A Writer Does Two Things: Read and Write

write

     I was drawn to writing as long as I can remember.  I enjoyed reading too and wish I could finish books like I did when I was younger.  No longer does Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitter’s Club hold my attention nor would I find them all that interesting today.  The books I’m reading now are thicker with a lot more complexity.  I used to read about five to ten books at one time, when I wasn’t jam packing a to-do list with 15 items on it each week.  Now, I’m lucky to get a book read in six months but reading something is better than nothing.
     I looked at my mini book collection, as most of my books are still in the Midwest, collecting dust in my bedroom.  The books I recommended will help you become a better writer.  Yes, most of this information is common knowledge, but the hardest part is translating it onto the page as you’re writing.  People know the hardest part of the writing process is the dialogue.  It is the hardest to excel at in any form of writing.  A movie can be forgivable with mediocre writing, but great writing is what makes audience members be able to sit through a movie without looking at their watches or shift needlessly in their seats. 
     There is something inherent about great writing, but there are critics everywhere.  What one views as great writing, another will view as only okay.  Some might prefer wordy writers, while others enjoy writers who use less description and more action.  Most readers like writers to get to the heart of the story as quick as they can without sacrificing the story.  I feel belaboring the points is as deadly as going too fast into a scene and moving out of it even faster.
     Writers learn by using all their five senses. They also learn whether through reading about writing or writing itself.  The bottom line is that any person who wants to be a better writer should be reading all of these books, and then read them again as I need to do.  I have included another book in the Write Great Fiction series that I still need to read, Revision & Self-Editing.  If anything, these books might incite writers to be motivated and invigorated again.  It’s good to feel hurt fingers once in a while or in my case carpal tunnel, but whatever physical ailment you might have, it isn’t as painful as suppressing your desire to write or stunt your skill level.
(Top Picture by Her Campus)
Check them out at Amazon
Dialogue
Plot & Structure
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint
Description & Setting
Revision & Self-Editing
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Some Make It While Others Don’t in Hollywood

silverbullet

I’ve been thinking about the 80s.  I was all about Punky Brewster, Different Strokes, Facts of Life, and the occasional morning cartoons.  Scooby Doo and Smurfs come to mind.  As a child yourself, you don’t think about what child actors and actresses experience as they are catapulted into stardom.  As you grow older and learn about the lack of privacy any famous actor or actress faces, it becomes more apparent the weird dichotomy of what it means to known in Hollywood.

I feel child actors and actresses want to be known as such, but because of the character they play on television or in movies, they have to engage in all the publicity where they become a teen object with often sexual and envious undertones.  The same could be said for adult actors and actresses.  They walk the red carpets for award ceremonies or promote their movies during premieres.  They are catapulted to a status much like I viewed my teacher in third grade.  You mean Ms. B. grocery shops?  I never said anything either in my random sightings of actors and actresses.

One out of a handful that sticks to my fingers like bubblegum was my time at Runyon Canyon.  I was walking down the windy paved road when a dog plopped his butt down and would not move.  The owner was tugging on its leash to get him to move.  That person was Ben McKenzie.  You know the brooding teenager, Ryan Atwood, in The O.C. and now plays Commissioner Gordon in Gotham.  I had seen him a few times before, but never said anything to him.  I didn’t this time either, pet his dog, and went on my way despite knowing his Hollywood status. 

This brings me to the actor, Corey Haim, who died in 2010.  He was often the underdog in roles as a child.  It made him endearing.  I wanted to be his best friend in Lucas or Silver Bullet.  He took on teen roles oozing with heart throb status such as The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream, and License to Drive.  He had those boyish looks that kept on giving.   Teenage girls thought he was dreamy.  The last movie that kept my interest was Watchers.

Hollywood can be tough on childhood actors given their young age and enticement of what it has to offer in parties and drinking.  Those in power should not protect the figures who prey on the vulnerable.  There’s been enough betrayal taking place “behind closed doors.  In light of Corey Feldman stating his friend kept this dark secret, it obviously troubled him to the point of weakening him year after year: the guilt, fear, shame, and anger.

If Corey Haim had survived through his hardships, what kind of opportunities would Hollywood give him?  No longer the cute child actor, much like Macaulay Culkin today,   does not diminish their talent.  I wonder why some child actors and actresses transition smoothly into well-respected roles while others get thrown in the mix of B movies.  It isn’t that Corey Haim wasn’t talented because he could emote.  In light of his absence, I recommend watching Silver Bullet because you should always root for a child actor who portrays a child hero.

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Documentary Recommendation: Be Here Now

beherenow

I was late in watching the series Spartacus.  I wish there were more seasons and wonder what would have occurred had Andy Whitfield continued to live past the age of his prime.  I heard of this documentary while watching him and along with the other actors that played gladiators.  The tenacity and strength he possessed to prepare for this role astounds me.  I knew the filmmaker rallied her fans to help raise the finances needed to make this documentary.  I was one of the fortunate ones to reap this benefit.  It goes to show one never should lose sight on the importance of what life has to offer.  Live it to the fullest, learn from your mistakes, and look ahead more than behind you.

