A Galaxy Forty Years Ago

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Spoiler Alert!

Even though I want as many people as possible to read this post, I must give fair warning. This post contains information that gives away important plot points from the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back, commonly referred to these days as just Star Wars: Episode V. If you have never seen the film and intend to do so, then you may want to proceed with caution or skip this post altogether. On the other hand if you have seen it, then I hope that you will enjoy this little stroll down memory lane.

It was almost forty years ago to the day that I saw the greatest and most influential science fantasy film of my life…The Empire Strikes Back. As mentioned above, the more familiar title is now Star Wars: Episode V; although I prefer the original title. I remember when first released, people laughed at the title. It didn’t sound dignified enough for the Star Wars series. Over time it grew on people. We got used to it. Decades later it seems to be the more appropriate title for the film. It is the original title after all.

There seems to be discrepancies in the exact date of the film’s release. I remember it being in late May of 1980. Supposedly, it had a limited release. I saw it about a week or so after it’s premiere at Bon Marche Twin Cinema behind the Bon Marche Mall in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where I was living at the time. The movie got a much wider nationwide release a month later in June. Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana and as far I remember, only one theater in town was showing the film initially. I could be wrong about when it was released in Baton Rouge. I would be happy to hear from you in the comments below if you know something to the contrary. Also, chime in and let me know when the film premiered in your town.

Spring was blooming in May of 1980, and my family had relocated to Baton Rouge a couple of months before from our hometown an hour east. It was a clear, sunny and mild Saturday afternoon. I had just been released from…sorry…gotten out of…school for the year. My older brother and sister (I was the youngest) had seen the movie during its opening week. I had not seen it yet, and I was the biggest S.W. fan in my family.

Updates Available…

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First things first…

I hope that everyone is coping with the pandemic and that lives are being saved by compliance to the worldwide lockdowns.

No offense or disrespect is intended, but I thought that since things seem to be settling down a bit in some areas of the world, and some countries are over their peaks of mass infection, that maybe it was acceptable to post some new info about my books.

Amazon.com has informed me that free updates are available for all three of my e-books.  In order to access the updates, readers who purchased my books in the past can go to their “Manage Your Content and Devices” page in their Amazon account to download the updated and most recent version.  I assume (you know what happens when we do that) that the updates will translate to all Amazon versions of my books no matter what country they were purchased from.  If you have information to the contrary, or would like to chime in with any comments about the updates, then I would be more than grateful and open to them.  Unfortunately, as of the date of this post, the updates are not available for anyone who purchased my books from Amazon.jp here in Japan where I live.  Sorry about that.  I hope it changes.  Perhaps it just takes time for word to spread throughout the entire Amazon kingdom.  That is completely understandable considering the current situation.

As mentioned in previous posts, after I published my first novel, I revisited both my nonfiction book and my short story.  Basic technical changes were made, but I made no changes to the stories.  I just updated and improved the appearance, format and user-friendliness of the books.  I changed some of the front matter to back matter, and made the layout and flow more consistent across all three books.  I also reformatted the photos in my March 11, 2011 nonfiction book among other changes.  I feel that the changes make for a much better reading experience overall.

The free updates are my gift to the readers of my books.  Thank you all very much.  I hope that you will enjoy the improvements.  For those of you who have not yet read my books, then be assured that you will be getting the most current editions and the best possible reading experience that I can offer at this time.  Thank you for your future patronage.

Again, please forgive my selfish post at such a difficult time as this.

I ask your continued prayers for the world.  We are all in this together regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, political ideology, socioeconomic status or income.  Hang in there, everybody.

 

 

 

 

Good Friday

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On this sacred day, amid all of the chaos, uncertainty, suffering and fear…I ask that you remember HIS sacrifice for us all.

May we all have a blessed Easter.

“A Day of Horror: The March 11, 2011, Japan Earthquake – A Foreigner’s Perspective” (4th Edition) Now Available!

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Lessons learned from writing and editing my first novel To Sleep in the Ground motivated me to revisit my older stories.  A Day of Horror:  The March 11, 2011, Japan Earthquake is my only nonfiction book and the very first book that I self-published.

