All posts by swanstuff

Writer, small business wannabe, pundit, philosopher, often hopelessly confused, and blessed by a gracious God beyond all imagining (the views expressed by this blogger do not necessarily reflect the Supreme Being, but this blogger hopes he doesn't embarrass the Big Guy too much).

Mixed Emotions about Dune

Caveats: I watched it on HBOMax, not in a movie theater.

NO SPOILERS

I read all the Dune books as a kid and loved the first one, enjoyed the second one and waded through the rest. I attempted the son’s books, but didn’t make it past the first. A few years ago, I readed Dune on a cross-country flight. Now I felt it was a bit overwritten and the exposition killed me. Still, the worldbuilding of Dune is brilliant. There is SO MUCH.

The first movie was terrible.

This current movie was much better than I expected…. but

Dune logo
Love the moon making the crossbar of the e.

Just before I heard Dune was being remade (with a cool title logo), I thought with streaming changing budgets and scope that Dune could finally be made the right way as a series. Even just sticking to the books would give decades of seasons. Here’s why, and there’s irony in my answer. To include exposition.

This movie is part one of at least 3 from the looks of it. Even so, it all happened very, very fast. Valient effort at creating a relationship with the Fremen, but one meeting isn’t enough.

Thufir and Peiter are mentats with stained lips from drinking sapho, which enhanced their computer-like minds. Why? Because computers are no-no as a result of a cataclysmic past event. Never explained in the movie (they didn’t have enough time) so their lips have a rectangle instead of being stained. That’s a tiny bit of exposition that was wisely left on the cutting room floor but could have been explored in a series.

That’s a tiny example of worldbuilding that had to be streamlined.

As for the movie, I do think the screenwriter, director, crew, and actors did a spectacular job. Beautifully filmed, wisely cut… I was happy to be impressed. I don’t think you need to have read Dune to understand it, but it would help. Paul’s visions of probable futures is well played, yet could be hard to understand for newbies. They aren’t what happens, but what could happen depending on choices made.

Frank Herbert created one of the most extensive universes of fiction. He did it with notebooks (those paper things, not a tablet), PCs hadn’t been invented yet. He raised the bar on fictional universes and if you want to understand how far you can go in planet-spanning stories, Herbert outstripped Lucas by a mile.

A Pernicious Correspondence

I first became aware of Scott Schuleit through his poetry. He never went for the easy stuff; it was always literature at its best.

When he told me he was working on a book, a modern take on C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters it meant a lot to me. C.S. Lewis was my go-to author when I was first became a Christian but The Screwtape Letters was something I’d read a few years before the gospel did it’s work.

I’d always been a great reader, and this book was powerful.  Later, I ate up his Space Trilogy and every non-fiction book he wrote.

I’ve also read several books based on this seminal work and none achieved the tone, feel, and literary strength of the original.

Scott’s new book A Pernicious Correspondence nails them all and updates the masterpiece to focus on today’s devilish strategies.

I highly recommend this book to believers and non-believers alike. Check it out!

Cover by Dawn D. Davidson

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Pernicious-Correspondence-Letters-Devil/dp/194882423X/ref

Barnes & Noble link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pernicious-correspondence-scott-schuleit/1140370241?ean=9781948824231

Be sure to leave a review!

Discipline, Baby!

“Where do you get your ideas?” I was asked this just the other day. The answer is less an inspiration and more a location and time. I get my book ideas upon waking. Typically at 4 in the morning, and typically with a huge amount dropped into my forethought.

How Are Hurricanes Named? Here's What You Need to Know | Time
Thank goodness Hurricane Easy struck Florida in 1950. Well… for me.

It happened two days ago. My next novel is named The Hurricane Boys. I know the plot, the characters, and the ending just by opening my eyes. I’ve spent the next two early mornings nattering it about. I love it! (But I do miss sleeping).

And I’m not going to write it. Yet.

I have at least six half-finished novels. A friend said that means I no longer cared about that story. Not true, I just got excited by another story and began writing that, and so on and so on.

Other than notes, I’m not going to do that now. The reason why is Discipline. I didn’t have it then, but I do have it now.

