Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"A 'Gone With The Wind' Anniversary"

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the publishing of my all-time favorite book (and my husband's), Margaret Mitchell's classic, romantic drama, "Gone With The Wind." It was published on June 30, 1936 by MacMillan Publishing Company.

The epic story of "Gone With The Wind" was Margaret Mitchell's first and only published book, and it took her over ten years to write it. Sadly, she died when she was hit by a speeding automobile while attempting to cross the street; some say it is because she stepped out into the road without looking. She had confessed for years that she had a feeling that she was going to die in an automobile accident someday. How tragic that her own prophecy was fulfilled.

"Gone With The Wind", which is the story about the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigant plantation owner, and her struggles during the American Civil War and Reconstruction, has sold over 30 million copies and has also won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

In 1939, David O. Selznick went on to produce the blockbuster version of "Gone With The Wind", starring: Vivien Leigh; Clark Gable; Olivia de Havilland; Leslie Howard; Alicia Rhett; Thomas Mitchell; Barbara O'Neil; Ellen Keyes; Anne Rutherford; George Reeves; Fred Crane; Hattie McDaniel; Butterfly McQueen; and Oscar Polk. Some of the notable Oscar awards won by/nominated for that film and some of the actors/actresses are:

  • Won — Vivien Leigh — Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Won — Hattie McDaniel — Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Won — Victor Fleming — Best Director

  • Won — Sidney Howard — Best Writing, Screenplay

  • Nominated — Clark Gable — Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Nominated — Olivia deHavilland — Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Nominated — Max Steiner — Best Music, Original Score

  • Nominated — Thomas T. Moulton (Samuel Goldwyn SSD) — Best Sound, Recording

  • and finally...
  • Won — Gone With The Wind — Best Picture

If you have not read this book, you are missing the most wonderful book ever written. Every page is filled with action, adventure, drama and sometimes even romance. Trust me — you are not going to want to put this book down. It is so much better than the movie ever dreamed of being, and if you want to learn how to write so that you can keep your readers spellbound, then this is the guide you should follow.

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please check out my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Cynde's Tuesday Morning Book Review"

As an aspiring writer who had lost over 100 pounds through diet and willpower myself, I was very anxious to read Kathryn Lilley’s debut novel entitled “Dying To Be Thin: A Fat City Mystery”. I am pleased to report that I am delighted with the story, and as an added bonus, the diet tips that she offered throughout the book were authentic, helpful and even witty.

Smart, pretty, and plus-sized Kate Gallagher accepted an assignment working freelance for a small, local television station in Durham, North Carolina after losing both her job and her boyfriend in the span of a week while still living in her hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

Then, instead of starring exclusively in a television special about her transformation from “a beast” to “a beauty”, she would now also have to work undercover to get the scoop on who, only a day after her arrival, had murdered Dr. Hoffman, the diet guru in charge of the weight-loss clinic where Kate would be staying.

Depicting Kate as desirable to the men in this story, even though she was quite a bit overweight, was an enchanting surprise. Not only does it amaze Kate that they would see her as attractive, but at the same time, to portray obese individuals in such a positive light is a welcome departure from the norm.

The action in this captivating mystery is fast-paced with no questions left unanswered at the end, plus it kept me guessing “whodunit” all the way through until almost the last, agonizing minute, which is unusual for me. In addition to that, the characters are likeable as well as entertaining, and I am looking forward to reading the next Kate Gallagher mystery, which is entitled “A Killer Workout”.

Before I forget, I have to tell you about another one of my favorite parts of “Dying To Be Thin”. Kathryn has added a cute little section to the back of the book called “Glossary of Durham Dieters’ Terms”. This glossary includes words and phrases with their definitions, including my choice for the two cutest ones, which are:

BSP = Born Skinny Person ~and~ WCP = Weight Challenged Person

In conclusion, I think that this is an excellent debut book for Kathryn Lilley. I enjoyed every word of it and I think you would, too. If you don’t go out and buy it, you’ll be missing out on a well-written, light-hearted mystery, and if you do purchase it, you’ll be so glad that you did. Thank you.


To win a free copy of Kathryn Lilley's debut novel entitled:

"Dying To Be Thin: A Fat City Mystery"

all that you need to do is

answer the following question correctly:

What is the name of Kathryn Lilley's new book that is being released in 2009?

