Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What I’ve Learned about Writing from Movies

Guest Tanya Agler




Thank you so much to Missy Tippens and Seekerville for allowing me to be today’s guest blogger. I started reading Seekerville in 2013, and I’m so thankful for this community as it has supported me through my writing journey, including the call I received from Harlequin Heartwarming in January of 2019 for my debut novel The Sheriff’s Second Chance. From the beginning, I’ve learned so much about perseverance, plotting, and writing from this great group of authors and their supporters, readers and writers alike. When I sat and contemplated what possible piece of advice I could add, writer’s block crept in and I froze like a doe in headlights. Then, I remembered how open and honest the contributors have been and that gave me my idea. Anyone who’s been around me, even for a short time, knows I love classic movies. I’m talking Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and Jimmy Stewart movies. So here are some lessons I’ve learned from movies about writing.

1.     “Life is a banquet…!” Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame in Auntie Mame

Whenever I write, this is one lesson I think of quite often. When I apply this lesson to the act of writing, it reminds me how fortunate I am and I ask myself whether I’m smiling. Here I am with the time and a story to write. To me, writing is a banquet, and I hope I’m taking time to enjoy the process and enjoy my characters. Plus, I love that this quote has a double meaning. I not only think of my writing process as a banquet, but I also think of the book itself as a banquet of emotions. When I work on the first draft, I remind myself to question whether my character’s lives are a banquet of laughter and tears, of joy and sorrow, of emotions of all kinds.



2.     “That should be in the brief. That’s the most interesting part of the case.” Judge Bryson in My Favorite Wife starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne

When I’m editing, I think about what is in my head versus what is on the page. That’s one reason I now wait for two weeks after completing a first draft to start editing. That way I read what I wrote rather what I thought I wrote. When I read through the manuscript for the first time, this quote often pops into my head as a reminder to make sure the most interesting parts of the story are written on the page. Is there romance? Did I show the attributes of the heroine that made the hero fall in love with her and vice versa? Is the story interesting?

3.     “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh.” Joel McCrea as John L. Sullivan in Sullivan’s Travels

This is another one of my go-to lines during editing. When I’m reading through for the final time before I hit send, did I laugh? Did I cry? I hope that doesn’t sound vain, but if my characters aren’t making me feel something, I might not be able to say the same for my readers either.

4.     “No man is a failure who has friends.” Clarence’s book inscription to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life

As I wrote at the beginning of the blog, I was fortunate to start following Seekerville in 2013, and it was my critique partner who introduced me to Seekerville, My writing friends and supporters have helped me through this journey with its twists and turns of rejection and reviews. Some say writers need thick skins, but I find friends cheering me on from the sidelines and even helping me on the path itself has lifted me up on a number of occasions, and I’m thankful for all of them.

5.     “Worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things. Everything I think and feel.” Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music

In this exchange, Maria is talking to the Mother Abbess about singing and praying as they discuss Maria’s behavior in the abbey. At other times in the movie, Maria offers prayers to God during mealtime, at bedtime, and during thunderstorms. Throughout my writing journey, prayer has played an integral role in reminding me of God’s grace, His mercy, and His love.

Are there any movie quotes that resonate with you in your writing journey?

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Tanya has generously offered to give away a print copy of The Sheriff’s Second Chance (plus some surprises) to a U.S. winner or an e-book copy to a Canadian winner. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to be entered!


Broken things can’t be fixed…Or can they?

Officer and single dad Mike Harrison doesn’t believe in second chances. Ever. That is, until he learns that his former best friend—gorgeous green-eyed car mechanic Georgie Bennett—is back in town. Unfortunately, she’s also a suspect in a recent break-in! But it’ll take an old classic car to show Mike and Georgie that almost anything can be restored with a little patience…and a whole lot of love.

An award-winning author, Tanya makes her home in Georgia with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable Basset, who really rules the roost. Her debut novel, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release and is available on Amazon and Harlequin.com. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies and a good cup of tea. Visit her at www.tanyaagler.com or email her at tanyaagler@gmail.com.






75 comments:

  1. TANYA!!!!! I love being first this morning, first to tell you that your quips of inspiration are absolutely a wonderful way of teaching that goes way beyond the basics, and straight to the "heart" of the matter.

    Emotion.

    Love.

    Sadness.

    Joy.

    Longing.

    You have told this in such perfectly relatable terms that folks will understand it without a dictionary or thesaurus or Somebody-Or-Others Guide To Writing at hand.

    Welcome to a whole new year and a DEBUT NOVEL!!!!!

    Super congratulations.... I have been happy dancing about this for months. If you look north you can probably see my big, toothy smile lighting up the night.

