Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and Some Announcements

Hello folks,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chasing Baked Turkey

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has a wonderful day full of food, friends, family, and fun. (This post is brought to you by the letter ‘F.’) I’m having lunch with my family and dinner with friends, and I’m just looking forward to the day.

And now the announcements. A few weeks ago I posted that I had a story published. (YAY!) That story went on to win the editor’s choice award for this month at Fiction Vortex. (YAY!) I’m over the moon, and I hope everyone who read the story enjoyed it.

Which brings me to announcement part two. I am also in the running for reader’s choice for the month of November. So if you did in fact read To Forever and enjoy it, I would appreciate your vote.

Here’s the link to the poll

Voting closes on December 2. If you do choose to vote for me, I want to give you a thousand thanks. After all, that is what today is all about, and it means the world to me when people read and like my work.

Anyway, I think that’s about it. I’m still writing, and I’m looking forward to a great holiday season.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving!

-Mary
On Twitter @desantismt

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Good News! (No, the wicked witch is not dead.)

We interrupt this blog hiatus to bring you a special news bulletin.

Today is a good day. It’s a published short story day!

Yes, my fantasy short story, To Forever – approx. 2300 words, is live at Fiction Vortex today. I’m super excited!

Smiley

Yes, that excited!

Anyway, this is the part where I wave and bow and say “go read it. It’s good. I promise.” Well, of course I think it’s good. I wrote it. Seriously, though, this is one of my favorite short stories I’ve ever written, and I’m so pumped to be able to share it with the world. Fiction Vortex blurbs it as a story about a young couple who thought they’d be together forever but with a new magical drink every year, they drift apart. Only, you know, they say it a lot better, and essentially, yes, that is the plot of To Forever. It’s about so much more. It’s about love and change and morality and addiction and how growth changes us for better or worse. It’s about fairies and unicorns and elves and vampires and zombies. Mostly, though, it’s about people. I’m big on writing about the condition of people. It’s a story that was inspired by a piece of art where I live, and after writing it, putting it away for a year, and revising it, it’s now on the internet, and that means the world to me.

So there you go. I got all author-y about my story. So now when this story is discovered by someone big in the industry and immortalized in an anthology of the best works of 2014 and goes down in history as a story that made people think, you can pass the contents of this post to your children’s children’s children, and they can quote me in their English class, and we can take our first steps toward really analyzing literature according to what the author meant instead of what we thought they meant.

Hey, I can dream, right?

And so this concludes this post (and this interruption from the blogging hiatus). I’m headed back into my cave now, but big things are afoot. I’m working hard and writing a lot and revising some, and I have 55k of a book that I (fingers crossed) should be pitching at the beginning of next year. So hopefully I’ll be back with more good news soon.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Mary
Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Official Lockbox Blogging Hiatus

Hi folks,

Yes, it’s true. I’m taking a break. I had every intention of getting back on the personal blogging wagon, but it’s not the time. I need to focus on writing and some other stuff. Blogging at the Lockbox needs to take a back seat.

I will still be blogging about books over at Kit ‘N Kabookle, and if I get any kind of news, I’ll post it here. As for the Disney posts and any other stuff, I’m not sure when I’ll pick it back up, but you’ll be the first to know.

Take care.

Lots of love,
Mary

-Keep up with me on Twitter @desantismt.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

MCS #24: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

IMDB blurb
A deformed bell-ringer must assert his independence from a vicious government minister in order to help his friend, a gypsy dancer.

I haven’t watched this in years. It kind of terrified me as a kid. I think I want to watch it again now. I think there’s a lot to get out of this as an adult. This isn’t a story of pure good. The good guys aren’t picture perfect heroes. And the villain, well, have a look.

The music is actually beautiful. The first part is heartbreaking/heartwarming. Then Frollo starts singing, and things get a little odd.

I saw this in theatres with my parents when I was a kid. To quote my mother “You could have heard a pin drop in that theatre. The kids were oblivious, and the parents were, like, ‘oh my…uh….’”

On the other hand, this guy is terrifying in a very real way.

K, now for an upper.

Love that song.

Writer’s Lockbox

Watch this if you haven’t since childhood.

That’s about all I have.

Last week: Hercules

And join me next week for The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.

-Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

MCS #23: Hercules

Hercules (1997)

IMDB blurb
The son of the Greek Gods Zeus and Hera is stripped of his immortality as an infant and must become a true hero in order to reclaim it.

Now that that’s out of the way.

K, I’m done. Really.

If you can’t tell, I love this movie. Meg is kickass. Pain and Panic are hilarious, and Hades is possibly one of my favorite Disney villains ever. I mean really.

See what I mean? Also, mushroom cloud. Enough said.

“Somebody call IXII!”

That’s 911 in Roman Numerals. I was so pumped the day I figured that out, and my friend was pumped the day I told her.

“The Big Olive itself.”

Here’s to New York puns.

Voices: Meg is voiced by Susan Egan who was Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway and also the singing voice of Angel in Lady and the Tramp II. Phil is Danny DeVito, who also voiced the Lorax in the Lorax. He also played Matilda’s father in Matilda. Panic is voiced by Matt Frewer who, ready for this, voiced Jackal in Disney’s Gargoyles.

Bonus Round – The young heroes TV show. That’s all I need to say.

Writer’s Lockbox

Actually, to be completely serious for once, I offer this song.

It’s something all writers need to keep in mind. Last week, I forgot this, and I had zero productivity. We can go the distance. This is more important than any writing lesson I could have extracted from the movie. So listen to that again. Then listen to the movie reprise version, which is the theme song of my thesis because it involves a Pegasus flying off into the night sky.

Now go be awesome.

Last week: the Frozen guest post

And join me next week for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

-Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

MCS #22: Frozen guest post

Frozen (2013)

Welcome to this week’s Morning Cartoons Saturday. For the first time (in forever), I’m hosting a guest. She’s here today to talk about Disney’s newest hit animated feature, Frozen. Please welcome Amarilys Acosta.

Five Frozen Quotes That Got Me Thinking

I’ve been a fan of Disney Princess movies since forever. Even now that I’m older, the last three that have come out—Tangled,Brave, and Frozen—have managed to strike a chord with me. I can still identify with many of the things these princesses go through and empathize with the story presented in the movies. So, below I want to share with you five of my favorite quotes from Frozen which I watched recently…and then re-watched the day after because it was that good.

