Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Write a Sentence #amWriting #WritingTips

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." Sylvia Plath
Found items from my office.
I've been writing articles and reading a lot of short stories lately but today I'd like to slow down and concentrate on quality.  When I write I focus on clarity and conciseness.  I'm always asking myself "What is it that I am saying?" and make sure to stick to one point or perspective per article.  The next step in my writing evolution is to think about how I will say it.  Even though I have a large vocabulary I don't find myself using enough variety in my writings.  There are many authors I admire for what sometimes seems like a magical ability to find the most precise words and place them neatly together to create beautiful sentences. 

Sentences I like:
  "Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor." Truman Capote

"The house was far from everything, in the heart of the desert, next to a settlement with miserable, burning streets where the goats committed suicide from desolation when the winds of misfortune blew." Gabriel Garci­a Marquez

"Way out in the country tonight he could smell the pumpkins ripening toward the knife and the triangle eye and the singeing candle." Ray Bradbury 

"We came to Macun when I was four, to a rectangle of rippled metal sheets on stilts hovering in the middle of a circle of red dirt." Esmeralda Santiago

“When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” Nora Ephron

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” Maya Angelou

 Here are a few tips I will be applying to my sentence writing:
  • Apply active voice. 
  • Invigorate verbs.
  • Place the main point at the beginning.
  • Eliminate: which
  • Don't begin with: there are
  • Use short clear words.
  • Avoid repetition.
Do you have any favorite sentences?
"Write the truest sentence that you know." Ernest Hemingway

"Writing simply means no dependent clauses, no dangling things, no flashbacks, and keeping the subject near the predicate. We throw in as many fresh words we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don't always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it vital and alive.... Virtually every page is a cliffhanger--you've got to force them to turn it." Dr. Seuss

"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?" George Orwell 

"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book." Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Discuss Romantic Movies

There's nothing I love more than stories. I'm always reading books and watching movies. One genre I always watch no matter how sappy or corny is the romance genre. Here are few recent ones I've watched.  Let me know if you've watched them and what you think.
One Day
Release Date: August 19, 2011 Genres: Drama | Romance Director: Lone Scherfig Writers: David Nicholls (screenplay), David Nicholls (book) Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess and Patricia Clarkson PLOT: After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Emma are revisited each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day. What a cute concept; friends who are also soul-mates.  There's so much potential there.  Now,  I like Anne Hathaway but I did not like this movie beginning with the horrible fake British accents.  Please don't do that.  I did enjoy the character she played who was not only smart but also strong.  It is because her character was so smart and strong that I cannot imagine her wasting her time with someone who was weak and self centered.  I don't want to give away the movie BUT what happens to her is the best part of the movie for me because it made the story stronger.  I gave it one star.
Love in Transit (Amor en Tránsito)
Release Date: 2010 Director: Lucas Blanco Writers: Roberto Montini, Lucas Blanco Stars:Sabrina Garciarena, Verónica Pelaccini and Lucas Crespi Love binds four strangers together in this delightful romantic comedy with an ensemble cast. Mercedes has a boyfriend in Barcelona. As the stresses of a long distance relationship begin to take their toll, she looks forward to the time they'll be together again. But before Mercedes can leave Buenos Aires, she's got some business to take care of. Everything changes, however, when Mercedes meets Ariel, and a new love begins to blossom. Meanwhile, in Argentina, Juan searches for his one true love, only to happen across the vulnerable Micaela. Abandoned by her latest lover, the enchanting beauty soon recognizes that romance can arise when you least expect it. I like the way the the plot criss-crosses the lives of these characters and neatly gave us a beginning and an ending. The characters were each interesting in their own unique ways. I gave this three stars.
Dysfunctional Friends
Release date: 2012 Director: Corey Grant Writer: Corey Grant Stars: Stacey Dash, Reagan Gomez-Preston and Wesley Jonathan Nine estranged friends are reunited after their larger then life friend unexpectedly dies. The friends who haven't seen each other in years are all forced to stay at their deceased friends estate for the weekend and must reconnect with each other working through all of their issues in order to each collect their inheritance. This is a great movie to watch together with your girlfriends. Starring a huge cast of familiar faces, there's plenty of drama to discuss and loads of funny scenes. There were no surprises though as it was pretty predictable. I gave this three stars.
Bride Flight
Release date: 2008 Director: Ben Sombogaart Writer: Marieke van der Pol (screenplay) Stars: Karina Smulders, Anna Drijver and Elise Schaap Set in the 1950s, a forbidden love, an impossible choice, a secret pact. Eager to escape the damp and suffocating atmosphere of post-war Holland, Dutch beauties Marjorie, Ada and Esther meet each other on the immigration flight to New Zealand, en route to join their future husbands, who are already settled there.During the flight the three young women befriend Frank, a young man who is also immigrating to seek a prosperous life in New Zealand. If you like big epic romantic stories that take you to far away places you'll like this one. I gave it four stars. Have you seen any of these movies?   Did you like them?

