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This is an article I saw on my one of screenplay websites. The article was a promotion for a movie. I didn’t like the first film, will probably not see the second.
But this—unlike the “’legendary’ how-to-write-rackets” which will charge you thousands of dollars—is free from me to you. I deleted the references to the upcoming movie. You writers probably know this already, but the principles bear repeating. As applied to screenplays, so do the principles apply to stories and novels.
Let’s begin:
12 Powerful Principles of Story Structure
In addition to the overall structure of your screenplay – the three acts, the five key turning points, and the six stages, plot structure also involves employing as many structural principles, tools, and devices as you can throughout your script (or novel or story).
1. Every scene, event, and character must contribute to the protagonist’s outer motivations.
Pick any scene and either move the protagonist closer to his/her goal of protecting the people or society, move the protagonist closer to his/her desire to win the love of another important character, or create obstacles to those goals.
2. Make each hurdle and obstacle your protagonist faces greater than the previous ones.
The conflict in your story must build, becoming greater and greater as you drive the reader toward the climax.
3. Accelerate the pace of the story.
If your story has a futuristic, faraway setting (or any complex setting), your first Act should contain the narration of that before the pace needs to be accelerated and the conflict shifted into high gear. Act 2 should contain more action and Act 3 should shift into high gear.
Amplify the emotion by creating some conflict (and the anticipation of conflict) in each scene.
4. Create peaks and valleys to the emotion.
Intersperse big action sequences with quieter scenes with your protagonist interacting with other characters or learning something new.
These moments allow the viewers/readers to catch their breath and to begin anticipating the next big conflict. They also prevent the movie (or novel or story) from becoming one monotonous action sequence.
5. Create anticipation.
Viewers and readers want to try to guess what’s going to happen next — they just don’t want to be right all the time. And while surprises and confrontations are often brief, anticipation can be prolonged almost indefinitely.
6. Give the audience superior position.
This means providing the viewer and the reader with information that some of the characters don’t have yet.
Instances of superior position create anticipation of the conflict that will result when the information we have is revealed to the characters.
7. Surprise the viewer or reader.
Viewers or readers don’t want to anticipate everything that happens in your story. Sometimes you have to jump out and go “boo!” to keep them alert and involved.
This principle is even more important in a comedy, thriller or horror film, novel, or story where reversals create humor, shock, or fear.
8. Create curiosity.
Don’t explain everything in your script, novel, or story as soon as it happens. Viewers and readers love puzzles and relish figuring out who committed the murder, how the protagonist plans to overcome the conflict, or what a character’s true motives are.
9. Foreshadow your characters’ actions and abilities.
Foreshadowing is a term for adding credibility to your story by revealing information before it seems important, which prevents your story from seeming contrived or illogical.
Introduce facts before they become critical to the story. They all add credibility to the characters’ later actions.
10. Echo situations, objects, or dialogue to illustrate character growth and change.
Repetition allows the viewer or reader to compare where the protagonist is at any given moment in your story to where he/she was the last time we encountered that particular item or phrase.
11. Pose a Threat to One of the Characters.
Remember that this principle applies to all films, novels, or stories, not just adventures and thrillers. Always force your characters to put everything on the line in the face of losing whatever is important to them, whether it’s money, a job, a loved one, dignity, acceptance, or their own destiny.
12. Compress time.
The shorter the time span of your story, the easier it is to keep the audience involved. Or give a time span to do a decisive action, you have a ticking time clock after which disaster will hit. The end of “Alien” does this very well—you hear the ship announcing “You have ten minutes to evacuate.”
There you have it, my friends.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback on November 17, 2020 in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. Now in Print in Australia
Summer of Love
(a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) is in print as a beautiful quality trade paperback in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in Print in Australia at https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1548106119
The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan, and in Australia
The Garden of Abracadabra
(“Fun and enjoyable Urban Fantasy”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan. New! Now in Print in Australia at https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1978148291.
