Header Image - Getting the words out by any means possible.

Don't Let Them Eat (Rice) Cake

by Jonathan 7 Comments

Uh...yum?

Uh...yum?

Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women On Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy, (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost when they were teenagers. Visit The Muffin to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit Therese’s website to find out more about the author.

***

Anyone in the world is shaped by their family (or lack thereof). Seeing a person’s interactions with their family can give you get a glimpse into why they behave the way they do. The more people in the family, the more complex these relationships can be.

As a writer, it is almost impossible NOT to mine your insights, whether conscious or subconscious, when creating characters. Should you have the guts to look into your own, family relationships are fascinating. I like to think I’m most knowledgeable about my own family relationships because I’ve been in them all my life. Whether or not this is true, you can be sure that I draw on this knowledge when exploring relationships in the fiction I write. Let’s face it, writing cardboard characters is as unsatisfying as eating a rice cake.

Viewing family relationships from the outside can also be instructional. For me, it helps that my wife is a mental health professional. She is a wealth of knowledge on how relationships work that are useful in our real lives, as well as on paper. Her insights into the give and take of relationships, self awareness and growth go a long way to better understanding myself. I think that is key for understanding others and writing believable characters.



What I Decide to Read

by Jonathan 0 Comments
A book I plan to read

A book I plan to read

I spent time last night talking with a friend, Ben Curnett, who I don’t see that often. The conversation turned to books and he threw out a couple of books he had read and enjoyed. He mentioned Bernard Cornwell’s Arthur Books and Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. I look forward to checking them out. I rarely purchase books without a recommendation. The recommendations on Amazon.com are okay, but I don’t know those people. When someone I know has good things to say about a book, I listen. In fact, I still have Empire Falls on my list from a February recommendation (Thanks Tom!) and I’m in the middle of Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, also a recommendation (and loaner).

You just can’t beat word of mouth.

Book Trailer Shakedown

I cannot recommend this enough.

I cannot recommend this enough.

Book trailers are no longer novel (that pun’s free of charge). However, they still bear discussion because of their continued widespread use and debatable effectiveness.

I finished Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, about a week ago. Great book. I loved the juxtaposition of cloistered monastic life with raging 21st Century (and beyond, really) culture outside the monastery walls. When I first cracked the cover, I had no expectations of the plot, so it was to my pleasure that it unfolded in ways I hadn’t imagined.

This morning, I did a little search for Anathem to get a feel for some reviews and came across this book trailer:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWs1h5WAjWY]

Alright. Not too bad. Having read the book, I followed the events pretty well and thought they were well represented. I like that there wasn’t any dialogue, just music and images. The quality of action scenes, on the other hand, seem very B-movie-esque to me. I’m not sure if this hurts a person’s reaction to the book or helps. Also, as an avid reader of books, I sure enjoy creating an image of the characters in my mind, without visual prompts. I’m glad I did not see this trailer before reading the book.

I looked forward to Anathem, probably more in anticipation of Stephenson’s storytelling than from anything else. Had I seen the book trailer, it probably wouldn’t have changed anything, but maybe it would have planted ideas in my head as to how things should look as I read them. I have to say that I like the view from my mind’s eye better than what I saw in the trailer.

Is the book trailer thing a response to the availability cheap distribution outlets like You Tube and Viddler (as well as others) or do they really work? I had no idea so I checked around. This post from Latino LA cites the success of Yiddish with Dick and Jane trailer. Janet Reid discusses the merits of Michael Connolly’s book trailer for the Brass Verdict (2008). The reactions to that trailer were mixed. Some were intrigued by it, while others didn’t think it tipped the scales. Build Buzz cites an article in the Wall Street Journal published last year. WSJ finds little evidence that the average book trailer has much impact on sales.

The more crumbs we can throw on the water, the more likely we are to catch more fish or ducks or whatever you catch with crumbs on the water, so in that regard, a trailer probably can’t hurt unless it looks like 1970’s Sasquatch siting footage.

Janet Reid says:

What I do know is there’s a big opportunity here for smart people who know how to put together compelling video trailers for not a lot of money.

The only problem in these well produced, big name star featured trailers is they will effectively eliminate most of the home made book trailers.

I agree with her first point wholeheartedly, I disagree with second because the lines between professional and homemade have blurred considerably over the last three years with the availability of video equipment, editing software and the people who know how to use them effectively. Oh yeah, I didn’t realize that was Corbin Bernsen in the Connelly’s trailer until I went to his website to find out more.

Ultimately, I think a trailer would increase my desire to read a book if it conveys the feel of the story’s world, the tone of the story, that I like. I don’t think a trailer would dissuade me from reading a book in which I was interested, nor do I think I would buy a book solely on the basis of a trailer.