    Bless you!

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    1. Ruthy, I'm with you on being so excited about her book finally arriving! :)

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    2. Ruthy and Missy, thank you both so much! And I'm so happy Ruthy was the first to comment! Thank you so much for such sweet words. You both are such inspirations for me. Have a wonderful day! And that smile is definitely lighting up my morning!

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    3. CONGRATULATIONS, TANYA!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! FIRST BOOK!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!

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  2. I brought coffee and cannoli doughnuts from Ridge Donut Cafe in Rochester. A tender fresh doughnut stuffed with cheesy cannoli cream, then swabbed with dark chocolate frosting. Only one of the reasons I will never be a thin person.

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    1. YUM!! Would sure go well with my coffee this morning.

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    2. Fresh donuts! And with dark chocolate frosting! Two of my weaknesses. Road trip! A virtual road trip in this case, but that doughnut sure was delicious.

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    1. Good morning, Kim. I hope you have a great day, and I love debut novels too :)

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  4. Tanya, welcome! I'm so glad you're with us today! This is such a great post. I think the one that resonated most with me was number 2. I'm the world's worst about getting thoughts out of my head onto the page. I'll think it's there, and then my critique partner will ask something that makes me realize it never made it on the page. So I'll be remembering that quote! :)

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    1. Thank you, Missy, so much for having me! My critique partner is great about telling me - more emotion, more emotion! As far as the second quote, that courtroom scene is one of my favorites in movies. That judge has great lines. Thanks so much!

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  5. Congratulations on your debut novel, Tanya!! So happy for you!!

    I'm a huge fan of classic movies (and television shows) and often find myself quoting from them. But the movie I quote from most often, A League of Their Own, is newer. My favorites from that one include, "It's supposed to be hard. If it was easy everyone would do it" and "There's no crying in writing." (Obviously adapted from baseball quotes). Thanks for such a fun post!

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    1. Laura, I love those quotes! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Laura, thank you so much for your kind comments. I love A League of Their Own. Tom Hanks and Geena Davis are wonderful in it. I love how you adapted the no crying quote to writing. Oh, so true! Have a great day!

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  6. Tanya, great post. Congratulations on your debut novel. I also think movies have a lot for writers to follow. Please enter me in the drawing. I would love to win your book. It sounds good.

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    1. Sandy, thank you so much! I always know I'm loving a movie once I stop thinking about a character's goals, conflicts, and motivations, and get carried away by the characters and plot. Thanks so much and have a great day!

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  7. Congrats on your novel! That's super exciting.
    I love all the old movie quotes you included here. I adore old movies, though I can't think of any great quotes that fit here right now.

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    1. msguish, I was the same way. Love them (and watch them with my mom all the time) but can't remember any quotes right off. LOL

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    2. msguish, Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I love watching old movies with my twins. There are so many movies where I find myself saying the lines along with the actors, and they just look at me wanting to watch it for the first time. Thanks for the comment and have a wonderful day!

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  8. Tanya, your quotes are all great! Fun to think of my writing life as a banquet, which it is indeed, with friends and prayers. A quote from the comedy Galaxy Quest keeps encouraged...”Never give up! Never surrender!”

    I definitely recommend The Sheriff’s Second Chance for small town fun and sweet romance! (No need to enter me in the giveaway.) Congratulations on your wonderful debut! I’m anxiously awaiting more visits to Hollydale!

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    1. Sherida, that's a great quote! :)

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    2. Hi, Sherida! I love Galaxy Quest. That's one of my all-time favorites. Alan Rickman is wonderful in it, and it's fun to watch Tony Shalhoub in it before he was Monk. And I find myself saying that same quote all the time to my kids along with the line about having one job to do! And thank you so much for the kind words about The Sheriff's Second Chance. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Have a great day!

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    3. Galaxy Quest is a great movie. I agree it was fun to see Tony Shalhoub in it. He is such a great actor.

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  9. Tanya, twin of my heart! I love your thoughts and I share your sentiments regarding (GREAT) old movie classics and how they resonate with us as writers. There are so many classics that have influenced me, my writing style, how I view life, etc.

    I can't think of all the quotes, but one of my very FAVORITES is this one: "Once you find the way, you'll be bound. It will obsess you, but believe me. It will be a magnificent obsession." - from the 1954 remake starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman, and the quote (and theme of the movie) is based on Matthew 6:1-4. Maybe considered too cheesy today by some, but the heart of that movie resonates with me in such a big way. (BTW the book by Lloyd Cassel Douglas has a Kindle version for 3.99. I think I'll buy it! I already have the movie.)

