Friday, June 13, 2014

The Magic of Grease

Today I'm participating in a super fun group bloghop.

I'm supposed to blog about a movie I loved when I was younger that I see differently now. One movie sprung to mind:

So, as research for this blog, I had to watch the movie again so I could see it through my 43-year-old eyes. First, there's the crazy cartoon at the beginning. While an 8-year-old thought, "Wow, this is going to be a great movie," the 43-year-old wants to say, "Wow, this beginning goes on forever. And why is it a cartoon?"'s Grease. Best movie ever! I have to admire the way the film appealed to children, but I have to wonder why so many profanities. So much of it went right over my head when I was little. I even sang along with the soundtrack. Relentlessly.

Have you listened to the lyrics to Greased Lightning lately? Yikes.

I have to admit, it's hard to look back and see how John Travolta has changed over the years. Her before and after is pretty good. His, on the other hand... Well, maybe he should have asked her for a plastic surgeon referral before getting all that work done. Then...


What was your favorite movie as a child? Have you tried re-watching it as an adult?

Please visit the other fine bloggers participating in Then and Now and consider joining us. Just sign on to the list below:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teen Reading in the 80s

I'm participating in Booknificent Thursday.  You should join in! You just link up to a post you've written about books, reading, or literacy. You can even link up to a past blog.

All of the hoopla about adults reading young adult fiction started me thinking about how much YA has changed since I was a kid. Critics are currently blasting adults for reading "books for children." But are these books really for children?

Today's teen novels deal with topics like cutting, rape, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, suicide, murder... The list goes on. These topics can all be pretty dark, even for adult readers. Do many parents want their teens reading them?

There's no denying YA is getting increasingly darker. We had our dark books when I was a kid, too. Namely this one.

We'll just say V.C. Andrews' books weren't exactly on the "approved reading" list. But dark, angsty novels were much rarer in those days. And I'm pretty sure adults read those, as well. They also tended to dip into books like this.

When I think of "books written for children," I'm much more likely to think of YA books that are a tad bit sweeter. In the 80s, we had YA books like this.

And this.

But time marches on. Today's 12-year-olds don't read Sweet Valley High-like novels. They read middle grade. Older kids read YA. Older kids and adults, apparently.

Do you think today's young adult novels are appropriate for adults?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adventures in Laptopping

When I began my career as a full-time freelancer last fall, I knew I'd need a good laptop. I thought about making the giant leap to one of these:

After working in tech support for 13 years, supporting Windows, it seemed the wrong thing to do. Windows was safe. I understood Windows. But there was one thing I didn't count on...

I knew I needed something reliable, so I researched and researched. One name that stood out was Sony Vaio. The laptop had a good reputation in the industry. This is my beautiful laptop.

Pretty, isn't it? What if I told you the hard drive has crashed seven times since August? Still pretty?

The good news is, there's an assist button. One push and you can reload everything in less than a half an hour. I have it down to a routine now. The bad news? I had to give up Carbonite as a backup and just keep everything on a USB drive that I back up to my hard drive, which will fail in a month or so.

There are 200 pages of complaints on Sony's website, but mostly those complaints are a bunch of whining about small things. Nobody has the problems I have. But many of them work on their laptops all day, every day?

Lesson? Don't buy a new PC within a year of a new operating system being released.

But the biggest lesson of all?

How do you handle computer problems?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Launch Day: Our Beautiful Child

Today my special guest is Annalisa Crawford.

Her series Our Beautiful Child debuts today! Our Beautiful Child is a set of three novellas set in the same town. Annalisa describes it as, "dark contemporary with shades of paranormal."


“The Boathouse collects misfits. Strange solitary creatures that yearn for contact with the outside world, but not too much. They sit, glass in hand, either staring at the table in front of them, or at some distant point on the horizon.”

… so says the narrator of Our Beautiful Child. And he’s been around long enough to know.

