My kids and the movie theater

My friends’ kids are all about going to the movies. When watching TV and a preview for a movie comes on, they will say, “we have GOT to go see that!”

My kids, on the other hand, show…meh, no interest. It isn’t that they don’t watch movies. They do. Sometimes. But they are more likely to watch a 30-minute cartoon than a movie.

The last new release we took them to in the theatre was Tangled. That was in December of 2010. Yep, almost three years ago. Wow. Their friends, on the other hand, have seen Despicable Me 2, Turbo, Epic and who knows what else this summer alone.

boy moviesNow just because we haven’t seen a new release lately, doesn’t mean they haven’t been to the movie theatre. Every summer, our theatre offers summer movies. These are older movies and only cost $1 per person. This summer we saw Rio and Racing Stripes. Last year, it was Dolphin Tale, Rio, Charlotte’s Web and Alpha and Omega. I believe another summer, we saw Madagascar 2. Some years the selections are better than others. The nice thing about these movies is the price. You don’t feel like you are wasting money, even if you decide you have to leave early. And because they are meant for kids, other patrons don’t necessarily expect perfect theatre behavior.

The thing with Lexie and the movies is that it is always turns out the same. She is excited to go. She likes that I buy a kids pack (popcorn and soda) for her and Jase to share. But about halfway through the movie, it is always the same. “I want to go home.”

She either gets bored (Racing Stripes) or scared (Alpha and Omega). The funny thing is when the show is over, and she has made it to the end, she will tell you that she liked the movie. Does she have a desire to see it again or perhaps own the DVD? Nope.

Movies nowadays are expensive to go to and that is even with a matinee price, so I am not necessarily pushing my kids to go to the movies. But I do wonder if they are missing something by not going to the movies as often as their friends?

I guess until they start asking I will just enjoy saving money, knowing that one day they will catch up to their friends and start asking to see EVERY new movie out there.

Today’s Featured Author: Jennifer Garcia

I would like to welcome author Jennifer Garcia to my blog. She is promoting her book, My Mr. Manny, which comes out on August 27th.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m a wife, mother, business owner, full-time college student, and an author. I lead a very busy life, but, to tell you the truth, I accomplish so much more when I’m busy than when I’m not. My husband has taken the majority of the household duties on and has helped me immensely.  Rocco, my one hundred and eighty-five pound Mastiff, is my writing partner and keeps me company while I’m in my writing room.

Where were you born and where do you call home?  

Well, I’m a California implant, originally from a small coastal town in Northern Massachusetts. I have been in the Los Angeles area since I was sixteen, so, for about twenty-some-odd years.  

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Most likely, in my upcoming release, My Mr. Manny, Mia, the main character experiences the loss of her family from moving so far from home just like I did when I was sixteen. It is difficult to miss out on accomplishments, family gatherings, births, weddings, etc. My family still lives in the Boston area and they get to enjoy each other’s company while I get to see pictures and hear the latest from my mother. Mia goes through that as well, and tries really hard to keep them all together.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

My next project has been started but not put on paper yet. It’s a long mental process for me. However, I do have a couple of things that I fiddle with when I have time between projects. My first two books were written, mainly, for Open Calls. But a big story I’m working on is so out of my genre it’s scary, intimidating. It’s about a Los Angeles gang, one gang member and his lug life. However, when he goes to jail for murder, he learns he wants redemption. The jailhouse librarian teaches him all about Dante and The Divine Comedy and the MC finds himself in that world. There may be a little bit of romance in it, but it’s gritty and a lot of fantasy all wrapped up in this raw story.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas come from writing prompts or Open Calls. If I see something I think I can work with I begin writing it in my head.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?  

Outlines are definitely not for me; I’m much too lazy. However, I don’t just start writing either. It takes me time to write the story in my head, or at least several scenes. When I believe I have a good plot and a few scenes that work, I’ll start writing and let it flow from there. It’s unbelievable how the characters take over and write a lot of it.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release, In My Mother’s Footsteps by Forbes Arnone (a pseudonym) is about a girl that was raised solely by her mother. She yearned for a father all her life but was told he had died. However, about a year before her college graduation, her mother tells her she knows where her dad is and he’s not dead. Yeah, talk about betrayal. So, Anela, so angry with her mother for the lies and deceit, doesn’t speak to her ever again. But the mother dies eight months later from an aneurism. An incredible graduation gift from mother to daughter sends Anela to Hawaii to find her father and the journey really starts there. It’s a novella and can easily be read in one day.

