Tag Archive for: movies

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

The past few weeks have been so hot that people have been looking for air-conditioned places to hang out – like movie theaters. In our personal lives, we each have favorite movies and television shows with varied reasons we like them. As authors, we think about movie, television, and other visual media from the perspective of how it impacts our writing. Here’s what members of the gang think:

T.K. ThorneAs Good as It Gets with (Jack Nicholas and Helen Hunt). The characters and dialogue are so amazing, that I hunted down the script and studied it. I hope it impacted my writing!

Kathryn Lane –  Gone With the Wind – I’m a hopeless romantic! In my writing, I want readers to feel they are in that location with my protagonist – a concept surely influenced by television!

Meri Allen/Shari Randall – It’s too hard to pick one! I’m in love with the classics, everything from The Thin Man to Singin’ in the Rain. Movies and television have definitely impacted my writing. Any art that a writer comes into contact with becomes (consciously or unconsciously) part of their tool kit. I feel I’ve been influenced by everything from Murder, She Wrote to Fargo.

Donnell Bell – I love Overboard, the Goldie Hawn. Kurt Russell version. Dave, an American President (guess I’m a dreamer that politics can have a happy ending.) I saw there’s a sequel to Top Gun coming out where Tom Cruise plays the Tom Skerrit flight training character, and Val Kilmer who played Iceman recommends Cruise character for the flight trainer. I would definitely go see that. I loved Hidden Figures, In The Heat of the Night in honor of Sydney Poitier’s passing. Clearly, I haven’t seen a new release in so long!

Debra H. Goldstein – My favorite movies is Giant. Besides having Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and a cast of well-seasoned and then newbies who now are well-known, the way social issues are interwoven with the landscape and language makes me watch it anytime I find it on TV.

Lynn McPherson – I love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Knives Out. My favorite thing about each of these films is the characters. They are a big reminder for me that great characters are essential for great books!

Debra Sennefelder – Tough question. I really don’t have a favorite movie. Movies/televisions shows can spark an idea for a plotline, location or character. Inspiration is everywhere.

Dru Ann LoveGone With The Wind.

Lois Winston – It’s too hard to choose one, so I’m going to break the rules: The Greatest ShowmanLaLa LandCasablanca, and Shakespeare in Love (not necessarily in that order.)

Linda Rodriguez – It could be one of many, but at this moment, I would say my favorite movie is The Only Good Indian, with the fabulous Wes Studi. It’s a well-researched historical movie, set at the horrible residential boarding school, which became the university at which my son teaches.

Saralyn Richard – I’m a movie buff with many favorites, but since I can only name one, I’ll say, Casablanca. That movie has it all–great dialogue, superb acting, brisk pacing, and the right amount of ambiguity to keep audiences intrigued and enchanted. Casablanca and other movies deeply impact my writing process. When I write, my characters take their places on the screen of my mind, and begin acting. All I have to do is type the cinematic scenes playing out before me.

My Teenage Reading by Robin Hillyer-Miles

This is a stage of considerable anxiety in our world. I know you follow all the safeguards to protect you and your people. Please check in with those dear to you. 
In this time of turmoil, to take our minds off what’s next, I thought we could go on a trip down memory lane and talk about our favorite books from our teenage years.

