor visual imagination (thanks to aphantasia-it’s a real thing, I swear) pales in comparison to what the writers and producers put together. I recognized Ender when he came on screen not just physically, but for how the actor portrayed him. I felt the admiration Graff showed him in the final moments of the battle and the horror his team felt when he found out the truth of his victory. THAT is why I learned to enjoy book to movie interpretations. Because it gives new life to something I already love. It brings characters new dimension by adding this visual facet that wasn’t there before.

Maybe it’s because I found myself overly criticizing other’s works and I needed to reign in my own elitist thoughts. Or because I’ve actually written a piece I can imagine becoming a movie, but I’ve slowly learned to appreciate the amount of work it takes to translate something that is so complex and detailed on the page into a new format successfully.

Let’s turn now to an upcoming adaptation that has already experienced the sting of elitism even before the entire cast list is set.

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Yes, my lovelies I am talking about the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. To most, you know that I am a constant reader and dedicated fan to the writer who has astounded us for decades with his ability to merge genres and themes into beautiful, sometimes horrific portraits of humanity. He is not only a constantly evolving author, but an intense inspiration for any writer who simply loves the craft regardless of the paycheck.

His alternate worlds, science fiction, fantasy western is finally coming to the silver screen. And his fans are pissed. Let me preface this conversation with the fact that although The Gunslinger is one of 8 novels in the Dark Tower series, there is no plan to make the rest of them into movies. This will be important later.

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The crux of fan issues is in the casting choice and their displeasure lies in the elitism of what we as the reader view for the character in our minds as well as what we know to be true from the content. The casting the Man in Black as Matthew McConaughey was taken fairly well as he has played enough bad guy roles that he can characterize the elusive chaotic Man in Black with ease.

Yet when we come to the namesake of the movie, the gunslinger Roland Deschain of Gilead who would be played by Idris Elba. Although at first I agreed with some of the confused and annoyed fans that the choice was poorly made in reference to everything we knew about Roland: his description within the books (i.e. he was lighter in skin color-although still tan I imagine, blue eyes and silvering black hair) and the huge racial issues that occurred in the Drawing of the Three when Odetta (eventually Susannah), one of his ka-tet (destined companions), was battling a deeply wrathful and racist other personality Detta who hated Roland for his whiteness.

idrisHOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER. Most of the issues that would affect the story telling and character development (the racial and personality conflict in Drawing of the Three) will never reach the big screen. Therefore, the only real attachment to content here is based on physical description, which in almost every single movie adaption has changed based on what the interpretation needs. In this case, The Gunslinger as a standalone doesn’t require Roland to be fair-skinned. It requires a rough, sometimes cold personality of a man who has lost his love, his home, and his mind a few times in his unending quest to save his world from utter destruction. Idris Elba is capable of that character. Idris Elba will succeed well at bringing a new version of Roland to the fans of the Dark Tower series, if we have faith in the screen writers and the producers and the actors to be good to a story we hold dear.

Because, constant readers and new readers and never readers, how do we expect others to excel if we continue to doubt what they’re capable of?

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Again, the key here is…the movie will be someone else’s INTERPRETATION of King’s work. I began reading about the topic of The Gunslinger movie upset at why they would change the content. Until King reminded me (and the whole world) that someone else is telling the story now, and we should sit down, shut up, and enjoy the freakin’ ride, man! Just as many fans interpreted Roland as Clint Eastwood, there are others who would see Idris Elba as their calloused yet talented Gunslinger. The man whose obsession with Tower made him ignorant to the death of his friend until it was too late. This character, this man, this….Gunslinger is not what one person expects him to be. He remembers the face of his father. He follows the path of the Beam. He respects Ka above all other forces in the universe.

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I, for one, reigned in my inner critic really quick. Since I am currently reading Wolves of the Calla (Book 5), I tried imagining (poorly due to my aphantasia) Idris as Roland. And I pasted him in like a paper doll in a book. He fit right in. I find him just as easily subduing the Calla with the Commala Rice song and his quick footwork on the stage. I imagine him carefully following Susannah out into the swamp/woods to find out what’s going on. He is just as much Roland as I would have imaged the men who are drawn on the covers of the books. It’s just a new interpretation, a new version of the Roland I admire.

Book to movie adaptations are a hard subject among readers. We view the book as the superior source because it was there first and because it has more to the story that the movie ever will. I implore you friends and fellow constant readers. Set aside your personal images of the characters. Open your mind to a new interpretation of a story you’ve come to love. You never know what might surprise you about this interpretation. It may show you more to love about the story and characters than before.

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Happy reading and writing and watching my minions!

Don’t worry I didn’t forget the bengal cat picture for your viewing pleasure. Nyla says hello!

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12 Days of Blogmas Writing Contest

Now that I have finished my Master’s degree (yes you may call me Mistress), I am ready to get back into the groove of blogging with this new series.

