Sunday, August 31, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I've been spelling her name wrong all this time. It's Stephenie with an E not an A! With that out of the way, I can tell you that I finished the last book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. In the beginning of the summer, as I wrote before, I was hesitant to read Twilight. Vampires? No. I'm not into it. I never even saw Interview with a Vampire. But once I read about Bella and Edward....I admit I was hooked. Is it the fact that Bella feels she never fit in with the rest of her classmates? Was it the forbidden love between Bella and handsome vampire Edward? Whatever spell Stephenie put on me, I was under it.

I eagerly devoured -no pun intended really- the next two books and along with millions of other fans, anxiously awaited the release of Breaking Dawn. I had my own expectations and thoughts of how Bella, Edward and Jacob would end up. I read this enormous novel quickly and so did many of my friends- and millions of other fans. Stephenie ties all loose ends up and there is no question of how Bella and Edward's lives will continue.

This series has been compared to Harry Potter and with good reason. Even a reluctant reader as myself was enveloped in her writing. Fans of all ages are enjoying these books, millions of boys and girls alike are getting into them. Stephenie weaves a touching and romantic love story with intrigue and mystery and vampires. It's a recipe for success and movies. The Twilight film will be out in November. Its a franchise just like Harry Potter. Expect Bella and Edward costumes for Halloween this year. And have you seen Team Edward and Team Jacob tee shirts? There are so many websites dedicated to these books that you can be kept busy for days reading them.

I highly recommend all four books in the Twilight series and if you are looking for some well written stories to read, get to or Barnes&Noble and buy yourself all four books. Once you read one, you need to know what happens in the rest. You don't want to be left hanging. Kudos to Stephenie Meyer for creating this empire and allowing us to escape into another world.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goddess Leonie

Through the brilliant and lovely Christine Mason Miller, I found a link to Goddess Leonie and was immediately impressed with her art and positive spirit. Here's the thing-- if you had told me years ago that I would be actively pursuing my dream as a novelist and screenwriter, I might have not believed you. Its a really big hurdle to get over- becoming a successful screenwriter, writing books that people read. I am inclined towards seeing the glass as half empty most days. I hear the odds, like one in 500,000 writers will get their screenplay optioned and how can I not get frustrated?

So thats why people like Christine and SARK and now Goddess Leonie are so important. Who knows what little flicker of a flame these creatively inspirational ladies will ignite in you? I've learned that the key to almost everything from health to relationships to career is a positive attitude.

I copied down this list from Goddess Leonie's site below. Here is the link to her website. Read it!

10 Ways To Fly Beyond Creative Dream Frustrations & Fears

1. Let's play a little game I like to call Poignant Perspective. Inside you, there is a whole world of brilliance and beauty. Imagine the incredible inner terrain that is you: the great oceans of love, the mountains of achievements small and massive already made, the fields of wildflowers singing your name, the rose gardens dedicated to you in your honour.This whole big amazing world inside you. Try not to focus all of your attention on the little overgrow lot that needs some tending to. Remember, there is a whole world of rainbow beauty inside you.

2. Write yourself an ancient love letter. Imagine you have long, silky grey hair, whispy, in a braid. In your eyes, there sparkles a kind of wisdom, joy and compassion that can only be found after eighty years on this dear planet. Imagine this precious part of your self, remembering you as you were, smiling gently, sending you love back across the distance. Let this graceful, gorgeous Grand-Mother guide your hand, and write you a letter of all the things you need to know & remember.

3. Comparing is So Last Millenium BabyDearheart, you were born on one special moment, one incredible day, one amazing year. Nobody knows the breaths you have taken, all the steps of your journey you have taken since the first. Yes, you are the rarest mosaic of all - a rich & incandescent tapestry enwoven with all the love, lessons & life only you can know & share. Rare tapestries are not meant to be compared in a flea-market-of-the-soul dearheart, and neither are you.

4. Trust in the Universe Baby, it's got a big & beautiful plan for you so majestic & wide that you can't even dream it right now. Trust. All will be well. You are loved. All will be well.

