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Michael Hauge saw his first showing of “Gone With the Wind” just down the road at the old Lynwood Theatre. The acclaimed author and lecturer is quick to point out that it was a revival showing, not the original release. Afterward, there were treats at the adjacent ice cream parlor.
Hauge’s grandparents lived in a rustic log house on the island’s north end, and as a boy, he spent many a summer on there, combing the beach and digging clams at the State Park. “The island has always been a place I’ve loved,” he says. “I’m looking forward to seeing it again.” He remembers a bucolic, rural place that was a wonderland to a young boy, and there was the occasional trip to the city, to view the mummy at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and to pick up souvenirs and penny candy.
Growing up in Salem, Oregon, Michael remembers the public library as a special place, hushed and musty with old books and a massive card catalog. He was an avid fan of Landmark Books, a series of non-fiction books published by Random House in the fifties and early sixties. The books were wildly popular, thanks to good writers like Armstrong Sperry and Jim Kjelgaard, and appealing, heroic subjects that fed the imagination.
At the library, he discovered the magic of series books, beginning with a story called The Three-Two Pitch by Wilfred McCormick, featuring a character named Bronc Burnett. As an adult, Hauge was a fan of big, rich novels like Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey–set on the Oregon coast, and even Moby Dick, the bane of high school English students everywhere. “I never wanted to read this big book,” he confesses, “but once I did, I discovered it was just enthralling. Revelatory. It’s become one of the things I talk about in my lectures–the ability to tell a story that’s really involving. It’s such a great example of a book that turned out to be so much fun and still have all those layers of meaning.”
One of the more important books for Michael, professionally, is Hitchcock’s Films by Robin Wood, an in-depth analysis of the director’s most influential work. The book was “about a director I loved, and it influenced my teaching and the way I talk about the movies.” Hauge believes “great movies are not great because they’re about a great subject, but because they’re entertaining and layered with underlying meaning.” Other books he cites as particularly instructive include The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier, The TV Writer’s Workbook by Ellen Sandler, and Linda Seger’s recent …And the Best Screenplay Goes To…, an analysis of Oscar-winning screenplays.
Michael Hauge’s own books belong in the library of any working writer–screenwriters, novelists, authors of narrative nonfiction–anyone who has a story to tell. In Selling Your Story in Sixty Seconds, Writing Screenplays That Sell and The Hero’s 2 Journeys, Hauge illuminates the core principles of his teaching. “I focus on everything that will give the story commercial potential while retaining the writer’s passion and vision for the story.” He addresses key questions, like “What is each character desperate to achieve? What makes that goal seem impossible? What terrifies each character? “Writers willing to dig deep enough to answer these questions are well on their way,” he says.
If you’re a writer, and you’re up for the challenge, you’ll have a chance to do that on Saturday, October 11, Michael Hauge will present a special event for Field’s End. Join him for the intensive workshop, “Uniting Story Structure and Character Arc.” You can find details online at http://www.fieldsend.org/events.html. Hurry and save $10 if you register by midnight, August 31.
Wiggs, Susan (author).
Sept. 2008. 480p. MIRA, hardcover, $24.95 (9780778325772).
REVIEW. First published August, 2008 (Booklist).
Sarah Moon’s life abruptly changes when she surprises her husband with a pizza and is surprised, in turn, to find him with another woman. Sarah has subsumed her true self to become the wife her husband wanted. She moved to Chicago, dressed stylishly, and bent her needs to his. She nursed him through a bout with cancer and underwent fertility treatments. She even put up with his denigration of her career as a cartoonist, the only thing uniquely hers. But at that shocking juncture, she channels her spunky cartoon alter-ego, Shirl, and splits. She arrives back in her northern California hometown, feeling adrift and humiliated, only to discover that she is finally pregnant. With twins. Sarah’s efforts to become part of the community once again shouldn’t include falling for former classmate turned fireman Will Bonner, but she can’t resist him, his generosity of spirit, or his stepdaughter, who reminds Sarah so much of herself at that age. Wiggs’ exceptionally touching and evocative novel will capture readers’ hearts as they fall for her beautifully rendered characters. — Maria Hatton
REVIEW. First published August, 2008 (Booklist).
My novels do, anyway. These are songs I play to evoke a mood, a memory or simply to give myself a rhythm to write to.
Here are some of the songs on my Just Breathe playlist. Lots of road songs. Whether you like to play music while reading or writing, or if you simply like to relax and listen–enjoy!
“Breathe 2AM,” Anna Nalick. This inspired the title and set the mood for the entire book. Incredible song by a young woman with an old and shining soul.
