Category Archives: Modern Fiction

More Work In The World

Our Galaxy’s Publishing’s multi-author collection, Venus Rising: Musings and Lore From Women Writers was released in paperback and ebook on March 16 of this year and features two of my short stories: “My Last Husband” and “The Barely There Bear.”

If you’re interested in seeing more samples of my fiction, you can check out the reasonably priced ebook (only $3.99). To learn more about our Galaxy Publishing you can go to their website or check them out on Instagram @ourgalaxypublishing.

I’ve been busy with work and travel lately that I haven’t been able to post about this, but I’m super excited to have more stories to share with you!

remember my best sellers challenge? et al.

Remember that thing I said? That I was going to pick up my best sellers reading challenge from 2016? I really did enjoy diving into The Horse Whisperer and getting transported back to the 90s while watching the visually beautiful film adaptation. It was one of those books that makes you almost *enjoy* your anger while you’re reading it. So yeah, maybe I’ll make an empty promise to go back to this list again.

I still have my copy of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and his prose is mainly what stopped me from reading the rest of it. His writing is so bad for so many reasons… but hey, I have no excuse not to finish it now. And, in case you can’t tell, I love books with film adaptations. I love seeing changes/differences and understanding why the writers made the changes they made.

I’ve been watching one of the Great Courses on screenwriting with all my downtime and I’m getting a lot from it, except one major point with which I disagreed mid-course. Prof. Angus Fletcher recommends writing an adaptation as a “warm-up” exercise to eventually writing an original story of your own. Having done both, I can say an original script felt FAR simpler than an adaptation. You’re not attempting to meld a story from one medium into another when you’re writing an original piece. Can’t say it wouldn’t be a great challenge though for someone interested.

We’re so quick to criticize books > film as an audience I don’t think we tend to appreciate the MASSIVE challenge screenwriters/directors face in the process. Having recently watched the 2020 Emma., and being about as unimpressed as I thought I would be (not with the visuals – those were super fun), I keep going back to my favorite 2009 BBC adaptation with Romola Garai in the title role.

Honestly, it’s probably THE only adaptation where they get Harriett’s character right…

It’s 4 hours compared to 2 which should be noted, but Sandy Welch does an excellent job with every series for which I have seen her adapt a story for the screen.

Bringing it back, I’ll probably go back to The Da Vinci code and watch the movie just to see what Tom Hanks was so excited about. Although reading the book… I think Dan Brown was imagining more of a Chris Hemsworth type than a Tom Hanks for his protagonist.

We all have dreams, don’t we, Dan Brown?

more horse talk

The second half of The Horse Whisperer certainly lost its momentum. It’s one of those books that’s easy to read (I got through it in just under a week), but I’ve been putting off this review because I didn’t like it. So, not sure if I was really aching to write this post. The prose of the book isn’t even bad! Aside from some awkward sex scenes, but then, I don’t even read romance novels so I may not be an authority on what makes a GOOD sex scene.

I will say this, I enjoyed the movie far more. This was one of those rare instances where the movie was definitely better than the book. Fight me, this film came out in 1998. Where the movie succeeded and the book didn’t, to me, was making the focus not Annie, but Annie and Grace’s relationship. There’s an equal weight to both of their arc’s. Come to think of it, I don’t even think Annie has an arc in the book. She starts out a selfish, controlling woman who continues to be selfish and controlling up until the end, cheats on her husband and gets pregnant by the man she “truly loves.”

Everything is all well and good in her world when all you want is for her to nose-dive off a cliff.

The only sad part is when Tom is trampled by a herd of wild mustang (actually super random and kinda funny) and dies. Really, he should be thankful, he would have had to spend the rest of his life with one helluva woman.

The film keeps Tom alive at the end and has Annie “doing the right thing” and going back to her family. Sure, the story doesn’t have to end on a moral high note, but I think it felt like a more natural ending to this saga, otherwise, what was that all for? Going back to my Gone With the Wind analogy, it’s not like at the conclusion of that story where Rhett’s walking away, and you get it, but there’s a small part of you thinking: “But they should be together! I don’t know why because she’s terrible, but they should! ”

Nicholas Evans, I am way late to this gravy train, but this book was not the business.

horse update

For a book I bought on a whim and have had sitting around my apartment/in boxes for the better part of two years. I’m actually surprised at how much I am enjoying The Horse Whisperer. I’m not always too keen on titles that make the bestseller list (either because I’m too hipster, out of the loop, or buried in old books). This does go down pretty easily – as popular fiction tends to do.