Writing prompts have become profoundly important to my education as a writer and the development of my stories. And then…

unnamed                                                           I had an idea!

What if I took my favorite writing exercise—choosing prompts and writing scenes or stories from them—and made it into a quick writing contest?Everything about the contest (the prompts, rules, prizes) is listed below for you to review and decide if you might try your hand at this casual, fun writing contest.

The Prompts:

Any of these three “winter” themed prompts can be used to create a stunning story. I will request that submissions for the contest be in prose format simply due to my lack of knowledge in the realm of poetry (and no one wants a noob reviewing contest submissions), and ALL genres will be welcome. I will also be joining you in writing one of these (outside of the contest, of course), and will share mine at the very end of Blogmas!

 

  1. Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down…
  2. While shopping in a department store during the holidays, a child is separated from his or her parents and discovers a portal to a winter wonderland.
  3. Use the below photo as inspiration for a story.1ac6755cebce4562c48969d6bb80bbb9

 

The Rules:

1.Only one submission per person because…well, fairness.

2.Try to keep submission under 1200 words, they can be a scene/chapter, a piece of flash fiction, or an excerpt. The reason behind this is that I want each submission to be eligible for potential publication elsewhere (yes, I believe in you), so keeping the word count limited will allow that (since some publishers are picking about online copies of excerpts).

3.The first round of the contest will be conducted by me in that I will choose from all of the submissions and elect 12 to be featured (one per day) in its own individual blog post. After each submission is published, each finalist will be entered to win the prizes which will be chose

4.All submissions must be sent via email to Amyoung0606@gmail.com by 12/14/2015 at 11:59pm. The first blogmas submission will be published on 12/13/15 and run until 12/24/15. Submissions should be sent in word document format with no name in the document, your name (pen name if applicable), and a short paragraph about you or what you like to read write should be in the body of the email. If you wish to describe the inspiration of your submission please feel free to add anything you would want included in published blog post.

There will be three winners chosen from the 12 finalists at random to win the prizes. Winners will be chosen and announced by Monday 11/28/2015 due to the holiday, and photographs of the prizes will also be posted before they are shipped out.

THE PRIZES:

The first winner will receive a copy of On Writing by the King. It is one of my personal favorites and a great anecdotal account of learning the craft.

The second winner will receive a “Mystery Geek Package” filled with all things geeky, nerdy, fantasy, sci-fi to inspire the writer caught in a winter block.

The third winner will receive a “Curl Up By the Fire Package” for those nights when a writer needs a break and sits back to read a good book. Contents may include homemade cookies, delectable hot beverages, and warm words of encouragement.

So my faithful minions, I dare you to put on your writer’s cap, plug in your computer/ get out your pad and paper, and join me for the 12 Days of Blogmas where you may find your work published on here for the world to see and a well-earned prize in your mail after Christmas.

As always, I wish you Happy reading and writing!

And let’s not forget the obligatory cat selfies/human selfies from Mistress Spotted Writer and her muse, Nyla Troublemaker!

 

 

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A Belated Valentines To My Fangirls (and Boys): Book Crush Time!

Book Crush.

I recently discovered the term for this hormone-induced phenomenon thanks to a perfectly-timed article from The Huffington Post. I’ve linked the original post below, but it inspired my own ideas as to what a Book Crush really is. Unlike, the movie or tv show crushes that most fan girls experience, books are delectably intimate and communal. One fangirl can have a personal experience of her book crush without ruining the collective enjoyment of her friends about the very same character. It is one of the most fabulous and devious feelings in the world.
Naturally, I had to make a list of my own. I focused mainly on the fantasy and sci-fi books that have stood out for me and I didn’t separate for gender because sometimes you can’t help who your crush is—male/female, human/non-human, good/evil. Sometimes, a girl just needs to love her books.

Without further ado, I give you my list of Book Crushes because the Huffington Post list seemed to miss some of the most stellar examples in the book world today. P.S. these are in alphabetical order based on the book title or series title and there may be more than one if it’s a series.

11/22/63 by Stephen King- Jake Epping Although most people think of King’s MC’s as twisted or murderous, Jake is the exception to the rule. He is devoted, compassionate, and brave. Literally, the embodiment of chivalry, and he chooses to leave his life behind and change the world by saving one of the best U.S. presidents—JFK. I drooled for half the book at how easily he took care of a woman so damaged by her previous marriage she was afraid of going to sleep next to a man. If one man could heal a woman’s broken heart, it was Jake. Out of all of my book crushes, he’s the one I could easily marry and give children.

A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin-Daenerys Targaryen/Tyrion Lannister-Mother of Dragons. Daenerys is by far the most interesting and fluid character in the entire series. That paired with a beautiful actress, who portrays her in the tv show flawlessly makes her a crush worthy character.