The contest ends at midnight on Sunday, 12 July 2009. The winning name will be selected from all the correct entries received. (Please be sure to include your email address or the url for your blog with your entry, so that I can get in contact with you in the event that you are the winner.) Best Wishes to all of you!

Please submit your entries here

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Writer's Image Prompt!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There are a lot of great writers out there that tune in to this blog, but never chime in. I'm going to post a little story to go with this image prompt and hopefully some of you will feel comfortable enough to critique it. I know it's missing a lot, so please feel free to flex your "editing muscles." I don't take criticisms as personal attacks--I see them as learning tools. Have fun!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One day a girlfriend of mine from school told me that she thought my parents looked like they must have come from Hollywood, and I cried my eyes out. However, as I watched them with their arms around each other that morning, I could see what she was talking about.

My father was a well-muscled man who stood six feet four inches tall, with an olive-colored complexion, and a head full of thick, wavy, dark brown hair. He had hooded, dark brown eyes; deep dimples on both cheeks; and a cleft chin that finished off his classic movie star looks to a tee.

By contrast, my mother was like a porcelain-skinned doll, with thick masses of golden-blonde locks that hung down past her slender waist. Her heavily-lashed, big blue eyes were a perfect compliment to her rose-colored, heart-shaped lips that were drawn into an inevitable smile whenever my father entered the room.

"It's a beautiful day for a picnic, honey," my mother had said, smiling up into my father's twinkling eyes. "Want to pack a lunch and take the kids somewhere special?"

"I think that would be a great idea, sweetheart”, he had answered. "Ruth can help you get Amanda and Miranda ready while I call the office and tell them that I won't be in today. Then we'll head out for Moon Rock Park."

I could not believe my ears! Daddy was going to play hooky from the corporate law firm that he worked in and spend the day with Mommy, my twin and me. That also meant that my mother was taking time off from writing her next book, which was something she almost never did. My heart was racing so fast that I felt dizzy as I ran up the stairs to tell my sister. The horrible butterflies that I always got in my stomach at the mention of Moon Rock Park had returned, but I had decided that it was best to keep that to myself.

"Miranda! Hurry up and get dressed! Daddy is taking us on a picnic," I said, pulling her bedcovers down to the bottom of the bed, which in turn caused her to shiver and dive back under the covers again.

Miranda always liked to stay in bed until Ruth, our mother's office assistant, came and helped her to get dressed. Ruth was quite a bit younger than our mother, but she was still too old to play with us, so we just settled for thinking of her as our aunt or maybe even an honorary older sister, because she was part of the family now. I didn't let her help me get dressed anymore. I thought it was high time we should be getting ready by ourselves! After all, we were seven years old; we weren't babies anymore!

Presently, there was a knock at our bedroom door. "Come on in” I said.

Ruth entered and smiled sweetly at me. "Good morning, Mandy," she said, as she kissed me on the cheek. She always smelled of vanilla, and her happiness to see us appeared to be genuine. "Is Randy awake yet?"

"Yes, and the little mole has been waiting for you," I answered in a sing-songy voice. Ruth smiled as her ritual with Randy began.

An hour later, we were well on our way, having left Ruth in charge of our home, while she also finished editing and typing rewrites, the station wagon was loaded with goodies, and as Randy colored in her coloring book, I contented myself by looking out the window, watching the world fly by.

My butterflies were gradually getting stronger the closer we got to the park. The doctor they had sent me to for counselling said that, even though I had always loved picnics, I must resent all the attention that Miranda was getting during our family get-togethers, to the point that it made me anxious, but that wasn't it at all! I tried to tell him that it had something to do with Moon Rock Park. He wouldn't listen to me, but I know I'm right!

"Are you positive that it's safe for us to go to the park, David?" Mother had whispered to my father.

"According to the newspapers, those disappearances were hoaxes”, he answered.

"Yes, but you know how our Government is. They cannot be trusted to give the full story, can they? she asked.

"It's so hard to tell. The Government's findings are so thorough and believable, yet that family's story about their loved ones' vanishing was so compelling. I'm just not sure what to believe, Cathy," he said, frowning.

"Maybe we should take them somewhere else, and then we won't have to worry if the reports were truthful or not", she replied.

