Thursday, 28 June 2012

Ka-Boom! How To Write A Nail Biting Climax

Elliott and ET race to his spaceship
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In most cases it's the climax and resulting conclusion that stay with the reader long after the book is shelved, and therefore has the greatest impact. For a writer, the goal is to provide an ending that makes sense of everything but also generates a deeper understanding.

Every successful novel has three elements; a beginning that hooks the reader (the unreachable goal for the protagonist), a middle that sets up the crisis (what prevents our hero from obtaining his goal), and the climax (what he's forced to do to reach the goal) which leads to a resolution.

Harry discovers Quirrell not Snape is the two faced villain
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Simply put, the climax is the moment of crisis when the protagonist has no way out and has to make a decision or act in such a way to reach the story goal. Up to this point, the reader has observed the hero struggle to reach the story goal and is familiar with his particular behavior or pattern of problem solving. It's this personality trait that either helps or hinders him.

Deckard barely hangs on in Blade Runner
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The moment the stakes are highest our hero is faced with the toughest situation. In order to solve the story goal he must choose to stick with the same behavior or switch to an alternative. However, each choice comes with the risk of failure or loss of whatever he values most.

Sheriff Brody running out of boat in JAWS
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Think 'danger and opportunity'. Our hero has to make a decision to save the story goal, but we don't know if it's the right one until the very end. All we know is that he's doomed if he does nothing, but at the same time there's an unseen/unexpected potential for growth or new beginning.


Depending on how you want your story to end, helps determine what questions or issues need clarifying. Once you've established what should be answered, imagine an extensive, irreversible event that will force those issues to be addressed.


Like bacteria that continue to live and grow, your protagonist should have evolved from who he was at the awesome beginning that hooked us in the first place. It's imperative to show how our hero's behavior is challenged by pursuing the story goal. Ultimately, it's the decision the hero makes in the end that leads to personal growth and showcases the moral or theme of the story.

A reader will invest hours of time into your novel, make sure their last impression is the greatest one.

Next week, I'll be blogging how to nail your ending.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Bachelorette Season 8, Episode 7 "Things That Make You Go Hmm"

Emily in Prague, not exactly
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Say hello to Prague! Emily uses the historic backdrop of this charming city to take Arie for another evening stroll hoping to find another wall to kiss against. But she pouts perfectly glossed lips at him saying she knows what he did ten years ago and she's not happy about it. Hmm...

Relax. The big scandal is that Arie dated one of the shows producers a decade ago. And once Emily did the math and realized ten years is longer than Ricki has been alive, she's okay with it and open mouth kisses Arie, even without a wall.

Meanwhile, back at the house, the fellas compare hair gel and talk about how much they hate Arie since he has his mouth parts all over their future wife.

The next date is with John. And quite frankly I only learnt this guy's name the last episode. I'm predicting a street full of walls isn't going to move this date along. They get to have dinner in their own private castle. Does Emily like castles? No. She's friggin' cold and is always under a blanket. They settle into love seat overflowing with pillows as John relates stories about his evil ex-girlfriend.

Dear fellas,

As tempting as it may be, leave the mud slinging for the county fair. Honestly, you sound like a cry baby. And Emily is looking for a hero, not a zero.


Your Aunt Bethany

I really like Emily's earrings for this date. Actually I like most of her jewelry. Remember that necklace that was three strands of shells or white stones?
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Yeah, very nice. And the gold necklace from the beach episode? A favorite of mine too. And guess what? They're available for other people as well from Towne & Reese. I'm guessing Emily didn't have to pay for any of her jewelry. Hmm...

After John's finished trashing his ex, he tells Emily that he could really fall in love with her, and that he wants her to meet his parents. Emily said she feels sad for him. Hmm...

They have a quick kiss that wouldn't even get a rating from Disney.

Sean, SDD (Single Dad Doug), and Freaky wolf-eye Chris are picked to go on the last group date. Sean decides to pull an Arie and wanders the city looking for Emily by running up and down various cobbled streets of Prague.

Great plan! I'm sure this will turn out well. He says if he doesn't find her he'll be devastated. If he actually finds her it will be a miracle, except that the producers and camera men point him in the right direction.

Emily says he sudden appearance with camera men is such a surprise. She's excited to see him and takes him to a restaurant. Emily likes to be pursued—that's what she said to Doug last episode, remember?

