Ten Books That Must Be Made Into Movies

In my humble opinion (I’ll let the irony of that statement sink in), the following wonderful books deserve to be made into wonderful, big budget movies.

1. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold – The top of my list, not the least reason being that Mike and I have tried to cast this movie several times over the course of decades together. Two books after this, you get into the Miles books. And casting him would be a nightmare! An enjoyable nightmare, but. . .well, I think there would have to be CG involved. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61903.Shards_of_Honour

2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – You didn’t think the list would be complete without a Gaiman and/or Pratchett, did you? Good News, there is a movie in development! This is a cute look at the possible casting choices for the main roles. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/05/the-two-southern-nancys-casting-crowley-and-aziraphale-for-good-omens

3. Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson – Possibly a toss up with Snow Crash, but hey, this is a huge book with so much fun packed into each page, I know it will take six or seven films to do it justice. http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/23/reviews/990523.23garnert.html

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Well, someone is paying attention! This book is so full of what makes gamers tick, in a future world where the game is the world. And the movie is in development. Just hope they hurry it up a bit. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1677720/

5. The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh – My favorite Regency Romance author, any of her books would make the transition to the big screen. But this one has so much going for it. The hero is married to someone else when he meets the heroine. The heroine is destitute and selling her body for the first time when the hero hires her. And then it gets interesting. http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Pearl-Mary-Balogh/dp/0440242975

6. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – Well, if a movie could be made out of Eveything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid To Ask, surely someone could turn this awesome book into a movie. I’m thinking Terry Gilliam. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Brief_History_of_Time

7. Lamb by Christopher Moore – Okay, the complete title is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Mr. Moore is known as an absurdist author. When you read his works, however, you soon learn that there is a punch to the story. One of the best is this book. Yes, this is not for those who have no room in their souls for teasing where their beliefs are concerned. And that may be why no movie has yet been made. But it would be awesome! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28881.Lamb

8. A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley – I won a copy of this book in a Persona Contest, and devoured it. Ms. Riley gives us a strong, wonderful woman in Margaret of Ashbury, and I am thrilled to discover that this is Book 1 in a trilogy! I am going to need to reread it, but the story stayed with me over a couple decades now, and has a great ending. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/353758.A_Vision_of_Light

9. For My Lady’s Heart by Laura Kinsale – Because we were both in the Society for Creative Anachronism, I convinced my husband to read this one. He didn’t exactly fall in love with it, but he didn’t throw it across the room. I love all of Laura Kinsale’s books, and would be hard pressed to choose between this one and Flowers From the Storm. Except that title wouldn’t draw in the crowds, would it? http://www.laurakinsale.com/books/detail/for-my-ladys-heart/

10. The Look of Love, Book 1 in the Sullivans Series by Bella Andre – This is the only book on my list which I haven’t read, yet. It’s on my list to read or listen to, because Ms. Andre made a huge positive impression on me at my local chapter RWA meeting a couple weeks ago. The fan base for this book is huge, and I would think they have already cast the major roles to their satisfaction. I can hardly wait to jump into this series, with the knowledge that it won’t end any time soon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11757975-the-look-of-love

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The Reader Who Writes

“By reading only six hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want.” – Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Six hours to read every day! I could only manage that is I gave up sleep. Even when I retire from my day job, I will be hard pressed to find a couple hours for pursuit of this happiness. I plan to use 8 hours or more every day for writing.

Are there people who think six hours to read whatever you wish to read is too much time? I am borderline dyslexic, but my love of reading pushed me to get past that issue. However, my brother-in-law has a more serious issue with dyslexia, and never likes to read for pleasure. He would not find six hours a great pleasure or gift.

For me, six hours would barely be enough. I’m a slow reader, compared to either my husband or my best friend from high school. And Bella Andre, a recent guest speaker at my local Romance Writers of America chapter meeting. She is a book a day reader, and claims there are a large number of readers who also read at that pace. This guarantees a constant market for the books we write, as long as they are awesome books.

I imagine the perfect number of hours for each person to spend reading each day is much like your “sleep numer” or your cholesterol and blood pressure. When I feel energized and upbeat, I want to clean, garden, write, and cook. My number would be low, maybe an hour or two.

