Book to Movie: “The Lucky One” by Nicholas Sparks

This time I saw “The Lucky One” movie first and read the book (by Nicholas Sparks) second. That Zac Efron was the romantic lead *may* have had something to do with that (I admit I’m a fan from his “High School Musical” days).

The movie has some additional twists that the book didn’t. Often when this happens I’m not impressed but in this case I thought they added to the story. For example, there’s more of a connection between the main character (Logan) and the dead brother (Drake). It was fun to discover the extent of that connection at the same moment the characters did (and pretty inventive “how” the connection was made).

In the book, Logan and the bad guy (ex-husband and deputy Keith Clayton) have a run-in early on that is completely separate of Logan’s involvement with the heroine (Elizabeth). But by and large, the ex-husband’s character is consistent in both, but he’s a little nastier in the book (you want to knock Elizabeth upside the head when she acts so naïve when it comes to him).

One thing that’s missing in the movie is the influence of Logan’s (dead) best friend, Victor; that bit of history would go further in helping the viewer (of the movie) understand Logan’s inner turmoil and confusion related to the photograph of Elizabeth and the real-life Elizabeth. Logan has lost so much but says so little about it (which is possibly why I like his character so much).

In the book, the dog plays a bigger role than in the movie. I imagine it might have been hard to train a dog to do all that Zeus does in the book. But it was a heart-tugging detail in the book that I probably would have missed in the movie had I read the book first. And it does impact/change how the story ends.

Sparks’ novels are often tear-jerkers, and I was leery that he might kill off the good guy and/or have an ending that was otherwise not happily-ever-after. But in this respect, although the details of the climactic scene were slightly different, the book and movie actually came to the same “conclusion.” I really enjoyed both book and movie.

Let’s Get it Over With: Breaking my New Year’s Resolution

garfieldMy 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to be more funny.

There. I’ve gotten it over with; I’ve already broken my resolution.

Because I am not funny.

(It’s true. I’m more about drama and struggle. If I have a sense of humor at all, it’s a bit dry and sarcastic.)

So now I’m free to make another resolution, and that is to be true to myself. I have to make this resolution every year. Because sometimes it’s hard to be myself. Maybe you feel the same way sometimes!

Take being an independent author. It’s mind-boggling how much there is to manage when you’re on your own, especially the way the publishing market is now. Most days I feel there’s no possible way that I can do it all. Some days I despair that I spend more time trying to get the word out about my books/novellas than I spend actually writing them. Sometimes I think I should be writing a different genre, one that’s more popular, instead of the stories my heart is moved to share. So I resolve to keep writing what I love.

Take being a business owner. The last couple years have been extremely challenging; there are days I wonder if the market still wants what we make. It would be easy to stray from our commitment to manufacture our products in the U.S. Again, I find myself making a resolution: I will stay the course. Hopefully the market comes around and supports us, but if not, I will know that I was true to my beliefs.

Take being a mom – perhaps the hardest ‘job’ of all. I’ve learned to live with a constant low level of guilt. I feel guilty if I don’t spend time with my children. I feel guilty if I spend time with my children and they drive me up a wall and I wish I could get away from them! So making a resolution to have a good balance of work and family is the best I can do.

So what are my New Year’s Resolutions? To be true to myself, to set goals that are achievable and realistic. To not beat myself up for what I didn’t get done, but to celebrate what I did accomplish. Really, it all comes down to this, doesn’t it? New Year’s Day or any other day of the year. Sometimes we just need the reminder.

A Biker’s Kiss FREE for Three Days

BikersKiss_COVER_webIf you’re like me, you might actually have a little downtime in the next week or so after the craziness of Christmas.

If you’re looking for a good read to curl up with, you don’t even have to put a dent in your Amazon gift card (or that credit card you put all your gifts on!) when you ‘purchase’ A Biker’s Kiss in the next three days.

Yep, A Biker’s Kiss is just under 12K words of pure escapism for nada, zip, zilch these next few days. I don’t know about you, but I could really use some of that right now.

So what’s it about?

It’s a about a guy who prefers to avoid kissing. Avoid kissing? What kind of romance story would that be?!

Well, there’s a reason for Vince’s attitude, and when Tori finds out, she decides to do something about it. And that something turns out to be… a whole lot of kissing!

So grab the eBook now and escape for a few hours. You’ll be glad you did!