"And disappoint the twins when that's their favorite place to go in the entire world?" he asked. "We've taken the girls to that park dozens of times and nothing bad has ever happened. But, hey, if you want some headline-seeking news hound who sees aliens behind every tree to run our lives, then..." His voice trailed off, and then he glared at my mother. I was shocked at how mean he could be sometimes.

"I didn't mean it in that way, David," my mother said, as she retrieved her embroidered handkerchief from her purse. With small, dainty motions, she dabbed at the tears that had stolen their way down her flawless cheeks, plus the ones that were threatening to spill from her huge, azure eyes, while my father fought hard to keep his gaze on the road instead of on her exquisite profile, like he had wanted.

"I'm sorry, honey," he pleaded. "I knew exactly what you meant. It's just that it's so seldom that I have a day off with you and the girls, and I wanted to make it memorable, if we can." He reached over, squeezed her hand, and then they smiled at each other as if in some kind of secret agreement.

I listened closely while they talked some more because I did not want to miss a thing, when all of a sudden, I had to blink my eyes, then rub them for good measure. My mother and father were fading in and out of view, right before my eyes! I held my breath, then grabbed for Randy's hand out of fear. When Randy turned to look up at me, I let out the breath I wasn't aware that I had still been holding and asked, "Can you see me alright?"

"Sure I can, why?" she asked, perplexed.

"I was just checking, that's all”, I answered, with my heart beating so fast I thought it would explode right out of my chest. My butterflies were doing somersaults, and I knew something wasn't right, but I was afraid if I mentioned it to Mommy or Daddy, they might call off the picnic. I closed my eyes to calm myself.

Within minutes, we had arrived at the park. My mother turned to look at us from her place in the front seat and said, "We're here, girls."

While everyone else chitchatted happily, I looked around to see if anything else looked odd or seemed out of place. I felt a cold chill run up and down my spine as I turned to look back at my family who were all seated on the picnic blanket, setting out our lunch fixings. It was as if I were looking at a snapshot of from our album that I had never seen before; it was hard to tear my eyes away. I had thought that I was feeling strange because I was so hungry, so I mistakenly dismissed the warning signals that I had been getting throughout the day, and when I thought back on it later, I regretted not listening to my instincts.

"Don't wander too far off, Amanda”, my mother had called to me. "Lunch is almost ready."

"I won't, Mother”, I had answered. Then as I turned, I saw the most beautiful wild flowers imaginable, off in the distance, across the road that lead into the park. All of the sudden, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense that I had to have those flowers right then!

I scurried across the pavement, with the sole thought of grabbing those pretty posies and the joy of being able to present them to my mother as a gift. When I bent over to pick them for her, I realized, just as it did at Christmastime, that each breath I took looked like a puffy smoke-cloud in the air, yet the sun still shone brightly. What was happening?

The butterflies in my stomach were instantly replaced by a low humming that frightened me, and that I did not understand. I quickly turned back around, because I wanted my mommy. I started to run, and when I at long last looked up, I saw that everyone had disappeared!

"Mommy? Daddy? Where are you?" Tears were streaming down my cheeks, and it was difficult for me to see. "Randy? Are you here?" But I knew that she was gone, too, because I couldn't feel her presence anymore, in that special way that twins do. Something had come and taken my family from me. As I scanned the area, I noticed that they had also taken our car; our picnic blanket; our goodies; it looked like they had taken just about everything; and they had even taken the trees. And now I was all alone.

I sobbed and sobbed for the longest time, until I swallowed hard over the lump that had formed in my throat. With a tight grip on Mother’s flowers, I walked at a steady pace in the direction from which we had all come earlier that morning, praying as each minute passed, that I would find my family and our home, before it became dark.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Those of you that would like to comment on or critique my story, or even write a story of your own (I would love that!), please "click" below at the spot indicated for comments, or at this spot here, marked for comments, and enjoy yourself, ok?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:

Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Writer's Image Prompt!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Randall Lawrence wasn't sure just how long he would be able to continue cupping his hands like that. The tears were running down his face from shear exhaustion. It had probably been close to 6 hours since the spell had been placed on him, so that they could abduct his wife, and take her to King Abdali's fortress.

