In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Pushing On ...

By the end of week three, the beginning of week four, we NaNoWriMo writers are starting to feel the pressure.

Says Brendan Sta, "I am thinking … I should pull my liver out so I can squeeze the coffee out and make room for a fresh assault on it with a new brew. 31K though so health not important, only numbers."

It might be a drastic concept, but when you are still below 40,000 with only eight days left it can be daunting and hard to convince yourself that, "Yes, I can do this."

Katrina Thiessen-Beasse is working hard to catch up. She got hit with an eight day bug that put her behind. Still, she’s determined. "I'm feeling fairly confident that I can do this."

The NaNoWriMo is no easy undertaking, for the first timer, or for the professional who just wants to try something new. For the man who has always wanted to write a book, this is his chance. The NaNo can take the "I'll write the book someday" and turn it into a nice and pretty computer file waiting for editing. It’s an accomplishment that you share with a select group of people. Supportive people ... it is hard to find a group so in helping one another. Whether it’s with word sprint on Facebook, help with a research question you might have, Twitter’s fun challenges or even just “Help, I think I am going under …” and the letters pour in. “You can do it. We have faith.”

You start off with Week One as strangers, all with the same goal, all going in different directions. As soon as Week Two hit the comradery comes with it and “GoGoGo’s” are coming at you. “I want to do a work sprint someone may say. “Who’s up with me?” and fourteen to twenty people are lining up for twenty minute sessions.Is there competition? Yes, some. You do like to see that you are typing a few more words, but it’s a friendly completion, no hard feelings and no one singing insults at you at the end of the day.

The NaNoWriMo excitement builds hope. To take that one thing you always hear people say, “Someday I’m going to write my novel,” and make the dream a reality.

We have left week three now, are halfway through week four. We are tired, maybe doubting ourselves, longing for the burst of energy on Thanksgiving Day where we will sneak away from the family long enough to get our daily goals in.

Or maybe not. Maybe we were one of the lucky ones like Melanie Rio. “I have surpassed the numerical finish line, but my story isn't anywhere near complete yet. I'm excited to keep writing, whether or not this novel ends in the month of November. It's been a great start, at the very least.”

More likely than not, though, we are a tad bit behind and holding cyber hands with Ceci Faurie, “I'm behind on my word count, but I believe in miracles. We can do this!”

And we can!

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo Quote

"Talent in cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." ~Stephen King

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo Week Two ...

Why do we do it? Why do we set the goal of 50,000 words in one month? Cassidy is doing it, I'm doing it. I know a dozen people I meet with online and in my living room that all felt the challenge and are facing the numbers every day.

What drives us? What makes us show up every day with sore fingers, sore wrists and eyes that ache?

Laurie Olson needed to light a fire under her to get this project off the back burner. "I've been planning for so long," she says, "that I was kind of stuck in that stage." Claire Walton, a first timer, just wanted to see if she could do it. And with only 14,000 words to go, she is paving the way for the rest of us old timers.

I participate in the NaNo every year as a form of recess to excess, where I get to work on a project that has been waiting in the wings, or start a new one right from scratch instead of one that is due. I clear off teaching assignments for November, guest blogs, anything that might distract me from the book at hand. This year, that book is Snap Shots: good ol’ cops with a good ol’ ghost.

They warn us from NaNo Central about the dreaded Week Two, when the newness of the adventure has worn off and the majority of people, who won't be finishing, decide not to finish. There are still those who are committed. ... or as Brendan Sta says "Insane." These writers have a word count of 20,000 or 40,000. If they can make it to Week Three, chances are they will be making it to the end.

Says Ellie Mack: "I'm doing it to reestablish my daily habit of writing. When you get out of any habit it's hard to restart. This gives me a challenge, a daily goal, and the opportunity to occasionally interact with like minded people."

There is a unity among these people. Online, on Twitter, on Facebook or even in your own region where you are meeting with like minded writers, all striving for the same thing: a 50,000 first draft and a piece of paper we get to print out from our own computer that says "You Did It. You made it to The End.”

Is it worth it? The people I spoke to seemed to think so. Cassidy does too. And me, I will be here next just to see what happens next in whatever story I am working on then.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November NaNo-Bites by Cassidy McKay

November NaNo-Bites

by Cassidy McKay

What is it about November that brings together thousands of people, all in a frenzy to write 50,000 words in thirty days? NaNoWriMo.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and the creators of http://NaNoWriMo.org invite everyone to try their hand at the fun. You can join in, even if you're not a writer. After all, every published author started out sometime, somewhere, with their first story. Why not let NaNoWriMo be your start?

