Author Guest Post: Getting Inspiration From Movies

A good book should have you visualising the plot unfolding in your mind, as though you’re watching a movie, and every writer strives to achieve a rich sensory experience for the reader. Watching movies can be a good way of inspiring writers to create visual and emotional scenes that evoke a strong image in the reader’s mind. They can remind writers to focus on the different senses in a scene - What is the character seeing? What sounds are there? With writing we have only words, but those words have the power to become much more.

I find if I’m stuck with my writing, taking some time to watch a movie can help restart my enthusiasm and remind me of all the little details that can enrich a scene; the setting, the colours, the atmosphere, the facial expressions, the weather, the actions... And good movies with emotional storylines remind me of how powerful fiction can be in stimulating certain emotions. You’d think because it’s fiction we wouldn’t be affected emotionally, but the brain doesn’t differentiate clearly between what it sees and what it imagines. It’s known that watching certain events - real or fake - can stimulate specific parts of the brain and create emotional responses in the body.

A helpful tip when writing certain types of scenes is to watch an example in a movie. So if you want to write a car chase scene, then it could be helpful to watch the car chase scenes out of a movie such as The Bourne Identity. Take notice of how it’s done, press pause and slow motion, and note down what is happening involving all of the senses. The types of books I write are not that likely to involve car chases though, so for me, I’d be more inclined to watch examples of kissing scenes, arguments, funny moments, and heart-wrenching moments. If a scene in a movie has triggered strong emotions in me, I like to take note of what it was about it that caused that reaction. Was it the subject matter? Or the way it was communicated through the actor, such as their bodily reactions and facial expressions? Then I can try and do a similar thing in my writing.

Movies can also help writers with the pacing of their story. Movies have a much more rigid structure than books, and there are certain turning points in the story that almost always occur around the same times, so if you want to get really academic, you can try watching a movie and jotting down each of the turning points and roughly when they occurred. This can help you to see what the main plot points are and how you can replicate this pacing in your own story. Movies are, of course, different to books though, so this is only a way to guide you.

Characters in movies can also help in the creation of your own characters. Think about characters that stood out for you in various movies... why did they stand out? What made them unique? You can flesh out your book characters in the same way.

Some movies I’ve enjoyed that I kept in mind while writing my book, Fast Forward, were 13 Going On 30/Suddenly 30, 17 Again, and Big. Although I didn’t try to replicate anything in particular, they were a general inspiration for the ‘feel’ of the book I wanted to write - something that was both humorous and heartwarming. So if you’re a writer, next time you’re stuck, pop on a DVD and get inspired! :)
Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday, she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd. Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?
Buy FAST FORWARD: Escape Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Kobo.

GIVEAWAY #1: To be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card, forward your purchase receipt to
GIVEAWAY #2: To be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card or the runner up prize of a $25 gift card, leave a comment on this post with your email address. Comment on other blogs during Juliet’s February blog tour for more entries into the drawing! Winners will be chosen on March 1st.

Connect with Juliet: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

Featured Book & Giveaway: Broken

Broken by J.B. McGee

Gabby's life has been anything but easy. She is surrounded by friends who seem to have everything she doesn't: money, social standing, and happily married parents. While dealing with the loss of her mother, she experiences her first heartbreak. She commits herself to her studies and runs away from any emotions that aren't safe. Bradley Banks, a confident CEO and commercial architect, who has long time commitment issues, forces Gabby to feel again, but will he be her next heartbreak?

Giveaway! Please leave a comment to be entered to win 1 signed paperback copy of Broken. Be sure to include your email address or Facebook/Twitter information so we can contact you if you win. The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, December 23rd. 

Fifteen Firsts & Giveaway: Samantha March

What was your first car? 
My first car was a 1987 Buick something or other. It was silver, old, clunky, and the brakes stopped working after about 6 months of driving. But my mom wanted me to have a “learning car” in case I was accident prone like my sister, and I paid cash for it after winning $600 in a raffle at a hockey game!

What was the first thing you learned to cook? 
Ha! Um…I’m still learning?! I would say probably French toast - or “eggbread” as my Grandma called it. 

When was your first time on an airplane? 
My first time was as a baby, traveling from California where I was born to Dubuque, Iowa. Since then, I’ve been on many more – with a family in the Army and a love for traveling, planes and I are no strangers! 

What was your first paying job? 
Baby-sitting, but other than that, my first “real” job was pizza maker at a Papa Murphy’s. I quit because they kept insisting I remove my fake fingernails. I was 14. Lol.

