Saturday, February 25

Disney Princesses

The new “Beauty and the Beast” movie, which releases March 17, 2017, is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Back in 1991 when the animated version came out, it was one of my daughters’ favorite movies. And mine, too. I’m pretty sure we watched it about a thousand times. So I’m really looking forward to seeing the new live version with Emma Watson.

A friend of mine posted the trailer and mentioned that Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” was the first Disney princess who was proactive, a strong girl who went after what she wanted. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it makes sense. Consider some of the earlier Disney princesses:

Snow White – After she ate the poison apple, she hung around in a glass coffin waiting for her Prince to kiss her back to life. And they lived happily ever after.

Sleeping Beauty – After pricking her finger on the spinning wheel, she slept until her Prince Charming managed to hack his way through the vines and kiss her awake with true love’s kiss. And they lived happily ever after.

Cinderella – After meeting the Prince at the ball, and running away as the clock struck midnight, she waited around the house until the Prince came looking for her with the glass slipper. And they lived happily ever after.

Belle, on the other hand, wants something more than the provincial life of the small French town she grew up in. She wants adventure. She’s different from the other girls who only want to swoon over the despicable Gaston. She loves to read and learn.

But she also loves her father, and when he is held captive by the Beast in his castle, she offers to take his place. After an argument, Belle runs away and is attacked by wolves. The Beast fights off the wolves and is wounded. Belle could ride away and never think about him again, but she she’s not the kind of person who would leave a wounded man (Beast?) injured in the woods. She has integrity and courage.  Belle soon learns to stand up to the bad-tempered Beast, proving she’s no pushover. And love soon follows.

Here's the official trailer of the new "Beauty and the Beast":

Disney princesses changed just as women and society changed. Women were no longer willing to sit around waiting for their Prince Charmings, and the modern Disney princesses began to reflect that.

Just like the Disney princesses changed, so did romance heroines. Today’s romance heroine is no nobody’s baby. She may have issues, but she’s strong (or learns to be strong) and she knows what she wants. Like Belle, she has integrity and courage. And like Belle, she makes things happen rather than waiting for life to happen to her.

Despite what I said about the Disney princesses above, I really don’t have anything against them. Who’s your favorite Disney princess?

Friday, February 24

Since we're still in the Month of Love, and I don't have much to write about except to say RITA reading accomplished (yay!) and I'm back to writing (another story for another day), I'm going to share the love again by spotlighting another author.

While all the authors I spotlight are special to me for one reason or another, this author hold a unique spot in my universe: Juno Rushdan. I've never met Juno in person. And we might never have known each other, except for one fateful writing contest which she entered and I judged. Apparently, she is a glutton for punishment, er, uh, "extensive critique" because she asked me to be her critique partner. It takes a strong person to tell another writer "bring it on" in that manner, especially when they know said author is happy to "bleed red" all over a manuscript (in the most constructive manner, of course).

Now, don't take this to mean anything negative about her writing... she's a fabulous author, with heart-pounding action scenes, hawt intimacy, and one particular hero who gets me all kinds of twitterpated. And maybe the best part is how I get to live the traditional publishing life vicariously through her. Juno just got picked up by Sourcebooks Casablanca for her romantic thriller The Gray Box Series, and she was understandably giddy with the thrill of it all!

But enough about how excited I am regarding Juno's exploding career, let me introduce her and her books to you...

Juno Rushdan draws from real-life inspiration as a former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer (see? I told you she was a strong person) to craft sizzling romantic thrillers. However, you won’t find any classified leaks here. Her stories are pure fiction about kick-ass heroes and strong heroines fighting for their lives as well as their happily-ever-after.

Although Juno is a native New Yorker, wanderlust has taken her across the globe. Fortunately, she is blessed with a husband who shares her passion for travel, movies, and fantastic food. She’s visited more than twenty different countries and has lived in England and Germany. Her favorite destination for relaxation is the Amalfi Coast, Italy for its stunning seascape, cliffside lemon groves, terraced vineyards, amazing pasta, and to-die-for vino. (Vino? Yep, kindred souls...)

When she’s not writing, Juno loves spending time with her family. Exercise is not her favorite thing to do, but she squeezes some in since chocolate and red wine aren’t calorie-free.

