What’s Up Wednesday: I’m Back!

Castle Button (Final)What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I just finished an ARC of The Winner’s Crime (the sequel to one of my 2014 faves The Winner’s Curse) by Marie Rutkoski. Oh man. This book. It took some turns I was not expecting, and they were all executed beautifully. I am deeply worried right now about Kestrel and Arin. That’s all I will say.

I started on Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please, and already I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I think Amy is fantastic — so funny and smart and snarky. I am gleaning wisdom from her. She has the wisdom. I’m also reading a book called Severed by Frances Larson. It’s about severed heads throughout history. Because why not?

What I’m Writing

I am working up a revision outline for my screenplay. I finished the first draft Christmas Eve. Sent it to two of my CPs after the New Year. I got fantastic feedback last week and am thrilled to move forward with this revision.

I am also drafting a new project. Though, this has had to take a back seat to other things with more urgency. It’s not a YA project, it’s not high fantasy though there is of course a speculative element, and it’s a lot of fun.

My YA fantasy manuscript Of Blood and Promises is doing well in the query trenches. So, my nerves are totally wrecked. Yep.

My goal: 1000 words on the MS. Finish the revision outline for the screenplay.

What Works For Me

Taking time away from the computer to explore. Reading (and watching) nonfiction that is riveting, inventive, educational and vibrant. Paying attention to the small moments. Too often we brush over those, and those are where our humanity is fortified.

What Else I’m Up To

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a What’s Up Wednesday. There was no real reason beyond my own need to recede for a bit, and my own time constraints. I am so happy to be back with you guys! The past week I have been spending time with some baby goats. For years I have guessed that baby goats have magical healing powers related to cuteness, and last week I confirmed my suspicions were not unfounded. goatandsam Also. I injured myself rather dramatically about a week and a half ago. Read about it here. My face is finally starting to look normal, though I’m still dealing with soreness and bouts of embarrassment and shame. Klutz 4eva!

So…how are you fairing this week?

Book-to-Film Adaptations

book to film

Book-to-film adaptations are all the rage right now in Hollywood. Thanks in large part to the shaky economy, purchasing an already established brand and turning it into a film has become the go to. A few years ago, when I had a new baby and a new screenplay completed, I received some very valuable advice from a producer.

“You can’t sell this,” she said. “It’s wonderful, but impossible to sell on spec in this market. And it will only get worse.” She went on to suggest I produce the film myself, or adapt it into a novel and try to break into publishing. “It’s easier to secure financing that way.”

The amount of books to be adapted to films, or miniseries, or television shows, has sky rocketed. And so has the amount of horribly done adaptations. For every good film version of a beloved novel, there are three bad ones.

So, what is it that makes a book adaptation worthy? Many producers would say a massive audience and a high-concept. Let’s examine some great adaptations and see what made them so flippin’ fabulous beyond a huge readership and potential for merchandising and attempt to riddle out the answer.

 The Lord of the Rings – Author J.R.R. Tolkien, Director/Writer Peter Jackson

It is my personal opinion that high fantasy epics work well as big budget films. The world building in fantasy novels is a veritable playground for special effects masters, the clothing a joy for costume designers, and the sweeping plots and complex characters a banquet for actors. Lord of the Rings worked because the filmmaker made a movie based on the books, but didn’t try to transcribe what can only be achieved in prose onto the screen. Where some movie adaptations struggle is trying to stick too closely to the source material.

Unpopular opinion time — I like my adaptations to be an interpretation. No one can create the world from your imagination perfectly on screen, no actor can satisfy everyone’s image of an adored character. Great adaptations are one filmmaker’s impression of a work, not everyone’s.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Author Harper Lee, Director Robert Mulligan

What makes To Kill a Mockingbird a wonderful adaptation is the way they streamlined the plot lines. The film is condensed, as it must be, but manages to hold onto the big plot points without feeling awkward because they shifted the perspective.

News flash about the difference between a film and a novel: books can have a first-person POV, films cannot. The problem with many adaptations of YA novels, and main reason I believe a film can feel jarring when you’ve experienced the story through the protagonist’s internal monologue, is the shift from first to third person. To Kill a Mockingbird did a beautiful job giving the film a “voice” like Scout, by using music and perspective shifts — namely bringing Jem, her brother, more into the forefront — to tell the story in a broader way.

