Monday, October 22, 2012

Blog Chain - Book Adaptations

It was my turn to pick the topic this round and I want to know:

There are so many book-to-movie adaptations out there. Which are your favorites? Which are your least favorites? Why? Do you make sure you've read a book before you go see the movie adaptation, or do you prefer to read it after, or not at all?

I am almost always firmly in the "the book is better" club. However, this does not mean that I don't love the movie versions. I tend to read the books before I go see their movie adaptations whenever possible. I know that this biases me a bit. And yes, I often sit there thinking of what got cut, etc. But I also think it helps me understand what is going on better.

Take the Hunger Games movie, for example (one of my faves, btw). So much of the book took place in Katniss' head. And while they did a great job adapting this book for the screen, I think knowing what was going through her head in each scene helped make the movie better for me. My hubs agrees (and he's not a reader at all).

After seeing the movie, he read the book. And then went with me when I went to see the movie again :D He enjoyed it much more the second time around with the book to help bolster what was happening on the screen.

Some of my favorite adaptations = Hunger Games, the Harry Potter films, Ella Enchanted (one of my exceptions for the whole "the book is better" thing - I actually enjoyed the movie more), John Grisham's books to films, Holes and LOTR (though I haven't read the books yet). The Twilight films...I'm a bit on the fence about these. They sort of grew on me and I like the later ones much better...the first film is my least favorite of the ones that are out so far. But I do enjoy them so I'll add them to the list :)

My least favorite = Queen of the Damned. I loved this series by Anne Rice. And Interview with a Vampire wasn't too bad. But Queen of the Damned was horrible. So far removed from the book that it was almost unrecognizable. I mean I get that changes have to be made, but the changes in this particular case were just too much for me.

Another disappointment (at least as a book adaptation) = the Sookie Stackhouse novels/True Blood. This one is a bit more complicated for me. I LOVE the books. And season 1 of the True Blood tv series wasn't too bad. But they strayed more and more from the book storylines until now, very little of the original stories exist anymore.

I still, for the most part, enjoyed the series in an of itself, even though it was no longer an adaptation of the books but more like a spin off....some sort of weird fan-fiction that used the characters and world but little else. This is the only example that I can think of where an adaptation has strayed so far yet I liked it for itself.

At least for a little while :) While it seemed as though some effort was being made to at least keep the characters true to the book characters (even if the story lines were waaaay out of left field), the characters, other than their names, are no longer even recognizable as belonging to the books that Charlaine Harris wrote. I take issue with that :) And yet still can't help tuning in (in large part, I think, due to Alexander Skarsgard LOL I'll put up with a lot just to watch him) ;D

How about you? What are your most or least favorite adaptations? Do you read the books before seeing the movies?

Make sure you check out Lisa's take on the subject and head to Alyson's blog tomorrow to see what she has to say! :) If you want to follow the chain from the beginning, start with the lovely Kate's blog :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are Writers Neurotic?

My fellow Operation Awesome author Kelly Andrews wrote a great post the other day about how she feels that writers aren't really neurotic, as they often seem, but are actually very strong. I agree with her. This business would be impossible to stay in if you didn't have some degree of resilience, courage, strong work ethic, and downright sheer stubbornness :)

But I think the neurotic bits are there as well. And with good reason.

Think about it. Most people get a bit nuts when they are waiting for something big. When they are waiting to hear back on that job interview; waiting to hear if they got that part in the school play; waiting to see if that promotion is going to come through; waiting to see if the test results are positive or negative; waiting for Christmas morning; waiting to see if he/she will say yes or no :)

In instances such as those, we all get a little neurotic. And when you are a writer, your whole career is made up of these moments. Writing (for publication) is about 10% writing and 90% waiting.

Waiting for critiques to come back; waiting for query responses; waiting on revise/resub responses; waiting to hear back on editor submissions; waiting on contracts; waiting to see if your changes will be accepted; waiting to see your book for the first time; waiting on reviews to come in on that book; waiting for royalty statements and sales numbers.

