Showing posts from 2014

20 Favorite Christmas Movies of Authors

When do you start watching Christmas movies? I can watch them all year long, but Tim convinces me to wait until October or November most of the time.

This year, I asked our authors to share their favorite Christmas movies with us. I wanted a nice round number, so in my brain, I thought we'd make a list of the "Top 20 Christmas Movies." Only eight of our authors answered, with a total of 14 movies, because some gave more than one movie, and some were duplicated. It didn't take me long to figure out I could add SIX of my own favorites to the list that no one else mentioned!

Miracle on 34th Street was chosen by several as their favorite. No one specified which version - did you know there are actually four versions? 1947 (with Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O'Hara - my personal favorite), 1959 (with Ed Wynn and Peter Lind Hayes), 1973 (with Sebastian Cabot and Jane Alexander), and 1994 (with Richard Attenborough and Elizabeth Perkins.)

White Christmas was the second most li…

Surrender is Key to Writers

As we continue our Five Golden Days of Christmas Celebration, I find myself smiling a lot when I think about today's featured author. Julie Arduini is a rare mixture of humor and heart, depth and light. When I got ready to create this blog post, I realized her appearance on our blogs this week is a perfect example of that. On Monday, we featured her on the Write Integrity blog, with the title "Just Don't Take Her Chocolate." The post was fun (but yes, she's serious about her chocolate!) and yet today, this blog post deals with surrender. We could say she means surrender your chocolate (and she probably does), but this is where the depth comes in.

Julie is sold out to Jesus, and she surrenders daily her life to Him to guide her and use her as He sees fit. Surrender is a theme that runs through her books and on her blog. It manifests itself in her attitude toward others - a giving, generous spirit who always has a kind and encouraging word to offer.

Julie's a b…

Immersed in the 1920s as Historical Fiction Writer

Certain decades intrigue me more than others, although I've never quite figured out why. Are you that way? The 1920s is one of the decades I'm drawn to, and one of our authors transports us to those Roaring 20s with her novels.

Betty Thomason Owens is the author of Amelia's Legacy, the first book in her Legacy Series. I had the privilege of meeting and hanging out with her at the Catch the Wave conference this year - she's one of those people you just want to hang around forever! She'll be at our Facebook party this Friday, so drop by with some questions for her. She's giving away a beautiful 1920s-inspired necklace too!

From the back cover of Amelia's Legacy:

It's the Roaring Twenties and anything goes ...

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include …

Christmas at Rumi Rancho

Missionaries have held a very special place in my heart, since I was a baby Christian. I belonged to a women's missionary group at church, where we met regularly to learn about missionaries all over the world, and to pray for their specific needs. We also got to meet a few as they came back to the States on furlough - our church helped sponsor a house specifically for furloughing missionaries.

When I first started writing, I wrote for a missions magazine, doing book reviews on books written by missionaries.

Today, I'd like to focus on one particular mission I learned about a couple of years ago. We're honored to have Peggy Cunningham as one of our authors at Pix-N-Pens. She and her husband Chuck have served as missionaries in Bolivia since 1981, and in 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho, their home and ministry base where they work among the Quechua people.

From their ministry website: "Situated in a rural area of the Cochabamba valley, the Cunninghams minister to Quechu…

Romance, Suspense, Cruises, and Retirement: An Author’s Life

Woo-hoo, it's Christmas! I love this time of year - except for the cold, that is! Yes, I could handle a warm, sunny Christmas!

This week, we're hosting the "Five Golden Days" of Christmas over at Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing. I'll be featuring some of the authors or events here on this blog too.

Just be sure to mark your calendar for Friday, December 5 - we're having our annual Facebook party with lots of party favors and fun. And you're invited!

Today, I want to tell you about an author I met last year at the Catch the Wave conference in Atlanta. She is a fireball! When you get ready to read one of her books, just be prepared not to put it down until you've reached The End because Elizabeth Noyes writes the most incredible action-filled romantic suspense that keeps you turning pages.

I loved this 5-Star review for Imperfect Wings:

"I literally read this book in a day and was upset with myself as I brought it along for enterta…

Changing Focus

Have you ever been so focused, so intent on doing one thing that you lose sight of everything else? So focused on that one thing that every conversation, every thought, every word that comes out of your mouth ends up pointing back to that one focus, whether you want it to or not?

I’ve been that way for the past three weeks. We’re struggling with a particular issue, and because I’m so focused on trying to deal with it, my thoughts and my words – and even my sleep – are consumed by it.

I know it’s not healthy. I know it’s not right. I know. I know. I know.

Yet, I can’t seem to stop, because the issue isn’t yet resolved.

Am I the only one with this problem? Of course not. But at times, it sure seems like I am. It’s those times when I want to stand up, pitch a temper tantrum, and shout the roof off, “Somebody, please HELP make this problem go away!”