One of my all-time favorites is “The Queen of Spells” by Dahlov Ipcar. I need to apologize to my hometown library as it seems I checked it out at the month I turned fifteen on Tues., Nov. 29, 1978, and never returned it. Oopsie. I remember checking it out a few times. I hope I bought this off the sale shelves when they had new inventory coming in and needed the room. 
Ipcar’s book, published in 1973, is not considered the best retelling, but it holds a dear place in my heart. The author had a lifelong career as an artist, we can see her work in major museums. She wrote and illustrated thirty children’s books, this book does not appear by name in her Wikipedia page. 
“The Queen of Spells” is a retelling of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Tam Lin is a story of a prince, captured by the fairy queen, freedom can be obtained only with the love of Janet. In fact, I am writing a retelling of this same ballad. Many authors have done the same. I hope my story has more twists and interesting storylines that will set it off from the rest, and be judged more kindly by reviewers than this one. 
The next book on my teen keeper shelf is “Seal-Woman by Ronald Lockley, published in 1975. This too is a retelling of a myth. In the Faroe Islands there’s the tale of a seal woman who once married a human and had children. Seals were former humans who became seals on purpose. Once a year they return to land as humans. In Lockley’s story, a young man meets Shian and a relationship develops. I’d say more, but I’d rather not give the story away! The cover is rather racy for twelve-year-old me to read. I read way above my age, but still, I must have hidden this book from my mother.
“Portrait of Jennie” by Robert Nathan may be familiar to you as the 1948 film, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton. In the book, published in 1940, a young starving artist meets a strange little girl dressed in old-fashioned clothing who tells him, on their first meeting, that she wishes he’d wait for her to grow up but believes he won’t. He paints landscapes but captures Jennie, the girl, in a sketch and sells it.  
Jennie appears repeatedly, maturing more than the years garner. She’s mysterious and vague, saying things like, “This was tomorrow, once.” And “We can’t both of us be lost.” She sings a song with these lines, “Where I come from nobody knows, and where I am going everything goes.’
The story is ethereal, sublime, and haunting. If you’ve neither seen the movie nor read the book, I recommend them. I read this when I was an early teen and loved it ever since. You know that Facebook quiz about what movie makes you stop and watch it when you happen upon it on television? This is one of those movies you can’t take your eyes from.
“The Lady or the Tiger and Other Stories” is a collection of short stories by Frank Stockton. These eight stories all end in a twist. My mother bought our copy at a second-hand bookshop in 1978 for ten cents. The title story was published in a magazine in November 1882. This now well-worn book in my collection has been read numerous times. I can say my mother has been cleaning out her shelves for years and gifted me her copy.
Most people have heard “The Lady of the Tiger?” where the young man must choose from a door that hides a fierce tiger or a young lady suitable to his age and stance in society (and the same young lady he’d been seen speaking with in the past). However, the twist is, the princess with whom he has been having love encounters gives him a hint by motioning to the door on the right. Would she rather him live with another woman for his lifetime or to die at once and wait for his princess in the next realm?
Shivers! All these books hold a hint of magic, time travel, and mystery. It’s no wonder I love to write along the same lines. 
I hope these books helped you remember cherished stories from your past. Please share them in the comment section.

Stay safe and well! 
See these links for 
Ballad of Tam Lin – http://www.tam-lin.org
Here’s a review of the movie – Portrait of Jennie – https://lwlies.com/articles/portrait-of-jennie-william-dieterle-hollywood-melodrama/
And here’s how to get your copy of Frank Stockon’s story collection – https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781466804111

Robin Hillyer-Miles is a native South Carolinian residing in the Lowcountry with her husband, child, and three dogs. She works part-time for YWCA Greater Charleston, is a certified city of Charleston tour guide, and a 300+ hour yoga instructor. She writes cozy mysteries, contemporary romances, and magical realism. She’s published in the Lowcountry Romance Writers of America’s anthology “Love in the Lowcountry.” She’s durrently working on a novella entitled, “Cathy’s Corner.”

Visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga/

Go here to see the anthology on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Love-Lowcountry-Winter-Holiday-Collection-ebook/dp/B07XJZSRBT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=217AR996F5G99&keywords=love+in+the+lowcountry+anthology&qid=1575124675&sprefix=love+in+the+loco%2Caps%2C151&sr=8-1

Movie Stars Merry & Bright

by Sparkle Abbey

Judy posted earlier in the week about the traditions of holiday movies and we couldn’t help but add our two cents worth on the topic because we love holiday movies. Do you like holiday movies? Do you have a favorite (or two or three) that you look forward to each year as they start appearing in the television line-up?

We love It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife, The Holiday, and oh so many others. Such great stories and so many wonderful stars!

