Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Than Magic!

I'm doing that little happy dance! You know, the one Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoons does with his nose pointed joyfully skyward.

The reason Aunty is in such a rare and rollicking mood is because The Wild Sight WON the Best First Book category in the Romance Writers Ink "More Than Magic" contest! (You can see the entire list of finalists by clicking on the title of this post.) The first place winners in the ten categories go on to compete for the Grand Prize.

The Grand Prize winner will be announced on July 11th, so PLEASE keep your fingers xxed for The Wild Sight!!

P.S. 68 more days until The Treasures of Venice is released! But who's counting?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Lion King

Last week three friends and I went to see one of the Broadway roadshow productions of Disney's The Lion King.

Aunty has been a live theater buff for decades and has seen it all, including Broadway and the Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford-on-Avon, and I can honestly say -- It does not get any better than this!

The storyline had something for everyone: action, drama, romance and humor. The characters and songs were memorable, and the costumes were absolutely out of this world in creativity and innovation!

Here's a photo of two of the characters: Pumbaa the warthog and Timon the meercat.

As you can see, Timon is an almost-life-sized puppet that the actor manipulated with his hands and speaks for. Pumbaa on the other hand is a large costume with the actor's legs as the creature's front legs, and he manipulates the mouth (and tongue) with his hands. The back half of the animal is an elaborate decorated framework, with the animal's back legs suspended in the air.

My editor has four critical criteria she looks for in any book she acquires. One of these is "a world is created." By this she means that no matter what the time period or setting, the author vividly portrays a unique world for that story and those characters. Readers need to feel like they have stepped into a complete and fascinating world of its own.

The Lion King is the perfect example of a world being created! The audience is transported, even feels like a participant in this beautiful and unique world of strange and wonderful creatures. My friends and I were lucky enough to be included in that very special world for a few hours and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

If you get a chance to see a production of The Lion King-- GO! You will be very glad you did.

Hakuna Matata!

Care to share some of your experiences with being transported into another world?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Galleys and Fan Mail

This past week, I received the galleys for The Treasures of Venice! It was almost as exciting as receiving them for The Wild Sight, but this time I did know what to expect. Galleys are the hard copies of the typeset pages, two book pages (which will face each other in the final form) per galley page. They are large, awkward to handle, and some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!

Since I've already received and read an ARC (advanced review copy) of the book, I know there are very few "mistakes" or changes I want to make, so going through the galleys will be a real labor of love.

I also received an honest-to-goodness fan letter this past week! Very few people (including me) bother to sit down and write letters any more. Everything is done via email or text messaging, so when I get a real letter (or post card, which I collect) in the mail it is a very special treat. Trust me, all authors LURVE to receive fan mail! The idea that someone would take the time to tell me that they enjoyed reading my book is just THE BEST thing in the world!

And not only did this lovely reader make my day by writing to me, she paid me one of the highest compliments, in my opinion. She said she loaned The Wild Sight to her friend who is from Ireland.

If you've read many of my blog posts, you know that Aunty is quite persnickety and a book (or film) has to really bowl me over before I will even consider recommending it. So anyone who recommends one of my books to a friend is paying me and my writing quite an accolade!

And on the subject of accolades...

A few days ago, I learned that the three items I donated to Brenda Novak's online auction to benefit diabetes research garnered over $100! I was thrilled my donations earned that much for such a great cause, and it was very gratifying to learn that both 'winners' of my autographed books were members of my newsletter group.

HUGE and humble thanks to everyone who placed bids in Brenda's auction. Special congrats to my winners! I will definitely be donating items next year.

Meanwhile... 85 more days and counting!

Monday, June 1, 2009

"The Fall" and The Alhambra

A couple of weeks ago, an artist-friend of the DH recommended we see a rather obscure film called "The Fall." This friend's eclectic tastes are not always to our liking but this movie was WONDERFUL! If I ever get the urge to write a screenplay, I only hope I can come up with something half so unique and entertaining. A story within a story much like "The Princess Bride," the locales alone were stunning.

"The Fall" is basically set in a 1920s Los Angeles hospital. A young movie stuntman has taken a serious fall from a railroad trestle and is paralyzed from the waist down, perhaps permanently. In the same hospital, a little girl whose family are itinerant farm workers has fallen while picking oranges and sports a huge cast from her shoulder to fingers.

I won't reveal any spoilers (because you really should rent this film and watch it yourself) as to how and why the stuntman and little girl become friends. Nor why he spins for her the most gorgeous and fanciful tale about five unusual men intent on killing an evil Spanish governor. But I will say that the settings for this story were shot in eighteen different countries and I could not begin to do justice to them with my descriptions!

My favorite scenes were shot inside the fabulous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The DH and I visited the Alhambra about fifteen years ago on one of our earliest jaunts to Europe and I have never forgotten how breathtaking the place was. We had quite a memorable trip on that outing to Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco, but the Alhambra was definitely the highlight!

Built by the conquering Moors, the Alhambra was actually a series of towers and fortresses overlooking the city of Granada. The main palace dates from the 11th century and has some of the most beautiful and (to a Westerner like me) unusual architecture anywhere. The decorative stucco is so thick in some places that it resembles a honey comb. And I was awed that some of the original paint still survived almost a thousand years later.

Nothing else like the Alhambra existed then, or now. I totally understand why King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella moved right in as soon as they threw the Moors out in 1492!

I would love to return to Granada someday, but until I do, I guess I'll have to content myself with re-watching "The Fall." I highly recommend you watch it too!