Here’s the one-page resource for everything you need to know about me and my books…especially how to buy them!
Since I’ve got a brand new cover to show off, it seems like a great time to re-introduce new readers to the first book of the Dream Series, “Dream Student”…
So here are just a few sentences from the book to whet your appetite…
I don’t want to fall asleep because of the dreams I’ve been having. “Nightmares” is a better word. I don’t think even that really gets the point across, though. Is there a word for dreams that are worse than nightmares? There should be.
It’s been the same the last four nights, exactly the same. The people in it are the same, the places are the same, everything happens exactly the same way, in the same order, and the worst part is that it all feels so real. There isn’t any of that weird imagery that people always talk about–talking rabbits or losing your teeth while flying naked behind trains through long dark tunnels or whatever else. Everything that happens in this nightmare could come right out of the news. It could all really happen.
Oh, God. That’s a horrible thought. What if–maybe it is really happening?
You can buy it – RIGHT NOW! – at Amazon.
I had a lot to say about the movie version of “Winter’s Tale”, pretty much none of it positive. So, it’s fair to ask, what would I have done differently? (there will be huge, honking spoilers for the book, and if you haven’t read it, most of what follows probably won’t make much sense anyway!)
So, considering that Akiva Goldsman and company made a complete hash of the book (and produced a movie that, honestly, isn’t any good on its own merits, either), and also considering that the book is often described as “unfilmable”, is there any way that it could have been done well?
In an ideal world, the best way to translate “Winter”s Tale” to film would probably be a big-budget TV miniseries, where we’d have eight or ten hours (or even twelve or sixteen!) hours to tell the story and bring in all the characters, subplots, etc. Or, similarly, turn it into a movie trilogy, as was done with Lord of the Rings.
In reality, though, I don’t imagine we could hope for that. But, with a studio that was willing to roll the dice just a little bit more than was done with the actual movie, we might be able to do a better job. The first thing is the length. An hour and 58 minutes (the running time of the actual film) is simply not long enough. There’s recent precedent for longer films, though – “Fellowship of the Ring” was two hours and 58 minutes, The final film of the trilogy was three hours and 21 minutes.
Let’s split the difference, and say that the studio lets us do “Winter’s Tale” in three hours and ten minutes. I think we can make a good movie, AND a reasonable translation of at least some of the main themes at the heart of the novel, in that time.
The second issue is casting. Jessica Brown-Findlay was good as Beverly Penn; there’s no reason to change her. Jennifer Connolly is perfect as Virginia Gamely, and, since in my version she’d have a lot more to do, we’ll keep her, too. Russell Crowe struck me from the start as an odd choice for Pearly Soames, but, with a strong director keeping a tight rein on him, I think he works OK.
Colin Farrell has to go. Rumor had it that one of the other actors up for the role of Peter Lake was Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston. I say we cast him.
I’m not a big fan of William Hurt, and especially not of his anesthetized style of acting, so he goes, too. There are plenty of actors in their 50′s or 60′s who could do a good job as Isaac Penn; we’ve really got our pick. I don’t really object to using Eva Marie Saint as Willa Penn, or even of using her instead of her brother Harry Penn as the publisher of the New York Sun in the present-day portion of the movie. We can keep her.
We need a new director, too. Since we’re firmly in the world of make-believe already, let’s imagine that we can get a director who knows and loves New York, and who tried for years to make this movie: Martin Scorcese.
That’s all surface stuff, though. The real question is, what will our movie be about, and how much of the book’s story can we coherently tell even in three hours and ten minutes?