ARACHNE
(“Highly recommended and very memorable.”) is in print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan. New! Now in Print in Australia at https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/198435602X
One Day in the Life of Alexa
(“[An] absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms.”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan. New! Now in Print in Australia at https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1546783091
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories
(“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books) is in Print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan. New! Now in Print in Australia at https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1981104380
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my print books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

In the March 7, 2022 issue of The New Yorker appears a fascinating article, “The Elephant in the Courtroom” by Lawrence Wright, “A curious legal crusade to redefine personhood”. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/03/07/the-elephant-in-the-courtroom
The title is a play on the title of a highly recommended documentary, “The Elephant in the Living Room”, about human beings who keep wild animals at their homes and wild animals who live near human homes.
The article concerns Happy, an Asian elephant who was housed in the Bronx Zoo, kidnapped when she was a baby from her dead mother. The lawsuit asked to move Happy from the zoo to an elephant sanctuary. Happy was one of seven baby Asian elephants kidnapped from their dead mothers; the poacher named them for Snow White’s seven dwarves. All were moved to zoos and circuses throughout the world; all to a bad end except for Happy.
Nonhuman animals have been considered “things”, without legal rights, much as African slaves in America until the Civil War and married women up until the early twentieth century were considered “property” or “things” of white men. The article at length discusses the thinghood versus personhood throughout history.
These days, governments all over the world have recognized the legal rights of nonhuman animals—India, Costa Rica, Hungary, and Finland have recognized the legal rights of dolphins and orcas. In Argentina, a judge ordered an orangutan named Sandra be moved from solitary confinement in zoo to a sanctuary.
The list goes on. Some humans are waking up to the sentience of nonhuman animals, but not all humans. Legal scholars have plenty of arguments against recognizing legal rights of nonhuman animals, which are set in the article.
In the most egregious case, in 1906, a human being was put in on display in the Bronx Zoo in the primates’ hall alongside with an orangutan. He was Ota Benga, of the Pygmy tribe, captured in the Congo. A number of ministers protested the exhibition and sought his freedom, but not before Benga committed suicide.
The article goes on at length to discuss animals used to perform dangerous tricks in circuses and  marine parks, animals used in “medical research”, and animals born and raised for human food.
Highly recommended for readers who care about sentient nonhuman animals, the history of persons who were considered “things”, and the fascinating account of legal arguments for and against legal rights for nonhuman animals.
In the same issue of The New Yorker appears a review of a new biography of Charles Dickens, “The Inimitable” by Louis Menand. Dickens liked to read his works aloud dramatically to an audience, he dressed well, lit up a room whenever he arrived, had ten children with his wife, and then fell in lust—I mean, love—with seventeen-year-old woman when he was forty-five and supported her. He died of kidney failure when he was fifty-eight. He sure knew how to write for the public, hundreds of thousands of his books sold in the week in which the books were offered. He was the most successful author (maybe) of all time. Highly recommended for Dickens’ fans and readers who care about the life of a creative person.
So there you have it, my friends.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback on November 17, 2020 in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. Now in Print in Australia
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia at in Australia
The ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Summer of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) is in print as a beautiful quality trade paperback in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan.
The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan, and in Australia
The Garden of Abracadabra
(“Fun and enjoyable Urban Fantasy”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
ARACHNE
(“Highly recommended and very memorable.”) is in print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
One Day in the Life of Alexa
(“[An] absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms.”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books) is in Print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my print books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

In the January 17, 2022 issue of The New Yorker appears another fascinating article, Stanislaw Lem’s grim past and epic futurism, “Close Encounters” by Caleb Crain. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/17/a-holocaust-survivors-hardboiled-science-fiction
Lem published a number of highly-regarded science fiction novels in the 1960s, including the enigmatic “Solaris”, a brilliant novel about astronauts circling above a planet and the planet profoundly affects their minds. I read the novel some while ago (it was published in 1961), and Tom and I saw the early Russian movie of it—the film was way too long, confusing, and tedious—and the Steven Soderberg movie later—this film got straight to the point and was very moving and convincing.
I’m also re-reading “Eden” and both I, and my law school roommate some years ago, read “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.”
Lem was born in 1922. He was a Polish Jew and born in a famous Jewish ghetto, now a part of Ukraine. He witnessed the Nazis executing many Jews and witnessed many pogroms, often fearing his life as a teenager. He saw most of his family killed by the Nazis. Is it any wonder why he wrote tensely about aliens whom you never are quite sure are aliens? Not the usual rocket ship captain material. Lem’s science fiction is original.
