Is it February already? I have a vague sense of where January went (and know today isn’t Friday, but… so be it). A lot of it was spent preparing the first 25 pages of my novel for submission to a literary contest (and writing the blasted one-page synopsis that must accompany it). A few days were spent convincing myself that my idea for a talk I’m giving later this month isn’t drivel — and then putting that talk together and rehearsing it. It’s titled “Beyond Memoir: Let Travel Inspire Your Fiction” and I’ll be presenting it at the February meeting of the South Jersey Writer’s Group. My wife sat through my rehearsal last night and gave it two thumbs up. I’ve also been doing some freelance writing for a local bike shop.
So the blog took a backseat. My apologies to all of you who recently subscribed to the blog after finding your way to the review I wrote for the Runtastic Results app. I hope your fitness goals are being met!
Added to all of that other stuff (and running and mountain biking), I spent some time writing, revising, and rewriting a sequence of scenes that build up to a major act break in my story. I think they came out pretty darn good. Every day I get even more excited to share the work with the world. But that time is not now.
Now I want to mention two movies I watched this past month: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The One I Love. Both were bizarre, funny, and uniquely wonderful. I’m not sure about Netflix, but both were available on Amazon Prime Video.
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared isn’t just a contender for longest movie title, but also the highest-grossing Swedish film of all time. It’s an at-times hilarious story about a centenarian who, tired of living in an assisted-living home, ventures out his window, ends up with a suitcase filled with a million dollars, and soon has a biker gang chasing after him. And there’s an elephant involved. It has a wonderful Forest Gump quality to it as Allan finds his way in several historically-important situations over the course of his life, all thanks to his love of bombs. The movie is narrated in English, but some of the dialogue is in Swedish and therefore subtitled. Don’t let that stop you though, it’s a terrific film.
The One I Love caught our eye because it’s by the people behind Safety Not Guaranteed which was another really funny, quirky, indie film we enjoyed. The One I Love is about a couple who are sent to a retreat by their marriage counselor. They arrive at a fantastic home in the hills, complete with a cottage that has a, let’s just say, unique characteristic to it. Really, it’s impossible to talk about this movie without giving away too much, so I’m just going to leave the trailer here and offer strict instruction to watch the movie at your earliest convenience. It’s weird, it’s funny. It’s got a certain je ne sais WTF.
- What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page – This article by Phil Stampler-Halpin from Penquin Random House discusses the things editors look for when reviewing a manuscript submission. What I like about this article isn’t just that it reminds us writers of the things we ought already know, but he gives some nice examples of different books that check those boxes.
- Using Weather to Create Mood, Not Cliches – This is a helpful article by Angela Ackerman about the dangers — and benefits — of using weather in your opening scene. The opening scene of my WIP, Tailwinds Past Florence, does take place in a spring snowfall, but you don’t get mention of the weather until three or four paragraphs in. And even then it’s by showing the protag reacting to the weather, not a weather report.
- Book Returned to Seattle Library More than 40 Years Overdue, With Apology Note Inside – Here’s a very Seattle story for your enjoyment, complete with video from KOMO News.
- What is Mainstream Fiction? – I encountered this article while working on my contest entry which, not coincidentally, happens to be in the Mainstream category. And I say category and not genre intentionally, as Mainstream is not a genre, in that it doesn’t have prescribed conventions. It’s also a lot more than that, as this helpful article helps explain.
- Maxims and Mottoes From Masters of One-Liners: A Reading List – This is a bit high-brow, but here’s an interesting collection of books of essays to read for those who appreciate a good quote.
At Cuyuna, MTB Trails Revitalize ‘Forgotten Region’ – The world is changing, and no election result is going to roll it back to the way things were. Increased automation, new inventions, and changing mindsets are the only constant. Fortunately, towns left behind by industry that has since moved on or died off can find rebirth in outdoor recreation. The town of Cuyuna, Minnesota, abandoned after the iron mines closed decades ago, has found new life as a tourist destination thanks to a commitment to build world-class mountain bike trails. Over a dozen new businesses have opened since trail construction began.
Post image by Larry Jacobsen, used under Creative Commons.