Tag Archives: The Wizard of Oz

The #book that changed my life…

The other day I was re-reading ( yes, I do this often!) THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by  L.Frank Baum.

pp3

Now, the first question you are probably going to ask yourself is, why in the name of all that’s holy is she reading this when she can watch the movie? After all, it’s a classic for a reason and the time involved to watch it is a mere 2.5 hours instead of days to read the book.

Good question. Trust me, I have my reasons.

You all know I lovelovelove Pride and Prejudice

pp

and Gone With The Wind.

pp2

I’ve written several times in blog posts about how those books literally carved a romance writing career out of the dust for me. But, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first book I ever remember reading that actually made a difference in my life.

 

Let me ‘splain it you, Lucy.

lucy-gives-a-sexy-wink

Like Dorothy, I was a solitary child, a bit of a misfit ( okay, more than a bit!), and a dreamer. The only child of divorced parents who both had their own issues, I was often left to my own devices and sometimes found it difficult to stay out of trouble. Not bad trouble where the police and child services were needed, but stupid, risk taking stuff that I would absolutely lock my daughter in her room for if I ever found out she did the same things!!

I used to spend every afternoon after school at the local library. Back when I was a kid there were no such things as afterschool care, and my mother couldn’t afford a babysitter to watch her NOT-baby until she came home at 7 after work. So  I would walk each and every day after the dismissal bell to the library. Homework was always ridiculously easy for me so I spent the majority of my time reading through the book selections.

library

Now, if you’ve ever actually read the Oz book you know it’s a little different from the movie. I hate spoilers, so I won’t say how. What I will tell you is the moral of the story, There’s No Place Like Home hit me at a time when I was considering doing something really dumb: run away from home.

I won’t bore you with the reasons why I felt this was a viable option for me. Suffice it to say, I had my reasons. And to me, at the time, they were valid and non-negotiable ones. I’d been planning how to run away, what to take with me, where I’d go, etc..everything that was needed for a successful fleeing. Even back then I was a list maker and had filled page after page with my plans and what I needed to accomplish before I could go and start a new life away from…well, my old one.

My plan was sound. I was going to leave Friday after school. When the bell rang I would disappear. Thursday, though, I was sitting in my usual seat in the library, reading the Oz book, when I finished it. That moral I told you about? There’s No Place Like Home? Yeah, it hit me hard. After reading about all the troubles and problems and terrifying situations Dorothy had gone through, only to discover her heart’s desire was to be right back where she belonged – home – I had a tiny breakdown and a big change of plans.

That book quite literally changed the course of my life. As an adult I can see that my plans to run away were stupid, ill-conceived, and could have ended in potential tragedy. As a child, all I could see was heartbreak and depression. Somehow, I connected with Dorothy and her story. True, it was bald fiction, fantasy at that, but Baum made me feel as if Dorothy knew me. And more, got me.

I’ve never told this story before. It always seemed a little, well, to be honest, stupid. But I realize now that it’s not. I realize now, with perspective and the wisdom of age, that reading saved me, in more ways than one. It not only opened a word of imagination and joy to me, it also helped me appreciate the life I had.

So when people ask me what book changed or influenced my life and why, the answer is an easy one on both counts.

There–really–is no place like home.

dorothy

‘Nuff said.

I have a home library now, but if you need to find me I can usually be seen hanging out in these places:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

Leave a comment

Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, Literary characters, love, Romance, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

The things I love about my favorite book(s)…

I have 3 favorite books.  They are all different genres, cater to different age groups, and I’ve read each one at least 5 times ( one waaaaaaay more than that- you’ll see why in a minute.) I tend to reread them because they are such central, integral  parts of the themes of my life and of what I write about.

As a child, I read The  Little Engine That Could probably close to 500 times. When my daughter was born I read it to her an equal number. This is truly -in my humble opinion- the best book EVER about self actualization. Whenever I think I can’t do something in life, whether it be get a book published, or learn a new tech savvy maneuver, I remember that little train, the mountainside, and the end result of his journey, and I KNOW I can do whatever I put my mind to.

The Wizard of Oz was quite simply the perfect book for me to read as a child because I had the same wanderlust and wishes to find my heart’s desire Dorothy had. I never appreciated what I had, and I was frequently on the look out for something better. It was only when I was married with a child of my own did I realize the truth of this statement: there’s  no place like home.