I’ll leave you to look up the article (I don’t want to reprise his life here.)
Highly recommended for readers interested in a creative person’s life, literature and classic science fiction.
So you there have it, my friends.
Summer of Love is BACK IN PRINT in the U.S., U.K.,  France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, and now in Australia.
The Summer of Love ebook is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US
, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in print at Australia
The Gilded Age
is BACK IN PRINT! Order the beautiful trade paperback in the U.S., in the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan and in Australia.
The ebook
is at BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords and on Kindle worldwide at US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia
The CHROME ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my print books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

In the January 24, 2022 issue of The New Yorker appears a fascinating article, Bambi before the Disney classic, “Eat Prey Love” by Kathryn Schultz. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/24/bambi-is-even-bleaker-than-you-thought
Disney acquired the film rights and sanitized the novel in 1942 for the classic children’s animated film, “Bambi”, still the highest gross animated film ever Disney produced. Still the Disney film remains one that Stephen King has said “is the first horror movie I ever saw at the age of eight” and still frightens children today.
The novel, “Bambi: A Life in the Woods” was written and published in 1922 by Austro-Hungarian writer Felix Salten. The novel is much more violent and much bloodier than the film.
Salten was a complicated person (he was a hunter of deer, for one thing) and a complicated writer (who wrote children’s books and hard-core pornography and everything in-between). I won’t summarize his life; you have to go check out the article.
Critics have analyzed the novel of “Bambi” to be Man (a term Salten consistently employed and “He” always capitalized) versus Nature. Some critics have analyzed the novel to be the Jews’ persecution in Europe in the early twentieth century culminating in the rise of Nazi Germany.
Salten was an Austro-Hungarian Jew.
Highly recommended for readers interested in literature and classic films.
So you there have it, my friends.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in theUK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in theNetherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback on November 17, 2020 in the US
, in theUK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. Now in Print in Australia
Summer of Love
(a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) is in print as a beautiful quality trade paperback in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan.
The Gilded Age (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan, and in Australia
The Garden of Abracadabra
(“Fun and enjoyable Urban Fantasy”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
ARACHNE
(“Highly recommended and very memorable.”) is in print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
One Day in the Life of Alexa
(“[An] absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms.”) is in print in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books) is in Print in the U.S., in the U.K., in Germany, in France, in Spain, in Italy, and in Japan.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my print books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

In a 2021 issue of The New Yorker is a review of documentary about an Author. I haven’t seen the documentary so I can’t comment about the review or the documentary. The article, however, quotes a passage from the Author’s writing: (and I quote):
“Liz liked Jim very much. She liked it the way he walked from the shop and often went the kitchen door to watch for him to start down the road. She liked it about his mustache. She liked it about how white his teeth when he smiled. One day she liked it the way the hair on his arms was black and how white they were above the tanned line when he washed up in the washbasin outside the house. Liking that made her feel funny.”
“It it it it it?”
Wouldn’t the sentences be more streamlined (and more grammatically correct) without the repetition of “it”? “She liked the way he walked,” for example? “She liked his mustache.” “She liked how white his teeth were when he smiled.” “She liked the way the hair,” and so on.
And what is “funny?” Amused, irritated, aroused, amorous? Perhaps the Author meant that Liz wasn’t sure how she felt. Why not say that? “Funny” is too vague and generalized for this reader.
If I were a fiction editor considering this prose, I would say, “Reject. Next.”
If you can guess the Author, please enter your speculation in the Comments.
No peeking.
No peeking.
No peeking.
No peeking.
No peeking.
No peeking.
Yes, he is the Great Ernest Hemingway. Apparently he was more of a Big Personality than a Great Writer. I read most of his novels and stories in high school. I thought he was misogynist and sexist (not the same thing) and cold.
Hemingway fans, please don’t attack me for criticizing Hemingway. That’s my opinion.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute pet pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

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I heard yesterday—via Facebook—that author and longtime Locus staffer and reviewer Faren Miller, at the age of 71, died February 15, 2022 after being hospitalized with serious respiratory problems.