5. Expand your vision of reality Those five words have been swimming about in my head for a while now, reminding me:Expand. E x p a n d . E x p a n d. Expand your vision of what is possible. What is not true for you, is true for others, and it can be yours if you want it. Sit in silence, and feel the parameters of your brain. Take a deep breath in, and widen the space your mind inhabits. Widen and expand until you know that what you desire is absolutely, unequivocally possible.Inhabit a new world of Possibility.

6. Check-in at the Creative Dream Lost Baggage Counter Use the moment of blah, of blankness, of silence to check-in with your creative dream. Is it exactly what you want? Is your current dream the truest expression of your gifts?This is one my love reminds me of often. I'll be telling him how frustrated I am and he'll say simply: "Is this what you really want? Is this what you were born to do? If there was only one thing you could do with the rest of your life, what would it be?"

7. Whose thoughts are the most important?Are you waiting for the outside world to approve of you or your dream?Does it matter more what others think of you & your dreams, or is it you?Meditate for 100 breaths. See what you find inside.

8. A Plan For The Journey Forward Do a business plan - but not just a business plan. A plan for your greatest soul's desire. A map towards your truest heart's expression & your dream lifestyle.Plan it. Put it out there in the universe. And find out the path forward, seeing the trail on your newly defined map.

9. Time To Be Held Hold your dog/cat/bird/animal/mama earth. Let them love you, and remind you of every single way you are perfect.

10. Everything You Need, You Have Don't take this list for gospel. Right your own. Your own divine, wise, brave wisdom is the Gospel for your life. Inside you is an incredible Goddess, waiting to help you along your way. What does she want to say to you?All the answers you need are already inside. Write your very own list of Creative Dream Flight. You are the best expert on you. You are a Goddess. What do you want to say to the world?


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Five Minutes with Maggie- Ordinary Sparkling Moments

Ordinary Sparkling Moments: Reflections on Success and Contentment by Christine Mason Miller (

What does it mean to live authentically? Must you be a painter, a sculptor, or a poet to be creative? How do you find the wisdom in ordinary moments? Artist Christine Mason Miller poses these questions, among many others, in her book Ordinary Sparkling Moments: Reflections on Success and Contentment. She challenges her readers to identify those moments that are extraordinary in our everyday lives, and she shares moments from her ordinary life – while washing her dishes, for example – that she recognized to be profound and extraordinary.

Throughout the book, Christine's honesty and openness create a connection, a tie with the reader. The story is almost her autobiography – tracing her artistic roots through her successes and set backs – but there are profound nuggets of inspiration woven into her story.

Though the book is about personal growth, Christine doesn't instruct on how to live an authentic life; she carefully asks how you live authentically. She explores big themes: family, friendship, fulfilling our wildest dreams, overcoming setbacks. She asks: What do you value? What do you wish for? How do you manifest those things in your everyday, ordinary, and extraordinary life?
Beyond the story, each page, from the front to the back cover, is a splash of colorful inspiration. The mix of printed text with handwritten passages is like a visual playground with a mix of postcards, old photographs, new photographs, bits and scraps of colorful paper, and oodles of colorful designs. The book feels personal, like a glimpse into the artist's own journal or scrapbook. This darling little book is a must-read. It's a lovely bit of fuel for the creative fire, and though it's fairly short, it's packed full of inspiration, authenticity, and creativity. -Maggie Marton

Cindy's note: The sound of this book reminds me of SARK. I love anything that will inspire my creativity and give me a sense of contentment and peace, especially through art. I need a little kick in the pants once in a while, a book to keep me on track with positive thinking and working toward my goals. This is a must-read. I'm headed over to her site right now to buy it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A note...

Just letting you know that my computer was taken over by a deadly virus- I explain it all on

Its going to take me a day or two to get my bearings and download some new things and work on this new computer. So consider yourself warned - the XP Anti-Virus 2008 will kill your computer forever!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Five Minutes with Maggie...