Here’s my take: this story is about justice, and love, and the ways they’re connected, and their ability to transcend time and connect all things. Vague enough for you? Well, that’s the book, and that’s the story we’re going to tell, if we can. A basic idea of the book is that all things – and all events,and all times and places – are connected. Or, even, if viewed from a distant enough vantage point (Heaven, ultimately), there is no such thing as time. Everything has happened, is happening and will happen, all at once (to the extent that “at once” even has any meaning in this world). And every act is connected. To the people trapped in the sequential and mortal world, justice is fleeting or nonexistent. But from the far perspective, every act is connected, and justice is readily apparent at all times. As is love, and the ways in which love connects souls together, even through what seem (to us) to be impossible distances in space and time.
How the heck do we do that on film, even with over three hours to tell the story? We’ll get into that in the next post…
I LOVE the work Ami Low did on the covers for the Dream Series books…but there’s one problem. She followed my directions, and gave me exactly what I asked for.
So what’s wrong with that?
What I asked her for – what I thought would appeal to readers, and what I wanted to see – isn’t actually what seems to attract readers, especially in my genre. Thus, the great experiment of changing covers. Dream Student is already done, and now, the new cover for Dream Doctor is at this minute being processed by Amazon. But you can see it here!
What do you think?
I’ve got another great indie author for you today – she’s Lyn Johnson…
Writing got Lyn through every hurdle and hardship life has dealt her. At first, she shared her feelings with her diary. Then, she poured her soul into her poems. But despite the hidden passion, she chose a career in the logical world of software engineering.
The long and boring hours of writing her master’s thesis encouraged Lyn to open a new blank page and let her imagination take flight. Several years later, her first romance novel was born.
Switching career paths has turned her life upside down. Now, she doesn’t just live with her husband and sons, she constantly visits the world she dreams up. The world, she invites you to explore.
Till Death and Beyond is a sizzling tale of two souls bound by destiny in a cruel plot to separate them forever…
A COLD BEAUTY WHO KNOWS DEATH INTIMATELY…
Amira is the strongest witch on the face of the earth, with psychic abilities no others possess. And yet, she is but a slave to the whims of the gods. Forced to be born anew every time she fails in fulfilling an ancient prophecy, Amira is desperate to break the vicious cycle.
A TORMENTED WARRIOR WHO HAS LOST EVERYTHING…
Plagued by the memories and guilt over his family’s demise, Raven lives for the sole reason of restoring his younger brother. And kidnapping a witch is only the beginning—for he intends to right the wrongs of his past by any means necessary.
A DESTINY TO CHANGE THE WORLD…
While the gods might have planned for her to be captured, surrender is not something that comes easy to Amira. Yet one glance into her captor’s eyes, and she is swept away by emotions long ago denied to her. She decides to play along. For a while.
Despite the hatred Raven harbors for their kind, he is intrigued by the witch. One taste of her lips, and she becomes his obsession. Soon, he discovers that fighting against the passion they ignite in one another is futile. But as they strip each other’s secrets, a powerful force threatens to destroy them both.
For in this game of gods nothing is simple—the whole universe seems to conspire against them. And no matter how fiercely they fight, or what they are willing to endure to save each other … the path they travel is paved with loss.
Will they survive the ultimate test, if even their determination—to fight till death—might not be enough?
AND, Lyn has provided us with an excerpt from the book, too!
When the day was night and the night was day, a witch was born in a raging thunder storm.
The earth trembled and shook, welcoming its destined fate … hundreds of witches sang—salvation finally in their grasp.
The prophecy once foretold was alive in a form of true beauty, with only death on her mind.
The witch was supposed to be feared and worshipped, all living creatures to tremble at the sight of her—all men to fall on their knees by the will of her…
“She’s the sweetest little thing in the world,” Deron admitted to himself as he watched his nine-year-old daughter run through the garden calling, “Mummy … Mummy.”
Despite the darkness of her curls, they radiated light as they bounced up and down. Sunshine played on her face and her lips curved into a glowing smile. Mischief sparkled in her deep light-blue eyes, giving a glimpse of his daughter’s true nature. Her expression turned even brighter as she stretched out her hands and proudly revealed an exotic purple flower.