Friday, June 1, 2012

May You Be In Love Everyday ~ Writing Inspiration

 "If you want to write, if you want to create, you must write every single day of your life.  You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.  I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." Ray Bradbury
One of my favorite books is The Homecoming by Ray Bradbury not only because of its gorgeous illustrations but because it is one of the best examples of great writing.  It's a mystery to me how authors have a knack for putting the absolutely most  precise words together and turning it into a story.  I find it magical and find myself falling head over heels with words and certain word combinations all the time.  Of course like he says its hard work.  Writing every single day has noticeably improved my writing.  Now I need to focus more on my storytelling skills.  I've got great instincts but it's time to put in the hard work.
Have you read Ray Bradbury or do you just love his quotes?
"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't "try" to do things. You simply "must" do things." Ray Bradbury
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.” Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” Ray Bradbury
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here's an inspiring video of science fiction author Ray Bradbury at The Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University in 2001. I love his attitude towards writing and find it absolutely motivating.
What are you writing?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Promoting the Reading of Banned Ethnic Books

In Arizona the Tucson Ethnic Studies Program  has removed certain books deemed 'divisive' from classrooms due to a state ban of Mexican American ethnic studies.  Like many I am appalled and disgusted to the learn how Arizona has legalized racism by banning ethnic studies in state schools.

So you know me, always looking for a way to support those fighting against inequality ...
Here is a list of resources and ways for you to help:

In Arizona tomorrow:
Students are planning a to stay home on Jan. 24 to protest the district’s decision. The date is the 100th school day this academic year when schools count the number of students enrolled in order to determine state funding.

Houston writers are organizing a caravan to Tucson to smuggle banned Latino books back into Arizona!The caravan will be filled with authors and activists leaving Houston on Monday, March 12 and culminating in Tucson, Arizona Saturday, March 17.

The easiest thing you can do to help is sign these online petitions: or the one on

Banning History in Arizona
A blog started by Gina Ruiz and Cynthia Martinez with the specific purpose of getting as many video submissions as possible of people reading passages from the books that Arizona is banning. Click on the link to submit your video.

You can find the long list of banned books here.
Some of which include:

Dictionary of Latino Civil Rights History (2006), by F. A. Rosales 
Loverboys (2008), by A. Castillo 
Women Hollering Creek (1992), by S. Cisneros 
Mexican WhiteBoy (2008), by M. de la Pena 
House on Mango Street (1991), by S. Cisneros 
Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life (2002), by L. A. Urrea 
Zoot Suit and Other Plays (1992), by L. Valdez 
The Tempest, by W. Shakespeare
and one of my personal favorites

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel 

One of my favorite books is Like Water for Chocolate by Mexican author Laura Esquivel. A romantic tragedy where magical elements blend with the real world.

The novel tells the story of fifteen year old girl Tita who longs her entire life to marry her one true love, Pedro. But old fashioned traditions stand between them. As the youngest daughter of a well to do family, Tita must remain single to care for her aging mother and family. Things get worse when her domineering mother tyrannically dictates Tita's older sister, Rosaura, must marry Pedro. Pedro agrees only so he can stay close to Tita.

Trapped by tradition, the only place Tita has any control is in the kitchen and she begins to find freedom and express her emotions thru cooking. Twelve chapters cleverly named for every month of the year each begin with a Mexican recipe. The chapters outline the preparation of the dish tied to an event in the protagonist's life.

The video is a short passage from the book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Phemomenons and a Poem

Phenomenons: An occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses.

Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago. It is one of my painted poem series and will be included in my manuscript for Intangible Instruments.


“The will is not free. It is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect but there is something behind the will which is free.”
Swami Vivekananda

“Life is a brief, small, and transitory phenomenon in an obscure corner, not at all the sort of thing that one would make a fuss about if one were not personally concerned.”
Bertrand Russell

“Beauty is a primeval phenomenon, which itself never makes its appearance, but the reflection of which is visible in a thousand different utterances of the creative mind, and is as various as nature herself.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon.”
Maria Montessori


 Synonyms: actuality, anomaly, appearance, aspect, circumstance, curiosity, episode, event, exception, experience, fact, happening, incident, marvel, miracle, nonpareil, one for the books, paradox, peculiarity, portent, prodigy, rara avis, rarity, reality, sensation, sight, something else, spectacle, stunner, uniqueness

Monday, October 24, 2011

13 Awesome Scary Movies

Halloween is next Monday which means hundreds of scary movies on TV this week. I grew up with no censorship on what I was allowed to watch on television so I watched everything from Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, CreepShow, old school Dracula, Wolf-man and Frankenstein, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of scary movies.  This is why I love horror movies. If you're looking for something good to watch here are thirteen awesome scary movies.

