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Paperback Release of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride!

Paperback Release Of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride!

Guess what just hit store shelves? The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride–the first in my brand new series, Wyoming Cowboys! Aaaahhhh!!!

 

 

I’m super excited about this one. I’ve never written about cowboys before, and, let’s face it, I live in northern Ohio, which isn’t exactly out west. With loads of research and help from social media friends who live in Wyoming, I was able to create a fictional town–Sweet Dreams–where all four books will be set.

I’ll be guest posting around the blog-osphere in the upcoming weeks and giving away copies of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride. Save these dates!

I’m hosting two giveaways right now! I’m giving away a prize package with a copy of the book, a super cute memo pad, a cowboy-ish mug, candy and biscuits!

Go to “The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway,” (linked) and scroll down for the easy entry options. US only.

I’m also giving away four copies of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride on Goodreads! The entry form is in the sidebar of my blog, or you can find it on my Home page. This contest is open to both US and Canada.

If you’re looking for the ebook, it will release on October 1, 2017. You can preorder through any of the major sites. Purchase links can be found at The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride. (linked)

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Game On Fall Sale!

 

 

One more thing. Fall sports are here, and my book, Game On: The Christian Parents’ Sports Survival Guide is on sale! The ebook’s list price is $7.99, but it’s on sale for only $3.99 until October 31, 2017! That’s 50% off! If you have kids in sports and you wrestle with anxiety, struggle to brush off other parents’ competitiveness, need help figuring out how to get multiple kids at different practices, have no idea where to begin with fundraising or any other number of common sports worries, this book is for you!

Purchase links:

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE  |  KOBO  |  ITUNES

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Are you watching football this fall? Yay? Nay?

 

Have a great week!

The Right Character to Open Your Story #WW

The Right Character To Open Your Story #WW

Last night I opened a novel I’d borrowed from the library. It didn’t have a prologue, so I dove right into the first chapter. Within one page I knew who the main character would be (at least I assumed he was the main character), and I had a basic understanding of the setting and tone of the story.

The book is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I’ve only read one or two short stories by Mr. Bradbury, but I’d recently come across an interview of an author who rereads this book every couple of years. I figured why not?

I’ve only read a few chapters, but my initial expectations were correct. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding, and the story is set in an American town during the summer of 1928. I’m not sure if the town is in New England or the Midwest, but the descriptions make me believe the region must be one of those two.

Douglas is an imaginative kid, very intense, and he’s throbbing with anticipation over what a great summer it will be. There are sour apples and peaches and plums to be picked, meals to be baked with Grandma, and the town habits are so familiar to Douglas that he pretends to orchestrate the movements of the morning. It’s a delightful opening.

It made me think about a common mistake inexperienced writers often make. They open their story in a secondary character’s point of view.

 

The right character to open your story #ww

 

Who is the right character to open a story?

The main character.

Readers are taking a chance when they start a book, especially if the author is unfamiliar to them. I have certain expectations for the first chapter. One of those expectations is that the character I’m getting invested in will carry the book. If it becomes clear in the next chapters that the viewpoint character from chapter one isn’t the main character, I am much more likely to stop reading.

What if you have more than one main character?

Romance novels have two: the hero and the heroine. I’m fine with either beginning the story. What I’m not okay with is reading from the heroine’s sister’s point of view in the opening pages. Or the hero’s funny best friend’s or the sweet old aunt’s. If it’s not their story, don’t let them open it.

What about a book with multiple points of view?  You know, the one following the lives of three best friends?

Ask yourself which character has the strongest arc. Which one has the biggest journey? If you’re convinced they all have equal arcs, pick the one who has the most to lose when your story begins. And make sure she carries the book all the way to the very end. If she doesn’t? Rewrite your opening in the point of view of the character who does.

Are there any rules of thumb about characters and story openings?

I, personally, love books where the opening scene and closing scene are in the same character’s point of view.  I’ve been with him or her throughout the ups and downs of the book, and I get all emotional when the story comes full circle. Since I write romance, I have to determine which of my main two characters has the most to lose when the book opens. Who will have the bigger journey? The hero or the heroine? When I figure this out, I know which character will begin and end the book.