When I am depressed, down-hearted, and have low energy, I could read for six plus hours, but also use up hours playing solitaire on Facebook, posting despondent status updates, and napping. And probably no time writing.

Usually I experience seasonal depression, during the holidays in the winter months. I can’t lose weight, can’t stick to an exercise program, and don’t get much done. I read many pages.

This winder seems to be threatening to last a longer time than usual. I am not in a part of the country being hit by any Polar Vortexes. I am the victim of an economic downturn for my family, and worrying about it is the last thing I should be doing. I need to keep a joyful mind and a grateful heart. As long as I am taking all the steps I can to improve things, I must release the outcome and relax.

And so we come back to six hours or more of reading. This escape mechanism has not only merits in letting me vent emotions on behalf of characters I love, but also can increase my vocabulary and teach me things I didn’t know before. All while getting my mind off my problems.

About dot com has a great collection of information on why writers should read and how reading helps with your writing. http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/Writers-On-Reading.htm

A discussion on Good Reads begins with a statement that writers who don’t read can be picked out of a stack of submissions. The implication is that their writing is very poor. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/35814-writers-who-do-not-read

Write to Done shares this quote, “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo And goes on to say there are only two ways to improve your writing. Write a lot and read a lot. http://writetodone.com/how-to-use-reading-to-become-a-better-writer/

It’s all very well to say reading will help your writing, a statement I do agree with, but what style of reading will exactly help the writer? Here’s an amazing blog on the subject. And why I do read more slowly than most. I’m afraid of missing something, and thus not understanding the story!
http://lifehacker.com/become-a-better-writer-by-learning-to-be-a-skilled-read-812014890

How do most writers feel about reading? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a list of quotes by some talented people on the subject: http://flavorwire.com/237785/40-inspiring-quotes-about-reading-from-writers/

So you should not be surprised to discover that not only is there a text book out there called Reading for Writers (in its 14th edition), but also a book on reading suggestions for writers: http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Like-Writer-Guide-People/dp/0060777052/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1378T566ZZ618F0QAT53

I have a comfy chair with an ottoman, and my parrot loves to hang out with me there. He is busy redecorating the back of the chair, it’s very abstract in design. I’m reading Drums of Autumn by Diane Gabaldon, part of the Outlander series. I have a cup of tea, and nothing to do for an hour or so. Picture me there with my feet up, with the timer set for sometime in the future. Have a great week!

School of Dreams

Many writing workshops take place on line, and that’s amazing and fun, but wouldn’t it be awesome to go away somewhere and be able to focus on what you were taught?

Imagine a creativity workshop in Dubai. Surrounded by wealth and grandeur, where could your mind go? http://www.creativityworkshop.com/dubai.html

This creative training isn’t just in novel writing, but in memoirs and photography, story telling and map making. In Crete! http://www.creativityworkshop.com/crete.html

Writers without Borders has workshops coming up in Lake Como, Italy, and Lismore Castle, Ireland. Writing in an Irish castle? Take me away! http://writing.shawguides.com/AbroadWritersConferencesandWorkshops?fSearch=Italy&fSiteID=6&fSearchPointer=1&fSearchOrdinal=1

In case you can’t decide where you want to go to be inspired and taught, why not hop on a cruise ship? This incredible offer includes a reasonable monthly payment option and a Baen editor on board! Trapped with a few hundred writers! http://www.phoenixpick.com/cruise13/cruise.htm All this and the Bahamas, too.

Of course, I’ve always wanted to go up north, see whales and bears and moose, oh my! An Alaska cruise where the whole family is welcome would suit me perfectly. http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/im-teaching-a-writing-workshop?xg_source=activity

Dreams are what writers are made of, and while none of these workshops are in my budget this year, I will tuck the knowledge away that they exist. Have a great week!

Libraries of the World

I have so many distractions at my day job. First being that I would rather be home writing than reviewing the work of those poor souls whom I supervise. Second being how much fun my co-workers are and how much I am learning about them. Writers love to learn about people. Third might be the wonderful names that come up in our files and in our staff. I can’t use a name that is too individualized, but one that is fairly common and right for a character, then I add it to the list.

But no lower than tenth on the list is the set of images on my desktop of beautiful libraries of the world. I wish more of the images had some indication of where the library exists, but that would cost extra. So I have gone digging for the information, and maybe for a few more lovely book palaces.