And a few others…
“I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith
“Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers
“Crazy For You,” Madonna
“Never Tear Us Apart,” INXS
“In Your Eyes” Peter Gabriel
“Love Song,” The Cure
“Eternal Flame,” The Bangles
“Come On,” Ben Jelen
“Fade Into You,” Mazzy Star
“Ruby Tuesday” and “Painted Black,” The Rolling Stones
“I’ll Be There For You,” Bon Jovi
“Drive,” The Cars
“Save a Prayer,” Duran Duran
And okay, while looking up the links for these songs, I came across this shot of Journey in their parachute pants. Submitted without comment:
Real quick–I’m posting a free online writing workshop entitled “Plotting From the Inside Out.” In other words, how to write your way into the heart of your story. Come join in the fun!
Finally, I can stop holding my breath! Just Breathe has had a long and winding road to publication, and I’m grateful to readers everywhere for their patience. Now I’m proud to say the book is finally in stores (August 26). This is a story straight from the heart about one woman’s shattered dreamsÉand newfound hopes. Comic strip artist Sarah Moon discovers that unexpected change can be like a breath of fresh air–a little brisk at first, but magic for body and soul. . . .
Luanne Rice , one of my favorite authors, gave it this review: “JUST BREATHE is tender and heartbreaking, the story of what happens when you lose what you thought was love. But Susan Wiggs looks deeper and follows her character to something so much better, the discovery of her own true heart and her real true love. It’s a beautiful novel.” Deepest thanks to Luanne for the early read.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel is something I can take very little credit for—the eponymous comic strip. Each section of the book is introduced by one of Sarah’s syndicated comics. I wrote the text of the strip, but the pictures were drawn by my publisher’s creative art director, Sean Kapitain , and they look absolutely authentic to me, like something you’d see in the funny pages.
Big exhale. The wait is over. I hope you like Just Breathe.
Instant Contest Alert!
Win a free Booklovers’ Bag of goodies, a “Laugh Cry Dream Read” totebag filled with wonderful things to eat, read and pamper yourself with. Any sharp-eyed reader can win. All you need to do is correctly answer this question: In Just Breathe, what did Aurora name her puppy and why? Send your answer, along with your name and mailing address by September 30th to JustBreatheContest@gmail.com with “Booklovers” in the subject line. We’ll select a winner in a random drawing from the correct answers. I’ll announce the winner in my October newsletter. Good luck!
Special–While supplies last! Receive a nice, roomy canvas tote bag when you order an autographed copy of Just Breathe from the Eagle Harbor Book Company, a Booksense store. I’ll personalize them any way you like, just say the word!
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Food, Glorious Food
Here’s something delicious to enjoy with your summer reading. Sparkling Ginger Lemonade
(adapted from www.foodfit.com)
2 cups water
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
grated peel of one lemon
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups sparkling water
Combine water, honey, lemon peel and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat to make a syrup. Turn the heat off and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup and let it cool.
Stir the syrup and lemon juice in a pitcher.
Fill 4 glasses with ice and divide the mixture among them. Top off with a splash of sparkling water and garnish with mint sprigs and lemon wedges.
Hey Seattle-area writers! Come and learn from a master about how to write when you don’t have time to write. With two sets of twins, a gigantic dog, and duel careers as a physician and bestselling novelist, Carol Cassella knows whereof she speaks. Come to a free presentation at the Bainbridge Library, Tuesday, August 18 at 7pm. Details here.
See you there!
Susan, aka Room Mother
A propos of nothing writing-related, I have a fabulous condo for sale in the ultra-hip neighborhood of Queen Anne.
It’s an adorable one-bedroom in The Apollo, a converted midcentury modern building. This has a million-dollar view of the Sound, ferries, Mount Rainier and the Emerald City.
RT Rating: ½
Category: MAINSTREAM FICTION
Published: September 2008
Type: Mainstream Fiction
Wiggs delivers another witty and moving story. The author has few peers when it comes to truthful observation of human foibles and fancies. Many women will surely see themselves in Sarah — and those who don’t should at least be able to relate.
Cartoonist Sarah Moon and her husband, Jack Daly, have been through a lot — testicular cancer, followed by a year of trying to become pregnant through artificial means — and it’s strained their relationship. Sarah thinks they’re OK, until she finds out the hard way that Jack’s been unfaithful. She does what any right- thinking woman would do: walks out, and keeps on going, all the way home to California.Surrounded by family and friends, Sarah’s happier than she’s been for a while — until she literally falls at the feet of fireman Will Bonner. The golden boy in high school, Will has problems of his own now — he’s raising his stepdaughter alone. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to fix things for Sarah, who admittedly needs a little help … especially after she finds out she’s finally expecting! (MIRA, Sep., 480 pp., $24.95)