Thursday, June 29, 2006

London Calling

As well as Scotland and Tuscany…

I’m going to be away from this blog for a while, as I’m leaving on an exciting family/research trip to Britain and Italy. I’m not planning on reading any novels during the trip, but I am packing my journal in order to take notes and to channel my muse (I heard she’s hanging out in Britain—gotta find her).

And to propel me into the writing mode, I've filled my iPod with instrumental music that reminds me of England and Scotland, such as the soundtracks from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, MASTER AND COMMANDER, THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, and, of course, music filled with bagpipes and fiddles. OK, confession time: I LOVE listening to bagpipes. Tears well in my eyes at the first few notes, especially if the piper is playing “Amazing Grace.” Sigh. I could literally listen to bagpipe music All. Day. Long.

However, that hasn’t been my packing music. Nope, I’ve reserved The Proclaimers and the Bay City Rollers for that, but now I can’t get “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!” out of my head. :-)

Oh, and I’m totally looking forward to trying Turkish delight. Finally. Ever since I was about ten years old, I’ve wanted to taste the sweet that tempted Edmund in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE to betray his brother and sisters to the White Witch. And it can be found in London. Woo-hoo! Yeah, it really doesn’t take much to make me happy. (I know. I could’ve ordered it over the Internet, but it’s just not the same.)

We’re also spending a week in Tuscany, which will be such a completely different experience from Britain. We’re staying just outside Florence in the Chianti region and I’m sure we’ll take about a thousand pictures of the hills, Florence, San Gimignano, Rome, and Pisa. Can’t wait to see the Leaning Tower (I’m such a tourist)!

Talk to y’all when I return…


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nora Saved My Life and Other Conference Tales...

Hey! Wanna know how Nora Roberts saved my life in Reno? Go to The Writer's Vibe and find out (click the link on the sidebar, as, unfortunately, my browser doesn't allow me to link in this post--no snickering, Jen A.). At the Writer's Vibe, Louise, Dana, and I are relating our conference tales and would love for you to join in the discussion, too! :-)


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Whose Story Is It?

Hello! So, yep, I’ve been away from this blog for a while. Deadlines, you know.

But while I’ve been working hard to meet those writing and Orange Blossom deadlines, I’ve been keeping the craft of writing front and center. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe there’s ever a time when I’m not thinking about how to create a better story. And P.O.V. is one of those tools of writing that keeps me on my toes. Which character wants to tell the tale? One of them or all of them?

Whenever I start a novel, I find I write in third person-limited POV. Others exist, such as first person and omniscient, but for some reason third person-limited beckons me every time. The story just seems to click then. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy delving into the psyche of the characters. I want to know how the heroine feels about the hero and vice-versa, or what the antagonist is thinking—what’s his motivation for giving the protagonist a hard time?

But that can be accomplished in first person, too, right? Yes, there are different ways to approach it, ways that solve my need for multiple character points of view. For example, have you ever read CHOCOLAT by Joanne Harris? (I know. I've used this story as an example before, but I like it alot). Anyway, Harris has two different characters tell first person accounts of the story that takes place in France, during Lent: Vianne Rocher (the woman who runs the chocolate shop) and Pére Reynaud (the local priest). Harris manages to keep the reader in this deep, intimate POV, yet we know exactly what the protagonist and antagonist are thinking and feeling. Cool. That makes me want to attempt writing a story in first person. One day, I’ll give it a try. Have you ever written one?

Then there's omniscient POV, which has that “fly on the wall” aspect. But whenever I try to write that way, I just…I don’t know…I simply don’t feel close to the characters, so I wind up slipping into third person-limited. It could very well be that I haven’t practiced writing in that POV enough to feel that connection. But it also seems that, as the author, I’m intruding on the story. So maybe more practice is in order. Other writers can pull it off without a hitch, but not me. Have you tried omniscient POV?

So, what's your favorite? Do you write in more than one? I’d love to hear about it!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

If It's Baroque, Fix It (ba-dum-bum-tish)

No, this isn’t a picture of a Baroque-style palace in Europe. It’s the inside of a movie palace, the Los Angeles Theater, on Broadway in—yep, you guessed it—Los Angeles. This theater opened in 1931 and premiered Charlie Chaplin’s "City Lights" and closed in 1994, except for special events and filming.

Last Wednesday night was one such special occasion, as the L.A. Conservancy opened the theater for their 20th Annual Last Remaining Seats and showed "The Mark of Zorro," starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell, to an eager crowd of what looked to be about 2000 people. What a blast that was! Nothing beats viewing an old movie on the big screen after the decorative curtain rolls up, with the sound emitting from the top of the screen—no Dolby surround sound here—and the auditorium filled with people enjoying the humor and wit of Power’s character, Don Diego/Zorro. I loved it.

What makes this theater different than the others on Broadway, such as the Orpheum and the Million Dollar? This one had a periscope-like system of prisms that relayed the movie from the auditorium to the lounge downstairs, so one didn’t need to miss the movie if a break was necessary. It also had two soundproof Crying Rooms (how cool is that?) and a playroom for the children. And, of course, one can’t miss the crystal fountain displayed at the top of the grand staircase (as seen in the picture above). Absolutely stunning.

You guys know how much of a sucker I am for anything historical, right? Well, old Los Angeles and Hollywood are certainly no exceptions. I’ve always wanted to write a story set in 1930s Tinseltown, and strolling down the red carpet and soaking up the French Baroque details of this theater only fueled that desire.

The only bummer part--besides the guy kicking the back of my chair throughout the entire movie (grrrrr…)--is that the theater is in disrepair. It’s only 75 years old, yet the plaster is chipping off the walls and frescos, the walls in the ladies restroom have holes, and the parquet floors in the lounge below the auditorium are in desperate need of refinishing. It tears me apart to see such a glorious place in such a sad state. It needs to be fixed before it too succumbs to the ruined existence of the other closed theaters on that street, such as The Pantages where Sophie Tucker and other vaudeville acts performed, the Roxie, and the Tower (which premiered with The Jazz Singer—not even the landmark talkie could save that one from closing). Sigh. That’s the Southland for you. But the good news: the L.A. Conservancy is doing what it can to repair the theater.

If you ever get a chance to tour one of the old movie palaces, I highly recommend you do so. With every step, every turn of a corner, inspiration met me and carried me away to a different era. I’m so eager to get the story that’s forming in my mind down on paper…but I’ve got a few other stories to finish first.