Friday, June 29, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

First, I have to say, I love a lot of things about fairy tales...I've always thought women should be portrayed a little stronger, but otherwise, I love their moral strength.

So, needless to say, I was excited to see a lot of the fairy tale remakes, but, I'm not sure anymore.

I think I'm probably one of many who believes that, unfortunately, Charlize Theron's looks don't allow people to take her seriously as an actress, which is  weird to statement to make as a woman.  Especially when I think about Angelina Joile.  The thing is, how long of a list do you have of attractive female dramatic actresses, not romantic comedies.

However, I think Charlize Theron was perhaps the best thing about this movie.  Aside, from the absolute gorgeousness of Chris Hemsworth.

At some points, Charlize's portrayal may have been slightly over the top, and out of balance with Kristen Stewart's Bella part two, but I think I appropriately felt sorry for and hated her at the right moments.

I appreciated the action of the movie, and I think the bleakness of the world made me root for the success of our heroes.  The world our heroes lived in and fought against had many layers, some of which didn't seem fully explained.  If the "evil" queen reigned supreme over all, but the dark forest, then how do you explain sanctuary?

What I think I loved most was the Queen's backstory.  Strip away the magic, and her story could be one told by women of any time or place.  The Queen didn't care for much, but the relationship she had with her twisted brother showed she was indeed capable of love, and deeply suffered from its loss.

I know I'm supposed to connect with Snow White, but I can't say I cared much.  She didn't inspire me, nor did the fealty of the dwarfs to Snow White.

The Huntsman, okay, I admit it, I kept waiting for him to strip off his shirt, and found myself extremely disappointed when it didn't happen.  But, still, I cared that he hungered to feel the void left by his wife, and his desire to believe and hold onto any opportunity that might return her to him.

Kristen's tomboy Snow White and Chris' Huntsman, however, do not "fit" as a romantic couple.  The maturity of Chris and the youth of Kristen were too vast.  I didn't even find myself hoping for a romantic development.

Is it bad when the movie ends, and you want to know more about the bad guy than the good?  I wanted the queen redeemed, and whoever had hurt her to be punished.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yes, yes, I love J.R. Ward

Soap Opera style story-telling is how I’ve heard J.R. Ward’s writing described, and if I’m being totally honest, I hate soap operas, so it’s amazing for me to say how much I love her books.

The stories of Rhevenge and Phury didn’t engage me as much as the others, so I’d actually stopped reading them, but I jumped back on board because of RomanticTimes, and I’m quickly making my way through the remaining books in anticipation of the story of Blay and Quinn (Can’t wait for this one!)
Everyone out there has probably read Lover Mine, but just in case there are a few out there like me, I won’t spoil it for anyone.

John Matthew (I loved him before he was John Matthew and love him more now) is the kind of hero that many can relate to.  He was never perfect, and only because of his own moral compass did he not end up causing as much trouble as he fought.  But, when he finds the man that snatched his Xhex from underneath his nose, he will show him that he is a member of the Brotherhood for a reason.

Lash was privileged and took full advantage of what that afforded him.  Now, that he knows the secrets to his true identity, he wastes no time using what he now knows of himself to take revenge on those that have wronged him.  Kidnapping Xhex was meant to “get even” with those that pissed him off, but her fire and temper feed into his own twisted reality, and he falls in love with his captive.

Xhex only knows one thing—how to be a good assassin.  Love doesn’t play into her future.  The casual relationship she had with John Matthew was successfully put behind her.  But, now in the prison created for her by Lash the one thing that gives her peace is the memory of the gentle giant, John Matthew.  She needs to escape, revive, and get her revenge on the man that trapped her.

While the excitement of this moves forward, we learn more about Xhex and John’s connection.  Why John has always felt inexplicably pulled to the mysterious woman with the gun metal grey eyes.

And we learn why Xhex has chosen to cut herself off from love.  Why she believes her love can destroy a man and make him lose everything.

What I love about this book is that it takes me back to why I love to read J.R. Ward, it’s non-stop action that takes you right up to the big reveal. 

These books are not stand-alone, I believe you would be completely lost if you don’t start at book one, but hey that’s what a soap opera is all about…isn’t it.

I think that newer authors wouldn’t get away with the large chunks of Darius’ diary that were thrown in as stand-alone chapters.  But, as a lover of J.R. Ward, I kept reading and waiting for the connection not only of these chapters, but also of the chapters detailing the exploits of a ghost being chased by the paranormal film crew.  Yes, I said paranormal film crew.

Reading Lover Mine, at times, felt like reading three or four books at once, but at the end of the book I was happy.  Excited about the possibilities of the next books in the series, namely Tohr and Blay and Quinn.
Like always, the book moved fast, some of the twists were unexpected, and although the Darius chronicles and paranormal TV show interruptions slowed the pace of the book quite a bit, it enhanced the over all story.

