Sunday, August 25, 2013

Missing: Children's Author

Readers and writers tend to be a married group of sorts. We, at least, share a passionate love affair. To be an effective writer, one must read (and read and read). Prolific readers often evolve into writers, sometimes by chance at first, before grabbing their author’s hat and anchoring it down firmly. This lovely cycle makes the literary world go round much like the wheels on the bus. (You’re humming it now, aren’t you?)

I still count myself more of a reader than a writer, not having proclaimed my writer-ness far and wide. And I am okay with that because I LOVE reading. I get lost in the tales, find companionship in characters, and on occasion, gather kindling to create story of my own. As I grow older and find my time more limited, what and how I read has evolved. Perhaps you are the same? I find myself exploring unknown blogs, reading up on social issues in the third world, or reviewing a study on a new medical procedure or therapy. Fewer novels, meaning only five or six at a time, clutter my nightstand than before but there’s still plenty of reading. 

In changing how I read, I noticed a change in my writing. I have fallen in love with the short story. Whereas I previously stayed only in the children’s realm, I find myself pulled more and more into the grown-up world of story-telling. I resisted at first, chiding and reminding myself (and everyone else), “I am a children’s author.” Most of us write, at least more successfully, what we feel compelled to write. Lately, the children’s author in me has been MIA with no response to the missing posters I hung. And I realized I am okay with that too. For those of you who write, how do you know when it is time to let go of the old and try something new? Isn’t it an itch that just can’t be satisfied until you put pen to paper and create something fresh? 

Photo Credit:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Screenplay Scrutiny

Well, they did it again. They always do. The proverbial “they” – Hollywood. Can you guess what indecency I’m referring to? There are so many lately to pick from but that is a whole other soap-box post. No, I’m writing about the obliteration of a well-written novel during the transformation into a film. More and more it seems the Hollywood powers simply take the novel’s name and then make up a new story-line for the screenplay. I hesitate to refer to plot because from what I’ve observed recently, there hasn’t been much plot development actually happening. 

I am a tough critic of the book to movie adaptation. I freely admit I will, in almost 100% of the situations, prefer the written work over the screenplay. Given my rather snooty stance on these films, I walk into the theater already grimacing. My internal critic grumbling “What are they going change? I bet X character will be left out? Do you think they will get subtleties of Y and Z’s relationship?” I really do give them a chance, I swear. I want them to succeed, especially if the film will draw people to read the novel from which the film was supposedly based. 

We recently went to see the second installment in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Sea of Monsters. Both my daughter and I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan , but she loved it. To date, Madison has read every book five times. I finally forced her to read something else before she could start them again. (I know, I have the worst parenting problems ever, right?) She knows these books in and out, adores the characters, and studies Greek mythology as a result of reading the series. All that said, you can imagine her level of excitement a couple months back when she caught a preview for the next movie. 

When the movie finally opened, she floated into the theater, bounced in her seat until it started, and kept her eyes glued on the screen the entire time. I shifted between watching her and the film wondering if she noticed the same discrepancies I saw. While mesmerized during the film, when we began to discuss it after, she quickly realized just how much of her beloved book never made it to the big screen. 

I know nothing about writing a screenplay, making a movie, or any of that world. I do know this, when you take our stories and our characters and mess them all up, you lose a consumer audience. We owe our storytellers more. They deserve to have their work presented authentically. Readers love and embrace their novels for a reason. Breaking down the story to make it fit into a Hollywood box damages the work, presents under-developed characters and plots, and leaves viewers frustrated. No one wins in that - just ask my inner film critic, she’ll tell you!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Art Uncorked: An Evening of Grape Expectations

If someone asked me to list my top ten indulgences I could quickly rattle off a few without blinking an eye - food, wine, shopping, and a night with friends. Certainly there are more in my list of ten with dark chocolate close to the top, next to quiet reading time. 

If you are anything like me, chances are good we have some of the same indulgent desires which is why I am so excited to share about Art Uncorked: An Evening of Grape Expectations, an event sponsored by the St. Charles City-County Library Foundation. Last year, fifteen talented artists shared their work while guests enjoyed foods from eleven area restaurants and caterers paired with wines from Three Squirrels Winery, Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard and Rolling Meadows Vineyard as well as beer from Exit 6 Brewery and O'Fallon Brewery. Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? 

This year, Art Uncorked will be held on Saturday, September 21st at the Kathryn Linnemann branch in St. Charles.  This will be the 5th annual event and each year, it gets bigger and better, gathering together more artists, wineries, restaurants, and breweries for one incredible night. 

The VIP Reception kicks off at 6:30pm and General Admission opens at 7:30pm. Guests meet artists, sample all the food and beverage delights, receive a commemorative wine glass, and bid on a variety of unique items from our silent auction. The evening will once again culminate with the Art Uncorked Raffle, the winner walking away with $1,500! Tickets are on sale now at

   Want to make Art Uncorked a truly great evening? Here is my advice: 
     If you are attending with a spouse or partnter: Get VIP tickets. Trust me, you will love the special events we have planned for you. 

     If you are looking for a fun night with the friends: Start planning now and get a group of 8-10 together. At only $25 a ticket for general admission, which includes your wine, beer, and food sampling, you are set for a fantastic night. 

     If you are an artist of any kind: We would love to have you with us at Art Uncorked! Contact Karen Guccione-Englert at the Library Foundation (636-441-2300 ext. 1517 or and join the fun. Even if you can’t attend for the evening, we would love to have a piece of your work for the silent auction. 
     If you want to grow your business or expand personal market: You need to come to this event! Last year over 225 people from the greater St. Charles County came out for a night of fun and to support the Library Foundation.  If you can’t come, make sure you are represented in some manner. Have an autographed book, your business services, or the like in our silent auction. Even better, become an Art Uncorked sponsor and we advertise for you!

    If you want to support the Library Foundation: Donate your time, treasure, or talent to one of our programs. The Library Foundation supports to the work of the St. Charles City-County Library District but we need you as a partner! Check out the Library Foundation at

Photo Credit: St. Charles City-County Library Foundation