Monday, October 30, 2006

Marie Antoinette

I don't want to ruin this movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but trust me when I say wait for the rental. Unless you've got two hours to kill and there are no good sales at Macy's.

Our (Lara Santiago and I) expectations were high after seeing the trailers and hearing the hype. We anticipated something between a "Remains Of The Day" and "A Knight's Tale" - period, yet rock and roll. And it was somewhere in between the two, but not in a successful way.

Although the settings and costuming are mindblowingly delicious, the pacing really makes this movie drag. There are several moments during the movie where you actually find yourself thinking, "couldn't they have shortened this scene"? There's a lot of non-action. Pensive scenes where Kirsten Dunst does little more than emote. Or walk. There are a lot of walking scenes. Granted, I didn't expect carriage races or black powder shoot-outs - it's Marie Antoinette, for crying out loud, but still.

Her life is interesting to say the least. And the movie does a great job of making her a sympathetic character early on. But as the film unspools, some of that sympathy turns to apathy.

Now the spoiler and one of the most disappointing parts of the movie (it's in black, so you'll have to highlight the block of text if you want to read it):

We all know Marie Antoinette buys the farm under the guillotine's blade, right? So it's basically the assumption that's how the movie will end - with this dramatic finish. You wonder how the director, Sophia Coppola, will handle it. Could end the movie in a way that stays with you for a long time. But that's not how the movie ends. Not even close. Instead, you get to see Marie and Louis riding off in a carriage. That's it. That's it! Sheesh. Talk about a downer.

Anyway, I so wanted to like this movie more than I did...but...well...c'est la vie.

The Walk - Day Three

Okay, finally, the wrap up.

So on the second night, we didn't have the freezing temps to deal with. Because it rained. Hard. Fortunately, some nice woman (who was leaving the walk altogether) had given us a plastic drop cloth, which we'd clothespinned over the tent along with the mylar blanket in hopes of keeping ourselves dry.

It basically worked - and the mylar helped darken the tent (don't get me started about the mysterious glow). However, with the rain coming down, neither Lynne nor I were in any rush to get out of the tent. We packed up all our stuff (sleeping bags, sleeping bag mats, clothes, pillows, snacks, etc.) without getting out of the tent. The tents were supposedly 6'5" x 6'5", however I'm 5'9" and couldn't stretch out. You do the math.

When we finally emerged into the wet gloom, the landscape had changed. The sea of blue tents was leaking away as tents were being taken down. We were instructed to tear down and pack up our tent as well. Hah! I scoffed at that. I was wet, sleepy, cold and in need of caffeine. Take down the wet tent and pack it up? I think not. Some man came along and offered to do it. I told him to knock himself out and Lynne and I headed off to the gear trucks to unload our duffel bags.

We reconvened with Deidre and Janice under the main food tent with "breakfast" in hand. Deidre had been put on medical restriction and wasn't allowed to walk. The rest of us decided unanimously to hang with D and ride the bus. Best decision we ever made. After a long wait, we finally got on the tour bus and took a nice comfy ride to the lunch stop, where we sat on the bus and watched The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson. Great movie with some unexpected twists! I totally didn't figure out the red herring until the end.

As the day came to a close, the bus dropped us off at Piedmont Park, site of the finish line and closing ceremonies. We limped through the finish, collected our t-shirts, then soon gathered our gear and decided (Janice, Lynne and I) not to wait until the closing ceremonies were over to take the shuttle buses. Instead, we called a cab.

He dropped me off at my hotel then continued on to take the girls to their vehicles. Within 10 minutes, I had the tub filled with steaming hot water and was up to my neck. Pizza and salad soon followed. I fell asleep shortly after 8pm, happy to be in a real bed.

And so concludes the 3 Day adventures. Tomorrow we return you to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Walk - Day Two

Before you chastise me for skipping a day on my re-telling of the walk, let me just explain that yesterday I was knee-deep in farm animals and four-year-olds. That's what you get for volunteering for "Farm Days" at your niece's preschool. But I digress...

The first night of sleeping in the tents was interesting. I periodically woke up because a.) every time I moved, I found a new sore muscle, b.) any part of my pillow not covered by my head was freezing, c.) I keep having dreams I was being swallowed by a giant snake, only to wake up and realize it was my sleeping bag, and d.) one of my tent "neighbors" - who shall forever remain nameless - could beat Hotrod in a snoring competition.

