|Elementary, my dear blogger!|
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
|All that's missing is a little button you push to hear his voice.|
This giveaway's prize is a one-of-a-kind charcoal rendition of everybody's favorite Sherlock Holmes, as recently featured on Entertainment Magazine's January 24th cover. Here's how you win:
Become a Twitter and blog follower before the end of January. The Twitter handle to follow is @ShawnPKeenan and the blog is errantauthor.blogspot.com. Once you're following both, just comment on this post and you're entered to win. What if I'm already following you on Twitter and on this lovely blog, Shawn? Great! Just post! And feel free to mention who you might like to see drawn for future contests. The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via Twitter.
Best of luck to all you Cumberbatch fans out there. See you in the comments section!
Thursday, January 16, 2014
An enthusiastic effort that yielded minimal results.
Keenan’s latest attempt to defy genetics, heredity, and history by weighing more than a wet Great Dane left this reviewer wondering the delusion necessary to make this repetitive effort year after year expecting different results. The workouts started with a blind optimism only expressed by the most naive of hearts or by those recovering poorly from sun stroke. The sentiment imbuing the entire effort that “things will be different this time” left me wondering if Keenan knew something he wasn’t sharing, or if perhaps that much needed steroids were finally involved.
A few short months into the routine, it was clear that performance enhancing drugs had not been utilized and that the aforementioned optimism was already giving way to a more natural and reasonable acceptance of ultimate failure. For every pound of muscle gained, an inexplicable two pounds of some other bodily matter escaped his frame, disproving the Law of Conservation of Matter as well as promises made on the wrappers of protein power bars.
By Fall, with only a statistically insignificant amount of gains made, it appeared Keenan could still achieve his goal by either wearing thicker clothes or ingesting non-lethal heavy metals. Unwilling to compromise his principles, Keenan continued on his path undeterred, insistent that he fail on his own terms, in his own way, the way he always did and always would.
Frustratingly relatable, unforgettably devastating, and completely predictable, this effort by Keenan checked all the boxes you want checked in a yearlong workout goal. Coming within a pound of his objective with a week to go was a thrilling end to the journey, but it was his unexpected throwing in of towel at the eleventh hour that left this reviewer wondering, “Will he even bother to try this again?” Only if he learned nothing. And I think it’s clear he never does.
Monday, January 6, 2014
|It's not about the foreign rights, it's about ... sending a message.|
Have you ever wanted something to happen and dreaded it happening all within the same moment? It’s not easy to do. It involves two disparate emotions flowing through your uh … internal feeling tunnels … simultaneously, and it’s a weird sensation. I imagine it’s a bit like driving up the Holland Tunnel in the wrong lane. In a bathtub. Nude.
That’s how I feel about hearing back from an agent with my novel UNSEND. Every few days (fine every hour) I go to my inbox to see if I’ve gotten an email from that stranger onto whom I’ve pinned almost five years of hopes and dreams. Now, keep in mind, said person didn’t ask for this responsibility. This is still a very one-sided relationship and she is undoubtedly considering many, many works to represent. If she is the sun of my publishing universe right now, I’m at best, a Pluto. And that’s Pluto the demoted dwarf planet, not even Pluto the furthest, coldest, smallest planet on the fringe of everything.
So I really want to hear back from her and learn if she’s going to invite me to the dance. Another possibility is an “It’s Not Me, It’s You” letter. There really is no in between at this point. I’ve sent a revised version of my book that I believe addresses the concerns she expressed with my first submission. This rewrite will either appeal to her or it won’t. It’s like brie, or blue cheese dressing. (Hopefully it's like ranch. Everybody loves ranch). It wouldn’t make sense for her to suggest more rewrites at this stage without an offer of representation, so this will be an all-or-nothing response. There is, undoubtedly, a line of wonderful submissions waiting their turn behind mine. If I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do with this rewrite, there is somebody else waiting in the wings who can and will, or did and has with theirs. And I truly wish them the best.
Remember that scene in The Dark Knight when the Joker is standing in the street watching the Batcycle scream toward him? In his deranged (and typical) state, the Joker was mumbling to himself. “Come on. I want you to hit me! I want you to do it, I want you to do it.” He was twitchy, he was agitated. And he was excited.
That’s me checking my email. “Come on. I want you to email me! I want you to do it, I want you to do it.” Do I really? I don’t actually want to be rejected. In theory, I only want that email to show up if it’s a positive response. But I also want to make progress, and that requires accepting that there are two ways forward from here. So with nothing but lint and knives in my purple, hand sewn suit, I stare down my inbox and invite that moment. I feel the emotions. Excitement, dread, anticipation, apprehension.
It’s time for a breakthrough or a breakdown. They'll probably feel about the same at this point.
Come on. Email me!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
|Subtitle : The Harry Potter Reunion|
I truly don't have the time to reread so many of the classics that I love every few years as I'd like to do, so when a well reviewed movie version comes out, I love to catch it and refresh my memory of all the indelible characters and timeless themes that make a classic, well, a classic. This adaptation is very true to the source material, not one of those contemporary re-imaginings where the whole thing is done in rap verse or the guy is in the girl role or the girl is in the role of the dog or whatever. This is crazy Miss (funny I almost put Mrs., and wouldn't she just hate that) Havisham, pitiable Pip, and ruined Estella just as you remember them from the novel. I love Helena Bonham Carter as a crazy anything, and her portrayal of Miss Havisham was no exception.
