I won't lie. I get in the Christmas spirit early because it's my favorite holiday inside my favorite season. Give me winter and Christmas tunes, and I'm in heaven! While some people say it's too early to be talking about Christmas, I say it's never too early! I start shopping at the beginning of October, decorate my house on November 1st, and begin watching Christmas movies as soon as Hallmark starts showing them!
Today, I went shopping for new decorations as some of mine have gotten a bit old. These aren't the best pictures, but I've never claimed to be a photographer! I think my favorite is the Jingle ladies towel!
If you follow any of my social media accounts, you already know how much of Downton Abbey fan I am. I've seen all six seasons a lot more than once, and so when the details of the movie were released, I could not have been more excited.
The movie opened on September 20th, and I bought advance tickets for the same day. And for two, what seemed like incredibly short hours, I immersed myself in the 1920s again with the familiar characters I've grown to love. And I don't regret a moment of it. In fact, I'll probably see the movie again before it leaves the theaters.
I've written a full review of Downton Abbey that you can read, but I wanted to share with you all here that this is, by far, the best return Julian Fellowes (the creator of Downton Abbey) could have given us. If you're a fan of the show, you don't want to miss the chance to see this on the big screen.
Originally posted in Funds for Writers by C. Hope Clark
This happens at every appearance I make. Someone hears me speak or hold a conversation, then they buy my book, saying, "I don't normally read fiction, but after hearing you talk, I believe I'd like to try one of your books." We then talk about which one to start with, and a sale is made. Hopefully a fan is made as well.
I already know you don't want to appear in public. Most writers don't. Frankly, I'd rather be home in my cutoff sweats and t-shirt with no makeup typing away on a new chapter. I'd rather not put my dogs in a kennel to drive a state away or pack up boxes of books. . . pondering on whether to bring 30 or 130 copies.
But once I am there, I own it. I love someone coming up and saying, "I love your books." or "I've followed you for years." But it doesn't stop there. I ask if they write, or what they read, or where they are from, or what they do for a living. How often do they come to Edisto Beach (I do a lot of signings down there) or come to South Carolina.
Because asking about your readers makes them love you more. Why? Because it shows that you care more about the reader than simply making a sale. People love for others to care about them.
You should care about your readers. These people have offered up to you hours of their finite life, which is a phenomenal gift. A certain number of heartbeats and breaths they'll never get back, all because you were chosen to be a permanent part of their life. . . of their memories.
Y'all, that's what you ought to be thinking when someone picks up your book. So, when they say they've chosen your book, especially if it's a genre they don't normally read, then feel honored and thank them from the bottom of your heart in return.
Outliving Her Past is a book that is near and dear to my heart. I've wrestled with how I wanted to make this book available, and ultimately, I've decided to indie-publish it on February 15, 2020. I previously shared the first chapter with you, and it's up at Wattpad as well.
Though a romance is included, Outliving Her Past is mostly women's fiction. It deals with serious issues like racism, hate crimes, murder, and small-town prejudice. Because of how important it is to me, I want to release it sooner rather than later.
Kate Marks has spent her entire life trying to outlive her past, but her father's illness drags her back to the hometown she never wanted to see again. Back to the judgments and the hate that seems normal to the family living here.
An attorney in Charleston, SC, Kate moved as far away from her family as she could, enduring their disapproval, but that disapproval segued to unfettered fury when she fell in love with a man her family will never accept. She's determined to live her life her way, but her father's ultimatum sends her reeling, and when her brother is arrested for a hate crime, she's forced to confront the prejudices that bind her family together.
Her normal life in Charleston awaits her, but has she been tainted by the evil that darkens her past?
We've spent the last few days in hurricane mode as Hurricane Dorian targeted the east coast. It's now Thursday evening, and the storm has finally pulled away from our area and is headed toward North Carolina. Someone asked me why I would continue to live here when hurricane season is something I have to face every year. My answer was simple. Because this is where I live. This is my home.