They politely kiss like it's High School Musical, but later on the walk home, they find a wall and things turn PG 13. So, good for Sean...I guess.

The last group date consists of Sean, Chris and SDD. Right away Chris begins to whine about the lack of room in the carriage. Emily gives the boys a history lesson and SDD can't stop talking about how cool the castle is. He's very sweet and mentions how much his son would enjoy this trip.

Psst! Hey, Doug. If you're the next bachelor, you can take great vacations...and your son can go too!

SDD and Emily take their umbrellas for a walk in the rain and she remarks how she's hoping Doug will open up to her—preferably against a wall during a late night stroll.

But even though Doug gives in and kisses her, it's not enough for Emily, and she takes him on the good-bye stroll. And like all the other fellas before him, Doug is shocked and heart broken. Really? Give it a day or two, you'll be okay.

At the castle, Chris and Sean make the two points of an awkward triangle. Emily gives the boys each a key, and Sean is holding the one that opens the Chamber of Secrets, sorry, Chamber of Snuggles. The corny music starts and they begin to make out. Meanwhile, Chris is whining upstairs that he's all by himself. And he'll have to wait because Sean and Emily also make out in the stairwell. But that's to be expected because they were surrounded by walls and couldn't help themselves.

I totally love the bracelets she has on. Which button do I click to buy these? Please let me know.

Chris finally gets some alone time with Emily. He uses this time to complain. Chris isn't good at whining, I'm not sure what he's good at. Emily thanks him for being such a good sport and someone in the room begins to play the piano. And we know what happens when music begins, right? That's right! They kiss.

Emily meets with both guys and gives the date rose to Sean. Chris is fuming behind his freaky wolf eyes, already planning his whiny speech for the boys at home.

Jef with one 'f' gets the last solo date. Emily picks him up, and I have to say, her earrings totally rock. They walk the streets of Prague and spend some giggly time in a marionette shop. How do you walk in stiletto boots on cobblestones? Ask Emily, she knows.

Jef and Emily use their puppets to recreate every time they've spent together—it takes about three seconds. Emily's skin is smoother than the puppets, seriously, there are NO at all. Their puppets kiss, and then they kiss. And then I look at my watch and wish the rest of the show could be done in fast forward with puppets.

Jef said he's in that happy place where he's falling for a girl and the girl is falling for him, and when they make out, cameras are there...yeah, just a normal guy and a girl. Jef talks about his family and tells Emily that his parents are committed to 'something else' but she'll meet his siblings if she wants. Hmm...

The final rose ceremony has finally arrived. Chris is starting to have a melt down—if he were a puppet, his strings would all be tangled up. Emily meets with The Host in a Vanna White ensemble and she says a cocktail party is useless because she already knows exactly what she wants to do tonight.

Chris doesn't take this news well, especially since John keeps saying he feels he knocked his date out of the park. Really? He didn't even get to first base.

Emily arrives and thanks the fellas for being so open and honest with her this week so that she can make this decision without any worries. It comes down to John and Chris and someone should call 911 before Chris explodes.

Chris asks for alone time with Emily, thinking he's salvaging any last hope he might have. But if anything, his slobbering confession only solidifies her decision to send him home. Emily is so sweet and composed, she thanks him for willing to put himself out there for her, and she's so grateful for that.

But what happens next shocks even me, and believe me, I've seen it all. She gives the last rose to Christ, and I can only guess it's because he's the wild card the producers like to keep around.

John, like all the others, is completely shocked. Please don't cry John. Please don't cry. Be strong. Be the one to NOT cry. He makes it to the car and finished his monologue without shedding a tear.

John, a real guy
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Hooray! We've found a man. Congratulations, John, you rock.

Next week, the last four guys get to take Emily back home to meet their families. Yikes!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Give Your Drab Scene The Norman Rockwell Treatment

When I was a little girl, my family and I would spend every Easter holiday on Prince Edward Island at my Grandmother's little bungalow on Willow Avenue.

Aside from the marshmallow-coconut squares and Froot Loops she'd have waiting for me, she also gave me all the pennies she'd collected since I'd last seen her—these were quickly spent at the candy store, one block up, past the blue house with the barking dog.

However, my fondest memories of those visits were looking through her collection of coffee table books. In particular she had a phone book thick edition of Norman Rockwell prints.

