Battle of the Sexes! Can't we just hug-it-out?

I'm forgoing my usual Mid-Week Review to talk about something that came up yesterday during my blog trolling  browsing. A fairly prominent industry (publishing) blog posted a quasi-serious request for guest-bloggers.  I say quasi-serious, because you can never be certain what's for real when it comes to this blog.  The blogs tongue is so firmly planted in cheek that we may have to come up with a new name for the anatomy. (Teekue, anyone?)

A request for guest bloggers isn't any kind of exceptional news, but I thought the way they framed the request was:  Their hopes were to get guest posts and thoughts on reading from writers/people with minority perspectives.  Cool idea.  I'm all for giving those with the fewest voices the opportunity to be heard. However, most of the post in question seemed to hammer on the idea that 'fringe' or minority basically meant anyone other than a man, or a heterosexual white man to be exact.

I'm not one to play up the 'plight' (lol) of the white man or anything, so please don't take this as me trying to make a case for pity, applause, or the like.  What bothered me was this:  I'm a guy trying to make my way was an author.  I happen to also be white.  It's pretty common knowledge, or at least I thought it was, that the majority (over the total of publishing, not talking genres and sub-categories) of current authors AND readers are female.  How does that make me the status quo or the establishment? Since I've started writing, there have been plenty of times I've felt like the only guy doing this on the planet.  Please don't tell me my opinion/experience is somehow automatically erased because society has somehow favored me.  Last I checked, I'm still waiting on Random House to e-mail me my 'Dude Card' so I can skip the whole agent thing and walk right in with my manuscript and cover design requests.    

According to a 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, of the 75,000 people identified as being employed as "Author/Writer", 43,000 were women.  That's roughly 57%.  As a male, does that make me a scathing minority?  No.  Does that put me in the majority?  No.  However, when you look at genres, etc. I'd wager the gap between gender types widens. (I'll talk more about that in second ...)    

I will not argue that so called classic literature is dominated, unfairly so, by white male authors, perspectives, and characters.  I'm also aware that there were times when female authors had to publish under male names (most notably the Bronte sisters) to be accepted and taken seriously.  In the United States, our current President wouldn't have been "allowed" to learn how to read or write 150 years ago because of his skin color.  Consequently, you don't have to convince me that there hasn't been a ton of diversity in literature cumulatively speaking.

However, I do not write classic literature.  I write for young adults. The ones that live, breathe, and read right now.  Furthermore, this isn't 100 years ago, or even 40 years ago.  Right now, boys of every color are reading less than girls.  Additionally, if the statistics are accurate, males are less educated than females and that trend is growing.

Why do boys/men read less?

I'm a mental health counselor by education, as a result I've read and believe countless studies on the power of behavior modeling, especially as it pertains to young people.  Over the years, lots of people have asked these types of questions: Why don't we have more black attorneys?  Why aren't there more female physicians?  Why are the children of college educated people more likely to go to college, and graduate, than the children of non-college educated people?  These questions exist outside of the obvious socioeconomic reasons, meaning even if we're all on the same footing socially/financially there still seems to be an issue.  A phenomenal amount of research has been done, and the findings frequently point to the same types of things.  We don't have more black attorneys, because young black people don't see a number of people who look like them working as attorneys.  We don't have young women aspiring to be physicians, because they don't see/know grown women who are physicians.  Children of non-college educated folks tend to not aspire/desire to be college educated, because it hasn't been modeled for them in their own environment.

Regardless of anything else he accomplishes, President Obama achieved his most lasting feat when he won the election: He created a pattern.

Let's take this back to reading/writing.  I work closely with young people in educational settings, and it's always noteworthy to see a young male reading.  That's the sad truth of it.  I think it's because there aren't models for them.  It's been widely reported that men don't read as much as women, so if their dads, uncles, and brothers aren't reading, why should they?  I see writing as an extension of reading, so you could probably use a similar argument for why fewer males are choosing to pursue careers in writing.  This is particularly true in young adult/middle grade fiction.  I read a lot, and most of it is YA.  It's not to say there aren't great books written by men (I'm a die-hard Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson fan), there just aren't nearly as many.  It's not to say there aren't stories with male MCs that boys can identify with, there just aren't that many.  This is not to say there is some kind of blame to be placed on women, because I don't think there is any kind of internal movement in YA publishing to give opportunities to women over men.  I just think fewer men are trying for the opportunity.