Every goddamn day: 03/18/21: Deely Bobbers
I’m a’finish ’cause a’ discipline, NOT ’cause a’ fear of the dreaded killer bee!

The Trouble with Bees is still in rewrite. I just wrote a scene that blew my mind (and not just mine). I am going to continue writing that to completion. Then and only then, I’ll start writing The Hurricane Boys.

Discipline doesn’t mean I don’t want to. It doesn’t mean I’m not able to. It means I won’t. A hidden benefit of discipline is that it gives you motivation to finish what you’re sticking with so you can get on to the next project.

Eventually, I’ll get back to those other half-finished novels, because I really do like them…

Cross-posted from my GoodReads blog.

Speaking Out!

A friend gave me the opportunity to speak to readers when she invited me to her classroom. For the first class I shared about Do Angels Still Fall? which the class was reading, and for the older class, Creativity Wears Boots where they weren’t reading it but still could find the artist inside.

Develop a Complete Student Code of Conduct
The kids didn’t look anything like this. Today’s kids pay attention, but you’re never quiet sure… 🙂

I had a blast, getting fresh insight to my stories and ideas through young reader’s eyes. It was great, but there was an even better part…

This wonderful teacher (I saw part of her class before I went up and only wish I had such terrific teachers) is a writer. She has a hilarious blog full of true-life anecdotes from her life and family. We’ve spoken about turning her blog into a collection for her first book, but I’ll be honest, I shared with her that I think she should take those stories and weave them in a novel about her fascinating life. She confessed she loves historical fiction and my comments got her mind to buzzing.

For me there is no greater joy than encouraging writers. So many people have the ability and just need a little nudge to write. My whole purpose in creating Prevail Press is to make it easier to get a writer’s work to peak quality and launching it out there.

But you gotta write it first. I’m happy to talk to you to get your motor revving, buy only you can put it in drive and get ink on a page.

It’s funny, I always thought I’d have more time the older I got. Instead I’m busier. It’s harder to get to the keyboard with so many things demanding my time. Yet I am. Full time day job, full time publishing job, grown kids, two puppies, and a house and yard to take care of… but I’m still finding time to write.

What about you? What will it take to get you typing? I really want to know!

R.I.P. Beverly Cleary

She lived a **ahem** storied life for 104 years. I probably should have sent her a letter thanking her for her early books, since they profoundly changed my view on reading.

I was an advanced reader and read whatever I could get my hands on. But not kid’s books. They were boring and dull, while young adult books weren’t. Give me the Outsiders over the boring chapter books we had available in the late 60s.

Not completely true; Scholastic sent around a catalog we could buy books from, and my amazing parents wanted to encourage reading, so they bought me almost everything in the catalog. And I did read them, three a day. The stack would last a week and it was off to the library for grown-up books.

Except this one time. Cleary’s Motorcycle Mouse was on the bottom of the stack (we had a mouse problem and I didn’t want to empathize with them). But when I got to and fell into it, I suddenly saw children’s books as having value. I think I read that book a dozen times. Then Runaway Ralph a few years later. I’d picked up Cleary’s other books about Beezus and Remona and Henry Higgens. Good, but not as good as Motorcycle Mouse. This was Cleary’s only mystic realism book (she probably didn’t think about it that way), giving a mouse the power to ride a motorcycle in an otherwise realistic setting (oh, her DETAIL!). Because of her, I gave other writers a try (I read most of Judy Bloom’s books a tad early. Puberty terrified me).

Beverley Cleary graduated from the University of Washington, not too many miles from where I grew up… 25 years before I was born, but that’s close to rubbing shoulders with greatness.

Our own writer, Bonnie Manning Anderson, wrote a wonderful grade school novel called Always Look for the Magic that has a Cleary feel to it with delightful details of an earlier time. Same magic as Cleary’s, same vivid pictures. Buy a copy today as a tribute to Beverly Cleary. You won’t regret it. Oh, and buy some of Cleary’s many books. They really are that good (and if you have children you MUST buy them!)

Always Look for the Magic