I spent hours sitting crossed legged on her living room floor, with that massive book open on my lap. I studied each image, amazed at the detail and sometimes suspiciously wondered if it was really a photograph instead.

Marriage License
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But it wasn't only the technique I admired, it was the character in each picture that was so charming; the bride standing up on tip toe to sign the bridal registry, or the plastic flowers in the old woman's hat, intent on saying grace in a smokey and crowded diner.
Saying Grace
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These touches of personality hinted at something more, something bigger...something alive. To me, each picture was a snap shot of someones life, and I had the feeling the story kept going, long after I closed the cover.

Sadly, Granny passed away many years ago, but I still have that book, and when I flip through it's pages these days, I look at it with my writer's eye.

Normal Rockwell once said that if he hadn't become a painter he would have liked to have been a movie director. This makes perfect sense because after all, movie directors tell us a story.

Happy Birthday, Miss Jones
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Steven Spielberg, who is no stranger to story telling, has this picture in his hallway.

He says out of all the art work in his home, Happy Birthday, Miss Jones, causes most people to pause for a few minutes.

What do you notice first?

The teacher? The girl with the pretty yellow bow? The boy with the eraser on his head?

Look at the expression on Miss Jones' face, she seems genuinely warmed by the surprise. The teacher is neither young or pretty and my writer's mind wonders if this is the only birthday greeting she'll receive.

Perhaps later, after a supper of toast and tea in her little apartment, she'll blow out one candle on a cupcake she bought herself. What would her wish be? Or maybe this is her happy ending—the unruly class that she struggled with all year, finally show some gratitude. 

And what about the little girl with the big expensive looking bow in her hair? Was it her idea to surprise Miss Jones, or was she the one to step on the piece of chalk, crushing it into the floor?

I'm guessing the boy sitting up straight and tall with the eraser on his head, is the one who impishly wrote the curly 'y' making her last name spell 'Jonesy'.

I wonder whose story this is and if it's the beginning, the middle, or the end.

It's the small details that bring this scene to life. There are so many possible stories taking place in this one picture, it's simply brilliant.

I try to remember Norman Rockwell when I'm writing. I step back and look at the big picture (pardon the pun) and try to imagine the little elements of personality I can add to help make the scene come alive.

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Let's play a game. Consider this piece entitled, The Homecoming.

Who do you focus on? What catches your attention? Whose story do you want to know?

Break this scene down into one sentence and leave it in my comment section. It's amazing how many different ways writers can look at the same thing.

And since no one ever wants to be first up to the buffet, I'll dive in and get the party started.

She leaned against the wall, feeling the heat of the bricks through her thin dress, please let him think I'm still pretty, she wished.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Bachelorette, Episode 6, "Kissing, Crying and Candles"

Next stop on the love train is *whoo-hoo* Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Emily picks Mother Goose (Travis) to go on a solo date. So much for my theory about him being her cousin. They bum around Dubrovnik and end the date having a private dinner surrounded by candles.

Who will get a rose? Who cares?
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Have you noticed how many frickin' candles they use for this show? It's like they're expecting someone to whip out a Ouija Board. Did you know the heart shaped thing you put your hands on is called a planchette?

Travis confesses he's totally in love with Emily and hasn't felt like this since he broke up with his fiance. Emily says she feels they have a good foundation for friendship—but not romance. Travis moves to the kiss and cry interview area. *Honk* I'm still amazed how much these guys breakdown.

Dear Fellas,

Yes, rejection is hard, but give your head a shake, you're in a contest for a girl you met only two weeks ago. Move on.


Your Aunt Bethany

Emily takes all the guys, except Ryan, on a group the animated Disney movie, BRAVE. Emily talks about the similarities between herself and Merida, the female protagonist. Um...yeah. The most entertaining part of this episode were the movie clips. So, I'm grateful for that.

Emily dresses the boys in kilts like they're big Ken dolls. This is followed by a five minute montage of the guys walking down cobblestone streets. Emily comments how hot Sean looks.

Sean, not exactly as shown
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We soon learn they are going to be competing in a mock Highland Games. This makes complete sense since Croatia is full of Scotts. What's the Gaelic phrase for totally stupid?

