Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome back, Bad Boy Muse

Oh Eric, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

At least 30 - as in the last 30 seconds of True Blood last night. If I still had a PVR, I might have rewound that scene 100 times or more. All four of the key Bon Temps vamps, even Bill (*gasp*) looked so freaking bad ass - I loved it!

(But what the heck is going on with the Bon Temps women? Sookie should be smacked up the side of the head for breaking Eric's heart and uh, Debbie, you've got ALCIDE and you're looking to hook up with Marcus? Wrong on so many levels.)

I've been sitting on the fence about this season of True Blood, enjoying some of the sub plot lines, and hating the rest - but in terms of characterization (and sheer hotness), Eric Northman has been spot on. In last night's episode Alex Skarsgard showed vulnerability, love, and power. I believed Every. Word.

That's the kind of authenticity I need for my (many) projects this week. And though the cast of True Blood has monopolized Muse Avatar Monday as of late, I'm more than thrilled to welcome back this bad boy - on screen and off.

Need an Alex pic sans the other three vamps? Happy to oblige this Muse Avatar Monday morning:

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Monday, August 22, 2011

Alpha muse

Aside from being a great source of inspiration for what *can* be done with book and TV series cross-overs, True Blood is a buffet of hot muse avatar options.

I almost always choose Eric...because let's face it, Alex Skarsgard is impressive, whether he's being good or bad. He's made my avatar list almost as many times as Ian Somerhalder...and that's saying a lot.

But lately I've been seeing a lot of Alcide - Bon Temps' hottest werewolf - on the cover of several men's muscle magazines. And heck, why not? His abs (and arms, and shoulders, and...) are nothing to sneeze at.

Plus, he's got that rugged kind of look, ideal for this week's writerly motivation. I've got some tough revisions ahead, which means getting back to basics and unearthing the root of the story. Somehow in my quest for the "right" word pairings, I lost sight of the simple things.

Like identifying a clear antagonist. Oy.

If I have to rely on someone to steer me back on track, Joe Manganiello is a good choice. Unless of course he distracts me...

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Muse across time

"John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. It was very old - torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have. "John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. It was very old - torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have."
I love that Terminator quote.

Almost as much as I love the character who delivered it. Michael Biehn - the original Kyle Reese - pretty much ruined me for all other men. I regard him as my first real crush - even before Michael Pare in Streets of Fire, and Poison's Rikki Rockett. *blush* 

At Thrillerfest several years ago in New York, Dr. D.P. Lyle analyzed Terminator, dubbing it one of the most classic examples of a thriller. I agree, but I'd go a little further and deem it a pretty spectacular romance as well. Of course the action is what creates the thriller-esque pacing (not to mention Arnie looking all creepy and psycho robotic), but it's the dialogue that sets my heart aflutter. (And, uh, Kyle's abs...)

I'm doing a lot of script-work this week. Dialogue is so important in many writing forms, but for scripts and screenplays, it's imperative. You don't have the option to fall back on description, no matter how brilliant. The audience will remember the cinematography if the show is good, but they'll only remember the writer behind it if the characters' voices stand out.

Sometimes when I watch Terminator, I pause it just after "I came across time for you, Sarah" trying to analyze what makes that single sentence more memorable to me than "You had me at hello." (I can never remember what movie that's from!) Over the next few days, I'm going to pause after every line of dialogue I write and hold it up to Kyle Reese standards.

Oh heck, why stop there? Seems I should just print off this picture and hold it up to his image, no? Welcome back, Kyle - you're a perfect muse avatar for this week.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I've been an emotional basket case today - crying at the drop of a hat, getting miffed at the smallest things, seeking the solace of "me" time. I'm not PMSing.

It's because of Room.

Not my room, but the room in the world created by Emma Donoghue.

Room is the story of five-year-old, Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. For Ma, Room is the prison where she's been held captive for seven years, since the age of 19.

I must have picked this book up a hundred times, questioning how an author could create a 324-page story within one room. Surely it would take a certain amount of cleverness and a tremendous amount of talent.

Donoghue has both.

I read this book in two days, sucked into Jack's room, my heart aching for all of the childish things he has never known, and loving Ma for loving her son so much. The story is told through Jack's sweet voice, and while I thought that might grow old at some point, it didn't. I actually believed I was hearing the story through a five-year-old - his questions, his reactions, his all felt so real.

Which is likely why I had a hard time snapping "out" of his world - and why I spent much of the last couple of days moping around the house and yard. I laid on a lounge chair in the pool reading, wondering how Jack would feel about the dragon fly that almost landed on my leg. I imagined the joy he would feel at three dogs licking his feet or playing in the tall grass - a dog not on "TV" but in the real world, a world outside Room. I questioned whether Jack would put ketchup on a barbecued burger, or whether ice cream would hurt teeth that have never seen a dentist. I wanted to walk him over to the park, and push him on the swings, or take him to McDonalds for his first McNugget.

But of course, I can never introduce those things to Jack because he isn't real - despite feeling like a child I have known and loved all of my life.

Room is an affecting story, a compelling, emotional read. And even though I've finished the book, I suspect I'll be seeing things through Jack' eyes for quite some time.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Monday, August 8, 2011

Still MY top choice muse

I only caught a few minutes of the Teen Choice Awards last night, but it was enough for me to scrunch my nose in confusion, and yeah, a little disgust.

In the category for "Best Vampire" both Alex Skarsgard (Eric on True Blood) and Ian Somerhalder (Damon on Vampire Diaries) were nominated. Neither of them won. The nod went to the more sparkly vampire, of course.