Seeing the movie as a dad, I now felt especially sentimental about Pip and Joe's relationship and even Pip and Magwitch's. They portrayed Estella in a more favorable light in this one than I remember her from the book, and for those who know the book, the movie follows the altered ending that I, personally, appreciate given all that Pip has to go through in life in getting to that point.
Great Expectations is a sobering reminder of what a master storyteller can accomplish with multidimensional characters, rich atmosphere, true drama, and meaningful plot twists. It's wonderful to realize that many of the same trials and tribulations that affected people over one hundred and fifty years ago still resonate today in how we feel about family, how we fall in love, and how we strive to become someone valuable in our own life and the lives of others.
I had great expectations for Mike Newell's take on one of my favorite novels and I was not let down.
Monday, October 14, 2013
|A little kinky, but should do the trick.|
The rewrite continues! I have imagined this rewrite going down in three phases that will probably end up being about forty-seven. Phase I is basically done. The first two-fifths (is that a little more than a third but less than half?) of the book had pacing problems, among other things. Getting this right required a lot of gutting of scenes, rewriting of characters, and a little adding in of new plot lines. Characters who met for the first time before now already know each other. Characters who used to think about doing something now just do it, Nike style. There’s less getting from point A to point B and more just being at point B.
The end result is fourteen chapters whittled down to about eight. I found there were a lot of redundant location visits, all of which were reduced to one or otherwise combined. There were some bushes beating around that got a serious hedge trimming, and all that slashing and burning got me through what I consider to be Phase I of my rewrite.
Now I’m in Phase II. That’s taking the carnage I created in Phase I and carrying it through the remaining three-fifths of the book. Oh, that character is a step-brother now, not a natural born brother, so he wouldn’t have sheets from his childhood in this vacation condo, because I established this is the sister’s family condo, not his. Or, someone can’t refer to another character by name because they didn’t actually meet anymore, she just saw her across the room, and so on and so on.
Phase II, I imagine, will actually be the easiest phase. This portion of the story is solid and the pacing is good. I just have to bring forward the changes and see it through to the end.
Phase III is the one that will end up being forty-five stages. That’s where I have to look at the work as a whole again. Does it flow? Does it all still matter, do I still care about what’s happening to all these characters? In speeding up the beginning, did I leave a door open and let anyone fall out of the car? And most importantly, is this a great story now?
I compare doing this rewrite to rearranging the furniture in a room. Imagine you’ve set up a room, a very large room, filled with hundreds of individual items. You know where everything is and why it's where it is because, after all, you imagined the whole thing from scratch, it's your baby. If a table is next to a chair, it’s because you sat down in that chair one time with a drink and had nowhere to put it, so you added the table. A place for everything and everything in its place.
So, let's pull all the furniture out. Build a bonfire with a bunch of it and strike a match. Bring in a few new items. Make sure the new colors go with everything, the patterns, the wood tones. Put everything back in the room in different spots. Mind the feng shui! Everything’s in place. You think it makes sense. You think it’s better than before. There’s a lot of stuff in here, all of it where you didn’t put it the first time around.
Now take off your shoes, turn off the lights, and walk to the other side of the room.
And pray for the toes.
Monday, September 30, 2013
I guess it’s time for an update on where I stand in my process of luring … no that’s not it. Tricking … well, yes a little bit … but how about ‘procuring’ an agent? This part of the process is called ‘The Requested Rewrite’ also known as ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’
I had an excellent agent read my manuscript. It took a while, as these things seem to do, but she read it and had very pleasant things to say about my writing abilities in general. That was nice, but she also had a lot to say specifically about the story I’d written. There are issues. Any particular person’s opinion about something they read is highly subjective, but I’ve sent my work out to respected professionals within their field and their opinions are harder to dismiss as ‘personal preference’ than most readers. I had written what I wanted to write, and this person with a keen eye for what is marketable and what publishers are probably looking for had a different take on it.
So, here’s how I see the Five Stages of a Rewrite unfolding:
Stage One – Disappointment – This stage seems to be included in all the phases of writing a book. In this stage, it hits hard and it hits fast. Your query letter didn’t generate an enthusiastic “Where have you been all my life” response from a particular agent. Of course, that would be very life affirming, but I think lots of agents hated J.K. Rowling in the beginning, so that’s not a very realistic expectation. But since when are expectations expected to be realistic? I think THAT’S an unrealistic expectation.
Stage Two – Confused Hopefulness – This stage is characterized by the realization that you kind of got what you’d been hoping for, if not completely. An amazing agent read your work, provided an insightful critique, and offered to look at a rewrite. That’s pretty much the relationship you were shooting for from the beginning, even though this agent isn’t ready to put a ring on it.
Stage Three – Determination – I write, that’s what I do. This person just wants me do more of that. How can that be a bad thing? I understand the critique. With some deliberating, I can find the weaknesses that she sees and I can write something that doesn’t have those weaknesses. Carpe Diem! It’s time to rewrite!
Stage Four – Indignant Rage – This is going to ruin my book! Kill the darlings? I’m killing everything! Moderately loved ones, acquaintances, red-headed stepchildren. It’s a blood bath! How did she not see the brilliance? How did she not see the artistic genius that was my perfectly plotted story, my cleverly revealed twists, my subtle and nuanced themes running throughout! I want my old story back. I want my mommy!
Stage Five – Enlightenment – I’m currently in this stage. By the way, the four previous stages only take a matter of days to travel through. During the enlightenment stage, you let go of what you were trying so hard to hold onto. You embrace the fact that you’ve gained something you dreamed of having since you began the process of writing a book: professional guidance. And you start to see the potential an agent saw in your story when she offered to read it again after some serious work.