I have participated in the madness for several years, and hope to actually finish on time this year. That's part of the lure: you have a set amount of time to write a set amount of words. You're just supposed to write. Editing and all that jazz come later. Of course, I can never do that…nor can I stay on just one story. But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

Are you the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King? The next Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling? Maybe you're the next C.S. Lewis or William Shakespeare, who knows? Unless you put pen to paper, or fingers to computer, nobody will ever have the chance to read what lies hidden inside your head (okay, sometimes that's a good thing!).

Writing can be a lonely profession. We've all heard the stories of the closet writer who never sees the light of day, working on his/her next big hit, only to be found mummified years later. No? Well, it must have happened at one point, right? Or zombies--yeah, that's it. The writer toils alone in his/her in-depth research for a book, finding the one sure thing guaranteed to stop a zombie invasion. If only they could finish the book so it can be published and save the world! But, I digress…

The NaNoWriMo website gives us all a chance to join forces in November and rejoice (or commiserate) with others who share the same passions and challenges. We have the choice to meet other writers at local write-ins (which could be at a library, coffee-shop, book store, etc.), get support online and off, and challenge ourselves and our friends with daily word count quotas.

Having someone to cheer you on daily when you might not feel like writing or life barges in on you is a wonderful thing. It's like a kick in the pants to get off your duff and get your daily word count done. Getting a fresh outlook or opinion on a story idea or character can help navigate roadblocks when your story stalls, and bring a fresh enthusiasm to your writing.

Whichever way works for you on your own journey—whether it be down the road of fiction or non-fiction—I encourage you to check out the fun at http://www.NaNoWriMo.org and see if you can meet the challenge!

Jax and I are doing it. Are you?


Cassidy McKay is an erotic romance writer with a twisted sense of humor, an overactive imagination, and clearly too much time on her hands. Based in Washington, she enjoys the rain forests, beaches, and still hasn't seen even one sparkly vampire or werewolf (but not for lack of trying).

Her most-laughable writing-related story: When her eldest son told friends at school that his mom would creatively annihilate them in one of her books if they pissed him off (no, I didn't, but you've got to laugh at the idea).

You can see what else Cassidy is up to at her websites and blog:

http://www.cassidymckay.com (erotic romances)

http://www.ashlynbarre.com (sweet romances)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sidebar with a Guest: Is what you see REALLY what you get?

Sex, violence and adventure in a fictionary world.

What's one of the first things you think about when you see an actor or actress who starred in a sexy film? Well, other than 'would they do that with me?' quite a few people probably wonder if they are like the characters they played in real life.

As an author, I write in a number of different genres, some fiction and some non-fiction. In fiction, I tend to write romances, everything from sweet to erotic. And one of the first questions people ask me when they find out what I write: "Have you really done everything you write about in your books?

Well… yes and no.

Yes, I've had sex. Really. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but not all romance writers are frustrated, virginal librarians who are afraid to walk out their front door and experience life. While I like libraries (and librarians--virginal or not), I do walk out my front door quite often to take the dog out to use the … facilities. And I tend to step right into the steaming piles of--life--whether I want to or not.

No, I don't fight shape shifting monsters from another dimension on a regular basis, saving the world from the sex-crazed beasts. However, if I did run across one, I'd suggest they run. I still have room in my yard for more bodies, you know.

And no, I don't use my personal sex life as a blueprint for my erotic novels. I'm really not that exciting. Just my imagination is, although my husband likes to brag that I have to use him to do 'research' frequently. It's a guy thing, I swear!

Angelina Jolie probably doesn't kick everyone's ass chasing after Pandora's Box or the latest doo-dad (although you never know--all those kids can frustrate even the most patient of mothers).

Gerard Butler probably isn't leading a huge band of muscled Roman warriors to war every day. But if he is, I'm the first in line!

The vampires and werewolves shown in the Twilight movies really don't wander around Forks, Washington on a regular basis. Honestly, while I've seen some tourists sport some pretty impressive bling, I have yet to see any sparkling vampires. Werewolves, I am still on the fence over; there was this one guy with a really hairy back down at the beach…

Anyhow, the next time you happen to see Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson or even Shrek wandering down the street, just keep in mind that the characters they play in their movies most likely came from the twisted imagination of someone just like me… or you.

You never know what amazing characters or stories lurk behind the simplest of facades.


Cassidy McKay
(Author of Erotic Romances)
For hot, spicy romances that will tempt you beyond your boundaries.
Clothing optional. Inhibitions forbidden.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review of Penelope

"It's not the power in the curse, but the power you give the curse ..." "Billy (Penelope, 2006)

Strong words from a little kid summing up the point of the whole movie. And there is one thing I learned from watching Penelope that I had never realized: I don't care for curse movies. Well, maybe Beauty & the Beast would be okay as it was the Beast himself, through his own actions, that brought it on,. However it is movies like Practical Magic or Penelope where the *ancestor* did bad and future generations must suffer for *their* actions. Hardly seems fair in this case of Penelope that her great, great, great grandfather did something naughty now she, three generations forward, lives daily with a mother who reminds Penelope she is not good enough and she must be fixed.

