Category Archives: Writing

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Book Review

The plot line of a biography is as follows: the person was born on x date, accomplished a, b, and c, and died on y date. From there, it is up to the writer(s) to add the details and color to the story they are telling.

Heather Clark’s biography of Sylvia Plath, entitled Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, was published last October. Delving into Plath’s life and work (including The Bell Jar, one of my personal favorites), Clark takes the reader on a journey from Plath’s early years in New England in the 1930’s to her death in 1962 from lingering mental health issues. Using information that was previously unknown, Clark pulls information from interviews, unpublished works, and other documents to create a complete image of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

If there was ever a blue print on how to write a compelling biography, this is it. When I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew her. Not just as a poet and a writer, but as a human being. As a reader, it is one thing to connect to your favorite writer based on their work. But when you get to know them as an ordinary person, that is where magic happens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Writing

Thoughts On Joss Whedon and the Toxic Workplace Accusation

I don’t know about anyone else, but one of the things I have learned in my professional life is that one’s relationship with their boss can make or break how you feel about your job.

Last week, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel star Charisma Carpenter accused the show’s creator and showrunner Joss Whedon of creating a toxic workplace.

Since the news broke, her BVTS and Angel costars have banded together, supporting Carpenter and stepping back from the man who helped to build their careers.

Some people think that just because they are an artistic genius or at the top of their professional field, they can treat their staff like shit. But, the reality is that a television show or any product is rarely created by one person. It takes a team, and if there is negative energy coming from the top, it will quickly engulf everyone invovled.

The sad irony is that both BVTS and Angel brought strong female characters to the forefront of pop culture. Instead of elevating the women who worked for him, he treated them like the monsters of the week treated the characters.

I used to respect Joss. His work as a writer and creator is undeniable. But that is never an excuse for thinking that you can treat another person like they are dirt on the bottom of your shoe.

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Filed under Feminism, Television, Thoughts On...., Writing

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review

It has been said that all that glitters is not gold. The same could be said about Hollywood.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Reid Jenkins, was published back in 2017. Back in the day, Evelyn Hugo was an A list movie star. But her time in the spotlight has long since passed. After years of living quietly in the background, Evelyn is ready to tell her story. She chooses Monique Grant, a young writer to be her scribe.

Monique has a lot on her plate at the moment. Her marriage is all but over and her career is stuck in the mud. Though she is not entirely sure why she has been chosen, Monique seizes upon the opportunity that has been handed to her. Evelyn’s life story is full of ambition, forbidden love, and friendships that were unexpected. Along the way, Monique discovers that she and Evelyn are connected in ways that surprise them both.

Sometimes, stories about old Hollywood, whether they be fiction or non fiction, can veer off into two different voices. They can either be a tabloid-y tell all, or sound like comes straight out of the studio PR department. I really loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the narrative, and I loved the twist that was absolutely perfect.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Best Books of 2020

  1. Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins: This modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park is one of the best professionally published fanfictions I’ve read in a long time.
  2. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump: You Know Who’s only niece, Mary Trump tells her uncle’s story as only a close family member can.
  3. Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now, by Evan Osnos: This biography tells the President-elect’s story from a human perspective, giving the reader an insight that the news headlines cannot.
  4. Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
  5. Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
  6. The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron: Cameron’s book follows the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish-Catholic teenage girl who saved thirteen Jews during World War II.
  7. Jagged Little Pill: The reader is taken into the world of the hit musical, Jagged Little Pill: The Musical.
  8. Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne: April believes that she is damaged goods, romantically speaking. When she creates an alter ego named Gretel, the results are surprising.
  9. A Star is Bored: A Novel, by Byron Lane: Lane, a former assistant to the late actress and writer Carrie Fisher, spins his time working for her into a hilarious and entertaining novel.
  10. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, by Jean Guerrero: This insightful and frankly scary book tells the story of Presidential aide Stephen Miller.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Broadway Musical Review, Fanfiction, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Mental Health, Movies, Music, National News, Politics, Star Wars, Writing

I Have 1000+ Followers

In the world of writing, some work is easier than others.

I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade. After eight years, I have more than 1000+ followers.

Charlotte Bronte once said about writing ““I’m just going to write because I cannot help it”.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, like, and comment on my work. You are the reason I do what I do.

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Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said the following:

Easy reading is damn hard writing.” 

Reading Jane Austen is deliciously easy. Her books are full of characters that seem as real as you or I.

As any writer will tell you, writing is not as easy as it seems. The work and effort that is required feels nearly impossible to accomplish sometimes.

