Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas on the road

I feel like I'm cheating by only blogging photos these days, but for now that's all I've got!

Steve and I just returned from a lovely holiday in England. Very festive, but also extremely exhausting. (The flight back always does me in.) Thought I'd share five photos with links to a few more.

This isn't a great photo, but I had to include a shot of the Christmas market at Winchester Cathedral. We stayed four nights in Winchester -- such a charming city! -- and enjoyed poking around the market, partaking of the food and drink (hooray for mulled wine!) and watching the ice skaters fall on their bottoms. Also visited Jane Austen's grave in the cathedral and saw the house where she spent her final days (pardon my inappropriate grin).

One of our side trips from Winchester was to Salisbury. We revisited the cathedral (seen here during a brief appearance of the sun), and afterwards we made the 2 mile walk out to Old Sarum, where we enjoyed the remains of the hillfort in the twilight.

Our second side trip from Winchester was to Brockenhurst, a charming little town in the New Forest. After fortifying ourselves with a cream tea, we set out into the forest, got ourselves a little lost, petted some ponies, and finally ended up at our destination -- an adorable pub in a town called Bank. On our way back to Brockenhurst we admired a quaint cottage that could have been transplanted from Middle Earth.

Christmas Eve in London -- the lights are always so pretty! The previous night we attended a sing-along Christmas carol performance at Royal Albert Hall (where I sang so boisterously that I wrecked my throat). On Christmas Eve we took it fairly easy, doing a little shopping and playing/eating at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Christmas Day we visited the Dickens Museum for their special Christmas activities (including mulled wine & mince pies) and then attended Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. That night we watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special (which was brilliant!) before heading down to the hotel restaurant for a Christmas feast.

On Boxing Day we tried to do a little shopping at Selfridges (madness!), made our first ever visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum (silliness and kitsch!), walked in Regent's Park (seen above) and had lunch at the Garden Cafe. That night we enjoyed a lovely Baroque concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

A great trip, but it's so good to be home. Happy New Year, everyone!

[cross-posted at Livejournal]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Authors Against Animal Abuse

Recently my friend Christine Johnson had a very sad experience with a neighbor's maltreated dog. Though she couldn't save that dog, she had to do something, and thus she decided to hold an auction to benefit her local Humane Society. Happily, many YA authors have joined her effort by donating signed books and even offering to match auction bids with donations to their local Humane Societies.

Please go to Christine's blog for all the details on auction offerings.

You'll find signed books by:
Cassandra Clare, Christine Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Julia Karr, Julie Kagawa, John Skovron, Beth Revis, Mike Mullin, Saundra Mitchell, Angie Frazier, Lauren Oliver, Michelle Hodkin, Deva Fagan, Diana Peterfreund, Jeri Smith-Ready, Liv Spencer, and ME (hee!)

I'm keeping an eye on the bids for the package containing BEFORE I FALL, THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER and THE REVENANT, because I'd love to donate an amount equal to the winning bid to my local Humane Society.

Hope you can help out! By bidding, you could win great books AND help vulnerable animals.

Bidding ends December 20 (check auction items for precise time). THANK YOU!

Monday, December 12, 2011


First thing -- I've heard from a couple of people that they've had trouble posting comments on this blog. And the other day I received an email notification of a comment that never actually appeared on the blog. (Maybe it was deleted?) So . . . if you have any suggestions on how to fix this, please let me know!

We had a great time in Boston, once Steve got his presentation out of the way. Met up with my friend Ellen Thursday morning and she kindly showed me around. I was jabbering so much that I didn't take many photos, and those I did take weren't that great, but it was SUCH a nice time.

Steve and I walked until we dropped Thursday afternoon. I offer you a random selection of photos:

I have to ask -- what's up with the obese squirrels in Boston Common?

The Revenant is shelved in YA Mystery at the Boston Public Library. So cool! Steve faced it out, probably to the great annoyance of the librarian who checked the shelves before closing.

Quincy Market was very festive! (We walked through after dinner in the North End)

I couldn't resist getting a photo in front of the tree. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I've been MIA as far as blogging goes. I blame it on writing projects and holiday hoopla -- wonderful things, to be sure, but also crazy-making.

Let's see . . .

