The Official Website of Author L.A. Mitchell

Category: just for fun


On Romance, Stink and Kissing Eyeballs

25th November

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Yesterday, the annual bombardment of perfume and cologne samples clogged my mailbox, slipping from glossy Black Friday ads like seduction bombs delivered by the cosmetic industry. Here’s the thing: as a writer, I save every one of them.

Remember how I always say that music is the short cut to Storyland? If music is the short cut, fragrance samples are the high-octane vehicle that gets me there. Sure, some smell more like the inside of a heiress’s steamy regrets, but sometimes I am able to attach just the right scent to just the right character and magic ensues. One whiff, and I’m right there with that imaginary character.

So in celebration of this olfactory phenomenon of writing (and because some of you may be considering purchasing a fragrance for a loved one – don’t, please don’t – that never works out), I give you the latest four that just tumbled from my mailbox:

Estee Lauder – Modern Muse

Aside from the writerly squees that occurred to me at this perfume’s title and the pitch line: Be an inspiration, this scent is one of your rich characters. Heels most of the time, the target market of every DeBeer’s commercial and just a hint of spice to indicate she moonlighted as a high-priced escort to pay her way through college. No PTA mom here. This chick will cost your hero. And betray him.

Coach – Poppy Wildflower

This character is a kindergarten teacher before she has crayola paint and boogers smeared on her skirt. She’s your little sister, Taylor Swift and Paris in the sunshine all rolled into one. You adore her initial sweetness, but it suffocates after a time. Like headache suffocate.

RLromanceRalph Lauren – Romance

Seriously, could this fragrance be any more targeted to my demographic? The ad even portrays a hunky guy and a woman trotting side-by-side on twin white horses. He leans over for a smooch, but kisses her eyeball instead. To so boldly proclaim that these notes of odoriferous emanation will deliver romance is a heady promise. What does it truly deliver? The perfect balance of everything, with not too much of anything but the glue meant to hold the sample closed. It’s like the Switzerland of Romancelandia. Kinda forgettable. Except for the eyeball kiss. And at $91 for 3.4 ounces, I would have expected something more. The UPS guy, for instance, to give an eyeball kiss upon delivery. Something.

Donna Karan – Cashmere Mist

Oh, wow. The name is already trying too hard, right? It’s like someone shoved a Harlequin novel into a phallic bottle. No man on this ad to suggest anything more than a scent, which is a good thing. This one is your futuristic antagonistic heroine who rose to too much power and must now be taken down. She doesn’t live entirely in her steel-and-glass fortress. Every now and then, she ventures out into the cashmere mist to frolic with squirrels.

Bottom line, don’t throw the samples away and don’t sniff them to death. Even if you dislike the scent, you never know when it will be the perfect connection to a character.

What do your favorite (or not-so-favorite) characters smell like?


A Writer’s Utopia

19th September

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Don’t judge me too harshly for tuning into the first week of Fox’s new show, Utopia. In my defense, I lasted about twenty minutes. And ABC has yet to cast Dean Butler in the role of old TV star on Dancing With the Stars. The Utopia concept is solid, the behind the scenes production is slick, the host is delightfully quirky in that Boulder/Austin/Johnny Depp/rubber-nose-and-glasses kind of way. What is the problem, you ask?

The casting is abysmal.

No, really. I wouldn’t even sick these people on my backdoor neighbor. I get that Fox wanted conflict. Conflict is the engine that drives stories (even if they are manufactured in the mind of a producer instead of an author). But if you’re going to tout this as some kind of revolutionary social science experiment, lets not scrape the bottom of humanity’s barrel. It’s like Lord of the Flies meets MTV. Where are the engineers? Doctors? Survivalists that might actually teach the audience a thing or two about life beyond a nudist colony?

Sadly, I’ll never get those twenty minutes of my life back. However, it did make me wonder what a writer’s utopia might look like:

night-162949_1280

Every citizen would have his/her own “retreat,” complete with noise-cancelling headphones, propane-heated stoves and napping space.

Every citizen would be limited to 500 words or less during tribe meetings to keep from composing dissertations and novels on the merits of starting a fire Kerouac-style.