I had a couple of muse avatar options for this week, but in light of last night's awards miss (in my humble opinion, of course), I'm re-casting Ian.

Don't worry Ian, you're still choice in my books.

Now go forth and inspire!

The Book In My Bag Today: Forever, Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A place to write

Don't tell my husband, but I can write pretty much anywhere. I've crammed in a few hundred words while sandwiched between a snorer and a reader on an airplane. And I've plotted by the ocean in Maui. I've scribbled a paragraph or two in my notebook while pulled over on the side of the road waiting for a train to pass. And I've invaded every Starbucks within a 100 km radius.

But whenever I'm feeling a little less than inspired, or I'm making excuses for my muse, I start whining about having a "my place to write."

Because my husband is awesome, this typically turns into a revamping of one of the rooms in the house. We'll spend hours tossing out junk, reshuffling (but never really filing) paperwork, hanging pictures and inspirational phrases, and stocking the area with pens, stationary and a giant whiteboard.

Needless to say, I've had some sweet looking "offices" over the years.

Nothing compares to my current writing space, though.

A few months ago, we moved out to the country, a small hamlet (75-people small) about a half hour outside of the city. As a family, we talked about it at great length, and discussed the sacrifices that would be required. In many ways, my stepdaughter stood to lose the most - a disconnect from her friends. Ironically, it was her voice that rang the loudest when we took the plunge. Best decision ever.

Our house is old and in great need of repair. Still, each of us is now attached to some part of it. The dogs love the football-field back yard (almost!), my husband covets the heated garage, and my stepdaughter adores her loft room, which happens to be the cause of great envy among her friends. It's huge. And black. *shrug*

I have a loft office upstairs, too and when it's painted and the floors are refinished, it will be beautiful. But I gave my heart to the sunroom, which used to look like the picture above. I don't have a macro lens to show off all of the spiders, cobwebs and mouse droppings that once lived there - but it was daunting.

Lucky for me, handsome husband is a construction worker. It took him (with my limited but strategic help *cracks whip*) to transform the run-down, never-before used sunroom into this:

Reclining chairs for morning coffee - and plotting

The writing area 
Impressive, right?

I can still write "anywhere" - if you've read Stephen King's ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT, you know setting should only be important in your manuscript. But I'm not going to lie, I'd much rather be writing here than pretty much anywhere else in the world.

Where's your favourite place to create?

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: Forever, Maggie Stiefvater

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Graveminder. Read it!

I remember the day I picked up Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I read the first chapter standing in the YA section of the bookstore, turning each page with breathless anticipation. The characters seemed to explode with life, and the descriptions blew my mind.

There are four books in that series - I have them all in hard cover, and last year, deemed Wicked Lovely one of my favourite books, and Melissa Marr at the top of my list of inspirational authors.

Despite my groaning TBR pile, I've been in a bit of a reading rut. I'm so glad Melissa Marr was there to pull me out of it and set me back on the reading path.

Graveminder is not a YA novel.

But it is a near-perfect book.

I admit, I have so much faith in Marr's mad storytelling skills, I barely skimmed the back cover blurb - and went into this novel virtually blind. I kind of want you to do the same, mostly because I'm fearful any plot reveal will result in spoilers. But that doesn't seem fair...

Graveminder is set in the small town of Claysville, where people pay special attention to the dead. Rebekkah Barrows would know, since she grew up watching her grandmother attend to each tombstone with the same unusual ritual - three sips from a silver flask, and the words, Sleep well, and stay where I put you.

But now Maylene is dead, and Rebekkah must return to confront "dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility - to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong."


I loved every word.

Graveminder sucked me in from the first chapter and held me until the very end, where I resisted the urge (seriously) to start reading it again. (Confession: I have read Wicked Lovely twice...)

I wasn't sure how I felt about Marr deviating from the faeries of her YA series. Sometimes I like my authors compartmentalized. But I'm pretty sure Marr could rewrite the phone book and I'd be salivating.

To be blunt? Read it.  If the brilliance of the concept alone doesn't grab you, Marr's tight craft and amazing world-building skills certainly will.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag: Forever, Maggie Stiefvater

Second chances

I've never been much of a Colin Farrel fan, but after seeing the previews for the remake of Fright Night, I'm willing to give him a second chance. Maybe even a third...

Colin's also been my muse avatar before, though admittedly not an effective choice. I'm going to be the bigger person and allow him a second chance on that role as well. I know, I'm nice like that. *blush*

Second chances are fitting since this week I'll be digging through some of my old projects to determine which ones should be shelved for good - and which of the staggering number of my three-chapter-starts might still have the opportunity to see light of day.

Despite a myriad of day job stress, home renovations, and a general lack of writerly mojo, July was a productive month. I completed a short story for an Anthology that comes out in October, finished the second book in the Chase Duffy elementary series I'm writing for the Alberta Canola Producers, and the amazing Judith Graves and I knocked out a short story, a full TV script, and a whole lot of plot outlines. (Not to mention the bones of yet another series...)

August needs to be just as productive.

This month begins a new schedule that will allow for increased writing AND reading time. The year started with a bang, but since April, I've had some shaky moments and the downward spiral has been fast. I stopped reading. I stopped regular blogging. I stopped working out. And if it hadn't have been for a couple of awesome friends - and two non-negotiable deadlines - I would have stopped writing altogether. How quickly I forget that writing is sometimes the best way to crawl out from under that stress.

So this week, I'm leaning on Colin (and resisting the urge to re-cast Alex Skarsgard because man is he kicking ass as Eric on True Blood these days...) to kick off "second chance" month.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: Graveminder, Melissa Marr