-- This week Steve is giving a presentation in Boston and I'm tagging along, so prepare to be spammed with travel photos. I'm very excited to stay at a haunted hotel, meet a friend for tea at the Boston Public Library, and generally soak up the beauty of this old city during the holidays.

-- Speaking of tea, a friend posted this video on my Facebook wall a few days ago. Why didn't I watch more Kids in the Hall back in the day? Tea lovers MUST watch; everyone else is strongly encouraged to do so:

-- More than 3 months after our return from Oxford, I FINALLY have photos online at Flickr. I posted some of them on the blog a while back, but if you're desperately in need of a distraction -- and want to see, among other things, photos from film locations for movies like Pride & Prejudice '05 and Jane Eyre '11 -- you should check out my Oxford 2011 photo collection.

Here's a little preview -- can you guess what this is?

-- As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been watching 1930s movies as research for a certain project, and I can highly recommend 1932's Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Grand Hotel.

Yes, the performances will seem quite broad by today's standards (and I confess to getting annoyed with Garbo's stagey wriggling and hand-fluttering), but the cinematography is pretty spectacular, the script -- which features a shocking twist I totally didn't see coming -- is nuanced, and Lionel Barrymore's penultimate scene with Joan Crawford brought me to tears.

Joan Crawford, seen above in a charming scene with John Barrymore, was SEXY. I vaguely remembered her as the "Mommy Dearest" psycho-lady, but watching her in this film was a revelation. I'd love to see more of her early work -- any recommendations?

[Next up on the 1930s film queue: Design for Living!]

Happy Monday, everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend discoveries

-- On Saturday Anjali Banerjee posted a link to this wonderful video on Facebook. Stick with it to the 30 second point and I promise you won't be disappointed. Oh, and please click the full screen icon for optimum viewing. :)

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

-- Yesterday I watched two 1935 films as research for a certain project. First up was Katherine Hepburn in Alice Adams, which I must confess I did not like at all. (And I'm a huge Hepburn fan.) Fortunately, the next selection was much better -- the original 39 Steps directed by Alfred Hitchcock. LOVED it! I was glued to the TV and even had to rewind a few times to fully admire Hitchcock's signature match cuts and quirky framing of shots. This film had a more credible script (in my opinion) than the recent TV adaptation starring Rupert Penry-Jones. (It definitely offered more roles for women -- I can think of at least 4 memorable female characters.)

Best of all was lovely Robert Donat, with his floppy hair and fetching guyliner -- my latest dead actor crush!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Revenant art!

A while back, I featured Audrey Eclectic as a Friday Favorite. I loved her Jane Eyre mug, and found inspiration for my writing in her painting, "An Old-Fashioned Romance." I nurtured a little fantasy that Heather, the artist behind Audrey Eclectic, might paint something for The Revenant. When I approached her with the idea, she was very enthusiastic. Hooray!

I was overjoyed by the results:

I love Willie's wispy hair and light smattering of freckles. You can see Seminary Hall and various students in the background (including a certain forbidden boy). Heather featured the painting on her blog, and you'll find a much better photo there.

Heather also created a postcard for me:

Here's the front with the lovely Victorian border.

And the back, featuring one of my photos of Seminary Hall.

*happy sigh*

To see more of Heather's work, including holiday-themed art and greeting cards, please visit the Audrey Eclectic page at Etsy. To learn more about her inspirations and latest projects, follow her blog. I'm so delighted that this talented Oklahoma artist enjoyed my book and was willing to create such a beautifully folksy piece for me!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beach or Forest?

Steve travels a lot for work, and now that I have this full-time author gig (fingers crossed it lasts), I like to join him as much as possible. This past week we visited two very different places.

The first was Palm Beach, Florida. This view was steps away from the back entrance of the hotel.

Here you see the private beach. Can you also see the red flags near the center of the photo? (Click to enlarge) No swimming allowed that day. Too windy, I guess?

On the whole, I've decided I'm not a big fan of beaches or beach resorts. I'm actually rather repelled by the idea of reclining in a beach chair and baking in the sun all day. Walking along the shore is another matter, but at this location it just wasn't possible. I prefer a rocky Cornish beach or something like Half Moon Bay in early spring. Cool humidity and dramatic scenery (sans palm trees) for me, please.

We returned from Florida very late on Wednesday and left the next day for Fayetteville, Arkansas. Now this was more my style! Northwest Arkansas is gorgeous in the fall. The morning after Steve gave his talk at the U of A law school, we went in search of a park where we could get up close and personal with the fall foliage.