1.
Grandpa Troll: Born with the powers or cursed?

This quote got me thinking that all of the princesses before have been cursed or affected by a curse. Ariel is cursed by Ursula to have no voice. Pocahontas isn’t cursed, but magic is still worked on her by Grandmother Willow so that she understands the words of the foreigners. Rapunzel’s magic hair is the reason Mother Gothel kidnaps her, so it’s sort of a curse. Merida puts her mother under a curse spell. And on and on the examples. Elsa is the first princess to be born with power of her own, and yet the way they handle it becomes her curse. But it was nice that Grandpa Troll made the distinction between the two states—born with power or cursed.

2.

Grandpa Troll: The heart is not so easily changed. But the head can be persuaded.

The old adage of follow your heart comes to mind. The heart knows the truth and it’s never confused about what it wants, but the mind…yeah, easily changed and confused 100% of the time!

3.
Kristoff: You know, most people who disappear into the mountains wanna be alone.
Anna: NOBODY wants to be alone.

TRUTH.
    
4.
We aren't saying you can change him
'Cause people don't really change
We're only saying that love's a force that's powerful and strange
People make bad choices if they're mad or scared or stressed
But throw a little love their way, and you'll bring out their best
True love brings out the best

I really loved that they included these lines in the song! Love is not about changing the person, but about sharing your love with them. And maybe your love and care will open them up and turn them into something better.

5.
Olaf: Love is putting someone else's needs before yours […] Some people are worth melting for.

How love should be always = Selfless.


Amy is a writer and lover of books, currently making her way through the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at SHU. She writes YA paranormal romances, fantasy, and has been known to dabble in a sci-fi piece or two. She's a hopeless romantic, mint chocolate chip ice-cream worshiper, and a shameless procrastinator (If I'm reading when I should be writing is not procrastinating, is it? It's research…)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

MCS #21: Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000 (…1999…)

Video time.

Enjoy 

Last week: Fantasia

And join me next week for a guest post about Disney’s newest animated feature, Frozen.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm back, and I look like Snape.

I officially graduated! I now have a masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

SHU, I will miss you, but I will be back for the alumni retreat, so I’ts okay.

Now for my thesis reading.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Going Away

Hey folks,

So as you may have deduced (after all my posts about my thesis being passed in and passing and me passing out), I’m graduating! I’ll be away next week at school, culminating with receiving my MFA on Sunday, June 29, sometime between 3:30 and 4pm. Feel free to clap in my honor during this time.

K, the clapping part is a joke, but the rest isn’t. Since I’ll be in class and doing all sorts of other fun stuff next week (like thesis reading, genre dinner, experimental agent-pitching, etc.) I won’t be posting. And then I’m treating myself to the first week in July away from the blog.

Yes, that’s right. I’ll be gone for two whole weeks. Now, I know you might want to cry, but try to refrain. I’ll be back the second week in July with more writing madness and animated movies.

Until then, watch Frozen (and the Lorax, which I saw for the first time last Friday), and have a great couple of weeks.

When next we meet, I will be a master…well, have a masters degree.

-Mary

Saturday, June 21, 2014

MCS #20: Fantasia

Fantasia (1940)

Ok, so this movie bored me to tears when I was a kid. It was music and picture with no story or dialogue, and I was a kid.

Now, I appreciate it a bit more, and I’m sharing my two favorite Fantasia moments this week.

First: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

It was the closest to a story, and it featured Mickey Mouse.

Second (and possibly most importantly): The Sound Track

Come on, this guy was adorable. I think I can attribute my interest in musical instruments to this guy.

Check out the rest of the Fantasia shorts on YouTube. They’re all there.

Writer’s Lockbox…?

Umm, well plot.

Also, different types of music make for great soundtracks to different types of writing.

Last week: The Emperor’s New Groove

And join me next time for Fantasia 2000.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, June 14, 2014

MCS #19: Emperor's New Groove

Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

IMDB blurb
Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama by his ex-administrator Yzma, and must now regain his throne with the help of Pacha, the gentle llama herder.

Unfortunately, I can’t post the entire movie here. Would if I could because this movie is hilarious. If you have not watched, go do. I know I say that about a lot of these, but I mean it for this one. Observe a teaser.

Now tell me you don’t want to see the rest of this movie?

Honestly, I love this movie because it isn’t about love at all. It’s about a spoiled emperor learning to be a better person and the peasant man who helps him along the journey. It’s also about the laughs and a llama.

That’s really it. I don’t have anything bad to say about this movie. It’s hilarious and heartwarming. It’s a guide on finding friendship. Just don’t try it at home.

Oh, also, Yzma = win! That is all.

Writer’s Lockbox

This movie is very historically inaccurate. While no one cares about that because it’s a kid’s movie, the world won’t be so forgiving for writers, especially ones of historical fiction. Make certain you are as historically accurate as your project requires.

Last week: Dumbo

And join me next week for Fantasia.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sharing. Broadway.

I’m sharing this week. The Tony Awards were this past Sunday, and I discovered a new musical—A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. And because I’m just the sharing type, I’m going to let you all discover it, too.

That is just awesome.

Have a wonderful week, peeps!

-Mary

Saturday, June 7, 2014

MCS #18 - Dumbo

Dumbo (1941)

IMDB Blurb
Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

K, I’m getting to this post the night before. It’s been a long week. So this will consist of some highly informative bullet points.

-Babies don’t come from storks.

-Don’t let your mean, if jealous, girlfriends name your kid.

-Don’t pull a baby elephant’s ears, especially if the mother is present.

-Don’t make a flying elephant dependent on a feather.

-Do be proud of your children when they do something awesome.

Writer’s Lockbox

Mute main characters are difficult. It’s doable, just difficult.

Thank you for your patience with this abbreviated post.

Join me next week for The Emperor’s New Groove

-Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Writing about Death

I know, so cheery, right?

Cheery or not, it’s a topic a lot of fiction writers have to deal with. Characters die, and like with the characters who live (most often the protagonist and at least a few of his peeps), their deaths need to mean something/get the reader to respond emotionally.

In terms of recent literature, Rue’s death in The Hunger Games is hailed as one of the most moving. Here’s a twelve-year-old girl, dying. Here’s Katniss, sitting over Rue’s body singing and, unknowingly, inspiring a revolution. There’s a conversation—all the things they didn’t say wrapped up. The goodbye is drawn out and tear-jerk worthy.