I won't bore you with the details, but Chris—even with his freaky wolf eyes—loses every event. However, this was brilliant strategy as Emily gives him a shiny mug for being such a good sport. Emily says being brave means doing your own thing no matter what everybody else thinks. She also thinks Sean is the hottest. And that my friends, gets you a rose each time.

The evening portion of the competition involves drinks, candles and some cuddle time. She tells Sean not to worry and to keep up his confidence...even when things get harder. *giggles*

She takes Arie on a stroll as they discuss how much they like spending time together. The soft guitars begin to play in the background and Arie leans her up against a stone wall and proves why he's a race car driver—he rides the curves like a champ. He later says that he feels so much better after their talk. I bet he does. *rolls eyes*

Jef with one 'J', talks about how it's so much easier to be with Emily now that he's made it to first base with her. Seriously, I'm not making this up. There's more cuddling and talk about how much they like each other. This is followed by some open mouthed kissing.

I miss the clips from Brave.

Emily moves on to Chris. He doesn't get the chance to make out with her like Arie did, but he gets the, yeah...I guess that counts for something. *shrugs*

Ryan does his pre-date primping for his solo date as the other guys roll their eyes. Emily takes him on a fishing trawler to harvest oysters. I love oysters. The trick is to NOT chew. A splash of Tabasco sauce is nice as well. Also, smoked oysters are delicious. Did you know a natural salt water pearl is formed when a foreign substance (parasite/grain of sand) invades the shell of the mollusk? In response to the irritation, epithelial cells form into a sac (known as a pearl sac) which secretes a crystalline substance called nacre, which builds up in layers around the irritant, forming the pearl.

I was thinking about how beautiful nature is when I was interrupted by Ryan's neon turquoise shoes. They finish the date with a private dinner by candle light—lots of candle light. *puts hands on planchette* Is there anyone there?

Ryan whips out a list he made for Emily that includes all the things he's looking for in a wife.

Dear Ryan,

What exactly does 'sexy personality' mean?


Your Aunt Bethany

Oh that, Ryan. He makes me laugh—he's so clueless! Emily picks up the rose and I don't think we need to ask the Spirits to know how this one turns out. Emily tells him he's too concerned with perfection and she's all about the love. Ryan is shocked and begins to sniff through his tears, trying to convince her to change her mind. I worry he's going to make another list.

Psst, Ryan. It's time for you to go. *calls security* Instead of crying, Ryan spends the cab ride to the nearest airport, giving us a five minute monologue on why he ISN'T a loser.

Arie gives Emily a surprise visit in her luxury rental because he's totally there for her. You see, good boyfriends will always show up to make out with their girlfriends after they dump another guy. They cuddle in her bed and discuss how hard the date must have been for her and...—whoa! Tongue action. Camera guy, zoom out! Zoom out!

The rose ceremony begins with the guys discussing their strategy. Huh? Emily encourages SDD (Single Dad Doug) not to be shy and that she's just a girl who wants to be pursued. Again, I did not make this up. She actually said that.

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Emily starts her speech about how awesome each one of them are. And they stand like statues blinking back at her like Charlie Brown.

*Lights candles gets out Ouija Board* Is there anyone there?
*Planchette moves to yes* Which bachelor will go home tonight?

Emily cries invisible tears and leaves the room, still clutching the rose.
*Planchette quickly spells out, 'Scripted drama'*

The spirits are upset! She returns without any rose, then The Host arrives from behind the curtain with two roses. Aw, shucks. And everyone gets to stay. *rolls eyes*

When will the fun ever end? Do you think the ending was rigged by the producers?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

How To Stop The Middle Of Your Novel From Sagging.

Does this sound familiar?

Your novel opens with a scene that grips the reader by the shoulders and pulls them face first into the story. But then, around 40,000 words or so, things slow down. The story starts to drift along, bobbing aimlessly on meaningless dialogue. You can see the ending far on the horizon, but you're not sure how to reach it.

SOS is right, brother.
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If this rings true for you, you may be suffering from SMS or Sagging Middle Syndrome. Stop looking down at your stomach—I was talking about your story.

The middle is often the most challenging. It has to bridge the awesome beginning and the spectacular climax. It. Can't. Be. Boring.

The middle shouldn't remind me of this.
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Here are some tips to help you chart a course through the current, back to the white-water, river raft ride.