There’s nothing like Zuzu Bailey proclaiming, “Teacher says, ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel get his wings.'” Or Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. Or Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law and all the madcap mixups in The Holiday.

But we have to tell you, there’s a new kid on the block. A new entry in our favorite holiday movie must-see list. The Man Who Invented Christmas with Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as Charles Dickens, and Christopher Plummer as Scrooge was a surprise as we hadn’t heard much about it. But this telling of how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol did not disappoint!

Perhaps some of the charm for us was the protrayal of Dickens, the writer, and the difficulties he encounters as he tries to work out the plotline and get his characters to behave. And deal with real life difficulties at the same time. We won’t give away any details, but if you get a chance, check out this new movie that’s on our list of favorites.

Speaking of stars, we’ve been busy with the launch of our latest installment in the Pampered Pets mystery series, Barking with the Stars, and we’d love to give away a special holiday gift packet to celebrate. Just leave a comment below before midnight December 9th and we’ll draw from among those commenting for a free Sparkle Abbey book and some other Christmas goodies.

Please share your favorite holiday movie, if you have one. Or if you’re not into holiday movies, is there a movie that you re-watch each year?

Wishing you all things merry & bright and a great holiday season!
Sparkle Abbey

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series.

They love to hear from readers and you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you want to make sure you’re up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at sparkleabbey.com.

Clicking Our Heels – Movies That Makes Us Laugh and Cry

Clicking Our Heels – Movies That Make Us Laugh and Cry
Like books, movies impact emotions.
The Stiletto Gang thought we’d suggest some of our favorite films for a good
laugh or cry.

Dru Ann LoveImitation of Life made my cry. What’s
Up Doc
made me laugh.

Paula Benson – During times of stress,
I have three go-to-movies that always life me up with laughter and make me
ready to face the world again: Legally
, Bridget Jones Diary, and Shakespeare in Love.  Then, I have to admit a real fondness for Sneakers, due to all the wonderful
performers, the puzzles, and the conclusion.
Cathy PerkinsCollateral Beauty (made me cry). I watched this one on the plane
coming back from a business trip. Will Smith stars in this movie about a parent’s
grief over losing a child.
Juliana Aragon Fatula Gone With
the Wind
– Don’t listen to Miss Prissy. She don’t know nuttin’ bout birthin’
no baby. Yellowbird and Blazing Saddles always make me laugh.                                                                                                                     
Linda RodriguezSongcatcher is a movie I’ve loved that didn’t get a lot of
attention, but it’s a superb little film about the Great Smokies, the original
homeland of my people, and always makes me cry.
Bethany Maines Clue – A movie based on a board game should never work, but not
only does Clue work, it succeeds
brilliantly. The dialogue is razor sharp and delivered at a machine gun pace by
actors working at their best. Tim Curry anchors the movie with a wicked grin
and the rest of the cast from Eileen Brennan, to Christopher Lloyd, and
Madeline Kahn fill the screen with enough shenanigans that it needs multiple
viewings to catch all the jokes.  Added
to the acting is some brilliant editing that operates the movie in real time (a
character says “the police will be here in thirty minutes” and you can time it
yourself, the police do indeed show up in thirty minutes), and gives the viewer
a multiple choice ending. It makes me laugh EVERY time I watch it. I wish more
people were aware of it, because it’s truly a classic.
Kay KendallFrench Kiss (starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, released in 1995)
has several scenes that make me laugh out loud, no matter how times I watch it.
Kevin Kline is a delightfully sly Frenchman forced to turn crook, and Meg Ryan
plays his unwitting accomplice, an American tourist running from her fiancé who
two-timed her.
Debra H. Goldstein – No matter how many
times I see it, the subtle and not so subtle lines in Miss Congeniality make me laugh. Similarly, as hokey as the movie
can be, there is a moment in An Affair to
that always make teary eyed.
Sparkle Abbey:
– There are so many!  Movies that make me
laugh in no particular order: The Princess
Bride, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Airplane,
The Great Outdoors, Steel Magnolias (it makes me cry too!), and
Some Like it Hot.  Movies that make me cry: Imitation of Life, An Affair
Remember, Penny Serenade, Marley and Me,
My Dog Skip, Old Yeller.
– Oh my, Ditto on all of Anita’s list. I cried for a couple of days
when I saw Old Yeller. Another for me
is Toy Story 3. I know it’s animated
but it always makes me cry. It is so funny and great for kids, but also
extremely poignant. The main “toy” story and the human sub-plot is all about
growing and changing. As far as movies that make me laugh: All of Me, Birdcage, Miss Congeniality, Airplane, and I loved The
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennae Phillippe – So many! The one
that comes to mind these days is Swing
about a group of rebel kids in Germany that listen to swing music and
go to dance halls – until they get caught stealing a radio and two of them
start to get indoctrinated into the SS. Only one manages to resist. The end of
that movie makes me cry every time, even if I only watch the last 15 minutes.
A.B. PlumWonder Woman – the hero’s reaction to WW
catching him naked coming out of a hot springs bath is laugh-out funny and
sweet and innocent. The scene that made me cry was Wonder Woman’s arrival at
the front line near the end of WWI.  That
was a gruesome war that definitely should have ended all wars given the number
of deaths, lives destroyed, and nightmares suffered by shattered survivors.