13. The Craft 1996 – Great story about witches.
A newcomer to a Catholic prep high school falls in with a trio of outcast teenage girls who practice witchcraft and they all soon conjure up various spells and curses against those who even slightly anger them. Director: Andrew Fleming Writers: Peter Filardi Stars: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True and Neve Campbell

Source: None via Letty on Pinterest

12. The Lost Boys 1987 – Cute boys & vampires is a winning combo for me.
The film is about two Arizonan brothers who move to California and end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires. Director: Joel Schumacher Writers: Janice Fischer, James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam.

11. Exorcism of Emily Rose 2005 – Great story and Scary!
A lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

10. Stir of Echos 1999  – The director did a great job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere.
After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her. Director & Screenplay: David Koepp Writer:Richard Matheson (novel).

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

9. The Serpent & the Rainbow 1988 – Gotta love a good voodoo story.
An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into zombies. Director:Wes Craven Writers:Wade Davis (inspired by the book), Richard Maxwell (screenplay).

8. Amityville Horror 1979 – I watched this again recently and it still managed to scare and gross me out.
Newlyweds move into a house where a murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away. Director:Stuart Rosenberg Writers:Sandor Stern (screenplay), Jay Anson (book).

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

7. Blade 1998  – Sexy, butt kicking vampires plus the best techno track eva, eva.
A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires. Director:Stephen Norrington Writer:David S. Goyer

6. The Exorcist 1973 – The scariest story ever thought of. Did I say it was scary? Heck yes. Nothing has scared me more than this movie.
When a child is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. Director:William Friedkin Writers:William Peter Blatty (written for the screen by), William Peter Blatty (novel) 

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

5. Halloween 1978 –This genuinely creepy movie has the best built up tension scenes ever with erie music adding levels of anticipation. I bet you it's playing in your head right now.
A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes and stalks a high school girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets. Screenplay & Director: John Carpenter 

Source: None via Letty on Pinterest

4.Underworld - Vampires plus werewolves equals awesome.
Selene, a beautiful vampire warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a werewolf who longs for the war to end. Director:Len Wiseman Writers:Kevin Grevioux (story), Len Wiseman

Source: None via Letty on Pinterest

3. The Devil’s Backbone - A fantastic ghost story about revenge.

The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo) 2001 Spanish-Mexican gothic thriller film written by Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz, and directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar. Synopsis: It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A ten-year-old boy named Carlos, the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere.

Source: None via Letty on Pinterest

2. Bram Stokers Dracula – Eternal love can be romantic and scary too.
A 1992 American Gothic horror-romance film directed and co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Source: None via Letty on Pinterest

1. El Orfanato 2007 - This is a the perfect movie for story lovers. Great tale, a must see.
The Orphanage (Spanish: El Orfanato) is a 2007 Spanish-Mexican horror film. Director: Juan Antonio Bayona Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez  A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, where she opens an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. 

What's your favorite scary movie?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Movies, Books and Writing

This blog has been a bit quiet but I haven't.  I've been blogging about art and photography here and house music here .

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

There's nothing I love more than a good story. I watch tons of  movies.   

I finally watched the movie Hanna last night and loved it.  I was hooked from the beginning.  The writers teased the hell out of me and left me wanting to know more. . .
who was she or what the heck was she?

Watching Eric Bana swim, run and fight (McYum) made me want to get my fitness on.  Maybe I'll do some crunches later. ; )

I enjoy the action/thriller genre so I'm really happy to find a great movie like this.  Plus I'm writing an action thriller.  You can't see me but I'm raising my eyebrows and nodding my head. lol

I also liked the characters and the irony of them being so weird while telling the audience Hanna is an abnormal human.  Cate Blanchetts' characters obsession with her teeth was so gross it was awesome.  Although I can't remember his name I liked the whistling trait on the psycho killer character too.

What I'm Reading:
I've been reading books about writing for inspiration.

I just finished How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish .
It was cool. He has some very nice examples of great beginning and ending sentences in there.

Then I read a great book about storytelling but returned it before writing this post and can't remember the name or author.  I did take some great notes like:

'Character motives are directly related to their relationships with each other.'

'The inciting incident upsets the balance then comes the rising action.'

My story starts right when things go wrong for my protagonist and I've written several scenes which I want to revisit keeping in mind:
Does solving one problem lead to another?

Next on my list to read is The Architecture of Drama by David Letwin, Joe Stockdale, Robin Stockdal.

What are you watching or reading that's good?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FREE Miami Movie Tickets

I have movie tickets available for the Maya IndieFilm Series.

