Alex & Emma: A Movie Review September 25, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
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Alex & Emma is an enchanting romantic comedy. The description on the back cover of the DVD says it well: “Publish or perish! Alex has just 30 days to finish his romance novel and collect his writing fee—money he owes to loan sharks threatening his life. So stressed-out Alex hires Emma to be his stenographer and discovers she’s opinionated, direct, a cause of exasperation . . . and a source of inspiration.”
The description leaves out that Alex (Luke Wilson) has writer’s block, hasn’t even started the novel and is living in a dumpy apartment. The loan sharks hang him outside his second-story window by his legs and burn his laptop on the gas stove to encourage him to get the money he owes them.
Without a laptop, Alex is forced to hire a stenographer, luring her in with a false ad that he works at a law office.
Emma (Kate Hudson) shows up at the door and immediately realizes this isn’t a law office and is about to leave when anxiety-ridden Alex faints. She drags him back into his apartment by his feet—what decent person would just leave him collapsed in the hallway? she reasons. When he awakens, Alex shows her his hardcover, published novel to convince her that he really is a writer in need of her services as a stenographer.
Emma picks up the book, looks at his photo on the back cover, then immediately turns to the last page to see if she likes the ending. Alex is dismayed that anyone would read the end first. Emma explains she doesn’t want to waste time reading a book if it doesn’t have a good ending—thus the fun begins.
The fun affair between Alex and Emma takes place both in the contemporary world and in the 1920s world of the novel Alex is writing with Emma’s not-always-wanted input.
As Alex writes, we learn about his past struggles to find happiness and love. In the end we wonder if Alex will make the same mistakes with Emma that he made in the past or if he is willing to move forward?
For a writer, the book is especially enjoyable. The movie gives an insight into Alex’s writing process and his struggles against his own insecurities that blocks his creative flow. The viewer sees how the world of the book is shaped, the changes made to the characters and plot, and the struggles an author goes through to find the best ending.
For a fun evening, see Alex & Emma. It’s full of wit, imagination and will make you laugh and feel good about the absurdities and complexities of life.
If you’re a writer, have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you get over it? Is Alex’s process of writing a novel similar to yours or different? In what ways? Do you work well under pressure and deadlines or does that make it worse?
By Heidi Skarie, author of Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. Visit my website at www.heidiskaie.com and sign up for my newsletter and to receive a free short story.
Here is the book trailer.
Thought Provoking Movie: If I Stay August 31, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Movie reveiew.
Tags: Chloe Grace Moretz, Gayle Forman, If I Stay movie review, Jamie Blackley, near-death experience, out-of-body, YA romance
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If I Stay is based on a best-selling young adult novel by Gayle Forman. High-school girls are its primary target audience, but both my husband and I enjoyed it.
It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl, Mai Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) who has a loving family and wonderful boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley) who’s in a band. She’s a talented cello player, but is socially inept . She’s looking forward to a life with lots of possibilities when she’s in a serious car accident with her entire family. Mai’s badly injured and finds herself out-of-her-body, looking at the accident. Her body is rushed to the hospital and she goes along and sees herself being operated on. After the operation one of the nurses tells Mai’s unconscious body to fight to live, but Mai doesn’t know how to do that.
After her operation, she is concerned about her parents and little brother and looks for them in the hospital. The viewer discovers as she does which of her family members have died. The viewer also learns about her boyfriend, friends and grandparents as people gather at the hospital.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks while Mai’s body is unconscious. We learn how she and Adam met and fell in love, about her parents, grandparents and friends and her desire to go to Julliard in New York.
The movie was well done with an interesting plot and great acting. I especially liked the musical element. Mai’s father was in a band and was surprised when she became interested in playing the cello at a young age. Her parents were supportive of her talent even though they didn’t understand where she got her love of classical music. In the movie we hear both her cello playing and Adam’s band. We see how music can uplift and enrich people’s lives.
I liked the premise of the story where a person has to make the decision to stay in this physical world with all its pain and happiness or move on to the next world. The author explores what it might be like to be seriously injured and watch your body operated on. It shows the confusion a person might feel after an accident and the deep sorrow that might make a person decide they wanted to die.
I’ve read many stories about near-death experiences and there are many accounts of people who do see their own body at an accident and/or on the operating table. This story didn’t explore Mai going toward the light, or into a tunnel, or meeting loved ones on the other side. Mai was out-of-her-body but still in the physical world. Its focus was more on her life and whether she should “fight to live” or go on.
The story explores the sacrifices necessary to become really good at something.Mai spends hours every day playing the cello, though she plays more out of love than self-discipline. Her father enjoyed being in a band and also had talent, but he made the sacrifice of giving up being in the band to become a teacher and support his children. He then discovered he loved teaching and was happy with his choice.
The movie also explores the many options we have in life. In one scene Mai’s not sure what direction to go in as she and her mother stand at the sink doing dishes. Her mother tells her whatever choice she makes is a good one or there could be yet another path she might follow that would be equally good.
