Monday, February 29, 2016
Friday, February 26, 2016
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine
Each year at this time, I get a kick out of looking at the Best Picture Oscar nominees with an eye toward how each story originated This year, a record seven of the eight chosen films were based, at least partially, on books.
THE BIG SHORT
Michael Lewis' nonfiction bestseller about the housing and financial crisis of 2007-2008 was released in 2010, and Paramount picked it up three years later. Dialogue and data-driven, this is one of those films released just under the wire in December, presumably to be fresh in Academy voters' minds.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Another 2010 book, this true story of the Cold War recounts the politics and negotiations involved in trading an imprisoned Russian spy for an American POW. However, the movie borrows even more from the details given by the actual negotiator himself, James Donovan, in his book Strangers on a Bridge.
The only romance in the bunch, Irish novelist Colm Tóibin's 2009 tale is about an immigrant (appropriated named Ellis, as in the island) who comes to New York in search of a better life in the 1950s. Her affections are soon divided between her new home and the one she left behind. A secret marriage is involved, and those always tend to complicate things.
This debut novel by Andy Weir was published in 2011. Those who remember Gravity from a couple of years back were pleasantly surprised when this wasn't simply one more Lost in Space. How a stranded astronaut (played by Matt Damon) conquers insurmountable odds through ingenuity, science and humor was lauded by no less than NASA for its technical accuracy. And as a plus, there were no aliens in sight.
A revenant is something that returns after death or a long absence. The same could be said of the book this Leonardo DiCaprio film is based upon, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, originally published back in 2002. It took author Michael Punke four years to write what he originally intended to be a political novel. He ultimately turned it into a chronicle about a real American frontiersman, Hugh Glass, who was left for dead by his companions after being attacked by a grizzly bear.
Loosely inspired by a real-life incident of a woman held captive in a basement for 24 years, Emma Donaghue's fictional 2010 novel focuses on a young mom (played by Best Actress nominee Brie Lawson) and her five-year-old son, for whom the tiny room in which they're imprisoned has been his entire world. It's not a spoiler to say he gets out, and awakening to how big the real world is becomes an insightful eye-opener for the audience too.
In 2001, a team of investigative reporters for The Boston Globe followed up on a tip about a priest abusing choirboys. They went to court to obtain sealed documents and published their findings in 2002. The power of the press is the star of this film, though it boasts a full ensemble of familiar faces including Michael Keaton.
The remaining nominee for Best Picture, Mad Max: Fury Road is an original screenplay based on its own continuing sci-fi saga. It may not have made that great a read anyway, since its calling card is the constant visual stimuli of bombs and truck chases.
So over half of the books are based all or in part on actual events. Several (The Martian, The Revenant and Room) feature individuals stranded and endangered. And look how many of them have only one or two words in the title. That's a tactic that can either help or hurt, but in this case, to say "The Revenant" or "The Martian" subtly implies that this is the revenant or the Martian that stands above all others. This Sunday, February 28th, we'll get to see if that is indeed the case.
For a musical mashup of all of the above, I hope you'll enjoy my latest tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 2016 Best Picture nominees, via this video:
See you in Tinseltown!
Monday, February 22, 2016
As I wrote my own stories of abuse in Bloom in the Dark, I tasted the blood from my bleeding heart. I felt agonizing pain. I relived my betrayal with shock and disbelief. I was blinded by the darkness and despair. Wrapped up in the realities of my story, I didn’t notice the tears splashing on my keyboard as I typed furiously. (Waterproof keyboards are a good investment for this type of writing!)
As I wrote, I didn’t worry about wording or grammar. I didn’t think about punctuation. I just relived the story. Editing took care of verb tenses, wording and punctuation. Anytime I focused on the mechanics first, my writing was more literary, but less emotionally intense.
Writing about someone else’s pain was different. I had not lived those stories. When I started writing others’ stories, my writing was not nearly as authentic. The emotions were not as deep, but I needed all the stories to pull the reader in with the same raw intensity. Maybe some writers can just play with words and connect at that depth. I’m not that good.
I had to learn to live my heroine’s nightmare while my hands typed. I had to transfer my pain and darkness to her story. I had to hurt just as deeply as she had. I bled from the cuts made by shattered dreams. I felt the quicksand of despair sucking me under. Once again, tears dripped on my keyboard as I typed.
What makes my stories worth writing? The joy I get to live as I experience each woman’s healing is amazing. Facing the darkness this way, makes my everyday life magical. The hope at the end of each story fills me with buoyancy and perspective. Sunlight is so much warmer and brighter after chilling darkness. Writing from a bleeding heart intensifies the beauty of my life.
Friday, February 19, 2016
Probably in the history of writing someone got everything
right the first time. But let’s face it--you probably didn’t. More likely the
opposite is true. The first draft is a hot mess.
There are books, articles and classes on how to edit your
manuscript. But no one addresses how to bridge that huge gap between relief
that you actually got a draft done and dread that you now have to start the
editing process. It’s brutal. It doesn’t just happen to beginners either. Every
writer has that sinking feeling when they start to edit.
Here are a few hints to ease you into the process:
1) Remind yourself that editing takes time. It took several weeks or months to write the first draft. It’s going to take just as long to edit—or longer. Remember how insurmountable 70,000 words looked when you typed the first page? It wasn’t. You finished and you can do it again. (And again).
2) Before you begin, spend a few hours thinking about what general things work well in the book. “My dialog seemed to come really easily. I felt like I knew the protagonist. I love one of the plot twists I came up with.” Be specific. Write them down.
3) Now spend equal time thinking about what you know needs to be addressed. Again, be specific. “I still don’t feel like I’ve nailed the protagonist’s girlfriend. The middle seemed really slow. I may need to do a little more research on X.”
4) Decide in advance how you are going to tackle the edits. Do you work best going chapter by chapter, forging ahead until the entire edit cycle is done? Do you work best perfecting one scene at a time before you move forward? Do you feel so strongly about the plot issues that you have to address them before you tackle the characters?
It’s best to establish control from the beginning. When you feel as if you’ve run off the rails, it can steady you to go back and remind yourself what is good about the story. And to remind yourself that you knew some things needed work.____________________________________________________________
Thursday, February 18, 2016
By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine
The other day, I was talking to Southern Writers Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Susan Reichert, and Managing Editor, Doyne Phillips. We discussed new ways authors can promote themselves at no cost to the writer.
The discussion turned to blogs and how authors could promote themselves when commenting on another person's blog. Between the three of us, we get over 150 notifications a day from a variety of bloggers we follow. We brainstormed about how writers could use all their own blog notifications to spread the word indirectly about their books.
It's ridiculous how easy it will be for authors to invest just a little time that could gain them readers which equals sales. All you need to do is make a comment on every blog sent daily to your inbox. However before you leave the comment, add your name and your current book or series. By doing this, it will show as part of your comment. Seen by all followers of the blog. Think of it as your automated signature on an email. You could also apply this idea to other social media venues. By doing this one little thing, you could easily garner readers captured from otherwise untapped sources.
What have you got to lose? Nothing but a little time. You will be helping out other bloggers by leaving comments, and you could gain readers of your work.
So again, I ask what do you have to lose?
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Monday, February 15, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
Walker's Vale, the film will be released through Allegentsia Productions with possible filming scheduled to begin sometime in 2015. John, along with his wife and two children, love to watch the seasons change in beautiful Northeast Pennsylvania. My social media links are: www.johnjzelenski.com https://twitter.com/johnzelenski https://www.facebook.com/WalkersVale?fref=ts http://www.amazon.com/John-J.-Zelenski/e/B00S05HZXW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016