The Bible Salesman tells the tale of twenty-year-old Henry Dampier, an adorably naïve and diligent boy who travels the South after World War II selling bibles door-to-door. Along the way he crosses paths with Preston Clearwater, a slick criminal who looks a little like Clark Gable and wins over Henry through a series of lies: he works for the FBI, he needs an assistant, he's breaking up a car-theft ring, can Henry drive? Excited by the possibility of being a real live G-man, Henry tags along and assists Clearwater while selling Bibles on the side. Along the way, we meet an eclectic mix of Southern characters, including a love interest for Henry, a roadside fruit stand girl named Marleen Green.

This story is as touching as it is humorous. Henry is loveable and trustworthy, and throughout the book, you can't help but smile and shake your head at his mistakes and triumphs. The book is broken up into sections that alternate between Henry's present – his adventures with Clearwater – and his religious upbringing. Peppered throughout the book are Bible passages that young Henry tries to decipher. His ongoing analysis of Biblical passages adds an extra hilarious, insightful layer that demonstrates the true depth of Henry's character.

Edgerton's stylistic writing captures the vibe of the post-war South. The dialogue especially evokes the dusty roads that traversed the South, in an era where men wore suits and hats, women did their chores in housedresses, and twenty-year-old boys were wide open to possibilities and the mysteries of love.--Maggie Marton


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Karen McCullah Lutz, The House Bunny

I love a good comedy. And when I see a movie written by Karen McCullah Lutz and her writing partner Kirsten Smith, I know it's going to be hilarious. I'm really looking forward to seeing The House Bunny. I have high expectations that I'm going to have cramps from laughing so hard.

Karen so kindly answered my interview questions...I always like to learn from those who are experts and Karen is a very accomplished screenwriter as well as a novelist. Plus she's from New Jersey which makes her super cool. Just don't tell her a fart joke.

Comedy is so subjective but you seem to nail it. How do you approach the comedic elements in your films? You are downright funny whereas some writers are just slapsticky or their brand of humor is for teenage boys.
I think you just have to be inherently funny. It's a hard thing to learn if you're not. I've seen people try and it's not pretty. But it's all about what you think is amusing. If you're trying to write dick jokes and you hate dick jokes, they're not going to be funny. Which is why I refuse to write fart jokes. Farting is not funny to me. I'm not saying i didn't laugh in 9th grade when Mike Kicinski farted during algebra -- I'm just saying that's the last time I think I laughed at someone farting.

I think what's important is to look for the opportunities for the funniest things your character can do, while still being true to her/himself and the funniest situations you can put those characters in.

The House Bunny looks great. I want to know how long it took to write the screenplay and what happened after you were finished it. Does the screenplay go out to actresses or producers?

The House Bunny took a few months to figure out the pitch and then about four months to write. Anna Faris pitched us the character -- a Playboy Bunny who's been kicked out of the Mansion, and then we spent a couple months figuring out where that character went from there and what the story was. We had another script idea about a house mother at a sorority and we were sitting in the lobby of the L'Hermitage Hotel when it occurred to me to wed the two ideas.
I blurted it out to Kirsten (my writing partner) and my manager Seth, and immediately, we knew we had the movie. We took it out as a pitch with Anna in the room with us doing lines we had written for her, and it sold to Happy Madison (Adam Sandler's production company) and Paramount. Paramount decided not to make it because they didn't have enough room on their slate for this summer, so Happy Madison immediately took it to Sony and got them to greenlight it.

I know your fans have been anxiously awaiting the movie version of your book, The Bachelorette Party. What's the scoop?
I'm confident that "The Bachelorette Party" will get made this year. I've got two studios who want to put it in production right away. It's just a matter of getting it back in turnaround from Fox where it was originally set up. This movie is going to be so fun to make, I'm worried that I will cease functioning as a normal human being while it's in production.

We all know what a director does but tell me how producing works. Can a screenwriter be brought on board to produce?