Raise the stakes. Make your protagonist's original crisis more complicated.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry's original goal was to survive Hogwarts (especially Potions class with that horrible Professor Snape) and prove he really belonged there. However, once we reach the middle of the book, Harry discovers the school is hiding The Philosopher's Stone and thinks Professor Snape is trying to steal it.

New Event. This should send your protagonist in the opposite direction of his original goal.

When Harry finds the Mirror of Erised, he forgets about Snape and the stone, and becomes consumed by images of his late parents.

Bring the Subplot to the Forefront. Use information from early chapters to throw another complication into the protagonist's way.

Hello, Norbert. Early in the book, Hagrid mentions always wanting a dragon. He tells a shocked Harry that he bought him in a pub from a mysterious stranger. This sets up two events. Firstly, Harry and Hermoine are caught with the dragon after hours and are given detention. Secondly, Hagrid ends up telling them information about a certain three-headed-dog they will need later in the lead up to the climax.

Unexpected Twist. Reveal just enough secrets to change the protagonist's course of action. This also creates more tension.

While Harry is in the forbidden forest as part of his earlier detention, he sees something drinking the dead unicorns blood. He is saved by Firenze who foreshadows Lord Voldemort's return to power. Now Harry believes Snape is planning to steal the stone not for his own immortality, but for The Dark Lord's instead.

This leads into the climax. Knowing none of the other professors will believe him, Harry takes matters into his owns hands when Dumbledore is suddenly summoned away from Hogwarts. With Ron and Hermoine following, he races to the trap door and...well you know the rest.

I hope these exercises will help you get the middle of your novel back in shape!

Do you have any suggestions for a taut, lean middle?


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Bachelorette Season 8, episode 5 "London Is So Cool."

Smurfette and the gang head for London, England—and of course Ricki does too. This is the best way to get a free family vacation isn't it?

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The ten hopeful smurfs show up in Trafalgar Square and the Host reminds them that only one of them will end up being Emily's husband. Duh! Although considering the shows track record, we know that's not exactly written in stone.

Sean gets to go on a one-on-one date with Emily. She says she's super stoked to be spending the day with Sean because he's so cute AND sweet. As they ride on a double decker bus, Sean points to a buildings and says, “Cool.” Emily tells him the cool building is Westminster Abbey. He continues to say, 'cool' about landmarks that even my eight-year-old son would recognize.

They take pictures of themselves kissing in front of other 'cool' buildings. After a picnic in the park they stumble into a 'speakers corner'. Sean manages to get up on a crate and orates about true love.

When asked, most people will say that public speaking is their greatest fear. So, well done, Sean.

Holy crap are they having dinner at the Tower of London!? Without any line ups!? Seriously, this show is the best way to do London. Emily's voice is sounding all 1-900ish. I think she's getting a cold. That means at least a few guys will also have the sniffles in a few days. Over supper Emily gives Sean a history lesson about Henry VIII having eight wives and that he beheaded two of them. It looked like Sean's own head was going to explode with all the history and math combined.

Back at the house the boys learn they are going on a group date. Kalon is super pissy and it's so hilarious. I vote him for the next Bachelor because that would be epic!

Sean and Emily talk about how many kids they would like to have. I'm guessing he gets a rose. Yup. And they make out with Tower Bridge in the background.

What is with these two posing like a Harlequin cover?

Emily's London Vacation
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The group date consists of the boys acting out scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Secretly it's all about which guy doesn't mind being made fun of. However, Kalon didn't get that memo and tackles the part like it's Oscar time. Each of the guys declare they are willing to do anything for Emily. mean like take a free vacation to London? Yeah, real tough, guys. What about having to slay a dragon?!? I miss Once Upon A Time.

Travis, Mother Goose *honk* is the biggest goofball. That's because he has nothing to lose. *cough* mole *cough*

Kalon feels the pressure of needing to be the best actor so he can get a rose. With that in mind he shoos Emily away as he and Ryan rehearse. Note to Kalon—Emily likes to be the center of attention, not being told to leave the area.

Kalon is up first in the balcony scene. And even this soundtrack can't give him any groove. The guys do various lines from the play and I'm not sure what happened because I fell asleep. When I wake up, Ryan is leaning over Emily in the death scene and he kisses her. And kisses her. And kisses her. Like with moving lips and everything.

