07/22/12

Six Sentences on Sunday

I had the *best* writing weekend! I’ve gushed about my Chicago-North chapter before, but it never gets old having the support of a dedicated writing community. So, I’m celebrating with my first (unofficial) Six Sentences on Sunday post. (Meaning–I saw Shannyn Schroeder do one and I’m totally copying her.) There is even more info here: http://www.sixsunday.com/

Here are six sentences from my current work in progress–Resist Me.

“Fin, we could spend this cab ride talking,” Chloe said, smoothing the lapel of his tuxedo jacket. Her touch warmed his skin even through layers of fabric. “Or, we could spend the ride not talking.” Her eyes dropped to his mouth and held.

He wrapped a hand around her neck and grazed her lips with his thumb. “Talking is overrated.”

07/10/12

Waiting

My husband and I were private people–until we met our adoption counselor about a year ago. We told her of the long winding road that had led us to the Cradle, and we haven’t stopped talking about adoption since.

What do you get when a girl named Ryann meets a boy named Stacy in a college marching band? A band-geek marriage full of music, laughter, stories, and, on occasion, confused telemarketers.

In some ways, it is probably good practice for what life will be like after a child is placed with us. We are open to adopting a child from any race or ethnicity, so there is a good chance we will be a “conspicuous family.” Gone will be the days where we can roam just under the world’s radar. People will probably always have questions and comments for us about adoption, so we might as well get used to it now.

Another reason we are open with our adoption story is because we know connections with a birth parent could be made in many different ways. Networking and getting the word out about our desire to adopt is vital. Now I linger over my coffee and chat up baristas. I share a little too much information when picking out paint samples at the paint store. I slip our adoption business cards to the short order cooks at the local greasy spoon. You never know who might know someone who knows someone who might be considering an adoption plan. We also have comfort in knowing that the Cradle counselors will help birth parents make the best choice for the child and for themselves.

We haven’t been waiting long–only a few short months. Some days the wait is easier than others, but we have faith that a child will join our family eventually. For those of you who haven’t had the experience of running into one of us at the paint store here are a few of the more common questions we’ve been asked.

Q: How long is the wait?

The average wait is about two years and we’ve only been waiting a short time so far. However, you never know when birth parents might be looking for specific things that would match our own adoption profile. The birth parents choose which adoptive family to place their child with and each birth parent has different hopes and dreams for their child’s forever family. So length of time on the list is just one factor they may consider. We could get the call next month or next year…

Q: Will the adoption will be open or closed?

We hope to work together with the birth parents to have an open adoption. Everything we have learned reinforces our beliefs that an open adoption is the best option for the child. This way they have a better sense of their heritage, medical history and identity.

Q: How old will the child be? Will the child be from Illinois?

The program we are in at the Cradle is the Infant Domestic program. The child placed with us will be a newborn and could be from this area or from another state. Adoptions that cross state lines involve a little different procedures, but they are completely doable.

Q: Can you pick a boy or a girl?

No, that is not an option. Like many expectant parents we would be equally happy with either a boy or a girl. Or one of each!

Q: What does Clete (our dog) think about all this?

He has been somewhat quiet on the subject, but he is great around kids. Having a baby join our happy family will be a transition, but we are confident Clete and the child will become good friends. Plus, Clete is always happy for someone in his life who is likely to drop food.

Q: Any news?

This one is the hardest of all. We are notified if someone looks seriously at our profile, but that isn’t news were are going to share with the world. It is hard enough going through the ups and downs of adoption without taking the rest of the world on the roller coaster ride. We also know that nothing is guaranteed until we bring a child home with us. So, that is our standard answer: You’ll know we have news when there is another person here with us. But don’t worry, we’ll be shouting it from the rooftops by that point.

Q: What if we know someone who is considering adoption?

Direct them to our adoption profile.

Thank you for helping us to share our story!

 

04/30/12

Spring Fling 2012

Last weekend was the Chicago-North Spring Fling Romance Writers’ Conference.

Now that the whirlwind of a weekend is over, I cannot believe how much work the Spring Fling Committee put into the conference, and how effortless they made it all seem. This conference was full of educational programs, networking opportunities, and a star-studded book signing that nearly broke my bank.

The best souvenir?

Hope.

Hope that practice will make each draft just better enough than the last to keep me going.

Hope that someday I’ll write THE book that lands an agent and starts my career.

Hope that, no matter what, I’ll always have someone to turn to in this crazy endeavor we call “writing.”

If you haven’t had a chance to go to a writing conference, give yourself the gift of hope by joining your local RWA Chapter. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

My Awesome Roommates

03/24/12

The Hunger Games: An Amateur Review

So, while there aren’t a lack of The Hunger Games movie reviews out there, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts after watching the movie last night.

What I liked

Overall Essence of Book Achieved:
As I watched the movie, I remembered what made the books so captivating. For me, I was caught up in the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. I was never really sure where she actually stood with him, what was real or what was for the cameras. The movie nailed this aspect of the movie. This tension made it just as uncomfortable to watch the movie as it was to read the book. It takes a lot for a movie to match this kind of emotional intensity created by a book.

