Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The leaders we want to be led by

My heart goes out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, and especially to the families affected by last week's tragedy.

Like many others around the world I spent Friday night glued to the news channels until the thousandth repeat of Barack Obama in tears drove me away. Flippant as that may sound, that news conference moved me, and made me realise that for me the most important quality of leadership is the ability to connect to the people one is leading.

That news clip of a nation's president moved to tears reminded me of an excellent (and very long) article on work-life balance that I recently stumbled across. The article, titled Why Women Still Can't Have It All, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly Director of Policy Planning in Obama's administration, really struck a chord for me. Take the time to read the full article. It's worth it.

In that article, the writer shares her opinion that our leaders should also be our role models. She cites an example that I found very sad - a son giving a eulogy for his dad saying he understood that his father was never around for him because he was busy helping other people.
Is that the kind of person we want leading our society - someone who chose their job over their family?

Personally, I want the society I live in to be led by someone who thinks family is pretty important, because it's important to me. I want someone who thinks that health and safety are important issues, because they're important to me.

So what are your thoughts - would you rather be led by someone who devotes every spare moment to the job of running the country, or someone who feels as a parent first and a public servant after?

Friday, December 14, 2012

A prequel and naming help needed

Right before I started #Nanowrimo, just as Super Storm Sandy wreaked its havoc on the eastern seaboard of the US, I realised that Once Upon a Time was in fact not the first in a trilogy but the middle story.

With my Nano story now submitted and awaiting feedback, I'm preparing to throw myself into another Nano of my own to write the prequel to OUAT, and I need your help.

Tentatively titled Time Heals, this is the story of Eva (left), step-sister to Katie, the heroine of Once Upon a Time. Eva was a shy, geeky kid in high school (think Gabriella in High School Musical) who has re-made herself into Eva Arroyo, glamorous TV star.

Eva returns from evacuation after a super storm to find her beautiful beach front home destroyed. As she sits amid the devastation that was her life, the hero rides in to her rescue.

He's the boy she adored in high school, the most popular boy in school, the jock (think Troy in High School Musical). He's also the only man she can never ever have - because he's her step-brother.

Accepting his offer to stay with him while she rebuilds is the worst idea ever. But since she's homeless, and their parents have their own problems, she doesn't  have much choice. And of course all that chemistry in forced proximity is going to lead to a whole different kind of storm...

So what help do I need?

This hero needs a name. And perhaps a face. At the moment I'm leaning towards casting Chris Hemsworth in the role. What do you think?

Here's my shortlist of names. All votes will be very gratefully received.
  • Bradley
  • Brandon
  • Cameron (Cam)
  • Cole
  • Joshua
  • Justin
  • Matthew
  • Nathan

Please visit the Minxes blog on Monday when we'll be make a special, ultra big announcement.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Making Mr Right

The blurb for this 2008 Lifetime TV movie sounded really interesting, a fresh spin on a make-over story,with all the makings of a flirty Riva/Kiss novel. Instead, it was dull, dull, dull.

I can't blame the actors, since Dean Cain and Christina Cox have proved themselves quite capable in other roles. The blame, I believe, lies very firmly with the writers, who really should know better. The story was so predictable that I kept waiting for the moment when they'd add the twist that would make this story unique ... I waited right to the very end. In vain.

Basic idea: a magazine editor makes a bet she can take any guy and turn him into 'Mr Right'. The chosen guy is a scruffy homeless man. She makes him over into Mr Right and they end up falling in love. He finds out about the bet, gets upset, then they make up.
Really. That's it.

Where was the conflict? What were the characters stakes? I kept shouting at the TV "dig deeper!"
The writers really should read Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, Conflict, or Blake Snyder's Save the Cat.

Making Mr Right had so much potential, but it was as though the writers just couldn't be bothered to make the effort. (Or the producers or director, for that matter). This was clearly a case of everyone taking their pay check and running.

Maybe I'll give the idea my own fresh twist sometime soon. Once I finish gouging out my eyes to clear the image of Dean Cain transforming from scruffy to gentleman by the simple elimination of a beard and long hair.

Yeah, this is what scruffy homeless dudes look like

So take my advice. Even if there's nothing better on TV, don't waste an hour and a half of your life watching this movie. If you're looking for a great make-over story with a fresh twist, then rather read Leah Ashton's A Girl Less Ordinary, which I reviewed here.

Are there any other make-over stories you recommend?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Final #NaNoWriMo update

Waking up in Vegas is complete!

I collected my official winner's certificate on 27th November, which was just as well since this last weekend was manic and not another word got written.

The best thing of all about this NaNo is that, though I wrote fairly slowly and didn't achieve the lofty word counts of some of my friends and team-mates, this first draft is quite a clean draft.

Since I did a fair amount of planning in October, and then broke the cardinal rule of Nano by editing a little as I went along, the first 30k words are in good shape, and the task of editing that last 20k is not nearly as daunting as it could be.

I cannot thank my Team Khara team mates and all the lovely people at Savvy Authors enough. They not only inspired me to keep going, but they made this NaNo the most fun I've had writing in a long time.

Well done to all of you who finished NaNoWriMo 2012, and for those who didn't, I hope you at least have more words than you started the month with!