Of course everyone knows the test for true love is to make-out in front of the other guys you may want to marry.

The second part of the date starts with everyone enjoying a pint and then one by one they have a little alone time with Emily. I hope Emily knows it's not good to mix cold medication with alcohol. After she kisses Arie, she meets with Ryan and he gives her a necklace...a really little necklace. Doesn't he know size matters?

The scene that ABC has been teasing us with for the last two weeks AND at every commercial break tonight finally happens. Kalon refers to Ricki as baggage and the other guys practically dance on the spot, secretly gleeful that Mr. Hot Shot is on the hot seat.

SDD (Single Dad Doug) tells Emily and she calls out Kalon in front of the other smurfs. Anyone who refers to Ricki as baggage doesn't deserve to have a free trip to London. How does a debutante say the 'f' word? In a bedazzled mini-dress and leather jacket, that's how! Kalon exits stage right...for good.

No one messes with Emily!
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Emily ends the evening by wondering why none of these possible future husbands didn't go all Spartacus and whip the snot out of Kalon.

Emily and Ricki talk in their luxury hotel room. Ricki says her favorite thing about London is Buckingham Palace where the King and the dragon live. She and Sean have a lot in common.

Jef, yes that's with only one 'f', is granted a solo date of afternoon tea. They get an etiquette lesson from an English lady who makes Kalon look like Mr. Cozy. They ditch the fancy sandwiches and opt for fish and chips at a local pub. Jef tells her that if Ricki is baggage then she's a Chloe handbag. I can tell he Googled that. Whatever, Jef's still not making it to the final.

They have champagne and parfaits at their own table in the London Eye. Again...what a great way to get a free vacation! Emily says she's tired of always being the single girl. A single girl who has a walk-in closet, awesome wardrobe, financially set, gets free vacations, gorgeous, has everyone in love with her, always the center of attention...etc.

Jef gets another rose and they walk along the Thames. With Big Ben in the background Jef and Emily kiss and get their own book cover moment.
During the cocktail party before the rose ceremony Emily brings Kalon up with each guy and lets them know she needs a hero.

She's holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
*backup singers sing do-do-do*

Meanwhile, Ryan exhausts our patience with his acting, however his thespian scarf works and he gets some kissing time at the top of the stairs.

Sean tells Emily he would have thrown Kalon out on his ass, they kiss and Emily tells us she feels butterflies in her heart—sounds like atrial fibrillation to me.

The Host does the math for us, seven smurfs-six roses=one cab ride to Heathrow. Emily gives out five roses then pauses...Sweet Joe Jezzer! The Host comes out from behind the curtain and announces there is only one rose left. And of course it's for Arie. Alejandro goes home, fighting the tears.
But not Mother Goose *honk*! That's right. It's waaaay too early for the mole to go home.

Who do you think is next? And where will the test for true love take Ricki and her mom next week?


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Top Five Ways To Pretend You're At Book Expo America

Okay, first of all BEA should stand for Books, Editors and Agents. Everyone at BEA is either one of those things, or wants to be one of those things. Yes, some people want to be their favorite book *stares back* you know who you are.
Dude, where's the bathroom?
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And if you're like me, this week on twitter has been a total jealousy-fest. Seriously, it's free books, shmoozing, and Alex Pettyfer—sorry I was checking to see if you're still reading. Even without Alex BEA is pretty amazing...or at least I imagine.

I'm not one to dwell on the negative uglies that invade my otherwise content day to day philosophy, so I've developed some coping strategies to help me get through the rest of the week. And it's been so successful I'd like to share them with you. Here are the top five ways to pretend you're at BEA.

1. Use your drivers license to make your own lanyard with shoelaces and scotch tape. This must be worn ALL week, even in the shower.

2. Take a big tote bag to the library, fill it up with hardcovers, then invite all the librarians out for martinis.

3. Go to the biggest bookstore, make a fort with all the pretty new releases, and then take pictures with your iPhone.

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4. With one of your favorite books under your arm, wait in line at the DMV, then ask the teller to sign Veronica Roth's name on the inside cover.

5. Stand all day in really cute but really uncomfortable shoes, discussing the pros and cons of e-books while complaining how dehydrated you are. (too many martinis)

And because I'm so bad at math, here's a bonus...

