"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 A to Z Challenge

Registration for the 2014 "A to Z" blogging challenge is now open. 

Created by Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April -except Sundays. That give you 26 days, and 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1 blog about something that begins with the letter “A,” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. 

Short posts are recommended. Be sure to turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs a day (or more) beginning with the one after yours on the list. Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so readers know you are participating. Don't forget to link to the A to Z Challenge Blog. 

Last year, approximately 2,000 blogs began to challenge. There are already about 400 signed up for this year. 

To learn more about blog challenges or the benefits of participating in one, try this article.

Have you participated in this event? Do you plan to this year?

Monday, January 27, 2014

$15 Workshop for Writers

Texas Gulf Coast Writers will be hosting a workshop for writers on February 22, 2014. The workshop will be held in the conference hall at Howell's Furniture - 6095 Folsom Dr, Beaumont, TX 77706.

The workshop will begin at 10 am and end at 4 pm. It is FREE for 2014 TGCW members and $15 for non-members. Speakers will include:

Dr. Carol Weishampel is a retired public school teacher, and  Christian school administrator. She is a single mother of twelve adult children (ten adopted). For six summers she has driven her motor home to Alaska to volunteer and write. She has published five non-fiction books, two novels, and has work in anthologies and periodicals. She blogs at http://carol-weishampel.blogspot.com/

Laurie Kolp is an award-winning poet with numerous publications, some of which include PoetsArtists, MiOPesias, Millers Pond, Writer's Digest, The Fib Review, Full of Crow, and Red River Review. Her first full-length poetry collection is set to release in March 2014 through Winter Goose Publishing. She blogs at http://lkharris-kolp.blogspot.com/ and http://lkkolp.wordpress.com/.

Wendy Lanier is a native Texan whose writing experience includes titles for Lerner Books, Capstone Press, Lucent Books, KidHaven Press, and contributions to such publications as Focus on the Family'sClubhouseCBN.comMOPS.org, DevoKids.com, and The Amazing Bible Factbook for Kids (a publication of Time Inc. Home Entertainment and the Livingstone Corp.), and Highlights. You can visit her at: http://www.wendylanier.com/

For more details, or a schedule of events: http://www.texasgulfcoastwriters.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow Day!

It's a snow day here in southeast Texas. This is not a new phenomena for my friends on the east coast, but it's very rare here.

I hope you're all safe, warm, and able to curl up by a cozy fire with an excellent book. Have a great weekend, and HAPPY WRITING!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stealing Time to Write

Most writers don’t have the luxury of sitting at home in their pajamas and writing all day. Whether it’s a 60 hour a week job, multiple jobs, or family obligations that keep you busy, it’s important to find time for your own passions.

I always keep a notebook or scrap paper with me for when I have a chance to steal some time to write. I may also keep a MS nearby and use a few minutes to review/revise/edit. Here are seven ways I steal time for my craft:

1.      Traffic Delays – When I’m stopped at a particularly long red light, waiting on construction zones, or caught in a traffic jam due to an accident.
2.      Waiting Rooms – Sitting outside a dentist, other doctor, beauty salon, car repair, etc.
3.      Chauffeur – waiting to pick up/drop off kids or other family members, or waiting for them while they are in an activity, or other commitment.
4.      Work Breaks – Lunch time, and some offices offer smoke breaks, I use this time for my craft.
5.      Transportation – Waiting on a car, flight, train, bus, etc.
6.      Quiet Time – when your kids, family, friends are still sleeping (night or morning), napping, reading, or completing homework.
7.      Quality Time – Sometimes it’s hard to justify giving up quality time with friends or family. I’ll often sit on the couch by my husband or kids for the nearness/quality time feeling, but I may be writing or editing what is in my lap while they are watching something I’m not interested in seeing.

How do you steal time to write?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Writing for Others

Words have a special and unique power to touch hearts and sway minds. Have you written anything in an effort to help or persuade others?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Disappointed in Saving Mr. Banks

"I won't disappoint you. I swear every time a person walks into a movie house, they will rejoice." – Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this movie.
Hanks, Emma Thompson (who plays author P L Travers), and Paul Giamatti (Travers driver) are some of my favorite actors. Yet, through no fault of their acting, this movie fell flat for me.