These types of death scenes are common. Today, though, I present the other side of the coin—the sudden death.

They say fiction is like life. Sometimes in life we get the chance to say goodbye. And sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we just find/are told we’ve lost a loved one. There are no last words. There’s no “one last time.” There is just a sudden whole where there was once a person.

It kills.

And I argue that this kind of death can be just as moving in fiction. There is no grand “I have to tell you/always remember/just know” speech, but there is a well of emotions. There is the protagonist’s inner struggle. “If I’d moved faster/if I hadn’t asked them to come/if I’d just….” There is blame, which is always something that produces tension. Even more, there is the wonder. What would that character have said if they’d gotten the chance? We’ll never know because they’re just gone, much like Sirius Black.

Note: This kind of death scene is made even worse when the protagonist doesn’t have time to mourn, when a character is killed in battle, for example.

K, I’m done being depressing now. Keep this alternative death in mind while writing, and go do something cheery.

Mary

-@desantismt on Twitter

Saturday, May 31, 2014

MCS #17: Donald in Mathmagic Land

Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959)

As the title suggests, this Disney animated short is about Donald Duck learning about the history, use, and application of mathematics.

I watched this before fifth grade. So when we watched it in fifth grade and then had to write a report on it, I felt ahead of the game in that way only experienced by eleven-year-old children who have unintentionally done homework before hand. Granted, I’d only watched the movie, not written the paper, but to me, that was all academic. Literally and figuratively. I wish I still had the report. I drew the absolute worst cover for it. I decided that, since the movie was about math and various games that use math, I would draw a bunch of different games for my report cover. I had a blue and red chess board and a terrible rendition of an air hockey table. That’s all I remember.

But yeah, parents, let your kids watch this. It’s a fun and engaging way to learn about the history of math. It also features classic Donald Duck. Who doesn’t love classic Donald?

Fun fact, did you know Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy?

Less fun fact, both of my parents can do amazing Donald Duck impressions. I cannot, and I wish to know what cruel fate of genetics kept me from receiving this skill. *sigh*

Other less fun fact, my family owned a pool table when I was growing up, and I thought it was awesomely cool when Donald learned about the math involved in billiards.

But I digress. Watch the movie.

“Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe”—Galilei Galileo

Writer’s Lockbox

Writers can do math, too. That is all.

Last week: Cinderella III

Join me next week for Dumbo.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, May 24, 2014

MCS #16: Cinderella III

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)

Cinderella’s stepmother gets her hand on the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand and turns back time to undo Cinderella’s happily ever after. Can Cinderella win back the prince?

K, the obvious problems of having a III without having an I aside, why couldn’t this be the first movie? This idea is made even more complicated when you take into consideration that it turns back the events of I, but really, this movie had so much going for it. Cinderella does things. She doesn’t sit around and wait for the mice and the Fairy Godmother to make her dresses. She goes to the palace and works to get the prince back. She stands up for herself. She fights. In a nut shell, she’s way more independent than she was in movie I.

So again, I ask, why couldn’t this be the first movie?

This one even had some good songs, like this one.

And this one.

Can we talk about the character growth in this song? Anastasia is a person. She changes. She’s not just the “evil for the sake of evilness” stepsister, and that’s awesome. This is the closest Disney comes (outside of Frozen) to having two equally important female characters who aren’t at odds with one another.

This movie is not without its moments. There are some wonderfully hilarious logic problems, such as when Cinderella (walking) gets to the palace twenty minutes before the carriage.

Writer’s Lockbox

Can we have more female characters like Cinderella in this movie? She wants love, yes, but she’s strong and confident about it. She doesn’t need to wear black leather. She doesn’t need to sleep around to feel like she’s being taken seriously. She’s a woman who knows what she wants, and she fights for it.

So more like her. Please and thank-you.

Last week: Cinderella II

And join me next week for Donald in Mathmagicland.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Making Out Does Not make Characters Unable to be Killed, Just Sayin

Hey, folks,

I missed last Wednesday. A lot’s been going on. Good news, though. My thesis passed!!!!

Well, the happy parts of this scene, but I love the whole thing. So yeah.

And now to the meat and potatoes of today’s post. I’ve seen versions of the following scene too many times.

*Hero and heroine are running away from something stronger than them that’s trying to kill them. They stop.*
Hero: “You know, I love you semi-randomly.”
Heroine: “You know, I semi-randomly love you, too. Wanna make out?”
Hero: “Yes.”
*They make out*

Umm, hello? Your being chased by something that’s very strong and wants you dead. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?

Five ways to avoid death by random declaration of love/very intense lust

-Wait until the danger passes before having your characters admit their feelings/make out

“But having them declare love/kiss while they’re in danger is so romantic.”
It’s also bad for their lifespans and a timing problem. If whatever’s chasing them is stronger, odds are good it’s faster, too. So now hero and heroine are not only being chased, but their pursuer is gaining on them. Now, think, in real life you wouldn’t stop and start making out (or maybe you would if you figured you were dead anyway), but this is fiction. The good guys win. So if they stop to make out, you have to delay the superfast thing chasing them, which, as I said, creates timing problems. I don’t want to be left wondering what happened to the thing that was right behind them.

Also, it’s a beautiful moment when they’ve escaped and can be excited they both survived.

-Have them admit their feelings/make out before the threat shows up

This works because, well, they aren’t in danger yet. It’s also a great way to break up the romantic moment. (What, I’m the only one who enjoys torturing their characters by having the big romantic moment interrupted by a three-headed dragon? Fine then.)

-Temporarily trap the threat

This is particularly doable if either the hero or heroine has strong enough magic/access to sufficient technology to make this happen. It’s also a cool moment where you get to show off your character’s talents.

It also gives a moment for making out where I’m not wondering why they haven’t been eaten/burned to a crisp/carried off to be forcibly married to the president of the underwater basket weaving club.

-Make it a quick kiss/confession

*Stopped to catch breath (preferably somewhere where the thing chasing them has to break down a wall before getting to them)*
Hero: “So in case we die, I love you.”
Heroine: “Same here”
*quick kiss/almost kiss right as wall crashes down and then back to running*

There’s nothing wrong with this. Well, there’s nothing wrong with this providing neither dies, and since they are the hero and heroine, they most likely won’t be dying anytime soon. So we’re good. This is also very comical.