Secondary characters should never take over your story. The reader wants to find out what happens to the main characters. If you write too many scenes from other viewpoints, the reader will care less and less about your hero or heroine. I’m not saying the plot won’t be furthered by utilizing other viewpoints, but be careful. Readers can’t care equally about every character you introduce. Let the main ones do the heavy hitting.

To recap: the character who begins your story should be a main character, the one with the biggest journey, the one the reader will get most invested in. Wait until the main characters are established before switching to a secondary character’s point of view. And think hard before allowing a secondary character to take over a scene. Ask yourself if it will further the main plot? Or is it taking precious time away from the hero or heroine?

How do you determine which character will open your story?

There is still time to enter my gift package giveaway! Click on “The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway” and scroll down for the easy entry options!

The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride Giveaway

Have a great day!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway!

In just a few short weeks my sixth novel, The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride, will be in stores! Aaahhh!! It’s also the first book in my brand new series, Wyoming Cowboys. I love this book. I loved writing this book. I loved researching this book.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about this one!

To make matters even better, it’s a Christmas book! I love Christmas books. I love writing Christmas books…

Okay, you get the idea.

The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride

Coming Home for Christmas 

Wedding planner Lexi Harrington needs a manager for her inherited Wyoming ranch. Clint Romine is the perfect man for the job, but the ruggedly handsome cowboy soon presents a new dilemma—distraction. Lexi can’t fall for a small-town rancher when she’s planning to return to her big-city career after the holidays. Home has always been elusive for former foster kid Clint. Working alongside Lexi at Rock Step Ranch feels too cozy—and too risky. Opening up to her means revealing a secret about his past that could jeopardize everything he holds dear. This Christmas, can Clint learn to trust Lexi with the truth…and with his heart?

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  | iBooks

To celebrate I’m giving away a prize package to one blessed reader!

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride Giveaway includes:

  • One true large print signed copy of The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride
  • A cowboy-ish coffee mug
  • The most adorable typewriter memo pad I’ve ever seen
  • A bag of chocolates–yum!
  • A super cute tin of biscuits

Entry options are really easy. Just use the entry form below! The giveaway starts on September 8, 2017 at 5am EST and ends on September 30, 2017 at 9pm EST. Full rules are in the entry form. US Residents 18+

 

The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride Giveaway

 

 

 

 

Thank you for entering! Feel free to share this with your friends!

Pitch Prep #WW

Pitch Prep #WW

You know what season it is? Yes, football…duh. It’s also conference season. Yay!

Writers attending conferences usually sign up for pitch sessions. *Just got a shiver down my spine.* Pitch sessions are basically “here’s my project, you’re going to love it,” sessions. Writers are trying to woo an agent or editor into requesting a partial or full of their manuscript. Maybe woo is too strong a word. Perhaps entice is better.

Whatever you call it, you don’t have much time to get to the meat of your book. Pitch sessions are typically short. Ten to fifteen minutes. Rambling is never a good thing.

Full disclosure: I’ve had lousy pitch sessions. I’ve gotten too cutesy. Focused on the this is why my book is unique aspect over the this is why readers will buy it and love it aspect. But I never let a bad pitch stop me. I took what I learned and got better. As a result, I’ve had awesome pitch sessions.

There is no magic formula for pitching, and I’m glad! Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Agents and editors are there because they want to find new clients and books. That being said, you’re not going to sell your book in a pitch session, and you’re also not going to be offered representation. You’re simply giving the agent/editor an overall impression of you and what you write. Best case scenario? They want to read your work. Worst case? They don’t. Either way, you’ll survive!

 

Pitch Prep!

So how do you prepare for pitch sessions?

Practice!!

1. Introduce yourself, share what you write and any relevant experience you have.

Example: Hello, I’m Jill Kemerer. I write contemporary romance novels for the Christian market. I’ve been writing for several years, and the book I’m pitching is a finalist in X contest.

2. Chit chat if appropriate. If it feels uncomfortable, dive right into your pitch.

3. State the name of the book, the genre, how long it is and if it’s finished. Also mention if it’s part of a series.

Example: Chasing the Agent is book one in a three book series. It’s an inspirational romantic suspense. It’s 95,000 words and is complete.

4. Condense the story into 50-75 words.

This is like the back copy of a book. Include the main characters, what they want, why they want it and why can’t they have it. Don’t give everything away at this point. It’s the teaser.