What inspired you to write this book?

Again, I think the importance of family came to mind when I plotted this story. Not wanting to be alone and trying to find your place in this big world. It’s also set in Hawaii, which is one of my most favorite vacation spots and I was inspired by the aura of the island.

How did you come up with the title?

With Anela’s trip to Hawaii she is following in her mother’s footsteps, literally.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

My cousin’s husband was based at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. Since Anela’s father is in the Army, I needed to know all I could about those barracks and the Army itself. So I spoke with my cousin’s husband and also my nephew who was in the Army as well. They gave me a ton of info and I thank them so much for their help.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I love my main characters but Private Takata “Dragon” is my favorite. He is such a sweet boy, young man, but has some mental issues. His kindness and innocence just won me over.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

I think the black moment in the book is when Anela’s mother dies. Anela had no spoken to her in almost a year and the last time she did, it wasn’t pretty. Imagine living with the regret that you never get to say you’re sorry or make amends. Not only that but to have the only family member, your rock, just disappear. It was difficult, but since it’s a novella, I really tried to convey the pain but not make it the majority of the book.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I do, The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani.

What book are you reading right now?

I just finished, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Adriana Trigiani and Jane Austen would be my picks. Austen because there is so little knowledge about here out there and I’d love to know so much more about her. Also, I’d love to pick her brain. Adriana Trigiani, well, because I admire her immensely and get a lot of my inspiration to write from her. She’s an Italian American like me and I relate to her books so much. I’d love to know her. 

Book Description

My Mr MannyMia Balducci misses her childhood days and yearns for the big, Italian family that she left behind in small town Massachusetts. At the tender age of sixteen, Mia moves with her bachelor father to Los Angeles, but no matter how many years pass, it never becomes home to her. The years spent living with her father aren’t easy, especially since she can’t stop thinking about what she once had. Her enrollment in the University of Southern California promises to bring exciting changes to her life, but Mia winds up with big problems instead. When she runs into an old friend from her old hometown of Winthrop, she gets swept up in nostalgia, and she soon loses herself in a quickly-progressing romance. When the fantasy falls apart, she is left to raise her precious little girl, Lucia, on her own. The demands of Mia’s work schedule and Lucia’s needs increase, and their lives become increasingly hectic. It is soon clear to Mia that she needs help. Luckily, her life-saving cousin saves the day and brings the mother and daughter a male nanny – their new “manny.”

After losing his high-pressure job on Wall Street, Dominic Roberts wants to follow his dreams to have a family. He’s already one fiancée down, and there are no likely prospects for another. In order to find the family he so desperately wants, he finds himself getting into the manny business. Since he is fully qualified to provide child care and is eager to leave New York City behind, his sister-in-law is able to land him a job in California working for his first client – the beautiful and intriguing Mia Balducci.

Will Lucia like the new man in her mother’s life? Will Mia? And will this new trio discover the happily ever after they all so desperately seek?

About the Author

Jennifer GarciaJennifer Garcia’s (aka Forbes Arnone) love of travel began when she went to the West Coast to visit her father at the age of three. Her home until she was sixteen was a small coastal town near Boston. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Her lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, will be published August 27, 2013.

You can find out more about Jennifer on her blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase In My Mother’s Footsteps on Amazon and don’t forget to check out My Mr. Manny when it comes out later this month.

Tips for choosing your novel’s title

I have written before about how important your cover is but even more important is the title you give your masterpiece. Choosing the title for your book can be one of the hardest decisions. You want the title to be catchy enough to intrigue a reader and short so it doesn’t fill up the entire front cover. Your title is part of the overall impression about the book. It sets the tone and creates an expectation.

In other words, the title is VERY important and you shouldn’t just pick the first title you can think of. You need to spend a lot of time making sure you have the best title. Remember the title is a sales tool. It allows the reader to know something about your book. Your title needs to paint a picture for your prospective reader. 