Relatively speaking, I haven't been chasing the author dream all that long, but in the little time I've spent doing so my writing cohorts/friends have been about 10-1 female to male.  I have 27 blog followers, and only 1 is a man.  I attend a local writers group which typically yields 15-20 folks and it's usually 3-1 female to male.  I mess around on Absolute Write, GoodReads, and the Writer's Digest forums and I can safely say that females are represented in much higher numbers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not scared.  In fact, every career I've ever been a part of up to this point (education/mental health) have all been predominately female occupations.  I'm comfy in my own skin.          
The point of this entire post is to say that I'm tired of people creating classes, and drawing boxes around anything (be it minorities or majorities).    Declaring 'you don't count because you're too white, male, majority, etc.' is just as bad as saying you don't count for any other reason.  I believe to be human is to be unique, therefore being a minority is something we've all shared in some form or fashion.  Just because I haven't experienced first-hand what it's like to be you, doesn't mean I can't sympathize and/or relate.  

So the next time we see a backward societal norm overturned, someone special who is allowed to voice their opinions for the first time, or a stereotype erased, instead of beating our chest and saying, "it's about time!", let's instead make certain that we're not exchanging one negative cultural norm for another.  Let's make sure we're not creating new chasms while we're trying to fill in the old ones.  Let's not focus on turning the tables, but instead make certain that everyone has a place to sit.  Life is about inclusion, not exclusion.          


Mid-Week Review: TWO STEPS FROM HELL (music)

Morning, bloggerinos!  Well, the summer weeks are marching on, with proof being the mountains of school supplies I saw during a recent shopping trip.  It's amazing to see stores mobilize for 'Back To School'; it's like a military grade deployment, with dozens of workers scurrying about trying to make sure all of the binders, pens, etc. get put out for easy access.

The nerd in me still gets a little excited about the start of the school year, but I think that has more to do with the beginning of fall and end of the heat.   Well, at least for those of you who don't live in South Texas ...  Regardless, school is about a month away, so I had better get down to business!



Writers vary greatly when it comes to external stimuli during their writing time.  Specifically, some like to listen to music, and others don't.  Stephen King recommends in his book, On Writing, that writers should never listen to music when writing, and basically seclude themselves from all distractions.  J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, says her most productive writing is done at coffee shops with external noises and music (as long as the music isn't too loud, she amends).

Within the ranks of those that listen to music while they write, it seems there is a lot of variance.  Some like the music loud and edgy, some can't do music with vocals, some like it barely audible, and still others match the music to their mood or even the content they are writing.

I definitely fall into the 'likes to listen to music while I write' category.  I do most of my writing at home alone, but try to sneak out to local shops when I can.  When I'm home alone, it can get a little too quiet, and when it does, my mind tends to stray from the task at hand.  I've found music can really help keep me inspired and zipping along with whatever I'm working on.

Now, I do have stipulations on my writing music.  First (and foremost) is there can be no, or very few, lyrics.   I don't do well with words other than my own floating around in my brain when I'm trying to put together sentences.  Second, I can't have the music overly loud, as I definitely have a threshold when it comes to my attention span.  I like the music to be mood/writing specific, but it doesn't have to be.  That leads me to my final requirement: the music has to inspire me in some way.  Maybe it makes me think of seasons, or takes me back to a fantastic movie experience, but whatever it does it needs to make me want to create.

All of that being said, it's probably no surprise that I listen to a lot of movie scores while I write.  They typically won't have tons of lyrics (mostly orchestral), and the very best ones take me mentally right back to my theater seat to where/when I first experienced the movie.  Some of my favorites are: Lord of the Rings (total art/nerd crush on Howard Shore, btw), Finding Neverland, Master and Commander, Memoirs of the Geisha (or anything John Williams has ever done), and most recently Avatar.  I have hundreds of movie soundtracks, but those are the ones I return to time and again.


That brings me to my latest find: Two Steps From Hell.   They are basically a music production company that specializes in making music for movie trailers (and some video games, too).  They've done work for tons of movies, some that you might recognize are: 2012, Percy Jackson, Prince of Persia, Watchmen, New Moon, Sherlock Holmes, Young Victoria, Salt, Angels and Demons, Ice Age, Up, The Dark Knight, Prince Caspian, Wall E, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  You can check out their entire list of credits on the webpage linked above, and it will blow you away.

