Prequels and Sequels vs. Retellings and “The Wizard of Oz”


Is either necessary?  I think most books are better left to stand alone, like “Gone with the Wind”.  I just read where a prequel to “GWTW” is in the works.  Wasn’t “Scarlett” (which, I admit, I never read) bad enough?  Maybe I just don’t want to like “Scarlett”.  I see writers who write sequels or prequels to famous novels as piggybacking off another author’s success.

I prefer retellings.

That said, years ago, when I was an avid fan of V.C. Andrews, I wrote a sequel to “My Sweet Audrina”–the only stand-alone novel V.C. wrote.  I don’t know whatever happened to it, but I am tempted to go back and rewrite it.  I know I could do better in V.C.’s stead than that hack, Andrew Neiderman.  (Most anyone could.)

I’d also thought about writing a sequel to “Pollyanna” (even though the movie was much better than the book), only to find that one had already been written by the author, Eleanor H. Porter.

What’s worse to me, though, is when an author like Nicholas Sparks writes a sweet story (“The Notebook”), and then pens an abysmal sequel (“The Wedding”).  For me, if the same author writes the sequel, it’s hard to separate the two.  Still, it doesn’t diminish the original book for me–I don’t let it.

I watched “The Wizard of Oz” last night.  Still a delight!  I hadn’t watched it since I was a kid, and I picked up on the allegorical nature of the film I didn’t back then.  To me, brains, heart and courage were something only a “wizard” (i.e. God) could give a person.  Glinda was Dorothy’s guardian angel.  The “yellow brick road” was the road paved with gold that led to Heaven (i.e. the Emerald City).  The poppies were drugs that caused them to lose ambition and the snow that refreshed them represented manna.

I tried watching “Oz:  The Great and Powerful”, but gave up about halfway through.  Such a disappointment it was, but one cannot help but compare it to the original, which was as bright as this one was dark.  Had it been a retelling and not a prequel (though the premise had potential), I might have at least finished it.

It’s been years since I read the book by L. Frank Baum, but I don’t recall there being a Good Witch of the South.  I just wrote a story about her and Dorothy’s granddaughter for a short story contest.  The theme was “alien” and what it means to us, so I made Dorothy’s granddaughter an illegal alien in the land of Oz.  Aliens from outer space was too obvious.

The biggest project I’m working on now in relation to this topic is a set of fractured fairy tales juxtaposed with Biblical allegories (i.e. “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel).

This is what “Writer’s Digest” had to say about writing a sequel to someone else’s book:

Looks like I’ll have to publish my sequel, simply titled, “Audrina”, for free on a V.C. fanfiction site.  (That was how the author of “Fifty Shades of Gray” got started; the story was developed from a “Twilight” fanfiction series and published on fanfiction websites.)

Are there any sequels (or prequels) you’d like to read or even write yourself?


Have fun with language. Make a list!


Let me start by saying I am not a fan of Shakespeare.  I have always found reading his work boring.  Maybe there isn’t enough yolk in my head to like what I have been told is one of the greats.  However, I do think it is possible to appreciate something without liking it.  Shakespeare did invent many new words, many of which I like, so, I came up with a few myself.

1.snowblowhard–one who chooses to live in the South, but complains about everything Southern (like the weather, for instance).  A friend of a friend (on Facebook)  referred to Florida Christmases as fake because we didn’t have snow.

2.raggedbagger–a woman who carries a designer handbag while dressed like a bum.

3.paddyfibber–one who claims to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

4.stackie (see shelfie:–a stack, or tower, of books that have not yet made it to a shelf.

5.crucifixation (I can’t take credit for this one, as my brother made it up)–one who is fascinated by the macabre elements of religion (exorcism, speaking in tongues, etc.)

6.manicurist–I know this is already a word, but I think it should be brought back.  Nail technician?  Please!

