In Part One: Story Structure, the assignment is to list ten books and films similar to our story in both genre and structure. She then asks readers to break the stories from our list down and analyze why they have an impact on us specifically. She says the movies and books that make it onto our list say a lot about us and what we like or what we are trying to say with our books.
I find this theory very interesting and thought I’d share my list. We had to list at least five movies and three books. Here’s mine, in no particular order:
1. When Harry Met Sally
2. Love Actually
3. Catch and Release
4. The Wedding Date
5. Pretty Woman
6. Chesapeake Blue (Nora Roberts)
7. Belong to Me (Marisa de los Santos)
8. After You’d Gone (Maggie O’Farrell)
9. Nobody’s Baby but Mine (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
10. Peachtree Road (Anne Rivers Siddons)
I made this list pretty quickly and I’m sure I left off some good ones, but I feel pretty comfortable with what I’ve put down. I haven’t analyzed what they mean yet, but I’m looking forward to figuring out what it is about each of these works that speaks to me.
Just for fun and if you have the time, I’d love to see a list of your favorite books and movies. If not, go ahead and guess what my list means.
This weekend, we spent Easter at my mom’s. My youngest sister came out for the weekend and brought her two girls. My sister-in-law, after a wonderful vacation in Hawaii and despite three feet of snow still on the ground, showed up in flip flops and a tan. It was warm out, so she was celebrating spring.
I was in charge of the baking. I make peanut butter-butterscotch-marshmallow squares, which happens to be a family favourite. For the first time in years, the butterscotch chips melted on the very first try. I didn’t have to boil the heck out the recipe just to get them half melted. (Thank you, Hershey, for finally improving your Chipits mix!)
After my success with the squares, I was feeling pretty confident and so I moved on to the Angel Food cake. It came out of a box, not from scratch, so it was a no-brainer. As long as nobody thumped across the floor while it was in the oven, I was guaranteed success.
I only wish I’d taken pictures to show the mess I created …
I pulled out the bowl, the mixer, and my two cup measuring cup, dumped the contents from the cake mix into the bowl and proceeded to measure the water. The recipe called for one and a quarter cups of water, so I carefully measured the water, poured it into the bowl, and mixed it. Very quickly, the mixture threatened to flow over the edges of the bowl. I barely managed to keep it contained, then poured it into the Angel Food cake pan, and slid it into the oven.
While it cooked, I could smell something odd, almost like burned sugar. My oven had been cooking things quicker than normal, so I’d adjusted the time as I didn’t want to overcook the cake. Forty-minutes later, the buzzer went off and I opened the oven door.
My heart sank in my chest. The cake was half the size of the pan. I pulled it out of the oven, turned the pan upside down to let it cool, and the cake instantly belly flopped out of the pan onto the counter. What the heck?
My son and I stood there, staring at the mess on the counter. The top inch of the mix had cooked, but the rest of the cake was a mushy half-cooked mess. What had gone wrong? I had no time to figure it out because I had to head back to the store.
This time, I bought two mixes, just in case the cake flopped again. As I proceeded to begin the whole process over again, I lifted my two cup measuring cup and realized … I’d had one and a quarter cups on the brain, so had filled the entire two cups with water and counted it as one cup. Duh!
The second cake came out perfect (well, except for the part that exploded out of the pan and landed on the oven floor) and after our Easter dinner, we served it with strawberries and vanilla ice cream, the perfect end to a perfect dinner.
Will I ever make this mistake again? You bet. I’ve made the same mistake before, while my mind has been occupied with more important things, like plot holes and wonky character growth and non-existent settings. Hmmm, maybe it’s time to buy a one cup measuring cup.
Please tell me about your cooking disasters because I love to hear how other people make a mess in their kitchen.
If you remember, last year I blogged about a new garden area we were designing. We spent the summer with a shovel in our hands, turning over the dirt, then built a small garden shed which we planned to let weather naturally so one day it would take on the appearance of those old buildings you see falling down around an old farm yard. This summer, we’ll work up the soil and fill the garden area around the shed with cedars and a variety of flowering bushes and plants.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
This winter, while we watched the snow fly and wondered if it would ever stop, we jumped online and ordered a weathervane from the Urban Nature Store.
Then my better half built a cupola, similar to the one on this site.
Today during lunch, the wind howled and brought in colder weather along with some – soon to arrive – additional snow. Our lunchtime conversation eventually turned to the direction the weathervane was pointing in. The arrow pointed south, so I said that the wind was coming out of the north and blowing south.
Apparently, I’ve spent my entire life reading weathervanes incorrectly.
I always believed that the arrow on the weathervane pointed in the same direction as the wind was blowing. This makes perfect sense to me. After all, if you shoot a bow and arrow, the arrow flies arrow-first, right?
