Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time to Change Our Way of Thinking

My husband and I recently watched the 3-D version of The Wizard of Oz. I'm not a huge fan of 3-D because it bothers my eyes and head after awhile, but this version was subtle. I enjoyed the movie because I noticed details I never paid attention to in the original version. I found myself studying fabrics and objects on tables.3-D brought the images closer for me to inspect.

3-D is altering our moving going experience, just as ebooks are changing our reading experience. There is a lot to be said about holding a book, but then I don't keep books that aren't signed when I'm finished. I also don't need three bookcases. One bookcase of signed books and reference material is enough. I'm currently down to two bookcases. I also enjoy traveling with a collection of books on my Kindle. I'm not saying 3-D will replace all movies, but I am saying technology is getting better and we should embrace the change. It will be interesting to see what our world will look like twenty years from now.

There is positive and negative aspects to both traditional publishing and ebooks, but ebooks are here to stay. My husband sometimes speaks about Kodak and how they should have embraced digital technology and who would have ever thought the Ma Bell monopoly (or near monopoly) would be replaced by many cell phone companies? Writers would be smart to sell their books in as many formats as possible: traditional, epubs, independent... Like they say, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inspired by a True Story????? - The Butler

                 ******************* WARNING:  SPOIL ALERT *************************

My husband and I recently watched Lee Daniels' The Butler. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and believe it deserves a multitude of Oscar nominations. I read in the Arizona Republic that it was "loosely based" on a true story. The writer was inspired by an article he read in the Washington Post, published on November 7, 2008, called "A Butler Well Served by This Election." The article was about Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler for eight presidents.

Like many others moviegoers, I heard the film was inspired by a real butler before I decided to attend a viewing.The character in the story is named Cecil Gaines and is played by Forest Whitaker. His wife is played by Oprah Winfrey. They were superb. As Cecil serves these presidents faithfully, his eldest son, Luis, is arrested over 16 times during his fight for civil rights. He is seen with Martin Luther King before he dies and later becomes a Black Panther. His father hears Nixon say he gave permission to eliminate the Panthers. Luckily, Luis leaves the group in time to live another day. While the eldest son fights against his country, the youngest fights for his country. He later dies in Vietnam. I could see how a trusted, beloved butler, whose son is fighting for civil rights, could influence politics in the White House. After Luis becomes a congressman, I wanted to know more about Cecil and Luis Gaines, so I Googled them when the movie let out.

To my surprise there never was an eldest son named Luis and the younger son never died in Vietnam, although he did fight in the war. The vast majority of the drama in this movie is the struggle between father and son that never took place. At the beginning of the story, Cecil's mother was raped by the plantation owner who also kills his father. That never took place either. The Oprah Winfrey character struggles with alcoholism. Eugene's wife never had a drinking problem. The vast majority of the story was fictionalized. I was glad to learn that Eugene did receive one of Kennedy's ties from Jackie after his death. That was a touching moment in the film. Also, Eugene did campaign for Obama. That part was true. I tried to figure out what percentage of the movie was real and I'm guessing less than 5%.

After reading up on the story, I felt ripped off. If I heard there was a woman named Shirley, who drove a bus in Chicago for forty years, and made up a fictional story about her, should I say it is "loosely based" on a real woman?  I suppose if the Washington Post wrote an article about her, I should say something. Perhaps I could say, "Highly Fictionalized Film Inspired by a True Story." I just read Richard Roeper's review and found he wrote something similar about The Butler. The Boston Globe warns us the story is largely fictionalized and AZ Central tells us it is fictionalized. Unfortunately, I read several reviews, even from big city newspapers, who tells us it is based on the life of Eugene Allen and fail to warn us it is highly fictionalized. I started to name them, but decided it was probably best not to upset the press. You can find those reviews, if you like, by clicking onto Metacritic Reviews on the IMDb site while reading up on The Butler.

I wonder how many people are going to watch The Butler and believe most of the film is true because it was "inspired" by a real man. I read a review on the IMDb site by Stephen Alexander. He had a valid point when he says there should have been an opening header stating that this a fictional movie.

From now on I am going to read Richard Roeper's reviews of any movie I watch that is "Inspired by..." or "Loosely based on..." before I leave for the theater.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Life Is Stranger Than Fiction

You would think that anything that happened in real life could be written about and accepted by a New York publisher in a fiction novel. There are so many strange news reports that you would think the field of fiction would be wider, but it isn't the case.

For example, my family has recently suffered one blow after another. Last April may Uncle John died of cancer. He wasn't even 60 years old yet. The next month my cousin's grandson was born and immediately taken to Phoenix Children's Hospital. His fight for life was featured on several news channels in Phoenix. Trenton has had two heart surgeries and twenty-nine blood transfusions to top the list of treatments. A week ago last Sunday, I gave blood at one of the blood drives sponsored in his name. The next day, my cousin Jeff Randall, died in a small plane crash while working for First Solar. There were a couple of articles written about that tragedy. Five days later, my grandmother, Paula, pictured above, passed away. We held her memorial yesterday,

All of this happened within a five month period. If I created a heroine and she had to face these tragedies, an editor would probably tell me it felt contrived. As writers, we are supposed to create tragic circumstances for our characters to face and endure; but keep in mind, reality is stranger than fiction. If your gut tells you your heroine is facing too many, your editor might think so too. On the other hand, we can do anything we like to our characters if we ;publish the book ourselves. In self-publishing fiction can always be stranger than reality.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hot Prospects Contest - Final Day to Enter!


2013 Hot Prospects Contest
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

****Permission to forward****

GRAND PRIZE: The grand prize winner of the contest will have their entire manuscript (400 pages, Courier, 12pt, Double spaced) reviewed by two professional editors at The Author's Red Room.

Final round judges

1) Historical/Regency

Editor - Holly Blanck, St. Martins
Senior Editor - Esi Sogah, Kensington

2) Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal

Assistant Editor - Kelly Quinn, Tor
Editor –Kristine Swartz, Assistant Editor, The Berkley Publishing Group 

3) Romantic Suspense

Editorial Assistant- Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
Editor Samhain -Tera Kleinfelter

4) Contemporary Long/Single Title

Editor –Deborah Werksman, Sourcebooks, Inc
Editor at large, Sue Grimshaw, Random House

5) Series Contemporary
Associate Editor – Johanna Raisanen, Harlequin
Senior Editor Sweetheart Rose – Leanne Morgena, The Wild Rose Press

For More Information, entry form, and rules, see website at For questions please email

Those entries that do not final will be returned approximately October 30th,
2013 to help those who plan to enter RWA's Golden Heart.

Linda Andrews
Valley of the Sun Hot Prospects Chair