When we finally got up (which is to say we returned to a vertical position, not to say we awoke), there was more fun. My sleeping bag had collected so much condensation, it was wet to the touch. Our breath was visible in the tent - odd, until we stepped outside and found the glistening sheen of fresh ice on all the tents. Apparently, "Hotlanta" it ain't.

Once we got on the road, we quickly made a stop at the QT. Having never been to one of these before, I must say I was fairly impressed with their selection of male-centric ball caps and soda selections. Our illustrious leader, Deidre "look at my crocheting" Knight, soon realized her already injured feet were in need of more medical attention. We (D, me and my brave tentmate, Lynne Simpson) flagged down a sweeper van to take us to the next pit stop. There D received some much needed medical attention (did I mention her baby toes were so badly hurt her toenails were separating?) From there, we decided to take the bus to lunch.

After some rest and lunch, we hit the road again, this time with the addition of American Title winner and team mate, Janice Lynn. (No one could keep up with the inhuman pace set by bionic wonder kids Elaine and Julie. Dastardly 23-year-olds!) Another mile or so and D was down for the count. I was amazed she made it as far as she did - if my toenails were falling off, I wouldn't have been on a bus back to camp, I would have been on a plane back home!

Lynne, Janice and I pushed on, walking through some pretty neighborhoods and amazing groups of people cheering us on. At one point, we had to stop and get some moleskin for my side since my sportsbra gave me a nasty abrasion, but other than that, the remaining eight miles were incident free. About half a mile from camp, a large contingent of walkers behind us veered off into the local sports bar. Tempting to say the least.

After a quick shower (no hair dryer this night!), some school cafeteria chicken for dinner and a little conversation with the team (it's amazing what one can do with washcloths and rubber bands when love motivates you, but that's not really a story I can share since it didn't originate with me), we were back in our sleeping bags by 7:40 pm.

But that night was not to be full of slumber either...stayed tuned for the dramatic conclusion!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Walk - Day One

I left Thursday to spend the night at a hotel in Alpharetta and the lovely Janice Lynn arrived shortly thereafter to share the room. We woke up bright and early, went downstairs for a quick bite of crappy free breakfast, then came back upstairs to gather our things and get ready for day one.

We boarded the shuttle bus which took us to the Northpoint Mall for the opening ceremonies. This was a very cruel coincidence for a woman like me. I never walk away from a mall until I've left my mark inside. But that was not to be on Friday. After meeting up with the rest of Team Parallel Heat (and my tentmate, Lynne Simpson) and going through the opening ceremonies (which were both touching and a little cheesy), we started walking.

About two hours in, we took our first major detour. Into a Starbucks that ajoined a Barnes and Noble. Hey, we're writers. What did you expect? Needless to say we were soon back on the course, mocha lattes in hand. (It's good to know TKA values caffeine as much as I do.)

By lunch, the dogs were barking, but we pushed on, determined to make the day. Many hills and long hours later, we limped into camp. Lynne and I found our tent easily, since it was the only one of about 2500 that was not set up. I knew then that this whole experience was going to be some sort of test. I am not a camper. I bought all my camping supplies for this trip the day before. Now they wanted me to put up a tent? It happened, that's all I can say.

After a hot meal (institutional spaghetti not fit for the gullet of a true Italian, but I was hungry and tired and past caring) and a hot shower, I headed for a crew member to find out where I could plug in the hair dryer I had been given special dispensation to use. Fortunately for me, I brought the chain of emails that had led to this special permission. After much discussion and a promise that I would be apologized to, I was shown to a plug. Did I mention the emails were confiscated? Oh yes, kittens, they were. But my hair was bone dry and sparkling clean.

Stay tuned tomorrow for tales of the ice tent and Day Two.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm Home

It was a long, interesting weekend. There was ice, rain, sunburn, blisters and some detached toenails.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Off!

I'm headed for Atlanta, with my real pillow packed (thanks to Mel's suggestion) and good thoughts for a great walk.

See you with stories and pics when I get back! Although you can check the Knight Agency blog during the walk. I'm not sure but Deidre might post once from her blackberry.