Born September 3, 1950 in San Jose CA, Miller began working at Locus in 1981, where she was the first full-time employee. She remained on the staff until 2000, when she moved to Prescott AZ with partner Kerry Hanscom, whom she later married. She continued as a regular Locus review columnist until stepping down in 2018. She was the author of one novel, The Illusionists (1991), and was working on another novel prior to her death.
She gave a thoughtful, great Locus review for my book Summer of Love, reproduced at http://lisamason.com/sollocusshinerreviews.html.
She was always very supportive of me as a writer. She called us women SF writers who emerged in the 1990s “the New Golden Age of Science Fiction.” Tom and I visited her at her house in Oakland. We considered her a friend.
I’m very sad to hear this news. Age 71 is far too young to die.
And I saw last week—also via Facebook—that Tom Dupree died on Monday, February 7, at the age of 72.
Tom Dupree was my editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell on my books, Summer of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist) and The Golden Nineties (retitled, The Gilded Age, a New York Times Notable Book) and he acquired my short story, “The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria” for Full Spectrum 5, an anthology published by Bantam. (That story is now republished in ODDITIES: 22 Stories, my second collection.)
Tom was a kind, humorous, and caring editor. When he came to San Francisco, my husband Tom and I took him on a tour of the town, taking him to Coit Tower to see the view, by the Caffe Trieste, and had dinner at the famous restaurant Enrico’s on Broadway.
And when I was in NYC, I visited him at his Bantam editorial office, he taught me the Southern gentleman’s way of escorting a lady through a revolving door (he went first; that way the lady (me) didn’t have to touch the glass and push the door), and took me to lunch at a fabulous Art Deco restaurant. He was ever the Southern gentleman.
I’m also very sad to hear this news. I will miss him. Age 72 is also too young die.
I’m grieving this February, 2022.
Summer of Love is BACK IN PRINT in the U.S., U.K.,  France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, and now in Australia.
The Summer of Love ebook is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US
, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in print at Australia
The Gilded Age
is BACK IN PRINT! Order the beautiful trade paperback in the U.S., in the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan and in Australia.
The ebook
is at BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords and on Kindle worldwide at US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia
The CHROME ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, new reviews, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

Oh, now I understand.
Why in the October 25, 2021 The New Yorker issue, Paul McCartney published “Writing ‘Eleanor Rigby’”, an interesting, engaging brief account of how the song was written, how the song’s names got chosen, the “happy accidents” that helped form the Beatles when they were still teenagers, and feedback given to McCartney about his poetry in the song by Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. “Eleanor Rigby” is considered a breakthrough song by the Beatles because it was written NOT to be performed onstage.
Why?
Because McCartney published an 874-page book (!!!) called “Lyrics, 1956 to Present” in the U.K. and probably in the U.S (and elsewhere). The book was reviewed in the December, 10, 2021 issue of TLS.
In conjunction with The Beatles: Get Back, the 15-hour documentary directed by Peter Jackson on Disney and the book, The Beatles: Get Back, edited by John Harris, also both reviewed in the December, 10, 2021 issue of TLS.
That’s why.
The Beatles and their managers were always good with publicity. I remember, as a child, looking at a young teenage friend’s Beatles’ cards—like baseball cards.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US
, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in print at Australia
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia
The CHROME ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Summer of Love
is BACK IN PRINT in the U.S., U.K.,  France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, and now in Australia.
The Summer of Love ebook is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
The Gilded Age
is BACK IN PRINT! Order the beautiful trade paperback in the U.S., in the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan and in Australia.
The ebook
is at BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords and on Kindle worldwide at US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, new reviews, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

Over the Christmas weekend, Tom and I saw five movies he borrowed for free from our wonderful local library. We’d never seen any of them before so each movie was a new experience.
Blythe Spirit” (2021) Based on the classic Noӗl Coward’s play, a best-selling, financially successful crime writer in 1937 suffers a terrible (and hilarious) writer’s block while writing a screenplay based his own story. His second wife strives to keep him on track: she herself wants to move from London to Hollywood. The writer invites Madame Acarti (a marvelous Judi Dench), a mostly fraudulent spiritualist medium to hold a private séance at his house. Madame Acarti turns out to have some real psychic power after all and summons the ghost of his deceased first wife, who may have given the writer most of his award-winning ideas. (There is a joke about “ghost writing”) The ghost isn’t happy about the presence of the quite-alive second wife living in her house and sleeping with her husband. Laugh-out-loud funny and witty, the plot turns darker toward the end. Recommended for viewers who enjoy a sophisticated comedy (without profanity).