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Quote of the Night

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Like espionage? Read these books!

 I’m currently reading a book titled, The Cuckoo’s Egg.  I heard about it on PBS, as it was being reviewed.  Being that I’m interested in espionage, I ordered it right away from Amazon.  The author of this book definitely is the way I imagined him when I researched him on the Internet.  I used to plow through books like they were going out of style, but now it seems to take me much longer.  This book has kept my attention in a different way as it deals with computer espionage, but it is still a page turner like the book The Bureau and the Mole.  The reader doesn’t need to be well versed in computer technology or computer lingo because Cliff Stoll explains it perfectly, and you are learning something new if you find computers relatively boring.  I never thought I’d say it, but computer espionage is an interesting topic.  This book has entertained me well.  I encourage anyone to check it out even though it is an older book, but is more than relevant given the political dynamic in the United States.  The other book, The Bureau and the Mole, is an easy read.  It’s about Robert Hanssen, FBI agent who was a spy for Russia, and the hunt to find his identity.  It delves into his childhood, entry into the FBI, and his betrayal to America.  He currently is serving a life sentence in federal prison.

The Bureau and the Mole

The Cuckoo’s Egg

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What Addictions Do You Have?

     coffeebean

I will be the first to admit I have addictions. There are times I am drawn to something when staying away is the much better choice.  There are other times when stress gets the best of me and I do the walk of shame of asking for a current smoker if they have a cigarette. I feel bad usually for asking and wanting to somehow make it up to the person for taking one of her/his cigarettes away. I offer to pay money or buy something in return. The answer is always “no, it’s okay.” Yet, is it really okay. Why not just buy a pack of cigarettes? Why be a pest one day out of the week?

I’ve been battling more or less for the last 23 years of completely stopping smoking. I don’t smoke cigarettes 11.5 out of 12 months. I was never a heavy smoker back in the day as the most I smoked was half a pack in one day. Okay, maybe I was in some respects, but compared to a two pack a day smoker, then no, I wasn’t a heavy smoker. I have caved here and there where in the past five years, I buy a pack of American Spirits and smoke them like tobacco crops are in danger. My doctor thinks I’m a former smoker, and while I am most of the time, there is a need for me to quit once and for all.

I know it isn’t doing my body or mind any favors. Inhaling smoke doesn’t really fix anything. It is much an illusion in one’s mind. The chemicals and tobacco don’t fix anything in the long run. It is temporary and with everything going on these days from political to personal, it only lasts a few seconds after you have crushed the butt into the ashtray. You need another one within a few hours even though it is a want. This is a weird concept. You want something that slowly kills you. It will take hours and sometimes days off your life. Yet, a smoker does not think about that because if they did, she or he would not smoke. They would value their lives and not engage in this gross and destructive habit. Yet, being a person who enjoys packing the cigarette box, lighting the cigarette and inhaling the chemicals/nicotine, I understand the draw of cigarettes. If I could have it my way and not give much thought to what it did to me, I would smoke my heart out and die in what I would view as a “blaze of glory.” I knew someone who wanted to die by overdosing on heroin. It isn’t a romantic way to go. There is nothing decent about this. I look back and wonder what had happened for the person to want to die this “glorious death.”

I can only think of the inherent glamour in drug usage one finds in some pockets of society, but when you strip away all the parts of it associated with privilege and money, all that remains is a drug addict. No matter how you slice it, if you quit one addiction such as cigarettes, you will move onto another addiction like eating too much of something or something not so physical but mentally related. I’m not well versed in addiction as I don’t have my degree in addiction counseling or how to treat addiction. I do know from personal experience that in order to overcome the qualities found in addiction, one has to do some heavy soul-searching and address the underlying issues. Overcoming addiction takes hard work from recognizing your triggers and self-control when the cravings are so pervasive. I’ve made a pact with myself to not smoke at all in 2017. I broke that promise when February 2017 rolled around and found myself in stressful situations. It was as if everything went out the window I had learned in the past of how to deal with these situations. I knew it was not good for me, but I smoked anyway. My body and mind connection needed to be restored to normal, but my frustration and stubbornness resorted to smoking, the thing that brought me further from what would make my life feel stable.

This is why I stop and start my exercise regimen because there are times I feel what is the purpose of all this when I am to die in the end. I step back into reality and quit feeling sorry for myself. I accept the fact I will always deal with headaches, TMJ, and foot problems, but it is true that excessive weight only makes the situation worse. I’m learning to get “back on track” on my own terms and without the pressure I place on my shoulders. My out of reach goal of losing weight and jogging a half marathon has been reconstructed into a smaller, manageable goal. This doesn’t mean I can’t do it later, but currently all I want to achieve is exercising five times a week for an hour.

This brings me to the next topic of Coffee Bean Ice Tea. I have an addiction to CB Ice Tea and while it isn’t as deadly as cigarettes, it still isn’t good to drink so much caffeine. I get a blend of Pacific Coast (black) and Peach (green). I reached the Platinum level a few weeks ago and now working toward the VIP level. There was a window of time where I limited myself to one cup of CB Ice Tea per week. It didn’t last long and now have to find the acceptance of this addiction or make the effort where I don’t consume it at such an alarming rate. The two Coffee Bean establishments know my order and often have it ready before I arrive to pay for my drink. This is when I really recognized my addiction problem, but from another viewpoint, if this is my biggest addiction, then so be it.  You live only once and life is too short to sweat the small things (to an extent).

