Thursday Writing Quote ~ King

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don’t get carried away with the rest. Long life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying ~ Stephen King

Shopping for that Impossible-to-Buy-For Friend - the movie edition

Black Friday is just around the corner, so I figure this isn't a bad time to do another installment of shopping for that hard to buy for friend. This time, I'm focusing on movies and TV.

Do you know someone who's a fan of fantasy? I'll be they'd love Game of Thrones.

This is the hot series in fandom at the moment. It's very well done, though seriously, adults only.

Any one who is a Diana Gabaldon fan or who loves time travel or Scottish romance will love Outlander.

Really books to premium cable networks, that's the way to go for quality adaptation.

Not everything has to be the latest, hottest series. You can find some real bargains in older series. Some have stood up well. And did I mention you can find some real bargains?

One of my favorites is Soap.

And incredible ensemble cast, and you can pick up all four seasons for under $20.

WKRP in Cincinatti is on my personal wish list now that all the seasons are out. It's sad that they weren't able to get rights to all the great music they used on the original show, but I've seen the first season and it's still incredibly funny. How can it not be with Dr. Johnny Fever?

Another comedy that's aged well is Third Rock from the Sun 

John Lithgow will do anything for a laugh and so will the rest of the cast. Aliens are never as funny as Tom, Dick and Harry... and of course Sally.

As ensemble casts go, it's hard to beat Hamish MacBeth. This BBC America series is insanely funny. The only thing wrong with it was that it only lasted three seasons.

If you have a friend who's a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars, you can always check to see if their collection is complete or...

You can go with my favorite and introduce them to
Babylon 5

If this was being made today, it would be on a premium cable network. It has a stellar cast and a great story arc that spans five seasons.

I have a friend who LOVES bad science fiction movies. (Hey, it's not my place to judge.) Understandably, she also loves Mystery Science Theater.

And of course, one shouldn't forget Monte Python. I'm inclined to recommend starting with Monte Python and the Holy Grail but if you're a fan, really any of them will work.

The Mel Brooks Collection is a real steal at $30, especially since it gets you nine movies. Come on. That's less than $5 a movie.
Disc 1: The Twelve Chairs
Disc 2: Blazing Saddles
Disc 3: Young Frankenstein
Disc 4: Silent Movie
Disc 5: High Anxiety
Disc 6: History of the World - Part 1
Disc 7: To Be or Not to Be
Disc 8: Spaceballs
Disc 9: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

So those are my top choices.Other series that had large followings include Friends, Sex in the City, The Walking Dead, Beauty and the Beast, Mash, The Big Bang Theory,

One word of caution. If a series was made on a premium cable network like HBO, some of the content may not be appropriate for households with minors (I'm looking at you, Game of Thrones), so take that into consideration.

You'll probably have a hard time not picking something up for yourself. Go for it. Some of these are incredible deals.

Happy shopping.

Thursday Writing Quote ~ King

Where do I get my ideas? The more pertinent question is…how do I make them stop? ~ Stephen King

Nuggets for October

This is the very best analysis of how to write subtext that I've ever read.

Another one from KM Weiland. She's on fire with this post about how to pick the right antagonist.

Janice Hardy has a post on Anne R. Allen's blog about how to fix that unfinished novel. Good thoughts to help you analyze what wrong.

Thoughts on how get from one scene to the next

Coming up with a title can be hard. This may help.

Thursday Writing Quote ~ Snyder

But here’s my little trade secret that I put into every All Is Lost moment just for added spice, and it’s something that many hit movies have. I call it the whiff of death. I started to notice how many great movies use the All Is Lost point to kill someone. Obi Wan in Star Wars is the best example — what will Luke do now?? All Is Lost is the place where mentors go to die, presumably so their students can discover “they had it in them all along.” The mentor’s death clears the way to prove that. But what if you don’t have an Obi Wan character? What if death isn’t anywhere near your story? Doesn’t matter. At the All Is Lost moment, stick in something, anything that involves a death. It works every time. Whether it’s integral to the story or just something symbolic, hint at something dead here. It could be anything. A flower in a flower pot. A goldfish. News that a beloved aunt has passed away. It’s all the same. ~ Blake Snyder

Tuesday ~ The Haunting of Hill House

I first became aware of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson when I was about ten and saw the movie (the original 1963 version, not the remake which is total crap.) This is, in my opinion, the best of the best when one is talking about ghost stories and haunted houses. A true classic.

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Hill House has an impressive list of tragedies connected with it, but then, most old houses have. People have to live and die somewhere, after all, and a house can hardly stand for eighty years without seeing some of its inhabitants dies within its walls.

Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! To see what others are sharing on the Teaser Tuesdays, check the comments at:

Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Thursday Writing Quote ~ McKee

You must do it this way.” A principle says, “This works … and has through all remembered time. ~ Robert McKee

Tuesday Teaser ~ Anna Dressed in Blood

Though I'm a few years behind the curve in reading Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, I love finding something new in the horror field.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a 2011 Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year title.
One of NPR's Top 5 Young Adult Novels of 2011.

The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway--no pun intended.
So is the loose and faded leather coat. though not as much as the sideburns. And the way he keeps nodding and flicking his Zippo open and closed in rhythm with his head. He belongs in a chorus line of dancing Jets and Sharks.

I jerk my head toward Thomas and immediately curse myself for trying to be a smartass. My head is not healthy enough for smartassery.

Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! To see what others are sharing on the Teaser Tuesdays, check the comments at:

Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea

Shopping for that Impossible-to-Buy-for Friend - the cat lover's edition

So last month, I posted about finding the perfect gift for hard-to-buy for people (like me), and I promised more posts on the subject. This month, I'm going to focus on the cat lover because I know a little something about the subject (being one myself.)

First comes my disclaimer: I've never seen any one product work for all cats. No, not even a spray bottle. (I think my cat thinks it's a game.)

Cat trees are always interesting for cats. They can range from quite simple to very elaborate. Amazon even has some for under $25. You should definitely read reviews when buying one, with an eye for something solid. You don't want one that wobbles when your cat jumps from level to level.

I only recently became aware of nail caps for cats, so I don't have first hand experience with it yet, but it's an interesting idea. The friend of a friend who has used them said she had her vet put them on her cat, and so far, she likes them. I don't know how often they'd have to be replaced. And I suspect they wouldn't work for my cat (he's a chewer. I can't imagine him leaving them alone.)

They come in all kinds of colors and are also available for dogs. Best of all they're inexpensive, so it's not a huge risk to try them. If you do, please let me know how your experience went.

Cat Scratch Guards furniture protector - I don't have experience with this particular product, but I want to. Cats have a need to sharpen their claws. The only sure fire cure is getting them declawed, but even though my cat is a strictly indoor cat who seems to have no interest in going outdoors, I can't convince myself to do it. That means I have to look for other ways to defend my furniture. This product has good reviews, so it looks promising. Even if it's not exactly what you want, you can check out the related products on Amazon's page.

The Scat Cat Mat is a product I have experience with and I love it. My cat thinks a spray bottle is a game, a race to see who's faster, him or me with the bottle. I couldn't keep him off the counters or the table. And even if I could when I was around, cats understand they can get away with things "when she isn't looking." This can be run off a 9-volt battery and has three settings (the highest will deter even large dogs) or you can buy an AC adapter. It delivers a little zing intermittently and cats don't like it. And in the training stages, it even provides entertainment.

Litter boxes aren't something I usually get excited about, but I have one of these and, as litter boxes go, I love it. You simply roll the box to the right and all the dirty litter goes into the drawer you then remove and empty. Yes, there are electric ones out there that scrape the litter every time the cat uses it, but I have a friend who bought one of those early on and it kept breaking. It was on warranty, so she got several replacement ones until she finally gave up on it. Maybe they've gotten better. I haven't felt the need to check because this is so easy to use. They also come in a larger size.

I have a food bin for my cat's dry food. Why? you might wonder. Because my cat will chew through the bag to get at the Iams. Yes, I have a chewer. Amazon delivery boxes cannot sit around my house because my cat will turn them into confetti. So I got this. It was actually a birthday present. Something I asked for because... you know... I'm that hard-to-buy-for friend.

I love that it has wheels, so I can roll it forward to fill it.

Crinkle Fish are one of those toys that I can personally attest that your cat will love. Or not. I cat-sat a cat named Walter for the better part of year who absolutely adored these things. He would effectively elbow my cat out of the way to get to them and he would carry them all over the house to play with them. Somewhere in my house, there is a pile of these, but I can't find them. Once I left the drawer where I stashed these just a little bit open and the next thing I knew, the fish, card and all, was on the living room floor because Walter had to have them. Sadly, Puss is more take-it-or-leave-it about these. Maybe because Walter never gave him a chance at them. Or probably because there really is no universal cat toy. In any case, they're cheap, so it's not going to create a financial hardship to try them.

If there IS a universal cat toy, it's catnip. I've been told that a small percentage of cats don't show an interest in it, but frankly, I've never met one.

And a clip of a catnip overdose seems like a great way to end this post.

Would love to hear from anyone who has a cat toy that's popular with your cat. Or your dog.