Example: Neil Delaware knows his book is destined to be a bestseller, but no agent will take a chance on him. Desperate, he flies to New York to convince top agent, Babs McCoy, to listen to his pitch. But when a deranged writer with one too many rejections holds Babs hostage, Neil must choose what is more important–his book or the life of the woman who captivates him.

5. Be prepared to mention your other books if asked.

At this point the agent or editor will either give a reason or two why the book doesn’t work for them, or they will ask you for a partial/sample chapters/proposal or the full manuscript. If they’re criticizing your idea, your heart may be pooling into a devastated puddle on the floor, but prop a smile on, thank them for their time, and later, ask yourself if they have a valid point. Maybe you focused on the wrong aspects of your story in an effort to stand out. Maybe they simply didn’t connect with your idea. That’s okay.

If they ask for a partial, send them the first fifty pages of your book along with a synopsis. Ditto with sample chapters. If they ask for a proposal, check their agency’s website for further direction. At the least, a proposal includes a cover letter, sample chapters and a synopsis. It may also include a marketing plan, books for competition and a biography. If they ask for the full, send the synopsis with it.

6. Thank them for their time.

The publishing industry is a very small world. Be professional. Be friendly. Be courteous.

No matter how well you hit it off, you are not their new best friend. It’s fine to be friendly throughout a conference, but be mindful of their time. They likely have meetings scheduled with their current clients. If you didn’t hit it off at all, don’t get a chip on your shoulder or spout off to the people around you what a jerk the agent or editor was. You might end up working with them someday.

The final step–and this is important–send whatever they requested!!

You’d be shocked at how many writers get cold feet about actually sending requested material. If agents or editors request your work, it means they actually want to see it. So send it already!

I really recommend practicing your pitch at home. Use the voice recorder on your phone or practice on a friend. This will give you a much needed boost of confidence when you sit down at your session. Jot down the important details and review it before your pitch, too.

And hang in there. It’s not easy putting yourself and your work out there. It takes guts. I’m applauding you!!

Have you ever pitched your story to an agent or editor? Were you nervous? What tips do you have?

Have a terrific day!

3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing #WW

3 Ways To Get Feedback On Your Writing #WW

At some point in every aspiring writer’s life there comes a point where you are ready to get feedback. It might not be your first book. It might be your twelfth. But deep inside you can feel it–the need for an honest assessment of your skills.

But who can you trust to give you the kind of evaluation you need?

Ideally, you want someone who loves fiction and is a good judge of story. One who recognizes your strengths while gently pointing out your weaknesses. If they have experience in your genre, even better. And if they are further along on their writing journey than you are, be thankful!

 

3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing

 

I didn’t have anyone I could ask to critique my work until I’d been writing full time for almost two years. At that point, I’d written three novels and was drafting a fourth. Finding a critique partner made me very nervous. When I began working on my first book, I would go to a coffee shop once a week to write. A small group of women would usually show up too. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were writers critiquing each other’s work. One woman was quite loud. One day I remember hearing her shrill voice completely annihilate a story of one of the ladies. My heart hurt for the victim.

It wasn’t until I’d been a member of a local writing group for several months that I trusted anyone enough to share my chapters. I was so nervous about having my dreams smashed. All I could think was what if she tells me I’m terrible? What if the feedback is so negative I quit?

My fears were unfounded. I got great advice and my first layer of a thicker skin. Over the years I’ve been a member of several critique groups. My storytelling skills improved based on multiple people’s feedback. I also learned a lot about the craft of writing by evaluating other writers’ work.

So how do you find someone who will give you honest feedback?