Pompeii” (2014) I just read a fascinating article about the Pompeii ruins in recent days in The New Yorker so Tom picked up this movie. Set against the volcano about to erupt two thousand years ago, this tells the story of slave (a boy formerly from the Celtic Horse Tribe taken prisoner by Roman invaders) who becomes a gladiator in the arena of Pompeii and falls in love with a wealthy merchant’s daughter (and she with him). The luxurious ancient city DID have gladiators fight to death in a magnificent arena. The story is derivative of one of my favorite movies, “Gladiator,” but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment. Spectacular special effects as the volcano erupts, which was witnessed at the time and written about by Pliny the Younger. A tragic ending. (There were preserved corpses in the layers of volcanic ash who were kissing with their last breath.) Recommended for serious viewers of historical drama.
“The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns” (1999) For a delightful change of pace, this complex fantasy interweaves a romance tale between an American man (secretly a developer who is scouting rustic properties to develop) and an Irish woman with a romance tale between a leprechaun boy and a fairy girl. The latter romance causes a war between the leprechauns and the fairies reminiscent of “Romeo and Juliet”. No plot spoilers here! There are two brief scenes with Irish tap dancers (who I could watch for hours!). But the ends of all the interwoven tales are happy. Whoopi Goldberg as the Grand Banshee is wonderful. Recommended for all fantasy viewers.
Mary Shelley” (2018) Elle Fanning well plays the teenage Mary Shelley (the actress resembles the historical figure), the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, a famous 18th century feminist, writer, and advocate of “free love,” and an anarchist writer-philosopher father, William Godwin who owned a bookshop in London. Mary is always writing as a teenager. She’s close to her step-sister and distant from Godwin’s second wife (Wollstonecraft died within a month of giving birth to Mary). At one of her father’s literary salons, she meets the dashing poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth, who also resembles the historical figure). They fall madly in love, but Percy is more an advocate of “free love” than Mary. As a writer, I find it fascinating to see the many influences on the author to create a literary work, including the infamous weekend in Geneva with Lord Byron (drugs, sex, and ghost stories). Mary Shelley went on to write six novels, including a science fiction and an historical, and short stories, but the work she is best known for is “Frankenstein or Prometheus Unbound” written and published when she was eighteen years old. A bit slow, but recommended for serious viewers who are interested in writers’ lives.
The Bookshop” (2017 ) Rounding out the weekend with TWO bookshops and TWO writers, this film (based on a novel) tells the true story of a widow, in 1959 England, coming to a conservative seaside town with a dream in her heart of opening a bookshop. Against all odds, she succeeds in opening a charming bookshop and is popular among the town people, including an old reclusive widower who loves books. She stocks Ray Bradbury and Vladimir Nabokov, among other controversial titles. But (for no good reason, other than jealousy perhaps) she draws the ruthless opposition of the local grand dame who seeks to destroy her shop. Slow but recommended for serious viewers
So there you have it, my friends. A lot of good movies were made some years ago, you only to find them.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in print at Australia
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia
The CHROME ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Summer of Love
is Print in the U.S., U.K.,  France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, and now in Australia.
The Summer of Love ebook is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle worldwide in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
The Gilded Age
is BACK IN PRINT! Order the beautiful trade paperback in the U.S., in the U.K., in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Japan and in Australia.
The ebook
is at BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords and on Kindle worldwide at US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, new reviews, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

Tom borrowed more The New Yorker magazines for free from our lovely local library. Here are the articles I recommend: I’ll leave it up to you find the online links.
December 6, 2021 Issue
“Electricity and the Body” by Jerome Groopman
. The article begins with Groopman’s account—he and his wife are doctors—of his frightening tachycardia episode that nearly killed him. The article goes on to discuss the medicinal use of electricity throughout history. The ancients observed that the stone amber could transmit electricity (I call it “the amber” in my Arachne Trilogy) and believed wearing an amber necklace, men and women, would protect the wearer from all kinds of diseases. Then there were “electrical belts” in Victorian times, worn by men to give them “sexual vitality”. There is electroshock therapy, used today (more safely) to alleviate severe suicidal depression. A fascinating article recommended for serious readers.