Now some people know their titles when they begin writing, but others wait to complete their work before deciding on a title. Either way works as long as the title is appropriate.

Here are a few tips about selecting a title.

Length – choose a short title – preferably six words or less. It might help to pretend the title will be on a billboard. Would a driver going 65+ miles per hour be able to glance over and comfortably read it? Besides not taking up a lot of room on the cover, short titles are easier to remember.

Make it easy to pronounce – Shy away from foreign or made-up words because these don’t give the person picking up your book any idea of what it is about. A title won’t tug at the reader if they can’t pronounce or understand the words.

Make it relevant – Ensure that your book title actually has something to do with what’s between the covers. Readers don’t like to be tricked.

See how popular the title is – Go onto Amazon and type in your title. See how many other books come up with that same title. Yes, I know you can’t necessarily have a name that no one has used before but if tons of books come up with the same name, you may want to consider something a little more unique. There are lots of books called The Search, but I went ahead and named my short story this because it fit the book so well.

SummonedFINALI will say that when I wrote my first book, I had plans to call it The Elemental. But when I finished it and realized the story would become a trilogy, I switched the title to the name of the whole trilogy. It didn’t take me long to decide Summoned was a good title. Hey, it is short, easy to pronounce, very relevant and when searched on Amazon, there were not many books with just the world Summoned.

So when deciding on your title – take your time and choose one that will help you sell your book. If you want more tips on how to select your title, check out this website.

Unknown allergies are hard on everyone

As I have mentioned numerous times on this blog, my daughter Lexie has allergies to many, many things. They have done blood tests to determine some of those items, but a lot of our discovery is just by trying something.

Sometime last year, we looked down at Lexie’s legs as she sat at the dining room table. There were little red spots on her legs. We were unsure what they were but thought maybe they were bug bites she had scratched. You see scratching and Lexie go hand in hand. She has eczema and scratches a lot. Many of her allergies don’t cause nasal congestion or hives.  They cause her to scratch.

CIMG1960Anyway, back to the story. The red spots went away, and we didn’t think about it again. Those same red spots didn’t reoccur until this June. When Lexie came back from a backyard Bbile camp at a neighbor’s house her legs were covered in red spots again. We thought it might be because they were outside (she is allergic to grass) or possibly something in their house. This time the red spots didn’t go away as fast. In fact, almost two weeks later, they were still looking bad, so we made an appointment with the allergist.

The allergist took one look at them and decided we need to use an oral steroid to clear them up. She also prescribed an antibiotic. It took a good 6-7 days before the spots cleared up.

All seemed good until a Friday morning in July. I recall that on Thursday night Lexie’s eczema on her legs was flaring, and I told my husband that we would need to watch it. Friday morning we were bowling. At the alley, I looked at her legs. They were covered in red spots. This time it wasn’t just her legs but also her bottom too. By Saturday, she had them on her arms, back and face.

We tried treating them with the prescription hydrocortisone medicine the dermatologist had prescribed for her eczema and used antihistamines prescribed by the allergist. Lexie wasn’t really uncomfortable but her legs especially looked horrible, so we decided to take her to the doctor on Monday.

CIMG1959At our pediatrician’s office, you can get same-day  appointments, but you rarely see your doctor. Many of the other doctors know Lexie, but we ended up with a doctor we had not seen before. By the time we had made the appointment, I had already spent time sitting down and trying to recreate where we had been the few days before each instance. It was then I found the connection – the bowling alley. We had gone there the morning of Backyard Bible Camp. I first noticed the spots this time at the bowling alley. Even the spots we saw last year might be from our trip to the bowling alley because we had gone around then.