Pictures are awesome. But when you look at these, many of them of places older than my entire country’s oldest library, imagine what it smells like to be surrounded by those old books. Leather and paper and ink, dust and scholars, and curiosity. Imagine the sounds, muted and gentle, as reverent as a cathedral.

Sadly, this site took the very intelligent step of protection from possible legal action and removed almost all the photos posted there. I believe by only posting links to various sites, I am not violating any copyright rules. (Have your lawyer call my lawyer if you have other information) But she did leave up some incredibly valuable information pages, like designing your own library, and links to books about libraries. (http://www.beautiful-libraries.com/)

One of my favorite photos on my desktop collection turns out to be Trinity College Library in Ireland. Here’s a site with many photos of such delights, with Trinity at the top. Numbers 5 and 10 also look familiar. Interesting to note that Canada has several entries in the list, the USA start after those, with the Library of Congress at number 29. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/51788/62-worlds-most-beautiful-libraries)

The BBC includes a few more modern libraries in their list, but look! There’s Trinity College again! (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20131113-the-most-spectacular-libraries) The Buddhist Scriptures carved on wood slabs take my breath away. The written word contains so much power that we have recorded it by any means available.

One might think Architectural Digest would have a different look at libraries than a bookophile, but not so much. There’s that same picture of Trinity College’s Long Room. (http://www.architecturaldigest.com/architecture/2013-11/most-beautiful-libraries-trinity-college-mushashino-bodleian-sainte-genevieve-article) They do wonder if it’s the beautiful Library that brings more tourists to the Long Room, or the priceless Book of Kells preserved there.

Flavorwire narrows its collection to college libraries, so yes, there’s Trinity College’s Long Room, same photo. Hope the photographer is getting some money from this shot! (http://flavorwire.com/240819/the-25-most-beautiful-college-libraries-in-the-world/)

That same entity also has a collection of beautiful personal and private libraries, without Trinity, I’m afraid. (http://flavorwire.com/261320/20-beautiful-private-and-personal-libraries) But does include George Lucas’s and Neil Gaiman’s. And also not including Trinity, a collection of the most beautiful public libraries. (http://flavorwire.com/280318/the-25-most-beautiful-public-libraries-in-the-world/) This answers that age-old question, what’s pink on the outside, gold on the inside, and has books?

New on my Bucket List is a visit to the George Peabody Library in Baltimore! Thanks to the Daily Telegraph for putting this list together and bringing it to my attention. But they didn’t include Trinity. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10382588/The-most-spectacular-libraries-in-the-world.html?frame=2705752)

CNN’s list is labeled exquisite, and you will notice repetitions from the other lists. However, I really like the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, U.S. where all the light comes in through golden translucent rock. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/27/world/gallery/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/)

San Diego, my home town of sorts, just built a new library. I had been in the old one a few times, but have yet to make it down to see the new structure. Everything I hear about it is positive. There are 9 stories, including two dedicated to a Charter High School. (https://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/about-the-library/projects/newcentral.shtml) (video from opening day http://www.cbs8.com/story/23565204/new-central-library-opens-to-public-monday-morning)

Let’s face it, what brings people in to libraries are the books and available services. My home town in San Diego’s East county had a great library, if small. I looked it up and I am happy to report it has been remodeled. That made me curious about other city libraries. A German review named Chicago’s Public Library as the best urban book repository in the U.S. And third in the world. Pretty cool, huh? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Public_Library) Wikipedia has a great history of the library, which started just after the Great Chicago Fire with donations from a project called The English Book Donation. (What is up with making libraries PINK?)

Like most would-be authors, I would love on a future day to walk in to any of the libraries presented here and see my own work on the shelf. Or in the catalogue of e-books. If the Friends of the Library want to stage a book signing, I’ll be there! Have a great week.

Get to Know Romance Authors

With Valentine’s Day just a few hours away, I wondered which authors are considered the best in the field right now. Of course, there are so many different avenues down which readers search for a good book. Some love historical, some prefer contemporary, there are medical romances, and a new field I just discovered, hockey romances.

Here is Publishers’ Weekly list of the top ten Romance Novels:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/55859-best-romance-novels-for-valentine-s-day.html

I have read exactly two of these authors, though not these exact books. Nora Roberts and Jude Deveraux. So I went looking for interviews with the others.

