Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lisbeth Salander - As Cool As It Gets!

I just finished watching the final movie of the Millennium Triology, "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest."  I watched the first and second movies, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," and, "The Girl Who Played With Fire," last week. 

As for the "unputdownable" books, written by the late Stieg Larsson, I've read "The Girl With Dragon Tattoo," and I am half-way through "The Girl Who Play with Fire."  I have to admit, I wish I had read all three books, then watched the videos, but I just couldn't wait.  The books are great, but so are the movies - an unusual thing.  As we all know, most books are usually superior to the movie version, but in this case, while the books are fantastic, so are the movies, and what made them so fantastic is the best protagonist I've seen in a long time - Lisbeth Salander.

Lisbeth, played so perfectly in the film by Swedish actress, Noomi Rapace, is a natural redhead, who dyes her hair black, she has multiple piercings, and dresses in black - black leather that is, and on her feet are black Converse sneakers or hip, black boots (just like 16-year-old Kevan Flood, one of the characters in my story, WIND).  Lisbeth is physically strong, but tiny; she's the size of a child, and as thin as a whip, the books say.  She rides a motorcycle, she boxes, wields a tazer, and is as agile as a cat.

Lisbeth is a 28-year-old computer hacker, employed by a security firm in Stockholm, Sweden.  She is a survivor of horrific abuse as a child, and adult, and has a severe distrust of people, mainly men.  She's an introvert; she's more of a listener, than a talker, which is probably why she is so intuitive.  She has a eidetic(photographic) memory; she can recall memories, images and sounds with stunning clarity.  She's the best there is at hacking into other people's computers and laptops, and uncovering covert information that would otherwise never have seen the light of day.

However, I think the trait I love most about Lisbeth is her comfort in her own skin.  She's angry yes, but her anger is justified, and aimed in the right direction - punishing the bad guys, when conventional law enforcement is stymied.  Lisbeth Salander knows who she is, and if you don't like her, that's just too bad.

Move over, Xena, Cat Woman, Batgirl, Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Laura Croft, and even Buffy Summers - Lisbeth Salander is as cool as it gets!

What do you think of Lisbeth?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Great White North . . . Writes Great Books!

Canada has been nicknamed The Great White North for the substantial blanket of snow that covers the ground for half the year, but as an aspiring writer, I see its greatness in the talent of our past and present literary community:

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Born in 1874, Montgomery is best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908. The charming series was an immediate, international success featuring the beloved character, Anne Shirley, who goes to live with an elderly rural couple who are expecting a boy orphan, but are mistakenly sent a girl, yet decided to keep her.

Maza de la Roche

Mazo de la Roche (1879 – 1961) was born in Newmarket, Ontario (very close to where I presently live). Her third novel, Jalna, was submitted to the American magazine Atlantic Monthly in 1927, winning a $10,000 award, a small fortune in the 20’s! Its publication brought de la Roche fame and fortune at the age of 48 (yes, there’s still hope for me at 50!). The series tells the story of one hundred years of the Whiteoak family covering from 1854 to 1954. The novels were not written in sequential order, however, and each can be read as an independent story. The Jalna series has sold more than eleven million copies in 193 English and 92 foreign editions.

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence (1926-1987) is one of Canada’s most loved and respected writers. She is the author of sixteen books, including a travel memoir, five novels and two collections of short stories, a translation of Somali tales and poems, a collection of essays and an important study of Nigerian dramatists. Laurence was born in 1926 and lived in Lakefield, Ontario (the northern town where Prince Andrew went to college). In perhaps her best-know work, The Stone Angel, Laurence tells the story of a 90-year old woman struggling to come to grips with a life of intransigence and loss. "Pride was my wilderness, the demon that led me there was fear." Although Stone Angel has been banned from some schools, it is studied at the grade 12 university level in other schools.
The Diviners, published in 1974 was Laurence’s final novel. Although on the surface, The Diviners depicts very different roles for women than her earlier novels do, there is a recurring theme of the female perspective on contemporary life. Margaret Laurence wrote fifteen books and a memoir that was published posthumously. She as also well-known for her work as a peace activist and as one of the founders of the Writers’ Union of Canada. Her encouragement of fellow writers is legendary.