Events Happening Outside of Katniss’ POV
The book is written from Katniss’ point of view, so it was a pleasant surprise to see what was happening in District 11, District 12, and the Capital during the games. An even better surprise, to see that Suzanne Collins worked on the screenplay! As I have read the second book in the series, it was nice to see these glimpses into activity outside the arena that may indicate some events in the future.

What Surprised Me

Katniss Dominating The Screen
I never doubted that Katniss was beautiful, as well as strong, smart, and agile in the book. In the movie, Katniss stole every scene. The lighting, the make-up and the wardrobe made her a force to be reckoned with.

Chemistry between Katniss and Cinna
What the what? Great fodder fan-fiction and that’s all I have to say about that.

What I Didn’t Love

Shaky Camera Work
During several of the action packed scenes, the use of the not-so-steady cam made it hard to keep perspective on what was happening. I don’t know if it was a device used to blur the violence of some scenes or not, but it was distracting all the same.

Lukewarm Girl on Fire
While reading the book, one of the most moving scenes was when Katniss and Peeta arrived in the Tribute Parade. I was expecting a lot from this scene in the movie, and I was left underwhelmed by the on-screen version of events. I could sense Katniss’ apprehension and reluctance, but the powerful impact of their appearance was missing. For months, I have imagined what music would accompany this scene in the movie. Now, I can’t even recall any specific music during the scene. So, the next time I watch it, I will imagine this song instead (“When I arrive, I bring the fire…”)

In summary, I think this was a good movie and true to the essence of the book. It was also great being in a theater for a movie again and hashing over the movie with friends after. What opens next week?

12/25/11

We Have a Winner!

Thanks to everyone who commented on my 13 Days of Doctor Who music post. It was great hearing all of your thoughts and reactions to the Doctor Who soundtracks. The winner of the Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol soundtrack is Erin! I will be contacting you via email, but if I get lost in the spam abyss, feel free to contact me at ryann {dot} m {dot} murphy {at} gmail {dot} com.

Catch up on the other posts at the Wibbly Wobbly Schedule.

In preparing for the post, I tried to make a video of my life set to the Doctor Who soundtrack. I probably should have left it on the cutting room floor, but here it is if you want to check it out.

 

12/21/11

Knob-twiddling and Wobbulators: The Music of Doctor Who

Banner by Studio D.

Welcome to Day 10 of the 13 Days of Doctor Who! I hope you had a chance to visit yesterday’s stop at Patricia E. Riley, at Tangled Up In Words and be sure to check out Lisa Bigelow’s Must Love Doctor Who post tomorrow

When I used to think of the non-traditional work women did during World War II, I thought of Rosie the Riveter. Not anymore. From now on I will also think of Daphne Orem and, fair Whovian, so should you.

Daphne Orem shown here with a wobbulator.

Daphne Orem was a sound balancer during the war and afterwards she worked tirelessly to start a experimental sound creation lab. Finally, in 1958, she and Desmond Briscoe founded the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Much of the work done at the Workshop consisted of recording sounds and then manipulating them through editing, pitch-changing, and reversing the tape. Soon, wobbulators and oscillators were added to the mix.

But, Ryann! We are here about Doctor Who, not a history lesson!

Okay, fine. Fast forward to 1963 when Doctor Who’s first producer, Verity Lambert, contacted the Workshop looking for someone to do sound effects for her little sci-fi series, just six episodes long. Soon, the famous Doctor Who theme was born, thanks to music written by Ron Grainer and created by Dick Mills, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson from the Workshop.

Brian Hodgson scraped a key along piano strings to create the TARDIS sounds.

And, a lot of knob-twiddling.  And Hodgson scraping his mum’s house key along bass strings from a dismantled piano to create the TARDIS sound that we know and love. Genius, yes? But, seriously, don’t try that at home. (Looking at you, Mr. Murphy.)

But, you know the story doesn’t stop there. The series has endured for decades and some of those original sound effects are still used in the show today. Since 2005, Murrary Gold has been the music director for Doctor Who and has taken the show’s music on a slightly different, though no less awesome, path.

While I can appreciate the advancements of the earlier efforts, I love the addition of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for the recent Doctor Who soundtracks. Now the theme song has became a siren call between Mr. Murphy and I, summoning the other through time and space…well, from the side of the house anyway. We alternately pretend to play the violin part  or sing the electronic “Whooo-eeeee-ewwww”. Here’s the link if you want to play along at home.

The genius of Murrary Gold and Ben Foster shine through every note. Did you know Gold created a theme for each Doctor as well as Rose, Donna, the Cyberman (boo, hiss) and more? My question is, when do we get OUR own fan theme? It could be a hipster track created from the sounds of our minds being blown and our hearts being broken (#teamdonna).

Vocal performances also enhance the soundtracks of several episodes. “End of Time” is particularly moving as each time the Doctor talks of his upcoming death or bids farewell to his companions, haunting vocals in “Vale Decem” create a requiem leading us towards a regenerating Doctor. Melanie Pappenheim is also breathtaking in Rose’s farewell from Season 2.