Devil's Den State Park fit the bill perfectly. If you know me at all, you know how much I love a wooded walk. If only I could bottle the true scent of a forest -- it's so lovely.

I long for color like this in central Oklahoma.

On our way back to the interstate I made Steve pull over so I could take this photo.

So how about you? Beach or forest?

P.S. Yes, we did have a 5.6 earthquake Saturday night. Very freaky, but our house seems to have held up okay. I had to laugh when I saw the footage of Kirk Herbstreit doing his College Gameday reporting from the OSU campus. Gotta love those bug eyes as the quake hits.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Memories Giveaway -- WINNER

I can't express how much I enjoyed reading all your Halloween memories! They were funny and poignant, and your photos made my day.

I used as usual and this time around Angel's number came up. Congratulations, Angel!

Stay tuned for future giveaways! And thanks so much for participating. :D

Haunted Seminary Tour

This past Friday I met up with pals Brandi, Martha and Karen for the Haunted Seminary Tours in Tahlequah. I was scheduled to do a reading, accompany the first tour and sign books, but it felt more like a visit to an old friend than an "author appearance." Now that it's behind me, I can tell you that returning to the setting of The Revenant on a dark and chilly October night was the perfect way to celebrate Halloween!

How can you not love Seminary Hall in all her spooktacular evening glory? To those familiar with the book -- Willie's room is in the right turret, second floor. We had to laugh because the lights were on, but on the wrong side. And yet, do you notice a funky light in Willie's window? Or is that just me? (Click to embiggen) I know the right turret was completely dark when I took this picture.

Karen, Brandi and Martha admire Seminary Hall at night. So atmospheric! (Notice statue of Sequoyah behind them.)

Posing with Martha and Karen (& the book!).

Marie Madison, graduate student in English at Northeastern State University, was my contact for this event. Proceeds from the Haunted Seminary Tours enable NSU grad students to attend professional conferences and present papers. As a former starving grad student, I'm all for that!


Okay, maybe it was just a flash effect, but Brandi (& others) heard ghostly typewriter sounds on the third floor. Apparently, many of the hauntings at Seminary Hall are auditory.

This is my favorite part -- I remembered it well from the first tour I attended over 2 years ago. Our guide shared the story of a professor who was alone on the third floor and heard someone running up and down the hall, but she could never catch the offender. Apparently, this is one of the most common auditory hauntings. Years ago, when the wiring above the drop ceiling was getting an upgrade, these footprints were discovered on the original plaster ceiling. Aren't they creepy? Is this a ghostly residue of the primaries who once ran up and down the halls?


(I will announce the winner of the signed copies of BLOOD MAGIC, HEREAFTER, and THE REVENANT later today!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Memories GIVEAWAY

Today I am offering up three signed books -- with swag -- for a giveaway! And it's open to international entrants!

This past weekend, I asked Tessa Gratton and Tara Hudson to sign their spooky books especially for this giveaway, and I'm happy to add my own book to the prize pack. All you have to do to enter is share a Halloween memory.

Don't know what to share? Here are some of my Halloween memories as examples:

-- I was four years old for my first trick-or-treat outing. I remember that it was chilly and drizzling, and that I cried a lot. Turns out I had a fever. Oh, and the paper bag I used for gathering candy had a hole in it, so all my candy fell out on the way home.

-- When I was in grade school, my mom made a fabulous "headless horseman" costume for me. It had padded shoulders and a really high collar to hide my head. Mom fashioned a veil within the collar, so people wouldn't be able to see my face. We failed to consider how this would limit my ability to see where I was going. I ended up getting stuck in a bush when my veil was snagged by the spiky branches.

-- A year or two later, my stepfather took me trick-or-treating. He parked the truck on an incline and hopped out to walk me to the door of the first house on the street. For some reason, I left the passenger door wide-open. We visited several houses, and I claimed plenty of candy, but when we got back to the street, the truck was not where he'd parked it. In fact, it had slipped out of gear and rolled down the street, bending the open passenger door all the way back in the process. When my stepfather tried to bend the door into its proper position, it fell off. He pretty much lost his cool at that point, and Halloween came to an abrupt end.