November 29, 2021 Issue
“Pompeii’s Hidden Layer” by Rebecca Mead.
The author’s recent visit to the archeological site (four million visitors a year go there) is the preface to an account of historical efforts to excavate the ruins, which were discovered by monks drilling a water well in the 1700s. The fabulous, doomed city was buried under eighty feet of ash from the disastrous massive eruption of the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. Only 30% or so of the ruins have been excavated, which activities were very dangerous—the overlying ash could collapse, destroying the ruins below—and trapped volcanic gases were still deadly. What treasures awaited the excavators, though—the colors on the murals and the floors were still as vibrant as they were two thousand years ago. Highly recommended. (I want to go visit! Over Christmas weekend, we saw the movie, “Pompeii”, which was very enjoyable (but derivative of “Gladiator”.)
“The Garden of Forking Paths” by Nicola Twilley. A maze-maker and his mazes, with color photographs. Recommended.
“The Decoders of the Rosetta Stone” by Jean Acocella. The Rosetta Stone is the key to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphs (which no one understood for centuries) and two other ancient languages, carved by some genius in Greece. Like the ruins of Pompeii, the Stone was discovered by accident, and it took a while from linguists to decode it. Recommended.
April 12, 2021 Issue
There’s an article about the artist, Helen Frankenthaler, in this issue but I don’t want to go into it—I will be too sarcastic and I don’t want to do that about another woman artist.
There’s an article, “The Zeitgeist of Midnight Cowboy” by Louis Menard. Reviewing the book “Shooting ‘Midnight Cowboy” by Glenn Frankel which was also reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement. To Hollywood’s surprise, the film won the Oscar for Best Picture and nominated for more categories. There’s some controversy about the film, which Tom and I possess (thanks to a neighbor) in a Director’s Cut. I recommend seeing the Director’s Cut for the additional fifteen minutes of Joe Buck’s previous life after he embarks on his quest to New York City. I don’t want to get into the controversies. You can look up the articles, on both sides of the Atlantic, for yourself. Suffice it to say, I find it a moving film of friendship in a cold, lonely megacity, and I always cry at the end.
November 6, 2021 Issue
“What a Feeling: How to Have More Energy” by Nick Paumgarten.
The author begins this article by describing he’s having “brownouts” on afternoons working at home during the pandemic. And further goes to say politicians, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs “regardless of talent” have huge success with “high energy.” (Hmm, I know persons who have that.) He goes on to discuss the issue of energy—how you can get more or, if you can’t, how to cope. Check it out.
November 15, 2021 Issue
“Towering Infernos: Life on the front line of megafires” by M. R. O’Conner
. This fascinating look particularly on megafires, how much more dangerous they are—they send massive smoke plumes so high up in the atmosphere that the force of the smoke interferes with jet airplanes. The article focuses on the firefighters—one firefighter, who served nine tours of duty in Iraq, remarked on being in a war zone was not nearly as dangerous on the fireline of a megafire. Many firefighters suffer PTSS, many of them commit suicide. This is may have been publicity for the subsequent federal legislation benefiting the firefighting effort (raising the firefighters’ low wages, for example) but I’m a Californian and I support it.
Finally, “Kandinsky at the Guggenheim” by Peter Schjeldahl about the show at the museum. With a full-color illustration of one of Kandinsky’s paintings. I like some of his paintings, others not (they’re sloppy and not planned well enough).
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is on Kindle worldwide, including in the US, in the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
ODDITIES: 22 Stories is in Print as a beautiful trade paperback in the US
, in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. New! Now in print at Australia
CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print. New! Now in Print in Australia
The ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.
Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, interviews, round tables, cute pet pictures, the bespoke artwork and studio jewelry of Tom Robinson, forthcoming works, and more!

 

Updated for 2022! New pages for the forthcoming SPYDER, ODDITIES: 22 Stories, and CHROME, all ebooks and print books, worldwide links, stories, new reviews, interviews, round tables, cute cat pictures, the fine art and bespoke jewelry by Tom Robinson, and more! Visit www.lisamason.com