As you can tell by the list, their music is very sweeping, and utterly massive in scale.  Think of the most exciting and/or moving moments in the movies listed above, and that's what Two Steps aims to re-create with music.  Obviously, they do so quite masterfully or they wouldn't get to score the trailers for such blockbuster movies.

I recently downloaded their album, Invincible, from iTunes and found it to be superb.  (You can get it from Amazon MP3, here.)  They layer haunting vocals and choir arraignments with driving percussion, balance powerful horns with subtle strings, and generally do everything to perfection.  If your pulse doesn't rise after one listen, you might be dead.  


You love movies, classical music, or are just looking for something fresh and inspiring to play in the background as you write.        

Chapter Challenge Update AND True Blood!

Evening all,

Another weekend has come and gone, and so too has another episode of the HBO vampire series, True Blood.  Now this isn't a review of the latest episode or anything; it's just me professing my love for a show that I couldn't have imagined me loving.

I've blogged about it before, so if you're not familiar with the show's premise and care for a recap, check it out.  This latest episode was something of a filler, with lots of plot elements being explored, yet very little being truly resolved or revealed.  Honestly, it felt a little thin, because of being stretched to accommodate so many different characters.  I think I prefer episodes that deal with only 1 or 2 characters and their stories.  However, I do understand that everyone needs their Jason, Bill, Eric, Tara, Hoyt, Lafayette, etc. fix.        

For fans of the book, I can say that Bill lowered the hammer on Sook, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.  I really felt it in the show, so props to the writers and actors.  Speaking of the writing, I felt the dialogue in this particular episode was strong.  That was a good sign, for if I have one minor quibble with this season it has been that some of the conversations have been a little too rote for my taste.  There's a particularly fabulous bit between Bill and a dancer that had the writer in me drooling.  At any rate, there were some wolves, so I was happy.

Now for the real reason for this post, an update on my weekly chapter challenge progress.  My partner, Margaret, sent me her work for the week this afternoon, as well as her thoughts on chapter 2 of a semi-completed piece I sent her.

I'm not going to lie, I love every last stitch of encouragement she gives me.  She definitely points out when I've done something that doesn't jibe, but I find myself really clinging to the, "I loved it!" etc. that she occasionally offers.  She may be doing it only to be positive (which is sort of a requirement to participate in the weekly exchange of work program we've established), but it means a bunch all the same.  So thanks, Margaret!

I had a pretty productive writing week last week, so I have actually finished up a chapter for the uncompleted work that I'd been sharing prior to summer craziness, and plan to send that on to her as soon as I'm done typing this (or first thing in the morning as I now realize it's on the other computer, and I don't REALLY feel like booting it up before going to bed).  I also started, and have nearly finished drafting, the first of a series of short stories I'm working on.

The real elephant in the room (for me) is my WIP that I've been editing through the last few months.  It's the same story that Margarette has read the first 2 chapters of, and I've recently kind of gotten the gumption to finally tear back into it thanks in part to Margaret's encouragement/thoughts.

So in short, the Chapter Challenge rocks!  If you're a writer and interested in the group (and maybe finding your own Margaret), you can check us out on the Writer's Digest forums.          


TEAM JACOB!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sure I just gave a Twihard a heart attack, but I couldn't resist ...



YA author Cynthia Smith has a great blog.  She regularly interviews literary agents who represent YA/MG/Young Readers, etc., because, well, that's what Cynthia writes.  In a recent superb interview she asked agent  Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Agency) to give some 'model' books/authors for prospective clients to study.

What made yet another agent interview top 5 worthy? Mary's response to said question: she recommends that authors aspire not to be the next runaway success (ala Stephanie Meyer), but rather set their sights on slowly building a career via word-of-mouth, etc..

EJ THINKS - Every aspiring author has dreamed of instant superstardom, but the reality of how few authors ever achieve that is pretty sobering.  Mary's advice of securing a reasonable first advance so an author has the opportunity to meet/exceed the expectations of their publisher is solid gold.  Many a writer has had their careers flame out after poor sales on an overly invested-in first book.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I want to write until I quit kicking, massive success or no.


Literary agent Rachelle Gardner makes frequent appearances on the FAB-FIVE for good reason: she's usually talking about things we (as writers) need to be paying attention to.  A recent post about her feelings on market trends (to vampire or not to vampire, is that your question?) was particularly enlightening.

EJ PONDERS - If an agent says she doesn't get overly concerned about trends in publishing, and there isn't an author around to hear it, would it still make a sound?