Jennifer Crusie is a fun person, at least in this video. I would like to know her! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVs4Aac_TIg

Susan Elizabeth Phillips delivers a letter to her fans in such a great deadpan manner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ–kyw0OcU I really love the line, It’s not my fault, some days I just take dictation.

Sarah MacLean is not afraid of the camera at all! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mGIWBQpPCI This was the shortest video I could find with her in it. She averages half an hour, so go look at this one,, and if you want more, you can select any of a dozen.

After that, I couldn’t find actual short spot interviews with the other authors of whom I had not heard. What is up with that? How can I be sure I want to buy the book if I can’t spend some safe time with the mind behind the story? 8) Guess I can just read the book, and then decide if I want to find any more, right?

And that’s a short midweek post on writing and Romance! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Practice Makes Published

I’ve taught a few workshops on writing from prompts, and participated in a few challenges using both verbal and visual prompts on Scribophile. While I sometimes hate the fact that the story takes time away from my real goal of finishing a novel, in truth all such exercises are good. It’s like stretching after hours of working on the computer, or going out for a walk to clear the brain. So here’s my most recent product. The prompt was visual, based on an indoor picnic with lots of tiny candles. Hope you like it.

Everything on Earth To Me

The front door opened inward just a crack, then the security chain stopped it. Brendan pulled his key out of the lock, while his heart began to hammer in fear. She’d been so depressed and angry this morning. “Stella? Sweetheart, let me in, please.”
“Hang on, Bren! I lost track of the time.”
He heard her moving around, and could smell – candles? Had he forgotten a birthday? She smiled up at him through the crack, and his heart settled to normal.
Wait. Stella, smiling? The door shut so she could undo the safety chain, then her wheelchair tires squeaked on the tile entry. “You can come in now.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. Brendan’s throat burned with hope and wonder. And still, some fear. He went in.
Their sparsly-furnished living room, empty mostly to accommodate Stella’s chair, glowed in the evening setting of the sun, and sparkled with a few dozen candles in tall glass jars. A plaid blanket covered the floor, and a basket, a huge thing with a lid, occupied the middle.
Brendan retreated into routine, setting his briefcase on the chair, the keys in the bowl on the desk, his coat on top of the case. He couldn’t think of what to say. When he looked at her, Stella’s smile had slipped a little.
“Do you like it, love?”
“I do. I just don’t know what ‘it’ is. Is this an anniversary?” He bent to kiss her.
She captured his hand and held it to her cheek. Her blue eyes sparkled in the flames, tears kept at bay through her determination, he thought. “No special occasion. Not really.” She pulled a remot control from her lap and clicked a button.
The stereo played “Dance with Me.”
Brendan closed his eyes, the tears winning this time. “Stella. Don’t.”
She let go of his hand, and he opened his eyes. Stella moved her chair back, and locked the wheels. Holding his gaze, she said, “Brendan, look. I can stand now.”
He ground down the urge to shout No, to spare her from any more pain. But he couldn’t move. She leaned forward and flipped up the one foot rest in use. The other, not being needed, already rested out of the way. She scooted forward and placed her right food on the floor. She pushed herself into a standing position, allowing her long skirt to cover the missing left foot.
“My God. My love.” He crossed the room and hugged her. He had missed being able to hold her tiny form against his chest, to rest his chin on her head and feel the tickle of her blond curls. “You did it.”
She leaned back so he could see her proud and happy expression. “I made dinner, too. Only sandwiches, this time. But I did it myself.”
Reluctantly he allowed her to pull away and, using her chair for a brace, slide down to sit on the blanket. Brendan pulled off his shoes, his suit jacket, and his tie. As he sat across from her, questions boiled up from his brain, but his mouth declined to form whole sentences. He settled for, “How?”
Laughter! He hadn’t realized how much he missed her laughter. “I really have astounded you, haven’t I?” At his nod, she went on. “Do you know that I thought I hated you this morning?”
Brendan blinked. Oh yes, he knew, but he’d tried not to think about it.
“You would never let me do anything for myself. You dressed me, you fed me, you brushed my hair. Why the hell did losing a foot mean I couldn’t brush my own hair anymore?”
“Mostly I wanted to be touching you,” he told her. “You stopped letting me do much else.”
Stella looked down, and seemed to notice the basket. She opened it up, pulling out plates, napkins, and sandwiches. Turkey and avocado on wonderful whole wheat, with lots of veggies. The way they both loved their sandwiches. He took the one she handed him, willing her to meet his eyes again.
She did, a half-smile crinkling her blue ones. “I know. I thought you deserved better. But today I realized, as I screamed at you, long after you had gone to work, that you only stepped in to do what I refused to do for myself.”
“Stella–”
She reached across to him and placed her fingers on his mouth. “Wait, please listen.”
He sat back. If he ate his sandwich, maybe he could stay quiet. He took a bite but didn’t think he could swallow.
Stella removed a bottle from the basket, encased in a thermal wrapper. She poured the sparkling golden liquid –apple cider if he knew her– into two tumblers.
I spent the morning making a list of what I want to do. I want to be your wife again and make love with you. I want to have a aby. I want to go shopping and clean the house when I wish to. I want to get the prosthetic, and learn to walk. And maybe, in time, I can dance again.”
As if perfectly timed, the stereo played “I Could Have Danced All Night.” My Fair Lady.
“I love you so much, Brendan. When we met, I adored the way you would pick me up, your body still thrills me. Your skin is so fair, your black hair such a contrast, all over your body. Did I ever tell you how much that excites me?”
Brendan gulped some apple cider to wash down the sandwich. “No, you never did.”
“I should have. I love your brown eyes, your crooked nose, the dimple in your chin. I love your smile, your humor. And I can’t believe I almost threw it all away. I felt so sorry for myself. Why did I have to get that infection? Why didn’t the doctors try harder to save my foot? Maybe I should have died.”
“No,” Brendan set down his plate and glass, and moved closer. He scooped her up into his lap. “I don’t care how many bits you might lose, I want you, love. I want you to be my wife, please. Stay with me.”
His tears dropped on her head, and hers soaked his shirt. Brendan hadn’t felt this happy since their honeymoon. Maybe since the day the beautiful dancer noticed him, agreed to go out with him, said yes to marrying him.
“Brendan,” she sighed into his mouth, and kissed him.
Desire rushed through him, and for once he didn’t need to cool off, think of something else. He stood up, holding her, and set her left leg around his hips. She dropped her foot to the floor.
Brendan nodded, smiling, as the stereo crooned, “Stella by Starlight.”
They danced around the candle-lit, blanket-draped living room. He let his joy wash over him, over her, and pictured a brighter future than ever.