P.S. Do me a favor and PLEASE leave a review when you finish. Reviews are really important for independent writer/publishers like me. Good or bad, it all matters!

A Dinner Recipe From Take Two: a Hollywood Romance

‘Tis the season of eating! So it seems appropriate to share a recipe for what happens to be my daughter’s all-time favorite meal: chicken parmesan. I used this meal in a pivotal scene in my novel Take Two: a Hollywood Romance.

chicken-parmesanThe first time the hero (Zac) sees the heroine (Gina) in her home, with her teenage daughters, he is surprised to see her cooking like a normal mom (since he’s only interacted with her on a film set):

                “Oh my gosh, you’re here!” A girl jumped up from the table and threw her arms around him. “You’re really here!”

                Zac chuckled self-consciously. “I guess you don’t mind having me. You must be…”

                “I’m Allie,” she said. “And that’s my big sister Christine.”

                “We have visitors fairly often,” Christine said. “Lots of overnights for mom’s work. None as famous as you, though.”

                “Famous?” he said. “I think you’ve got me confused with someone else.” He glanced at Gina. It was odd seeing her in a kitchen, making dinner. Like a normal parent…

                “Now that introductions are done,” Gina said, “Do you have an appetite at all? Tonight’s fare is chicken parmesan.”

                To his surprise, he felt as though he could actually eat something. “I’d like that,” he said. “Though I should probably shower…”

                “Eat first,” Gina said as she placed a hotplate on the table. “Or it may be gone when you get here.”

                His mouth watered and when Allie said, “Sit here, Zac!” he did.

                “You do kind of smell like a hospital,” Allie said.

                “Allie!” Christine said.

                “I sort of still feel like that, too,” Zac said. “Sorry.”

                “It’s okay,” Allie said. “After what you’ve been through and all, we understand.”

                “Hmm.” How much did these girls of Gina’s know?

 

And now for the recipe…

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 34 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
  • 1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish.

Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with spaghetti, garlic bread and a nice green salad.

Enjoy!

 

TakeTwo_COVER_NEW_FAbout Take Two: A Hollywood Romance

A Harley-riding Hollywood director and single mom’s personal life collides with her leading man’s when he is poisoned on the set.

Take Two: a Hollywood Romance is the first book in the Lady Biker Series. The series features four women friends who also happen to be biker chicks. The four women, as different as can be, are bound by their mutual love of motorcycling.

The Kelly Family Goes to Mexico!

My husband and I have talked about going to Mexico for 20 years. We finally did it! Although not quite what I originally had in mind … We waited so long that what was supposed to be a romantic getaway became a family trip. (Not quite the same if you know what I mean!)

But it does make for more interesting stories. Here’s a typical exchange:

My daughter to a stranger: “My brother’s kind of an idiot, he threw his goggles up on the roof… my mom dropped her shorts in a puddle… and I lost my goggles in the ocean.”

My son: “Yeah… it kind of runs in the family.”

To which I replied: “Ah, you are secretly funny.” (from the movie The Princess and the Frog) A line that we used many times throughout the week! (But hey, nobody got sunburned.)

Unlike the last time I travelled (when I got stuck in an airport for 10-1/2 hours), getting there went remarkably smoothly (but 15 hours of travel was still exhausting). We only missed the resort once in the dark and had to backtrack – but our room was awesome.

It took us the entire first day to figure out how to get around on this huge resort. Everywhere you went, you took little train-car jobbies. It was the start of ‘waiting on others’… but they were prompt and we were ready for the slower pace.

Tulum_1Day #2 started with free breakfast at a price. Yep, you guessed it – one of those timeshare sales pitches. We also went into Playa del Carmen for groceries, which turned out to be our most authentic experience with typical Mexicans!

Day #3 we took a ‘free’ tour to Tulum (Mayan ruins). I should know better than to fall for ‘free!’ The tour was poorly run. First we spent two hours at a rug & jewelry factory (my kids were remarkably good about reading and entertaining themselves). By the time we got to the ruins it was 2pm and incredibly hot and steamy (89 degrees). In fact, it was hard to concentrate, and we certainly didn’t want to loiter in the ruins area (which had no shade). I was disappointed in the day.

Day #4: Recovery! Spent it by the pool. Clouds and rain came in the afternoon, but we just sat through it. It did, however, drop the humidity and temperature for the rest of our stay.