She currently resides in Virginia with her supportive hubby, two dynamic children, and spoiled rescue dogs. Check her out on Instagram or follow her on Twitter. She loves to connect with readers!

She is represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary.

Coming from Sourcebooks Casablanca in 2018!
The do-or-die-trying agents of the Gray Box—a clandestine organization sanctioned to operate beyond the black and white constraints of other intelligence agencies— work in the shadows to safeguard national security.

When a horrifying conspiracy hits too close to home, they’re the last line of defense.

They’ll do anything to keep their country safe and sacrifice everything for the ones they love.

Alpha heroes. Strong heroines. Action-packed. Super sexy.
Won First Place in the 2016 RWA Ignite the Flame Contest for Romantic Suspense.

Not an official blurb: Maddox Kinkade is a fixer for a clandestine government agency, known as the Gray Box, tasked with preventing the sale of a deadly bioweapon. Kinkade’s partner in the mission turns out to be a former lover who she’d assumed was dead—by her own hand.

Follow her on social media or her website. She will be blogging about her publishing experience!


Thursday, February 23

Thoughts In a Cloud

 by Margie Senechal

Today I'm returning to work after four days off, two sick days and two regular days. So, be warned, my head's still a little fuzzy.

Although I'm not sure fuzzy is a bad place to be these days. I spent most of the time in my pj's and catching up on T.V. For the record, Hallmark movies are great watching when you're not feeling good. Thankfully, I had a few backlogged.

NASA News--they found a galaxy far, far away. And it could sustain life. On three or four planets. Pretty darn cool.

A few weeks ago I told you about a new book crate offer I took for Once Upon a Book Club. While I wasn't that impressed with the items I received--really not worth the $40--I read the book on my sick sabbatical. And it was outstanding. 

The writing was beautiful as the story. I wish I could write like that. My hope is that I can and when Suitcases is done, someone will think what I thought when finishing this. While reading In the Light of the Garden, I wanted to grab a highlighter to mark the book up. But, that would've required getting up and leaving the book. So, instead I just folded a couple of corners. 

I do plan to go back and re-read it as a writer. Here's one sentence that stood out for me: Shoes were life. And there was nothing sadder than a pair of shoes that would never be used by their owner again.

The moral of the crate box is maybe $40 wasn't too much to get the chance to read this book that maybe wouldn't have entered my radar without it. 

I realized last night that I don't get to watch The Oscars live on Sunday as I'm closing. And I already bought Carnation Chocolate Malt to make Malted milkshakes--an awards tradition began by my dad. I don't think he meant to make it a tradition. He did it once and then we--my sisters and I--insisted on it thereafter. And I've carried down that tradition for my girls. 

I haven't seen all the movies this year--it was a lot easier when there were only five to choose from--but I'm rooting for Hidden Figures. Loved, loved it. I loved La La Land too, but I think Hidden Figures is an important movie. And it had Kevin Costner. A good friend of mine is rooting for Lion, which is one I really want to see but haven't had the chance.  

Okay, I just looked at the clock and realized it's time to stop lolly gagging and get ready for work. 

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, February 22

Reading for Pleasure for Work ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

I like to read. I know, this is a shocking statement. A writer who also likes to read? What may be more of a shocker is that I don't always make the time to read. I get caught up in helping bebe with her homework, or I'm on a tight deadline, or RadioMan wants to watch a movie or...I discover that Netflix has The West Wing streaming and I get caught up in the slow-burn banter between Josh and Donna, Danny's beta-flirtation with CJ, and the straight up dramatics of what happens in the Oval Office.

I digress.

I like to read, love it, actually. Romances or love stories, mysteries and thrillers...although I really can't say I love Stephen King (because his books give me the heebies), I do love his ability to build a world that is so real it sticks with a person after the book is finished.

And again, I digress.

I like to read, but I realized in about September of last year that I wasn't. I was filling up my time with other things. Sometimes laundry would win out over reading. I KNOW. What kind of world is it when LAUNDRY takes up READING time?!? And so, I started reading with bebe - part of her homework is to read 20 minutes each day. Sometimes we would read together, and sometimes we would read individually, but it only took a couple of days for me to start looking forward to reading time.  And then Liz brought up the 50 books challenge, and another writer friend brought up the read/watch challenge and I thought - well, here are two ways to keep reading fresh and interesting.