This tunnel vision makes me do stupid things – say things or write things that I second-guess myself on later. For example, I wrote something…

Two Weeks of Leading Men

Leading men make me sigh. One of those happy sighs, of course. The past two weeks have been filled with some incredible leading men, and an actress who puzzles me.
Gran Torino 2008 Directed by Clint Eastwood Screenplay by Nick Schenk Starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Christopher Carley
Gran Torino is our critical essay this week. I did some preliminary research, but another assignment due at midnight last night pulled me away. Interestingly, in my initial search, there weren't many articles about the movie, so I'm curious to start the hunt again.

North by Northwest 1959 Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Written By Ernest Lehman Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
This may be one of my favorite Hitchcock films, full of adventure and suspense, with a few turns I didn't see coming. I may have enjoyed this one more because I had no reservations about watching this one, after watching some of his others. 

12 Angry Men 1957 Directed by Sidney Lumet Story and Screenplay written by Re…

A Blur of Movies and Television

Time is passing so quickly, and we're watching movies as fast as they arrive. Here's a brief list of our viewing since my last post.

Lee Daniels' The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writers: Danny Strong (screenplay), Wil Haygood (article)
Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey,  Cuba Gooding, Jr.

The Butler was our assigned critical essay of the week. Research revealed many intriguing details about the making of this movie. My paper touched on the cinematography, makeup, producers (41 are credited!), the star-studded cast, budget, and costumes. One of my favorite quotes from all the research was in Harry Haun's article "Witness to History." He interviewed Lee Daniels who discussed the difficulty of lining up all the cast. "When you’ve just got two dollars to pay these actors—plus a bag of M&Ms—and they have to leave their day job—their real working jobs—to come into our playing ground, you have to understand y…

Bridal Shower, Papers, and Movies

Whew! Week 2 was crazy! My future daughter-in-law's bridal shower was this past Saturday, so I spent part of the week prepping for that, but we also had two papers due in school with movies to watch, research, and critique.

I'm going to share what we've watched in backwards order, because we just watched a movie so fascinating I can't wait to tell you about it!

Written by: John Logan and Brian Selznick
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz

"Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton." ~ IMDb

This story took many twists and turns - one of the most delightful movies I've ever seen. Of course, it left me in tears, too, but that's okay.

In week 3, we're learning about The Visual Story. The author of the book, Bruce Block, discusses story intensity, and after reading Block's St…

Confusion of Week One

The first week of school is always the most stressful for me (and for everyone else, I imagine.)

Even provided with syllabi ahead of time, we still have to figure out exactly how the classes are structured, how the professor wants assignments, and what writing style we're to use. Professors clarify assignments and explain, change, or add things to the syllabus that weren't part of the original. On top of that, we have the hundreds of introductory posts by all the students that must be read, and then a couple replied to. When students make minimal comments like "Hi, nice to meet ya, good to have you in class" - and they do that for EVERY student, some of us tire of that quickly. So I always look forward to getting past that point - I never was one for small talk anyway.

This semester, we'll be writing loglines for five episodes of a current TV drama series and one full spec episode. (I'm doing Blue Bloods, so we're binge-watching all episodes. Thankfully, …

My MFA Textbooks

I tried putting together a fancy little widget from Amazon to show our textbooks, but the code doesn't seem to like me at the moment.

Instead, I'll list my textbooks, software, and equipment here, and update the list each semester.

Semester 1

Books Required:

Books Recommended:

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film

Software Required:

Writing and Viewing the TV Drama Series

Another class I'll be taking this semester is Writing the TV Drama Series. We haven't received our syllabus yet, but based on an older one, I think we might have to write a pilot episode of our own creation. I'm excited about that, oddly enough, because some of today's favorite dramas are not my favorite.

Some of my favorites over the last few years have included (in random order): Longmire, The Good Wife, LOST, Blacklist, 24, Sherlock, CSI: Miami, Law & Order: SVU, and Midsomer Murders. But I admit, I enjoy some of the older (tamer?) dramas as much or more than some of these because of content. In the older dramas, I didn't have to worry about too much gore or being assaulted with filthy language or graphic sex scenes. 
We started watching a few drama series this weekend, based on textbook and other recommendations.

Once Upon a Time 2011- Created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz Pilot Episode written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, J…

Rethinking the Use of Color and Plot in Screenwriting

Since my last post, we've watched a short film recommended by Hulu's Summer Film School and a feature film recommended by Robert McKee in Story, one of my textbooks this semester. Story is actually required reading for two of my classes this time, so I'll make good use of it in the coming months.

I had a question about textbooks, so I added a widget at the bottom with all our required books for this semester. I'll add to it each semester as we go.

The Red Balloon
Written by Albert Lamorisse
Starring Pascala Lamorisse

This delightful short (35 minutes) was full of surprises. The story is told visually, with minimal dialogue, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Hulu recommended watching this movie for its use of color. The boy runs all around the back streets of Paris, providing a drab and dreary backdrop to the colorful red balloon.

The surprise ending still has me smiling.

This film hit a personal note with me. On my 1st birthday, my maternal grandp…