And was I ever green!  The old cliché that ‘the more you write, the more you learn’ (or something like that) is true.  I cleaned up the grammar and punctuation, and eliminated many redundancies in the story.  The fourth and latest edition is by far the best version of the book.  It’s a better reading experience overall.

The book contains personal e-mails that I wrote to family and friends in America, keeping them updated on the situation in Japan in the days, weeks and months following the initial quake. Photos of the damage to the city in Japan where I live are included, as are photos of one of the port cities devastated by the ensuing tsunami.

If you are interested in how the events of that day unfolded and what it was like to experience the fourth largest earthquake in recorded human history, as well as one of the worst nuclear disasters the modern age has seen, then I encourage you to check it out.  I hope that you find it informative and educational.  All of my books are available through Amazon.

In these volatile times of natural and man-made threats to our existence, parallels can be drawn between current events and the disasters and crisis of the past.  Lessons can be learned.

Thanks for reading,

Brad

The DiVacci Curse…Now Revised and Republished!

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I’m happy to announce that my story The DiVacci Curse has been revised.  The latest edition is available on Amazon.  As mentioned in last week’s post, I had some spare time after publishing my first novel and decided to revisit my short story (the first bit of fiction that I published).

The plot remains intact, but I cleaned up aspects of the narrative and got rid of many unnecessary adverbs and repetitive words.  The story is polished and the pacing flows more smoothly.  I think that the overall readability is better, too.  I hope that readers find it scarier, darker and more enjoyable.

Thanks for reading and please check out the link below!

To Revise or Not to Revise?

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Now that my first novel is self-published, I’ve had a little free time to contemplate other things.  While editing it, I realized that I had made errors with the short story that I published in 2016.  The DiVacci Curse was the first work of fiction that I self-published.  The errors ranged from spelling issues to overused words and unnecessary adverbs; common mistakes that many first-time writers make.  I’m now in the process of revisiting my short story and making appropriate revisions that I think will improve its pace and overall readability.

Some authors do not like the idea of editing and republishing their work.  Once it’s done and published, then they wish it be left alone and judged as is.  After all, would you change the Mona Lisa or rewrite the Bible?  Of course not.  As we’ve seen, Hollywood has a penchant for changing the classics, and not always with positive results.  But I’m not talking about writing screenplays (although I have dabbled in that area).  I am talking about crafting novels and stories, a different beast altogether.

I suppose if you are fortunate enough to be published with a major publishing house that has taken the time and money to promote your work successfully, then it may seem unnecessary to revise your story.  But the wonderful world of self-publishing is changing the dynamics of the publishing system, bucking the ingrained trends and creating its own rules and standards.

I am not tinkering with the plot of The DiVacci Curse.  That will remain as is, so no worries there.  My intention is to revise and republish…and to not revisit the story again unless I make further catastrophic errors with spelling and grammar, etc.  I don’t expect that to happen the second time around though.  I wouldn’t want to edit and revise any story indefinitely.  That’s counterproductive and not logical.

I like the idea that I can go back and change aspects of the story to make it more entertaining (or not).  Of course, whether those changes will indeed improve the story is not ultimately up to me but in the minds of the readers.  I’ll let them be the judge.

I learned a great deal from writing my first novel.  I hope that it has made me a better writer.  I hope that I continue learning and improving and finding my voice as they say.

I will post an update when my short story is revised and republished, so be sure to check back.  Thanks for reading.

Shadow of the Vampire

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Happy New Year!

“The script girl…I’ll eat her later.” – Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe)

As mentioned in a recent post, Shadow of the Vampire is a film that I strongly recommend if you are interested in learning more about the myth behind Max Schreck, the German actor who portrayed Count Orlok in the original classic silent film Nosferatu:  A Symphony of Horror.

Shadow of the Vampire is directed by E. Elias Merhige, a director whom I was not familiar with before this film.  It stars Willem Dafoe as the mysterious Max Schreck, a method actor who has a reputation for delving deep into the characters that he portrays, so much so that it puts him at odds with F.W. Murnau, portrayed brilliantly by John Malkovich, and the other members of the cast and crew.  It was the first production of Saturn Films which was co-founded by Nicolas Cage.  Saturn Films would later produce another vampire film called Underworld: Awakening from the famous vampire vs. werewolf series, as well as other well-known films and TV shows.