Plus—DRAGONS! She birthed dragons from the ashes of her beloved Drogo. So many fangirl love for Daenerys Targaryen called Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Dothraki, Trueborn Queen of the Andals, Rhoynar, and the First Men, and Lady of the Seven Kingdoms.

My runner up for book crush is Tyrion Lannister, Imp of Westeros. I would skip through most of the books (and have) just to read what happens to the Imp and what trouble he gets himself into. He may appear to be comedic relief in scenes, but I get all squirmy inside when I get to a Tyrion chapter or see Peter Dinklage on screen. I mean he’s one of the few honest and mostly good-hearted characters in the entire series. Look at the way he cares for Sansa. It’s just too bad that Martin doesn’t use two of his best characters more often.

Black Jewel Series by Anne Bishop- Jaenelle(Witch/Dreams Made Flesh)/Lucivar and Daemon-Besides the fact that this series is quickly becoming my most favorite fantasy of all time, Jaenelle or Witch is dreams made flesh for any avid fangirl. Even though she’s an 11-year-old, I became captivated with the presence Jaenelle brought to the page. If there is one person that I love as much as the other characters love—it’s Witch. The only relatable comparison that I can make is Harry Potter with a throne and 500% more power. But in reality, I love Jaenelle more than I’ve ever loved a singular character. She is fierce, dark, innocent, compassionate, animal lover, frustrated child, and one with the land. Gah! I can’t talk enough about her.

The very close runners up are the brother duo—Lucivar and Daemon. Now as bad as it would sound to have crushes on two pleasure slaves, there is a reason for my undying fangirl love. While they are powerful characters and warlord princes in their own right, they have an undying, unwavering love for Witch even before they meet her. No matter how much pain women have put them through, Lucivar and Daemon love Jaenelle with everything they have. How can I say no to that? And they happen to be the most fantastically sexy men in my mind.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Example: Charlie Hunnam as Lucivar (sans wings) and Aidan Turner as Daemon.

Before I die of excitement, go buy Daughter of the Blood and fall in love with them too!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-Guy Montag-Although the reader gets very little description about him, he automatically enraptures the reader will his willingness to question what he has “known” all his life and in the end chooses knowledge over living just on what he’s been told. He may not have the brains of a professor, but the heart of the every man lives in Montag, and I would be hard pressed to find a book worm who wouldn’t swoon for a guy willing to leave a society that burns books. Could you resist?

Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne-Atticus O’Sullivan-What do you get when you add 2,000+ years of Druid training, mad fighting/magic skills, nerdy quips, and tattoos? The hottest MC on every plane of existence. Atticus (Siodhachan O Suileabhain) is the last Druid alive, and like every fan girl who has discovered him—I am in love. He is witty (partakes in Shakespearian insult battles with vampires), knowledgeable (has the secret to stop aging from ancient Celtic god/has plethora of geeky facts), and sufficiently ripped from all the demons and gods he’s slain to stay alive. Did I mention he taught his dog how to speak telepathically? Or how about his ability to keep a professional relationship, through five books, with his gorgeous apprentice before finally giving the fan girls what they want—BOW CHICKA WOW WOW! I leave you to scour the interwebs to get your Atticus fandom on, but not before I share one of many fabulous quotes:

“Druid log July 15: Dark elves are not only quick and efficient killers, but creative and pyrotechnically inclined ones.”
— Kevin Hearne (Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #5))

Mortal Instruments Series-Magnus Bane-This crush was a hard decision, but instead of going with Jace (the typical choice) I decided to pick character I crush on regardless of if he likes boys. Magnus Bane! Again I state how can I not love him. He has panache, power, and the knowledge to make him a formidable opponent. Ignoring the actor who was chosen for the movie, I always imagined a type of Adam Lambert/Freddy Mercury look for Magnus, and I gobbled scenes with Magnus (and Alex) like candy. It made the cliched scenes with Clary a little more bearable.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory MaGuire-Elphaba-One of the greatest stories ever written was The Wizard of Oz, and then came Gregory MaGuire with his dark, sexual prequel that highlights what life in Oz is like before Dorothy comes bumbling along. I, for one, have to admit that although I love Jaenelle, Elphaba will always be my favorite witch. Cursed with green skin, the universe was bound to hand her the worst of life, but every page of this book just makes me adore her. She is the misfit I see in myself—the one that just doesn’t belong. And yet she manages a functioning friendship (several) throughout college before the corruption of society turns her against the world. I get goosebumps just thinking about how even at the end, Elphaba still gains the love of the Prince Charming a.k.a. Fiyero. The misfit can get the guy and the awesome magic power. Fangasm!

The Eyre Affair– Rochester-Let me preface this entry with the fact that I haven’t actually read Jane Eyre (on my list), but this science fiction novel gives me hope that it’s a classic well worth the read. He’s not only the gorgeous male lead in one book, but in TWO! Rochester manages to save the day for the main character, Thursday Next, who would have otherwise let a mass-murderer/lunatic run free through all of literature. He is sweet, gentlemanly, and always conscious of how much he loves Jane. Love, love love!