-kiss/confession on the run

Hero: *running and possibly ducking flying objects* “So in case we die, I love you.”
Heroine: “Same here.”
*air kiss*

Romance and a chase scene. Everyone’s happy.

So, authors, I am begging you. Please, no more “we’re in immediate mortal danger…let’s make out” scenes.

Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

MCS #15: Cinderella II

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002)

IMDB Blurb
Jacques and Gus tell the story of how Cinderella becomes a princess but loses touch with herself.

I watched this once…on YouTube. No joke. I discovered there was a Cinderella II and was possessed by a sudden curiosity to know just what they could have done for a Cinderella II.

Remember Belle’s Tales of Friendship? Cinderella II is the Cinderella equivalent. Basically, the mice want to tell their own story. So they enlist of the Fairy Godmother and tell two stories about Cinderella learning to be a princess. The only line I remember is from Cinderella: “I think that day is today.” Don’t ask me to recall what this was in response to.

Honestly, I was disappointed. I’ve always had a lot of problems with the original Cinderella story. What kind of prince doesn’t know what the girl he danced with for three nights looks like? I would have loved for Disney to explore some deeper issues, but this was before the Tangled/Frozen era. So mice and Fairy Godmother it is.

Writer’s Lockbox

See Belle’s Tales of Friendship. I don’t remember enough of Cinderella II to pull anything from it, and the Lockbox for Tales pretty much covers it.

Last week: Cinderella

And join me next week for Cinderella III.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, May 10, 2014

MCS #14: Cinderella

Cinderella (1950)

IMDB blurb
When Cinderella's cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from the lovable mice Gus and Jaq, and from her Fairy Godmother.

Oh man, where to start? Walt Disney said "She believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them. When Prince Charming didn’t come along, she went over to the palace and got him.”

Except she didn’t.

She kind of continued cleaning, tried on a dress made by the mice/birds, let her stepsisters tear up the dress made by the mice/birds, ran crying into the backyard, was startled by the arrival of her fairy godmother, and let said startling fairy godmother make a dress/send her to the ball.

Where in here is Cinderella doing something?

Needless to say, this wasn’t my favorite Disney movie. I actually can’t remember when last I watched it or if I even watched the entire thing.

And then there’s the sweet irony that I was cast as Cinderella’s mother when I was in Into the Woods in college.

sigh

K, now, Cinderella isn’t all bad. It had some fun songs, namely the mouse’s song. Please don’t get me started on how annoying Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo is? I won’t torture you with it.

Actually, yes, yes I will.

That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m a big fan of Cinderella retellings, especially ones where she does stuff. So to make up for that musical business earlier, I’ll supply you with some awesome Cinderella reading material.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
by Marissa Meyer

Goodreads blurb

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I actually love this entire series. They are sci-fi retellings of Cinderella, Little Red, Rapunzel, and Snow White. The last book comes out at the beginning of next year, and I’m very impatiently waiting.

The Wrong Foot
by Stephanie Burgis

This was published in Daily Science Fiction a while back. I loved it and then promptly read Burgis’s novel-length work. So let this be a stepping stone for you to get your glass slipper-clad foot to some great books.

Last week: The Black Cauldron

And join me next week for Cinderella II.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

As I write this post, I grumble about as/ing constructions.

There are other blog posts on this topic. I’m sure of it. I just feel the need to address it because as/ing constructions bug the sh*t out of me.

What’s bad about them? Nothing, if used sparingly. When overused, they present the same problem as any other craft element. Repetition is annoying.

The reason I hate them has nothing to do with their actual existence. I’ve seen them used well. It’s just that 99 times out of 100, they don’t do anything. Consider the following.

Holding my breath, I contemplated the situation.

This feels like a sword strike on my ears. Not only is nothing happening, it’s drawing attention to thought processes. In a nut shell, this sentence is stagnant. Just cut it.

The following is a bit better.

Standing tall, she entered the room.

We’re moving now, but it’s very mechanical. First I did this. Then, I did this. This could be rewritten to give more.

She straightened her spine and strode into the room.

Now we have a lot of active, well, action. Our person is doing stuff, and we’re seeing her actually straighten—stand tall. Then we replaced the not-so-showing “walk” with the much more informative strode.

As she walked into the room, she took in the painting on the wall.

Personally, I think as constructions are worse. Absolutely nothing interesting happens in this sentence.

She entered the room. A painting of a ship at sea dominated the left-hand wall.

Look at all that information!

Case and point, 99 times out of 100, there is a stronger way to phrase as/ing constructions.

Happy writing.

-See you on Twitter: @desantismt

Saturday, May 3, 2014

MCS #13 - The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron (1985)

The Black Cauldron is based on the first two books in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series—The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. The movie, as you can see, was very originally named.

Before I get into what it’s about, this movie is Lord of the Rings meets Star wars, which is hilarious because it came out before the LOTR movie adaptations. Think I’m nuts. Below is the beginning of the Wikipedia plot summary. The stuff in brackets is what I’ve added.

Taran [Luke] is "assistant pig-keeper" [assistant farmer] on the small farm [planet] of Caer Dallben [Tatoowine], home of Dallben [Gandalf] the Enchanter. Taran [Luke] dreams of becoming a great warrior [fighter pilot/jedi], but must stop daydreaming because his charge, the oracular pig [droid] Hen Wen [R2D2], is in danger. The Horned King [Sauron], a fearsome, skeletal, undead king [floating eyeball] who wears antler horns on his head, hopes she will help him find the Black Cauldron [one ring], which has the power to restore a kind of life to the dead [his full power/existence], as Undead slaves called "the Cauldron-Born" [[nasgul/ringwraiths], which he will use to rule the world. Dallben [Gandalf] directs Taran [Luke] to take Hen Wen [R2] to safety, but the lad's daydreaming results in the pig's capture by the Horned King's forces [the empire/Sauron’s guys].

Taran [Luke] follows them to the Horned King's stronghold [Mordor] and acquires the small, pestering companion Gurgi [Golem] along the way. Taran [Luke] leaves Gurgi [Golem] to sneak into the castle and rescues Hen Wen [R2], who flees, but he is captured himself and thrown into the dungeon, soon to be released by Princess Eilonwy [Leah], a girl his age who is also trying to escape. In the catacombs beneath the castle, Taran [Luke] and Eilonwy [Leah] discover the ancient burial chamber of a king, where he arms himself with the king's sword [lightsaber]. It contains magic that allows him effectively to fight the Horned King's [Sauron’s] minions and so to fulfill his dream of heroism. Along with a third captive, the comical, middle-aged bard Fflewddur Fflam [Pip/Merry], they escape the castle and are soon reunited with Gurgi [Golem].