This is the first portrayal of Walt Disney in a film, and I was expecting more, well, magic and happiness. After all, he created “the happiest place on earth.”

Yet, what we see in this film is a depressing and inaccurate portrayal of Travers life. Too much of the movie was spent on flashbacks, and very little of those on the person which she may have based Mary Poppins.

Without spoiling the movie for those who still want to see it, here are a few observations about the film:


  1. How and when Disney persuaded Travers to sign over the rights.
  2. The amount of time Disney and Travers spent together, and where and when this happened.
  3. Travers had no relationships – she actually had literary friendships, romantic involvements, and though she never married, she did adopt a son.


  1. Travers demeanor and demands concerning the film.
  2. Disney failed to invite Travers to the opening of the film.
  3. She cried at the opening – although maybe not for the reason the film implies.
This movie had a lot of potential, but fell short of being a success in my eyes. The movie was a biopic of Travers life (which is fine), but the movie title and trailer lead you to believe the focus is on the creation of the Mary Poppins character and movie, when in fact it is on the difficult childhood of Travers.

For more on the film vs. history: http://mydisneycloud.com/2013/12/22/saving-mr-banks-film-vs-history/

Have you seen or plan to see the film? What are your thoughts on it?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Keep or Kill a Villain?

In your current WIP or a story you just read - Is the villain kept or killed off?

If kept, why and did it work for the story?
If killed, how, and is it justified?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Taking Back ebook Rights

I'm hearing a lot of authors complaining about getting back their ebook rights.

Is this just for writers previously published in print only so the contract does not specify electronic rights? Is this a new issue with traditional publishers?

What have you heard or experienced with ebook rights?

A little help from Agent Rachelle Gardner: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2010/11/reversion-of-rights/

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Castle and Heat

I’m a little behind the times. I only discovered the television show Castle this past year when I caught a marathon. That’s all it took. I’m hooked. I believe I’ve now seen every episode EXCEPT for the newest season.

The chemistry between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic is perfect, and the camaraderie among fellow regulars is genuinely likable.
When a friend discovered my newfound addiction, she announced the books mentioned in the show are really published under the pseudonym Richard Castle. She even passed me a copy of Heat Wave: the first book inspired by the first seasons events.

The temptation to read it was too much to resist. I began it that night, and was quickly disappointed.
There's no mistake this is a cheesy pulp novel probably meant only as a novelty for fans of the show. But I had hoped to enjoy it more.

The mystery itself is somewhat solid, and the twists and turns are worthy of the show itself. Since the novel is a barely disguised rip-off of the real television show characters (on purpose) it does fit well into that universe in a lot of ways. The characters based on Ryan and Esposito, for example, are a bit funny and charming.

It's Detective Heat and Jameson Rook where I lost love for the books.
Because everything else about the novel is so close to the show's characters, those two get a little hard to believe. Rook is so clearly Castle bragging about himself and acting conceited, which is a character trait that is balanced out in the show by Fillion’s charm and personality quirks. Not so in this book.

And Detective Heat is not really Detective Beckett at all. I get she's not supposed to be. She's not just inspired by Beckett, she's Castle's daydream of what he wants Beckett to be. Yet, Nikki Heat is very stereotypical, and not as much fun, or as alluring, as Stana Katic’s Beckett.
There is very little literary merit to the book. The best I can say about it is the city can actually be considered a character and it plays a major role in the tale, just as it does in many of the television episodes.

The events and characters often lacked detail. If I had never watched the show, I might not have had a clear grasp of what was happening. One dimensional (flat) character’s came across as unfeeling and childish in many scenes.
However, I must admit that I’m biased toward the energy and bond between the actors on the show – the ones the books are based on. I just don’t feel it translated well into a book. Something I’ll probably never say again since I usually prefer books to movies and television.

I don't think this book is everything it could have been, or that the characters are as well crafted as Castle would write them. However, the book is short (less than 200 pages) and doesn't require a big commitment. It's easy to read, light, and a decent distraction from life. Overall, a good enough read to give a try, but far from great.

Anyone watch the show? Read the books? What do you think of them? As the books advance, do the characters grow in similar ways as they did in the show?