The Books We Want to See Made into Movies

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I think the obvious answer is a book that I’ve written! However, I will choose Disclaimer by Renee Knight. It’s a thriller where a woman receives a book in the mail. When she starts to read it, she finds out that it’s about her, and it’s something she hasn’t told anyone.

Faran Fagen

FaranI️ Will Save You by Matt De La Pena. It’s such a touching love story from the perspective of a heavily troubled teen, and it’s pretty much a thriller due to the suspense. De La Pena includes a clever twist, and I’d love to see how they pull that off on the big screen.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: The book I’d most like to see made into a movie (besides my own) is Justin Cronin’s The Passage. It’s one of those meaty books with lots of characters (also the first in a trilogy), so maybe a television season for each book would be better.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I’d like to see A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles made into a movie. In it, an aristocrat finds himself as a waiter after publishing a poem against the Russian regime in 1922. The historical shots of the old hotel and the city would look great on screen alongside a great tale of personal growth while Russian supremacy ruled.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: My obvious response is my own, but putting that aside, I would love to see The Mysterious Benedict Society made into a movie. It was a fun book, dealing with smart kids, a mysterious school, and lots and lots of puzzles for them to solve, in order to get to the bottom of things. Would be a movie that I’d be buying tickets for already.

Wrap-It-Up Wednesday: When I Get Stuck

I’m on the third rewrite of my WIP and I’m just about to write the lowest of the low points, where it looks like everything my main character has been working toward is falling apart. But when I sat down to write the scene (which takes place over Thanksgiving dinner), I had the worst writer’s block ever. 

I’d written this scene before—twice actually—in two previous drafts. But neither of them had the emotional impact I was looking for. They were either too dramatic or too all-over-the-place (which is what happens when I try to accomplish too much in a scene). This third rewrite of my book is going well, so I wanted this key scene to be right.

But I couldn’t write it. 

So I decided to go back to my outline and look at what happens after this scene, not just in the immediate scene after, but in all the scenes until the end of the book. That helped a lot. It helped me hone in on what, exactly, this scene needs to accomplish. And it also helped me realize there are some details I can plant in the early chapters that will make the low point scene resonate even more.

So here’s what I learned this week. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture in order to move forward. Sometimes I get so lost in trying to write the next scene—in trying to get words on the page—that I lose sight of the overarching story. Now that I’ve reviewed (and edited) my outline, I feel much more sure-footed in writing this critical scene.

Fun Friday: Looking for Your Next Good Book?

I’m an avid reader, finishing about a book a week, so for this week’s Fun Friday, I thought I’d share three of my favorite reads from the past few months. And, hey, if you read any of them (or have already read them), let me know what you think!

  1. The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey. Set in the same post-apocalyptic world as The Girl with All the Gifts, this prequel centers around a team of scientists and military personnel (plus a very clever boy with autism) who set out to find a cure for the monster plague that’s infected their world. Unlike The Girl with All the Gifts, the main character in this book isn’t the title character. Instead, it’s the scientist who most believes in the boy’s genius. It was her who convinced the authorities that the boy with the odd personality should be part of their mission–and now he has to prove himself, because no one else on the team wants him along.

 

  1. The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson. True crime at its finest, Larson is a master storyteller, interweaving the true stories of Daniel Hudson Burnham, the brilliant architect of the 1893 World’s Fair, and Henry H. Holmes, a psychopath masquerading as a charismatic doctor who built a “World’s Fair Hotel” that he then used to trap and murder dozens of people. This is one of those true stories that’s definitely stranger than fiction.

 

  1. This is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. An overworked but happy couple decide to keep it secret that their youngest child is transgender (born a boy but presenting as a girl). They’re doing this, not because they’re ashamed of their daughter, but because they’re afraid of how other people might treat her. And of course the secret comes out. Beautifully written with equal doses of humor and heartbreak, this is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Do you have a favorite book you’d like me to read? I’m up for the challenge!

Library Memories

Do you have a favorite library memory from your childhood? The Tuesdays share theirs.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: When I was very young, I remember my mom taking me to the public library and getting to check out–not just a few books like we did at school–but stacks of books. When I got them home, I spread them out around me to decide which one I’d read first. Among them was The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell. I loved the book so much that, as an adult, I went on a quest for it and finally found an old copy in a used book store.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I loved the La Salle public library. The children’s library was downstairs, but if you went upstairs, that was where the main books here kept. It was said that you couldn’t check out books from the upstairs library until you were in eighth grade. I remember the day I went to the upstairs library for the first time. It was magical, but now that I’m a real adult, I know I don’t have to restrict myself to the adult section of the library.