No really, especially Gurgi…really Gurgi.

Don’t believe me? Check this out.

All we need is a “my precious.”

Okay, super cool moment here. Eilonwy is voiced by Susan Sheraton. Who, you ask? The voice of Trillion in the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show.

*insert fangirl scream type sound*

Anyway, I recommend this movie at least once. It’s rather cute with a fun ending. I also recommend the books. They are something of a classic.

Writer’s Lockbox

After some thought, I’ve got nothing from the movie specifically. So I’ll reiterate what I said about reading the book because it’s somewhat of a classic and expand on that to say read all the classics in your genre. As The Sound of Music says “Start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”

Last week: Belle’s Tales of Friendship

And join me next week for Cinderella.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What happens when plotting and pantsing fail?

It’s happened, and I’m at a loss.

One of my novel-length projects refuses to cooperate no matter what I do (or don’t do). It hates my plot ideas. So I tell it to come up with its own idea. Then it sits there and doesn’t talk to me.

Help?

I feel like the answer is “walk away for a few days.” Problem is, I just walked away for a week, and I’ve still got nothing. What’s the next step? Is it time to get the pitchfork out and make threatening gestures?

Suggestions welcome.

Many thanks!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

MCS #12: Belle's Tales of Friendship

Belle’s Tales of Friendship (1999)

[IMDB blurb = non-existent]

Yes, believe it or not, this was a thing. It was a thing I owned on VHS (you know, those things that are now practically in museums). It was a thing I enjoyed watching, though now I don’t remember as much of it as I once did. So far as memory serves, there were two mini stories. One was about a bird that the beast wanted as a personal music-provider. The other included conflict between Lumiere and a chandelier (that may have been named Chandeleera) over providing light.

Lots of providing.

Well, friends provide and compromise and such. And the entire point of these two shorts was to teach friendship lessons. I’m sure they did. Just don’t ask me to say exactly what they were.

If anyone was wondering, these had none of the original actors. I’m not sure I knew that at the time (at least not for all the characters). If there’s one thing Disney is usually great at, it’s providing replacement actors that sound similar to the originals.

And finally, related to this, does anyone remember the live-action Belle’s story time show that was on the Disney channel a while ago? It reminded me of Out of the Box.

Because why not?

Also, yes, this show partially inspired the name of this blog.

Writer’s Lockbox

Side novellas are a big thing right now, especially in ya. Take almost any popular ya series and look for the “.5”s—the stories between stories, often from different characters’ perspectives.

Belle’s Tales of Friendship is like the .5 novella before .5 novellas were a thing. Regardless, .5s need to be relevant to the main books, stories in their own right, and, perhaps most importantly, not repeated in one of the main novels. They shouldn’t be necessary to the main storyline because not everyone will read them.

Take this information and run with it (not into oncoming traffic, please).

Last week: Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

And join me next week for The Black Cauldron.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Rest for the Wicked

Hello folks,

Two weeks it was working on thesis. Last week the thesis was due. This week I have a giant paper of doom.

As this title says, no breaks here.

Hopefully this will be the last week of nonsense blog posts about my life being busy for a while. Contrary to how I’m feeling now, I really do enjoy exploring writing and other stuff on here.

Saturday will be up and running, though. So I’ll see you then.

Cheers

Saturday, April 19, 2014

MCS #11: Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

IMDB Blurb Belle prepares the castle for Christmas against Beast's wishes, trying to bring him happiness for the season. Forte, a pipe organ, fears that Belle's plans may eventually bring about an end to the curse... the curse that brought him more importance in the Master's life. Forte uses Fife, a flute who desperately wants a solo, to destroy Belle's plans and get rid of her.

K, I have not seen this movie in a very long time. That said, I remember parts, so here goes.

All the original, awesome voices were back (except Chip—kids and such), and we even added some new, talented faces. Forte is played by the amazing Tim Curry, who has been in so many movies/TV shows I love that I can’t even count.

-Muppet Treasure Island
-The Wild Thornberrys
-Scooby Doo and the Witches Ghost
-Disney’s Gargoyles
-Spamalot (the Broadway version of Monty Python’s Holy Grail)

There are more, but those are the big ones.

Bernadette Peters also makes an appearance as the Christmas angel…Angelique (more original naming here. Cogsworth the clock, Mrs. Potts the teapot….) Anyway, Angelique seems like a perfect name for a character voiced by dear Bernadette. Now, I have no problem with Ms. Peters. Her singing voice drives me a bit nuts, but she can also deliver quite the beautiful song. Behold.

That’s just lovely, and the harmonies with Paige O’Hara only make it better.

Randomly, I wanted more time with the prince in human form. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for guys with long hair, and he had long hair. I’m also torn, though, because I have no idea what kind of plot would revolve around Belle and Prince Adam (apparently that’s his name) as a human. Much as I love his hair, I don’t want a nonsense movie for the sake of it.

All in all, this is a touching story about Christmas, the meaning of family, and home. It begins with everyone as humans and Mrs. Potts telling the story. According to her, this takes place after Beast rescues Belle from the wolves (that he only had to rescue her from because he went all…

Yes, I just wanted an excuse to use that graphic again). Still, it’s a fun movie, and I need to hunt down a copy and watch it sometime.

Bonus Points: The Broadway musical of the original movie I forgot to mention two weeks ago

The original actress who played Belle (Susan Egan) is the voice of Meg in Hercules and the singing voice of Angel in Lady and the Tramp II.

Carry on.

Writer’s Lockbox

“The missing years.”

When inserting events into an already-told story, make certain they fit both logically and time wise. This story works where Mrs. Potts says it fits. That was winter in the original movie, and the entirety of Enchanted Christmas takes place (unsurprisingly) during winter.

Last time: Beauty and the Beast

And join me next week for Belle’s Magical Tales of Friendship (yes, that was a real thing).

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thesis = Submitted

Yes, you read that post title correctly. I passed in my thesis!

