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Saturday, September 17, 2016


                                           WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

Ever see a movie based on a book that drives you to pick up a copy of the book? Or vice versa--read a book that sends you to the theater adaptation? Chances are you may be disappointed by one or the other...unless you are an author. I was conflicted after seeing "The Girl on the Train" at a theater recently. The flashbacks and setting locales were confusing. While reading the novel would have helped clear things up, it would have removed the suspense and "who-done-it" conclusion.

Any author who has gone through the editing process with a professional editor is often cautioned every scene should drive the story forward. Rule exceptions that stands out with a "but" are mysteries that requires red herrings--like Girl on a Train--or historicals that call attention to actual history. A backstory that reveals character may also earn a pass for adding length to a novel that may or may not be cruicial to the story.

A screenwriter's job is to taper that novel length down to a fixed number of screen minutes. That may mean vaporizing characters, dialog, and even some plot lines until a viable outline of the novel remains to be adapted. Even some of the author's "little darlings" that remain may end up on a cutting room floor once the screen editor does his job. If you've read the book first, at least you can plug in missing links to the story, however.

One of my favorite movies, Gone With The Wind, was a very large and popular novel that became a very long and popular classic movie. But when I read the book, I noticed several characters had been eliminated in the movie. Scarlett had two other children by her previous husbands before she married Rhett, and commentary about Civil War battles was obliterated by the character-driven plot. I appreciated the history in the novel, but I loved the streamlined romantic movie version that still took four hours to tell. 

I felt the same about other favorite movies, after reading the books, Raintree County and Pride and Prejudice. The screen version of The Last of the Mohicans was almost unrecognizable as a book adaption when the romanticized Daniel Day Lewis movie was released twenty years ago. However, To Kill a Mockingbird was entertaining in both of its venues.

Some fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books have commented about some of the casting in the Starz TV series of Outlander. Wrong hair or eye color, a different twist in the plot? I've read all the Outlander books and think the small screen version has brought the books to life with uncanny accuracy. Diana wrote one of the screenplays herself, and has been concordant about any changes, remarking instead on the talented cast and scriptwriters in the lavish production. I wholeheartedly agree. Adapting a novel to the screen is a huge validation and compliment to any author. And reading the book--before or after you see the screen version--can be a DOUBLE TREAT, even with a preference.  Which do you prefer?

Trolling For Blogs?

Need a quick blog or newsletter idea?  Like searching for that special fishing hole in your favorite stream or lake, a well of inspiration can often be hard to locate…or even found bone dry. 
HOLIDAY INSIGHTS, an internet site listing historic ordinary and bizarre holidays OR alternate Days to Celebrate, is a good resource.  For instance, I learned that Star Trek debuted on TV in September 1966. Good for any relateable Trekie or Sci-Fi trivia warehoused in the brain?
People who love…or hate…Ketchup might compose a blog after learning
cj fosdick boy
the  record for drinking Ketchup belongs to Dustin Phillips, an American who—on Sept. 22, 1999—famously sipped a 14 oz. bottle of it through a quarter inch straw in just 33 seconds. There’s a competition for that?  Holy french fries! But doesn't everyone have a good Ketchup story?
Memorable brain-jog-blogs that nailed me were special days for September 5 and 6: “Be Late for Something Day” and Fight Procrastination Day.” I took the hint and decided to finally stow the Easter decorations on my fireplace mantel, then planned to write a blog about how I put things off—someday soon.. Sept. 6th was also “Read a Book Day.” Fudging a little, I may have qualified for that one because that was the day I completed—and sent back to my editor—the preliminary edits for my new novel.  I can read a book a day, but track-change-editing your own book will slow you down, even if you’ve read the book six times.
Lucky September 13 had three choices in a theme stream: “Defy Superstition Day, Fortune Cookie Day and Positive Thinking Day.” Fortune Cookies reminded me of candy conversation hearts—and the sweet series of Wild Rose Press stories—all titled for candy heart inscriptions. “Hot Stuff” was my submission about a crime, a cop, and a klutz! The only superstition I give cred to involves black cats and Halloween. (Keep those cats safe indoors!)  “Positive Thinking Day” forged a new mantra of hope. I will have prints of my new novel for the holidays.

“Wife Appreciation Day” on Sept, 18 was an easy post on hubby’s calendar, though I think he’s got that down pat. I appreciate him more than ever as writing often drives me into an alternate time zone where I need reminders to eat. “Wife Appreciation Day” also reminded me to appreciate all the wonderful reviews for my debut novel, The Accidental Wife.” I always have a special day when someone reads my book, then clicks for a review on  

September 19 was “Talk Like a Pirate Day. Funny, this brought to mind a little scene from the newest novel:
   Without using his hands, he snapped the bacon like a fish to bait and chewed thoughtfully. “Aye, but I’ll take my porridge straight, if you don’t mind.”
   “Aye Aye,” Scout chimed in from his high chair, banging on his empty bowl with a spoon. “More,” he said, licking the last of the oatmeal from his chubby fingers.
   We both chuckled at the mimic while I dished out more oatmeal. “Let me guess. You’ve been reading Goldilocks and his pirate books again…aye?”
   Mitch sucked his lips into a straight line. “Oh aye, but Goldilocks?”
   “She ate the bear’s porridge, and wanted more.”
                                         “Aarrrgh, Cheeky little lass.”

September 23rd was designated as “Dog in Politics Day.” Lots of blog ideas there, even if you don’t own a dog. However, courage to write about political convictions could be dicey this fall, unless some unbiased doggie humor can be extracted from the unreality show that will end in an election.

My favorite alternate day to celebrate is destined to become a favorite for any blogger. A whole 24 hours on September 28th for “Ask a Stupid Question Day!” Are we ever too old to learn something stupid?

Finally, September 29th is “Confucius Day.” Lots of red meat here if you look up his quotes. I love the line quoted in the Pear/book picture, though I never credited it to Confucius. Research is such fun! And only a little trolling can net a basket of great ideas for blogging and newsletters.     Cj