“Amira, sweetie, where did you get that?” His wife examined the blossom in the child’s small palm and narrowed her eyes.
Instantly Deron knew the answer—she hadn’t found it. Once again their daughter was playing with magic, doing tricks even his beloved Eliana couldn’t—a witch strong and talented, who had practiced her art for many years.
Amira’s smile widened, but not a sound of explanation flew out. They both knew the look only too well. The little tinker was up to something.
“It doesn’t belong here. Why don’t you take it back?” Eliana suggested.
Surprisingly, the little one obeyed.
“I am scared, Deron,” his wife confessed, the fear for their daughter’s safety etched in the lines of her delicate face. Worry and concern casting a shadow over her beautiful eyes.
He took her into his arms, trying to stay strong for her, to comfort her as best as he could. The truth was, he knew those fears all too well.
A few years ago, the Order of Venlordia had renewed their witch hunts. No longer were the friars satisfied with sermons, it seemed. No longer were they leading people to salvation with the help of prayers and faith. They had raised a sword in the name of a sacred cause—to eradicate the evil.
It was a ludicrous lie the Venlordians spread to justify their actions. Every few hundred years or so, they raised impious war against witches, be they good or evil. They didn’t differentiate. Worse still, thousands of innocents suffered at their hands. And now the bloodshed was commencing all over again.
“You are safe here, you both are,” Deron tried to reassure his wife. If he was certain of anything, it was this place; and the people of Trinton, who would protect their daughter no matter what. He relied on them, just as they relied on him and his family.
They all contributed. All did their share in keeping the town clean and free of marauding witch-hunters and the self-imposed law of the Venlordians. Something he wished he could relieve his whole country of.
Unfortunately their organization ran deep, deeper than any of them thought. Even his brother-in-law, the king himself, began to squirm uneasily in his throne. No wonder Eliana was afraid.
“Mummy, mummy.” Amira’s tearful voice shook Deron.
“What is it, sweetie?” her parents asked, almost in unison.
“Please, help her,” she begged, “help her…”
Eliana immediately scanned the area looking for the “her” her daughter was so worried about—only there was no one around. Still, Amira kept crying. Pearls of pain were rushing down her pale cheeks. Her lips trembled. Hands shook.
Eliana cupped her daughter’s jaw, searching for an answer—pain was all she could sense, but she couldn’t fathom the origin of it. There was no wound to be seen, only cries of agony no child should suffer.
The shaking came next. Amira’s small, limp body quivered in her father’s arms and fresh sobs broke from within her, consuming her with the ferocity of a flood, with each wave taking her even deeper. For a second there, it seemed as if their daughter was about to choke, but then a line around her mouth thinned and a sound, strangled and foreign, escaped her parted lips.
The sound shook Eliana so deeply, she gasped, trying to take a breath into her frozen lungs. Tears filled her eyes. She heard grief and she heard terror coming out of her daughter’s throat—in someone else’s voice.
“What’s happening?” Deron demanded, carrying their girl inside, straight to her soft little bed.
“I don’t know.” Eliana blinked the fog from her eyes, only to see Amira convulsing with pain. “I don’t know.” A feeling of uselessness overwhelmed her. She was supposed to know these things, be able to make them go away, but the fact was she knew nothing about what was happening, and even less about what she should do.
A potion! She needed to make a potion, Eliana murmured under her breath, prepared to rush back to her room for the herbs. She wiped her tears with trembling fingers, pivoted, and almost smashed into Giles.
The elderly man gently righted her, and without so much as a word put something in her hands. Eliana looked at his offering for a moment, not comprehending what she was holding. Then she exhaled.
“Thank you.” She hugged the butler fiercely, grateful beyond words. If only she knew what to use—Eliana’s next thought made her hands tremble even more fiercely.
She didn’t see Giles’s concerned expression anymore, or any of the pale faces standing behind the man. Eliana focused her attention on Amira—a thrashing and moaning girl, whose hands fought an invisible foe.