Last week, during my reading, I picked up a book that I thought I would love (not naming the book or naming the author, don't ask). And I didn't. The story elements I love were there, the writing was fun and fast, the dialogue perfect for the characters. But about halfway through, I just didn't feel the need to pick it back up. The pacing was still good, but I felt as if the story wasn't going anywhere. There was still tension between the main characters, there were still external forces at work. I read on to the black moment, and still I found it way to easy to put the book down. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't loving this book - all the elements were right there. This should have been a homerun for me, and it wasn't, and it bugged the bejesus out of me.

Then, I was reading Liz's post on Monday, and it hit me: for me, this book was just too long. And it wasn't a long book - I would call it a mid-length - but for me the story was over at about the halfway point. The hero and heroine had confronted their demons, they hadn't made declarations of undying love, but they'd attached to one another in a real way. And they had confronted and admitted to all those internal demons. The story, for me, was done.

So on Monday I closed the book that I still hadn't finished, although I'd gotten to the Black Moment between the characters, and I made a note: internal conflict, for me, is where it's at. I'm not saying this book didn't have internal conflict because it did, but the internal parts seemed to me to be finished midway through, and that's where the external took over. I like a good plot-driven book, I like character driven books, but in either case,the conflict needs to rest more heavily on internal conflict for me. But I said there were still forces at work in the book? Yeah, I said that. Those forces, though, were external - things outside the hero and heroine. There was a problem at her work, and there were problems with his extended family, but those things hadn't been presented in a way that should have kept the hero and heroine least not in a real way.

So I made a mental note - for my own stories - to not forget that the internal conflict is what keeps readers invested in the story. What about you? Are you looking for the internal conflict when you're reading? Or is external enough? 

Tuesday, February 21

Springtime in Winter

The weather here has been sorta crazy. Even though Punxsutawny Phil told us on February second that there will be six more weeks of winter, it's been springtime here for a couple of weeks. The forecast through the next week or so says temperatures in the sixties--you know, springtime. My perennials are peeking their little green heads out of the dirt in the front gardens and I saw a robin in the back yard yesterday. A robin! In February! We've been walking in the park each afternoon and man, oh man, kids are having blast on the playground that's usually covered in snow this time of year. All in all, we're a little freaked out here.

It's not like we haven't had warm winters before--they cycle through our Midwest weather just like droughts and floods cycle through the West Coast. But as I get older, I'm more aware of warm versus cold winters. I think that's because so many of my friends escape to warmer climates right after Christmas and I don't see hide nor hair of them again until the first of April. I know it's eighty-two in Mexico and Texas and Florida right now, but they're missing some pretty spectacular days back here at home.

I think I'd be a lousy snowbird. I'd miss watching my world turn silent and white. I'd miss--too much--walking outside to sniff the crisp, cold scent of winter and hearing the crunch of snow under my boots. I'd miss feeling all cozy and warm by the fireplace while the wind whistles outside. Husband would definitely miss being able to play with his snowblower (it's a guy thing). I'd miss sending pictures of the snow to Grandboy--he loves it when we do that.

And this--look at this gorgeous creature, who came out a couple of years ago after a big snowstorm that kept our kids with us a few extra days at Christmastime. Grandboy was so jacked to see this little fox, who wandered out into the snow and perched up on top of her den to soak up a bit of sunshine and crisp air. (Photo compliments of Son, who was thrilled for a chance to use his telephoto lens to capture this great pic across the back yard.)

So yeah, I'm kinda missing winter and hoping that we'll get at least one nice big snowfall before April first. What about you? How's the weather where you are?

Oh, before I go, just a quick shout-out to author/podcaster Lani Diane Rich for her new podcast network--Chipperish Media. She starts podcasting on March 8 with "Jed Bartlett Is My President"--all about The West Wing, one of my very favorite TV series. And she'll be talking story on the "How Story Works" podcast. Check out Chipperish, like her on Facebook, and head on over to Patreon and become a Chipperish patron. You'll be so glad you did!