7.multi-tabber (liken to multi-tasker)–one who has at least several tabs open on their Internet at one time.  This is me. joke (a.k.a. lame joke)–if you knew my mom, you’d understand.  An example of a mom joke:  Q:  What did the one casket say to the other casket that had a cold?  A:  Is that you coffin?

9.femoir–a fake memoir.  See:

10.fictionary–this list!


Maybe one of the amendments to my list of New Year’s Resolutions should be to learn at least one new word a day, which would be an accomplishment for me, as I tend to have the memory of a goldfish.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the Shopaholic series so much was because it was set in England, and I learned some British words/slang.  Words matter.  One of my favorite English phrases is “cheesed off” (which means disgusted or fed up).

When I lived in Montana, they used the word “spendy” to mean pricey.  In Southeast Missouri, where my family is from, they use the term “whopper-jawed” (I think that means jacked-up); my parents still say “warsh” instead of “wash”.

Local lingo adds an authentic flavor to a piece of writing.  A setting (just like a time period) is an important character, even if the place is made up.  I’d rather see an author make up a setting than do injustice to a real one.  “Peyton Place” was made up, but felt very real (I’m referring to the movie and not the book).  Of course, it was based on a real place, like Sinclair Lewis’s Zenith, Missouri, in “Elmer Gantry” (another example where the movie was far better than the book).  Even Oz felt like a real place–just not on Earth.

One of the many reasons I love Christian author Linda Hall’s books is because almost all of them are set in Maine–a place I’d love to visit someday.  I also tend to gravitate towards books set in New Orleans (ironically, a place I have no desire to visit); the only reason I read any of Elin Hilderbrand’s novels was because most of them were set on Nantucket Island (where I’ve wanted to visit ever since I became a fan of the “Wings” TV series).  Dorothea Benton Frank’s “Sullivan’s Island” has made me want to go there, too.  However, the last two authors only made me want to visit the settings of their novels, not read another one.

Setting is great, but character still matters.

Reality TV, and The Reality of the American Economy

I am not a fan of reality television, with two exceptions:  I love “Shark Tank” and “MasterChef”.  I consider most news programs (on any channel–network or cable) reality TV, since news is more talking heads, opinion, and speculation rather than facts.

I used to watch “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” (a guilty pleasure that left me as unsatisfied as a box of Little Debbies–the commentary on was far more entertaining).  I even used to miss a favorite yoga class to watch it with my mom (not before the days of DVR, but we’re always behind the times about ten years when it comes to technology).

I enjoy “MasterChef” because I like to cook.  I love “SharkTank” because I love the entrepreneurial spirit–I hope to one day invent a product that makes me a millionaire.  Not sure about starting a business, though.  According to the Sharks, you should spend 16-20 hours a day on your business.  If I didn’t get at least seven hours of sleep a day, I can’t think clearly.  When Mark Cuban talks about how he used to eat ketchup and mustard sandwiches, well, all I can say is, “Really?!”

I don’t think you have to starve yourself or go without sleep to be successful.  I think you just have to be focused, work hard, and it does help to start small.  I am amazed at the number of people who go on there and they’ve mortgaged their house and went deep into debt.  I know what Dave Ramsey would say about that, but I also know he doesn’t believe you should go into debt to go to college (which I disagree with, to a certain extent–if you’re getting a degree in Art History, yes, but engineering, no).  I look at college as an investment in one’s future.

There was one lady who started her business with two hundred dollars–money she’d made one summer from cashing in aluminum from old windows her husband took out (he was some kind of contractor).  She even taught herself to sew (which I can’t even fathom because that was one of two classes I flunked in high school, that and geometry).

Now that admission segues me into talking about the product I’ve created.  However, I not only have to learn how to sew to make this work, but I would have to secure a patent (which would be very expensive).  I’ve made a very crude prototype (there’s a word I learned from the show) for myself that works great.  I think there is a market for it.  However, the uncertainty scares me.  I may not be too big to fail, but I am too poor to fail.  I am not a salesperson–I am an inventor.  Just like I love the creative part of writing, I hate the marketing/business part.  I would be totally fine with receiving a royalty off of every sale–just make me money!  I don’t want the headache of running a business.  I really don’t.  I believe in simplifying life, not complicating it.