Jane came from an era in which women pursuing any career was frowned on. Her primary responsibility was that of a wife and mother. Initially publishing her books under the pseudonym of “A Lady”, public recognition of her as an author came later on.

One of the things I have learned as a writer is that sometimes you sometimes need to put your work away for a while. Recently, I have been going back to pieces that have been sitting on my hard drive. Delving back into those particular pieces (with the help of a handful of keen eyed fellow writers), I have been working on them with a level of excitement and energy I have not felt in a long time.

Her first three completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice were initially written when Austen was still a young woman. Like any budding author, she eagerly sent out her manuscripts to publishers, hoping for an eventual publication. The response was a decided no.

The next few years were an emotional roller coaster for Austen. After her father’s retirement and subsequent passing, Jane, her sister, and her mother moved frequently. It was only after finding a permanent home in Chawton House did she had the space and comfort that she needed to write again.

Rewriting the books of her youth and writing three new ones (Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion), she finally became the writer she had always wanted to be.

She didn’t know it, but she is one of the writers who paved the way for so many of us. As both the mother of the modern novel and a female novelist, she continues to delight readers and inspire fellow writers who want to follow in her giant footsteps.

Happy Birthday Jane, wherever you are.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Thoughts On the Bridgerton Trailer

There is nothing like a good BPD (British Period Drama). It has the power to sweep the audience into another world and for a short time, take them away from their everyday life.

The full trailer for the new Shondaland Netflix series, Bridgerton, premiered earlier today. Based on the series of books by Julia Quinn, the audience is introduced to the influential Bridgerton family living in Regency England. As the program progresses, they deal with the ups and downs that are unique to that world and that era.

The characters and the narrative are in the vein of Jane Austen, but the stories are not specifically based on any Austen novel.

I am intrigued by the casting of Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, the all knowing gossiping narrator who, according to the trailer is only heard, but not seen.

From a writing perspective, the couple pretending to be in love to get others off their back is one of those storylines that is used semi-regularly. The question is if the writer(s) make it their own or just copy what has been done before.

I am really excited for program. I can only hope that the promises made in the trailer are kept.

Bridgerton premieres on Netflix on December 25.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies, Netflix, Thoughts On...., Writing

Mank Movie Review

From the outside looking in, the path from writing a screen play to seeing it on film is a simple process. But show business, like any business does not always make it easy for the screenwriter(s) to see their work come to life.

The 1941 film Citizen Kane is one of those movies that has been admired by generations of audience members. Directed by then twenty something wunderkind Orson Welles and co-written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, the story of the making of this film is as legendary as the film itself. The new Netflix film Mank tells the story of how the movie was was made.

In 1940, Mankiewicz, known as Mank (Gary Oldman) is commissioned by Welles (Tom Burke) to write a screenplay. As a writer, Mank is known as one of the best. But he is also an alcoholic and can be upfront in his opinions, which are not always polite or welcomed. The screenplay he writes is based on the time he has spent with the uber-wealthy William Randolph Hurst (Charles Dance) and Hurst’s much younger, long time mistress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). Mank knows the scandal that will be created upon the release of the movie. But he and Welles forge on and ultimately create one of the most beloved and admired films to come out of Hollywood.

Every year, the various movie studios release films that are nothing but Oscar bait. Mank is one of them. Combining movie history with history from the period and the complicated politics of the era, it is not your average “behind the scenes” movie. If nothing else, Oldman is sure to receive any number of nominations, if not awards for his work. I loved that it was filmed in black and white, making it feel authentic. The problem is that it is slow narrative, possibly turning off some viewers.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Mank is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Happy Birthday, Carrie Fisher

Today would have been Carrie Fisher‘s 64th birthday.

Instead of droning as to why she was and still is an inspiration to millions, I will let her work speak for itself.

We miss you, Carrie.

#Carrieonforever

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Movies, Star Wars, Writing

Throwback Thursday-The Invention of Lying (2009)

From the time we are very young, we are told that we must always tell the truth. But the truth is sometimes hard to hear.

Back in 2009, The Invention of Lying hit theaters. The movie told the story of Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais), a writer whose is about to lose his job. Living in a world in which lies don’t exist, everything changes when tells his first fib. Soon he has everything he has ever wanted, except for the love of his longtime crush, Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner).

If I was being generous, I would give this movie an A for effort. It genuinely tries to entertain the audience. But the reality is that it is bad. The problem is that it relies too heavily on the clichés of the romantic comedy genre. It’s one thing to use the clichés of any genre. But it is another thing to use them as a crutch and not as a narrative skeleton to build up the story and characters.

Do I recommend it? No.

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