Her daughter’s face was twisted with pain, her eyes red from crying. She kept pleading for help for someone, but whoever it was lived in Amira’s dreams alone. Or nightmares, Eliana thought, picking a catnip plant from the vast collection of herbs she kept. She hesitated to choose a second herb, glanced at her husband’s expectant gaze, and swallowed a new lump of trepidation. What if she chose the wrong one? What if she harmed her little angel? Eliana had never felt so lost before. Utterly unable to identify the cause of such terrible pain.
“You can do it,” Deron whispered, his belief in her giving her strength.
Eliana nodded, mixed the herbs and began the chant. She forced her daughter to consume the potion, all the while desperately praying for a miracle. A prayer that was joined by a dozen more people as the entire mansion kept vigil on their little lady’s sleep.
All the servants gathered in the hall, waiting. Some of them sat quietly. Some paced with their heads bowed, hands clenched in fists. Others simply watched the closed doors. But all of them hoped to hear those doors opening. Hoped to see black curls bouncing, and that sweet face laughing.
Sadly, none of that happened.
When Amira finally came out of her room she was just a shadow of the sweet girl they all knew and loved.
I’m closing in on 50,000 words in the latest Dream Series book. I’ve been writing ahead; the bit I’m currently working on will be chapter 13 or 14, depending on how things go.
Here’s a very brief snippet for you…
She turns away from the old door and heads for Ben’s room. With another deep breath, she turns the knob, opens the door and she steps – outdoors?
Outdoors. Definitely. She knows this is her son’s dream, but it takes her a moment to orient herself. She’s on the playground of the elementary school. She sees Ben immediately, bundled up in his winter clothes, talking to a little red-haired girl. That must, she realizes, be Celia. She’s got on a big coat and a bright green scarf, but no hat to cover her hair, which is whipping around in the wind. Sara approaches slowly, listening to Celia giving instructions to her son. “Stand still, and close your eyes. OK?” As Sara watches, drawing closer, Ben obeys. Celia grabs his arms, leans down a bit – she’s half a head taller than him – and quickly kisses his cheek. “There! Now you’re my boyfriend. That’s what Julia says. If I kiss you, then you’re my boyfriend. That means you have to – uh, I’m not sure. Julia never said what you have to do now. But I’ll ask her tonight, and then I’ll tell you what you’re supposed to do. OK?”
“OK,” Ben agrees, an embarrassed grin on his face. Sara shakes her head; it’s just too cute for words. But she can’t enjoy the moment – Celia isn’t really here, this is just an image, a memory of her son’s. She calls out to him, and it takes several tries before she gets his attention. When he finally hears her, his eyes go wide.
Title – Uncovering You
Author: Scarlett Edwards
I saw the movie today. I was very disappointed (even though I had every reason to expect it wouldn’t be good based on the trailers and virtually every review I’d read).
The book is my favorite novel ever, so it really bothered me on the level of lack of faithfulness, and choices that made no sense at all to me in adapting the story (see my posts about adapting books to film – part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4).
Let’s start with the movie on its own terms; I’ll try to approach it without the book in mind. The movie is the story of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell): orphan, thief, and outcast from the gang that had taken him in. After a brief narration setting up the magical “rules” of the story (each star in the sky is an angel, more or less; each person has one miracle in them, which is meant for a specific person; there’s an ongoing war between the forces of good and evil), and a quick scene cutting from present day Grand Central Station (where an unkempt Farrell pores through a tiny room hidden in the ceiling of the station) to 1895, where the infant Peter Lake is put into a tiny boat and sent off, while his immigrant parents are sent back (due to having consumption).
We then move to 1916, and Peter is on the run from Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) and his criminal gang, the Short Tails (although I’m not sure they’re actually named in the movie). Peter escapes with the aid of a mysterious white horse, who then leads him to the house of Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown-Findlay), daughter of a newspaper publisher (William Hurt, playing the role as though he was anesthetized, as usual for him), and also consumptive.
