The Fine Art Diner

imagessyI recently discovered a fun blog that I recommend to all writers and movie buffs. It’s The Fine Art Diner at http://thefineartdiner.blogspot.com/.  This blog reviews works of art, discusses what they say about our times, and breaks down the symbolism that makes them so rich.

I don’t really know who the author of this blog is–she says very little about herself, but her insights are spot-on. The blog’s banner says:

“Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.” William Butler Yeats

So, for example, in one of my favorite movies, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, she raises and answers questions like:

  • What could a Cold War era spy novel possibly communicate to us about the world in which we are living?
  • Why is George Smiley silent for much of the film?
  • Why was the closing song, La Mer, chosen?
  • Why is it important that George Smiley get new glasses?
  • Why does George Smiley take off his shoes and eat mints during the climactic scene?
  • What do Irina and Smiley’s wife symbolize?

Another of my favorite films is Midnight in Paris. In her review, the blogger asks and answers questions like:

  • Why is rain so important to Gil Pender?
  • Why are pearl earrings chosen as a present to Adriana?
  • Why does the 1920s bar become a modern-day laundromat?
  • Why was the particular spot where Gil Pender strolls chosen as the highlight of the film’s poster?

Love, love, love this blog! Next up–her analysis of Penny Dreadful. The blog heightens my enjoyment of the films.

It also reminds me of just how important small, but symbolic, details can be a in a work of art. How they resonate and enrich in ways we don’t even realize. How in the rush to write fast and push a plot along, it pays to slow down and choose details that are particularly meaningful. A good thing for writers to remember!




imagesca3nvvbr  Here’s a great opportunity for writers!

The 2014 Hot Prospects Contest
Sponsor: Valley of the Sun Romance Writers

Turn up the heat on your writing career with the Hot Prospects Contest!




Let editors and agents see your manuscript! Plus winners will receive:


Grand Prize Winner

  • The grand prize winner of the contest will have her entire manuscript (400 pages, Courier, 12pt, Double spaced) reviewed by two professional editors at Novel Needs http://novelneeds.com


  • All finalists in each category will receive a certificate, a graphic for their website, and an acknowledgement in the Romance Writers Report.


For more information, go here:





imagestimeYou sometimes hear people say things like “This is the best time in history to . . . ” In my case, this is the Best Time to Write. I know I’m really dating myself with this post, but that’s okay. I began back in the 90s, and even got published. Then I had some enjoyable life to go off and live. Oh, I still dabbled, but not seriously. In coming back to writing, I’ve discovered that there have been so many changes in the writing/publishing field, it makes me giddy–happy giddy! Here are four reasons why NOW is the best time for me to write:

1. NEW WRITING COMRADES — I’ve kept my old writing friends, but, since moving to Phoenix, AZ, I’ve made some new ones. My local RWA chapter, Valley of the Sun, is filled with inspiring women who are generous and fun to be around. My favorite writing guru, Larry Brooks, lives here in Scottsdale, and I was able to attend one of his live workshops. I’m daily inspired by his web site, Storyfix.com.

2. NEW TECHNOLOGY — When I was writing in the 90s, my group’s newsletter consisted of articles that were typed, cut out, pasted on a sheet of paper, duplicated, and handed out at meetings once a month. Hard to believe, huh? Marketing consisted mostly of business cards and swag to be handed out at conventions. Or buying expensive magazine ads. Now, computer technology is fast, free, colorful, and effective.

3. NEW PUBLISHING OPPORTUNITIES — A writer no longer has to wait months or years to hear back from agents and editors. Sure, the big traditional publishers are still a great way to go, but there are more opportunities now with smaller, online publishers. Not to mention, e-book self-pubbing that doesn’t consist of piled books sitting in one’s garage. A writer can feel hopeful that if she writes good books, she WILL get published. No question.

4. NEW WAYS OF CONNECTING WITH READERS — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, blogs. A writer never need feel isolated or alone.

5. NEW LEARNING TOOLS — Back in the day, I was hungry and thirsty, soaking up everything I could find on how-to-write. I was always scrabbling for information. If I found a dated library book or picked up one good piece of info at a conference, I felt lucky. Young people just don’t realize or appreciate how wonderful it is to have the whole world of information at the touch of a finger.

Hooray! Writing is great anytime, but I’m finding it gets better and better.

Is NOW your best time to write?

If so, what are you waiting for?  :)



1cc30749b8df8b86f0ac773a9dfcb1baWoody Allen has said, “80% of success is just showing up.” And isn’t that true?

I’ve found a new, tried-and-true way to do that–and it really works.

I have a BFF, Yvonne, and we’ve established a standing date to show up online at a certain time every Wednesday. We check in on our Facebook chat, say “Hi,” and then go off and write. We check in every hour–not to critique, just to encourage each other:  “How’s it going?” I have to keep this date because I don’t want to disappoint her, and it sure makes it more fun.

This has helped me get more actual writing done than anything I’ve tried. I recommend it to every writer. Get a writing buddy to help you “show up”!

untitledqueThat was the question posed by Larry Brooks on his blog, StoryFix.com. He regularly posts examples of his critiques (with the authors’ permission) to show how a faulty concept and premise can ruin a story. Invariably, this elicits all sorts of blog comments suggesting minor “tweaks” to save the story. “Well, what if you just change this or that . . . ” or “Maybe you could have your character do this . . . ” I sense Larry’s frustration. I’m re-posting my comment I left on Larry’s blog. I think it’s important, because, in my own evaluating/editing for my day-job, I see this mindset crop up in authors again and again. But there’s hope!:


Can all stories be saved by tweaking? No. I’m going to be a little harsh here and say that the issue sometimes boils down to a problem of ego. It’s essential to separate BEING A WRITER from THIS PARTICULAR PAGE. The two things are entirely different.

A person sits down, maybe with a glass of wine at hand, and types a novel. He types and types, but he doesn’t THINK. If he did, he would be forced to admit that what he’s typing isn’t working. Somewhere deep inside, he knows this, but his ego focuses on “the wonder of me.”– “Look, everybody! I’m a writer! I’ve written a novel!” So he forges on, beating the book over the head, requiring reassurance and massaging of his feelings.

This is so unnecessary. If a person has written a novel, then yes, he’s a writer. It’s admirable. It’s wonderful. That’s a given. ‘Nuff said. He deserves applause.

Now–let’s move on to dispassionately and objectively think about what is on this particular page. Some stories can’t be saved. The necessary tweaking of concept/premise would result in essentially starting a whole new novel. And that’s okay!

If a writer can get beyond his ego and focus on the page, there will be other pages, other novels–hopefully better ones as he continues learning.

As the TV show said, “There are a million stories in the naked city.” You’re a writer–Go find ‘em! :)


You can go to StoryFix.com for Larry’s original post and other comments about this issue.

book-2  Here’s how to come up with a great idea for a novel and series!


The Time-Traveling Fashionista series by Bianca Turetsky is a series of YA novels about a 13-year-old girl who learns history lessons by traveling in time. This 13-year-old just happens to love vintage clothes. The “what-if” concept is:  “What if a beautiful dress could take you back in time?”


So far, the girl has gone to the Titanic, Cleopatra’s Egypt, and Marie Antoinette’s France before the Revolution.


The books are well-written, hitting on every point–the marvelous clothes, great characters, what the girl learns about history, the lesson she takes back to her own time, whether she’s able to change history, etc. Highly recommended for readers and writers of all ages.


It’s also a good lesson in coming up with book ideas–think of an exciting overall concept, add a character and premise for each individual book, an exciting plot with danger and a “ticking clock,” plus lots of love for your subject, and good writing. Can’t miss!





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