Another theme is of unconditional love: both the love between Mai and her family and between Mai and Adam. Mai’s father sells his musical instrument to buy a cello for his daughter. Mai and Adam also have to decide what sacrifices they are willing to make for their relationship.
At the end of the movie Mai has to make the final decision to: to stay or go.
What choices do you make daily? Do you live life to its fullest? What sacrifices have you had to make to do what you love, or support someone you love?
Do you think people have a choice to live or die when they are in serious accident or have a serious illness? Have you ever had a near-death experience? I’d love to hear your stories.
Below is the trailer of If I Stay.
Check out my webstite at http://www.bluestarvisions.com
Tags: novels, short stories, TC Boyle, the difference between a short story and a novel, Wild Child, writing
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I write novels and have extensively studied the complexities of how to write one. I’m less familiar with the structure of short stories, so I did some research to figure how a short story is different from a novel.
The obvious difference between a novel and a short story is that short stories are short and novels are long. Short stories can be 1,000 to 20,000 words. More average is 3,000 to 5,000 words. A novel can be anywhere from 60,000 to over 120,000.
A short story has one main character and the story is told through that character’s point of view. Often it is told in first person or limited first person. A novel has a cast of characters and the story can be told from any of those characters’ viewpoints.
The main character of a short story has a need or fear that leads to a major change or climactic event in that person’s life. The protagonist comes to a single understanding or insight. A novel is much more complex with many transformational events that more than one characters can go through.
A short story usually takes place in a few hours or days in few settings. A novel can take place over a short period of time or it may cover years or generations in many different settings, countries and even planets.
A short story has one theme, whereas a novel can explore different themes and has more breadth and scope.
Each story form has different challenges. The short story gives the author a chance to explore one idea with one character. It must be written so that it is tight and a lot conveyed in an economy of words. The first draft may be written in one setting and rewritten and edited in a short period of time. However, the limitation on the number of words in itself can be a challenge. How do you make a reader care about the character in so few pages? How do you make an emotional impact?
The novelist has time to explore characters, different settings, subplots and sweeping events. The commitment to write a novel is much larger and it may take years to research, write, rewrite and edit.
While researching the difference between short stories and novels I came across a YouTube of TC Boyle reading The Lie from his anthology Wild Child: And Other Stories. The story is delightful to listen to and quite engaging. I found myself thinking—no don’t say that! I can’t believe you just said that. What were you thinking?
The Lie illustrates all the qualities of a good short story discussed above. It’s well worth listening to.
Here is the YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-nwoMJTung
I’d enjoy hearing your impressions of The Lie. Did you find yourself identifying with the main character? Did you laugh? Have you ever told a lie that led you to more lies?
If you’d like a copy of my short story Star Rider Emerges, click over to my website and sign up for my newsletter. Here is a link: bluestarvisions
The Boy Who Lived Before May 28, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Past lives.
Tags: children and past lives, past lives, reincarnation, YouTube of past life
Do you believe we have more than one life? I recently ran across a YouTube about a Scottish boy named Cameron who, as a toddler, talked regularly about being a “Barra Boy”. Barra is a small island that is part of the British Islands and has a population of one thousand. Cameron remembered living in a one-story white house and knew his family name was Robertson. He kept insisting that his family missed him and that he needed to go back to Barra to see them.
Cameron told his mother that he used to be in Barra and then he “fell through to you.” He added that it was okay to die because you come back as someone else.
After three years of Cameron talking about his life on Barra, his mother Norma decided to bring him there. She was accompanied on the trip by a man who studies children’s past life memories.
I think you’ll enjoy the YouTube, which also shares the story of a young child named Gus who said he was his grandfather. His mother didn’t believe in reincarnation but Gus knew things about his grandfather that he had no way of knowing. Once she overheard him saying to a friend, “I used to be big and I got to come back. God gave me a ‘ticket’. I came through a porthole. I was big and came through the porthole and was small again.”
Do you have any experiences that could be past life memories? Have you ever heard a toddler talking about when he was big?
You can view the YouTube here:
Finding Neverland, movie review March 21, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Movie reveiew.
Tags: Dusty Hoffman, Finding Neverland, J. M. Barrie, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Peter Pan, Radha Mitchell
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The movie stars Johnny Depp (without his pirate costume) who plays Barrie, Dusty Hoffman, Kate Winslet, and Radha Mitchell. The movie takes place in London and opens with Barrie peering behind the curtain to see the audience’s reaction to his play on opening night. He’s disappointed to discover it isn’t well received.
Barrie goes to a Kensington Garden to write. While there he meets four young boys, including one named Peter, and their mother. Barrie and the family soon become friends and get together regularly. While Barrie plays make-believe games with the boys, such as pirates or cowboys and Indians, he is able to visualize the fantasy world they’re creating.
The boys’ father recently died of cancer and soon their mother becomes ill. Barrie becomes a father figure to the boys and provides financial support.
Meanwhile, Barrie’s marriage is falling apart as he spends more and more time enjoying this new family and less time with his already estranged wife.