How old were you when you had your first kiss? 
Oh boy. I think I was in the 5th or 6th grade. His name was Billy, it was at a park, and I got grounded for coming home late that night.

What was the first concert you went to see? 
Wow, I do not remember! I’m sure I had to go to some in high school, but nothing is coming to me. My first college concert I went to was Avenged Sevenfold – love them! 

When/what was your first regrettable hairstyle? 
Cutting super short bangs. I think around the 7th grade. Eesh! 

How old were you when you got your first computer? 
When I got my OWN first computer, I was 21 and it was my college graduation present to myself. After I did 2 years of online school…figure that out! 

What was your first big purchase? 
Probably my first car. At 17, $600 is a lot of money to spend! 

What was the first book that made you cry? 
Oh boy. I’m sure it was a Baby-Sitter’s Club book. Love them! 

Where was your first road trip? 
My first big road trip that I remember (and going farther than the Midwest) is when I drove to North Carolina with my brother-in-law’s family to visit my sister and her new husband and baby in Camp Lejeune. That was in 2000 I believe. 

Who was your first best friend? 
My cousins Erinne and Leah. My first “school” best friend was Katie, who I am still in touch with through Facebook. 

When/where was your first trip abroad? 
Amsterdam in March 2006. I was a travel major in college and our big assignment was to completely plan this trip, then we got to take it. Best. Class. Ever. 

Who was your first love? 
Ooh, probably my first boyfriend Billy. I was in the 5th/6th grade. I definitely thought we were getting married. I am friends with him on Facebook, and did just see that he got married not too long ago. No hard feelings. ;) 

Who was your first celebrity crush? 
Ha. It was Zac Hanson, from the boy band Hanson. Yes, it’s true.

Thanks, Samantha!

College junior Alex Abrams scores her dream job at the ripe age of twenty – manager to a successful salon and spa. Thrilled to finally have a real adult job, Alex enthusiastically jumps into the world of schedules, conference calls, and getting a massage when interviewing prospective employees. What she doesn’t expect are the very grown-up issues that come with a demanding boss. Kevin Dohlman quickly becomes Alex’s worse nightmare – covering up his affairs, dealing with his enormous ego, and trying to protect her female staff from him becomes a full-time job in its own right. Alex has also befriended Kevin’s wife and co-owner, Dani, and is trying to keep Kevin’s secrets hidden from her. The situation only worsens when Kevin starts paying Alex off to make sure she keeps her insider knowledge to herself.

While struggling to keep her wits and stay happy with her new grown-up job, Alex is juggling college courses, a new love interest, and keeping up with her close group of girlfriends. When her roommate and best friend Lila gets offered an opportunity to move to Los Angeles and sign with an agent, Alex realizes her life truly is changing, and everyone around her – including herself  is growing up. Knowing she is faced with some hard decisions ahead, Alex struggles with keeping her job at Blissful. But does she really want to throw away what she dreamed of as a career – or will the secret-keeping for Kevin become too much to handle? The Green Ticket is a story about morals versus money, and how one young woman navigates the shaky line between the two.

eBook Giveaway! Please leave a comment to be entered to win 1 of 2 copies of The Green Ticket. Be sure to include your email address or Twitter/Facebook information so that we can get in touch if you win. The winners will be chosen on Wednesday, December 12th. Good luck!

Author Guest Post & Giveaway: Eliza Daly

Fake It, Don’t Bake It or Make It: A Busy Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays
This holiday advice column is brought to you by Monica Jackson, the heroine in my debut romance novel, Under Her Spell. It is the second column in the series. Her first column is Deck the Halls with Stress Balls: How to Bring Inner Peace and Joy to Your Holidays.
Stressed is desserts spelled backwards. Appropriate, since baking stresses me out, and when I’m stressed, I eat massive amounts of chocolate, and gaining weight is stressful. My cousin Hope makes Martha Stewart look like a total slacker, so I figured she’d be playing domestic elf this year—baking, cooking, and decorating our townhouse. But her no-good cheating hubby is giving her a large divorce settlement for Christmas, so she’s celebrating by popping a champagne cork on a two-week cruise. I can’t skip the holidays. I love the holidays, and this is one of the busiest times for my romantic event planning company.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my stressful job, it’s that you need to look like you’ve got it together even when you don’t. I suffered panic attacks a few months back when Reed, a divorce lawyer, moved in next to my business. It wasn’t pretty. However, Reed turned out to be good for my stress. A lot of people experience a high level of stress around the holidays because they are perfectionists and insist on doing everything themselves. So here are my top time management ideas and how I’m going to enjoy a perfectly imperfect holiday.