Don’t Miss This One!

I had the pleasure of getting away on my birthday last week to see “Julie and Julia” with a friend, followed by dinner. I have to tell you, dear readers, if you haven’t seen it, run—don’t walk—to the theatre to see this delightful film. From the moment the credits came on until the lights went up at the end, I was smiling from ear to ear. It’s that good and it’s that uplifting.

I find as I get older—and have been through some stuff (that which we shall not name and all)—that I can’t take movies that have any kind of violence, but particularly violence against women, children, and animals; a focus on the end of the world and complete destruction; or anything in which a character develops, deals with, or god forbid, dies of, cancer. Any kind. If that makes me a wimp, well, so be it. (I still can’t look at the Statue of Liberty up close. Why? The last scene of “Planet of the Apes” where Charlton Heston escapes from the apes, runs down to the ocean, and finds the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand. He’s been in his own country all along, a country that’s been overtaken by apes. The visual has stuck with me all these years and is something of a joke in my family. But it’s not a joke to me. The memory of the final scene in that movie—seen when I was a young child—makes me sick to my stomach to this day. Heck, I’m getting a little queasy just writing about it!) So, with all of those requirements, it’s been well over a year since I’ve stepped foot in a movie theatre. When I saw the advertisements for “Julie and Julia” on television, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to miss it.

One of the most refreshing things about the movie is its positive depiction of marriage, particularly the marriage of Julia and Paul Child. These were two people who cared about each other, supported each other, loved each other, and had a very voracious and healthy sex life. What could be better? They had their hardships—many moves between Europe and the United States, infertility, Paul’s job insecurity and subsequent questioning by members of HUAC—but they seemed to get through everything with laughter, a good meal, and each other’s support. I know: it’s just a movie. I’m sure that they hit their bumps in the marital road. But isn’t this just a bit more refreshing than watching couples deal with infidelity and any one of a host of other problems in the movies that seem to come out weekly?

The “Julie” portions of the story weren’t quite as uplifting, but charming nonetheless. Her marriage was on shakier ground than “Julia’s” due to her obsession with her blog and cooking her way through Julia’s cookbook, but things resolved nicely and left me with a positive feeling about her and her husband as well.

One piece of oft-recited advice: Do not go to the movie hungry. The cooking scenes are numerous, realistic, and intense. I have never wanted to eat boeuf bourguignon so badly in my life but that’s a tough dish to find in a sleepy suburban village in New York in the middle of August. So we settled for dinner at an Italian restaurant and the chicken special to take the edge of the hunger exacerbated by the movie.

This is one not to miss.

What movies would you recommend, now that you know my requirements for a good feature film? And please, make sure the Statue of Liberty doesn’t take up residence on a sandy beach far, far into the future. That’s rule number one for my viewing pleasure.

Maggie Barbieri