Citizens who write horror are not allowed to give the post-dinner pep talk.

It isn’t enough to sell your work for money. You must also pitch in your soul. No doubt, the soul will generate more income for the tribe.

The babbling brook running through the compound would be brimming with coffee. That Utopia smells like your old high school social studies teacher is an unfortunate side effect.

Once per week, editors and agents would visit the gate, fat contracts in hand. Citizens could then vote them off in a grand “slush pile” ceremony.

What would your Utopia look like?


A Mental Pilaf Made From Quinoa, Denim and Bite-Sized Chunks of Dean Butler

21st February

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One should not let an opportunity slip away to celebrate being number one. Okay, so it’s not the number one Publisher’s Weekly three-book-at-auction deal for the week, but it feels good. Ready? Wait for it…wait for it…
Dean Butler shirtless.

Yep. Test it out. Ga-head, Google it. Number one, baby. Woooooo!

I’m completely distracted today because I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I watched the celebrity-fat cinema experience that was Valentine’s Day then was sad that it was a good two hours of my life I’d never get back. Think of the literary masterpieces I could have consumed in that time. Think of the literary masterpieces I could have generated in that time. Not even a gay Bradley Cooper character was worth that.

Anyone here ever eaten quinoa? These little parasite-wormy-like grains love my keyboard. Normally I don’t eat while I write because I get ocular migraines and have to take screen-time-outs, but remember how awesome edits are going? I wanted to work straight through lunch yesterday and my quinoa wanted to jump ship to beneath my M key. Longest game of Operation with a mechanical pencil lead. Ever. And while we’re on bizarre grains, all this week I’ve been eating from a bread loaf labeled Ancient Grains.  Does the mere application of the word ancient make it somehow healthier? What about stoic grains?

Mostly today, though, I’m mourning the departure of my favorite jeans. So instead of working on my gun-chase-through-a-major-urban-area scene, I’m wisely flexing my writing muscle today by writing a missive to the Levi Strauss Company that they will, most likely, never see:

Dear Levi Strauss execs,

I have a been a faithful customer for longer than Madonna has had Devo chest armor. I hung with your brand through years when your designers thought hey, let’s spread those back pockets and make a woman’s ass look larger. I hung with you when your red labels went geriatric large-print and made me look like my backside was part of a presidential motorcade. I hung with you when waistlines plunged lower than The Situation’s IQ  because, hey, nothing is sexier than ass-crack-and, well, women don’t need to sit down anyway. But then you stopped making my favorite number and your outlet sales clerk felt my pain about as much as getting her text allowance cut by five. Jeans aren’t just pants for women. They are a full-on relationship. Thus, I am ending ours. Sure, Calvin Klein’s swanky back pockets are so far south it makes me look like I’m packing heat or worse–bad rap tunes on my ipod; and sure, DKNY jeans are sized for DiNKY elf-like creatures, but I shall prevail in my search.

Sincerely,

A non-geriatric, non ass-crack consumer

Whew! I feel so much better. Thanks for letting me Ranty McRant. Now I can get back to some heat-packing of the fictional variety.


Must-See Flick

16th February

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The first thing you need to know about ‘Til Human Voices Wake Us, a recent favorite movie I’m about to gush on is that there are two versions: the original Australian version, more a romantic drama and slower in pace, and the International/American release, which is a ghosty-thriller version of a romantic drama.

Guy Pierce (of Memento awesomeness) plays Dr. Sam Franks, a psychologist who must return to his rural Australian hometown and bury his father. While there, he faces the one haunting memory from his past he has suppressed, the untimely death of his first teen-aged love, for which he feels responsible. Along his painful journey, he meets a young amnesiac woman named Ruby (Helena Bonham Carter) whose personality begins to parallel that of his young love. Much of the story is told in flashback where we see two amazingly talented young actors with an emotional connection that surpasses the two elder actors. At times, I didn’t want to return to the present day, but without both pieces, the story could not have resonnated on so many levels. Sam Franks is also an unreliable narrator-which you know I have a special affinity for-because we are experiencing the story through his suppressed memories. The movie is quiet and haunting and beautiful and poigniant and I can’t recommend it enough. If you see it, do come back and tell me what you thought.