I'm only interested in producing what I write. But yes, often times screenwriters are brought in to supervise younger writers and break the story with them, and then are given producer credit.

Do you attend the premieres of your movies?

Yes, I go to all of my premieres. And Kirsten and I usually have an opening night party for all of our friends, because sadly, writers never get a lot of tickets to the premiere.

I read something about most movies are geared towards the male demographic. (just look at the summer films being released, where are the chick flicks?) Apparently producers don't think females go to the movies! Sex and the City proved that theory wrong. What are your thoughts?

Yes, I think it's definitely wrong to assume that only men go to movies. If that were true, I'd be living in a box under the freeway overpass. So cleary, that is an absurd thesis.

Do you ever worry that you will run out of ideas? Do you feel nervous about beginning a new project?

No, I am confident that I will never run out of ideas. I have far more ideas than time to write them, sadly. In fact, that's how I usually know that someone will never make it as a writer --when they ask me how to get ideas. If you don't have them, don't write. Go be an accountant.
If you're a creative person, ideas will burst out of you. You won't be able to stop them. You will find ideas in every painting you see, every conversation you have, every song you hear, every job you've had, every past life you've led, every love affair you have -- it's endless. Ideas are the easy part. Writing them down into a coherent script is the hard work. It cracks me up when some random yahoo says to me, "I have a great idea, you write it and we'll split the money". I literally want to smack those people. It takes ten seconds to come up with an idea. They're not getting half my paycheck for that. Are they high?
I have a thousand ideas for scripts sitting in files in my office. I probably only have 60 or so more years to live and I plan to be living on a vineyard in Tuscany for the last 30 of them, so uh, sorry crazy people, I don't need your ideas, nor will I give you money for them. I only wish I could stop spending three hours a day answering email, because then I would have more time to write, but i'm an email addict and that's never going to change.

What are some of the best and worst movies you've seen in 2008? And do you find that you are a harsh judge of films because of your screenwriting background?

Best and Worst Movies of 2008: Loved "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guanatanomo Bay" laughed my ass off. Am so jealous that i did not come up with the "jam out with your clam out" line. that made me spit out my soda.

"Stepbrothers" was kind of funny, fifteen minutes of solid laughs.

There was one comedy i really hated, but i can't name it for fear of alienating people I like.

I liked "Sex in the City" for the most part, but was a bit thrown that the biggest laugh in the movie was about Charlotte shitting her pants. Seemed beneath the franchise in some way. Scatalogical humor has never really amused me.

Did Semi-Pro come out in 2008? I was not a fan of that.

And yes, sometimes being a writer does ruin a movie for me, because I'm rewriting it in my head while I'm watching it if I don't enjoy what I'm seeing. Or else I can predict exactly where they're going, because I'm used to the plotting mechanism and know what studios want.

You and I are from the same small town area in New Jersey. Ever want to go back, have you been to your highschool reunions? Might I add that the Jonas brothers and Tara Reid also hail from Bergen County.

Yes, I did go to my 20th high school reunion. I went to Indian Hills High School in Oakland, NJ -- a very small town in Bergen County -- suburb to NYC -- and I worked in Wycoff at the local McDonald's. Our reunion was at the Radison in Paramus, right across the street from Paramus Park Mall, which I was very excited about as I'd spent every weekend of my adolescence there. I was so f'ing excited to eat a funnel cake in that food court ... but no, THERE ARE NO MORE FUNNEL CAKES AT PARAMUS PARK MALL!!! I was devastated.
And I'm pretty sure the wine we had at our reunion came out of box. It was not super tasty and I was very hungover the next day. But I did love seeing everyone, as it had literally been twenty years. I moved to Virginia about two weeks after I graduated high school.

The day after the reunion, I drove to Oakland and had a slice of Tony Brothers pizza. I'd been waiting twenty years to have that pizza again and I've gotta say -- it was well worth the wait.