The eastern seaboard is a target for hurricanes every season, and more often than not, we're watching the tropics every season. And, yes, there is a chance that our homes could be destroyed, our city demolished, but, in reality, those scenarios can happen anywhere, whether it's by an earthquake, a tornado, or any other natural disaster. There are no guarantees that we will always be safe.
I grew up in Charleston, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. Some day, I might want to own a mountain home, but I'll always have a home here. Preparing for and watching a hurricane does disrupt the normal flow of my life, but it's a disruption I'm familiar with.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated our area. I was in college then and could only watch the damage being done to my home from afar. I would have evacuated had I been in the city at that time just as I evacuate for anything over a Category 3. I don't take unnecessary risks, and I heed the warnings of the experts. But I wouldn't leave Charleston forever because hurricanes threaten us every year. It's just something I accept about living in a coastal community. I prepare and pray. And I'm ever aware that the next hurricane could be catastrophic.
I am a sucker for movies based on true stories. I actually didn't know that this one was based on Eric LeMarque's story when I pulled it up in my queue on Hulu. Eric LeMarque is a former hockey player who got involved in drugs and spiraled out of control. He had to lose his way to find it again. His story is heart wrenching, fascinating, and inspiring.
The movie stars Josh Hartnett and Mira Sorvino who plays Eric's heartbroken, faith-driven mother who only wants to see her son have hope again. Josh Hartnett as Eric is convincing as a drug addict who only cares about the adrenaline rush which is why he's addicted to snowboarding as well as meth.
LeMarque gets trapped on a mountain in the Sierras for eight days after getting lost in a whiteout while snowboarding. That's where the main scope of this story starts, and while I really liked Hartnett's portrayal, the mountain scenes went on a bit longer than necessary, in my opinion. There were long minutes of watching him crawl through snow, and I would rather have seen more of his mother. When she came into the picture, determined to find her missing son, the story really picked up.
Much of LeMarque's childhood is told in flashbacks, and it's his determination not to fail, brought on by his father's constant demands, that pushes him to survive while his body is dying. Hartnett's acting is spot-on as a man who is alone on the mountain in frigid weather with no one to talk to. He manages to overcome fear and loneliness and detox from a powerful drug while drawing on strength reserves he probably didn't even know he had.
There are few secondary characters in the movie which is a shame. I would have loved to have seen more of LeMarque's story before his time on the mountain, and his interaction with others would have given the story more to work with.
In a lot of ways, 6 Below reminded me of Castaway with snow. There are a lot of scenes that lag, but they didn't lead me to turn off the movie early. I watched through to the end and was able to see the real Eric LeMarque's new life after nearly dying on the mountain. He's making the most of his life now, and for that reason, I do recommend this movie if you enjoy inspirational journeys of overcoming addiction and survival in the darkest of circumstances.
In this week's news....actually, some of it is last week's news as well!
Many news things are in store for my site so keep checking back! I think you'll like the changes!
Every writer struggles with something. It can be deadlines, time to write, or the dreaded writer's block. These successful writers offer valuable lessons we all can use! Go forth and read! You'll be glad you did!
I've been on a period drama, movie-watching kick the last few nights (probably because I'm impatiently waiting for the Downton Abbey movie) and am so glad I found these!
I'll admit; I've never read the book, but there was something about the movie that made me put it on my watchlist at Netflix. It's been there for quite some time until I finally decided to just watch it. And wow.
First, I adore Lily James from her time as Rose on Downton Abbey. She was just as perfect in this role, and her chemistry with all of the other characters, including Penelope Wilton (also from Downton Abbey) was spot-on.
This movie is set shortly after WW II comes to an end and explores the aftermath and the devastating effects on the people left behind. It's a stunning production and good enough for a second watch!
And I thought the 1995 version with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman was my favorite. It has now been eclipsed by this 2008 version!
It, too, stars a Downton Abbey veteran, Dan Stevens, as Edward Ferres, and he brought such emotion to the character in spite of his stoic presence.