1) The Island of Misfit Cookies. Last year, I bought gingerbread cookie dough for a holiday party, and then I realized I didn’t own cookie cutters or a rolling pin. No time to run to the store, I rolled out the dough with a glass and found a gingerbread cookie cutter online and printed it out. Half of the cookies ended up with frowning faces, and I even decapitated a few. So this year, I asked Hope to make my cookies before she starts sailing the high seas. Hope owns a cake decorating business and her cookies are a work of art. I can’t pass off perfect cookies as my own, so she made me some skinny Santa cookies with fuchsia colored suits, one-eyed gingerbread men, and reindeer without antlers. Hope’s misfit cookies business is taking off. However, she has to be discreet or her secret will be out and she’ll lose her clients.

2) Recruit Elves. I’ve started over twenty businesses. When I was ten years old, I dressed up as an elf and went around the neighborhood offering my gift wrapping services. I was an awful wrapper and once mistakenly wrapped a centerpiece and salt ‘n pepper shakers that were sitting on a client’s table. I didn’t last more than one season. My wrapping skills haven’t improved and everyone knows this. So I’m hiring a nine-year-old neighbor girl to wrap my presents. I’m also having her wrap the pictures on my walls, which will make festive decorations.

3) Dual-Purpose Cards. Last year, my cousin Ellie posted her annual Christmas brag letter on Facebook and asked everyone to share it with friends and family who weren’t on Facebook. Rather than being put out that she wanted us to distribute her letter, we were happy that Ellie wasn’t so perfect after all. This gave me the idea to do e-cards this year. I emailed photo cards of my assistant and me dressed as somewhat sexy elves and her cute little Shih Tzu dressed as Santa, standing in front of my business. I posted this photo on Facebook with our business address and a caption reading We can help you be a little naughty, or nice, this season with your significant other. Not sure if it was the cute little dog or our sexy elf outfits, but the promo just went viral on Facebook. You may have already seen it.

4) Voila—A Holiday Feast. I’ve been watching Hope cook for the past few months, and if there is one thing I’ve learned—the only thing—is that cooking is all about presentation. Hope and her soon-to-be ex owned a restaurant, so she knows the secret of haute cuisine is small portions, stacking and garnishes. I’m going to buy deli turkey with the fixings and reheat the turkey on Christmas Day in a slow cooker so the aroma fills the air. Then all I have to do is place a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on a plate, top it with a dollop of stuffing, slap a slice of turkey over it then drizzle with gravy. Garnish the plate with a few cranberries.

5) Indoor-Outdoor Decorations. We recently had a major snowstorm in Milwaukee. Go figure. School was cancelled. When I came home from work, some kids who live in an apartment building without a yard were building a snowman in the dirty snow plowed up on a curb. I offered them my yard. I asked them to decorate the snowmen with red and green attire and to build them in front of my windows, so they could be enjoyed inside or outside. Of course this only works if you have snow.

6) Deck the Halls with Stress Balls: How to Bring Inner Peace and Joy to Your Holidays. This is the title of my first advice column published on November 14th at Urban Girl Reader. It offers suggestions on how to reduce holiday stress. I hope my two columns, along with some deep yoga breaths, help you survive the holiday season!
Which of Monica’s suggestions do you like the best? What do you do to simplify your holidays?

Giveaway! I will be giving away two e-copies of Under Her Spell and a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate. To be eligible to win one of these prizes, please answer both of the above questions. Include your e-mail address with your comment and check back here on December 3rd when the winners will be announced in the comment section.  

Thank you so much to Nancy and The Chick Lit Bee for helping me celebrate the release of Under Her Spell!

Book Description
When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals.  But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself? Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance.  Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office.  The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business.  When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold.  Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business. Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge.  If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer. Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have foundUnder Her Spell is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and eBooks.
About the Author 
Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it. When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie. You can find Eliza on the Web at her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Birthday Book Giveaway: True Love Way

To celebrate my birthday, I'm giving away two Kindle copies of my bestselling novel, True Love Way

If you would like to enter to win a copy, please leave a comment answering the following question: If you could spend your birthday with any chick lit heroine, who would it be and why? 

Be sure to include your email address or Twitter/Facebook information so that I can get in touch if you win. The winners will be chosen at random tonight at midnight, so enter now!