If you love trailers like I do, here ya go…

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Valentine Prophesy: Love At Cabela’s

14th February

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The Google Brotherhood of All-Up-In-My-Blog is now popping up a Google-Related toolbar at the bottom. Fascinating. Google picks up keywords from the website and suggests other sites or videos with related content. Wouldn’t it be great if it helped with author marketability? Oh, wait…that would be too helpful. For now, I’m getting six pictures of Bill Murray in varying poses of disheveled career-dom and links to bob-mitchell videos that highlight the fulfillment of the end-of-world prophesy. Not quite the demographic I’m writing for, but this is all a work-in-progress, is it not?

Speaking of blogs, I just broke one of the (supposed) cardinal rules of blogging: No more than three lines of text before a paragraph break. Man, are you guys in trouble. This rule would have cramped Faulkner. It cramps me. I have faith in Vortexers that their attention span is longer than my attention span while watching the Grammy’s.

Gotta cut this short today so I can do my part to get on the Valentine-gerbil wheel. You may think that since I sailed from Romancelandia, I am no longer a romantic. Not true. I am just into the quiet, the meaningful, the non-materialistic, the unpredictable, the messy, wonderful everyday parts of love. Here are links backs to two of my favorite valentine Vortex Lists and more, if you’re so inclined:

Everything I Need to Know About A Woman’s Heart, I Learned from a Romance Novel

But I Live in Gnaw Bone, Indiana! How Romance is Possible Anywhere. Even Cabela’s.

Next up: My new favorite movie is probably one you’ve never heard of. Looooove it.


Naked Awesome Cellists

9th February

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Can I express to you with any degree of accuracy how much I despise Blogger bullying me into using a different browser? But I digress…

Today is a naked-awesome kind of day. Why? Edits are still going amazing, thus the long snooze between posts. Most days I hit my daily goal and don’t want to leave my story world, so I don’t. I changed the title from Chasing Midnight, which is so Romancelandia-sounding, so tired, so years ago, to Six. At least Six is the working title. There is so much symbolism surrounding that number in the story, including the six o’clock hour which is the fulcrum point for time reversal each day. I can also see Six in ginormous typeface on a cover, can’t you? Sounds more mainstream thriller.

The best part of today’s naked-awesomeness is the discovery of a group of classically-trained Finnish Cellists who rose to fame playing Metallica tunes entirely on strings. How–you’re asking, I know–did I find such a group? I was searching for one of those nebulous words and reached out into the ether of the internet in the hope that the Google-Search-anticipator-machine could help me land just the right word. I was in a high-octane scene and needed a visceral response for this guy’s heart, so I was thinking apoplexic, apopelectic…oh geez…you get the idea. Google landed me on Apocalyptica. I’m very much old-school Metallica, so I have a special affinity for the end of their version of Master of Puppets. Who cares if it’s like heavy-metal-muzak? There’s something beyond awesome about a half-naked, long-haired guy who looks like he could kick your arse and beat you at the Mozart category on Jeopardy (1:50).

Watch Out For That First Step. It’s a Deeeeeewsey.

2nd February

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You might think today I’d be thinking of cute, furry little creatures or even the sneeze of an impact Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction had on today’s activities, but you’d be wrong. Mostly I was thinking of the Bill Murray variety of Groundhog Day. And while you may not care to know that I’ve had an irrational crush on him no matter how long in the tooth he gets, here are some fun things via imdb.com you may not know about the movie:

In one scene, Connors throws himself from the bell tower of a high building. This building is actually an opera house in Woodstock, Illinois. Local legend has it that a ghost of a young girl haunts the building since a girl once fell off of the balcony section inside the opera house and died.

Bill Murray was bitten by the groundhog twice during shooting.

On the DVD, Harold Ramis states that the original idea was for him to live February 2nd for about 10,000 years. Later he says that Phil probably lived the same day for about 10 years

Originally, Phil was supposed to murder the groundhog in his lair. This was changed, however, since it seemed too much like Caddyshack.