That said, I know I would have to agree to have my product manufactured overseas to cut costs.  I am okay with that.  I’d prefer to have the label “Made in America”, but it just isn’t feasible when you’re just starting out.  There was a man who pitched his idea of some kind of pick-up truck add-on, but he was adamant about it being made in the USA to help bring jobs to his impoverished town.  I get that, but until you become big, you can’t afford to do that.  He made zero profit.  If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help anyone else.

The reality is that we’re a global economy.  Ninety-nine percent of people just aren’t willing to pay more for something of the exact same quality, just to get that “Made in America” label.  Most of them can’t afford to.

I’d love for all our goods to be made here, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.  We’re a consumerist society, a service-based economy.

Right now, I am focused on trying to make more money, to help give my family a better quality of life.  Sometimes, in order to achieve the American Dream, one must be flexible doing business beyond her borders.


I Just Don’t Like It


I know what worked for me.  Drinking only water for a beverage and limiting my sweets consumption to one dessert a day (which equaled to one serving, split three times).  Seven years ago, I did this, and I was the thinnest I’d ever been.  A friend of mine does the primal/paleo lifestyle (I’m still not sure what the difference is), and it’s worked for her.  It won’t work for me because it’s not something I will stick with.  it is a natural food.  I am not a big fan of sweet potatoes.  I’ve tried to be.  Just like I’ve tried to be a fan of avocados and bananas, but I’m just not.  I don’t even like guacamole (I do like banana pudding, but that defeats the purpose).  I like my hamburgers in buns, not wrapped in lettuce, and certain things just taste better fried (like certain kinds of fish).

I love my Southern style sweet tea and Mexican Coca Cola out of the bottle.  I have wanted to cut back, but cravings are strong.  I’ve heard the only way to get rid of a craving is to satisfy it, but I’ve realized I just need to ignore it–go do something else.  I hate the taste of unsweet tea and Diet Coke (which, in my opinion, is just as bad for you, but in a different way).  People say you get used to it, but if I have to get used to it, it doesn’t taste good to begin with.  I’d rather just drink water, which, as long as it’s cold and clean (purified rather than spring), always tastes good.  I know I don’t drink enough of it because I drink the other stuff.

I’ve been trying so hard to like things I don’t (I’ve always been a vegetable person, never a fruit person), that I know I need to concentrate on eating more of the good-for-you things I like.  There are plenty out there.

I have heard that one of the reasons men lose weight easier is that they tend to cut things out completely, whereas women try to substitute, or have their chocolate cake and eat it, too.  Larabars just don’t do it for me.  I’d rather have less of what I like than more of what I don’t.

I tried making a pancake with almond flour, and it was awful.  Gritty and not at all fluffy.  I bought some of Van’s gluten-free waffles, and I couldn’t finish them.  They made me gag, so I had to throw them out.  I don’t make enough money to experiment with expensive ingredients.  Someday, I’ll learn how to make a cake with coconut flour and honey, but it’s just not a good time right now; what purpose would it serve, considering I work in a diner where all their delicious pies are homemade and half-off to employees?

I just have to do the best I can with what I have.  To go paleo, I’d have to eat more meat.  I’d feel better about doing that if I could buy healthier meat, and I’m not quite there yet with the prices of organic chicken and grass-fed beef.  I will, however, buy it to make baby food for my daughter.

There is one thing I learned from experience seven years ago, and that is that if you’re strict with your diet, you can stay slim without exercising (though I don’t know how healthy you’ll be), but you can’t eat whatever you want and just work it off, unless you train like an Olympian.  I just need to find that fitness-nutrition balance.