-- I finally shook off this trick-or-treating curse in 8th grade. Maybe we were too old for it, but my friends and I dressed up and went door-to-door anyway. We HAULED in the candy. Afterwards we had a sleepover and stayed up all night playing poker with that candy. Finally -- a fun Halloween!

But wait, there's more!

When I was in grad school at the University of Kansas, I dressed up as a TriDelt. (Does anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit -- "Delta, Delta, Delta, can I help ya, help ya, help ya?" Here's a terrible video if you don't.) Yeah, it was just an excuse to wear lots of makeup, make my hair REAL BIG, and say "Oh. My. God." a lot.

When I was in grad school at the University of Wisconsin (hey, I liked grad school), Steve and I dressed up as Pepe le Pew and Penelope. Unfortunately, the people of Madison mistook Steve for Bucky Badger. At least that's what they shouted from their car windows as we walked down the street.

If you'd like to win signed copies of BLOOD MAGIC, HEREAFTER, and THE REVENANT, all you have to do is share a Halloween memory in the comments. Gain an extra entry by tweeting the giveaway (make sure you include @soniagensler in your tweet so that I see it!). You can gain 5 EXTRA ENTRIES by sharing a photo related to your Halloween memory in your comment (a link is okay, but it would be cool if you could embed the photo).

You have until 8 AM Halloween morning (central time) to enter. I will announce the winner shortly thereafter. Like I said above, this giveaway is open to international entrants. I can't wait to read your Halloween stories!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV Tuesday -- Rippermania

I'm reading Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, which is about an American girl who goes to boarding school in London's Whitechapel neighborhood (a boarding school, you guys!) just as a killer starts copycatting the Jack the Ripper murders. Excellent stuff!

How appropriate is it that, starting tomorrow night, BBCAmerica is airing the 2009 series Whitechapel? And how lovely that it stars one of my favorite imaginary boyfriends, Rupert Penry-Jones? VERY appropriate and lovely!

Here's what Entertainment Weekly has to say in their A- review:

This gripping BBC drama is a Sherlock Holmes mystery for the Homicide generation. As the murder rate in London's Whitechapel neighbhorhood rises, two detectives (Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis) track a serial killer who seems to be modelling himself after Jack the Ripper. Prepare for gullet slicing, blood spurting, cop-versus-cop conflict, and more blood spurting. We can't get enough.

Will you think less of me for thinking "YAY, blood and gore and Rupert Penry-Jones!"?

Anyone else planning to watch?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend recap

Had a great time with Tara Hudson, Tessa Gratton and Natalie Parker this weekend. Our events at Full Circle Bookstore and Norman Public Library were intimate and lively.

Clever Natalie created a banner from a photo she took at Full Circle Bookstore -- yay!

We chatted for quite a while with the group at Norman Public Library. I love Tessa's mischievous expression here -- I think she's channeling Josephine from BLOOD MAGIC.

Ha ha!

Today I am ever so grateful for independent bookstores, local libraries, and author friends.

Stay tuned for a giveaway!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Writerly weekend with a spooky twist!

This weekend Tara Hudson, Tessa Gratton, and I will be appearing at two events in central Oklahoma. Here are the details:

Saturday at 3 pm -- Full Circle Bookstore, 50 Penn Place, 1900 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City

"Supernatural Extravaganza!!!! Full Circle proudly presents three of Oklahoma’s premier authors in their first ever joint book signing! Young adult fiction authors, Tara Hudson, Hereafter; Tessa Gratton, Blood Magic; and Sonia Gensler, Revenant, will sign copies of their thrillers in the cafĂ©. Join us if you dare!!!"

(Hey, they made Tessa an honorary Oklahoman. Actually, she's from Kansas, but Oklahoma is proud to have her!)

Sunday at 2 pm -- Norman Public Library, 225 N. Webster Ave, Norman, OK.

"Tales of ghosts and ghouls will fill the air of the Norman Public Library, with three paranormal fiction authors coming to the library to share their stories.

The library will host authors Tessa Gratton, Tara Hudson and Sonia Gensler at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, in Room A/B of the library, 225 N. Webster Ave." Check this link for more details.

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photos from my TN weekend

Today I'm visiting Creative Writing students at Edmond Memorial High School, at the invitation of my dear friend and crit partner Kelly Bristow. I'm so excited!