Penelope, star of the film, was born with the "face of a pig" and because of this no one will have her, either as a friend or lover. Played beautifully by Christina Ricci she takes us through a range of emotions as she looks inside to discover not only her independence, but her true heart. It's what she wants out of life that is important, not what her mother, society or any of the men who rejected her over the years want.

Max is the reluctant hero with a secret. James McAvoy, with his shaggy, straight hair carries his secret to the end of the film, never revealing who he is. He wants to break the curse, but knows he does not have the power within him. He is a hero with problems, one who spends more time at the gambling table than in his own apartment.

"You had to gamble all night?" he gets asked.
"Yeah," Max shrugs, "I still had chips."

He will have to come to terms with his own shortcomings, becoming a better man by the roll of the credits.

This wasn't your typical McAvoy part. There was no angst here as seen in some his period pieces though the hero's melancholy, as he realizes he wants something he can never have and his decision to live with that decision, shows depth not seen in the other characters of this movie. His noble gesture was Max's privilege to carry. He wanted Penelope, cared for her, yet walked away because he did not have the power to break the curse and set her free. That's what makes him the hero. He is silly in parts, singing and playing instruments, loyal as he defends Penelope, and horribly in pain as he starts to rebuild his life:

"You inspired me," he tells Penelope. ...inspired him to become the man he wanted to be, the man he really was.

The movie is love story where everyone needed to speak up a little sooner. However, when regrets are left behind we find ourselves with the happily ever after when the curse is broken and just about everyone finds what they were seeking.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spoiler Alert! I want One.

This has got be be one of the most perfect posters/t-shirts for a site that talks about movies. If you don't want to see the film, just check out the poster hanging in your office!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sidebar with a Guest: "Welcome Back Atticus

By H.E. Curtis, 7/24/2011 “Miss Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing.” (Reverend Sykes- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee)

Above is perhaps one of the most poignant lines ever I have heard, or read, in a movie and book. A very late comer to the world of Atticus Finch, I regretted not meeting him sooner. Gregory Peck skillfully brought Atticus to life from the pages of Harper Lee’s creation, no one else could have done so and I offer up the challenge for a repetition and then withdraw it as such an attempt would only debase both book and movie. Let those producers intent on recreating everything of the past leave these pages in peace to speak on their own merits. Understandably because of Harper Lee’s message I suspect we may see a resurgence of interest in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Rarely do we see such powerful and well done acting, especially on such a well written book.

Mr. Peck definitely has the skill and presence to carry through this portrayal of a quiet but dedicated lawyer, all of us could only dream of having an Atticus represent us because quite frankly the modern profession of a lawyer falls far short of his ideals. In a small rural town, slim pickings are to be had by even the most ardent of ambulance chasers so Atticus who is a real lawyer stands out like sore thumb as well as garners the respect his skill deserves. As a single father, another cloud for this southern small town, Atticus has the gall to bring his children up by the same standards he believes in, shocking the Southern genteel relatives and town people in the process, who believe children should be seen and not heard. Specifically his daughter Jeane Louise “Scout” who not only idolizes her father but has inherited her fathers sharp mind for questioning the establishment, and love of books and readings, as well as the Atticus Finch stubbornness which refuses to back down when the right is being pursued. Especially when a teacher tells her Atticus is wrong for teaching her to read, and forbids Ms. Jeane Louis to read with Atticus anymore. Obviously this instruction meets with dismal failure as we ultimately know it will, and we have to laugh at our far from perfect education system.

We are definitely shown ‘Scout’ has no problem speaking her mind and did just fine without etiquette lessons as those who manage to cross her find out. Ms. Louise, a woman ahead of her time, gives those not wise enough to keep step with her all kinds of fits, especially when lady like behavior is demanded. In fact it seemed of all present, only Atticus kept easy step with her and that is how it should be for a parent and child. Yet we also find living with Atticus she took much for granted. As perceptive as she is, Scout’s child’s mind cannot wrap itself around the deep seated bigotry her father fights but she ultimately avoids the pitfalls of such thinking when at last she befriends Boo Radley, the odd, next door, unseen, whispered about neighbor man/boy who saves her life, but hardly anyone knows. Only Atticus seems knowledgeable about him (of course), and ‘Scout’ understands the mocking bird metaphor.

To kill our mockingbirds is indeed an evil task, for like the film hurt no one and bring us great pleasure in a variety of tunes.