Friday, September 26, 2008

Writerly Stuff: Writers on Readers

I've been thinking this week about the importance of the reader in a writer's life.

With my debut novel less than six months from release, I keep thinking, "who will buy my book?" Family, assuredly. Friends, hopefully. Colleagues, perhaps. But what about those people who don't know me who would much rather spend their hard earned dollars on a known quantity, (i.e., an author they already enjoy). With readers, I guess it's a leap of faith when a debut author is involved.

A month ago I began running a drawing on my website for a free ARC (advance reader copy) of my novel. I thought, "5 people will enter, and I'll send something to everyone who showed interest." To date, I've had over 100 people enter, so now I'm planning to have 1 ARC winner, plus I'm trying to decide what I can do for all the other entrants on my small promotional budget. Anyone who expresses interest in "Fire at Midnight" at this stage has earned my lasting gratitude and a permanent place on my mailing list (unless they ask to be removed). I've read every comment form and savored the encouraging comments from people who don't know me and have yet to read my work. That's why I've been thinking about how very important readers are to writers.

I've come across some fabulous quotes from writers far more talented than I on the topic of the relationship between readers and writers, and I'm going to post a few here because they're worthy of sharing:

"Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their own minds."--Ursula Le Guin

"Story is to human beings what the pearl is to the oyster." --Joseph Gold

"The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story."-- Ursula K. Le Guin

Happy reading and writing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Writerly Stuff: Blogging on Unusual Historicals Today

An article I've written on the Romany wedding ceremony, along with an excerpt from my upcoming novel, "Stolen Promise," is featured in today's edition of Unusual Historicals.

This type of research is what makes writing historical novels so much fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Film Review: The Reckoning

It's easy to understand why a powerful film like "The Reckoning" could appear and disappear almost simultaneously upon release. With the current popularity of Japanese horror film rip-offs and tired, formulaic romantic comedies, a morality tale set in 14th century Europe probably wasn't the most commercially viable undertaking for Paramount, the studio that released this film. The Reckoning stars Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany in such solid performances that it is disheartening this film did not experience a wider release.

After watching Willem Dafoe ("Platoon") mug his way through "Spiderman," it was nice to be reminded that he is indeed a capable actor. Paul Bettany's body of work has demonstrated range (a flair for comedy in "A Knight's Tale" and skilled, dramatic turns in "Master and Commander" and "A Beautiful Mind"), but those films did not prepare me for the riveting performance he delivers in this film. As a disgraced monk fleeing justice, Bettany attaches himself to an itinerant group of actors who roam the countryside performing plays in exchange for food and shelter. He journeys with them to the next town, where they conclude that a woman has been falsely accused of a crime and has been unjustly sentenced to death.

I won't divulge more of the plot here because my goal in writing this review is to encourage others to see the film. While the film does have flaws (Vincent Cassel is wasted in the one dimensional role of the villain, and Brian Cox is likewise not given enough to do), "The Reckoning" is an allegory on personal responsibility in the context of good versus evil and it is a moving, gorgeously filmed, well-acted drama. If your personal taste does not embrace historical morality tales, this probably won't be your cup of tea, but anyone who enjoyed "The Name of the Rose," or "Flesh and Blood" (Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh), should find this a thought-provoking, well-crafted film.

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