Weather Warden Series-David-My final, and probably most exotic book crush is a Djinn. Ancient, beautiful, fearsome creature that just happens to be pretty hunky. Did I mention the exceedingly limitless supernatural power with centuries of experience. I honestly don’t know if I have a normal expectation for men after David. He’s protective without crossing too many boundaries for a magical creature. Meaning, he’s not Edward Cullen status, but you don’t mind him being a little clingy, and he lets his main squeeze, Jo, take the reigns when she needs to. I could drone on about how he blossoms as a character over the nine book series, but I will let you find out.
Honorable mentions:
Blood Price by Tanya Huff-Henry Fitzroy-Vampire, graphic novelist, badass!

Faerie Tales by Fiona Skye-David Lo-Chinese version of a gollum only hotter and a great shot. Yes, I’ll have me one of him to take home. Plus he does dishes.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling-Draco Malfoy-Because he’s a complex, torn character and Tom Felton is hot.

Hollow Series by Kim Harrison-Kisten Phelps-gorgeous, blonde vampire with a complicated history.

Iron Druid Series-Granuaile-foxy redhead and newly made Druid. She can keep up with a 2,000-year-old Druid and his talking dog. She’s awesome!
All in all, I was throughly pleased with my choices, and the fun time I had writing this up. It’s just a shame I can’t poof all of  my enjoyable memories into your heads, dear readers, so that you could enjoy it with me. So, get reading! Pretty please? I do hate the feeling that you’ve found truly phenomenal characters with no one to share it with.

Who are your book crushes? Do you see any that should be on here? Please share. Happy Reading and Writing!

Also….Kitty picture!

Since it's Thursday, thought I'd throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

Since it’s Thursday, thought I’d throw in a Throwback Thursday photo

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Banning Books: Guest Author Denise Drespling Answers

I use Grammarly to detect plagiarism because Shia LaBeouf’s twitter apology makes a more exciting buzzfeed post than a copycat blog.

Courtesy of Google Images and Arielle Selzer-Graphic Design

Some of the most  admirable works have made it to the banned books list for a multitude of extreme reasons. While banned books impart terror into book lovers, it’s also a milestone for writers who have broken the mold of “acceptable literature.” Each year, new books are added to the collection of stories that should not be read according to a straight-laced minority.

With the help of my guest blogger, Denise Drespling, we tackle the questions readers past and present ask when a book is banned for a bad reason.

Q: In light of contemporary authors Rainbow Rowell and Meg Madina’s having their talks cancelled at the last minute, how does it benefit students to learn more about writing/reading when school boards or individual parents take them away for sometimes insignificant portions of a story?

Denise: Taking away books is never a benefit to a student. It’s already difficult to get some of them to read, but when you take away the books they identify with it’s even more difficult. Though, in many ways a banned book can benefit an author, which is the complete opposite of what those pushing for a ban want to accomplish. You tell a teen, “Don’t drink and party.” Do they do it anyway? Yup!

So, if you tell a teen, “Don’t read this book because it has sex, violence, and bad language,” do you really expect them to listen? They won’t. The book will now be read more widely, which benefits the author. And I guess, if the students are reading the books that were banned, it could, in the end, benefit them for having read it. So, I change my mind. To those who choose rebellion and read the book anyway, there is a benefit.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

Q: While school boards have the authority to remove books, should there be more consideration or regulation before a quality book is taken out of the hands of willing students?

Denise: The process for getting a book removed should be highly involved, forcing the parent to prove why the book is harmful. A book should never be banned based on one parent’s complaint. It should take a whole pack of parents. I mean, like, petition numbers. In so many ways, this is complete arrogance. One parent decides, “I don’t want my child reading this,” and therefore decrees that no child anywhere should read this.

Why should other parents get to say what my child reads in school? It’s one thing to go to a teacher and explain that you’d rather she assign a different book for your child, based on your personal morals. It’s quite another to go to a school board and force an entire high school of hundreds or thousands of students to follow your personal moral code.

 

Q: When do you feel it is necessary to ban a book, and why?

Denise: I don’t know that I ever feel it’s necessary. Teachers select books that they feel will speak to the students and will teach them something. Don’t we trust our teachers’ opinions anymore? If I questioned a book, the first thing I would do is read it myself. This should be a requirement for all parents pushing a ban. Then, I’d talk to the teacher and ask her why she thought it was worthwhile. Teachers aren’t idiots. We need to trust the teachers’ opinions that the content value outweighs what could be seen as a problem and not put our kids into a reading bubble.