This past weekend I was in TN for the Southern Festival of Books. Originally I planned to hit the road Tuesday morning (I had everything packed and audio books ready to go), but Monday night the STOMACH FLU OF DOOM struck. Sadly, the trip was cut short -- I had to fly in and out and therefore didn't get to see all the people I would have liked to see. Still, it was a pretty awesome trip. Here, let me show you . . .

My panel with Victoria Schwab was a blast! Also enjoyed panels/presentations with Myra McEntire, Ruta Sepetys, and Charles Frazier, and it was nice to visit for a bit with fellow Elevensie Karyn Henley.

One of the best things about the day was spending it with my dear friend of 30+ years, DeAnne. Thanks for coming, De! (Her brother took this photo -- I hadn't seen him in over a decade.)

On Sunday I drove out to Stewart County and spent the afternoon with my mom, stepfather, brother, and nieces. This is Shelby, who is in third grade and apparently likes to be coy/mysterious for her photos opps.

And here's Samantha, who is in pre-K this year and doesn't run away from my camera anymore. My girls are growing up!

To conclude, I just had to share a photo of my dad's crazy amazing driveway. Sometimes I think we have pretty trees in Oklahoma, and then I go to TN and see ACTUAL trees. Wow!

This weekend Tessa Gratton, Tara Hudson and I will be doing fun authorly things in Oklahoma City and Norman -- check the sidebar for details. We'd love to see you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bulletproof kinks revisited

I first posted this 2+ years ago on Livejournal. I'm revisiting the topic today because I'll be visiting a high school next week and would LOVE to have more examples from writers out there. (And for those of you worried about the delicate sensibilities of teens (heh), rest assured that there's nothing really "kinky" about these kinks -- I just like to use the term because 1) it's the term, and 2) it always grabs the attention of my audience.)

June 19, 2009

I love the term "bulletproof kink."

I first heard it in reference to fanfiction, or maybe tv show storylines, but to me it resonates for all fiction -- what I read, watch, and what I write.

According to Fanlore, "a bulletproof kink is a story element a fanfiction reader likes or is turned on by regardless of poor writing quality, implausibility, or unsavory plot elements. Perhaps suprisingly, given the sexual origin of the word kink, many bulletproof kinks are story tropes unrelated to (or incidental to) sex."

According to writer Nancy Kay Shapiro, it is "a shorthand designation for the kind of narrative, situation, characters, setting, theme that's irresistibly compelling, that makes a story idea go for the writer—and hopefully, the reader too. It's the kind of story you're drawn to, that you want to be immersed in, as writer or reader."

Here are five of my bulletproof kinks:

1. situation -- a character in love with someone who is in love with someone else. (I have three of these in my new story. And one of the someone elses is dead!)--(But NOT a zombie.) Favorite examples: Twelfth Night (which features a perfect love triangle!), Cyrano de Bergerac, Ivanhoe, and lots more I can't think of right now.

2. setting -- boarding schools, particularly of the 19th century finishing school variety (as in A Great and Terrible Beauty). But I also love fantasy versions (Harry Potter), and contemporary versions (Jellicoe Road, Looking for Alaska, and Prep.) For me, you can't go wrong when you pile a bunch of kids together in a faraway school and replace the parents with a small group of disgruntled teachers.

3. setting -- English country houses. Whether pristine or crumbling, the remote country house is the perfect setting for romance, mystery, and murder. Think Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Fingersmith, and all those pulpy gothic romances you used to devour when you should have been doing your homework/housework. A recent YA favorite of mine is Linda Newbery's Set in Stone.

4. character -- the governess. Whether she's demonized, marginalized, or eroticized, I just love a governess. Not really a servant, but certainly not part of the family, she's caught in between and this makes for great conflict! Favorites: Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, Turn of the Screw (Why can't I think of more books? Help!), films like The Governess and Firelight.

5. theme -- hauntings (or would you say "hauntedness"?). I love everything from hauntings by ghosts to characters who are haunted by dark secrets, evil deeds, unrequited loves, etc. A great example is Sarah Waters' latest, The Little Stranger. What exactly is haunting Hundreds Hall? (I hope someone will discuss this with me soon, before I forget the details of the story!)

Most of these kinks can be tied into my obsession with Gothic, of course.

