Friday, March 26, 2010

"Odd and the Frost Giants" by Neil Gaiman - Mini Review

This chapter book is much more sparse in style than the usual fare from Neil Gaiman. Absent is the expected meticulous development and overall cleverness that make his other works such a delight to read. It is for younger kids so maybe he didn't feel the need to work out the story and character the way he usually does.

"Odd and the Frost Giants" is a simple tale about an unlucky boy back in the days of the Vikings who comes to the aid of Odin, Thor, and Loki as they try to take back Asgard from a crafty Frost Giant.

Considering Gaiman's superb writing skill, I think he should have taken what is really a sketchy short story and developed it into a full middle grade novel with a satisfying plot and main character arc. As the narrative raced past plot points at breakneck speed I found myself wishing he had taken the time to do just that.

In short, while "Odd" is better than many titles in this niche, I just didn't get my Neil Gaiman fix off this one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Awesome Screenplay Now Available for Bidding War!

Uh, yeah. Sure. We'll get back to you on that.

Anyway... just completed an exhaustive rewrite of last April's Script Frenzy project "Nick of Time" and sent it off to the agent. I put a lot of work into getting it as close to "just right" as I could and in general, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. As I've mentioned before, I think it would make a fun flick -- either as effects-laden live action or as an animated flick in the style of "Howl's Moving Castle". It's kid-centric sci fi. Anybody know anyone at Studio Ghibli?

I should probably participate in next month's Frenzy, but the act of just having "finished" a screenplay and the desire to concentrate on completing the first draft of my 2009 NaNo manuscript are making me hesitate. You can also do TV scripts, comic books, and stage plays as part of the challenge so maybe I'll try one of those. We'll see.

In other news, Popcornopolis' Zebra Chocolate is the new crack.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Novel News

Got a nice bit of good news the other day. My novel "Leonard the Great" has moved to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award thanks to this pitch:

"If you think it was all good deeds and fancy ideals back in the days of Camelot, think again. Most people don’t know this, but for a time things went seriously bad; Arthur was imprisoned, Merlin had vanished, and a vile demon had taken over the throne.
Young Leonard Albacore would have been shocked to learn any of this but right now all that concerned him was where his next meal was coming from. As page to Sir Ronald, a poor but kind knight, events at the castle took a back seat to a rumbling stomach.

Oh sure, he held a secret dream that one day Sir Ronald would take a seat at the Round Table, but seriously, that was about as likely as Maid Glennys seeing him as anyone other than the dirty page of a low-ranking nobleman. Not gonna happen.

Everything changes when Leonard meets Mantooth, a seriously depressed dragon who’s looking for a knight to end his misery with a swing of a broadsword.

Wait a minute. If the dragon will allow Sir Ronald to slay him, his misery would be over, Sir Ronald would surely get a Round Table invite for such a brave deed, and Leonard might even climb a notch or two in the eyes of Glennys! Everybody wins, right?

Wrong. Leonard’s plan backfires horribly when, on the day of the battle, Sir Ronald is arrested for “bravery without a license” and he and Mantooth are dragged off to Camelot’s dungeons. Now Leonard must do whatever it takes to free his master even if that means doing battle with dangerous monsters, trying to outwit Camelot’s dark overlord, or even taking a bath!"
Next, the judges will read manuscript excerpts from all those who made the cut and choose some to move on to the Quarterfinals. It's a huge long shot, but hopefully they'll like mine.

Prayers, positive vibes, and finger crossings on Leonard's behalf are more than welcome. Thanks!

Update: Leonard didn't make it to the third round of ABNA, but he did get farther than he did last year so I can't complain.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oh, So This is What He Looks Like!

I asked my very talented resident artist Molly to come up with a visualization for the title character of "Leonard the Great". Happily, she agreed. Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Stardust" by Neil Gaiman - Mini Review

Textbook example of the book being MUCH better than the movie -- not for the usual reason of "imagination versus visual reality" but because of superior storytelling ability.

"Stardust", the book, is a great tale told in Gaiman's signature style. Full of wry, sometimes dark humor, fun characters (drawn much deeper than their cartoonish film counterparts), and a more subtle and satisfying plot. All of this adds up to unquestioned literary supremacy over the weaker silverscreen adaptation.

Tristran Thorn lives in the English village of Wall -- a place noted for a large impassable barrier that separates our world from the vast magical land known as Faerie. Tristran witnesses a falling star one night and brashly vows to bring it to the most beautiful girl in the village, in hopes of winning her heart. Entering Faerie through a gap in the Wall, Tristran undertakes his star quest, encountering all manner of magical creatures along the way and ultimately discovering that both he and his "heart's desire" are not what or who they appear to be.

If you haven't read the book and were put off by the silliness of the film (anyone who knows the Captain's "secret" knows what I'm talking about), I suggest you take the plunge anyway and pick up a copy of this fun read. Recommended.

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