I will make this concession. Four different school shootings were said to have been influenced by Stephen King’s (writing as Richard Bachman) book Rage. Here is a case where it was proven that this book could potentially be harmful. I think if this happens once with a book, you can’t blame the book; twice, you start to wonder, but after four, okay. In this case, I haven’t heard that it was required or suggested reading by any high school, and the author himself asked the publisher to discontinue the printing of it. And I should mention that the book is now harder to find and is highly valuable on the resell markets. People want to read it simply because it caused these problems and because it’s not available.

Amanda: Even as a devoted Stephen King “constant reader,” I’ve read Rage and I must agree with Denise in this scenario because some books (although well-executed) are not destined for public eyes due to their extreme content.

bachmanQ: Which famously banned book have you read simply because it was on the list?

Denise: I recently purchased The Bachman Books, a collection that includes Rage, and it was only because of the circumstances surrounding it. Not every day does an author pull his own book. Beyond that, I don’t generally pay attention to the lists because I think they’re utterly ridiculous and useless. I would read them all and I may even make a concerted effort to read them all just because. Luckily, my mother never felt it necessary to restrict my reading. When I was in high school, Catcher in the Rye was still required reading and it should be. It’s fabulous and I remember it being one of the only books I liked of what was required. And it got banned, why? Bad language and poop? I mean, really. There’s a sex scene in Romeo and Juliet. Where’s the outrage there? We even watched the 1960s version of the movie where there was a boob! “Ban it!” said no parent.

Q: What would your response be if one of your books was banned?

Denise: I would shout for joy. Not only would this ban mean that teens everywhere will now be clamoring to read my book while hiding it in their textbooks, but also the book will be talked about on various web sites and media outlets and in multiple discussions around the bake sale table. You can’t buy publicity like that! In fact, when I heard that Eleanor & Park was banned, Rainbow posted about it on Facebook, and I left her a congratulatory comment.

Q: If you could suggest any banned book to the masses, what would it be and why?

Denise: All of them! Read all the books everywhere! Reading banned books is a much better way to be rebellious than, say, trying out shoplifting.

Amanda: As we near the end of this impromptu interview, Denise has a few final notes in regards to the discussion of banning books in an age where students are learning to use an ipod before they have a healthy dose of books and poetry.

Do I believe that a parent should monitor what their kids read/watch/listen to? Absolutely. Do I believe have the right to tell teachers what their children are permitted to read? Sure, but one parent does not have the right to take away a book from a kid who might desperately need it. Therein is the tragedy. Eleanor & Park is a beautiful book about subjects that aren’t always tackled in such a real way. There are teens out there that need Eleanor & Park.

What really makes my blood boil is the reason the books are being banned: Bad language? Sex? Violence?  Are we forgetting that all of these are highly available to teens, but also that most are already experiencing them? Is a teen who uses the f-word more often than he changes his boxer shorts going to relate more to a book like Eleanor & Park, which has real teens being teens, or Romeo and Juliet, which is so far removed from our current way of life that even adults struggle to understand what the heck Shakespeare was talking about? I had to read Romeo and Juliet in high school. I did not enjoy it and I was frustrated by it.

My guess would also be that those same parents freaking out over a book with a handful of curse words do not monitor every Facebook chat, every phone conversation, and every lunchroom argument. Teens curse. They have sex. They get violent. They even drink. Is reading a book going to make them do any of these things more than they already do? Doubtful, but at least they’ll be reading. In the end, drinking to the point of drunkenness won’t increase their intelligence (in fact, quite the opposite—you know, dead brain cells and all), but reading a book about someone drinking into oblivion will expand their minds and make them just a little smarter.

I’d rather read a book with my child and explain it to her than to have her go around, reading things behind my back that she might be left to interpret (possibly misinterpret) on her own. At her age range (7), some parents try to keep out anything with magic or fantasy in it (like “Tinkerbell” or “My Little Pony”). I made the decision to teach her that magic is not real, animals do not actually talk, and sadly, there are no unicorns or Pegasus horses. As a result, she has a wild imagination that will benefit her all through life, and I love that. If I see her behavior change negatively as a result of a certain show or book, then I’ll cut it and explain why. It’s always better to teach them what is an untruth and/or wrong behavior than to try to remove every hint of it.

Incoming random kitty picture for your viewing pleasure. A.K.A. Mommy showing off her kitty’s Christmas present:

At the top of her new, 80-inch cat tree. Love my Bengal baby!

At the top of her new, 80-inch cat tree. Love my Bengal baby!

I want to thank my lovely colleague and fellow grad student, Denise Drespling, for the time she took to be my guest this week. Mosey on over to her delightful website where you can read her exciting trip through NaNoWriMo and other writing-related posts. Denise is one the most talented and determined writers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. And don’t forget to check out the plagiarism checker by Grammarly that helps this grateful blogger to write a thorough blog post.

Happy reading and writing my lovelies!