Yes, it takes a very strong person to get through all that waiting and keep on going, especially when it's very often bad news at the end of it all. But when you look at all the big stuff a writer has to wait on (because really, every step of the way contains something major) it's no wonder that we have a tendency to be a bit neurotic :)

Though, perhaps neurotic is the wrong word. Are we fragile? Crippled by the things that we can't control? No. This business would crush us in a second if we were. But a bit obsessive, emotional, a little on the wacky side? Yeah, I think most of us are :D And really, with all we deal with, who wouldn't be? ;)

The difference is, we don't let it stop us. We don't let the waiting and the set backs and the disappointments and all the other parts that drive us nuts get in our way.

We can be neurotic, but we do it with strength, perseverance, and style :) We laugh through our tears and find a way to have fun with the waiting. We support each other and play with our craziness. We are neurotic, but it's a different brand of neurotic. We mix it with strength and courage and persistence. We have fun with it. We own it and work with it and through it.

So while I agree with Kelly that "we are strong and brave and resilient", I don't think that means that we aren't also neurotic :) I think most writers are a good mix of both.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I meant to post this earlier in the week but got distracted with decluttering the house :D The lovely Christine Fonseca tagged me and I have tagged Angie Townsend, Amparo Ortiz, Cole Gibsen, Katrina Lantz, and Jeannie Ruesch.

The name of the game - to answer the following questions about your latest novel/WIP.

Since Treasured Lies is coming out in just a few short months, I thought I'd give you a little peek :)

1) What is the working title of your book? Treasured Lies

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

The short answer - it was inspired by my love of gothic romances, a good chunk of my own experiences, and the movie National Treasures :)

The slightly longer answer - Treasured Lies began as a completely different book than it is today. At first, I was inspired by some sad romantic events in my own life. But I wanted anything personal I added to be disguised enough only I'd know what was going on, so I set it in Victorian England (a time period I love). I'd grown up devouring Victoria Holt's gothic romances and I envisioned Treasured Lies very much in that vein. A historical love story with a good dose of danger and mystery.

I wanted to write a slightly autobiographical story about a girl who gets her heart broken and overcomes it. I also wanted her to fall in love with her new man and stay in love and happy through the entire book, working together as a team no matter what happened. turns out stories like that have very little conflict. Which made it a bit boring :) I'd just seen National Treasure and thought that a treasure hunt would be a really fun idea. And the story evolved from there. Min became feistier and more determined; the stakes for not finding the treasure became higher; her relationship with Bryant became much more complicated; her fiance Arthur warped into someone unrecognizable from the first draft (I think he was the most fun to revamp); and Bryant changed from a fully reformed thief trying to be a good guy into a still-very-much-in-the-game rival for Min.

Very little of my original idea for the story has survived. And I'm glad. It is a much better story now

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? ooo this is always so hard for me - I can never find anyone exactly how I picture my characters :) But British actor Jake Hendriks is close to how I picture Bryant (if he had darker hair).

And Min...argh, I seriously looked for an hour. Maybe Kat Dennings....

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A young woman in Victorian England must trust a master thief she intends to betray in order to find a legendary necklace that could save her fiancé, but in searching for the necklace, she may lose her heart

6)Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Treasured Lies is being published by Entangled Scandalous.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

LOL this is almost an impossible question to answer. I wrote half of the very first draft in about a month and a half...and then took an almost 3 year break before I touched it again. I think I finished it up in about a month. So...we'll say 3 months for the original draft (which was 100k). I have since entirely rewritten the book 4 times (I think, it could be more) and then did extensive revisions at least twice. Each rewrite took a month or two - revisions only took a few days to a week (I'm a very fast reviser). :)

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

hmm it's probably Victoria Holt-ish. It's first and foremost a romance, but there is a lot of danger, suspense, and mystery going on.

9) Who or What inspired you to write this book?

See question 2 :D

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think readers will really enjoy my main character Min. She's a bit klutzy - an island-bred girl better at scaling trees than dropping curtsies, and often gets herself in ridiculous situations, but she is highly intelligent, a total bookworm who can't stand Shakespeare, she's determined to get her way and accomplish her goals, funny (though she usually doesn't intend to be) and fiercely loyal (which makes the situation she finds herself in with her love interest, Bryant, so miserable), and would do literally anything to protect those she loves

One of the little historical details I added into my book that I found very interesting were eye portraits, fascinating (and sometimes creepy) mementos that clandestine lovers used to exchange. I wrote a post about them a while back.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blog Chain - What's in a Name?