I think the only story line that didn’t capture my interest in this book was Payne’s.  I’m hoping that her story will draw me in more because I have to read it, right?  Can’t miss out on anything that will be further developed for Tohr or Blay and Quinn.

Now, the only real distraction for me would be the slang.  I had to reread a lot of passages because I don’t have kids, and had no clue what J.R. Ward was talking about J

I was extremely happy with the conclusion of this story.  John Matthew has been one of my favorite characters since he first appeared in her books.

I’ve already got my Kleenex prepared for Tohr’s story.  I love him just as much as John Matthew!
I’d definitely recommend this book, but would advise that you pick it up from the beginning of the series.  It might get a little confusing if you don’t. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Character Inspiration

A lot of the stories I write are interracial romances.  And often, I take my leading men and women right from American pop culture.  But, lately, I find myself getting a little bit broader.  Thanks Netflix!

I have absolutely fallen in love with Korean romantic comedies.  My latest crush is Lee Dong-Wook.  I watched Perfect Couple, a romantic comedy with Lee Dong-Wook and Hyun Young.  The movie reminded me of light funny chick lit.

As I work on the hero for my next piece, I have to admit that many of his quirks will be drawn from Lee.

For any of the other authors out there, where do you get your character inspiration for your novels (interracial or not?)  Do you draw from your own life and experiences?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What do you think is beautiful?

As I sit here flipping through the pages of one of my favorite catalogues, I have to ask myself, what is beauty?

Let me say, I am a 5'8" size six African-American woman, and of course, the first thing that jumps out at me is that I don't see many people in the magazine that look like me, my niece, or my young cousins.  Personally, I think I'm freaking gorgeous :-) But, perhaps, the people who produce the catalogue in my hands don't.  Do they think anything about me is sexy?  Height, weight, hair texture, ethnicity?

Like so many other girls, growing up, I wanted to be a model, actress, singer, whatever. I have tried many of them, too, but writing is where my heart finally landed.  But, writing isn't a full-time job.  Marketing is still how I pay my bills.

People might say that a lot of what I do is based on "appearances," but there is a lot of research behind the messaging and design of what I do.

And that's what makes me wonder what the message is behind the images on the pages of this catalogue.  Maybe, that's one of the reasons I love writing interracial romances.  Not just for the people who live and love it every day, but for people who don't.

John Mayer, infamously, was shunned by many after comments he made regarding what he found beautiful.

I'm a pretty equal opportunity kind of gal...Brad, Johnny, Idris, Shemar, Michael call me any time :-)  But, for so many of us, we still are not willing to look for different forms of beauty.


What's beautiful to you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rules for writing fiction

As written for The Guardian by Joyce Carol Oates, author.

1 Don't try to anticipate an "ideal reader" – there may be one, but he/she is reading someone else.

2 Don't try to anticipate an "ideal reader" – except for yourself perhaps, sometime in the future.

3 Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!

4 Unless you are writing something very avant-garde – all gnarled, snarled and "obscure" – be alert for possibilities of paragraphing.

5 Unless you are writing something very post-modernist – self-conscious, self-reflexive and "provocative" – be alert for possibilities of using plain familiar words in place of polysyllabic "big" words.

6 Keep in mind Oscar Wilde: "A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

7 Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What is success?

Many of you know that I was laid off, and that event changed my life dramatically as I'm sure it has so many others.  Like my guest on Romancing the Pen, my layoff made me rethink the meaning of everything around me.  For a long time, I couldn't really understand why something like that had happened to me, or really what I was supposed to do with it.

I never really thought it could happen to me.  And my struggle to not allow myself fall into a hole of self-pity and resentment was just that...a struggle.

Join Ken and me this week on Romancing the Pen, and share with us your definition of success.

Who has not gone through a crisis? Who has not heard one door close just to see another open? What do we strive for and why? Why are some people driven to take care of the world and all its problems? What is success and what does it mean to be successful? What is it that we chase after, day after day, and inevitably judge the value of our lives against? Do the old answers of career and money really hold up? Those going through lay-offs, career changes, lifestyle adjustments such as having children, health crisis, or coming back from serving overseas and facing employment with handicaps (both emotionally or physically), and persons forced into early retirement will relate to this memoir.

Faced with unemployment, the impending death of one friend and self-destruction of another, Ken La Salle begins his search for the meaning of success. It’s a search that explores why we still crave success that in the face of inevitable death could be nothing more than Maya, the illusion of life referenced in eastern myth. Through research, analysis and epiphanies from some very unlikely sources, he helps us push through all of our preconceived notions to a concept so few really understand - so that we can reach for the rope, grab it, hold on tight, and pull ourselves up.

This is a book that will be shared, given, and pondered for lifetimes and beyond. Yes, it is all true. This is his story.