3 Ways to Get Feedback on Your Writing

  1. Find a critique partner. Do you belong to a local writer’s group? Get to know the writers there. If you click with one, ask her if she’d be interested in trading pages. If you don’t belong to a local group, consider joining a large writing organization. Romance Writers of America has local chapters as well as online ones. Chances are you’ll find someone who is looking for a CP, too. American Christian Fiction Writers has a critique group members can join. I’ve also found critique partners through social networks. We followed each other on Facebook, Twitter or by commenting on blogs like Seekerville and agent blogs. There are plenty of writers just like you. It can’t hurt to reach out to them!
  2. Enter writing contests that offer evaluations. There are so many writing contests for unpublished authors. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on one, make sure you’ll get a detailed score sheet or critique on your entry. Most of these contests are judged by writers pursuing publication or who are already published. They’re serious about their craft and want to help you get better. Try not to feel down if you don’t final in the contest. Enter it with the intention of getting constructive feedback to make your writing better. And, if you don’t agree with the feedback, throw it out of your head. Opinions are subjective. You’re the ultimate decision maker for your story.
  3. Hire a content editor. Many writers and professional editors offer freelance editing services. The prices will vary by a wide range. You’ll come across various types of edits. Look for someone who offers a content edit (also called a developmental edit), not a copy edit, line edit or proofread. A good content editor will help mold your story to be as compelling as it can be without trying to change your voice. When you’re shopping for one, pay attention to any testimonials on their websites. Try to find one with experience in your genre. And don’t be afraid to ask how long the edit will take and how far out in their schedule it will be. If your goal is to get traditionally published, ask if they have any advice on how to make the story more appealing to publishing houses.

The downside?

Finding the right critique partner can be hard. Maybe you write the same genre and get along great, but she’s raising two toddlers, works full time and barely has time to shower let alone read your book, whereas you’re retired and can fit her book into your schedule easily. Critique relationships don’t need to be equal, but they do need to be fair.

Contest feedback can be a wildcard. One judge might love your book, rave about your characters and give you a high score. Another judge circles repeat words, doesn’t think the plot makes sense and lowers your score dramatically. Who’s right? Who knows? You just tuck the advice away and keep writing.

If you can find a good, experienced content editor, you’ll get great advice, but it will cost you. When you’re not making any money, it can be difficult to justify the expense. And if you get one who gives nit-picky feedback or tries to change your voice, you’ll want to scream.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with feedback–try a critique group, enter a writing contest, maybe even hire a content editor. Keep writing. Keep reading blogs, magazine articles and books on the writing craft. Little by little, your talent will develop, and before you know it, you’ll be confident in your work.

How have you gotten feedback? Any suggestions I missed?

Have a terrific day!

 

August BookSweeps

 

I’m taking part in a huge book promotion! If you’d like a chance to win a Kindle Fire and over thirty plus inspirational romance novels, including ones by Becky Wade, Susan May Warren, Courtney Walsh and Elizabeth Goddard, click on THIS LINK. The contest is open internationally (check out the entry for more info) and runs until September 4!

My Favorite Books on Writing #WW

My Favorite Books On Writing #WW

Today we’re talking about continuous learning. I’ve studied dozens of books on various aspects of writing, and these are the ones I return to again and again. I’m always on the lookout for new books to help my career, and I’m happy to share. If you’re interested in taking your craft up a notch, try one of these!

 

Books on Writing Downloadable List

Revising/Editing:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

 

Plotting/Outlining:

Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing: Revised Edition by Libbie Hawker
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

 

Grammar:

The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition by University of Chicago Press Staff
The Chicago Manual of Style Guidelines (Quick Study) by Inc. BarCharts
Essentials of English Grammar: A Quick Guide to Good English by L. Sue Baugh

 

Writing Faster:

2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron

 

Indie Publishing:

*Indie publishing changes often, so some of the information may be outdated. It’s still a good read.*

The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing: Update and Revised Second Edition by Jana DeLeon, Tina Folsom, Colleen Gleason, Jane Graves, Debra Holland, Dorien Kelly, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Jasinda Wilder

 

Writing Romance:

Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker

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If you’re anything like me, six months from now you’ll be wanting a new book on one of these topics, but you won’t remember where you saw this list. That’s why I created a downloadable/printable PDF with links. It will be available on my FOR WRITERS page under the EXTRAS tab.

On a personal note, we dropped our daughter off at college last weekend, and my son begins his sophomore year or high school today. How did the summer fly by so quickly? Yikes!!

I would love to hear YOUR favorite books on writing. Drop me a comment! And have an awesome week!

Jill Kemerer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This does  not affect the price of the product. Jill receives a small commission when you purchase a product through these links.