Repeat phrases like, "OMG, I met you on twitter!"  "I totally love your cover." "Can I borrow a pen?" "Her sweater set rocks!"

Do you have any other ideas for surviving BEA week as an outsider?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Bachelorette Season 8, Episode 4 "It's Smurfy To Be Rich"

Emily Maynard, not exactly as shown
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Smurfette and the gang go to sunny Bermuda—oh yeah, and Ricki goes too.

SDD (Single Dad Doug) finds out he's been picked to go on a solo date. Is there any other kind, you ask. Why yes, in this show there is, but more about that later.

Before Emily swings by to pick up her latest fella, SDD and Chris have a few words about who is better daddy material. I'm guessing since Doug is already a dad and almost ten years older than Chris, he gets the nod in that direction.

But who cares? The most important thing is what is Emily going to wear on this date. Have you noticed the amount of jewelry this chick travels with?

Anywho, Emily and SDD travel around beautiful St. George. He says all the right stuff and cuddles her like a champ. BINGO! He gets the date rose.

The next day the guys are taken to the marina where they gets sailing lessons. Why? So they can race each other for more time with Emily, of course!

As a team, Arie, Jeff, Ryan and Kalen 'win' more time with Emily on a beach. Jeff and his Rick Astley hair, have some alone time with Emily, which earns him ANOTHER date rose. Yes folks, Jeff is two for two, and they still haven't kissed.

He needs to take her to the skateboard park and show her his sweet moves.

Jeff, not exactly as shown
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Since this is Emily's Bermuda vacation, the next date is a two-on-one, starting at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Resort. I think it's important for Nate and John to realize they will never stay anywhere as luxurious as this for the rest of their lives.

Who cares about getting a rose? Take the bathrobes, Dudes!

Emily takes Nate and John spelunking. There is nothing more awkward than two guys and a girl having dinner at a set table inside a cave. Everyone says, “cool” about three hundred times, which, if you're wondering, is two hundred and ninety-nine times too many. I wish I was watching The Goonies instead.

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Emily and Nate wander off and have champagne among the stalagmites and stalactites. The difference between a stalactite is that it grows from the ceiling, whereas a stalagmite grows from the ground. Meanwhile, Nate tears up as he tells Emily how amazing and cool his family and friends are.

Like I was saying, stalactite is spelled with a 'c' so remember 'ceiling'. Stalagmite is spelled with a 'g' so think 'ground'.

Now Emily and John are having drinks in another part of the cave. John confesses he hasn't pushed to get her attention and just wants to be himself around her—you know, like in a cave with copious amounts of alcohol.

Emily ends up giving the rose to John and I suspect Nate isn't 'cool' with that. She said he's mature and endearing but, seriously, she wants to hook up with a guy who can make it through a sentence without tearing up.

Bye, Nate.

Emily does ten seconds of homework with Ricki on the balcony of their hotel suite in Bermuda. Hey, Ricki, can you spell concubine?

Emily says she's serious about looking for a husband who can be a father for Ricki. That's something you should spend at least thirty days considering.

We've finally made it to the night of the rose ceremony. Congratulations we've all aged ten years.

I think Emily is using this show to showcase her jewelry and clothes. It would be very savvy of her to open her own on-line shop. Want the necklace she wore on tonight's episode? Me too! Hurry up with the on-line store already!

Did you see Jeff's knee socks?! What the heck?

While Ryan meets with Emily, the other guys tear him apart. Cat fight! Arie arrives and Emily slips away with him for some nice, happy times. Ryan chats it up with ponytail guy, and mentions maybe doing The Bachelor next season.

Wha??? Um...okay. What kind of loser would go on one show then sign up for...oh, never mind.

The guys continue to speed swoon Emily in order to get a rose. And why do they do this? So they can speed swoon her the next week. Let's hurry this up. We all know she's going to knock it down to Sean and Arie.

All the guys who haven't kissed Emily talk about how they're above the physical part of the competition, oops sorry, I mean the show.

SDD and Chris have it out by the pool side as they bare their chests to determine who is better father material. Didn't we see this already? The others watch from the windows as these two have the most confusing conversation.

Notice how Mother Goose hung around as if he was supposed to report back to someone. *cough* mole *cough*

The rose ceremony lasts for three commercial breaks. Do you remember which kind of formation grows from the ceiling of a cave? Yes, that's right! A stalactite.