    Other classics with fabulous quotes include: The Enchanted Cottage, The Next Voice You Hear, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, To Sir With Love, A Summer Place, Singing in the Rain, Peyton Place (yes, considered quite scandalous in the day, but I love the story), A Man Called Peter, Pillow Talk (basically anything with Doris Day and Rock Hudson paired), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and ohhh so many more. If I listed them all, we'd be here all daaaay.

    Suffice it to say, you just need to move to the Ozarks. Preferably somewhere close by. *wink* I'm sure we'd get a lot of work done.

    Heartfelt congratulations with your debut! (I have it on my Kindle and I hope to read it soon!) So VERY proud of you and I look forward to ALL your books!

    {{{HUGS}}}

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    1. Cynthia, thanks for sharing that quote and your list of great movies with quotes!

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    2. Cynthia!! One day we're going to discover we signed up for the same conference and we'll have to arrive one day early just to have a movie fest!! I loved your post response. Such wonderful movies. And yes, I love all three of Rock and Doris's movies together. I tell my kids the line from Send Me No Flowers all the time - it's the scene where George is talking about his hypochondria and how something hurts if he presses it and the doctor says, "Then don't press it!" Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm so proud of you, too! Hugs back.

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  10. Hi Tanya-
    Oh, I so agree with you! And I especially love those old movies from the 30s and 40s. The romantic comedies like The Philadelphia Story and the fun Thin Man movies with Myrna Loy. I also enjoy the more serious ones like The Bells of St Mary's. Even the lighthearted ones managed to touch all the emotions, making you laugh and cry. LOVE that in a book or movie. Congratulations on your debut novel! I just ordered it for my Nook, and I'm looking forward to reading it :-)

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    1. Jenna, thanks for those great movie recommendations!

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    2. Jenna, A kindred spirit!! As a teenager, I remember going through the television listings and finding out Katharine Hepburn made a movie with both Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart! I counted down the hours until I could watch The Philadelphia Story. I so love the scene (and I've read it was all improvised) where Jimmy Stewart hiccups and Cary Grant says excuse me. And I love Nick and Nora in The Thin Man. Myrna Loy is one of my absolute favorites of all time! And The Bells of St. Mary's made me cry. I love Father O'Malley in both that movie and Going My Way. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  11. Huge congratulations, Tanya, on the release of your debut novel. Thank you for your inspiring post with lines from classic movies. I love them too. And a good cup of tea. All the best.

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    1. Pat, we're so glad you stopped by!

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    2. Pat, thank you for stopping by. Classic movies and a good cup of tea are two of my favorite things, and I'm glad you shared you also like them. Have a wonderful day!

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  12. Thanx for sharing your movie insights. The movies made as literature are so enlightening! Congratulations on your dabut!!! Looking forward to many more!

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    1. Jennifer, thanks for dropping by!

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    2. Jennifer, thank you for stopping by! And thank you for your kind words. Have a wonderful day!

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  13. Tanya, congrats on your new book! The cover is amazing! Love the blurb too!

    Monday, Erica had us remember books from our youth and now you're inviting us to relive favorite old movies. It's like a walk down memory lane. I don't have any quotes to add to the mix, but I'm smiling at the mention of many of the old movies I loved. Like Missy, I saw some of the oldies with my mom, usually at the Sunday matinee when my dad was home watching football on TV. Someone mentioned the Doris Day and Rock Hudson films. Weren't they fun! Plus, who remembers the Alfred Hitchock flicks? I'm getting chills just thinking about them. He always had a ticking bomb that was ready to explode, which I think about when I write my suspense stories!

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    1. Debby, we love Hitchcock films!

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    2. Debby, thank you so much for all your help and support! I love Alfred Hitchcock movies! Shadow of a Doubt is one of my favorites as is Notorious. Those are some of my absolute favorites. And Doris Day and Rock Hudson made some great movies together. Thank you for your kind words!

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  14. Great stuff here, Tanya.
    this line: I read what I wrote rather what I thought I wrote.

    This is so TRUE. We finish a book and we know what we MEANT to say, then go back and read what we really said. And oops. Sometimes those things aren't the same. But it seems (at least for me) to require some distance before I realize it.

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    1. Mary, I'm the same way! Janet has to pull things out of me. haha

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  15. And emotion, putting it on the page. That's fundamental.

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  16. Movie quotes...…...this is what popped into my head and it's not a quote.

    But in While You Were Sleeping....Sandra Bullock lies that she's going to marry the man who's life she saved. She just said it out loud to herself but someone hears it and BAM she's the fiancé.
    His whole family rushes into the hospital. And she can't get them convinced she isn't his fiancé.