So, Gone With The Wind was the first complete romance novel I ever read – and I don’t think it was marketed as such when it was published. But it has everything a true romance reader loves: an amazingly strong, conflicted, beautiful heroine; a rakish, devilish and debonair hero who truly loves the girl; a sweeping cast of characters who live to show the H/H why they should be together, and a plot that continually pulls our main characters apart. Couple that with the heightened emotions of war, poverty and death and you have  an historic epic of love and loss. Now, the H/H don’t end with their HEA, but like the last line says, while putting hope in the mind of the reader that they will, “Tomorrow is another day.”

So, each book has the same facets and themes that I love: a strong, central character; an internal need coupled with a struggle for acceptance; a journey or task that needs to be accomplished; a lesson ( or many) learned about self; and an ending where the main character is a better person(or  in one case, a better engine!)

Why are your book YOUR favorites? Let’s discuss….

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, There's No Place Like Home

A little present and a tease….

May 6, 2015 is the official release date of my second novel THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Yippie!

Most of you know the Wizard of OZ is one of my favorite books of all time because it is so rich with psychological subtext and family drama, two of my favorite things to read. The title for my book comes from Dorothy’s famous line, spoken at the end of the movie, and I have always felt this statement is true. There really is no other place like your home. Home means warmth, shelter, comfort, safety, acceptance, love and nurturing. My heroine in THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, Moira Cleary, is at a crossroads in her life and has come home to rest, recover, and reconnect with her beloved family. She has been globetrotting around the world for over 4 years with a traveling symphony, when something happens to question the lifestyle she has made for herself. Coming home provides her with safety and surrounds her with love. Love of her immediate family, and of her best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton.

Here’s a little present from me to you. Hope you enjoy it and are intrigued enough to order your own copy of THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

“Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”

Confused, Moira nodded.

Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you can kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”

“I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”

He nodded. “The exact quote was, ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”

Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever gonna kiss me.”

“He wasn’t known for tact back then.” He rubbed a hand down her back as he held her. “Remember what happened later on behind the barn?”

Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she nodded again, he said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you – quote – felt safe with me – unquote.”

“What was I? Eleven?”

“Thirteen. And I was more than willing. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”

“Q—”

“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hands resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”

“And conceited.”

“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Characters, Dialogue

The Power of Friends… in Literature

Where would Nancy Drew be without George Fayne? Where would Huck Finn have wound up without Tom Sawyer? Scarlett may have derided her, but Melanie Wilkes was her best friend hook, line,  sinker and soul. What about Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas? Without Charlotte, Lizzy may just have wound up married to the horrible Mr Collins. Charlotte did her a solid by marrying the little worm. Harry Potter,  Ron Weasley and even Hermione,  were the best of ‘mates. And dear God, could we have had Sherlock Holmes without John Watson?

In my last post I talked about my friends and what having them in my life means to me. Literature is  chock-full of besties and we are all better for having shared in their friendships, albeit second  hand.

Friends in literature serve so many purposes aside from simply being  “a friend.” They are foils for one another’s characters; sounding boards for ideas, problems, and resolutions; cheerleaders and soul soothers, and best of all, the true  friend will always steer you in the right direction when you are going the wrong way, tell you if you have spinach in your teeth, and hold your hair back when you need to vomit. This last one is literally and theoretically!

My two favorite books of all time are Gone with The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both are rife with the beauty and detail of friendship. In both, the main characters of Dorothy and Scarlett need to find their way: home and in life. The TinMan, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow all help Dorothy face trials, tests,  and tribulations in order to find her way back  to Kansas, to Auntie Em’s loving care, and to discover her heart’s desire. Scarlett is Melanie’s opposite in every way, except in their love for Ashley, and in  this opposition of character details, each woman brings out the best in the other. Despite what many historians have postulated, I really do think Scarlett’s road to redemption begins when she brings Melanie back to Tara after the birth of Beau. She risks her life to make sure they all get home safe and sound. Whether you believe it is for a selfish reason, such as ensuring Ashley knows Scarlett helped his wife, or  – like me – because deep down Scarlett was truly a good and loyal person, their relationship ( Scarlett and Melanie’s) is the strongest and most enduring in the novel.