According to my better half and youngest son, the arrow on the weather vane points into the wind. While this makes absolutely no sense to me, I’ve decided that I’m not the one that’s directionally challenged this time (although if you remember this other post, you might choose to differ). Our weathervane is directionally challenged, pointing backwards in the wrong direction.
Am I the only one who believes the arrow on a weathervane points in the direction of the wind?
Writing has changed the way I read books. In my case, the same can be said for parenting. The older my kids get, I’m less able to lose myself in a story.
I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books recently. As a self-published author, I’m always checking out the bestselling SP titles. Frequently they are YA, or more specifically the recently crowned and much needed genre classification called New Adult. There’s a lot of S-E-X in these books that’s not appropriate for the younger YA crowd.
The good news is that I could easily converse with a population of girls more than half my age. The bad news is that I worry for our girls.
Let me preface this by saying I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, so the lens I view these books through isn’t exactly clear. I can’t help but read these books without worrying. Why worry, other than the S-E-X? I’ll summarize the plot of the majority I’ve read: innocent, virginal girl moves to a new high school or goes off to college and is suddenly discovered and appreciated by the campus bad boy. He’s slept with a million girls and no one can tame him but our innocent, virginal heroine. All the boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her best friend. I don’t mind a little fiction in my fiction, but the plethora of these stories has me scratching my head.
Why does this bother me so, especially since I’ve never considered myself a raging feminist?
All of our daughters are beautiful. Some more on the outside, some more on the inside, but they are all beautiful. All of them. Many times, these girls—our daughters—go unappreciated just like the girls in the books I’ve been reading. Is there always a boy who’s going to magically make them feel better about themselves? No, and why would we want these heroines—our daughters—to only find themselves worthy because some boy wakes up and realizes she’s wonderful?
I’ve been to college, and I was that innocent virgin. Did I find myself during those pivotal years? Yes! Did I find myself because the campus bad boy saw what every other boy I’d ever met couldn’t see? Heck no! I found myself. I discovered myself in the pages of the books I read, in the responsibilities I carried, and in the process of letting go of my childhood. As I came into my own, I met the man who was to become my husband. Was it love at first site? Nope, not even close for either one of us. Did I save him or did he save me? No. If we’d never met, I feel confident we both would have gone on to live happy, productive lives. I must add here, for the sake of my marriage, that our lives are infinitely better for having met and fallen in love.
It is my greatest wish for my daughter to find love with a man who appreciates every wonderful thing about her (even the not-so-wonderful things). Will this man have a tortured past, be (God help me) covered in tattoos, or come from a broken home? Maybe, but if he loves and appreciates my daughter, I won’t care. What I do care about is that before she pledges her love and her body to a man, she will truly appreciate the value of her love and her body and know what a gift she’s giving. And that man better appreciate and cherish the gift he’s receiving, because if he doesn’t, her father and I will be happy to tell him. For those of you lucky enough to know my daughter, you know I won’t have to—she’ll tell him all on her own. J
I don’t begrudge the authors of these books or the readers who devour them. Who doesn’t love a well-written good-girl saves bad-boy story? I know I can’t assume that all girls who read these books will believe there’s a bad boy out there who’s going to be the answer to her prayers. I read Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I was a young girl and I never expected a handsome young prince to ride up on his white horse and make me his princess. But somehow I can’t help but feel sad.
Perhaps this is what happens when someone who’s not a new adult reads books written for new adults. I’m too old to appreciate the genre. Phooey. I should have known it would boil down to this…
Last week I attended my first book club meeting with a group of women discussing my novel, Jennifer’s Garden. First and foremost, it was a privilege to be there and second, I was thrilled to take part!
Writing is a solitary endeavor and connecting with readers is done primarily via the web, book signings and the like. So when I had the opportunity to meet and chat with readers in person, I jumped on it. Unabashedly.
In light of this, one woman asked, “Do you ever get lonely? Spending so much time by yourself at the computer?”
I laughed. Me? Lonely? Never! I have too many characters to keep me company and not enough hours to write about them! I also have kids and a husband and a part-time dog. Who has time to be lonely?
But I understood the point she was making. So many writers do spend hours upon hours alone, with no feedback, no validation, no connection to those enjoying their books. It’s tough. Very tough. But we write, because we have to write, don’t we?
As a reader, I love book clubs because they introduce me to stories I would never experience on my own. There are certain departments in the bookstore I never venture, certain books I’d never pull from the shelf. I think everyone can attest to having their favorites. So when I hazard out of my comfort zone, I’m the better for it. I’m exposed to new and wonderful authors, interesting trains of thought…
It’s mind-opening. Glorious! But one of the greatest rewards I gained from attending the book club meeting as the author of said book was listening to women “get” my stories. They understood the theme, agreed, disagreed and discussed.
It was awesome. Authors: have you ever attended a book club meeting this way? Readers: ever thought about asking the author to attend? Works especially well when seeking “local authors” in your area. That’s how I was discovered!!