Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

Last night, my ears were assaulted by an abomination: an a cappella version of "White Christmas" in four-part harmony.

Don't get me wrong. It was a perfectly lovely rendition of the song and I'm sure the band worked hard to make it so. Then why, do you ask, was it an abomination? Because it wasn't the Bing Crosby version, of course!

I believe that certain things have been done so well that they should never be redone. For me, Bing's version of "White Christmas" is one of them. It should be put on the "do not touch list" and enjoyed in its original glory forever.

Oh, sure. I'm all about innovation and re-imagining. I know that there are only 13 plots (or something like that) out there in the world. You could argue that anything I do as a writer has been done before. You'd probably be right.

However, there are lines. And artists of any kind--be they musicians, actors, writers, what have you--should not cross those lines. Some lines are personal. Some lines have been drawn in the collective sand. This is why the movie-loving world cringed as one over rumors that Ben Affleck and J-Lo were going to remake Casablanca.

Again, lovely people... but you shouldn't mess with a classic.

We are all influenced by what we love. We find ways to bring elements of our favorites into the fresh worlds we create. I know exactly why I want to write a longtime-friends-to-lovers romance. It has everything to do with the favorite books of my childhood.

But writing a story about friends falling in love is totally different than writing about a redheaded Canadian orphan falling for her best guy pal. If I ever cross that line, I'll have gone to the dark side. And I'll probably be sued.

Let's face it: Anne and Gilbert, like so many things, have already been done to perfection.

So: how do you re-imagine favorite stories or songs without crossing the line? What movie, song, book, or TV show is on your "do not touch" list? (And if anyone wants to turn this into a rant about remaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer without Joss Whedon, do feel free.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Do you have a favorite holiday movie? Me, I'm a sucker for the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol (any version, but my Scrooge of choice is Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol). I love all holiday movies, but for some reason those stories are the most irresistible to me.

Maybe it's the fact that they take place on Christmas Eve - a time I've always associated with magic ever since I realized Santa was going to need some mad space-time-continuum-bending-skills to complete his route. Maybe it's the songs (Kermie's Only One More Sleep Til Christmas is my personal anthem). But I think the main reason is the idea of love redeeming even the most curmudgeonly on Christmas.

I'm one of those people who doesn't view villains as "evil". That is one of my pet peeves in reading a villain's POV - I think it's very hard to do it right because in my opinion No one thinks of himself as evil. And if you aren't "evil" then you aren't beyond redemption. And I love that little flicker of hope. You may have been hardened by life and the poor choices you made. You may have realigned your moral compass so "merciless" becomes a mercy in itself (deprivation of coal is teaching Cratchett toughness, you know). You may have built up walls to protect yourself from the very love you want so badly, but it's never too late.

I love that message.

When Carina press contacted me and asked me to write a paranormal Christmas story, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of going through hell to learn to open your heart. It was an homage to my favorite Christmas awakening stories. But No Angel didn't end up having three spirits or Cindy Lou Who. It has angels, demons, Hollywood celebs, and Lucifer himself - but most importantly to me, it has a character who, though she loves Christmas and never thinks of herself as Grinchy, needs to learn to let herself love and be loved. And if a Christmas Eve trip to the Underworld can't convince her, nothing will.

What's your favorite Christmas/Holiday story? Do you have certain ones that you watch or read every year as part of your holiday traditions?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

I know, I know. There's been a shocking lack of new posts around here. If you must know, I got distracted by my day job (something you've never heard here before...) The bad news is that I had an epic load of grading, remnants of which are still haunting my desk area. That's right. Nothing says "fun" like a stack of Animal Farm journals still waiting for my attention...

The good news? (Yes, there's a "good news" reason I've been remiss on this blog.) I passed National Boards!

Now, for those of you not in the teaching world, this is a rigorous process that involves a year or more of endless navel-gazing. We tape ourselves teaching, we watch the videos ad nauseam, we send our reflections out for other teachers to evaluate, and we take tests in our subject area. During this time, candidates are hard to live with. We're also not the world's best teachers.

Go figure.

There's all kinds of hooplah around What This Means. But let's set aside the official scoop and take a trip in Kate Land, shall we? Passing my Boards means that I have a valid certificate for the next ten years. I have a decade off from certification hoop-jumping! Hurray! Perhaps that will give me more time to write... assuming, of course, that I can force myself to stop celebrating and hunker back down with my manuscript.

So. There are some of my excuses for (a) not blogging and (b) not working on my novel.

What are some of your favorite excuses for slacking off on your writing and PR?