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A Halloween Homage to the King

As a belated Halloween post, I thought that paying homage to the Master of Horror, Stephen King, seemed fitting for one of his constant readers. Maybe not consistent in the amount of books I have read over time, but definitely in my dedication to his work.  It was only after reading this wonderful post What Stephen King Isn’t by Joshua Rothman from The New Yorker that I truly realized why I love Stephen King so fiercely.

He is not simply one of the best American horror writers to earn his way onto the shelves and into the Kindles of thousands of people. King is one of the best American authors of our time, and to the dismay of plenty of critics, I am not the only one to think so. Although book sales cannot always tell you the quality of an author’s writing,  how does one deny the 60 awards won over a forty year period and over 350 million books sold? With three bibliography pages on Wikipedia: one for novels and collections, one for his individual short stories, and one for his unpublished works, you can imagine how hard this amazing man has been burning the midnight oil to make his masterpieces.

So someone in the world has felt the good sense to keep publishing him to build a colossal fan base of what? Horror fans? Speculative fiction maybe to generalize? He gets the nick name Master of Horror, but to his constant readers he is so much more than the author of spine-tingling supernatural thrillers that defy the laws of the known universe.

In the recent interview with Parade magazine (which I fervently read through at my parent’s kitchen table), King reiterates my point, “I’ve been typed as a horror writer, and I’ve always said to people, “I don’t care what you call me as long as the checks don’t bounce and the family gets fed.” But I never saw myself that way. I just saw myself as a novelist” (A Rare Interview with Master Storyteller Stephen King). He doesn’t see himself as anything more than man with a story (or hundreds) that he hopes to share with people who will love them as much as he does.

As a “greenie” to the world of Stephen King, I feel in love with his ability to write anything and everything. He has earned the right to at this point in his career, which not many contemporary authors can claim because let’s face it- if  you get one good book that’s mildly popular that is a success. For King, he has made miracles come from the imagination that has inspired dozens of movie and television show adaptations including recent ones like Under the Dome and Haven.

Besides the horror elements that made his initial stories famous, King transcends all genre as you will read in Joshua Rothman’s post. I will let him describe the SK phenomena in his own way, but I will touch upon it in my short review of two of King’s recent books.

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Joyland is a refreshing breath of carnie air, complete with the lingering scent of salty sea air and stale popcorn. King, as if on cue, finds the perfect story to bring the best parts of summer bliss back into our lives. Who doesn’t want teenage romance, a forlorn female ghost, and a crew of lovable amusement park employees that treat the “greenies” or new employees with a little rough and tough love? I do! And after reading Joyland (and other pieces) I could never imagine King as JUST a horror writer. In some ways, it limits readers to view him only as a writer of killer clowns and raging, possessed cars. Joyland has some gruesome scenes, but nothing that screams horror.

Instead, I felt myself pining for the romance he was building slowly with the subtle actions of the characters and unique, direct style of his writing. And let me tell you, I did NOT anticipate or hope for romance in a book with murder, amusement parks, and ghosts, but King made me want it. The main character, Devin Jones, is 21, and like any young adult thinks of love even without trying. King  leaves the characters to do most of the work, and yet his ideas if tried by anyone else would turn out as a hodgepodge of genres that should never belong together.

Joyland is a blast from the past that combines the yearning of a romance, the deduction of a murder mystery, and the subtlety of a supernatural story that will leave any reader laughing or crying by the end. It is a quintessential King novel because it uses the supernatural to elevate the truth of the human psyche. He knows what we want to read, and writes the story we need to hear. Most importantly, King is in the business of selling fun!

I finished Joyland about a week ago, on audiobook, which is well worth the money, the reader is FANTASTIC! Afterwards, I was so inspired that I went back to 11/22/63 that had been out for two years, and I was about 50 pages from the end. It took me two years to read this monster of a book because it was characteristically long for King books, but even more so because I didn’t want to know the end.

King introduces an age old question of what would happen if someone could go back in time and CHANGE history. It’s difficult to understand time travel in a theoretical sense; add a lovable main character with a hero complex and presto you have the makings of a wonderfully adventurous. 11/22/63 is another of King’s recent works that succeeds with a believable love story-of an English teacher from 2011 and a librarian of the 50s. Is there boat loads of gore and supernatural elements? Well, sure. You can’t have time travel without the repercussions, but what is really comes down to is a well-written, well-researched historical novel that uses the best imagination in all of us to answer what would happen if someone went back in time and saved John F. Kennedy.

There’s hope, guilt, history, patriotism, and an overwhelming feeling that just once everyone lives (ten points for any blogger who points out where that phrase is from). In the end, King wraps up the story as though there is no other way it could have ended. The balance of the world is restored, and the reader, who has ridden on this whirlwind of a story, is faced with one honest, human reality. The past has a nasty way of happening no matter what you do to change it. Instead of trying to fix it, sometimes the best way to change the past is to learn why it happened.