I don’t know if it is the disinfectant on the shoes, what they clean the alley with, floor treatment or what, but I feel certain that it is something at the bowling alley causing these outbreaks. The doctor agreed that it was probably allergies. When I said I had taken her to the allergist last time it happened he asked if they had diagnosed what she was allergic to. Obviously, he doesn’t know Lexie.  When he heard about her allergies, he asked if she ate anything that day at the bowling alley. She had pretzels from home. Of course, she tested allergic to wheat, so he thinks that it could have been that she had TOO many pretzels. Yeah. Right. She eats pretzels almost every day. Why hadn’t she broken out in the past 532 days of pretzel eating? He talked about body thresholds and allergies which I already know just through my own experiences with her. She can eat a little of some items, but if she eats too much, then she does itch. But this was the only food she had had that morning. And since the last incident happened at the bowling alley (without pretzels) I am sure it is something there.

He prescribed oral steroids and another ointment to try on the spots. After six days, the spots faded. He didn’t prescribe an antibiotic, and I wish he had. Whenever she scratches a lot, infections generally occur, and she did develop one on her leg.

So now we have resolved that we just won’t go bowling – or at least not this summer. The doctor had suggested some precautions – wearing long pants, taking steroids before we go, wiping down anything she might touch with Clorox wipes and bringing a blanket for her to sit on – before we go bowling again, but I don’t think I want to take the risk.

The hardest thing is everyone seems to think that finding out what caused an allergic reaction should be easy. But it isn’t. The allergist knows this. Tons of articles online reiterate this point. But some doctors, friends and family all seem to think that it should be easy to discover. You come in contact with so many different substances in the day, how do you narrow down what caused the reaction, especially when the reaction can happen minutes or even hours later? All of her food allergies usually happen within 30 minutes but none so far have happened instantly.

Today’s Featured Author: Aria Glazki

Today, I welcome to my blog romance author Aria Glazki. In addition to fiction, Aria recently released a collection of poetry, Life Under Examination. Today she is sharing a guest post on including sex scenes in your novel. Sounds interesting!

Guest Post:

Shifting the Spotlight on the Deed

Sex.  There, I’ve said it.  Is the awkwardness over?

As a collective, writers have broached all topics through their characters, from intimate bodily functions, to horrifying glimpses into criminal minds, to the excruciating reality of chronic illness, and more.  Yet, somehow, many of us still struggle with writing about one of the most basic human experiences: sex.  This affliction is so common among writers that we even have the “Bad Sex in Fiction” awards. 

For many, the idea of writing a sex scene leads to either literary paralysis or a sense of obligation.  Sex described euphemistically or kept behind closed doors is frequently treated as old-fashioned or prudish.  In other cases, writers fear that sex scenes between their characters will be interpreted as a literary representation of the author’s own sexual experiences, and preferences.  Perhaps worse still are the detailed yet disengaged reports of what went where and when.

So when and how should a writer include sex in a novel?  I don’t claim to be an expert, but in my mind the answer is deceptively simple: it’s all about the characters.

In a fundamental way, sex scenes are not unique; they do not differ from every other scene that we write.  The scene should offer a glimpse into the characters, advancing the main character’s (or characters’) development and furthering the plot.  Otherwise, it is useless – just like any other scene which doesn’t meet at least one of these basic requirements.

What writers need to accept is that sex in fiction isn’t about the mechanics or even the writer.  It’s about the people involved: the characters.  Like everything else we write, sex scenes should be about opening a window into the minds and experiences of our characters, transplanting the reader into that moment in a meaningful way. Depending on the characters involved, this portrayal could be explicit, euphemistic, or a veil of hints.  We should feel no more pressured to include the particulars of physical intimacy than required to avoid them.  

At the same time, we as writers do have an obligation: to write as openly and deliberately about sexuality, and every way it affects our lives, as we do about the rest of the human experience.  Each encounter should be about staying true, not to abstract questions of morality, but to the characters who have been granted life through our words.  

By thus refocusing our priorities, we ensure that our stories and characters transcend the page, sex and all. 

About the Author

Aria Glazki’s writing story starts with one of those cliché beginnings when an English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked!  Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, completed her Creative Writing degree, been published a few more times, and of course spent countless hours writing.  After a brief hiatus, Aria was a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, which re-inspired her to pursue writing as a career.

A. Glazki Small CoverAria’s latest release is the award-winning poetry collection Life Under Examination, which explores the gamut of interpersonal relationships.

You can purchase Life Under Examination on Amazon and Smashwords.

You can connect with Aria on her blog, Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.