The story shows how Barrie’s friendship with the boys inspired him to write a play about a group of boys who don’t want to grow up and led to the creation of Peter Pan. But the story isn’t just about the creation of a beloved, timeless story. It’s about young boys dealing with the loss of their father and a sick mother.
After viewing the movie, I did some research and discovered the basic story is true. Barrie supported the family financially, did become a father figure for the boys, he did have a Saint Bernard dog, and his interactions with the boys did inspire Peter Pan. A few things differed, such as Barrie met the boys in the park and became friends with them before he met their mother at a dinner party. Their father was still alive when Barrie met them and there were five Davies boys, not four.
The idea of a gang of boys who never grew up was inspired by Barrie’s thirteen-years-old brother who died in a skating accident when Barrie was six. This trauma contributed to Barrie only growing to 4’10” and he never completely grew up.
In conclusion, the movie captures a world full of fairies, pirates, children who can fly and the magic of Peter Pan through the author’s imagination.
Old and young alike will enjoy this delightful, creative movie.
Why do you think Peter Pan became such a well-loved story? What elements make it timeless?
“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. “ – J.M. Barrie, from his novel The Little Minister (1891)
Interview with Virginia McClain author of Blade’s Edge February 23, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
Tags: Blade's Edge, fantasy, fantasy art, Juan Carlos Barquet, Virginia McClain
Book Review: Star Rider, On the Razor’s Edge January 31, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
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Interview with Iva Kenaz, author of The Witch Within January 30, 2015Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized.
Tags: book interview, fantasy, Iva Kenaz, spirituality
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I just finished reading The Witch Within and greatly enjoyed the main character’s journey both physically and spiritually. The following is an interview with the author.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been fascinated with storytelling since childhood. I wrote many simple hand-written books and in my teenage years I wrote a three-part novel about past lives. I often had repetitive dreams and visions in which I experienced stories from another person’s point of view and felt compelled to note them down. I keep returning to these dreams for inspiration. Writing is something very magical and sacred to me. I believe that it’s a divine communication between the author and the worlds beyond.
What is The Witch Within about and what is the major theme?
The Witch Within is set in 16th century Bohemia and is about a sixteen-year-old gifted healer, Talitha who has been charged with witchcraft.
Talitha escapes to the abandoned Cursed Lands and seeks the ancient cave of her ancestors where her grandmother lived. In the mystical woods, she starts to remember her ancestral lore of healing and magical symbolism and receives guidance on how to survive from the local spirits. But then she is captured by two men who were sent to bring her back to the local justice. One is a brute, but the other one is fatally attracted to her.
After Talitha manages to escape them, she finds her ancestral cave, but also another one at the highest peak of the forest where a group of refugee women have established a camp. By facing both the dark and bright side of her kin, Talitha learns that what she thought was her curse, may yet become her gift.
The major theme is survival, both in physical, emotional and spiritual sense. It’s about overcoming one’s fears and limitations and becoming empowered using primordial inner wisdom.
What kind of research did you do for the book? What made you pick the 16th century in South Bohemia?
The story is inspired by repetitive dreams and visions I used to have and partly by a book called The Secret History of Czech Lands (by A.Cesal,O.Dvorak and V.Matl) that focuses on the long-gone mysteries of my home country.
During the 16th century the witch-hunts became more serious all over Europe but I decided on that period mainly symbolically, as the story is made up and thus remains a fantasy.
I was also inspired by the beautiful magnetic countryside of South Bohemia, particularly mountain Kleť, which could translate to Cursed or Mountain of Curses. In the middle ages many landscapes of South Bohemia were feared and some of them even drowned under lakes and ponds. People considered them cursed and haunted, however, those places had rich pagan history and concealed the wisdom of Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes.
How does Talitha, the main character, grow and change in your book from her experiences?
Talitha starts off as a gifted healer but she has a very low-self esteem and feels guilty about the death of her brother. She believes that her choice of herbs caused his death. It’s only once she manages to heal one of her captors that she realizes she is truly able to save lives.
Eventually, she also becomes initiated in the magical and healing power of runes and a part of her soul that used to be conscious of such ancestral mysteries begins to re-unite with her present self.
Her spirit is also greatly tested by the shadow side of magic but in the end Talitha learns to understand that the witch within her might not be a curse but an actual virtue.
What writing project are you working on now?
I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within that focuses on Talitha’s granddaughter, Berkana, and delves deeper into the mysteries of the natural spirit, runes and sacred geometry.
Iva Kenaz’s Bio.
I’m an indie author and a devoted student and practitioner of Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Tarot, Runes and Channeling. My novels are mainly visionary/metaphysical and are greatly influenced by spirituality, symbolism and philosophy.
In June 2014 I published my first novel The Witch Within and later that year also a personal confession titled My Melancholic Diary. I studied screenwriting at a film university in Prague, FAMU and MA Creative Writing at London South Bank University. Currently, I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within as well as doing a research for my non-fiction book about archetypes in storytelling.
Here is Iva Kenzaz’s website.