Mordecai Richler

Mordecai Richler (1931 – 2001) was a Canadian author, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and essayist. He was born in Montreal, Quebec. Richler wrote movingly of his working class neighbourhood and its people, chronicling the hardships and disabilities they faced as a Jewish minority:

“To a middle-class stranger, it is true, one street would have seemed as squalid as the next. On each corner a cigar store, a grocery, and a fruit man. Outside staircases everywhere. Winding ones, wooden ones, rusty and risky ones. Here a prized lot of grass splendidly barbered, there a spitefully weedy patch. An endless repetition of precious peeling balconies and waste lots making the occasional gap here and there.”

His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and the Jacob Two-Two children's stories. A leading critic called him "the great shining star of his Canadian literary generation.”

Margaret Atwood

Ms. Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1939 and began writing at the age of six. She graduated from Harvard’s Radcliffe College in 1962 and went on to write The Edible Woman, The Handmaiden’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Atwood writes Dystopian Science Fiction, but prefers to label it “Speculative Fiction”, and "Adventure Romance" because it does not deal with “things that have not been invented yet” and goes beyond the realism she associates with the novel form.

You can follow Ms. Atwood on Twitter at:  @MargaretAtwood

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje was born 1943 in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and moved to England with his mother in 1954. After relocating to Canada in 1962, Ondaatje became a Canadian citizen. His style of fiction was introduced in Coming Through Slaughter and mastered in one of my favorite books, The English Patient. He creates a narrative by exploring many interconnected snapshots in minute detail.

Canada is known for many national treasures—Wayne Gretzky, Christopher Plummer, Ellen Page, Mike Myers, Niagara Falls, The Canadian Rocky Mountains, Hockey, Maple Syrup, Canadian Bacon, French Canadian Pea Soup, Butter Tarts, The Northern Lights, Canada Geese, Tim Horton’s (much-coveted coffee and donuts), Poutine (French Fries drizzled with melted cheese curds and gravy - my kids love it!), The Hudson Bay Company (which once owned 1/11th of the Earth's surface), Molson’s beer, great Health Care and Halloween costumes for kids that fit over snow suits—but, check out these great Canadian writers.

Have you read any these great Canadian authors lately?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

YA Highway: 62nd Road Trip Wednesday

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

They'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link in the comments - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

ONe of my favorite lines from my YA Paranormal Romance, WIND, is:

"She had shed her sweet, little girl chrysalis and become a dark, brooding butterfly—black leather jacket, black skinny jeans, T-shirts with skulls, crosses and other Goth symbols, the two spider bite piercings in her lower lip, and under the sweep of hair over her eyes, two half-moons of inky-black eye shadow."

Symon Francis

This is my beautiful American Cocker Spaniel, Symon Francis (Francis is for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of Animals).

Symon came to me late in life (both our lives). I've only had him for three years - he'll be 11 years old in April, and I'll be . . . never mind.

Symon is featured in my YA Paranormal Romance, WIND; he's also the pet of my main character, Mary Flynn Flood. I'm pleased to share him with Flynn, just as long as she remembers, I knew him first!

Isn't he gorgeous?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Personal Encounters with Angels

Ever since I completed my Young Adult Paranormal Romance, WIND, I’ve been asked by many people, “Have you had encounters with angels?” This question always gets me thinking about what I believe are my personal encounters with those spiritual messengers.

As far back as I can remember, whenever I’ve been in a tight spot, a stranger would appear, seemingly out of the blue (so to speak), and assist me in my time of need. Then, just as quickly, they’d leave; vanish from my sight.