So . . . all you writers out there -- what are some of your bullet-proof kinks as a reader? Do you see them popping up in your own writing? (I have used ALL of the above in my writing, btw!) If you'd like to read the responses to my original post for inspiration, go here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting on with it

Last week when I was searching Livejournal for a photo I'd posted long ago, I came across an old "WOE IS ME" post. Reading it again nearly three years later, I had to laugh. I was whining pathetically in this post, but I also was spot on with my predictions:

All right, so my book is on submission right now and it is pure torture to wait for news. I am getting crazier each day and this morning it struck me that I'm verging into a mild depression.

And you know what? Even if the planets align, God smiles down from heaven, and miracle of miracles my book actually sells (*knocks on wood*) -- this worrying WILL NEVER END! Because I will worry about edits. And I will worry about cover art. And I will worry about publicity. And then when it's out I will worry about bad reviews and my friends hating it and whether or not it's even on bookstore shelves, and whether or not it's selling at all.

So I just need to GET A GRIP. This is me telling myself to GET OVER IT. This submission thing is out of my hands right now. What I need to do is buckle down and get my outline hammered out for the next story. That much is in my control. This maudlin crap has GOT TO STOP!


(By the way, that book didn't sell, so it's a good thing I DID hammer out the next story. Desperation is a great motivator.)

My muse has been quiet lately. Perhaps it's been drowned out by all the doubting, worrying voices in my head. Thank goodness for writing conferences because I really needed some inspiration to kick me in the butt. This past weekend I attended the NC/NE Texas SCBWI conference in Dallas. It was a fabulous gathering of writerly people! Great presenters and charming, passionate attendees. The energy in the conference rooms really perked up my mojo.

Spent some quality time with my agent Jennifer Laughran AND stalked her during her presentations.

Saw the fabulous Tammi Sauer give her keynote speech, "Just Do It! Channeling Your Inner Scarlett O'Hara." (Hooray for Okie writers!)

And I took pages and pages of notes during Bruce Coville's talk, "At the Corner of Plot and Character."

(If only I could tuck these three in my pocket for whenever I needed them!)

Ultimately, what I took away from the presenters and attendees is that I just need to work harder. Write more. Write BETTER. I've been in a lull, partly because I've been doing promotion but also because I've been waiting for edits. Time to snap out of that. Time to stop spinning my wheels, to stop being scared, and just do the thing I love to do: WRITE.

And I will! But first I have to drive to TN, see family, and speak at the Southern Festival of Books. I'm appearing with Victoria Schwab on Saturday, 4:30 pm in Room 29. Come see us, y'all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday randoms

Two giveaways to tell you about:
-- At Confessions of a Bookaholic I talk about my "haunted childhood" and you get a chance to win one of four copies of The Revenant, kindly provided by Random House. Wahoo!

-- My Oklahoma friend Jenna Klein interviews me at Fans of Fiction and offers up a signed copy of The Revenant. Yay!

-- My pal Brandi Barnett has alerted me to the existence of Out of Print clothing and goodies. Check out their mission. I purchased the Pride & Prejudice sweatshirt and the Brave New World t-shirt and felt smug on many levels. (A nice sort of smug, though, right? Is there such a thing?)

-- Tomorrow I drive down to Dallas for some shopping the NE/NC Texas SCBWI fall conference. I plan to get INSPIRED! And hopefully meet some new people, if I can crawl out of my shell.

-- I was also hoping to see Dream House this weekend, but sounds like it's pretty lame. In better news, American Horror Story starts tonight, and though I missed the premiere I will get caught up with Bedlam very soon. Maybe October won't be a total loss for creeptastic viewing?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three things on a Thursday

1. Apologies to those who already saw it on my Facebook or Twitter feed, but I have to share this review of The Revenant at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy*.

(*Best. Blog title. EVER.)

I try not to post about reviews too often, but this one made me weepy because she really seemed to get what my editor and I worked so hard to convey about the protagonist. She also articulated something that made me see the story in a new way, which is very cool. I am soooo grateful to Liz Burns for featuring the book on her blog! (BTW, the review does contain spoilers, but she gives plenty of warning.)

2. The second part of this post was bascially going to be me navel-gazing about whether I suffer the right way for my art, but . . . GAH that's ridiculous! Who cares? I think the bottom line is that I need to: a) take more risks and b) practice learned optimism (as explained by my dear friend Lisa Marotta). What's really got to stop is the constant flailing over all my inadequacies. That is NOT the productive way to suffer for your art!