The idea comes from ‘The Gay Science’, a famous book by Friedrich Nietzsche. In his book, Nietzsche gives a description of a man who is living the same day over and over again.

Harold Ramis considered Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Travolta for the role of Phil Connors, but he considered them as “far too nice” compared to Bill Murray.

There are exactly 38 days depicted in this film either partially or in full.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s more.
 

Have a great Groundhog Day, everyone!


Dean Butler Might Need An Acceptance Speech

1st February

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I’ll be flying my nerd-flag today to mark the five year anniversary of the place we call The Vortex. If you look at the early posts, it’s all navel-gazing and writing philosophy and deep thoughts worthy of Jack Handy. Now, it’s delivered straight up, sometimes over the rocks. Who doesn’t love graphs?

Okay, so the first year I didn’t keep stats. I was too busy over thinking metaphors. Label the red box whatever you wish: an oops hit, an I-thought-this-was-the-Kiwi-L.A. Mitchell, someone looking for Fabio’s music tracks.  Which leads me to my next statistic. You didn’t think that was all, did you? Since it’s awards season, let’s strap on our Joan Rivers and announce the most over-Googled keywords during these five years:
Fifth place:
Fourth
Third
Second
First
I’m not kidding. Wish I was. Maybe he should be a Vortex member. I’ll get on that.
My feedburner stats, while equally impressive and rather like a gradually alarming slope in Ireland would not be nearly as much fun as this one:
Vortexers rock. Thanks for five fun years.


Were T.S. Eliot to B-Slap Someone…

26th January

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One thing I love about being a writer is the freedom I have in crafting beautiful, scathing correspondence.

Case in point: Someone from an organization owes me money. To me? A sizable amount. An I’ve-had-to-half-fill-my-gas-tank-for-a-month-while-awaiting-reimbursement kind of amount. So I went over said person’s head to her boss and crafted an email that reflects what a total *&^*%&^% said person has been to me throughout this process in elegant prose that might put T.S. Eliot to shame. I love that I can write subtext of HOLY CRAP, GIVE ME MY MONEY while being overtly polite and respectful.

The written word is a beautiful thing.

Update: (makes me feel all Robert Stack) Inside of ninety minutes from hitting send, I had my money. Now that was a T.S. Eliot b*slap. God, I love writing.


Here…Have a Lorna Doone

18th January

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The band 3 Doors Down has a song, Pages, that’s never really heard on the radio, never had a video depict its message, never really met with the success of so many of their other songs, but it speaks to me on a level most people can’t understand. It’s easy for reviewers and readers and consumers of stories to feed on the words writers lay out for them. It’s easy to interpret and hate and love and take ownership without stopping to consider the level of vulnerability and courage it took to put them out there.

Some days, it can’t be done. The rawness and honesty fail to surface. Some days it flows like a fresh cut. And some days I hide it in a sentence, a detail only I know the significance of. Today it was a box of Lorna Doone cookies. I’ve never eaten one, but the visceral response I have just seeing them on the grocery store shelf is powerful. Selfish, perhaps, because the reader will never know this secret we share, this moment from my past for them to interpret or hate or love or take ownership. Writers must keep something for themselves because so much is given away on the page.

Why write, then? Easy. So others will interpret and hate and love and take ownership. To open your heart to a stranger is a beautiful, magical thing so fundamental to the human experience. Writing isn’t sales or autograph lines snaking out the door of a bookstore or royalties. Writing is you and me and maybe a blanket to cover your feet from the cold.

Last Movie Watched: Nature’s Grave (Long Weekend remake). Seriously, Jim? WTH were you thinking? I thought it was interesting that the (supposed) screenwriter posted to the imdb message board, in essence, telling us the director would not allow him to deviate from the original script. Was this an apology? Perhaps.

Last Song Listened To: Here Without You, 3 Doors Down (my Mississippi love hanging out)

Last Accomplishment: Five Charlie’s Angels kicks in kickboxing (tried to find a link, but can’t-just know I could get those Girl Scout cookies out of your hand with one stealth move)