I recall the time when my car was stuck in my extensive, uphill driveway during a blizzard. My son—a baby at the time—was in his car seat in the back; my husband was not yet home from work. After several futile attempts at gunning my way up the drive, I realized the more I tried, the deeper the tires spun and dug into the overwhelming amount of packing snow already accumulated on the drive. I gave up. Yet, I was terrified the car would start to slide down the drive, and into the street. I took my small son out of the car, and we stood silently in the snow. I said a short prayer. Then, suddenly, a young man appeared out of the eddy of swirling snow. He walked toward me, and asked me if I needed any help. I hesitated, and then asked him if he could possibly get the car to the top of the drive. He smiled, jumped in the car without hesitation, and immediately drove it straight up the slippery slope to the top. He turned off the engine, leaped out of the car, and, still smiling, gently placed keys in my hand. Relieved, I began to thank him profusely, but he just kept walking, until he finally disappeared into the swirling flurry of white. How do I know he was an angel? There was something about him—a divine aura—that told me he wasn’t any ordinary good Samaritan.

Many years ago, I had locked my keys in my car (just like my main character, Mary-Flynn Flood does in WIND). After several futile attempts at trying to unhook the door lock with the end of a hanger, a man tapped me on the shoulder. I spun around, and he asked if he could give it a try. I immediately handed him the untwined hanger. He leaned into the cracked window, jiggled the extended wire hanger, and unlocked the door at once. I was stunned. I opened the car door, and then turned to thank him. Of course, he was gone.

I have experienced many more incidents such as these; too many to recount here. You may wonder, what did these heavenly helpers look like? Unlike many angel encounters I have read about, they weren’t especially tall, nor were they blond, with icy blue eyes. Both of these strangers looked like “regular” guys, dressed in an unexceptional fashion. They both appeared unexpectedly, quietly assisted, then disappeared, without warning.

Have you ever had an encounter with an angel?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Guest Post - Julie Anne Lindsey Muses About Twitter

The Angel-Faced Julie Anne Lindsey,

It wasn’t long ago I realized I needed a REAL web presence. I was at my computer all day, silently stalking my favorite agent blogs hoping to glean the information I needed, but I wasn’t moving forward. I was writing manuscript after manuscript and getting nowhere. Was it the topic they rejected? Was the query too pathetic? Was it the writing??? Looking back, it was sad.

Then, I discovered Twitter.

Twitter, while intimidating at first tweet, is a brilliant hodgepodge of amazingness. I am now on a one woman quest to promote and encourage the use of twitter throughout the writing community! In case you don’t tweet, let me tell you why you should.

First, you chose who to follow. That means those people’s comments will appear on your screen when you log in. I started by following a favorite agent of mine, then I followed who she was following. That made sense right? If they interest her, then I need to know them too. I followed writers, publishers, agents, everyone in the industry I could find, and now I am enjoying it every day.

I log in to twitter to promote my blog, or talk about my writing hits and misses, and people respond! Using the #amwriting hashtag connects me with everyone else who’s writing and I’m not alone anymore. I frequently respond or comment on things agents or editors say and I’m making a little place for myself.

Twitter allows me to find writing contests, hot blog topics, and hear what agents and editor are saying about the industry. No more trolling the internet for hours. I have one stop shopping on twitter. I can network, get the scoop, and make friends who know the challenges I’m up against. I’ve found beta readers, guest bloggers and won my share of free books all thanks to the twitterverse.

I love the camaraderie. I can’t meet enough aspiring writers. We’re made up of the same stuff. I also love that agents will begin to recognize my name. I can’t imagine how tedious query reading can become, but I can imagine sifting restlessly through hundreds of emails and losing focus. Then, I picture myself preparing to pass on a query until I see a familiar name. I’m hoping that building a recognizable name will get my query one more read, through fresh eyes. After all, it only takes one yes, right?

So, if you’re still reading this, I hope it means you already have a twitter account. If not, please stop over, check it out and consider joining twitter. I’ve met my closest of writer friends that way (and two of them don’t even live on this continent). I joined a critique group and I have a sounding board. Twitter is a fabulous tool for every aspiring writer and every author looking to build a platform of readers.

You can find me @JulieALindsey and follow those I’m following to help you get started, or wing it, but definitely look me up!


Julie Anne Lindsey is a Midwestern wife, a homeschooling mother of three, and an all around caffeine addict. She’s also an unpublished author, blogging her journey to publication at Musings from the Slush Pile, where she shares writing tips, author interviews, personal experience, and opening chapters from her works.