Who Wants to Be a Better Writer

Click to purchase this cute card holder!In this post-modern world where everyone is encouraged to express their opinion to the universe—in 140 characters or less on occasion—we should all strive to be better at articulating our thoughts in writing.

I laugh along with everyone else at the cartoons about the Grammar Police and the proper use of “there, their, and they’re,” but why is it funny? When did poor grammar become a joke?

I recently was interviewed about a fundraising event our writers’ group is hosting. It’s sad to think that we needed a fundraiser. Why would a non-profit organization that promotes better writing not be filled to the brim with members? You can’t throw a stick without hitting a blogger.  Most people do some sort of writing every day in their job.

Whether one writes reports, articles, direct mail copy, blogs, marketing material, novels, instructional pieces, web copy, emails or even personal correspondence by hand (gasp!), it’s important to present oneself as an intelligent person.  We rely on spell-check and grammar correcting programs too much.

Being part of a group that teaches when to use “further” instead of “farther” helps to make you a better writer. It makes for better reading, too. It’s not about looking like a smarty-pants. It’s about making the reader’s experience more enjoyable or more informative, without making them get out a red pen to correct you.

When a reader decides they know more than you, they stop reading. Period. Your article, blog, instructions, or story is no longer relevant to their needs.

If you’re a writer (and you certainly are) join a writers’ group. Take a class. Learn, grow, and improve. If you’re the one who already knows it all, then join a group to help others. Please. The universe needs you.

My Life is Changing

This last year has brought change to my household. In the last twelve months I have lost a father-in-law, gained a daughter-in-law, become a published author, started booking speaking engagements, and on and on. I’m a busy gal these days.

The Music Effect

Music does this really weird thing to me. You know how in movies when you have this obsessed detective or even a stalker who has a wall or secret room covered with a jillion photographs connected to each other with a web made of about three miles-worth of brightly-colored yarn? That’s my brain on music.

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Example: After I added some music to a play list on my laptop, the song “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke began. I start to dance immediately. (I was also folding laundry at the time.) I did the Twist, the Fly, and the Watusi, as instructed. Suddenly I think about Gilligan’s Island, because of course, in one episode Ginger is instructing one of the other castaways in the correct form for dancing the Watusi.

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Before I finish that thought, my mind jumps to the scene in Innerspace when Martin Short’s character is drinking and dancing to the same song. I adore that movie. Fast-forward to the end of the film when the credits roll. Short is racing down the road to save Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan from the bad guys, and the song is blasting again, this time sung by Rod Stewart.

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For a quick moment I think of how much I appreciate Rod Stewart for recording older songs like that—fun and beautiful classics that deserve a new audience.

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Hopping back to “Twistin’ the Night Away,” which is only half-over at this point, I think about how smooth Sam Cooke’s voice is—even on a party song like this. What a voice he had. And how sad that a talent like his was lost in such terrible circumstances. He was killed in a hotel at the age of 33, his death ruled justifiable homicide because he was inebriated and… it’s just like a movie.

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Why haven’t they made a movie about his life? Who would play him? Denzel Washington is too old for the part. Even Hill Harper is past 33. Maybe that cute Dayo Okeniyi from Hunger Games? I wonder when the next Hunger Games movie comes out…

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Yep, all of that in a 2 minute-41 second song. While I’m dancing. And folding clothes. I told you it was weird.


That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

How to Be a Movie Criminal

Being a movie villain is incredibly easy. There’s really nothing to it. You can get away with almost anything, and half the time, the audience will cheer for your wicked plans to succeed. The best part is, you don’t need any real education or skills, and most of your “bad guy supplies” can be found already lying around your house.

Need to steal a car? In movies, all you have to do is reach underneath the steering column and pull a handful of wires loose. Next, touch the ends of any two random wires together. This will easily start the car, and you’re free to drive away in mere seconds.

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Have a crack at safe-cracking? Twice as easy. Just grab a stethoscope and some duct tape. Now get to the nearest safe and tape the end of the scope to the side of the dial on the front of the safe. All you have to do is start turning the knob. Stop whenever you hear the tumblers click, and turn the other direction. Repeat until the locking mechanism makes one last big click, and the safe will pop open, revealing a huge stash of cash.

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What about just breaking into a building? Piece of cake. Just reach into your hair and pull out a bobby-pin. (Guys, if you don’t have a gal with you, find a paper clip.) Now pull the bobby-pin open a little and shove it into a door lock. Jiggle for a few seconds, and the door will fly right open.

Kidnapping isn’t very nice, but in movies it’s often part of the caper. Again, it’s pretty easy if you know how. First, get a white hanky and keep it folded in the palm of your hand. Next, follow your intended victim into a parking garage—all the best kidnap victims hang out in parking garages.Lastly, cover their mouth with the hanky. They will pass out immediately, without any struggle at all. This will also render them nearly weightless, making them easy to carry to your villain hide-out. Also, most kidnap victims in movies will succumb to Stockholm Syndrome in a matter of hours and fall hopelessly in love with you.

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Now for the big one—The Bank Heist. You’ll need at least two friends for this one, plus a getaway driver (see stealing a car, above). You all will need to dress completely in black. Don’t worry about the security guards noticing a group of armed men in black jumpsuits—they never notice details like that in the movies. Also, carry a can of shaving cream or spray-paint with you. This is for the security cameras. Spraying them with paint or cream completely disables them, even retro-actively, so nobody will see your faces. As far as the actual robbery goes, no need for handing the teller a note, just scream out that you’re robbing the place. The tellers will then throw bags of money at you and then you can leave quickly by your getaway car.

I’m sure you’ve noticed plenty of other fantastic ways to commit crime in the movies, most as easy as the ones I have mentioned. So why doesn’t everyone become a movie criminal? Well, there is one downside to the whole racket. It turns out that in most of the movies you see, the criminals get caught and sent to jail—if they’re lucky.

Who is your favorite movie criminal? Let me hear from you!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!