    So the moment. They invite her to Christmas. Peter's in a coma and the whole family wants her there. And she's so LONELY.
    Completely alone in the world.
    so again, the moment. They are opening presents. And everyone is just being very real and charming and loving and sassy to each other. And someone hands her a present. Even though they've only known her about a day.

    And she sits there, hugging that present, watching them all love each other. And that gift and their charm and her loneliness...it is seriously about my favorite moment in a movie full of favorite moments.

    And to do that, to touch the heart, not even with words but with the expression on her face and how she's reacting to the people around her.

    It's very hard not to cry during that moment it's just so perfect, so beautiful.

    And that can be done in books, too.

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    1. Mary, yes! I love moments like that.

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    2. Mary, from the time I saw While You Were Sleeping in the movie theater with my husband, it's been one of my absolute favorites. And you're so right about Sandra Bullock touching the heart. Her character Lucy is so lovable in that movie as is Bill Pullman's Jack.

      And you're right that emotion can be done that beautifully in books, too.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Your support and the support of the Seekers and Villagers over the years has meant so much to me! Have a great evening.

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    3. You're so right, Mary. That moment is full of everything--love and need and connection and presence and family. That whole movie is one about everything I love in books and movies. Plus, the dialogue. I'm such a sucker for good dialogue and the way they argue at the dinner table, and talk in the middle of Mass. I chuckle every time.

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  17. When I read your remark "I ask myself whether I’m smiling...", I smiled!
    Thanks for the great blog today!

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    1. Jana, thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. Have a wonderful evening.

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  18. Welcome, Tanya! And congrats of your debut release.

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    1. Mindy, thank you so much! And congrats on your newest, Her Rocky Mountain Hope. I love your cover and the new Harlequin cover designs! Have a great evening.

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    2. Tanya, I love the new covers, too! Love Mindy's!

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  19. This was such a great post. Congratulations on your new book, I would love to be entered to win the book!

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    1. Angeline, thank you so much for stopping by, and thank you for the kind words about the post. Have a great evening.

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    2. Angeline, we've got you entered! Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. What a fun post, Tanya! Welcome to the other side of Seekerville. It's an honor for us to have you here.

    I particularly relate to this one:

    “That should be in the brief. That’s the most interesting part of the case.”

    I'm not a fast writer (just in case anyone had any doubts), so by the time I turn a book in, I've known these characters for a really long time. I always worry that I know them so well, that I don't realize what might be missing for the reader.

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    1. Cate, I totally understand not being a fast writer. :)

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  21. Congratulations on your book. I would love to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Blessings

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  22. Congratulations Thank you for this wonderful post I would love to read this book!

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  23. Congratulations on your debut! Would love to be entered for eBook.
    Movie quotes are a great way to motivate. I like the scene in You've Got Mail where they're debating the quote from Godfather. "Whatever you do it ought to start with being personal." Hmmm food for thought.

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  24. Congrats Tanya! So happy for you! Would love to win your book. I am retired and an avid reader.

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  25. Hi Tanya! Checking in just now and enjoying your post. Way to go and way to go on the debut novel! I admit also, I am checking in to see if my response message displays correctly as I have been having some trouble after retiring my old machine and just installed Chrome to see if it may help. In any case, I need to figure it out soon as I am scheduled to host the Seekers on the 8th, therefore be sure to drop by to see how it is going! Additionally, I am excited to meet another debut author as my novel, Ephesus - A Tale of Two Kingdoms, recently published in October! Possibly we will meet at a conference someday and exchange NYT Best Sellers! Ha - Well as they say, "Dreaming is for free", right? Good luck with your book and take care. Okay, now lets see if this is going to work. If it does my mug shot will display... :(

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  26. Oh no, still showing me as Unknown with no mug shot. Hmm, will need to try again...
    BTW, this is Mark Abel

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    1. Mark, I'm glad you were able to post but sorry it doesn't show your name! Are you signed into Google right now? When I was having trouble I finally got it to work when I used Chrome and made sure I was signed in to Google. Also, I'm not sure if you have to do anything with Blogger. You might need to sign into Blogger and then convert your account to a Google account. Not sure if they're still doing that, though. I converted mine a long time ago.

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  27. Think I've solved it!
    Needed to edit my blogger profile and upload a photo, lets try again... :)

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    1. YAY!!!! I'm so glad it worked!! We look forward to your guest blog visit soon!

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  29. Tanya, I'm so happy for you! I've enjoyed your post today and feel like I know you better. Congratulations!

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  30. Thanks for being on Seekerville, Tanya!!! I remember rejoicing over your first contract - what fun!

    I love classic movies, too. Your post has reminded me of a couple I haven't seen yet - I'll have to look for them.

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