David Grann‘s book The Lost City of Z reintroduced readers to the true story of Percy Fawcett‘s epic search for the legendary Lost City of Z in the Amazon. Now, it is being told on the big screen this spring and may be a welcome respite to the same old, action films. Check out the trailer here:
Like many topics, the expansion into the West and the wars with the Indians (Native Americans) gets some short blurbs in history class before moving onto the next era. The Oregon Trail, ’49 Gold Rush, Pony Express, famous cowboy outlaws, Transcontinental Railroad, wagon trails and Custer’s Last Stand are among the familiar touchstones.
Yet he details of this history are far more vivid, fascinating and, sometimes, disturbing.
These three books, by different authors, serve as a trilogy to the western expansion and the “Indian Wars” of the 1800s: The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History and The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Most now understand that pushing out the natives was often driven by greed and viewing them as primitives. Custer is no longer a hero. Few, though, know how brutal those wars were, or the hardships of settlers caught in the middle. Nor were many of the Indian nations peaceful peoples. Even fighting among themselves, their warfare was barbaric. That doesn’t justify their extermination; nor does their defense justify all of their own actions. Sometimes, in real history, it’s hard to pick out the villains and heroes. Other times, they aren’t who you thought they were.
For better or for worse, this was a defining era in U.S. history. It is a reminder, that in the not so distant past, people could be convinced to take terrible actions. A much greater nation managed to emerge from the blood and dust, so we should be thankful for that. Now we must respect the past so the wrongs don’t become our future, and those who should have lived are finally remembered.
Robert Bidinotto pointed out this post at the Write Nook on what 2017 has in store for writers and readers:
Another year is upon us. We all have a new “to-do” list, a new set of goals, and new adventures awaiting our arrival. Thanks to our friends at Written Word Media, they are making this year a little bit easier on us already. They have compiled a Top 10 publishing trend list for 2017 and I have to say, they are spot on. Take a look at the list below for things you should be looking out for to make this year your most successful yet.
- Fiction sales are driven by e-books. The large majority of adult book sales are digital, especially for fiction. So, if that’s the genre you write in you will want to focus most of your marketing power there.
- Indie authors and small presses will keep growing. It’s no secret that the “Big 5″‘s market share continues to drop year after year. But, it’s encouraging…
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More bad news for Barnes and Noble. Holiday sales were down 9%. Besides making the mistake (like many retailers do) of over-relying on Christmas sales, B&N still seems to have trouble refitting their ship. No reader or writer wants to see B&N fail, but here is what I wrote awhile back on how B&N could reinvent itself.
The search for lost cities is what movies are made of — and many of the films were inspired by real life. A number of authors have set out following the trails and clues left by others in search of what may still be lost. The latest is thriller writer Douglas Preston‘s book The Lost City of the Monkey God.
Rumors of the White City hidden in the impenetrable jungles of Honduras have persisted for centuries. Preston joined a team of explorers and archaeologists, using a combination new technology and old-fashioned fight-your-way-through-the-jungle, to search for lost ruins.
Indeed, they find a lost city and indications of others. This a true story of adventure into a land of deadly animals and diseases, cartels and fixers, and forgotten histories that may still hold messages for modern man.
As Preston and the authors below have shown us, there is still much of our past to be uncovered. And there are still adventures to be had.
No class or book on writing ever skips the quintessential topic of beginnings. Few other things do writers lose as much sleep over. There are endless lists on how to start a story and how not to start a story. Yet, as with everything, this process becomes easier the more it is put into practice.
In Among the Shadows, the Prologue was rewritten three times — with the first two being recycled back into the book elsewhere. With Book 2, Awakening, the Prologue has come together much quicker and appears more set in stone. Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t change as the book progresses. In any case, I will share it here, to give a taste of what is to come. This isn’t a final draft and more refinement of detail, pace and tone is in order.
This is also a good exercise in finding the right balance in detail. This Prologue is, to a large extent, pulled from history (some of the queen’s words verbatim). Enough detail to paint a picture in the reader’s mind of the scene and time, but not so much that it sounds like a history lesson. Sure, an Egyptologist might want more or quibble with changes, but most readers want a living scene in their mind.
So here is a little preview of the continuing War Among the Shadows:
Recently, a Virginia school banned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird because of “racial slurs.” Both books have been the subject of on and off bans for decades. A mother claimed, by reading these books, “We’re validating that these words are acceptable…” and there are “psychological effect” on the children.
One of the reasons that these books have endured is because they show how life was or address race issues. Contrary to causing “psychological effect(s)” on children, books are supposed to be read and studied with discussion. This is how school is supposed to work — and critical thinking.
“There is other literature they can use,” the parent argued. Like what? Some book that rewrites history or tries to discuss issues by being afraid to discuss them? The buzzword “inclusive” was thrown out there in trying to find books that didn’t offend anyone. Good luck with that.
Yes, I support every parents’ right to control what their child reads, learns or sees, but that doesn’t mean their position should be forced on others. Rather, we should decide not to be offended and try thinking and discussing these books with the students who read them.
Raising generations of children who are sooner offended by anything, instead of trying to think through something, will be a mistake we will all someday regret.
The new trailer for Among the Shadows is here. Check it out and share away:
The past seems so distant to us and, perhaps more than any other people in hisrory, we tend to look down at those who came before us. We think we are sophisticated and have endless knowledge, our lives superior. Yet, our ancestors weren’t so primitive or mired in darkness. That’s why it’s a shame when some try to rewrite history to discount certain peoples, cultures or beliefs — all to rationalize their own beliefs or to feel better about themselves.
In particular, the myth of the Middle Ages being “dark” has been rapidly unraveling. Why should anyone other than history enthusiasts care? Because the Middle Ages is where modern culture was born. It was then that the Western world blossomed, while much of the remainder struggled. To downgrade their achievements, and pretend the Renaissance appeared out of nowhere, is disrespectful of our ancestors.
The Greeks honored the Egyptians; the Romans the Greeks. The West took the ruins of Rome and built something better. A true dark time was our own 20th Century with its unprecedented wars. Maybe that’s when we started to ignore the voices from the past?
We don’t want to gloss over the failures of the past, but nor do we want to look down upon our ancestors and ignore their achievements. So perhaps this is the perfect time of year to think about these things, surrounded as we are in Christmas traditions — many of which come down to us from the Middle Ages. Check out this video and take a moment to remember where many of us came from: