Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse -- Phenomena. One Participant's POV.

Okay, I got suckered into waiting in line for 12!!!! yes 12 hours before the midnight showing of Eclipse, this morning. And actually, other than stiff joints from sitting on a tile theater lobby floor (yes, I had a blanket) I thoroughly enjoyed the waiting and the movie.

A friend from work gave me the books I read each one quickly, all the while wondering how this story could possibly have a happy ending. This wasn't work, it was fun and I admit it, I was hooked.

Then around the time I was reading the 3rd book-Eclipse, she suggested we form a group and go to the midnight premier. Sounds like fun. Let's do it.

What a sucker I am.

I offered to design and embroider the shirts we wore (there were 7 of us, 1 bailed, shame on you) and I must brag that we had the classiest shirts at the theatre (I'll have them on E-Bay to sell-no, not the worn ones, silly.) I was totally in the Eclipse groove! Red ribbon, Edward charm, Jacob charm and the Swiss the book, then you'll understand.

I HAD to watch the prior two movies to get up to speed. Well, I couldn't get my MP4 conversion program to work, so HAD to buy Twilight and New Moon digitally to put on my IPad. This is getting expensive!!

While in line for eternity, I must have answered the questions: "what's going on, why the line, whatch'a waiting for" posed a gazillion times by other sane theatre goers. Honest, ask anyone, I'm NOT exaggerating, it was a gazillion. And I had the wonderful experience of trying to explain to one wizened gentleman and his patient wife, that indeed the girls in line wearing short shorts and showing cleavage were safe at least from roving vampires, and yes, it is the fashion of the times. And yes, Jacob did have his shirt off more than 1/2 his screen time...just had to get that fact in, even if at that time it was merely heresay.

The lovely man tottered away with a bit of a smile, and a shake of his head.

BTW, for the record, I WAS NOT one of those wearing short shorts or showing cleavage. Thank you.

As I waited, and waited and even waited some more with my faithful friend, Haley at my side, I watched the 2 prior installments of the saga on my IPad (which I adore, I love my toys) and when I couldn't handle the head phones any longer, I people watched.

What a trip. I've never seen so many shirts with either Team Edward or Team Jacob or quotes from the book or hearts or tears in my life. And, I was very secure that MY shirts beat them all! It is a contest, though I was naive and didn't know it at the time I was creating my masterpieces. With that many females in one tight space, it is a contest.

FINALLY, around 10:15ish (after Chinese for lunch and Chipotle for dinner and 3 Starbucks) we were led into the theatres, groups of 10ish or more. Finally a comfortable seat...or so I thought, but wasn't going to be comfortable no matter what.

I loved watching the audience file in, screaming at friends, laughing, preening, fighting for seating. And then....

The movie...well...after the trailers.

I'm not a tween or even close, and I enjoyed the movie. As a writer, it was hard to turn off my internal editor and critiquer, and frankly as much as I wanted to, I couldn't ('tho some movies afford me that luxury.) I'm not here to critique the movie, there are plenty of sites that will do that.

This post is about the phenomena and the experience The Twilight Saga has become.

I congratulate Stephenie Meyer for what she has created. I'm impressed and a tad bit jealous. Good job, Stephenie, for creating a story and characters that people can't wait to devour (not in the vampirish way, knock it off.) She's created a phenom, and people will wait in a movie line for umpteenth hours, then cheer, clap and have fantastic time before, during and after the credits have run their course. They argue and discuss the merits of the story, the characters and they know what they're talking about. They've read the books a gazillion times.

You go, girl.

As a footnote, I'll do this again, 'tho I will NOT get there 12 hours before the show. Been there, done that and learned my lesson. Breaking Dawn, hurry up and get here.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CB Writers Conference

Another Crested Butte Writers Conference has come and gone and it keeps getting better and better! Of course as conference co-coordinator, I'm a little biased.

I had a ton of fun not just learning from James Scott Bell--who is quite the character--but from Holly Payne, agents Joanna Stampfel-Volpe and Ginger Clark and editors Christine Pride and Anne Bensson. We had terrific weather so Anne was able to enjoy the mountain and sun while meeting with authors out of the Elevations Hotel deck.

There were so many terrific highlights. Let's start with the food! The food was wonderful. I was quite sad that they wouldn't let me take home the steak left-overs from the awards luncheon. Awards luncheon. We announced the winners at the beginning of the conference and then at the awards ceremony, the attending finalists sat on a panel and told us about their personal writing journey. It was wonderful to get to know them better!

Then Friday nite a bunch of us went into town to have a drink with the agents & editors and to chat about genre specific stuff at Rumors coffee house and Timberline Restaurant. Saturday was filled with more terrific workshops and agent editor appointments for those chosen by the agents and editors via the Pitch and Pages--a big hit BTW. Look at the website if you don't know about our wonderful Pitch and Pages.

Then we ended the day with a most popular workshop, the reading of first pages. Attendees volunteered their pages a-n-d, I slipped in 5 best selling authors' first pages just to see what the panel would say about current successful authors' first pages. The agent/editors only picked one as a bestselling author--Judy Blume. Ginger Clark was heartbroken that she wasn't impressed with the opening of Jennifer Weiner's July release. Attendee and Sandy Finalist, Elysia Whisler's first pages were so impressive the panel thought her pages were from a best-selling novel and editor Christine Pride of Broadway Books (Random House) asked to read the whole book! Yea, Elysia!!!

Then after a quick dinner in town, we headed back to the mountain for drinks and to be entertained by readings from Sandy Finalists and local authors & poets. It was very entertaining and much enjoyed event.

The weekend wasn't a total hit for a few people. Agent Ginger Clark got a nasty stomach bug, one attendee slipped in the shower and spent Friday morning getting a 6" gash across her nose and eyebrow stitched--poor thing. And then an attendee's husband had a mountain biking accident and broke his arm and got all scratched up. Hmmm I wonder if these conference casualties are a first. Be careful, people!

But all in all people seemed to have a wonderful time--I know I did! I made many new friends that had better keep in touch with me. It's such a small, intimate conference, as Kaki Warner put it, it's more like a family reunion. Well said, Kaki. And we like it that way.

Thanks for everybody's help. Pictures to come next week. Now to take a couple of months off before starting on '11s.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Makes a Keeper a Keeper?

I'm excited to help promote Author Autumn Jordan's newest release Evil's Witness. You can find it at Barnes and Noble. Congrats, Autumn. Here's to a fabulous member of the Golden Network and many more successes. ~ Donnell

Write what you know. As writers, we’ve all heard the statement more than once, and it’s stopped many from writing the stories of their heart. Why? Because the writer takes it literally. They think I’ve never visited the Emerald Isle or step through a time portal or had contact with a serial killer, so how can I write a story dealing with the subject?

Thousands of writers have visited Ireland and wrote about it, and thousands more have written about the beautiful country and haven’t had the pleasure of touching its shores. I know of no one who has actually skipped through time, yet. And, I’m sure there are very few writers who have written a book dealing with a serial killer based on their actual experience with them. Most subject matters or settings can and should be thoroughly researched so as to propel the reader into a realistic world. In the genres of fantasy or paranormal, in order to make the world come alive for the reader, building the world needs to be detailed.

In my story Evil’s Witness which just released on June 18 from The Wild Rose Press, a tractor-trailer containing U.S. currency is stolen by the Russian Mafia. My heroine witnesses a blood bath during the act and is sent on the run not only to save her life but also the lives of her children. Have I ever witnessed a horrific act such as this? No. Could I write about it? Yes, based on a few of my own past experiences.

Because of my family’s trucking company, I knew about tractor-trailer heists. They occur more often than you might think. We’ve hauled for the U.S. Treasury so the research for the bases of the story was easily available to me but not impossible for someone else to investigate. I had to make contact with local and state police concerning local law enforcement procedures, their weapons and use, and I interviewed an FBI agent on the witness protection program. I also read any articles or books I could find on the Russian Mafia. What I didn’t have to research and what makes any book a keeper on my shelf is emotion.

Years ago, while working at a restaurant, I was held at gunpoint during a robbery. It’s not a time I like to recall. I had nightmares for months. I managed to overcome the fear, tuck the experience away in the recesses of my mind and move on. While writing Evil’s Witness I recalled the horrific moments and use them positively to write emotional charged scenes.

As a mother of four, I’ve experienced more than a few times when my heart wedged in my throat with fear for my children. I’m sure you’ve had a moment when your child disappeared from your view for a few moments or they had an accident which required medical help. Can you recall the visceral responses your body had as seconds ticked off until you found them hiding between the clothing racks or at a friend’s house or help arrived? Did your heart pound? Did your mind scatter recalling the last moments before they disappeared—their birthday parties, holidays or smiles? Did your eyes skip from area to area, searching for a glimpse of your baby? Could the emergency vehicles not get there fast enough? How about sweaty palms or dry mouth?

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

A blast hit the air and a micro second later the windshield of the car beside them splintered. Pulling Bobby and Em with her, Stephanie dropped to the tarmac, the skin tearing from her knee.

“Stephanie, get down,” John yelled too late.

She was already flat faced on the blacktop. Her heart thundered, barely covering the voice inside her which screamed, “Not again.” She strained, stretching her arm, her fingers, grasping to protect her children.

Walking through a parking lot, I’ve felt threatened by someone following me. My blood rushed as I fumbled for my keys and raced to my car. I also recall the relief that washed through me after I pulled away unscathed.

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

Suddenly, a hand slapped across her mouth and a strong arm circled her waist, lifting her off her feet. Her nostrils flared against the ridge of skin as she fought to suck in air and the scent of the man dragging her away.

A car whizzed by but didn’t stop. The street ahead was deserted except for two elderly women waiting for a bus and a couple standing on the corner. They had their backs to her. They didn’t see her.

She searched wildly for anyone who would come to her rescue. There was no one.

I’ve had a broken heart. I’ve felt the sorrow of death. I’ve rejoiced at births and I am in love.

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

She stood before a mirror. A single lamp, turned low, lit the room. Through the silken material of her nightgown, her fingertips traced the outline of the scar near her waist. A mirror image of it marked her back. She didn’t want to remember how her life had come to this point. The memories caused fear to wrap around her heart, tainting the joy she’d come to know.

In the glass, she noticed movement behind her. A second later, he was there, staring at her. The man she’d die for.

I’ve experienced all of these feelings and more. I’ve used them to create an emotionally satisfying story in Evil’s Witness. A novel which I hope will remain on my reader’s keeper shelves and have them search for my other works.

Emotion is the connection between a writer and reader. Remember that bit of advice. And the next time you hear, write what you know, think that’s easy. All I need to do is open the door to my past and draw from my emotional well.

Autumn lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her husband, who supplies her with support and tons of laughs. Her favorite destinations farther from home are Vermont and Arizona where she enjoys hiking, golfing, horseback riding and learning the history of the areas. And no matter what Autumn is doing, she’s busy dreaming up ideas to put the characters of her romantic thrillers in grave danger.

All material contained within this post may not be used without expressed permission from author. Copyright© By Autumn Jordon

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Internet, the Information Age, Knowledge is Power

This blog is intensely personal, but if you're a woman, or you love a woman, you might want to take note...

With the Daphne finalists announced, my house remodel complete, I've been deep in revisions and now cleaning up my manuscript. But life doesn't swirl in its own orbit or at its own time, while you're working toward your goal. As the cliche goes. Life happens.

While devoting the majority of my time to my 2010 Golden Heart finalist manuscript, I noticed what I thought was a bug bite, on my right breast. I have a wonderful goals group, founded by Amy Atwell, called Writing GIAM. Her goal-setting passion has evolved into four groups and I happen to love the loop that I'm on. These women can be kind, funny and task masters when they have to be. We also could be considered an international group, with members in Canada, Europe, England, South Africa, Australia and the rest in the U.S. It's understandable that we have access to a wide range of knowledge and expertise.

Call this group your very own condensed version of Wikipedia.

Anyway, I asked my friends--yes, you can't belong to this group--without calling them friends, about this bug bite on my breast. I'd been doing yard work, too, so it was only natural that's where I assumed I got it. I wanted their thoughts on how I should treat it.

These brilliant women never mince words, we also have a breast cancer SURVIVOR on this loop. So to us, it's intensely relevant and in our face. The majority responding to my post, said, "Go to an ER. Now. And then Therese Walsh, founder of Writer Unboxed and the RITA-nominated author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy, sent me a video. I looked at it, and I appreciated being forewarned. I also received wonderful private reassuring posts from these ladies, in particular, my buddy in Louisiana, whose son is a doctor. I've done my research on Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which is the purpose of this blog.

Not to scare you but to educate you, it's rare, it's not detectable with a simple mammogram and needs further evaluation--by a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. My doctors have for the most part eased my fears. But...the nurse practitioner where I receive my gynecological evaluations had never heard of it. Hence, my reason for this post.

The Internet can be evil, it can alarm you unnecessarily. I'm not alarmed nor do I want you to be. I do want you to know that this certain type of breast cancer exists. Or it might indeed be a simple bug bite. I'm full of cliches today so I'll leave you with this one. Knowledge is power. I now return you back to your writing. ~ All best.

Addendum to my post from yesterday. When learning about cancer, please consider heredity. Award-winning Author Deb Stover had this to say about IBC and related cancers:

Thanks for posting this, Donnell. I think you should change "I probably"
will change doctors to "I WILL" change....

My mother-in-law died from IBC at 49, after fighting it for two years. In 2000, the University of Colorado included my late husband in a study involving the sons of mothers who'd had IBC, and were diagnosed with very early colorectal cancer. Dave was only 44 when first diagnosed with Stage III--a tumor so large the doctor said it had to have been growing at least 7 years. Gosh, 37 is a lot younger than the 50 they recommend initial screening for colon cancer. Hmm... Ironically, he fought the beast until 3 weeks beyond his 50th birthday.

Early detection is everything in cancer treatment. My brothers-in-law get a colonoscopy reminder in their birthday cards every year. ;-)

Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Thanks, Deb. I am paying attention. To learn more about Deb, her books and her personal story, check out