Love of Books also Means Love of Bookstores.

I could spend hours just walking around a book store, just touching books. Dreaming of getting my book here, but also wishing I had more time to read. I had hoped to find some videos of readers getting excited at a book store or something like that. But only one video came up.

If I am ever in Louisville, I am going to find this bookstore. Just the line about their children’s reading hour where each child goes home with a book won me over. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6VEzSEU8uM

Locally I love to participate in Mysterious Galaxy’s events, their annual birthday party, their various book signings, and talk to them in the vendor rooms at a couple small science fiction conventions here. They do specialize in mysteries and science fiction, and I so wish they could throw Romance in there. Until recently, they would come to our Romance Writers of America local chapter meetings and sell books written by the guest speakers and club members. But the rules at National RWA changed or were made stricter, and we complied. https://www.mystgalaxy.com/

Here’s a great idea! Open your own bookstore! Well, we all may wish to do so, but there is a need for good business sense and full time focus on the store. Ann Patchett (an author I am sorry to say I haven’t read before) opened her own bookstore and this video shows the wonderful place that resulted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzaCKpps5EU

Will bookstores disappear in the future? Most folks my age or older, even those who love ereaders, swear they will never not buy hard copy books. But the trend is possible, younger folks learning to read now with textbooks on ereaders or phones may see no use in a bound copy of words written on paper. Here’s one possible future view. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPfThpelv48

I’m a fan of President Obama, and I am not open to political discussion on this blog. If he continues to push the Small Business Saturdays by visiting bookstores, perhaps more people will look closely at the good this campaign can do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfvIwJif4aA

And that’s a short mid-week post on readers and bookstores! See you on Sunday,