People end up in this town almost by accident. Ella is running away from her nightmares, Sally is running away from the memories of previous boyfriends and Rona is running away from university. Each of them seek sanctuary in the 18th century pub, The Boathouse; but in fact, that’s where their troubles begin.

Ella finds love, a moment too late; Rona discovers a beautiful ability which needs refining before she gets hurt; and Sally meets the captivating Murray, who threatens to ruin everything.

Three women. Three stories. One pub.

Annalisa answered a few questions for us to help us get to know her a little better. I hope you'll enjoy reading more about Annalisa. I know I did!

Q: Tell us a little about the plot of your novellas, Our Beautiful Child.

A: Ella’s Story – Ella has had the same dream, predicting her own death, since she was a child. When other elements of the dream start to become real, she thinks she’s on a downward spiral towards the end.
The Traveller –  Sally meets Murray on a hot, sticky summer evening and is immediately captivated. She tries not to fall in love – nothing good happens when you meet strangers in pubs – but she can’t help it; even though the past is catching up with them both.
Our Beautiful Child – Rona discovers she can communicate with ghosts when a sham psychic arrives at the pub she works in. Once she can hear them, the spirits all want to share their story with her. And a thousand years’ worth of tragedy is too much for anyone to handle.

Q: Did you set out to write these shorter novellas or did the project evolve into this over time?

A: The Traveller came first – in 2000, actually – and was on its own for about nine years. I wrote Ella’s Story next, and although I don’t remember choosing to link them, they seemed like a good fit. At that point, I knew I wanted to create a trilogy, but I didn’t have a third story. In fact, I took another year to even come up with the story of Our Beautiful Child. But once I started, it flowed, and became one of the speediest stories I’ve ever written!

Q: You already have two books, Cat & the Dreamer and That Sadie Thing and Other Stories. What has your experience as a published author been like so far? Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?

A: It’s been a quiet experience, really. You see some authors taking the world by storm with their debut, but I just sidled in, working hard and staring at my rankings. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how much I would take the rankings and reviews to heart.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you plan your stories out before you write them?

A: I am one of the most chaotic writers I’ve ever met. I am so envious of people who sit down with a plan, write their entire allotment of words for that day, complete first drafts in six months… I do a lot of thinking – I need my muse to be working hard before I even tune into the fact she’s got a new idea.

I write longhand in beautiful notebooks, but once the work is on computer, I randomly add scenes all over the place. I’ll have a great idea for the penultimate chapter and have to go back to add in the clues and foreshadowing. I never write in chapter order, but then I never write a chronological story either, so I suppose that’s not too much of an issue.

Q: Do you have a favorite writing spot?

A: I used to have a small study, but since that became a teenager’s bedroom I’ve just plonked myself in the living room, right in front of the TV. I’ve got a large window to stare out of, I’m close to the kitchen – for a constant stream of cups of tea – and I know exactly which channels to turn to for the best programmes. I don’t watch the TV, but it’s on – Murdoch Mysteries and Castle are favourites to work to, at the moment.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’ve got a novella out on submission, but I haven’t started another long piece since finishing that one in February. I was completely drained after that one, it was very emotional. I’ve been revising some short stories that I used to think were brilliant, but now know better. I’ve been entering writing competitions, because I’d forgotten how fun it was!

Thank you so much for having me here today.


I live in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of beaches and moorland right on my doorstep to keep me inspired. I live with my husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

Despite my location, I neither surf nor sail, and have never had any inclination to try. I much prefer walking along a deserted beach and listening to the waves crashing over rocks. For this reason, I really love the beach in the winter!


Monday, June 09, 2014

Get to Know Maddie Evans

Today we're doing a little something different. We're getting to know this girl...

...a little better. I recently sat down with Maddie Evans, star of 30 Days of No Gossip, to ask her a little more about her bad gossiping habit. Check it out on Sher A Hart's blog, Written Art.