Labels: ,

Five Minutes With Maggie...The Virgin's Lover

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

I must admit: I'm the only person I know who hasn't read The Other Boleyn Girl yet, and I haven't seen the movie either! Historical novels are never at the top of my reading list, but I picked up The Virgin's Lover, with no prior experience reading Philippa Gregory. Set in England, beginning in 1588, the novel opens at the dawn of Queen Elizabeth rising to the throne. The story opens with Amy, a young woman whose husband Robert has rushed to serve the newly anointed queen. Amy is confident in her marriage and the love they shared, and though her husband is ambitious, she trusts that Robert will always be faithful. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is struggling to own her power. She's afraid of making decisions and afraid of the impending war with France. She relies on Robert, her childhood friend, to guide her every step of the way. But Robert's ambition threatens not only his own marriage but also the queen's rule. As the queen entrusts Robert to be her friend and her ally, Robert sees this as his opportunity to fulfill his family's legacy. He tries to connive his way onto the throne, while Amy waits in the English countryside for her determined husband.

Gregory unravels the mystery of the relationship between Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth. Her writing instantly transports you back to England in the mid-1500s. She captures the elegance of court life and paints a vivid picture of the English farmland. Her writing is captivating, and though the book is a lengthy 438 pages, it's difficult to put it down once you get started!---Maggie Marton

I think this one is a must read, especially if you've seen the movie with Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth. It was because of Robert Dudley that she swore off men forever. (ed.note)


Friday, August 08, 2008

Screenwriting, novels...and my sloooow climb to success

So here's the deal. I've written four novels, one is published. I decided to test my hand at screenwriting so I took a class, studied books, read other screenplays- I've done all this obsessively. I watch movies to see how they are made, listening to the dialogue. I read other success stories and learn from those who have done it before. I take it all in like a sponge.

I adapted my Marilyn Monroe inspired novel into a screenplay called Fifty Cents for Your Soul. It's the sequel to my novel, A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss. I've been spending hours, HOURS online looking up and submitting to agents, managers, producton companies. Just FYI, here is the logline: ( a sentence summing up your screenplay)

After discovering that Marilyn Monroe faked her death, a struggling writer sets out to become famous and prove the legend is still alive.

It's a blend of drama, comedy, a touch of romance and most of all, some juicy roles for actresses of varying ages. I read all the time about actresses complaining about no good roles for women, especially older women and here you go. Mine has it all and then some. You know, not all of us want to watch Judd Apatow movies every other month, movies geared towards the male demographic ages 18-45. We don't all want to watch movies about stoners and loser bachelors cracking crude jokes while looking at porn.

When you are a new (book) writer and you are looking for resources, there are tons. Agent listings and sites directing you towards agents and what they want to represent and how to contact. There are always accomplished novelists willing to help out a newbie, offering advice and words of encouragement. Even major author Judy Blume wrote me back so many years ago when I began my novel writing. Ann Rule, queen of true crime drama, wrote me back too. Caroline Leavitt and Gayle Brandeis have been mentors to me, always giving me advice. Marta Acosta has been so helpful, Alison Winn Scotch is another writer who has been wonderful, there have been many fabulous writers out there who have guided or inspired me in one way or another.

You get the idea. Authors want to help other authors. And generally speaking, book writers are a very giving group and they understand what it's like to break in to the business. It's a nice sorority with an open door policy. Then you try screenwriting and that open door? Slammed. It's a ghost town.

You are on your own unless you have a pal in the business. Researching agents is more difficult because their preferences aren't clearly spelled out on nice websites with contact information like Producers want to look at material represented by an agent, not submitted by the writer. Looking for help is fruitless because everyone keeps to themselves. Successful screenwriters don't take the time to answer emails and offer encouragement. It's frustrating. I'm trying to think outside the box and work it from another angle. I'll take a chance and a risk and do things my own way, just to get noticed. But I haven't come up with any awesome ideas yet.

I thought because I wrote novels and screenplays that I'd be a marketable screenwriter. Not too many people do both since books and screenplays are two different species. I'm now under the impression that if an agent knows you write both, they are inclined to think you do neither well.