A few other tidbits:

1. Bella, if you're reading this, I've emailed you but still haven't heard which book you want or what your address is.

2. Congrats to my brother and his wife, for making me an aunt again! Little Reese was born late Tuesday night. I'll share a picture of her when I get back. (Assuming they've sent me one by then.)

3. There's about to be a new addition to the Painter family as well - and no I'm not pregnant. I hope to have pics of him for you next week too. He's a cutie!

4. Thanks to Lara Santiago for the ride to the airport.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Journey Begins Tomorrow

I leave tomorrow for the 3 Day Breast Cancer walk. 60 miles in 3 days (or as I like to call it, the end of my life as upright being)...but I digress. It's not really the walking that has me worried, it's the two nights of sleeping in tents.

Me in a tent. In a sleeping bag. It boggles the mind.

Those of you who know me can probably guess I'm not really a camping kind of girl. Camping for me would be a hotel that doesn't have fluffly robes in the room or an on-site spa. I'm not exactly the outdoor type, you see.

This should be interesting. I plan on taking pictures. My biggest concern? The pillow. I bought a camping pillow, but I'm not fooling myself that it comes anywhere close to the pillow I currently use. Any thoughts or suggestions on this particular subject from those of you who have braved a night sans walls?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rock On!

This just makes me laugh.

In other news, I'm prepping to leave for the 3 Day Cancer Walk. Much to do and unfortunately, it doesn't really include writing. I want to write. There's just so much going on I'm not really getting the time at the keyboard I'd like.

How's your writing going?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Alpha, Beta, Gamma...we've all heard the hero "types". Let's look at them in way that makes them easier to understand:


Dr. Mark "McSteamy" Sloan (actor Eric Dane) is about as Alpha as you can get. He's a lover and a fighter, full of machismo and swagger. A bad boy with a bad attitude and sex appeal you can't deny. There's a mystery about him. (Why would a guy sleep with his best friend's wife?) He seems wounded and in need of fixing, if only he could find the right woman. When it comes to work, he's the boss. His rules apply because he demands perfection. He is not the boy next door, which is why you shouldn't expect him to be there when you wake up in the morning.


Dr. George O'Malley (actor T.K. Knight) perfects the Beta hero. He's everyone's best friend. He's sweet, sensitive, not afraid to show his emotions - or confess them, regardless of the outcome. There's a bit of the underdog in him - we root for him to get the girl and feel his pain when he doesn't. Although he doesn't seek out confrontation, when pushed (enough) on a subject that means something to him, he'll eventually rise to the fight and defend what he believes in without even the slightest hint of arrogance. He is definitely the boy next door and the kind of guy who will always be there for you.


Surprised Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd (actor Patrick Dempsey) is the Gamma? You shouldn't be. He combines some of the best elements of the Alpha and the Beta. He falls into the role of best friend easily, displaying his overload of charm, but confront him with a situation that requires action and you'll see his Alpha side come spilling out. He is strong and vunerable...probably the only thing he can't handle is the heroine. McDreamy might be the boy next door, but only if you're living in a romance novel or television show.

So...who's your favorite hero?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fly-By Posting

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm working on a fun blog for Monday, so don't forget to stop by then.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tell Me A Joke

I had to put my eldest cat, Laura, to sleep yesterday morning due to her kidney disease. It was a long, rough day. Anyone who ever got a chance to "meet" her, knows what a sweet, loveable creature she was. She had a loud purr that was unmistakable. Many people thought she sounded like a dove.

I'd appreciate a good joke or a link to a funny site...anything that would put a smile on my face is welcome.

Rest in peace, baby girl.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Something To Think About

Success is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.

I think that's especially true when it comes to writing.

We prepare by learning the craft of writing, editing and revising our work until it shines, by participating in networking, no matter what level we're at, and of course, reading in our genre to know what's being published.

The opportunities that come to us might be querying an article, short story or full manuscript to an agent or editor, or perhaps even entering a contest.

The success comes in the form of a request for a partial or a full, an article or story being accepted, placing in a contest (or winning!) and the big one, selling that full manuscript. However, success comes in other ways, too. Even the small successes, like meeting your word count for the day, finishing a chapter, finishing a manuscript, or fixing a sagging middle, are important and should be recognized.

This is a tough business. We need to celebrate the small victories to keep hold of the joy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Writing Blog Round-Up

Why your contest scores are low.

All about book trailers.

Are you ready for representation?