Fellow bloggist Jaydee Morgan posted her favorite writing related quotes this past week.  She's listed some really good ones, so if you need a little inspiration, head over and check them out.  What are your faves?

EJ WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT - The title of this blog is a nod to my favorite quote.


Yep, I just busted out some Jewel ... author TH. Mafi runs a very funny blog (Grab a Pen), but don't be blinded by the funny.  Oh no.  She drops nuggets of writerly info and encouragement like her name was Grimace!  She recently wrote a piece that talks about how sensitive we writer types can be, and how important it is to move on from our mistakes.  I found it to be very inspiring, think you might as well.

EJ SAYS - There's no crying in baseball, but there's plenty in the arts.  Anguish and fear are often the fuel for great art, but like any aid, it can cripple if it becomes too important, consuming, and/or overwhelming.


Love my Nook reader.  I've got dozens of books on it, and they go where I go.  I can read with one hand tied behind my head, get new books without leaving my house, etc.

Not everyone feels the same eReaders and THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING.  Jessica over at the Bookends agency blog address just this in a recent post.  An interesting debate amongst the readers of the blog ensued with some of the following questions popping up:

Are electronic books/readers truly greener than paper books?

If the future home has fewer physical books on hand, will children still find it easy to find something to read?

Will eBooks be the end of the social aspect of reading?  (You know, when you're at the airport and the person next to you strikes up a conversation about the book in your hands, kind of thing.)

EJ SAID - I like to compare it to what's happened to music. Digital is by far the most consumed medium for music. However, there are still folks who prefer the sound quality of the old 45s. There are niche stores in every major city that still cater to those people, and new albums are still released on those formats on a limited scale. It's basically an expensive hobby.

Books will be much the same way; only collectors will have the resources to seek out paper books. If the new hardback you covet is going to set you back $50 and 40 mile round-trip, which it may in 10 years, how likely are you to buy it over a $5 digital copy? How important is smelling, tasting, etc. a real book to you? For many, it won't even be an option.

For everyone that fears reading is going to somehow die due to a lack of physical books in the home, relax. If television, video games, and texting haven't killed the art of reading for fun (I work with middle schoolers, they still read believe it or not), nothing will.

Everyone I know has a Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc. so sharing your thoughts on literature is already easier to do electronically than it is in person.  As for the green aspect, there is no question that electronic reading will be/is better for the environment in the long run.  Fewer paper books means fewer trees destroyed, fewer things being shipped (see fuel consumption), less warehousing (electricity, etc.), fewer trips to bookstores/libraries, on and on.  Yes, eReaders are made of plastic, use nasty batteries, and consume electricity and server space.  However, in my mind, it comes down to math:  How many eReaders do you need per person over a lifetime?  Most likely 1-3  How many books per person over a lifetime?


Hope everyone has a great weekend!  

Mid-Week Review: Red Diamond Sweet Tea

Good afternoon, campers!  I've squirreled away yet another few hours watching World Cup soccer this afternoon, which is kind of bizarre considering I hadn't watched a soccer match start to finish in my life until a few weeks ago.  Now I'm hooked!

Congrats to Spain on their victory over Germany.  I was cheering for the Germs, and I'll be rooting for the Dutch in the finals.  Nothing against Spain, I just like the other teams uniforms better.  A futbol die-hard, I'm not ...

Speaking of bizarre things, my summer has kind of gone that way.  I entered the hot season with a laundry list of projects I wanted to do or get done, and it seems that much of it is still on the table.  I need to paint the trim on our house, plant some more things in our gardens, put up a back splash in our kitchen, and a bunch of other stuff.  Oh yeah, and WRITE!!!!!

As far as my writing related goals, they go something like this:

  • Finish the edits on my work in progress and have it ready to begin querying in the fall

PROGRESS - I'm way behind on my edit schedule, although I have pretty well nailed down what I need to do.  I also purchased some of those giant Post It notes to hang on my walls, tons of markers, and other things to help me visually disect my manuscript.  

  • Find a couple of writing conferences to attend in the second half of the year

PROGRESS - I'm registered for the WriteOnCon online writers conference, but I had to miss a large conference being held close to home when I attended the wedding at the end of last month.  I was disappointed, and hope to find something else.

  • Continue to peck out a chapter a week on a new story I've been drafting

PROGRESS - As part of the Chapter Challenge I've gotten a couple of new chapters finished since May, but definitely not on a 1 a week pace.