Faran Fagen

Faran: At my local library, every Wednesday they showed clips about mythology. I really liked those, especially the one about Medusa. Her snake hair and ability to turn things into stone left me both scared and excited. I couldn’t get enough.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: My favorite library memory as a kid was when Mum took me to the city library for the first time. It was summer, school was out. I’d read all the middle-grade books we had at home. I was amazed, walking through the stacks, at how many books there were. After I picked out the ones I wanted to read, I asked Mum if she would take me through the adult side of the library too. I loved the smell of the books and that the people talked in hushed tones. I asked Mum why people whispered. She said it was out of respect for those who were trying to read. It seemed to me that it should be out of respect for the knowledge held in all those books.

 

Our Favorite Type of Pets

Joanne: We had two cats when our children were young. We trained them to stay off the kitchen counters and had them do tricks for their treats. Tiger, the gray one, would do pull-ups on the kitchen drawer, and Spencer, the orange one, would sit on his haunches with his paws bent. They’ve both been gone for a few years now. I really miss them.

Tiger & Spencer

Melody: I much prefer cats over dogs. We adopted our two cats, Dizzy and Freya, when they were eight weeks old. The guy at the shelter said they were two for the price of one and when that didn’t sell us, he told us that two of the ones we were looking at were actually litter mates. So of course we couldn’t break them up.

Freya & Dizzy

Stacie: My fave type of pet? You’ve got to be kidding me. Do you all know I have THREE rescue dogs. Big ones, too. Here’s a pic of Delilah who is spokesdog for the group, apparently. She’s typing up a nasty note that she says she’s willing to unleash(she went there) on CHEWTUBE if anyone suggests that ANY type of pet could be better than a big rescue dog from Big Dog Ranch Rescue. Don’t shoot the messenger. #Delilahsays.

Faran: I’ve had cats and dogs, and I love them both,  but my wife and I began our lives together with our Maltese and Poodle so I have to go with them. Both of them are so loyal like my cat used to be, and love to snuggle. What else can you ask for?

Jonathan: My favorite kind of pet is a dog. Seriously, is there anything else? A dog gives unconditional love and is always happy and affectionate, not like those aloof cats. Some people may try to give lame arguments why a cat is better, but they’d be terribly wrong. I’m including my affectionate 65 lb lap dog, Parker

Our Favorite Scary Movies

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Silence of the Lambs is my favorite scary movie with Hannibal Lector being my favorite creepy antagonist. Since I was a kid I haven’t liked gory scary movies. Back then they scared me too much and I’d have nightmares. Now I find that many of them are overly dramatic to the point of being silly. I find a psychological thriller much more interesting than a chainsaw massacre.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: It’s tough to pick just one because there are a few that are my favorites. I’m really not a big scary movie person, in general, but I do love the humorous ones. So, since we have to pick something, I’m going with Shaun of the Dead. It’s such a funny movie and yet still has the fun zombie elements. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen it, but every year at Halloween, I make sure to revisit.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: Normally, I would say Jaws, but since Halloween is just around the corner, I’m going to say Fright Night, the first one, not the remake. Scary, funny, plus the ’80s. What’s not to like?

Faran Fagen

Faran: I gotta go with John Carpenter’s The Thing, based solely on the scene when they’re tied to the couch and Kurt Russell is testing their blood trying to figure out which one of them is “the thing” (which means they’ve been consumed by an alien who can mimic human beings). So creepy not knowing who’s part of “the thing” and who’s still normal in this sci-fi thriller.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: In high school, the John Carpenter’s Halloween movie came out. OMG this ages me, but HBO was in its infancy so not that many people I knew had it. Halloween was playing on it, and someone I worked with had it. I went to her house and watched the movie. The walk from her front door to my car seemed verrrrrrrrry long that night!

Stacie: I lurves me some scary movies. So many scary movies. I strive to watch a scary movie every day during the month of October, but I admit I’m really far behind this year! Ugh. If I have to pick just one, I’d have to say that Rosemary’s Baby is one of my faves. Or The Shining. Or Halloween. Or The Thing. Sigh. 