The general public doesn’t often react well to films that are about the making of other films, even classic ones.  However, Shadow of the Vampire is focused on the actors and creators of the film, rather than the actual filming of the movie itself.  This makes the film more interesting, and it’s a history lesson as well as an interesting character study.  I enjoy history, so I don’t normally have an issue with films about the making of films, especially when it comes to such an iconic vampire film as Nosferatu.

“Did I kill…some of your people, Murnau?  I can’t remember.” – Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe)

Shadow of the Vampire works upon the premise that, unbeknownst to the cast and crew, Max Schreck is not an actor but a vampire hired by Murnau to add an uncanny authenticity to the role.  Murnau knows that Schreck is a vampire, but Murnau’s nightmare begins when things go crazy on the set and crew members start to disappear.

Shadow is a brilliant example of film noir.  It shows the condition of vampirism in a unique, stylish and artsy way, but in a more direct and down to earth fashion.  Many art films about vampires have a tendency to be extremely abstract and vague.  Some vampire films are shot with the use of cold, blue filters that remove the viewer from the story and make it difficult for the audience to connect with the characters.  S.O.T.V. doesn’t do that.  The film has a warmth about it not often felt when watching vampire films.  The cinematography is intimate and inclusive.  It makes you feel like you are there, sharing the filming experience of Nosferatu with the cast and crew.  The interiors of the charming inns where some of the scenes of the filming of Nosferatu happen are cozy and inviting.  The castle scenes and the areas inside the vampire’s lair are especially enthralling.  The movie was filmed in Luxembourg, doubling for Germany and Czechoslovakia (The Czech Republic). Continue reading

Daywalker, Nightwalker or Both?

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It’s one of the most challenging questions for writers of vampire fiction:  Should the vampires in my story walk during the daytime or only appear at night?

This was an issue for me when first writing my vampire novel To Sleep in the Ground.  I’m an ‘after six’ person.  The evening is my favorite time of day.  I could have easily written Marco, the main character of my story, to be a nightwalker only.  The silent film classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors (now known popularly by the simple title of Nosferatu) directed by legendary German director F.W. Murnau helped fuel the myth that vampires could be destroyed by sunlight.  Some say that the film created the myth, but I’m not so sure about that.  Hollywood would embellish the concept that vampires were strictly nightwalkers with the sun frying them to a crisp if so much as a hint of it touched their pale skin, and the myth has become a mainstay of vampire fiction.

Instead, I decided to follow the tradition arguably established literarily by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest, authors of the Varney the Vampire (or the Feast of Blood) serials from the middle to late 1840s and allow Marco to walk around in the daytime with limitations; he is weaker and not able to access the full potential of his dark gifts.

Decades later, Bram Stoker’s timeless masterpiece Dracula also echoed the folklore that vampires could walk by day.  Those of us who write vampire or horror literature know Stoker’s novel and love it.  It isn’t the first vampire story ever written, but it is the standard by which many, dare I say most, of us write our vampire fiction today.  It was the inspiration for the influential Nosferatu.  And it’s quite possible that Murnau’s Count Orlok was susceptible to sunlight rather than a stake through the heart because neither he nor the screenwriter Henrik Galeen had official permission to make a film version of the novel.  Count Orlok needed to be different from Count Dracula for obvious reasons.  On a side note, if you’re interested in knowing more about Nosferatu then I suggest the film Shadow of the Vampire.  It’s one of my favorite vampire movies and a wonderful piece of film noir.  It also explores the interesting legend of Max Schreck the actor who portrayed the vampiric Orlok in the film.  I’ll address the film in more detail in my next post.  Be sure to stick around for that.

So, what do you think, should fiction portray vampires as daywalkers, nightwalkers or both?  I say “both” with limitations on the potency of their abilities during the daytime, but I want to hear the opinions of you writers and readers of vampire fiction.  Open up the coffin and chime in.  Feel free to cast your vote via the comments section of this post.  I look forward to hearing from you all…and keep the garlic close to the bedside!