The overall acting in this movie captivated me. There wasn't one wrong choice of actors in this mini-series, and the settings were incredibly beautiful.
I think my favorite thing about this movie was getting to see the marriage proposal between Edward and Eleanor instead of knowing about it off-screen. It was simplistic yet beautiful. This is another movie I've added to my will watch again list!
I'll admit that this movie captured my attention because of Matthew Goode, who is one of my favorite actors. He also starred on Downton Abbey (I'm sure you're seeing a trend here).
Another period drama, The Imitation Game is a 2014 movie that is set in flashbacks to WWII and in the current time of 1951. It also stars Allen Leech, Keira Knightley, and Benedict Cumberbatch who has a divine voice.
I wasn't sure if I'd like it which is why I've put off watching it, but I'm happy to say I was wrong. Matthew Goode plays a charming cad who loves the ladies. Allen Leech is a man of mystery who comes across as a peacemaker. Keira Knightley is a woman trying to make it in a man's world, and Benedict Cumberbatch is an awkward man who's never really fit in anywhere until he helps England win in the fight against the Germans.
If you love period dramas, I encourage you to get the popcorn ready and settle in for a couple of nights of these unforgettable movies!
My latest work-in-progress is a young adult romance titled In Darkness She Shines. Here's a sneak peek from the first chapter!
“Hey, who’s that?” Amy captures my attention with a nudge.
I follow her line of sight to the house sitting on the corner, only a few steps from mine. With its sagging screen door and cracked, concrete steps, it doesn’t look much better than the one I call home.
A teenage boy crosses the brown grass, a bookbag slung over one shoulder. He climbs behind the wheel of a truck that’s blue and rust. Through the cracked glass window behind his head, I see brown curls and broad shoulders.
“Well?” Amy prompts me with another poke of her finger to my shoulder.
I shrug. “Don’t know. Never seen him before.”
“You’ve got to get your nose out of a book, Bailey. I mean, seriously, a hot guy moves in practically across the street from you, and you don’t even notice?”
“He probably won’t be here long. This isn’t exactly a buy and stay type of neighborhood. I still can’t believe your parents let you walk with me.”
Amy and I met in history class five years ago, just as things were starting to get especially nasty between my mom and dad. Her friendship had saved me, and now, every morning, her dad drops her off at the corner of my street so we can walk to school together.
The engine on the dilapidated truck coughs and sputters, and I can see my new neighbor patting the dashboard like he’s offering encouragement. After several fits of shaking and rattling, the truck settles into an asthmatic rhythm. Then the muffler belches a plume of smoke that has me and Amy waving the air in front of our faces.
“Geesh! Get that muffler fixed!” I yell before I think, which is usually how I end up getting in trouble when my mom’s sober.
Back-up lights illuminate, and the truck rolls out of the driveway. The driver glances over his shoulder, sees me and Amy, and stares for a second longer than necessary before shifting the truck into whatever gear it would accept. After a few weak attempts, it finally lunges down road.
“Well.” Amy stops and puts her finger underneath her nose. “He’s definitely someone we should get to know.”
I stare at her like her hair’s on fire. “What? Why? Because he’s cute?” I couldn’t see that much of him except for a strong jawline and the hair. So any assumptions I made about his looks were simply speculation.
Amy grins. “I was going to say because he has a truck, but whatever.”
“That’s not a truck; it’s an accident waiting to happen. And your dad drives a Jaguar. Why do you care about some guy you don’t know driving a beat-up old tank?”
“We do get rain here, remember? Who knows? He might be willing to give us a ride to school.”
“Again, your dad drives a Jag. Wouldn’t you rather show up at school in that?”
Her perfect eyebrows crease. “Ride to school with my dad? What have you been smoking?”
We dissolve into giggles and continue our trek to school, arriving five minutes after the bell rings which still keeps us out of the mandatory parent-notification zone. Not that my mom would answer the phone anyway.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!