 

Our Favorite Quotes

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: My favorite quote is by Edgar Allen Poe. “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” It seems to me all at once fantastical, imaginary, and surreal. Life frequently feels like this to me, both when it’s wonderful and when it’s less so. My hat is off to EAP for summing up the un-sum-up-able. Bravo, Poe.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Faran Fagen

Faran: “Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” –Sacha Guitry. I truly believe that the best way to learn is by making mistakes. Even the most successful people fell on their faces on their way to the top. I think we don’t allow young people to experiment and learn from trial and error, which is how you grow. This quote embodies this sentiment.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I’m sticking with writing quotes, and this I take to heart. Dialogue. Have plenty of it and get the info out that way. “All the information you need can be given in dialogue.”– Elmore Leonard

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My favorite quote is “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Because it’s so true! From a song by The Smiths called “I Know It’s Over.”

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Peace begins with a smile. –Mother Teresa  (1910-1997, Nun and Missionary)

Tuesday Tips: Shaping a Scene

Well, it’s my turn for Tuesday Tips, which means I get to share some tips for writing. All of the tips I share are based on my own experience, because even though I may have learned about a certain technique in a writing workshop, it’s not until I apply the knowledge that I actually learn how to do it.

Lately, my scenes have been hard coming. I know what I want to happen, but presenting it in a page-turning, satisfying way is often more difficult. So I’ve been applying what I learned in several Joyce Sweeney workshops—the idea that a scene has rising conflict and a climax.

What helps me is to remember that every scene is essentially a mini short story, so when I’m struggling with a scene, I break it down into parts. First, it needs to introduce the characters and the setting. Then something needs to happen to trigger the conflict. Next it needs rising action, where the conflict heats up, and it needs a climax, where the conflict comes to a head. It also needs a resolution, which often leads the reader to want to find out what happens next. I’ve discovered that plotting out what happens in each of these parts makes writing the scene much easier.

But sometimes even my best-plotted scenes go haywire. Why is that? Usually it’s because I try to sneak in other stuff, like character thoughts and feelings from past events, or plot-point resolutions from other scenes.

So here’s my advice to you—and to myself. Stick to the plan, Stanley! Plot out the elements of the scene and don’t try to sneak in other stuff. Sometimes other stuff comes in organically, and that’s fine, but when I try to sneak in all these other details—in other words, when I try to do too much in a scene—that’s when the scene starts to fall apart.

As soon as I post this, I’m going to start working on a new scene, so it’s helpful for me to remember all this. Hopefully I’ll have a good, productive writing day as a result.

What We Love Most About Libraries

Faran Fagen

Faran: I love the smell of books and the excitement I get when I find a new book that’s totally unexpected and it’s just what I’m looking for. It’s even better when I find other books by that same author and they resonate with me too.

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: How do I love thee, libraries? I couldn’t possibly count the ways! I love the feeling of crossing the threshold of those automatic doors. I love the info desk and the movies all lined up in a row. I love the stacks of books. I love the feeling of finding a new book. Or a new author. Libraries, you are my jam!!! *blows kisses* And librarians? You are my rock stars!

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: It’s like shopping with an unlimited budget! I can spend hours in a library just browsing all of the shelves. It’s dangerous, too, because I’m quite bad at returning the books!

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I love the smell of all those books, plus, you know, all those books. I love going home with a stack of them and just spreading them out to decide which one I’ll read first.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: What I love about libraries is the endless possibilities held within their walls. When my mum would take me to the library as a kid, I would pick out the books I wanted and while she checked them out, I would wander around thinking about the treasure trove of information held within all those books.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: The thing I love most is the most cliche. I love the books. I love walking in and being inundated with books. Seeing books everywhere. There’s a feel to a library. I love that I can find classic books, which are no longer in print in bookstores. I can browse and see titles which are thirty or forty years old, or maybe more. A library is a magical place, and I love being there.

The Worst Writing Advice We Ever Received

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Worst advice? Why don’t you just self-publish? That’s not the goal for me. I’m working on my writing because I am going to get good enough to get past the gatekeepers. It will mean my writing has reached a high enough level that I’m ready for that world. I look at the novel I’m currently re-writing. I thought it was done several times, but then I got some industry feedback which was spot-on. It’s an entirely new book and so much better! I think traditional publishing is worth the wait.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: The worst writing advice I ever received was when teachers told me, “Write what you know.” I understand the logic behind the directive, but if I only wrote what I knew, my stories wouldn’t be very interesting.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: An acquaintance who had never written fiction but had a bestselling non-fiction book said to me: “Go ahead and write it. It’ll only take a year.”

Faran Fagen

Faran: The worst writing advice I received came from a conference critique. An agent suggested I transplant my climax into the first chapter, and it totally sucked the life out of my manuscript. I put the climax back where it belonged and came up with a whole new first chapter that was much better. So in a way the suggestion from the agent led to a stronger story — in a roundabout way.