Even with all this amazing music, Doctor Who still inspires people to create their own musical mashups in tribute to their favorite show. You can even make your own own version of the Doctor Who theme with the radiophonatron. Come on, I know you want to try it. Master this and you’ll be a hit at parties. Well, certain parties. Well, okay, just Doctor Who parties. Still, try it already!

Here is one of my favorite mashups. You might want to grab a box of tissue. No? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Looking for a Doctor Who Theme you can dance to? Check out this groovy tune:

It takes a lot to make a television series capture your mind and your heart. I can appreciate great acting and brilliant storytelling, but an outstanding soundtrack can bring it all together and wrap it up with a bow of emotional intensity. For me, the Doctor Who soundtracks do exactly that.

“The Universe will sing you to your sleep, Doctor. This song is ending but the story never ends.” –Ood Sigma

 

Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Erica and Eliza for letting me climb aboard the Doctor Who train!

Mini Prize:

To enter my mini prize giveaway of a copy of Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol, the soundtrack to the upcoming Christmas episode, leave a comment with your name and email address below. This giveaway will close on midnight CST on December 24. The prize will be either CD or MP3 as appropriate.

 

 

Grand Prize:

To enter the grand prize giveaway for the Complete Sixth Series on DVD, please leave a comment with your name and email address. You may enter once at every stop on the blog tour for a total of thirteen chances. The Grand Prize giveaway is limited to the US and Canada, due to regional restrictions on the DVD. Individual contest will close at the discretion of the author, but the Grand Prize contest will accept entries on any site until midnight CST on December 24th. We will post the winner on December 25th, and notify the winner via email. 

 

12/11/11

My Reading Life

Excuse me, when did it become December? My November was a blur thanks to deadlines-a-go-go, so when my Golden Heart entry was finally in the mail, I could breathe.

And read.

Remember what that was like? The anticipation of time to savor a great new fantasy? The wonder of meeting Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy for the first time and knowing that you could spend the entire winter break with them? Sigh. So, I decided it was time to rediscover that anticipation. I checked out every appealing book I encountered at the library and surround myself with them this weekend. The first did not disappoint, even though it did make me stay up way too late.

Girls Don’t Fly by Kristen Chandler is a contemporary YA novel about a high school senior, Myra, who is dumped by her boyfriend out of the blue. Right there, I was hooked. I mean, I get that. Turns out that Myra is also the glue that holds the struggling household together. Her hard working parents rely on her to help transport, feed, and care for her younger siblings. When Myra’s older sister gets pregnant and moves back home, even more weight falls on Myra’s shoulders.

Myra struggles with the aftermath of the breakup. She needs a job, but is constrained by her responsibilities at home. When she learns of a scholarship offering a trip to the Galapagos Islands, she sees a chance to get away from her life–if she can raise $1000 by the scholarship deadline. Myra’s is a story of potential. She has loads of it, but even she doesn’t realize it. Those around her are too wrapped up in their own lives to notice what she could do if given half a chance.

I loved the rhythm of Myra’s first person narrative. The scientific threads added terrific texture to the overall story. The adults in this story weren’t perfect, and they weren’t villains, either, which made the story that much more believable.

In the end, I kept reading into the night because I wanted to know what happened to Myra, her scholarship application, and her budding relationship with cute graduate student, Pete. A great, realistic read with good conflict and decisions without easy answers.

Are you anticipating any great reads this month?

10/27/11

Inspiration Is Everywhere

Writing inspiration can be found all around us. Get creative and write the story behind this picture in 200 words or less to win  an autographed picture of Sir Cletus, the world’s best yellow Labrador.

Have enough dog pictures already? I suppose I could also throw in your choice of these fabulous titles: a signed copy of Torn by Erica O’Rourke or The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert.

Write quickly! We’ll judge the responses on November 1.

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09/9/11

My Writing Journey One Year Later

After years of off and on writing, I took the plunge and attended a writing conference in Ohio about this time last year. It was a very inspirational conference and I knew my next step should be to join the Chicago-North RWA Chapter.

So, I did.

Now, nearly a year later, I don’t have a contract. I’m not close to finding an agent. And yet, success is mine. I have some dear friends that have great supporters and beta readers since the beginning. I have found a community of intelligent, generous writers who inspire me on a daily basis. In February, I read a selection from my first completed novel to a very encouraging audience. Somehow, they made me feel good about my writing, while also pointing out that I had room to grow. A Lot. Really. Keep working, dear.

I soaked in the feedback and looked at my work with a new eye. I reworked a few different versions and sent one to the Molly Contest sponsored by the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. Earlier this week, I found out my submission made it to the final round. The final round! Be still my writerly heart. Thank you, also, to the judges that provided constructive criticism in the score sheets. Pure. Gold.

So, who knows what next year will bring? I have a few goals, but it is the journey that continues to challenge and stimulate me. Above all, I am very thankful to not be traveling alone.

Shameless plug: Registration is open for Chicago-North’s awesome conference: SpringFling 2012!