Our blog chain is rolling again! I've missed it :D We have a bit of a different format now - each chain will run for 2 weeks, Mon-Fri and I will be posting the 2nd and 4th Mondays of every month :) Our first topic was chosen by Kate who wants to know:

What's in a name? What if Harry Potter had been Larry Snotter? What if Edward was Jacob and Jacob was Edward? What favorite books had character names that you loved or hated? And how do you come up with your own character names?

I think a character's name can make or break a book. But it depends on the book. Some books are just amazing no matter what the characters' names. There are books I haven't wanted to read because the characters' names seemed so ridiculous. Hunger Games, for instance. A girl named Katniss? A sister named Prim? Boys named Peeta and Gale? Ugh.

And then I read the books. And I can't imagine them being named anything else. The names fit. They worked. The story transcended the names and made me love them.

Then there are the Sookie Stackhouse books. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE this series. It's one of my all time favorites, I've read the entire series (of 12 books and counting) numerous times, and if Eric the vampire ever knocks on my door, he is more than welcome to my neck ;) (I like his name, btw).

But every single time I see the name Sookie, I cringe. Bill the vampire made me cringe too, but it fits him in a way. It's a horrible vampire name. But then, Bill is a horrible vampire. But Sookie....I just can't used to that one. For me, the thought of "really? Sookie?" is always in the back of my mind, making every scene, no matter how terrifying, passionate, or intense, just slightly "less" because...well really....Sookie? *cringe*

For my own stories, I usually try very hard to choose the absolute perfect names for my characters. I want them to mean something. Sometimes a name will just pop into my head, sometimes I'll see it or hear it somewhere else and fall in love. I spend a lot of time with baby books and on naming websites to find the right name with the right meanings.

Interesting fact, I'm generally not that attached to my character names, except for my main heroines' names. I'll change any name in the book, but not that one.

The MC in my upcoming novel Treasured Lies is named Minuette (she goes by Min). It fits her so perfectly. I really can't imagine her with any other name. She started out as Noelle. Soooo isn't her. I heard the name Minuette (with Min as a nickname) on a Star Trek NG episode :D It stuck in my head and when I was searching for a more fitting name, it just clicked.

Min's best friend Charlotte went through two other names before she got her name. I love her name now but really, if my editor asked me to change it, I could without too much flinching. But not Min :)

For one of my WIPs, I needed an Egyptian or Arabic name, something that was short, easy to pronounce, cool enough it would fit in a modern setting but would still work in a historical setting as well (it's a complicated storyline lol). I found the name Kesi and instantly fell in love. It's absolutely perfect. Short, sassy, and beautiful. Just like the character it was meant for. And when I saw the name meant "born of a troubled father" it became even more perfect. :)

What about you? What books had names you loved or hated? Are there stories that were made or ruined because of a character's name for you? If you are a writer, how do you choose your character names?

Be sure to check out Lisa's post from Friday and Alyson who will post tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When Mama Declutters

Oh I had some fun last week. I like things cleaned and organized. The only problem with that is that I don't really like to clean. And I sometimes get to the point where I look around my house and just want to get rid of EVERYTHING.

I mean, if there weren't any pictures or knick knacks out, the surfaces of my furniture would be easier to clean and would look less cluttered, right? If there was less furniture in the house, well there'd be less surfaces to clutter up and clean.

So I went on a Craiglist spree. I sold a bunch of stuff. A bedding set. Some bar stools. A treadmill. A couch :D Tried to sell a piano but haven't had any takers yet, and one oversized arm chair I'm just giving away (but the lady can't come get it until next week). We did add a practice balance beam for my daughter, but it's not full sized or anything so I can shove it up against the wall and it's not too bad :D

It felt so good I want to get rid of more stuff. My family is scared LOL

Really though, it feels so good to just declutter and free up some space. It feels good to not be buried in STUFF. I can think better. I can clean faster which means I can get to the fun stuff like writing or reading even faster. It just makes me all around happier. Now, if I can just get rid of that piano, I'll be good to go ;)

Do you ever do this? Just go through your house and purge? :D