Boredom wastes time

Greg Gutfeld says there’s no excuse for boredom in this era of instant gratification.  I tend to agree (however, constant boredom can be a sign of depression).

I have worked boring jobs (being a teller at a bank was one of them), but I believe the writer (and the reader) in me keeps boredom at bay.  I am always brainstorming, which makes it hard for my mind to shut down when it is time to go to sleep.

Another WordPress blogger, Matt Walsh, said something that struck me.  He said there is always work to be done.  Perhaps boredom is a sign that we have too much free time–time we allow ourselves to be caught up in our own boredom.  I’m sure boredom was the least of our ancestors’ problems (though I will take it over the hardships they had to deal with).

I’ve heard that many retirees don’t live long after retirement–they work all their lives so they won’t have to, only to find that they’re lonely and/or bored when they finally don’t.  One reason (I think) the Japanese have such a long lifespan is that their lives never cease to have purpose.  They stay busy.

Years ago, I read a story that stuck with me.  I don’t remember any of the names of the characters, or even the title.  It was about a ruler in Japan who became an evil dictator, who ordered all the old people to be put to death.  One of the young men or women secretly put their mother/father/grandmother/grandfather up far away on a mountaintop.  Meanwhile, a terrible plague came to the village below.  The dictator offered a reward to anyone who could figure out a way to drive the plague out.  This person who saved their family member in secret went up to where their old relative was; whatever solution this old relative came up with freed the village from the plague.  When the ruler found out, from then on, all the elderly were revered for their wisdom, rather than reviled for their age.

I think if our life has a purpose, we cease to be bored.  Sometimes we don’t know what our purpose is, but we can find it, or at least make our life more purposeful.

Though my daughter is still a baby and depends on my husband and me for constant care, her life has purpose as it is right now.  She has taught me to be more patient, less selfish.  Reading to her has helped me read better aloud, or at least be more comfortable reading to the local writer’s group I am a member of.  Singing to her helps me relax (not easy for this type-A personality).  It’s nice to have someone to sing to (even though I’m no Patti Page).  To borrow a line from one of the former bachelors, I’ve learned to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  She has inspired me in so many ways she doesn’t even know.

Billy Graham says one of the greatest problems facing young people today is boredom.  I didn’t stay in college because I found many of the classes boring, and I let that keep me from getting my degree.  Sometimes, a little boredom comes with the territory.  I love to cook, but I hate the cleanup afterwards.  However, the tedium of doing the dishes is worth it.  We can’t expect our lives to be fun and exciting all the time.  That expectation that every job is supposed to be like that is why (I think) so many young people are clockwatchers and have so little enthusiasm for their jobs.

Dave Ramsey encourages us to pursue our passions.  I work with a lady who was an insurance processor for twenty-five years, to which I said, “You must have loved your job”, to which she replied, “No, I hated it.”  This is not the first time I’ve encountered someone who worked for years at a job they had no passion for, or even hated.  You do what you have to do, but always keep working towards what you want to do.

I let myself get sucked into retail for several years, but I told myself as long as it paid the bills so I could write in my off-time, it was okay.  Since marrying and starting a family, I want more now, because it isn’t just about me anymore.  It isn’t always greedy to want more, not when you’re willing to work for it.

Don’t be bored.  There is always something new to learn, a book to read, a story to tell–there is always work to be done.

Wishing I’d paid for the big shovel


I liked Dave Ramsey’s Facebook page awhile back.  I still like Dave Ramsey.  I tend to agree with him, if what he says can be done by everyone.  I admit, I don’t care to watch Internet videos (I don’t have the patience–I’d much rather scan an article), but he posted a clip of him telling one of his callers that student loans/college debt is stupid.  This is the video, in case you’re interested:

I agree, if your degree is in philosophy or gender studies or art history.  I agree even if your degree is in something that will give you the skills needed to make real money, unless you’re going to medical school (which costs a fortune) and you don’t have time to work (med. school is very demanding); I want anyone who is wanting to become a doctor to go to school, but still have time to study and sleep.  Not everyone can work their way through school, but if you can, you should.