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Will Social Media Bring Society to a Screeching Halt…Eventually?

socialmedia

     It took me a while to get an iPhone. I don’t use it except for the very basic things. I call my family and text some people. I play Angry Birds once in a great while. I’m still on the first level. I had MySpace at one point. It took me a while to get on Facebook. It took me forever to get on Instagram. I will probably not take part in Twitter. I’m not into the different apps one can download. Pinterest doesn’t interest me although I find those posts funny comparing what it should look like vs. what it turned out to be. Who doesn’t like baking and cooking failures?  I will never be a social media junkie, but I’m trying to get out there more and more.

     The platform I use the most is Facebook. I see quite a bit of discussion and debate that leads me to the question of why do people do this? I include myself in this. It seems that before social media exploded into the creature it has become that people kept to themselves more. People are so quick to have their voices heard. They just have to respond, and there is nothing wrong with this. Some people find it difficult to accept another viewpoint when they are so adamantly opposed to a value that is part of their platform. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of abortion, anyone? That question itself creates major conflict among people. You get my point.  

     I find myself retreating and commenting less on politics these days because the news, whether right or left or moderate, are filled with such turmoil. I’d rather tune out at this moment and sometimes stepping away for a bit is the most responsible thing to do. Focusing and bettering myself has become the number one priority for me and everything else comes after. Some might find this selfish, but being true to yourself is never selfish. It is courageous to not be so consumed by external forces beyond your control when you find yourself exhausted and tired. People do not relax enough these days and with social media all over the place, it might be a good idea to step back a few paces and take a few deep breaths. I can’t deny social media brings the people of the world together, but it also can tear and bring us further apart.  My belief is people are trying to find that grey area.

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Top 100 by Rotten Tomatoes

Along with never finding enough time to read 100+ books, whittle down 160 Netflix queue picks, watch my growing Blu-Ray and DVD collection, write my short stories and novels, I find making lists are not only beneficial but calming.  Some Hollywood fans will have seen all of these films and for that I am a little jealous, but here they are nonetheless.  I will post more Top 100 Films later. 

Rotten Tomatoes Says…

100RT2100RT100RT3

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Top Ten Lists from AFI and RT

Because it is much more time consuming and fun to compile lists of already decided upon top films, which I only included the first ten in the categories. 

best2016best2010best2010best2006best2004best2001

sports10scifi10animation10epic10

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Reflections of My Hollywood Experience in March 2017

I came to Hollywood in late 2006 wanting to live the big Hollywood dream as a screenwriter.  I went to an immersion program and ten years later I have written a few screenplays that went nowhere… really, really fast.  Fast forward to ten years later, which was the end of 2016 so I’m well on my way to making Los Angeles my home for eleven years.  I learned the hard way even if you believe in yourself 110% does not mean “it” will happen.  I’ve always been interested in movies, but I also enjoy the process of film making from the skill of actors/actresses to the strength and stamina of the DP and Director to the creativity of the production and set designers to the way sound effects can enhance a movie.
colors11Image by Will Direct
Tinseltown was a small community with a cut throat atmosphere and even more so today.  It is hard to get into and even harder to sustain it.  The new best thing is always around the corner and someone will take your place.  You need to be relevant and want it on many levels.  Those people who continue to work in the film industry, I commend them in every way possible.  It was not enough for me to learn all about below the line and above the line career opportunities, which none I was so lucky to be hired.  If I could do it over again, I might have delved into producing, but after a while I gave up on it altogether.
hollywoodlandImage by Schmoop
This made me feel like a complete failure many times over until I realized putting my eggs in one basket was never the way to go.  It doesn’t mean I gave up my creative endeavors, but I have a different spin on it compared to my early 30s.  I never took life for granted, but being in my early 40s I understand how important it is to “truly” live your life.  Being that I’m creative and ever the thinker, this page is dedicated to movies or if you prefer, film.  I usually watch movies long after they have come to and gone from the theaters.  I’ve become more selective and it takes a special kind of film, theme, actor/actresses to make me not see driving to a theater as a chore.  No matter if it bombed or excelled over the weekend, if I am interested in the movie, I will watch it, absorb it, and then comment on it.
oscars
Image by Forbes
I’m not interested in being the most knowledgeable and well-rounded film guru because I’m the farthest thing from it.  There is no snootiness to this page and blogs/reviews posted will be humble.  I don’t need to show I’m well versed in this kind of genre or have seen every movie out there imaginable about X or Y or Z because I haven’t.  I soon will post personal top ten lists.  The genres I prefer are dramas, musicals, epics, horror, political thrillers, and documentaries along with some comedies, westerns, and fantasy so be sure to tell me of any good movies you’ve seen because suggestions are always welcome.  It will break up the 160 Netflix choices in my queue.
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