Final specs:

Pages: 384
Words: 101,101 (no, I did not cheat to get that number. Cross my heart)
Chapters: 31
POVs: 3
Body Count: 5 named characters, lots of unnamed ones
Tears shed throughout process: too many to count
Total of cut words: I have no idea, and I cannot count right now. I will, though. And I’ll report when I get there. I’m very curious. Heh

So now I wait for overall feedback and the final verdict. Part of me wants to hide under the bed. The other part thinks that’s silly. And then there’s a small part that thinks I should be dancing on the roof…except I’m just too freaking tired.

K, signing off for a day of doing nothing, and I do mean nothing.

Cheers

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bad Blogger Part II

Same deal as Wednesday. Thesis is due Tuesday. I will pick up with Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas next week.

Cheers

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm a bad blogger this week, but my thesis is due next week. So I don't care.

The title says it all, folks.

It’s been two and a half years of blood, sweat, and tears (well, maybe not blood, but you get the idea). Finally, the moment of truth is upon us. My thesis is due next Tuesday.

Wish me luck as I get into my final week of making sure every little thing is as perfect as it can possibly be. (NOTE: I overused the word “possible” in the manuscript. This has been fixed.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to the writing cave.

Cheers

Saturday, April 5, 2014

MCS #10: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

IMDB BLURB
Belle, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself instead and discovers her captor to be an enchanted prince.

Seriously, what’s not to love about this movie? The heroine is an independent, willful woman who is willing to fight for those she loves. There’s a purely evil villain, and there’s a group of epic side characters. I’m sold.

Oh, also, Belle loves to read.

I’d totally be friends with her.

Moving on to the music. It’s lovely, fun, and, in places, even haunting. I’m thinking about the West Wing sequence in particular there. They added “Human Again” in the special edition DVD, and it didn’t ruin the movie.

Then there’s the scene where the beast dies. It’s beyond sad, and did you know that the music in the movie isn’t the original music for that scene? Check out the original score.

While I think this is absolutely lovely, I think the music in the movie works better for the scene. Here’s that version, along with the score through the rest of the movie. Don’t look at me like that. You know you want to listen to this.

Which do you like better?

Gastone—yeah, self-centered and a total jerk much? I mean really. There’s an entire song dedicated to how much he loves himself. That’s just sick.

And then there’s this picture that I just have to share…cuz reasons. *Warning: cursing.*

That’s my picture on Twitter, and I have no shame.

Writer’s Lockbox

Flesh out your secondary characters. Beauty and the Beast did this in the special edition with the previously mentioned “Human Again,” which gave new light (no pun intended since one is a candle) to our three main (and some of the background) secondary characters. Watch.

Also, it gave Jerry Orbach more singing time, which I am always in favor of.

Related Posts
-Secondary Character Appreciation…Few Weeks (1/3)
-Secondary Character Appreciation…Few Weeks (2/3)
-Secondary Character Appreciation…Few Weeks (3/3)

Last week: Bambi

And join me next week for Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A spoon full of research helps the medicine go down

Hi folks,

Last week I appealed to reviewers, telling them to stop calling authors stupid.

Which they seriously need to do because it’s not right.

Onion Head Smiley

I’m good.

Anyway, I left off that post with a promise to authors. This week, my plan is to unravel what prompts reviewers to take inappropriate jabs at authors.

It seems to boil down to one thing—research.

As I pointed out last week, diverting from what is considered fact on Earth, in fiction, is fine, especially in the case of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and anything paranormal. However, there is a difference between changing up how the world works for the story and just plain ignoring facts. I will put this as succinctly as possible.

Authors, if you are working with characters that you have established as human (without any strange diseases/disorders or type of fantastic or technological additions to their being, i.e. normal humans) in a world that is Earth or that follows the basic physical/physiological rules of Earth, you must be accurate.

Let’s take an example—hair. It’s a simple, everyday thing. Without even getting into the science, it is clear that hair grows at a certain speed. Some people have faster growing hair than others, but it is a widely accepted fact that the average human being’s hair takes a while to grow a noticeable length.

Now, let’s say Author A (I know, real creative of me) introduces an ordinary human character who lives in a world that follows the physical/physiological rules of Earth. That character’s hair is only going to grow so fast. So if the author has a character appear with shoulder-length hair and then, three days later, shows us that same character with waist-length hair—with no extensions or other hair-growing aid—that’s wrong.

And readers notice.

And too often, they are not nice about it. That is their fault. I covered that last week, but authors, do you see where the propensity for reviewers to say “this author is stupid” comes from? If I read a book where this happened, I’d be forced to think one of the following:

-The author doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.
-The author did not do his/her research. I wonder what else won’t be researched?
-The author didn’t edit his/her work.
-This author had a terrible editor. (which is just placing the lack-of-paying-attention blame on a different person)
-The author is an alien. (K, not likely, but who knows, right?)

Honestly, I want the solution to be an editing mistake. I want to believe, every time, that someone, at some point, just didn’t see the mistake. Unfortunately, though, I have read books where the mistake is glaring and goes on for paragraphs, and I just cannot believe that neither the author, nor any of the beta readers, nor any of the editors noticed it. So I’m forced to think the author didn’t know something so basic or, even worse, didn’t care, thus showing a complete lack of interest in his/her own work. More often than not, this leads to me putting the book down, or if I do finish, it leads to me never picking up another book from that author.

It never, however, leads to me writing a scathing review about how stupid the author is and then posting said review on the internet.

Message to take away: authors, research and edit.

SIDE NOTE

I did a guest post for horror writer C.R. Langille (a fellow SHUer of mine). Have a look at what I think about the fantasy genre.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, March 29, 2014

MCS #9: Bambi

Bambi (1942)

IMDB Blurb
The story of a young deer growing up in the forest after his mother is shot by hunters.

So, that synopsis, yeah. Disney, I love you, but there’s no real plot here. I mean, even if we expand past this, the story is about a deer who makes friends, grows up, falls in love with a female deer (that’s a doe, and we’re in the money with a buck…badumpch), becomes prince of the forest, and has twins.

Okay Smiley Sign

Despite this, this movie is indeering (see what I did there?) and extremely depressing. This brings the “mother not in the picture” to a new level. Let’s talk about murder on screen. Pardon me while I cry like a baby.

But seriously, this is a coming of age story. Bambi is forced to learn some tough life lessons very quickly. All things considered, he turns out pretty good.

Then there’s the random “black screen,” Bambi’s an adult now. Oh, and why is he so resistant to love? The girls are all over that concept. The guys aren’t. I’m seeing a gender thing here. 