These are critically acclaimed, Latino-themed films from Eva Longoria, Kate del Castillo, Oscar Nunez, Christian Slater, Manny Perez, Mark Ruffalo and Orlando Bloom to name a few.

I have tickets for the night of Thursday, September 29th.

The movie is Didi Hollywood starring Elsa Pataky (recently married to Thor star Chris Hemsworth), Peter Coyote (from Law & Order, Erin Brockovich, etc), Paul Sculfor, Giovanna Zacarías (Capadocia), Flora Martinez (Rosario Tijeras), Ana de la Reguera (Royal Pains, Nacho Libre, etc). Directed by Bigas Luna who has directed both Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem.

This would be free to anyone interested all I need is a name and email address to add you to the guest list. Tickets are limited. First come first serve.

If you would like more movie details you can check out my other blog. Bella Vida by Letty

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chosing a Title for your Project that Doesn't Suck

I'm not feeling my screenplay title and I need a great one to attract eyeballs.  The current title 'Clones' is pretty bland and uninteresting.  Time to do some brainstorming.

I have noticed that although I'm not a viewer of westerns when I search the tv guide for a good movie to watch they catch my attention.  Why do they catch my attention?

Here are a few that did:
'God Forgives, I Don't'
'Gang of Roses'
'The Missing'
'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'
'Six Reasons Why'
'The Quick and the Undead'

These titles got my attention  because they are witty, sarcastic and mysterious.

I could go all out and call my screnplay "F@ck Me Forever" but even though it's outrageous and curious it doesn't truly convey what the story is about.  It probably won't find the right audience either.  It's a sci-fi thriller. 

Sometimes when I need inspiration I go web surfing.  Here are some of the places I landed:

A cool website called Art of the Title .
From the about page: A compendium and leading web resource of film and television title design from around the world. We honor the artists who design excellent title sequences.

The site has a bunch of great visuals although a bit limited on movie selections. When I clicked on 2011 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Main Title Design I realized that the site focuses on creating amazing visuals for compelling titles.


Then I landed on a site called Better Book Titles .
“This page is for people who have trouble slogging through the information on book jackets or feel intimidated by the title and cover itself. How many times have you perused the cover of a novel only to rub your sore eyes and realize you’ve learned NOTHING from the book’s title?!” - From the Editor

If you have time to browse and are a book lover you will get a kick out of this website for it's re-naming of classic books.

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice

Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Charlaine Harris: The Southern Vampire Mysteries

And what exactly did I learn from this websurfing adventure.
-I'm great a finding funny distractions.
-I'm a champion at entertaining myself.

If you have any tips or recommendations for coming up with a great screenplay title please leave them in the comments.  Have a great day. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Analyzing the Stories we LOVE

I'm finally taking the time to put together a short list of the stories I love with the purpose of analyzing them. I love a good story no matter what the format so I'm mixing books & movies.

It has been a worthwhile learning experience. If you're a writer I recommend you try it not to mention it's pretty fun.

Some questions to ask:

  • What did you like about these stories?

  • What feelings and experiences are you looking for?

  • What do these stories have in common?

  • Are there any recurring themes?

Theme: message, moral of the story, idea, subject matter, motif, motive, point, point at issue, problem, proposition, question, stuff, subject, text, thesis, thought, topic, meaning, essence, argument, context, focus,

Here are a few Stories I love in no particular order.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: fantasy, drama
I love the beautiful, fantastical visuals and the emotionally powerful use of story within a story.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: gothic horror, romance
I loved the music, visuals and romantic idea of eternal love.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: adventure, action,
I love being taken to another period in time and the exacting of Revenge.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: coming of age, comedy
I love the way John Hughes uses humor to relay his message.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: horror
I love the dark setting/mood/filmography and the strong female lead character.

Source: via Letty on Pinterest

Genre: Historical Fiction
I loved the setting because it was completely unfamiliar to me. The two strong female protagonists were so interesting to me that I couldn't put this book down until I finished.

Genre: dystopian thriller
I love the setting, the strong characters and the moral of the tale.

Genre: romantic comedy
I love, love, love the music and especially loved the relationship between the two lead characters.


What I learned about myself:

1. I learned that I love stories set in an alternate universe or time frame.

2. I love strong Characters I can connect with and go on an emotional journey.

3. My favorite films combine great story, soundtrack and fantastic visuals.

4. Something that took me by surprise was the constant mentioning of the word 'noir' in the descriptions of these stories.

Noir: 1. Of or relating to a genre of crime literature featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings. 2. Suggestive of danger or violence. 3.A movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical characters.

5. I love stories with themes of justice and equality.

6. I love horror, romance & comedy.

7. I love mythical stories.

Myth: 1. A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society. 2. A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology. 3. a theme or character type embodying an idea

I used Pinterest to bookmark these and many, many more stories. You can take a look at my:
Stories i ℓღνє board HERE.