Scholarships are always mentioned, but most of them are so specific, they only apply to a select few.  You’re better off waiting tables (if you have the time).  If you qualify for a pell grant, go for it.  The quicker you can start making a living wage, the better, and Uncle Sam will get all that money he (i.e. the American taxpayers) put up for your education back in the taxes you will pay.

Had I chosen to go into debt for college (which I consider an investment in oneself), I would be making a lot more money.  My friends, who went into debt to go to school, are in much better shape financially (and well into their careers) than I am (granted, they’re in their mid-thirties and still paying off their student loans, though I attribute that to not having that “gazelle intensity” Dave talks about).  I just know they’re in a better position than me.  I’ve never been good at selling myself (I was taught one should never have to beat their drum, if they were good), but at least my friends have something to sell.

Though I only have a couple grand in student loan debt (from when I thought I wanted to be a chef), I’d trade that small debt for a sizable one with a career to pay it off.  Listening to Dave’s show, I’ve been convinced that one is better off in deep debt, but with a big shovel to dig themselves out, than with no debt, but barely scraping by.  Our little shovel (more like a teaspoon) is just enough to pay the bills and enjoy some of the niceties of life (a meal out, a new book, etc.).

My parents didn’t encourage higher education, as they believed all you had to do to get ahead was to work hard.  Years ago, when people worked for the same company for forty-two years (as my grandfather did with Union Pacific Railroad), that was true, but not anymore.  You have to have that piece of paper now to even be given a chance at the not so low hanging fruit.  I’ve seen total bozos get jobs that weren’t related to their degree in any way, but because they had that piece of paper, they were given opportunities beyond entry level–they did not have to work their way up.

Going back to my comments about medical school…if one had to pay out of pocket for that, they’d be working minimum wage (practically) for years to save up that kind of money.  Dave’s advice is best for most people, but isn’t practical for everyone.

When a movie makes you want to read the book

Once in awhile, I’ll watch a movie that intrigues me enough by what it doesn’t show (or tell) to want to read the book.  The movie I am referring to is “Rachel, Rachel” from 1968, starring Joanne Woodward.  It is about a 35-year old virgin schoolteacher named Rachel Cameron who has lived in the same, New England town all her life with her mother, whom she allows to run her life.  Rachel grew up surrounded by death–her family lived above her father’s funeral parlor.  We are not only privy to cryptic flashbacks, but also get to see inside her head–of her imagining things she wants to do, but cannot bring herself to.

This film isn’t without flaws, but it made me think, and is the kind of movie that stays with me for days afterward.  It is interesting that it is following the scene in the tabernacle (where Rachel has a breakthrough of some sort–I wouldn’t call it a conversion) that she falls from grace, because whatever was going on in that room, made her want to feel again.

I have always loved stories set in New England, perhaps because I live in an area where we have two seasons–summer and winter (without snow).  Though I love covered bridges and the changing of the leaves, I am a beach girl at heart, and would live in flip-flops year round if I could.

“Rachel, Rachel” is the kind of film that needs to be watched more than once, because you won’t catch everything the first time.  Much can be learned from is not said or shown.  There is more to the story, and I will be reading the book (“A Jest of God” by Margaret Laurence).

I can count on one hand the number of movies that made me want to read the book:  “Flowers in the Attic” (great score, but not even a good movie–the premise just intrigued me), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, “The Hunger Games” (for the same reason I want to read Ms. Laurence’s book–I needed more backstory), to name a few.  Of course, if I loved the movie, the book cannot compare (as was the case with “Gone with the Wind”).

The same is true if I loved the book, the movie cannot compare, as was the case with “Flowers in the Attic”.

Then there are books that just should not be made into movies, like books by LaVyrle Spencer (a hit-and-miss author for me), and Belva Plain, to name a couple.