What would happen to Rebecca if he did let go, and dropped the water into the stream? If only he could be sure, then he would know what to do. How was he to rescue her, if his hands were in a sense "tied," and he could not get help?

Just then, his brother, Aaron came through the clearing. "Hey, what have you got there?"

One look at Randy's face, and he dived to his knees. "How can I help? What in h--l happened?"

"They took Becky," he cried.

Aaron still didn't understand what was happening. "But what's this? How can this be?" he said, as he saw the mosque clearly reflected in the cupped water of Randy's hands.

"A spell--and I can't hold out much longer."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let's have some fun here. Maybe someone can add a little to this story, then someone else can add a little more. Or, if you like, you can write your own story, because I must admit, this isn't very good. If no one has added anything to it by the time I get home from the drs., I may just change the story altogether. So...I hope you have some fun!

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"The 'What's-Up-Wednesday' Guest Interview!"

Welcome to another segment of the “What’s-Up-Wednesday” Guest Interview. Our guest today is my friend and fellow fiction writer, Pamela MacLean, who is also a member of Live Journal’s “SummerWrite2” Writing Challenge Group. Help me welcome Pam to my blog:

Hi, Pam! I am so glad that you agreed to do this interview today. I really think that our readers will enjoy getting to know you better, and this is the place to do it. Let’s start out with the basics. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, including how long you have been writing?

I'm 22 years old and I’m also a kindergarten teacher. Currently, I have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. In the fall, I'll be starting work on my masters of Education in Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy. I was born and raised on the coast of South Carolina. I have one sister, whom I'm very close to. I started writing at a young age. I can remember writing stories as early as middle school. My sister and I enjoyed playing out stories with our Barbie dolls when we were younger.

Wow! I'm very impressed! It always makes me happy to see a young person who is actually accomplishing something with their life. Good for you! So, what genre is your favorite?

It’s definitely fantasy. I love living and writing in a made-up world.

Was there a light bulb moment that inspired you to become a writer?

There was never really a light bulb moment for writing. It's always been something that I enjoy doing. There have been several light bulb moments for stories that I've worked on, though.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on two projects with my sister. The first project is one that we have been working on for about five or six years. It started out as a simple novel about magic and has since then evolved into what will probably be a series of novels revolving around magic and a world we've created together. The second project is a single novel. The focus of this novel is a love story between a werewolf and a human. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.

You’ve mentioned your sister a couple times now; what is her name and what can you tell us about her, just to satisfy our curiosity?

Her name is Crystal and she’s a junior in college. She’s almost three years younger than me and the most important thing in my life. We are nearly inseparable, and do lots of things together, including writing.

I guess now would be a good time to give a 'shout out' to Crystal. "Hey, Crystal! How are you, girl? Nice to 'meet' you!"

OK...back to the questions. When you write, do you use outlines?

I rarely do. I use extensive notes about the characters and their back stories, but rarely ever do I use an outline. I like the ending to be a surprise.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jane Austen (especially Pride and Prejudice); Neil Gaiman (Stardust); Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic series); Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series), Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind)

I see you have Margaret Mitchell — "Gone With The Wind" on your list. "Gone With The Wind" is my all-time favorite book — something exciting is happening on just about every page; it's incredible! What are your favorite writing links and your favorite writing resources?

It varies, depending on what I'm writing. I do enjoy several groups on Live Journal and the opportunities that they provide.

Do you or have you ever belonged to a critique group? If not, would you consider it, or are you against them?

I took two fiction writing classes in college and we critiqued each other's work. That's the closest I've come. Critique groups can be helpful because they let you see other's opinions on your work. However, they can also be very discouraging for a writer.

What is the one piece of advice that you would impart to a writer if you could only share one thing?

Let your imagination be the guide. Don't box yourself in too early.

That's good advice! Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us, Pam. I hope you enjoyed yourself today, and maybe you and your sister (pictured together, above, at one of the Renaissance Faires that they frequent.) would like to come and be interviewed together, just as soon as you publish your first novel? What do you think?

That would be great. I know she’d be happy to do it. We’ve got to get that first novel finished yet.

And I’m sure you will. I’ve had a great time, and I’m sure my readers have enjoyed it, too. Good luck with your writing, and we look forward to see you and your sister both on here, together, next time! Again, thank you so much for doing this interview, Pam.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!