For anyone who doesn’t know what this book is about – After her daughter (Grace) is left disabled and traumatized in a riding accident, a workaholic mother (Annie) whisks her daughter and her hopelessly shaken horse to Montana, enlisting the help of a quiet rancher who’s known to work miracles with horses.

I will say, this book does seem pretty of its time. Annie’s one of those career women of the 90’s that I see emulated in my own mother. Grace is of the headphones and MTV generation. I have no love loss with Annie – I don’t like her – which makes me wonder if she’s supposed to be one of those Scarlet O’Hara type figures that you love to hate. The thing is, I like Scarlet as a character, I can’t stand Annie. I probably identify all to well with Grace. Maybe that’s the rub. And the fact that Annie’s behavior will somehow be rewarded with Hot Cowboy Guy (Tom Booker) somehow being all into her and her strong lady routine while her Good Man husband (Robert) sits forlorn in their New York apartment… MAN, is this book ever British!

The author, Nicholas Evans, was a screenwriter/producer up until he published this book. Although today. I was thinking about Nice Work by David Lodge, which I had to read in my undergrad, and then it hit me, “Ah yes, the typical representation of unhappy marriages where there is 0 communication as to what is causing the actual unhappiness.” The foothold the British Literature/Drama. I’ll probably have this finished within the week and have watched the 3 HOUR film adaptation starring and directed by Robert Redford. Hopefully then, I’ll also be able to tell you why in God’s blue Montana sky they felt the need to make a film that long with a such a bare bones premise.


Years ago, a friend of mine and I had the idea to start a list of New York Times Bestsellers Through the Decades and read down the list. The list was meant to start from a decade back and move up to the present… 2016. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far, at all. The only one we did manage to read was The Martian by Andy Weir which, if I remember correctly, I did review on this blog when it was published. Not a huge fan, but it was popular enough to be made into a film so that made me think about bestsellers and how reflective they are of the time in which they are published. We’ve had Mars fever for a while, but only in recent years does it seem as though we’re getting close and closer to actually touching its surface with human beings. Mars is in the public conscious.

Also, think about it, Gone With the Wind was a hugely successful bestseller in 1936 followed by the equal success of its 1939 film, but would that get made today? Maybe, but the direction would certainly be different.

Here was our list:

2015 THE MARTIAN – Any Weir (READ)

2005 THE DA VINCI CODE – Dan Brown

1995 THE HORSE WHISPERER – Nicholas Evans

1985 LAKE WOBEGON DAYS – Garrison Keillor

1975 RAGTIME – E. L. Doctorow

1965 THE SOURCE – James Michener

1955 BONJOUR TRISTESSE – Francoise Sagan

1945 THE BLACK ROSE – Thomas B. Costain

1935 VEIN OF IRON – Ellen Glasgow

2016 (Let’s Bring it Home) THE BURIED GIANT – Kazuo Ishiguro

^ This list is the only reason I own a copy of The Da Vinci Code and The Horse Whisperer. Do people even talk about these books anymore? Remember what an absolute stir Dan Brown caused? Meanwhile, Gone With the Wind is still talked about in all its controversy. So, why do some of these books have staying power and some don’t? Surely, they were culturally relevant at some point. If you look at the list, some still ring a bell, others are almost completely forgotten to the modern reader.

I think I’d like to get back to the list and ask myself the same questions as I read. Honestly, though, I hate holding myself to a strict regiment – so I might just hop around. I’ll start with the books I already own, at least! Maybe I’ll add the decades missing. I think I’ll start with The Horse Whisperer. I’m dying to know what all the whispering is about, 1995 here I come!

Recent Reads: The Martian

martianI’m trying to think of something I’ve read recently since it seems to have been so much time since I published a post. I read a lot so it’s not like I’ve not read anything it’s just a matter of choosing something. I thought of one… a book I hated reading: The Martian by Andy Weir. My friend Thomas and I were trying to work our way through some bestsellers and this was the first one we decided to try. He ripped through it like a pro. I started off strong and hobbled through it for a month… or two… or was it three?

I have a hard time reading a book I don’t like. Even when I’m determined to finish it. I mean, it was even made into a movie so it has to be good, right? Wrong. I didn’t even mind all of the crazy theoretical science. I think had Weir weaved it expertly into the narrative (a la Jules Verne) I could have followed the story more easily, but it wasn’t even the science that bothered me, it was: Mark Watney. One of the most annoying characters I’ve read to-date. He reminded me of that guy at a party who’s trying to be funny, but no one is laughing at his jokes. Maybe it was just me, but I did not find myself laughing at any of his many “wise-cracks.” He says, “Yippeee” way to many times and all I see is a teenage boy on a gamer message board.