3. Looking forward to a fun weekend with friends. It was especially exciting to load Lola and the Boy Next Door and The Name of the Star on my kindle. Yay! Trying to decide whether or not to take my computer. We could probably use a break from each other . . .

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TV Tuesday: pleasant surprises

It seems that all I've blogged about lately is TV. All I can say in my defense is "'Tis the season!"

(I'll make an effort to branch out soon.)

The season premieres of Fringe and The Good Wife were great fun -- and I'd love to discuss them in the comments -- but for this entry I'm focusing on pleasant surprises:

A Gifted Man -- Hadn't intended on watching this one, but ultimately couldn't resist the appeal of Jennifer Ehle. Actually, the whole cast is pretty dang good. This is the best I've seen from Patrick Wilson since Little Children, and we also get recent Emmy winner Margo Martindale as his secretary (?), Dexter's Julie Benz as his sister, and The Wire's Pablo Schreiber as the medium/psychic dude (please let his role be recurring!). The story is predictably schmoopy, but the performances won me over. And you guys, there's a GHOST! I'm gonna keep watching.

New Girl -- I was intrigued by the promos, but wasn't sure Steve would find this show appealing. Turns out that the trio of male roomates make the perfect foil for Zooey D's offbeat persona. We laughed outloud several times and definitely will tune in again.

Terra Nova -- I expected to be "meh" about this, but aside from some clunky exposition dialogue (especially toward the end), I found it pretty gripping. Not sure the show can sustain this pace, but so far so good. (Oh, and I've liked Jason O'Mara since he played Fergal on Monarch of the Glen -- he's the main reason I tuned in.) TN writers -- please give us more head-chomping dinosaurs! And don't overdose us on teen angst. Thanx. (Oh, I hope there's an interesting story behind the Shannons' third child.)

How about you -- found any new shows yet? Any pleasant surprises of your own?

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TV Tuesday: Brit TV on DVD

New fall shows are getting ready to air. Old favorites are returning. Seems like it's taken FOREVER, doesn't it?

I haven't suffered too much. For the last couple of weeks I've been watching a couple of DVD sets of British shows from the 90s.

The Minette Walters Collection was my first purchase after getting my all-region DVD player. I'd seen all these episodes long ago on TV, but was surprised to learn that the US broadcasts were edited for length and content. With these DVDs you get the Full Monty! (And I'm almost being literal on that.)

I was a huge Minette Walters fan in the 90s. I read each of these books when they came out and found them utterly gripping. The TV adaptations are fascinating, too. They were my introduction to (now outrageously famous) actors like Daniel Craig and Clive Owen. The characters were dark and complex. The mysteries were convoluted, and their solutions were nearly impossible to predict.

I still enjoyed the episodes during this recent viewing, but there was some squirming. For one thing, nearly every police officer depicted in these eps is disconcertingly homophobic. (They're usually the bad guys, though.) Many of the male characters are too sexually aggressive for my comfort. There's a high degree of dysfunction all around. If you have a tolerance for that, you might enjoy the dvds (or the books, for that matter).

(Of all the eps in this collection, only "The Sculptress" is available from Netflix/Qwikster.)

My dad recommended The Grand to me. (Now that he's mostly retired, he watches all sorts of recommendable dvds.) What I didn't realize was that it was written by Russell T. Davies. Who knew that he'd penned a historical melodrama? (Well . . there was Casanova.)

Since I've only just started this series, I'll share the Amazon blurb:

Lust, greed, and gossip in a glamorous British hotel of the 1920s. As the most opulent hotel in Manchester, England, during the decadent Roaring ’20s, The Grand is more than a building. It’s a nexus for schemes, scandals, romance, and intrigue. For owner John Bannerman, The Grand symbolizes a tradition of luxury and elegance begun by his father. For Marcus Bannerman, it becomes a risky investment and a way to entice his brother’s wife into bed. And for the maids and porters employed there, it represents a possible escape from their hardscrabble past--and an endless source of backstairs gossip.

Very mixed reviews on Amazon, but after four episodes I'm still enjoying it. It's rather fun to watch Stephen Moyer in his pre-True Blood days.

(This series is available from Netflix/Qwikster.)

Now that I have this all-region player, I'm itching to watch some UK shows that aren't available in the US. Any recommendations? Has anyone seen Marchlands?

[Cross-postd at Livejournal]