Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Movie Review: Free State of Jones

These days you're likely to have seen several of the Lincoln auto advertisements featuring Matthew McConaughey. They're kind of weird in an intriguing way. McConaughey is one of those actors who lets his quirky self shine through.

And so it is with the Free State of Jones which is based on the true story of the Civil War in Mississippi. Newt Knight (McConaughey) is a Mississippi farmer who is a medic in the Confederate Army. When his nephew dies in battle, he returns home to Jones County to bury the body and protect his family. He is soon branded as a deserter and on the run.

Knight does not believe in slavery and is angered by the fact that the Confederate troops confiscate the livestock and grain of local farmers to provision the army, leaving the local people in danger of starvation. He is angry that wealthy slave owners are exempt from serving in the Confederate army, but the small land owners are expected to give their lives and property for the cause of defending slavery.

With the help of Rachel, a domestic slave, he flees to the swamps and soon finds himself the leader of a band of small farmers, fugitives, and escaped slaves who eventually organize an uprising. Jones County secedes from the Confederacy.

Intertwined with this story is the modern day story of Davis Knight, a descendant who some 85 years later finds himself on trial for breaking the state law against interracial marriage, even though by appearance he looks to be white.  It's a delicate but true story of interracial sexuality in a state that banned marriage with people who were one-eighth or more Negro descent. It is the tale of white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan that still figures in the fabric of American life today.

The film gives a fascinating perspective on this period in our history and McConaughey does a good job of portraying the scruffy radicalized Knight.  It is not a joyful story but nevertheless it is uplifting as only an American story can be by defying evil against all odds. Go see it.

1 comment:

  1. Liked your review. I'm originally from the US south and I know all about the good, the bad and the ugly of the Confederate period.

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