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Archive for December, 2010

Where Did It Go?

It occurred to me this weekend that Christmas is the ultimate parenting analogy.  There’s all the excitement, the bustling about and the anticipation.  And then the big day comes and no matter what you think, you’re never quite prepared.  You wake up at an ungodly hour, you’re tired, your hair is a mess, and there’s a rush and a lot of noise and excitement and hustle bustle and then…

 

The stockings were hung...

 

 

the house is empty and quiet and you wonder how it all went by so fast.

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COOKIES!!!!

Hey there!  It’s been a crazy few days — there was the making of the sugar cookies, followed promptly by the eating of the sugar cookies (see that sneaky little hand in the top of the photo?) followed by a fever pitched frenzy that I’m not sure we will survive.  I may need to find another cookie recipe, one with less…sugar.

The next few days promise to be just as exciting, so I may not post again for a bit.  But I promise to be back in January, with all kinds of exciting news and maybe even a contest or two.  In the meantime, a few of my favorite Christmas things for your pleasure:

I will be making these.  (Brilliant idea — replace sugar with … chocolate!) They are delicious, and I frequently hide the last few and eat them by myself.  (Shhhh.  Don’t tell.  They’re especially good for breakfast with tea.)

We watched this. Set during WWI, it’s an unexpected Christmas story, based on true events.  (In the interest of full disclosure, it’s subtitled, but worth it. And the trailer doesn’t do it justice.)

And finally, my very favorite Christmas video.  It makes me smile every year:

Happy Holidays!

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Editing, Actually

I have a set playlist for the holidays when it come to movies.  Every year, my husband and I kick off the season by watching Home for the Holidays the night before Thanksgiving.  (If you haven’t seen it, watch it next year — it will make your holidays seem blissful by comparison.)  Then, in no particular order, we always watch Christmas in Connecticut, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, Lethal Weapon 1, and Love, Actually. (I always manage to sneak Amends, Season 3, episode 10 of Buffy in there too — I’m a rebel like that.)

As much as I love all these holiday shows (and yes, Lethal Weapon counts) only one helped me make my book better.  Coincidentally, that’s the one that has Hugh Grant dancing.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I think we need a shot of Hugh dancing.  After all, any post with a picture of Hugh can’t be that bad.

Gratuitous dancing shot

 

How, you ask, did this come to pass?  (The improvement to the book, not the picture.  That picture is not actually the picture I wanted to post.  The picture I wanted to post appeared a few years ago in Vanity Fair, and I believe showed Mr. Grant dancing in a loincloth during his Oxford days.  A copy of that picture would make it a Merry Christmas, indeed.)

Well, since I love the movie so much, my husband bought it for me a few years ago and sat through the ‘extras’ feature with me.  I know the movie didn’t get fabulous reviews when it came out, but I personally think Richard Curtis is amazing, and in the extras he talks about the bits that didn’t make it in, and why.  There’s a whole subplot involving a family across the world that’s suffering in a drought.  They had to film it, pay the actors for it, put it in the movie — and then they cut it out. It wasn’t bad — there was nothing wrong with it — it just distracted from the action of the main story.

That, more than any fiction class I’ve taken, got the ‘kill your darlings’ message through to me.  It made me go back and look very hard at my manuscript, and make sure that Every. Single. Scene. advanced the plot in some way.  If it didn’t, I gritted my teeth, hit the delete button, and cut it from the book.  (I did, however, make sure to save it in an ‘extras’ file, because you never know.)   It was painful, but it made my manuscript stronger.

So this holiday season, if you’re a writer struggling with a book, rent Love, Actually. Enjoy the movie, then watch the extras, and then go kill some darlings of your own.

 

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Temptation

So.  Last week I went to a book signing featuring Julia Glass.  She was lovely and funny and professional and I came home with a signed copy of The Widower’s Tale. (That means I won’t be lending it out.  Sorry.  No, don’t look at me like that. Go get your own.)

Anyhow, the bookstore was packed.  I was early, but still the only seats available were pretty much front row, so that’s where I sat for 15 minutes, nose to nose with all the books on display.  It was like being a sugar junkie in a candy store. (Oh, wait, that’s me too!) I want them alllllll.  Instead, I’m going to give them as gifts. (Mostly.)  The ones tempting me the most are:

  • Life, by Keith Richards and James Fox (I know Keith doesn’t actually need my money, so I may wait for the library copy for me, but I have a relative or two that would love this.)
  • Worth Dying For, by Lee Child
  • Boys and Girls Like You and Me: Stories, by Aryn Kyle
  • As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, by Joan Reardon
  • The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of A Well-Known Namedropper by Dominick Dunne (this one came out a decade ago, but since Mr. Dunne died this past year, I’m feeling nostalgic)

I love giving books as gifts, and like to find one for every occasion.  (My uncle just got inducted into a local sports hall of fame, and wound up with Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger.  I thought it was kind of perfect, him being a football coach and all.)  If you like giving books too, this link from MotherReader offers 105 creative ways to do just that.  Happy Gifting!  (And happy reading, too.)

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