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Taking a Year Off to Write: Update (and a movie review!)

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After four months of sabbatical, I turned The Bad Death over to beta readers who will keep it through May. Since May 1, I’ve contacted professional editors and am reviewing their sample edits to the first 10 pages of my novel in order to choose who I’ll work with. I created a spreadsheet of 35 book bloggers who might be interested in reviewing The Bad Death and I’m drafting my marketing plan. Wondering what beta readers will think, how extensive my revisions may be, and how responsive and positive book bloggers may (or may not) be has got me tense. I’m surprised to be stressed out. I thought a year off from the day job would be all cake and lollipops. But no. You’d think the minuscule sabbatical budget would be the nail biter, but that’s holding up pretty well. It’s ‘am I good enough?’ angst. Part of this is just my temperament. But I also know I’ve become someone with only one topic of conversation. I need to get out more.

So Saturday, I met my friend DeAnna for drinks and a movie. It was nice to have a couple of vodka tonics at the Oar House bar, which is open to the air and Bayou Chico, and just chat about anything. Then we went to see The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann’s version of the classic is spectacular. 3D made every scene look iconic (even the credits were framed in 3D Art Deco designs). Leo gave Gatsby animal magnetism, which I think is an improvement over Robert Redford’s portrayal in the 70s version and even over the Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. Luhrmann and Carey Mulligan give Daisy more credit for depth and self awareness than the character deserved. Tobey McGuire, with his bug eyes, looked too impressed with wealth and with Gatsby. The novel’s Nick Carraway is a comfortable, droll observer. He has the sturdy character for which Midwesterners are known. In the novel, he moves with ease through West and East Eggs, the ash world between them, and the city beyond. A bold departure from its predecessors is that this version is extremely homoerotic, which makes good financial sense in this bi-curious era but which I found distracting. At one point, Gatsby even puts his hand on Nick’s thigh. One more kibbitz…I won’t give you a spoiler, but there’s a scene where Gatsby does something straight out of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. You’ll know it when it happens. I’d see the movie again. I recommend the 3D showing, as that technology actually contributes to the point of Luhrmann’s production. The emotional heart of the story is more poignant for the exaggerated setting. For fun, here’s the film trailer for the 1926 version of The Great Gatsby.

I’m so glad I got out of the house like a real human being.


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