It’s love at first sight, which is good for Beverly (who’s never even been kissed before, and would kind of like to be before she dies), sad for Peter (meeting your one true love and learning that she’s got weeks to live would be rather a bummer) and quite vexing for Pearly (who fears that if Peter uses his one miracle to save Beverly, it’ll upset the balance between good and evil in good’s favor permanently, which is not good news if you’re a fully-fledged demon, as we discover Pearly is).
I won’t give away the whole story, just in case you want to go see it for yourself, but suffice to say, we meet a few more angels and demons in 1916, there are confrontations and there’s tragedy, and then we jump ahead a century to the present day, and poor amnesiac, unshaven Peter in Grand Central Station, where he (and we) learn that destiny isn’t always what we expect, and he’s still got work to do, which involves newspaper columnist Virginia Gamely (a tragically underused Jennifer Connelly) and her cancer-stricken daughter.
I don’t even know where to start with the problems with the movie. On a surface level, some of the dialogue is cringe-worthy (“I’ve had no memory for as long as I can remember)), Colin Farrell’s hair is too awful for words, Russell Crowe’s accent is all over the place, and his facial tics are distracting well past the point of reason, and the less said about Will Smith and his two scenes, the better. And there are obvious, glaring lapses in logic: we see baby Peter in 1895, and catch up with him in 1916 when he’s turned into Colin Farrell. I’m sorry, but Colin Farrell does not believably look 21 years old! Similarly, when we meet Eva Marie Saint in the present day and it’s revealed that she’s the elderly version of a character we see as a child in 1916…well, it’s not that hard to do math. Eve Marie Saint may not look quite the same as she did in “North by Northwest” but she certainly doesn’t look 107 years old, either (although i suspect this is partly due to the fact that there’s a similar issue in the book, except that the “present day” section of the book – which was written in 1983 – takes place in 1999. A 92 year old still heading up the dynastic family business stretches credibility, but it’s more believable than a 107 year old!)
On a story level, the opening narration over-explains the “rules” but then as we learn more, things that ought to be explained are left hanging (why can’t Pearly and his minions leave New York City? what’s the deal with the shaman who helpfully explains to Peter who and what his horse really is? etc.). We never get a reasonable motive for Pearly’s overwhelming hatred of Peter Lake, either.
The love story, too, falls flat. There’s chemistry between Farrell and Findlay, but there’s literally one scene between them, and then they’re lovers devoted to each other for life – and after. There needed to be more time spent on them, before they meet her father, both to make things believable, and to develop the relationship and get the audience to care. As it stands, it happens too quickly, and there’s simply not enough done to invest the audience in them as a couple (or in any other characters in the movie, really).
I’d say, sadly, it fails on its own merits. And as an adaptation of an amazing book…?
It fails even more. I understand – the book is 800 pages long, spans a century, has over a hundred characters, and covers very deep philosophical ground. There’s no way you can tell the book’s story in two hours. Maybe in four hours, you’d have a shot – I can visualize how I might approach that. But two hours? Take an epic movie – “Gone With the Wind”, or “Ben Hur” or to jump to the 21st century, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Think about what you’d have to cut to get those movies down to an hour and fifty-eight minutes (less, counting the opening and closing credits). At some point, you’ve taken away so much of what makes them what they are that what’s left isn’t even a story anymore.
For “Winter’s Tale”, they threw out pretty much the entire final 3/4 of the book (the tale of Peter and Beverly takes up the first 1/4 or so, before we jump to the end of the 20th century. And they threw out most of Peter’s childhood and adolescence (the “shaman” I mention above is a reference to Peter’s first 12 years among the Baymen of the Bayonne Marsh; Peter’s aptitude for machines is a holdover from his apprenticeship with the Very Reverend Mootfowl; his time with Pearly and the Short Tails from age 18 or so until his early 30′s, the many things he learned, relationships he developed, and the reason for his break with Pearly are entirely ignored).