  • Write some short stories

PROGRESS - I've been brainstorming ideas for a series of short stories over the last few weeks, and actually cranked out the first 1,000 words last night.  I'm really excited about them and will share details about my plans a little later on.

I've made some progress, but not quite done what I'd hoped.  I've still got a few weeks left, so hopefully I'll get back on track.

How about you?  Did you set goals for the summer?  Have you met, or are on pace to meet, them?

Since this has been a summer kind of post, I thought it would be fun to do a review of one of my favorite summer time beverages iced tea!

REVIEW - Red Diamond Sweet Tea

If you grew up in the South, or currently reside there, you'll know that ice tea is the beverage of choice in the summer.  It's really refreshing on those scorching hot days, and doesn't seem to make you more thirsty like the carbonated drinks do.

You should know that how a person takes their tea is a big deal.  Some like TONS of sugar, others none.  Some like to garnish it with lemon, others prefer mint.  Some prefer lots of ice, some don't like any.  Some people won't drink it unless its been made in the sun, which is basically accomplished by putting the teabags in water in a glass container and letting it steep outside for hours.

If you hang out in the South long enough, how you take your tea comes to be a very direct and important representation of who you are.  Are you Democrat or Republican, Catholic or Protestant, sweet or unsweet?

Now, many Southerners will argue that unless it's sweetened, it's not truly the Southern way.  I say that's nonsense, but will admit that sweetened is much more popular.  Plus, when it's sweet it just goes that much better with fried chicken, BBQ, and the spicy peppers we eat here in south Texas.  But I digress ...

A few years ago, to maintain my manish figure, I gave up drinking sweetened beverages.  Since that time I've only had a few sips of non-diet sodas, full calorie juices, and the like.  As a result, almost anything like that tastes like pure syrup to my dumbed down taste buds.  In short, I hadn't had a glass of sweetened iced tea in ages.  A few weeks ago that all changed.

Being the hospitable type, I like to have a few things that guest like to drink around the house when they show up.  A visitor to my home listed Red Diamond Sweet Tea as a requested beverage.  I went to the local supermarket and bought a gallon.  When my guest arrived, I politely poured myself a glass when he offered to share.  I've been hooked ever since.

It's not overly sweet (it checks in at 70 calories per 8 oz), and has a great earthy tea taste.  Most of the sweet tea I've had in the past taste more like a little water mixed with lots of sugar as opposed to tea that has been sweetened.  Red Diamond has the mixture just right.  It's particularly good when poured over ice with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

If you can find it at a local store, and even remotely enjoy a glass of cold tea, I'd highly recommend it.  If you need it, they do offer an unsweetened version, which you could probably dress it up with a packet of Splenda.

Here are a few pictures that make me think of summer - ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR WEEK!


Chapter Challenge Update

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I'm part of a group of writers who have decided to pair up and send each other new work every week.  It's called the Weekly Chapter Challenge, and it's mostly a tool to stay motivated and accountable with regards to your writing.  We do it by having a buddy that's expecting to see your new stuff as well as having you share some thoughts about what they've done.

In short, I love it.  I have an awesome partner (Margaret - here's her blog) who keeps her deadlines, and is always flexible.  Plus, she's a pretty crafty writer/reader herself!

Unfortunately, the last few weeks have been hard with travel, etc. getting in the way of my writing time.  As a result, I've started sending my 'buddy' chapters from an already completed story.  I don't like doing that, because it kind of undermines the intent of the group, but I don't want to not send anything.  Furthermore, I really value my partner's thoughts, so I think it still serves a purpose.

My buddy has been sending me her work on schedule, and I feel that I should honor her efforts.  The solution?  This week I get back on track!  I'm writing up a storm, so hopefully the new stuff will start flowing again.

If you're a writer and are interested in the group and maybe swapping some of your own work with a buddy, you can check it out here.



As I've been out of the loop for much of the last 2 weeks, I didn't think I could give a legit 5 best writing tips from the web at the close of this week as I'm inclined to do most weeks.  HOWEVER, there are a couple of things I wanted to pass on to the writing obsessed readers:


As I've mentioned before, Amazon allows you to publish your writing for their Kindle eReader and place it on Amazon for sale with 0 cost.  You upload your work and a cover that you want the masses to see, set a price, and it's for sale to however many billions of people shop online at Amazon.

Until now, the royalty rate (what you get as the author after Amazon takes their share for handling the sales, storefront, etc.) has been around 30% of the sale price.  Pretty good, right?  Well now it's better;  starting in July (a.k.a. now) if your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99 you'll get 70%!