Writers Helping Writers: New Blog Direction

Writers Helping Writers: New Blog Direction

A decade ago when I got serious about writing, I found these amazing blogs by authors who shared tips and advice. I learned so much about the craft of writing, how to network, what to look for in a critique partner, the whole “build a platform” hoopla, as well as insight into the publishing industry. I’ve been blogging for nine years–wow, nine, really??–and my posts have always had a healthy dose of writing-related information.

 

Writers Helping Writers

 

This year the blog’s been quiet. Instead of my previous twice a week posts, I dropped to once or twice a month. There are a few reasons.

  1. I decided to challenge myself to write more this year. (The challenge is working!)
  2. The advice to “use a blog to find readers, not other writers” never resonated with me. Maybe it’s because blogging has taken a sharp downturn in the past two or three years. Or because smartphones make commenting more difficult. Maybe it’s because we’re all really busy! I don’t know, but readers never flocked to my blog, and I lost my ambition to come up with engaging content specifically written with readers in mind.

For three months I’ve been getting the internal nudge to get back into blogging. I still have these obnoxious writing goals, so rather than resuming my twice a week schedule, I’m dropping to once a week. And because I am so thankful for all the writing blogs that helped me, I’ll post something writing-related every Wednesday.

I love helping writers–aspiring, debut, multi-published–and I want to provide a spot for us to get new ideas, brush up on craft concepts, share platform strategies–you get the idea! A decade of writing hasn’t dampened my desire to get better. I’m always learning, always asking questions, always striving. I hope you are too.

If there are topics you’re interested in exploring, please let me know!

Writers, what are your concerns right now? What are you trying to improve?

Leave a comment or email me at jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com.

Happy writing!

Striving and Setbacks

Striving And Setbacks

This year I set some pretty high personal and professional goals. With all the striving came setbacks, and I thought I’d share a few with you. Granted, the year is still young, so who knows what the rest of 2017 will bring? I’m pushing hard for my goals no matter what!

 

 

Striving and Setbacks

Striving for:

Consistency with my weight.

Last December I added two healthy habits: exercising and drinking a fruit and veggie smoothie every weekday. By March I knew these two wonderful additions would not be enough to get me back on track with my weight. The sad truth? I’ve gained fifteen pounds in three years. I simply cannot continue to gain weight at that rate and maintain my health. Soooo…I resumed tracking my food using the MyFitnessPal app. I also set a daily calorie range for myself. It’s made a huge difference. I’ve lost nine pounds so far, but I’m realistic. I know I will have to continue tracking the food I eat for a long, long time. If I don’t, I immediately eat more, hence the fifteen pounds!

Setback:

In April, I had a down week where I felt physically and emotionally depleted. My eating habits and activity suffered. Thankfully, I didn’t let it throw me into I-might-as-well-quit mode. I just kept tracking my food and told myself I’d get back into my exercise routine the next week. Yeah, I gained a pound that week, but no biggie. It’s the long haul that matters.

Striving for:

Fast drafting a novel while releasing my first nonfiction book and setting up promotion for my upcoming novel.

The release of GAME ON: THE CHRISTIAN PARENTS’ SPORTS SURVIVAL GUIDE involved new-to-me tasks and was more time-consuming than I anticipated. I was able to write and revise a contracted proposal during the release, and once the proposal was finished, I attacked the promotion for my May release.

Setback:

Once the proposal was finished, I planned on writing the rest of the book quickly. However, two weeks of unexpected opportunities and appointments killed my writing plans. I still added to my word count, but it wasn’t even close to my original goal. Thankfully, I’d built a sizable cushion into my deadline for the full manuscript. The draft doesn’t have to be finished early. However, if I finish it soon, I can turn my attention to a new project. That’s incentive enough for me!

Striving for:

Increasing my audience through my social media platforms, including my newsletter.

For two months I did very well gathering and sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my blog. I also hosted two month-long giveaways (one is still going on now, so be sure to sign up! The entry form is at the bottom of this post).

Setback:

Given my time constraints in April and May, I had to step back from my social media efforts to focus on writing and my family. The home life won’t be as busy in a few weeks, so I’ll be able to spend more time on social media again.

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The thing about striving? You’re going to have setbacks. Period. But setbacks can’t make you quit. If you just keep pushing through–even if you take time off–and continue chipping away at your goal, well, you win! It’s vital to constantly remind yourself that you can succeed. You will succeed. It won’t be easy. Striving for something better, something more, is never easy. Just keep regrouping and trying until you meet your goal. I have an Inner Beauty Pinterest board with tons of motivational quotes to keep me inspired. Feel free to go over there and pin any quotes that will help you!