When all else fails, this movie has it all—love, marriage, and a skunk named Flower. What more do you need?

So happy

That’s what I thought.

Writer’s Lockbox

I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate my point about having a plot.

Have a plot.

Thank you.

Carry on.

Last week: Atlantis, which I’m watching the Lego version of as I write this post

Join me next week for Beauty and the Beast

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who put the "book" in the book, book, book review?

Answer: Someone who knew what they were doing

Yes, they are in fact called “book reviews” for a reason. They are supposed to be reviews of books.

Say it with me: “Of books.”

What are they not reviews of?

Authors

Good Job Smiley Sign

Talking about fiction here.

This whole “book review = review of a book” thing seems like a no-brainer, but too often I read reviews where people criticize the author’s intelligence. While not every tiny thing about a fiction work may be factually correct as determined on Earth under our living conditions, here’s the thing. It’s fiction. Yes, common facts should be correct. Authors need to do their research, but if they change something to fit their fictional world, that’s their choice. This does not make them stupid. In the case of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) this might make a world.

Regardless, however, there is no place for “this author is an idiot” in a book review. That is called attacking, and that is not the point of reviews. If you’re going to review a book, review the damn book. Don’t spend 200 words going on about how stupid the author is. All that does is make you look dumb, jealous, or both. Then you lose your credibility as a reviewer (because no one likes a complainer), and no one feels bad for your loss of credibility. After all, you’re the idiot who decided to attack people where it wasn’t called for.

“But the author messed up. What am I supposed to say?”

Try these alternatives to “this author is clearly a moron.”

-I’m wondering if this part of the book was researched enough.
-I couldn’t get into the story because there were a lot of small details that bugged me.
-The world building/characters/whatever could have been tightened.

“But these don’t let me get out my massive amounts of anger about the author getting stuff wrong.”

Really? Then I suggest you seriously reevaluate why you are reviewing and possibly see an anger management specialist.

Depressed Sigh

So, reviewers, be nice, and as much as it pains me to say this, authors, pay attention to your manuscripts. Being called stupid, an idiot, a moron, or any other name in a review is never justifiable. Period. On that note, though, readers aren’t stupid either. They notice things. Someone once described reading as reader and author entering into an unspoken contract to appreciate one story. Readers know when that contract is broken, and they do not react well. So next week, I’m going to work on unraveling what brings reviewers to the place where they feel the need to call an author stupid.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MCS #8: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

IMDB BLURB A young adventurer named Milo Thatch joins an intrepid group of explorers to find the mysterious lost continent of Atlantis.

As of yesterday afternoon, I’d seen this movie once…in college…five years ago…while in the company of a friend and his extremely recent x-girlfriend who he was trying (rather unsuccessfully) to get back with.

As a result, I watched it again with a friend last night. Post second viewing, I felt much more prepared to discuss the film, considering pre-second viewing I remembered roughly almost nothing.

Shit Happens

So anyway.

Milo + Kidammanoganosh…or however you say that. I like Milo’s nickname idea, so I’ll stick with Kida. They’re cute. Well, they’re cute later. At first, they’re kind of grr face at each other, but it’s grr face in a cute way?

Also, how did he hold his breath for that long?

Voices. David Ogden Stiers makes a cameo appearance as Mr. Harcourt. Wondering who that is? He’s the guy who’s been in more Disney movies than you probably realize, including Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Speaking of names, this is a character in the movie, not an actor, but…Thaddeus Thatch?

Wow

Do parents realize what they do to their kids?

K, before I get to the end, I need to mention Atlantis II quickly. It, um, well, it was confusing. I offer the following conversation as proof. My friend and I tried to watch it last summer. Fifteen minutes in, the following exchange occurred.

Her: “Do you know what’s going on?”
Me: “No. You?”
Her: “No. Wanna watch something else?”
Me: “Sure.”
Her: *turns off movie*

I rest my case.

Writer’s Lockbox

While this movie is extremely fun, the beginning, specifically Milo’s “opportunity” in the form of Helga is very convenient. It works in a short kid's film like this, but writers, take note. Don’t just throw a convenient catalyst in the path of your protagonist. Make your characters work.

Also, don’t kill off roughly 180 people, making throw-away characters out of them. But I digress.

Last week: Aristocats

And join me next week for the beginning of the Bs, Bambi.

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Follow My Blog With Bloglovin

-Kit ‘N Kabookle
My book blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Manuscripts have claws, and they hurt!

Good Wednesday,

At least I think it’s good, and I think it’s Wednesday. I’m doing a full read-through of my thesis, and my brain’s a little fried.

Ok, it’s a lot fried.

Hence the lack of cute smiley pictures this week.

A few days ago I put the following post to my fellow SHUers:

K, I've gotten to the point with my thesis where I'm questioning every word choice, every sentence structure, every punctuation placement. "I didn't describe enough. I described too much. This paragraph needs to be over there." Someone please tell me this is normal before I pull my hair out.

I received a ton of “this is normal” responses, which made me feel better. I also received a handful of “take a break” responses and even one or two “you’re done” responses.

Well, I’m not done, but I learned a lesson. I’m the first to tell people who are freaking about the little things to move on and not get stuck. Yet, chapter 15 dug its claws into me the other day and wouldn’t let go.

So, I guess I learned two valuable lessons this week.

First, the little stuff really will drive you crazy, and the best course of action is to step away from that section/the entire project. I forced myself not to look at chapter 15 anymore, and I’m now feeling much better.

Second, practice what you preach. “Hey everyone, chill about the small stuff!” *freaks about the small stuff*

I feel like a horrible person now.

*sigh*

Anyway, still slaving around over here. Can’t wait till I pass it in and can breathe easier.

10-4, Pegasus out.

-Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MCS #7: The Aristocats

The Aristocats (1970)

IMDB BLURB
With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.

Where to start? I loved the cats playing the piano. I love the title—the pun on aristocrats. 10 points for creativity, Disney.

Now (because I have to point out voice actors) bet you didn’t know that Thomas O’Malley was the same actor as Baloo from The Jungle Book.

Oh, you did know that?

Oh Well Smiley Sign

Anyway, I have a great little story that’s related to this movie. Back in 2012, I lived in a hotel for a couple of months. I was in the process of moving states with my parents (because moving out while in grad school is a bad idea). The hotel we stayed in had a cat named Sylvester, and every morning on the way to breakfast, my father would stop at the door that led to the outdoor pool and sitting area and sing Thomas O’Malley’s song, substituting the ending for “Sylvester the hotel cat.”