And even the development of Peter and Beverly’s relationship is cut short, although that’s supposedly the main plotline of the film. There are a few scenes taken verbatim from the book (Peter’s first conversation with Beverly’s father), but so much was left out. And, what I don’t understand, some scenes that both would have fit with what the filmmakers seemed to be trying to do (and which would have been quite cinematic) were dropped as well. The initial chase where Peter escapes from the Short Tails on horseback was far more involved – and entertaining – in the book. The New Year’s Eve dance in the book would have worked perfectly well in place of what the film did, and served the same ends – I can’t figure out why they did it that way.
And the gutting of the entire philosophical basis of the story and the worldview espoused by it, replaced by “we all have a miracle inside us, and one day we’ll all become stars” is just – I’m sorry, but it’s dreadful. Even more so because the writer/director/producer, Akiva Goldsman, really does seem to have read and understood the book (at least if this interview is any indication).
One thing about adaptations that, to me, is a good judge of how well they did, is, do the choices the filmmakers made, make sense? You can disagree with them, but if they’re at least defensible, then the adaptation did a good job. And I really don’t think you can say that for this film.
Whether you have or haven’t read the book, I honestly can’t recommend the film to anyone…
I’ve got another great indie author for you this morning – Nicoline Evans, with her novel “Haemans”
My name is Nicoline and I love to invent new worlds for readers to get lost in. My goal while writing is to create a safe place for people to forget about the heavy things in their own lives, even if it is only for a few hours of the day.
I graduated from Rutgers University - New Brunswick, NJ as a communications major. After taking every creative writing course they offered, I realized writing was my passion.Random things about me? I am a certified scuba diver, I revel in new adventures, and I believe in all things magical.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Russia has undergone drastic changes. When descendants of the lost royals are discovered, they are thrust into the spotlight. They use their power to corrupt the population, turning those who succumb to their addiction into freakishly strong and morally unhinged individuals. These addicts are known as haemans. Those who escape this terrifying new culture must live hidden in the forested outskirts, far away from the danger that now engulfs the cities. HAEMANS follows the tragic love story between one escapee and one haeman.
Who is your favorite author? I don’t have a favorite, but I really enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing.How do you describe your writing style? I would describe my writing style as whimsical. I like to add a component of darkness to everything I write. I think it is important to keep this element alive within writing because it encompasses some of the strongest forms of emotion. And I think it is important to be reminded that no one is alone in their sadness.Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book? “Haemans” will captivate you on levels you never knew existed. It is a novel filled with deep sorrow, wrapped up in an enticing package of fantasy, adventure, and thrill.Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself? No. None of my characters are based of me or anyone I know. I do take elements of emotions I have felt, or seen loved ones go through, then warp them into the stories I create. Everything is better with a fantastical twist.If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why? Yikes. Not sure I’d want any of their lives! But I suppose I would choose Princess Milena. She is the least emotionally tortured character of the bunch.What books have most influenced your life? Probably a typical answer, but the Harry Potter series. I often dream of living in that world.If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why? I don’t really like the idea of changing other people’s creations. It is what it is for a reason. But if I had to take a story I genuinely enjoyed and put my spin on it, I could see myself taking “Everlost” by Neal Shusterman and adding a more adult aspect to it. Possibly making it a bit more dire, creepy, twisted.Beatles or Monkees? Why? THE BEATLES. Forever and ever. Can’t even be compared to the Monkees. The Beatles music touches people’s souls in ways that will resonate until the end of time. Besides creating amazing melodies, their lyrics hit the most fundamental human emotions that are often times over looked. For example: “In My Life”. Just read those lyrics and tell me you aren’t moved.Who should play you in a film of your life? Oh man, no clue. Probably someone who is still undiscovered. I’ve never thought about this, so I’ll need to get back to you!