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I have two giveaways going on right now!

My Hometown Hero’s Redemption prize package is still open! Enter below. (US only)

Hometown Hero's Redemption Prize Package!

 

 

I’m giving away three signed copies of Hometown Hero’s Redemption on Goodreads, too! Here’s the form.

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hometown Hero's Redemption by Jill Kemerer

Hometown Hero’s Redemption

by Jill Kemerer

Giveaway ends May 23, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

How do you handle setbacks?

Happy early Mother’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Messy Desk {Writer Wednesday}

I’ve been quiet on the blog. Last week I was sick, and I’m playing catch-up. With all the tasks piling up, I’ve let my desk get VERY messy. *sigh*

Here’s a picture of my work space. I think it’s funny my Bible promise book fell on top of the chaos. Maybe God is trying to tell me something!

 

Messy Desk

 

What you don’t see is the mug of tea, scratch paper with scribbled notes, cell phone, pens, ponytail holders and who-knows-what-else. The trash can is overflowing. Much like my brain and day-planner entries for this week.

This morning  I’ll spend ten minutes organizing and tidying. I’ll push the papers into a neat stack. Throw away the baggies of pretzels and Chex Mix. Light a candle. Empty the trash.

And then I’ll mess it up all over again because that’s the kind of week this is!

Does your work space get messy when you’re busy? Or do you keep it tidy at all times?

Have a terrific day!

{Movie Romance} Inferno

My husband and I have been watching a lot of movies at home lately. Last weekend we watched Inferno, the third installment of the Robert Langdon film series, loosely based on Dan Brown’s books. I haven’t read the books, so I can’t tell you how the movies compare, and I’m not reviewing the movie. Instead, I’m focusing on the romance elements in the film.

SPOILER ALERT!! If you haven’t watched Inferno but plan on doing so, do NOT read further! I give away several key plot points in this post!!

 

Dr. Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) is the main character, and he interacts with two women throughout the movie. One is the ER doctor, Dr. Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones), who looks to be in her late twenties and is thrust into a dangerous situation when she treats Langdon for a head wound. She’s a prodigy, a former child genius, and knows Dr. Langdon (he’s a professor) from reading his books and attending one of his lectures. The movie takes place in Italy. After a police officer tries to kill them in the hospital, they’re forced to go on the run, searching for clues to prevent a deadly plague from being released.

They are being hunted by several government agencies, and they don’t know who to trust. Langdon has few memories of the previous three days due to his head wound. He recalls meeting a mysterious woman but he doesn’t remember if he can trust her or not. Later, he remembers the woman was Elizabeth Sinskey, a World Health Organization agent and former girlfriend.

As the movie progresses, Sienna double-crosses Langdon, and we learn she was the lover of the man who invented the deadly plague. We also learn that Langdon and Elizabeth were in love when they were younger, but neither wanted the other to give up their life’s work to be together.

While the movie was action-packed and not a romance by any means, I was struck by the fact the writers never gave in to the temptation of letting an attraction blossom between Langdon and the much-younger Sienna. A decade ago, these two would most likely have made googly eyes at each other and possibly shared a kiss or, at the minimum, an embrace. Personally, I’m glad we were spared that. The only time a romantic connection was hinted at was by another character, and Langdon seemed appalled at the thought. It was very refreshing to have the older-man/younger-woman element off the table.

On the other hand, Langdon does  have a romantic past with Elizabeth, and the race to find the plague draws them closer together. Elizabeth is played by the talented actress, Sidse Babett Knudsen, whom you might have seen on the new HBO series, Westworld. She’s a fantastic actress–and get this–she’s in her late forties. Yes, Tom Hanks just turned sixty and that is still a sizable age gap, but the romance felt spot on. These are two mature people who shared a past and deeply cared about each other. It was very believable, and one of the reasons was because they shared common goals. They were both dedicated to helping others and willing to sacrifice their personal lives to achieve this.

The movie was entertaining and action-packed, if confusing at times, but the romance element was my favorite part. 

What movie have you watched recently? Was there anything about it that struck you as inspiring?

Have a terrific weekend!

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