In the collective ten hours over the past week that it took to research and write this post, I have fallen more in love with King and his writing than before. I spent all yesterday and today watching videos  of this ordinary man, and found a foul-mouthed, experienced writer that simply loves books.  I won’t try to place him on a pedestal, but the man deserves credit for everything he’s done. Not only that, he has stayed the same humble, book worm that picked up Lord of the Flies and landed in a fictional world that he has never left.

To me, Stephen King is more than a popular author, more than a very successful author. He is the hope that my ideas, my imagination can mean something to someone else if I work hard enough. He transcends genre by combining elements and characters that no one else could make work. He believes in his stories, in the ideas that come to him in the motel, the drive home, or in a dream. Stephen King represents the dreams of every writer to be more than the picture on the book jacket. A man that is willing to read 50 shades of gray and find something positive to say about it, has to be brilliant or a complete psycho. Either way, I suggest if you haven’t given the King a chance–try again. Ask me for suggestions, check out his website and find something that interests you. There are hundreds of stories to choose from, and King does not discriminate genre. He has a little bit of everything for the reader willing to open him/herself to be captivated by this everyday, extraordinary author.

P.S. There is a website that uses a statistical analysis tool to analyze your word choice, writing style and compares it to famous authors. Out of the five chapters I placed in this statistical tool, 3/5 came back as Stephen King. If that isn’t proof of how influential he is not only in my current manuscript, but my writing in general, I don’t know what is.

If you feel compelled to put each chapter of your current WIP, blog post, or journal–the link is below:

http://iwl.me/

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

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November 7, 2013 · 12:20 am

Even For a Writer-Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Reading?

Let me preface this post by saying, I am a certified bibliophile-lover of books, reading, and the process of making stories. Almost every waking minute I’m thinking about the books I want to read and the ones that I want to write. In my dreams, the books I love blur together into a giant collage of characters, scenes, and magical worlds. So, when my beloved Stephen King gives the following advice, who am I to disagree?
Courtesy of http://izquotes.com/quote/102677
Certainly not one of his dedicated constant readers, who marvels in the wonderment of his writer-ly glow.  But question him, I shall. In the paraphrased words of Socrates–  “Question everything, and then once you’ve questioned everything about your life, question the reason why you read so damn much!” Okay, maybe Socrates just meant to question all aspects of my life.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my World

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my World

Yet, I feel compelled to bring up this subject because it has been bothering me for months. I love reading so much that if I go a day without reading, I feel like I’ve missed out on a part of my life like kissing a loved one or forgetting to pick a child up from school–it’s THAT important.

As a writer, one of the most important skills I need is to read and take away different tips or style from which I can improve my own work. At the same time, reading is so much more than simply finding out how to write well or form a good story. It’s about the passion I have whenever I find a book that truly speaks to my soul, one that makes me excited to wake up and read every day.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World

So, it shouldn’t be an issue that I read in almost all of my spare time, each time I sit down to eat, I have to read. There are times where I could spend hours lost in a well-conceived fantasy world and feel accomplished at how far I’ve gone, but does reading more often than writing help or is can reading too often be used as a way to procrastinate what you’re writing. Even now, I’m thinking about the next Game of Thrones book, the third installment of a childhood book series that I purchased months ago, or quickly buying the book for my next assignment.

All of these thoughts are easier than the revisions I just received from my mentor. Therefore, I pose the question: Is there a thing as too much reading?

Most people, including my inner self would say: No, you can never read too much, especially when it benefits your writing!

While this is incredibly true, I have to draw the line somewhere because I’ll spend the rest of my life making outlines and planning my beautiful ideas as I read other great works. It is high time I set a limit on myself. Since I have ample time once the school year is over, it’s time for me to crack down and say no to my pleasure reading. It’s one thing to read to learn and another to hide behind other authors to avoid my own work.

Please feel free to share your ideas on whether you think there is a limit to reading as a writing, especially if it allows you to procrastinate your own writing.

Now that I am on the topic of reading a lot, I must confess there are some hilarious quirks that us bookworms have. At a birthday party last weekend, I was making conversation with some new acquaintances and besides sharing our recently read list, we discussed how people approach us while reading. There is a very delicate way to talk to someone who is immersed in a book. Personally, I feel it is impossible to get my attention without enacting some type of weird primal rage while I’m reading. I read during my lunch at work, which sometimes means I’m reading at my little cubicle. I’ve only had interruptions a few times, but one of co-workers apparently received a very unhappy look when asking a work-related question on my “reading time”. As unintentional as the face may have been (because I didn’t see the horrified look I gave him), it goes to show how truly absorbed I can become in a book. Here to help put this behavior into perspective is another lovely photos from the Facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock My World, who has supplied almost every photo I have used in the blog today.

