Kim Black, Author

Kim Black, Author

Kim Black is a not-quite-cozy genre mixologist and award-winning author.

Texas-born and raised, Kim believes all stories are love stories but enjoys blowing things up, tearing things apart, and fleshing things out on the way to happily ever after.

To honor her family and appeal to a broad audience, she keeps her content PG/PG13-rated, contributing to her books’ almost cozy feel.

I Meant to Do That

One of my favorite things in the world is when you get to the end of a chapter, a TV episode, or a movie installment of a serial and your mind screams, “This can’t be the end!”

Watching he screen turn black as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia barely escape the grips of Darth Vader and regroup, knowing Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and on his way to Jabba, my heart breaks. I ache. It will be three years before the Jedi returns to save the rebels. I vow that I will be first in line on that day.

…Or it will be next fall before I see if Ducky survives his heart attack. Or it will be next week before I know if Monroe is executed.

That’s what I love about books. There is always “one more chapter” as I tell myself at 2:30 in the morning. After all, how can I sleep soundly when the heroine of the story is about to walk into the coliseum to face the lions? No matter how much faith you may have in the author, you have to see the poor girl through.

“Just because they’re fictional characters doesn’t mean they’re not real,” I told a reader friend the other day. We laughed. But we understand each other. Readers are invested.

My friend asked me about my writing, too. “So when you’re writing, do you plan out the chapter breaks, or do you go back and divide the story into chapters later?”

I told him that I love to write episodically. I work very hard to leave every chapter at the apex of the roller-coaster. That’s the tingly sensation I crave, and I’m not alone.

Yes, I meant to write it like that. I want you to get to the end of the scene and whisper, “Just one more chapter,” a dozen times a night.

 “This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.” -Oscar Wilde

 

Spoil Sport

I love connecting with others through a variety of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, tumblr, Goodreads, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Each site has its own personality as well as its own efficient method of communicating. My trouble comes when my often-over-booked life prevents me from keeping up with my favorite TV shows or the latest movies. Then all these fun networking sites become an endless source of spoilers.

I hate spoilers. My loathing first began when I was standing in a lunch buffet line on a Sunday afternoon and a friend turns excitedly and says, “I saw Empire Strikes Back on Friday, and guess what? Luke gets his hand cut off and Darth Vader is his dad!” Ugghh!

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Yes, I know that Vader translates into Father, and it was pretty obvious that something like that had to happen for the good of the story, but I want to learn these things as the tale unfolds, not while picking out a side of green beans and a slice of Boston cream pie at the Sirloin Stockade.

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What does any of this have to do with social media? This week I watched Frozen for the first time. I know I’m a bit late to the ball, but I have mostly-grown sons, and no grandchildren—not a lot of people begging me to take them to a Disney princess movie. But what really slowed me down was that Pinterest and Facebook posts had pretty much given away all of the plot twists of the show. I still held out hope that maybe I wouldn’t already know every single thing that was going to happen. But alas, it had all been revealed in cute little posts from well-meaning friends.

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Yesterday I heard about a teacher in Europe who threatened his noisy class with spoilers from Game of Thrones if they didn’t behave. He’s a genius! And that’s proof that nobody likes to have their story spoiled.

All I ask—and what I do my very best to do in turn—is try not to spoil a great twist or ending for others. While we all sometimes complain that the suspense is killing us, and we hate to wait for the next episode or the sequel, we all really crave that moment of surprise when that thing that cannot happen… does. It’s what makes the story special. To be told beforehand—well, spoils it.

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

One Season, One Weekend

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others such services have really changed the way I watch TV and movies, for better or worse. Instead of just renting a video of a movie I missed at the theatre, I can now just stream one. If I missed an episode of my favorite sitcom or drama – never fear, just stream it.

But the real revolution in my life has been the way these services have provided me with a treasure trove of “found” series. Yes, there are lots of series that I have missed over the years because they aired on inconvenient nights. Before the days of digital recordings, setting a VCR to catch a whole TV series was time-consuming, and if you missed an episode or two, the whole experience could be spoiled.

DVR’s are convenient, but even then, if your receiver has technical problems caused by weather or power-outages, you could miss a crucial piece of the puzzle. But with a video streaming service, all you miss are the commercials, and I think I can get over that.

I love hearing about friends watching a whole season of their favorite show in one weekend. My weekends are usually so packed with stuff I didn’t get done during the week, that marathons are not often an option. Nevertheless, I do look forward to snuggling with my hubby and sneaking in a few episodes of Alias whenever possible.

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Alias is my new obsession. I’m not sure how I didn’t see it first-run. Spies, romance, tech-geeks, shoes, world-travel, things exploding—it has all my favorite ingredients.

I just read a Facebook or twitter post by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, wondering about how she missed Magnum PI in the ‘80’s. I loved it! With streaming video she now has the opportunity to see the young and handsome Tom Selleck in short-shorts and tube socks. Click for more information!

With streaming services, I’ve been able to introduce my kids to Quantum Leap, which has allowed them to appreciate a whole bunch of “inside” jokes on shows like Chuck and movies like Source Code. (Thank you, Scott Bakula.) Click for more information!

It’s also a terrific way to enjoy movie serials when marathon opportunities do come up. Not only can I cram all of the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings films into a weekend, but I can also re-watch movies like The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games to prepare for the new Jack Ryan flick. In the fall I can string all the classic creature-features together, and if I want to fill a day with martinis and witty banter, I can indulge in back-to-back Thin Man films. 

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Do you have a movie or TV series that you have “discovered” via your favorite streaming service? Let me know what it is. After all, every series comes to an end at some point, and we all need something to fill that little hole.

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

Ziva’s Farewell

I’m a little distraught today. I know it’s just a TV show, but I’m having a hard time dealing with the news that NCIS will return this September without my favorite character, Ziva David.

Actress Cote De Pablo will return to the series only long enough to finish her story line, and then will be leaving the cast of CBS’s popular drama.

I know I’m not the only one grieving the show’s loss. My Facebook and twitter feeds are filled with posts and links about the news. My friends are all speculating how Ziva’s tale will end.

Known for taking names and kicking butt, the fierce Israeli-born character faces just a few options. I’ve heard speculation that she might return to Israel and head up Mossad, but since Agent David became an American citizen, I think that option is highly unlikely.

Perhaps she will receive an assignment elsewhere. Could be, but her story-line has certainly not been moving that way. No, her character has been definitely moving toward DiNozzo, the oft-jealous bachelor and Very Special Agent in her life. How will he carry on without her?

Thus my distress. You see, NCIS is famous (or infamous) for killing off characters—even main characters. I still feel ill when I think about Kate’s last scene. I twinge whenever I think about Mike Franks, Jenny Shepard, and Agent Pacci. I was over-wrought when Jackie Vance was killed alongside Eli David.

Why do I get like this? It’s just TV. In a few months the NCIS team will have a new member, and I’ll watch. I love this show for its beautiful way with story-telling. The strength of the characters is uplifting. The determination and strong sense of justice is unusual these days. After a decade, the series hasn’t lost its steam or direction. Just another wonderful character. We will miss you, Ziva.

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