The Innocents: A Masterwork of Psychological Horror

  The Innocents   (1961)

The Innocents is a near-faithful adaption of Henry James’s classic Victorian ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.    Intelligently directed by Jack Clayton, the film boasts  exquisite black&white cinematography, a haunting musical score, subtle chills, and sensitive acting.  

 Deborah Kerr stars as the repressed spinster Miss Giddons, who is hired by The Uncle (Michael Redgrave) to care for his young nephew and niece at an isolated country mansion while he remains in London.  Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin portray the eerily charming children, Miles and Flora, who may, or may not be, possessed by the malevolent spirits of Miss Jessel and Quint.

Darkly lit and filled with fleeting images- memorable scenes include: Flora waltzing in the gazebo as Miss Jessel watches from the middle of the lake where she floats upon lily pads.   The ghost of Quint terrorizing Miss Giddons during a game of hide and seek.  And never was a child more chilling than Miles with  his simple words,  “It was only the wind, my dear.”

Proximidade Award

music playing: Imogen Heap’s, “Sweet Religion”

I woke up about 4:30, lulled in bed, and wondered what to blog about today.  What a sweet surprise to go online and discover I’d received an award from Unfocused Me:

 Proximidade Award     award

“This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes of self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

 How sweet!  Writing is such a solitary art and craft that it is invigorating to connect with other writers.   To speak (even if it’s only online) to those who understand  when you complain of character’s misbehaving, the inability to sleep because of  stories haunting you, and the joys and frustrations of turning sparks of ideas into full-length novels.

The bad thing about awards like this is who to award?  Obviously, I wouldn’t read your blogs if I didn’t love them; so please don’t feel neglected if I didn’t choose yours.  I immediately took off those Unfocused Me already awarded.  Then I figured I’d pick 6 blogs I’ve read for awhile now, and 2 new ones. 

So, here I award 8 bloggers who reach out to their fellow writers: 

1. The always gracious DD :

2.  The sharp  Marian at Flights of Fantasy:

3. The always thoughtful Uppington:

4.  The exuberant Leftywritey:

5.   I’m a new reader of this blog, but I am already impressed with her kindness and enthusiasm

6.  Because Colby always makes me giggle.  And laughter keeps me sane.

7.  Jewel at because she’s always kind.  And she writes horror! 

8. Lis’Anne at  Another blog I am a new reader of.  I award her for being a great motivator.

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 9:12 am  Comments (24)  
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Ten Reasons Why Being a Writer Rocks

listening to Rasputina’s,  “In old Yellowcake”

It seems spring fever has hit and many of my blogging pals are suffering the writing doldrums.

So, in my little attempt to cheer you guys and gals up, here’s my list on why writing, and being a writer, totally rocks.  

1.  Revisions- Oh, that perilous word!  But think of its merits.  No acting live on stage.  You can edit your work a thousand times until its spit and polished.  No one has to see it when it sucks.

2.  It’s a lifelong passion and pursuit in which you never stop growing and improving.  Like wine, you get better and better with age.

3.  The characters in your head- you’re never alone.

4.  Someone harassing you?  Just segue into a cheery dialogue about those characters in your head. 

5.  Eternal youth.  No need to be an overly serious adult.   You get to start up your computer  and play.  Creating characters and worlds  just like when you were a kid having fun with Barbies, lincoln logs, and toy soldiers.

6.  The sound of keys tapping.  The feeling of pens gliding over paper.   The inexplicable feeling that comes when you enter the flow. 

7.  Free therapy.  Unresolved issues?  Pour them out on paper.  There’s someone out there who will read your words and realize they’re not alone.  And hey, while we’re on therapy…there’s revenge!   Hated former boss?  School tormenter?  Turn them into a character in your novel and bump them off.   There, don’t you feel better?

8.   You’re the screenwriter and directer all in one.  You decide which characters fall in love, who lives, who dies, happy ending, sad ending, in between ending, whodunnit…

You decide which scenes/characters/ objects warrant close-ups.  And which ones need long shots.  When to zoom the camera in and out.   You design the sets and dress the actors.

 Okay, it might take a bunch of revisions until your characters and you agree on all this.  But ultimately, you wear the hat.

9.  The art and craft of writing.   The feeling of an idea stirring within you.  That irresistable urge to bring it forth onto paper.   The pure beauty of language.  Stringing words together like pearls on a necklace.   Typing away until you reach those delicious words,  “The End”.   And then, sculpting your work over and over again.  Getting rid of everything unnecessary until only the bones, heart, and soul of your story remain.

10.  The wondrous ability to bring joy to others.  It doesn’t matter if you have a million fans, a thousand fans, or just a few.  It doesn’t matter if the only person who loves your work is a family member or a friend.  Just bringing  enjoyment to one other human being in this screwy caravan of a world is a hell of a lot.

Published in: on March 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm  Comments (44)  

What’s My Name?- Noms de Plume

music playing: Shakira,  “Underneath Your Clothes”

Every so often as I peruse writing forums, I come across people worrying over the issue of pseudonyms.   Now, I’m far from an authority on the publishing business.  But one thing I can say with total confidence is that pseudonyms are not an issue.  

So if you want to use one, stop worrying your little head over it.  Really.  Agents/editors don’t care.  In query letters to magazines, I’ve always put something like,  “TITLE, written under my PEN NAME, is WORD COUNT….”.  And on the cover page have put:


Real Name

Writing As: XXXX

When I’ve been lucky enough to be published, my pen name has appeared in the magazine.   No questions asked.    Editors/Agents are aware that some authors like to use pseudonyms.   They don’t care if you are using one because, A: you worry about privacy  B: you just want one for the hell of it, or C: you’re running from the law.  (if it’s C, they definitely don’t want to know)

The only thing to think carefully over is the choosing of your nom de plume.   If you become successful you’re going to be stuck with that name.  So it’s probably not a good idea to use a fantasy name generator; or choosing one after  gulping down several mint juleps. 

Also, some authors like to use different pseudonyms for various genres.  And  Edward Gorey made a hobby out of forming anagrams of his name.  My favorite: Ogdred Weary.


Famous pen names:

Samuel Clemens:  Mark Twain

Charles Dodgson:  Lewis Carroll

Pearl Gray:  Zane Grey

Mary Ann Evans: George Elliot

What are some of your favorite famous pen names?