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

Now if we could mass produce this lovely sketch to all of the world I’m sure many readers would be less like to be interrupted and no longer turn into feral creatures caught in a corner. I may be over-dramatizing slightly on that last bit, but the meaning is the same. Sometimes, there are books so fantastic, so mind blowing that we forget where we are and why shouldn’t we?

At times, my life is both scary and boring. Why should I be brought back into the realities of my impending revisions, assignments, and Monday mornings before I’m ready to leave the next Kevin Hearne or Neil Gaiman book? I shouldn’t! If you see a wild bookworm tucked away, leave the poor creature be. Spread the world, save the wild bookworm from extinction by letting them read. They will eventually come around.

From Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world on facebook

From Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world on facebook

Another very present issue is finding a comfortable position to read in. I have found it is much harder to find this with a physical book than using Nook on my phone. With my phone, it isn’t as heavy and even the thinnest paper backs are heavy when you’re holding them up. Here is another diagram to explain what I mean.

It’s like a stressful, non-exercise yoga. Someone (mainly engineers and physicists) need to design a chair specifically for long-term reading. So many chairs would be purchased! And they should probably have a tea/coffee dispenser, too. Just to make sure the reader is always stocked. Feel free to take my idea as long as I get a chair free of charge once it’s invented.

from the facebook group fantasy and sci-fi rock my world

from the facebook group fantasy and sci-fi rock my world

It’s both difficult and thrilling to be a reader and lover of books. People today still associate book reading with  obligatory school assignments and other non-enjoyable things like learning or singing showtunes (all of which can be incredibly fulfilling if given the chance).  However, one thing remains clear. For those of us who caught the reading bug early on, we know the best kept secret of all.

For me, it’s an escape and a lesson. I can escape to a world I’ve never experienced, people I’ve never met, but more importantly escaping into the deepest parts of me. Books help us to learn about ourselves in a world where anonymity and fake identities rule. It is a chance to be the princess or the knight without having to worry about someone telling you it’s not your place in the world. You can be whoever or whatever you want inside your favorite book.

From the facebook page Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook page Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

All in all, readers seem more able to take on the world because we’ve been so many more places. How can you compare seeing the Empire State building when you’ve been to Mordor, King’s Landing, Idris, Tír na nÓg, and share them with people you’ve never met. Reality is such a tiny place compared to the vastness of fiction. Although this post began as a reason to reign in my reading craze, it is always important to focus on the reason why books make me crazy. They are powerful items, bound in paper and magic, with one purpose: to take you to a place where your imagination runs free.

I want to take the time to thank my wonderful friend Denise Drespling, who inspired me to write about questioning myself as she questioned hers in her first blog post. You should check her out because she is clever and talented. Check out Writer’s Block: Is it all Just Crap?

I leave you now with many thoughts and one last hilarious picture. Happy reading and writing my loves!

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

From the facebook group Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rock my world

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Scary Setting: Why They Were Picked For Stories?

We all know why the phrase “on a dark and stormy night” brings on a wave of chills and terror when read.  Yet, it is where you are on that stormy night that truly turns a story into the horrifying one the author’s nutty brain imagined.

The mystery and suspense thrive on the creation of a spooky setting

The setting may be just part of the background for some writers. I have found the more I read (as a writer), the more important place becomes to the story. It’s not only the playing board on which the writer sets his/her characters, but it can bring the story to life for the reader. Besides, do you think if a horror story were set in a different place, the story would really stay the same? HELL NO!

Would The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde be the same outside of London? Or how about Dracula and Transylvania? None of these classics would hold the same power if they weren’t set in these eerie places with descriptions to match. There are a few familiar examples to follow to help explain my point. Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire would feel out of place without New Orleans casting its old world mysticism onto the modern story. Most of Stephen King’s novels take place in a fake town in Maine, allowing him to create the most fantastic horror stories of our time. Finally, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is set in the ruins of Los Angeles leaving its main character alone with throngs of mutated humans that once populated the luxurious city.

At times, the writer will focus too much on the plot or characters to notice what makes good horror writing truly believable, but that is where the terrifying bumps in the night live. I found the inspiration for my next story not in a person or idea, but in a place.  About a ten minute drive from home, sits several new developments with pretty, new houses. When I say several I mean hundreds of brand-new, huge mansion-sized houses in the forests of Western Pennsylvania–all empty. There are one or two occupied houses in each development and the rest…Well, the rest are as deserted as a Western ghost town (also another great location).

Now, I may not be an economist or real estate agent. However, building hundreds of $400,000 homes in an unlikely real estate location strikes me as odd. So odd that it becomes spine-tingling creepy if you visit them at night.  My story does not have a spooky city, but a spooky house. It may seem cliche or lame, but it is the perfect place to write my new science fiction horror.

What are your favorite scary settings in novels and if you’re currently writing a horror, why did you choose the setting you did?

Happy reading and writing!!

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