Except my father isn’t great with remembering lyrics, so it went more like “Abraham DeLacey (repeat that line) *grumble, grumble* Sylvester the hotel cat.”

Blushing Smiley

Actually, it was kind of adorable because, well, my family is adorable.

[Side Note: Keep watching the video after the song ends. It’s worth it.]

Now, we can’t talk about Aristocats without mentioning this cutie.

Also, I just wanted an excuse to use this picture. But really, Marie is awesome. She’s totally got her brothers wrapped around her little finger (toe? Paw?). Oh well, ladies ftw!

Writer’s Lockbox

Siblings have a unique dynamic. My thesis novel features a lot of siblings. My main character is a twin, and I originally had her feuding with her brother. After several people informed me “the feud isn’t working” I dropped it, and the story works much better now. I didn’t overbalance in the other direction, though. They aren’t the Wonder Twins now, which I like because the “twins destined to save the world” thing is kind of overdone.

But anyway, I digress. The point of this Writer’s Lockbox is to make siblings realistic. Boys and girls often fight at younger ages. Either that or they are best buddies. Girls are either bffs or hate each other, and boys usually are all right unless they sense favoritism from a parent. If everything’s cool, they’re like “dude, video games?” “Yeah.” That is until one gets too old for being seen with the other to be “cool.”

This is just my take. I am an only child and have had people tell me what it’s like to have siblings. Any other sibling insights out there? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Last week: Alice in Wonderland

And join me next week for the last of the Disney A’s, Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

-Find me on Twitter @desantismt

P.S. Beware. That is all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Possibly the Most Ridiculous Argument for Succinct Writing Ever...with Math! (sorry)

Good Wednesday,

First, a post about writing. Then an exciting announcement.

POST ABOUT WRITING

Let’s talk about word count and unnecessary phrasing.

But before we do that, let me apologize for frightening you with the word “math” in the title.

Then let me say that there is actually going to be math.

crying puddle

You’ll live.

So words. More often than I care to admit, the following phrases come up in books I read. I sometimes pause and stare at them in wonder because “why did the author choose to write it this way?”

Shrugged his shoulders
Blinked her eyes
Nodded his head
Clapped her hands

Aside from making editors/publishers/agents cringe, these phrases monopolize on “too-many-word syndrome” (n.) the state of having too many words, and “unnecessary explanation syndrome” (n.) the state of over explaining obviousness. What part of the body does one blink other than eyes? Shrug other than shoulders? You get the idea, and if a different body part performs these actions, that is out-of-the-ordinary and, thus, necessitates explanation.

It’s “too-many-words syndrome” I want to focus on in today’s post. This is where the math comes in (sorry again…or maybe not). Let’s take the four three-word phrases above. Using basic multiplication, I calculate that 3x54=12.

Now, we don’t need the modifiers/explanatory words: his shoulders, her eyes, his head, her hands. That’s 2 words from each phrase that we don’t need. 2x4=8. 12-8=4. So what was originally said in 12 words can be said in 4.

This doesn’t seem like much, but put it into the context of a 90k word manuscript. How many times do characters shrug/nod/clap/blink/do similar 3-word phrases in that time? Odds are, quite a few. In fact, let’s say characters perform such three-word actions 500 times in a manuscript.

***WARNING***

The math is about to get more difficult.

***THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION***

K, 500 three-word phrases.

500 x 3 = 1500

So that’s 1500 words.

Now, 2 words from each of those three-word phrases aren't needed.

500 x 2 = 1000

1500 – 1000 = 500

I think smiley is learning something new. But What? He seems a bit confused

Yes, by writing “he nodded” instead of “he nodded his head,” “she shrugged” instead of “she shrugged her shoulders,” etc. 1000 words were cut.

1000

That could mean the difference between being able to submit to a given house/contest or not.

“Mary, no publisher/agent is going to glare at a project that’s 1000 words over their limit.”

They might. It’s unlikely, but if this argument isn’t doing it, here’s another.

That’s 1000 words that can be used to describe something else. The standard chapter size is between 3000 and 4000 words. We’re talking a third or fourth of a chapter here. That’s a lot of space. Trust me, I check my word count while I’m writing chapters, and I often think to myself “This one is at about 2500. 1000 words is plenty of space to finish what needs to happen.”

Every word counts.

And see? That math wasn’t too painful.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Back in January, I submitted to OddContest, the flash fiction contest associated with Odyssey Con. They received 71 stories. While I did not win first, second, or third, I placed in the top 10. I’m officially an Odd Contest finalist, and my name is on the website!

See, look!!!

That’s my name…on that list….

-Find me on Twitter @desantismt.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

MCS #6: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice follows the White Rabbit to Wonderland. Can she get home before the Queen of Hearts takes her head off?

I have not seen this in about fifteen years, so this will be interesting. Alice in Wonderland fell into the “earlier Disney” category that I couldn’t get into as much. I owned it on VHS (you know, back in the Stone Age), but I never bought it on DVD and probably won’t. Such is life.

I haven’t even gotten around to reading the original story. It was never required reading, and I’ve been trying to focus on current pop fiction since starting grad school. I want to stay abreast of the market and such, but I will read it.

So the movie. K, Cheshire Cat disappearing? Did anyone ever see the Peanuts episode where Snoopy did that?

Hee

Favorite song. I always thought “Painting the Roses Red” was hilarious. The thought of a bunch of playing cards painting roses to pacify their queen just cracks me up. Let’s watch.

Nice harmonies, boys.

Also, March of the Cards—seven dwarves, anyone?

And really, I felt so bad for the King of Hearts in this movie.

Well, that about wraps it up. I don’t have much more to say. So let’s leave off with a riddle, shall we?

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Writer’s Lockbox

Don’t plant white roses by accident.

Smiley scratches his head, puzzled (animated)

Right, sorry.

Umm, k, this might be a stretch. But when writing the weird, make sure the weird makes sense. Wonderland is a place where things are strange, but they obey the laws of strange. And so too must strong fiction.

Look at me pulling that out of my a$$ after not seeing this movie in years.

victory

Last week: Aladdin and the King of Thieves

And join me next week for The Aristocats

Thanks for reading.

Mary
@desantismt on Twitter

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