Emily tells the Host she's worried because all the guys are so sweet, and she doesn't want to hurt anyones feelings. She also talks about how the two-on-one date took a lot out of her. *insert dirty joke here*

Finally, the freakin' flower show can start. Emily gives the first two roses to Arie and Sean. Shocking! *rolls eyes* And then Mother Goose. *wink*

Also picked are Mr. Hot Shot, (cue the helicopter sound effect) and the last rose goes to....Alejandro.

Chris and the guy with the long hair are gone. They do their post-dump interview and silently weep by the pool side. Come on guys! You got a trip to Bermuda. Suck it up.

Who is Smurfette going to kick out of the village next?

Will Jeff be able to grow a moustache by next week?

Also, have you noticed that Arie is Eari spelled differently?

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Most Dangerous Place In Canada

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I'm lucky enough to be spending a few days in Ottawa this weekend. 

Psst...Ottawa is the capital of Canada.

I had the morning to myself and since the weather was perfect for walking, I left my hotel and strolled up Bank Street, heading north to Parliament Hill.

Even though this isn't my first visit to the Government buildings, the complex with it's stonework and steeple rooftops still evokes a wide eye sense of wonder from me. When my own kids saw it for the first time, they thought it was Hogwarts.

Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
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Parliament, Not as much fun as Hogwarts
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I walked by several groups of Junior High School students gathered around the Centennial Flame. Each teen had a sheet of paper, probably checking off items on some kind of 'history of politics' scavenger hunt.

Centennial Flame
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On the other side of the lawn, a guy was protesting gay marriage. In Canada we believe and support gay marriage—but we don't support gay divorce, it messes up the statistics.

Anyway, this guy was just standing there in front of a few signs and was wearing some kind of poncho/Snuggie contraption that he'd sewn himself out of his province's flags. I won't embarrass anyone by saying which province because I totally adore Newfoundland and I have family there.

I continued along the pathway and up the stone steps, deciding to settle on a bench in front of the main building. From this vantage point I was able to enjoy the full height of the beautiful clock tower, admiring the rich patinae of the copper roof. Across the green expanse of the grounds, workers were planting red and white flowers. The sun was shining on my face and a Starling was making a nest in a nearby shrub.

Seriously. What was the news going to be about tonight? Everything was so peaceful.

And I realized this was a rare and precious thing. I was suddenly thankful to live in a country where I could be this close to the Prime Minister without fear of being attacked or threatened. The usual RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) vehicles were parked at various spots, but mostly it was a lawn covered with teenagers writing on their laps, tourists with cameras, and a quietly protesting guy wearing a homemade moo-moo.

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Feeling particularly patriotic, I began to hum O'Canada as I pulled out my walking map, plotting a course to make my way toward the Museum of Nature.

And that's when it happened.

Have you ever had your hair suddenly pulled from behind? It's surprising (especially when you're not expecting it). I felt a sharp stab on the top of my head and I heard myself shreke—yes I shrieked. I whipped around, holding up my hand as a shield, but no one was there. I turned and saw a Starling fly back into the shrubs. Are you kidding me?!

Me, not exactly, on Parliament Hill
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A man in a suit passed me in the opposite direction, looking sympathetic. He said, “That bird got me twice this week.”

I laughed and did my best to smooth out my hair while trying to inconspicuously get the hell out of there. Pain takes a back seat to embarrassment every time. I walked down Elgin Street not exactly enjoying the irony of the moment.

In the Bird Exhibit at the Museum, I stared down at the stuffed version of a Starling, in particular it's long sharp beak. Apparently they're very territorial. No kidding. My fingers found the throbbing spot under my hair and I was grateful no bird poo was there. Trust me, bird poo in the hair is no party—but that's another post.

THE COLLECTOR Cover Reveal!!!

It's my pleasure to help the awesome and talented Victoria Scott reveal the very hot cover for her debut YA novel, THE COLLECTOR.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment: Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.

Victoria Scott is a YA writer with a die-hard affection for dark and humorous books. Her work is represented by the fabulous Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada literary agency. She has a master’s degree in marketing, and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas and Teen Shiver.

Her first YA book, THE COLLECTOR, will be published by Entangled Teen in 2013. And her short story, FOUR HOUSES, is available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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