Xcaret_3Day #5 was my favorite day. We spent it at Xcaret which was sort of a cross between archeological ruins, a zoo and a beach. The aquarium was my son’s favorite while my daughter mostly liked the flamingos, parrots and the butterfly atrium (you’d stand there and literally dozens of butterflies would flutter around you). It had an amazing cemetery built on top of the “Crypt of Sighs.” What I found fascinating about this was the circular design that contained running water at all times. Little troughs ran from the top (where the cemetery was) around the sides of the Crypt and into a circular pattern on the floor (you can see the floor rings in this photo).

There was also an elaborate performance in the evening. In drama and music, it told the story of how the Spanish, Catholic religion came to Maya and changed the culture/religion of the area. Right up my alley!

Xcaret_familyThe last day we spent at the beach on the resort. I remembered the camera – but no batteries. OY! What was supposed to be ‘white sand’ beach was actually hard coral underfoot so not good to wade in. (Apparently some big storm washed the sand away; I don’ t know whether to believe that or not.) It was actually a cool and windy day but I took my daughter into the water at the end of the pier so she could experience the ocean. She was kind of scared when a big wave washed over her head but she was a trouper.

All in all, a nice break from the Minnesota cold. But probably not one we’d do again anytime soon. Our vacations tend to be more active: downhill skiing or white-water rafting are favorites.  In fact, I’m already saving money for my next ‘bucket list’ trip: rafting through the Grand Canyon!

Book Into Movie: My Review of “The Vow”

As my readers know, I have a fascination with how a written work (novel) is turned into a movie. So recently I read the memoir and watched the movie “The Vow.” Herein I offer my (very frank) thoughts.

Although I thought the book was lacking in emotional punch (see my review), the movie was so “Hollywood-ized” that it lost whatever might have made it different and interesting.

Personally, I don’t care for Channing Tatum as an actor; everything he does seems stilted and wooden. And I don’t think he’s that great looking (then again, neither was the romantic male in Safe Haven, so what’s up with these chick flicks?).

If you hadn’t read the book you might think this movie was OK but nothing you’ll remember a couple years from now. If you HAVE read the book, you might have noticed it’s not the same story.

The way the characters met and courted was nothing like the memoir (the real-life experience was unusual but not ‘exciting’ enough for Hollywood I’m guessing). The way the car accident happened was not at all accurate. One aspect of the book that I thought was really compelling was that the Carpenters were taken to different hospitals; Kim was badly injured yet LEFT the hospital AMA to get to his wife (whom he thought was dying). There was very little “hospital time” in the movie.

The months Krickett spent recuperating and relearning simple things (like how to walk) could have been compelling but were completely glossed over.

The family dynamics were completely made up for Hollywood; in actual life, both families were supportive of their efforts to rebuild their marriage.

And the most disappointing thing about the movie? It makes no mention – at all – of God or faith. I’m sure that’s a Hollywood thing. In the memoir, Kim Carpenter makes a big deal about the fact that they could not have put their marriage back together without faith (which I believe having been there/done that myself though not so dramatically). He also hammers home the fact that they did not consider divorce an option – that’s the point of the title “The Vow” – and yet there they are in the movie, signing divorce papers.

I can’t figure out why the Carpenters let this movie be associated with their story, since they were so adamant about the faith thing. Unless they hope it nudges people to pick up their book… but if so, readers may be quite surprised (or disappointed depending on what they expected).

Veteran’s Day READ, WRITE & REMEMBER event

Veteran’s Day is just a few days away and this year, I’m honored to be part of an active recognition of our veterans: READ, WRITE & REMEMBER.

RWR-bannerMy fellow military romance authors and I have pledged to donate a portion of our book sales to veteran and/or military charities. And we’re going to share the experience with you! What the charities are, why we choose them, and how they have impacted our writing (I’m sure there will be some awesome book excerpts too!). The organizations will also be invited to share stories about their clients or members.

We’ll spend the day (Tuesday, November 11) from 9am to 9pm EST together, online. And when it’s all over, we’ll send checks to over a dozen different organizations. It’s just a small token of our appreciation of our service members.

Much of my exposure to military came in my early years, when I was trained as an Army Combat Medic. In more recent years I’ve combined my love of all things America with my love of motorcycling.