Pride and Prejudice — Author Jane Austen, Director Many British Guys

Pride and Prejudice has been reimagined not only in film, but as retellings in literary form as well. The reason this book is so popular to adapt is threefold:

First, the story is simple. On the page there are no big fight scenes or need for CGI — yes, I haven’t forgotten what I said about those things earlier — so the budget for these films can be small or huge depending on the production value desired.

Second, the story is so famous that no matter how many times they remake it we will still go see it. Seriously, remake it again, only this time with cyborgs. Money in the bag, friends.

Third, and most importantly, the narrative tone is easy to capture through dialog and expression; therefore, you don’t lose the quality of the novels prose when you translate the story to film.

Enjoy your favorite adaptation today, and please, share in comments what you think makes a book-to-film worth viewing.

Never Beaten

Last night, around 10:15 pm, I fell coming down from my third floor loft.

stairs

Footing lost, my back skidded along the edge of the stairs, my fingers grappled for something to hold, to stop the sudden motion, finding nothing. Propelled forward toward the floor, disorientation clouded my mind for a few precious moments.

My teeth slammed, hard — smack — into the wood floor and a shock of sharp pain reverberated through my face.

In the minutes after I couldn’t let go of my face, I could quite feel what was broken, what was in place. Was I shattered? Did I still have all my teeth?

My alarmed husband stood over me, his face a mirror of my own fears. I let go of my cheek and asked him if it was broken. He reached out to touch, but pulled back, examining instead with his eyes. Nothing yet, not even blood. Could I move my jaw? I could. I could talk and I wanted ice and as I began to shake, shock giving way to the pain, I began to cry.

This is the second time I have fallen in my home. The first time I busted the skin on my scalp, bruising and aching for days — but the harm was minimal, superficial. At least externally. For one whole day and into the night I faced down a longterm fear of dying from something meaningless, something stupidly mundane, accidental. You know…you hit your head, you feel fine — it’s just a bump, nothing major. Hours later you slip away, a coma and then a death. When I went to bed that night, all rationale said I was fine.

But when fear is involved, the mind becomes an unpredictable menace. I had to close my eyes anyway and trust that I would be able to open them again.

Last night, as I lay on the couch with an ice pack pressed to my already swollen cheek, I realized with sudden elation that I was no longer afraid of that death — that accidental one. I smiled — and then I winced — to realize I had overcome that hurdle, however small or strange, however ultimately insignificant. By grace, though not so gracefully, that monster had been squashed.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed about my ladder. The one I climb almost everyday to reach my writing nook. I was balancing against the stairs like I always do, unafraid, unencumbered, and then I looked down and there standing on the stair below me was a goblin. Small and brownish gray, with dangling wrinkly ears and wide jewel-like eyes. He wasn’t yet aware that I could see him as he slipped nearer my feet. I snatched him into my hand and squeezed, holding him tight to peer in his eyes. Non-plussed, he began to smirk. I squeezed harder.

Our lives are like ladders, or stairs, we ascend, we descend, and often we stumble and slip, we get tired of climbing, we settle for whatever level we are able to reach and pat ourselves square on the back. And on these ladders, there are traps. Little monsters made by self-doubt, by expectations, creatures of malice assisting in our certain demise.

Ten days into 2015 and already I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen.

When I began this year, I was already weary. Worn out from the weight of last year’s shackles, ready to be free but still captive in some ways. There was a little monster lurking in the early hours of the new year, waiting to trip me up, hoping to mess me up.

This is not something I take lightly, the notion that I could fall so easily and that one day, I might just stay down. I might be defeated. So when I tell you this story, I am also telling myself. I am reminding myself that I can get back up, blubbering mess that I may be, and I can climb the stairs again. I am also telling you to keep climbing, even when you fall, even when you are weary. To snatch the little monsters and hold them tight, watch them squirm.

I could have been badly wounded. As it is, I am bruised and battered, swollen and aching. But not broken, not beaten.

Never beaten.

The Terrible Titles Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged by the English Badass Liz Parker in the Terrible Titles Blog Hop. Here’s how it works:

Writers scroll through their MS and let their cursor fall on random places. Those words or phrases become the new, terrible title for their manuscript. I’m scrolling through my manuscript Of Blood and Promises.

Shall we begin?

1. We Dance Soon

2. Their Blood has Weakened Us

3. I Want to Keep My Mouth Shut

4. Blood Stains Her Skin

5. The Light From Their Flames

6. I Will Never Leave You

7. This Sea of Unknown Depths

8. She Will Never be Mine

Hahahaha! I think maybe the one I chose is best. What do you think? I’m going to tag my CPs Susan Crispell, Jess Fonseca and Courtney Howell.