Maybe one could argue, well, he’s that adult science-nerd type of guy who fits the character-type. But even what other characters said about him didn’t make sense. One even said he was chosen for the Mars mission because he’s “that kind of guy everyone likes” or something to that effect. I didn’t buy it. I do want to see the film because I think Matt Damon would make me like this guy. Almost like when you read a script and you can’t wait to see how an actor adds depth to a flat person on the page. Watney had no depth. There’s was no reason I wanted to see him get off of Mars. And, hey, I’m not rooting for the main character if I don’t like him. None of the others characters drew me out either, they seemed more like caricatures from a 90s sitcom or some of them were so bland they just blended into each other. Bring on the movie, I’m done with the book.



Maybe I should read the book before I actually do a review on the film, but no one ever wrote these rules down so I think I have every right to break them.  I doubt the literary police will come knocking at my door.  With this review (or rather personal critique) I am expanding my blog to include reviews of films based on works of literature.  Today’s feature is Atonement by Ian McEwan (film directed by Joe Wright screenplay by Christopher Hampton).  I always wonder what the process is when a screenwriter writes a book, it becomes widely read, and then someone else writes the screenplay.  One would think that it would be a natural progression for the original writer to adapt his own work of film, but then, I’m not in the business of making films.  What do I know?

Look at how deep and broody they are ^

I’m not going to bother with much of a plot summary because my pet peeve in reviews is when people spend half of it on plot summary.  Did no one take high school English?  Basically it’s this: Sister sees older sister with childhood crush.  Younger sister gets jealous and pins horrendous crime on said crush as revenge.  Spends rest of movie “atoning” for sin.

I should have known from the reviews that I would not care for this film.  When I was looking it up on Netflix I saw someone post something to the effect of, “If you love The English Patient you’ll like this film!”  RED FLAG.  I love me some British drama.  I love me some good acting.  I don’t love me some pacing problems.  I can even handle the artsy-fartsy long-shots and brooding close-ups and scenes that are meant to illicit an emotional response without the proper set-up,  now and again.  However, I’ve found that when screenwriters (and directors) take a lengthy novel and attempt to adapt it to the screen (especially one with such gravitas as Atonement) they get so caught up in capturing the same weight of the novel that some of the effect is lost in translation.

I have one of those DVD players that lets you see the time of the film as you watch it.  Meaning I can see the timer at 30mins when I’m thinking, “What’s the conflict in this movie? Where is this going?”  There’s a lengthy set-up and this slow and delicate pace carries through the rest of the film.  Through war, rain, sleet and snow.  Not to mention a lack of focus (i.e.: which character am I following and whose story is this?).  I imagine, in the novel, the story belongs to both sisters, but in the film it may have been beneficial to narrow it down to Briony (Romola Garai) since the second act seems to be going in that direction anyway and the film certainly ends on that note.  I know I’m suppose to feel for Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy), but I don’t.  I really don’t.  I didn’t spend enough time with them and I really don’t think there is enough time.  Even in a 2-hour film.  The moments we spend with Briony are so powerful that we should have been given more time to see her perspective and her plight in the intermittent years.  As it stands, she only reappears after “the incident” with about 45 mins left of film!

The acting is fantastic, the cinematography is wonderful, but oh that writing and oh that direction.  Thanks Joe Wright, I am sufficiently drained.

Wie Modern!

Or “How modern!” auf Deutsch… In an effort to get myself to read more recent books I’ve chosen one in particular to place on my to-read list. While perusing Barnes & Noble today I picked up Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I read his novel Never Let me Go for a creative writing class way back when and I actually found his style and tone quite unique, almost hypnotic. I won’t be reading it right away because, well, too many other things to finish right now, but you can bet as soon as I knock out one, this will be the next in line. I’m actually very excited because it’s rare that I find a piece of modern lit that I like and the premise of this novel sounds intriguing.

My biggest hang-up on what’s being published today is that not enough stories are character-driven and are very event-based. Meaning, it’s not so much the strength of the protagonist that publishers are aiming to draw the reader in, but what happens to him or her. Whether it is being involved in international espionage, or a run-in with an inter-galactic lover it’s always something not somebody that’s the focus. I sort of miss the everyday stories that invite me to become invested in a real person. So, Ishiguro, let’s see what you got!

P.S. A 1989 publication date, to me, is recent enough.