TributeToTheTroopsSo it comes as no surprise that I’ve chosen TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS as my charity. Many weekends throughout our short season here in Minnesota you can find bikers from this group riding right to the homes of families of the fallen. It’s an up-close, personal and impactful way to show respect for the dead AND their families. (Check out the awesome video on their home page.)

FallenHeroesFundLogoI was so impressed with the Center for the Intrepid when I visited in July that I also wanted to support amputees in particular. (The fact that my military hero in True Surrender is an amputee might have had a little to do with it too.) So I’ve teamed up with the INTREPID FALLEN HEROES FUND – the organization that spearheaded the building of the Center – to further support these amazing men and women.

So please help me and my fellow military romance authors make a difference to veterans and their families:

* Join our Facebook event here (do it now so you’ll be ready on Tuesday!)
* Tell everyone you know about it (see below for ready-made tweets you can copy and paste)
* Buy the books of the authors who will be featured (for my part, ANY of my books sold on ANY platform (amazon, nook, kobo, iTunes or direct) during the ENTIRE month of November will qualify for my donation match!)

****************************

Ready-Made Tweets – Copy and Paste!

READ WRITE & REMEMBER. Author/Reader Veterans Day event to honor US service members.http://on.fb.me/10sQ1Hx #RWRVeterans

Meet #MilitaryRomanceAuthors and the non-profits they support to benefit U.S. troops. http://on.fb.me/10sQ1Hx #RWRVeterans

Military romance authors honor American veterans Nov 11. READ, WRITE & REMEMBER. http://on.fb.me/10sQ1Hx #RWRVeterans #MilitaryRomanceAuthors

Military romance authors salute American veterans! READ, WRITE & REMEMBER. Online event Nov. 11 http://on.fb.me/10sQ1Hx #RWRVeterans

If you love #MilitaryRomance, join READ WRITE & REMEMBER for a chance to benefit U.S. veterans. Nov. 11 http://on.fb.me/10sQ1Hx #RWRVeterans

A Biker’s Kiss: Vince & Tori

Bikers_Kiss_Slider

A Biker’s Kiss Now Available: What Happens in Sturgis…

It’s my fourth publication but it feels like the “first time” all over again… BikersKiss_COVER_web

A BIKER’S KISS is live!

This novella is about a biker who’s not too keen on kissing and a girl who sets out to change his mind.

After all, what happens in Sturgis stays in Sturgis … or does it?

Just 99 CENTS!
Purchase eBook: Amazon

Meet Vince & Tori and the LazLo gang
Click to read a free excerpt

A Biker’s Kiss Cover Reveal

BikersKiss_COVER_webA Biker’s Kiss: Vince & Tori will be available October 20!

I don’t know about you, but seeing the finished cover is the thing that makes it real for me, makes me realize that YEA! I’ve done it again! My fourth publication and it’s like the first time all over again… :-)

I was in the midst of writing A Biker’s Kiss: Vince & Tori when one of our customers (Scott S.) posted a photo on Leader Motorcycle’s Facebook page. I was pleasantly shocked because the photo is reminiscent of a scene that I had just recently written.

I asked Scott about the photo and he told me that his daughter (then 16) had taken it. I asked if she might be interested in having it appear as the cover of a book. She was! Throw in a little designer magic (thanks Gregory!) and voila! You have a cool cover.

So what’s the story about, you ask?

********************************

Kissing is overrated.

At least in Vince’s mind. The fact that he avoids kissing hasn’t stopped him from getting what he wants from women. But now he’s shared a little too much with his co-worker, Tori—and she’s made it her personal mission to change his opinion. After all, what happens in Sturgis, stays in Sturgis. Or does it?

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And now, for your reading pleasure, a short excerpt, taken from early in the story…

He couldn’t figure her out. She acted like she couldn’t care less whether he liked her or not, yet she was inviting him to her bed. Granted, it wasn’t for sex, that was clear, but…

“Even if I might’ve tried to kiss you in my half-drunk state?”

She picked up the coffee mug again, studying him. “You like kissing?”

The question came out of the blue, and he had no idea how to answer. “Pardon?”

“Personally I love kissing,” she said.

“In that monogamous, committed relationship.”

“Well, kissing can be good almost any time,” she said.

He stared at her, stumped again. “You pick some strange conversation topics, you know that?”

She smiled. “So? You must do a lot of kissing, yes?”