But I persevere beause what else can I do? I've wanted to be a screenwriter since I was a teenager. I have this creative brain that follows no logic but constantly imagines what-if scenerios. I am in my element when I am in the middle of writing and the words are pouring from my fingertips. I love the challenge of the screenplay, telling a story within only 120 structured pages. Imagining the thrill of my characters and words on the big screen keeps me going. Then imagine getting paid to do what I love? Yeah, I cannot give up. And if you're a writer and trying to succeed, then you can't give up either.

My big dream is to bring good novels to the big screen starting with my own. What can you do if you give up on your dreams? So even though the door to screenwriting success is tightly closed and locked, I'll keep knocking until the door is cracked open. Then I'll stick my size 7.5 Christian Louboutin (or Jimmy Choo) in there and kick open the door just enough to squeeze through. Maybe pushing Judd Apatow out of the way just a little while I'm at it.

Here is an inspiring clip of Randy Pausch. What he says around minute 3:09 keeps me going every day. Let his words inspire you too.

Labels: , , ,

Books I've been reading...

Here's a light hearted novel sprinkled with humor, Moonpies and Movie Stars by Amy Wallen. I have this on my shelf to be read- I started it while I was on a trip and have to finish it.

Jane Green is a great writer. I love her British humor. Her books are really popular and nearly every girl I know has read Jemima J.

Here's my favorite book this summer. I'm serious, I really liked it! Because I'm so familiar with Tori, having watched Beverly Hills 90210 since day one of the series, I felt like I knew Tori. I did meet her once at Kitson and I have friends who knew her when she owned her bed and breakfast. That makes us practically BFF!

This was an entertaining book that moved quickly, offering up details about growing up as a famous Spelling. I admit to watching Tori's show on the Oxygen channel. Now her mother Candy Spelling, she of the gift wrapping room, is penning a book of her own. Might she tell stories about Tori?

And coming in '09 is another book from Tori called Mommywood. I know I'll be reading it and loving every page!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New Summer books....

Check out these books, coming this summer to a bookstore near you....

In her stunning Grand Central debut, the New York Times bestselling and universally acclaimed author tells the beautiful, tragic and redemptive story of a woman who searches for meaning after her husband dies.

From "a Southern tale-spinning master" (Rocky Mountain News), a tender and hilarious new novel featuring scoundrels and innocents, car thievery and the holy book.

The new thriller by George Pelecanos, praised by Stephen King as "perhaps the greatest living American crime writer," is a powerful story of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal.

A brilliant novel of life alone in a foreign land - England - from an award-winning novelist celebrated for her "vivid, original, and always engaging" fiction.

A darkly comic novel in which a 40something mother mistakenly gets a terminal diagnosis but refuses to relinquish the spotlight when she's told it's a mistake.

As interior designer and part-time baker for Nick Pantalone's coffee shop, Laini thinks she can juggle two jobs and two men. Can she do it all or will she just get burned? Check out this witty third book in the Drama Queens series.

They say love hurts. I didn't think they meant it literally. . . . Meet Gillian Chang: A girl taking on the challenges of Spencer Academy in this second book in Shelley Adina's hip new All About Us series.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


Finally! I've been waiting and waiting for this movie. The trailer should be out soon and I'm looking forward to it. You know my particular passion is books being made into films. I'm nearly obsessed with it....especially the craft of screenwriting and taking an authors vision and seeing it unfold on the big screen with actors and visuals. I have very high expectations for this movie.

The book is one of the best that I've ever read. If you are one of the few people who haven't read the book, I suggest you get your hands on a copy soon. I don't know anyone who has read the book and hasn't loved it. I might have to reread it.
Here's a synopsis....
Set in South Carolina in 1964, the film is the moving tale of Lily Owens (Fanning) a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother (Burton). To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father (Bettany), Lily flees with Rosaleen (Hudson), her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Okonedo and Keys), Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping, honey and the Black Madonna.

The eagerly awaited movie trailer....