Thursday, December 29, 2016

BLOG REVIEW & BOOKS READ IN 2016

I usually do a “best blogs” post around this time but 2016 was such a bad year for almost everything, including blogging, that I’m combining BLOG POSTS and BOOKS READ this year.

2016 BLOG POSTS:

1. DANDELION WINE by Ray Bradbury is a sparkling delight from start to finish. Written with such tender fervor and such affection for his younger self that you can’t help feeling a similar affection for the author.

2. REDESIGNING EVERYTHING Apple has gloriously proved how much customers appreciate good design and are willing pay for it. And by good design I mean ease of use as well as physical beauty.

3. ANIMATION FOR ADULTS VS ADULT ANIMATION Exciting to see the animation medium finally expanding into new (for the US) genres, even if it is prurient, teenage CGI animation like SAUSAGE PARTY. It’s the medium of animation growing upand this is a good thing.

4. STILL ANIMATED Because of several extreme life events, ANIMATED had to be put aside for quite a while, but this week I opened the dusty file, rediscovered the squabbling characters and now my days are once again filled with brain-bruising-thought, much cursing and frantic use of the delete key.

5. ANIMATED NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON When I recently learned that another novel set in the animation field was being published before I could finish and publish mine, I freaked out…The only way to get ANIMATED in front of readers first was to publish it on Kindle. So, if you click on the cover image at the top of this page you'll be able to instantly read ANIMATED.

And that’s it for the 2016 blog posts.
                                                *

BOOKS READ IN 2016

 
These subjective impressions (↑↑↑ Mmm to
Ugh) should not be taken for proper reviews.

1. DANDELION WINE - Ray Bradbury ↑↑↑
This sensuous book is dappled with breathless excitement, summery smells and rituals and a grassy softness that you’ll carry with you long after you finish it and you may even get a paperback version like I did so you can highlight and savor it on the physical page.

2. H IS FOR HAWK - Helen Macdonald ↑↑
We instantly fall in love with the bird and the getting to know each other and the hawking paraphernalia but then it gets bogged down in depression and sort of fizzles out.

3. THE RISE & FALL OF GREAT POWERS -Tom Rachman
I loved Tom Rachman’s first novel, The Imperfectionists, roiling with lovely Italian appetites. But this one, despite being set in multiple exotic places around the world and suspense that didn’t quite explode, just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the mushy female protagonist who meekly followed a super-cool dude around the world and even the title is awkward.

4. FINE JUST THE WAY IT IS - Annie Proulx ↑↑↑
I’ve Always Liked This Place is one of the most devastating short stories you’ll ever read. Other stories have the glint of hard lives lived with fierce dignity.

5. SLOUCHING TOWARD BETHLEHEM – Joan Didion
I’d heard so much about this book and found the writing brilliant but outdated and too controlled. I couldn’t finish it.

6. BARKSKINS – Annie Proulx ↑↑↑↑↑↑
↑↑↑↑↑↑
This gigantic book is Annie Proulx’s masterwork, an epic poem to Canada and the rape of the indigenous people and forests. Every time you check the progress bar on your Kindle you’re delighted to see it’s hardy moved. Many generations of characters, including several eccentrically strong female characters come into focus and attach themselves to you before being left in the dust as the implacable tale gallops on. It’s like riding bareback through Canadian history. You feel pleasantly exhausted by the end.

7. HEROES OF THE FRONTIER – Dave Eggers ↑↑↑
I love Dave Eggers. He writes deceptively simply and in this book, shows something wonderful without ever saying it. Interesting views of Alaskan life.

8. THE SYMPATHIZER - Viet Than Nguyen ↑↑↑
A rip-snorting story of the US/Viet Nam war era, full of allegories, hilarious similes and terrible violence told in a voice you’ve probably never heard before.

9. THE PIGEON TUNNEL – John Le Carré ↑↑↑
Memories and revelations of who inspired which of his characters, of celebrities who crossed his path, of his colorful father and enigmatic mother (what kind of angry hurt must be caused by a mother who abandons a very young son?) Does this book of fragments mean no more novels from the master?

10. MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON - Elizabeth Strout ↑↑
Reading this book was like reading a doily or a spider web. Thin threads weaving the delicate story of endurance, quiet strength and firm decisions.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout is a strong writer, but I could have used a bit more sweat and action.

11. BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY - Jay McInerney ↑↑↑
When I saw the second person narrative I thought, uh oh, smart-alecky writing, but the style quickly melted into the story and I loved his insights and turns of phrase. Most fast-paced, smart-alecky writing is cynical with a nasty edge but McInerney’s has an underlying sweetness and gentleness.

12. ORDINARY GRACE - William Kent Krueger
Started off with a bang, good characters, atmosphere, surroundings. Then it went down hill just after the middle & lost me  with the religious stuff. I did finish it though. It seemed to have been written by two different people.

13. BRIGHTNESS FALLS - Jay McInerney ↑↑
Same gentleness and charming turns of phrase as BRIGHT LIGHTS but without the driving energy: “They filled ashtrays and emptied glasses.”  
“..a field rhythmic with oil wells–a flock of prehistoric birds pecking the earth blindly.” 
                                                 
                                                 *

Friday, December 16, 2016

ANIMATED, The Turbulent Transition From Pencils to CGI - Now available on Amazon


When I recently learned that another novel set in the animation field was being published before I could finish and publish mine, I freaked out.

The one sure thing I had going for my book was the uniqueness of the animation setting, something I’d never seen in a novel before. But, although the story is quite different, the other book also deals with the passions and history of animation and if it’s read before mine ANIMATED could look derivative and copycat.

I’ve spent years writing this novel and, as modest an effort as it is, I don’t want it to appear déjà vu. What to do to avoid being scooped? I consulted an erudite published author who told me she’d found herself in the same situation and strongly advised me not to be number two or my book would suffer.

Even though the final draft of ANIMATED has not yet been submitted to, read or rejected by any traditional publishers or agents, there simply isn’t time enough to go through normal publishing channels. The only way to get ANIMATED in front of readers first was to publish it on Kindle.

So, if you click on the cover image at the top of this page you'll be able to instantly read ANIMATED. Don't worry about the different covers, it's the same book.
                                               
                                    
   What’s it about?
In 2006 when CGI threatens to take over the last hand-drawn animation studio in Hollywood, animator Max Koa does his best work ever, hoping it will somehow save the studio. Instead, it leads to sabotage, showdowns, even cream pie fights and Max finally resorts to dirty tricks to save his career.        
*
Apparently, a novel about animation is such an unusual idea on Amazon that it can’t be found with other NOVELS or even in FICTION so don’t be surprised if you find it surrounded by comics, bios of Walt Disney and how-to do-animation. Search for the full title: ANIMATED, The Turbulet Transition From Pencils to CGI and specify ANIMATION or Amazon's weird search software might not let you find it.

This rush is not about sales, it’s about your being able to read something fresh and new and learning to love animators and animation. So the book will be free to review for the next 5 days.

I'm told REVIEWS and RATINGS are the life-blood of ebooks, without them the book will languish on the e-shelf, unread and unloved forever. The best place to post reviews is on both GOODREADS and AMAZON (Amazon reviews don't appear on Goodreads and vice versa). If you don't have time to actually write anything, rate it with STARS.

Here's a lovely 5-star review posted on Amazon last Friday (it takes forever for Amazon to post it) from John Lechner, a respected East Coast author:

JMLechner reviewed *****ANIMATED, a novel: The Turbulent Transition From Pencils to CGI
December 9, 2016
Great characters, a fascinating look behind the scenes:
If you’ve ever been curious about the inner workings of the animation industry, or the lives of the artists who work there, this novel is a funny, quirky, and often dramatic look behind the scenes. Star animator Max is trying to save his career as well as the future of hand-drawn animation, while dealing with old rivalries, a new protégé, and an eccentric cast of co-workers. All taking place against the glamorous and gaudy backdrop of Hollywood. A fun read, and I learned a lot about animation. 

 *
          ANIMATED, The Turbulent Transition,  From Pencils to CGI, 
          ANIMATION,  TRADITIONAL ANIMATION, HOLLYWOOD