Now before you run out and start uploading your essays from high school, there are a few things you should consider about price point, quality, etc.  I got you covered!  Well actually, author J.A. Konrath has you covered.  He's kind of a pro at the whole epublishing thing and has tons of great stuff on his blog about just that.

His most recent post offers some solid advice on how the system works, and is a must read for anyone considering the electronic route to publication.

2. WriteOnCon IS COMING!!

Alright kids, the bomb was dropped a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming F.R.E.E. online writer's conference being hosted by various authors, agents, et al

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!!!!  Here's the link .... They've got a pretty cool little forum set up with some pre-conference critique and networking opportunities.

What are you waiting for?  Go register ... I did ... no more blog love ... just go!

On a final note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY U.S.A.!

Here's a holiday funny ... "WE'RE AMERICAN, BECAUSE WE'RE IN AMERICA!!!"

Hope y'all have a safe and happy holiday!

Mid-Week Review: Twilight Saga - Eclipse (MOVIE)

Hello friends and blogger cohorts!  I've surfaced from a wild couple of weeks that included a wedding, visits with long not-seen family, and winery hopping in Oklahoma.  (Who knew?)  I hope each and every one of you has been well, and as a thank you for sticking around during my absence I'm offering you my review of the latest movie in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, Eclipse.

If you're not familiar with the story, have no fear, I'll try to keep the spoilers at a minimum.

If you've been alive during the last 6 years, you're probably aware of  a little story called Twilight.  It involves a teenage girl named Bella, a vampire boy named Edward, and lots of romantic teen angst.

If you're a writer, you should know that the stories (there are 4 in the series: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn) were so popular that they spawned an entire genre of literature called PARANORMAL ROMANCE, which from the Latin ANGSTIMUS MAXIMUS loosely translates to, LOVE STORIES THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU WITH CREATURES THAT DON'T EXIST.

The non-initiated should also know that the stories have become such hits that they've spawned a following of people called Twi-Hards as well as a series of mega-popular movies based on the books.  At this juncture, I feel the need to give my Twilight street cred ...

I've read all 4 stories, and in fact told my wife to read them because I thought she'd like them.  (Unlike myself, she's a proud card carrying Twi-Hard.)  In the name of full disclosure you should know that I do not fancy myself as a Twi-Hard.  I read the books because I noticed students I worked with reading them.  As an aspiring author for the young folks, I deemed it to be necessary research.

Were they the best books I've ever read?  No.  Was I disappointed?  Also no.  The books are a fun read, and there are some definite lessons to be learned for aspiring authors as well as a pretty epic love story hidden amongst the brooding, sighing, sparkling, and kissing.

I've also seen all of the movies to date.  (There have been three, with Eclipse being the newest.)  My general thoughts on the previous movies is that they capture the mood and themes of the books quite well and are in some ways more digestible for the casual fan.  Heck, even my mother watched the movies and said she enjoyed them, and I can guarantee she wouldn't find much value in the books.    


I'm going to spare the intense story details here, assuming that if you're still reading you already know what's going on.  I'll instead focus on the quality of the movie, specifically as it pertains to the story for which it is based.

Eclipse was easily my favorite book in the series, and the film didn't disappoint.  The special effects are the best yet, and there is more of a focus on the side characters as opposed to just seeing Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) stare at each other for two hours.  They've included lovely flashback scenes for Jasper and Rosalie that fans will surely applaud.  Furthermore, I found the tension amongst the love triangle of Bella, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), and Edward to be played to perfection.  There's good humor (some of it not intended, but it's just so danged cheesy), and plenty of intense action throughout.  There were even a couple of times that I actually felt the weight of Bella's choices, which is impressive considering I knew what the outcomes would be.  

Perhaps the best thing I can say about the movie is that it was fun.  Before the movie even began the crowd divided into Jacob and Edward factions.  Once the show started, every time either character would appear cheering and jeering would start.  Heck, there was even one vocal person in support of "Team Jasper"!  Twilight is by definition a phenomenon, and watching the movie was more of an experience than an event.

My verdict?  It's the most accessible movie of the bunch, so if you have a significant other who's been holding out, now is the time to force them to take you.  It's no Schindler's List, but I think if you're even a casual fan of the source material and/or the movies I think you'll really love this one.

TEAM JACOB FTW!!!!!!!!!!