When a writer creates friends, he/she needs to know what each friend brings to the relationship table. It’s simply not enough to have the main character have friends. They serve purposes, both positive and negative, and these purposes enrich the novel and the character’s quest. They play off one another, spark ideas between them, and – such as in the case of Holmes and Watson – better the lives of the people surrounding them. Ron and Hermione show Harry Potter that people do care about him -not because he is a wizard – but because he is a person with feelings and desires, just like they are. Sharing triumphs, failures, tears, and joy are just some of the emotions friends go through together.

Think about your favorites books. What are the friend relationships like? Is the book made better because of them?  What does each friend bring to the relationship table for the main character? When you write, think about these facets. Your book will be richer for it, and sound more true-to-life.

1 Comment

Filed under Characters

Titles…

Someone asked me the other day how I come up with the titles to my stories and novels.  They are all different and don’t really follow a common thread. Book titles, I feel, are like your children’s names: you want them to be unique, but not so unique they become albatrosses or points of ridicule. I discovered through research  (okay, through Google!) there is an entire industry devoted just to this: how to pick the correct words to capture a reader from the get-go; the word combinations never to use in a title; the words that have the most impact on sales.

I know some writers who use song titles for their books and expound on them in the story.  I love this idea. I know another author who writes down every combination of a phrase based on what the book is about until the perfect title presents itself. I also love this idea.  Some experts say never to have more than one word or two at the most in the title so that it grabs the reader’s attention.  Long winded names can be turn offs to people glancing at the book rack in Barnes and Noble. The key, advertising executives always say, is “short, punchy, and memorable.”The original working titles for my favorite all time book, Gone With The Wind, were Tomorrow is another day and Ba! Ba! Black Sheep.

Now would GWTW have been such a mega hit if it had one of those titles? Who knows. I certainly don’t think the movie would have done as well with the sheep title, do you?

To Kill a Mockingbird was called Atticus before Harper Lee – thankfully – changed it.

And my favorite title change – more about why in a bit – was Pride and Prejudice. Austen originally called it First Impressions.

Now my titles are usually the first thing that pops into my head when I’m working a new plot through. I don’t try to be cute or fancy or erudite. I just “see” the title in my head, and that’s it for me. I’ve never had an editor or even a reader tell me the work was mis-named or would have been better suited to some other title. Maybe this is arrogant on my part, and okay, I’ll agree with that. They are, after all, MY titles. But again, just like when  you name a child, you want the title/name to be a reflection of your thought and love. You want it to be able to convey something of what the book is about when you are trying to capture a potential reader’s attention. Skater’s Waltz has two words and is actually a piece of music. There’s No place Like Home, has 5 and it’s a sentence in one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. My third book, which I am thrilled to announce just went to contract, is First Impressions. See now why I like that Austen changed her title?

Titles are like names. They should be individual, coherent, and special. They should capture a reader’s attention and their desire to want to read more. Think of your favorite book titles. Do they fit in with this thought? I know mine do.

2 Comments

Filed under Characters, Dialogue

The 10 Book Challenge

Recently on Facebook, I’ve seen several posts about people who have been challenged by friends and family to list 10 books that changed their lives. No one has challenged me, but I think this is a great blog topic, so here goes.

The 10 books that have had a profound impact on me during my life are – in no particular order:

1. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Best book about self actualization ever written.

2. The Wizard of Oz ( Dorothy’ Adventures in Oz)  by Frank L Baum. Because there really is no place like home.

3. Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. First Nora I ever read. This story and this writer gave me my love of romantic fiction.

4. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  First romance with actual sex in it I ever read. Quite an education, in addition to being a great story.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Helped me focus on the goals I wanted to attain during my lifetime.

6. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. In my opinion, the most perfect book ever written.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As a child raised in the 1960’s and 70’s, this book brought home the meaning of racial inequality like no other to me.

8.  The Oxford American Dictionary. Hello! It’s filled with WORDS!! Fabulous words!!

9. The Bible. This one needs no explanation.

10. Become a Better You by Joel Osteen. This book really did help make me a better person.

So, what are the books that have influenced you?

4 Comments

Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Literary characters, Romance