My diet-induced crankiness rears it's ugly head.

On another note, I worked out twice yesterday (weights in the morning, cardio in the evening) and I am sore. However, according to the scale I'm down two pounds. I don't care if it's water weight or I've lost brain cells, I'll take it

Monday, October 09, 2006


I'm starting a new diet and exercise program again, so if I'm cranky, you know why. Speaking of why...why aren't mashed potatoes with butter and hot fudge sundaes diet food? Why doesn't typing burn more calories? Why isn't size 12 the new 6? Why isn't being curvy more acceptable? Why do I care so much?

Well, I do care. I care that my clothes don't fit the way they used to - and that some don't fit at all. I feel sluggy sometimes and I know that's partly due to the A.) extra weight I'm hauling around and B.) the lack of exercise I'm getting.

Yes, I've been working out and training for the big 60 mile Breast Cancer 3 Day walk I'm participating in, but it's nothing like I once did. I'm trying to get back to that level of activity.

Worst part is...I'm getting weighed today. Oh mercy. I just know that isn't going to be pretty. I also know it just might be the black and white motivation I need.

Sigh. Why wasn't I born with a different metabolism?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

You Put The Lime In The Coconut...

I just found out Hotrod is taking me to Kona, HI in Dec. Neither of us have been to the big island yet, so we're really looking forward to it. I'm most excited by the possibility of whale watching and doing the volcano trek. Other than that, we're looking for tips from folks who've been.

So...any advice, recommendations, spots to see, places to eat, shops that must be shopped at?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Victory Dance Friday!

Woohoo! I not only hit the halfway point on my WIP yesterday, but I surpassed it! This means I've written about 75 pages in 9 days. I didn't know I had it in me!
What are you victory dancing about this fine Friday?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Little Thursday Diversion


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dropping Your Pants

It's time for me to get rid of a pair of pants. They're great pants--well, they were. A nice medium-light blue (softer than robin's egg, brighter than powder), very comfy, perfect for yoga. Except thanks to a few eaten-through bleach spots, a fraying drawstring and what looks to be a red Crystal Light stain, they haven't been out in public in a year or so.

The real bummer is there is a very cute zip-up hoodie with three quarter length sleeves in almost perfect condition in my closet that matches them.

But I'm a realist. That jacket is in such great shape because I stopped wearing it when the pants were no longer fit for public consumption. The chances of that jacket getting worn now are even slimmer. It's very cute with the pants, but on its own...well, there are so many other jackets to choose from in my closet.

This all reminds me of the first book I ever wrote. Sure, I will always think of it fondly (it finaled in the Golden Heart for pete's sake), but there comes a time when you have to put something away and move on. I know it won't get published and I'm okay with that (and have been for a while). Just like I know the sequels in that series probably won't ever see the light of day either.

As writers, we have to know when to shelve a manuscript (and its sequels) and move on. How many times do you edit something before you know it's just time to stop? How many submissions do you put it through? What's your process for declaring a manuscript DOA?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pretty Sparkly Things

I love sparkly things. Love them. So much it's probably unhealthy. Actually, loving sparklies can't be unhealthy, can it? It's not like I give up food or sleep for them. (Seriously, have you seen me? Does it look like I've skipped a meal or an opportunity to nap?)

Boil it down, along with my fascination with clothes, shoes, hair, makeup...and basically you'll find I'm a girly girl. I love flowers and chocolate. Candles and perfume. And of course, romance.

Which is probably why I love the ugly duckling heroine so much (and probably why I tend to write heroines that go through some sort of transformation). The process is what I love. The choices are limitless, so what will be chosen and what will be tossed aside? (I'm a sucker for make-over shows, too.)

Most importantly, the hero has to be able to see the beauty in her regardless of what stage of the process she's at - the before or the after.

What are some of your favorite themes in romance?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Move

There's not a writer among us who doesn't get tired of sitting. You shift and twist, your butt falls asleep, your back aches. The fidgeting doesn't stop. I am the poster child for this but I know I'm not alone.

Here's a move to give you a boost:

While sitting, raise your arms over your head and put a hand on each elbow. Then breath in so you inflate and lift your chest. Keep your spine tall and lean back until your shoulder blade area touches the back of the chair. Stay here for a few breaths. When you relax, you should feel ready to tackle a few more pages.