book review (4)

BOOK REVIEW: Who Fears Death

9344095878?profile=RESIZE_710xWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor is a mind-bending fantasy that grabs you from page one. In a post-apocalyptic Africa, fear runs rampant: fear of invaders and fear of those who don’t look like the rest of the population. It touches on things that are real and happen even now in African nations; sometimes it’s very raw and graphic, but it maintains its truth about the terrible things that happen to girls throughout Africa today.

The title character, Onyesonwu, is an Ewu, someone who is seen as evil and shunned just because of the way they look. Onyesonwu is also a sorceress, but she won’t learn this until her middle years. When she learns she can do things that others cannot, she wants to learn more. Onyesonwu knows of someone who can teach her the things she longs to know; his name is Aro. But there is one main reason Aro refuses over and over again to teach her the mystic ways—Onyesonwu is a girl.

Once their arguments and battles over that fact are finished, Aro at last decides to teach her. Then, from Aro’s teacher, both Aro and Onyesonwu learn that she is to fulfill a prophecy—to correct the wrongs done by the Nuru people and to kill the one who rules them all.

The dynamic writing by Okorafor pulls you in to this fantasy world, with real-world touches, and stuns in the spell-binding writing on how the sorcery works in this post-apocalyptic world. A fascinating read.

Jackie Cannon

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BOOK REVIEW: The Screenwriter's Bible

9190580862?profile=RESIZE_710xThis month, we’re taking a look at another reference book to help us with our craft. The Screenwriter’s Bible (I read the 5th Edition) by David Trottier is an absolute must for anyone looking to write and sell a screenplay or TV script. When it says on the cover, “A Complete guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script,” it delivers on its promise. Even though I mostly write fiction novels, you should see how many sticky notes I have tagged on pages throughout my book. I would recommend this to anyone who writes; there are several elements that apply to other forms of writing as well.

The Screenwriter’s Bible is divided into Books, from I to VI. It begins with “How to Write a Screenplay: A Primer” discussing “How stories work” going through discussions on concept, plot, character creation, theme, dialogue, and scene-making. And that is just Book I. Book II covers, “7 Steps to a Stunning Script: A Workbook,” allowing you to create a screenplay concept and write down your thoughts and outline, helping you develop your story thoroughly from Act I to finish.

Book III is, “Proper Formatting Technique: A Style Guide.” Mr. Trottier doesn’t mince words here, if you want to get your screenplay past the initial screener, it has to be formatted correctly or it won’t get looked at. Period. He offers sample scripts for you to follow, “Formatting in a nutshell,” to each part of the screenplay—what they’re called and how they should be formatted on the page. Book IV, “Writing and Revising Your Breakthrough Script: A Script Consultant’s View,” gives you insight into breaking into the industry and “key principals and exercises in revising scenes,” so your work stands out along with your formatting.

Book V informs on “How to Sell Your Script: A Marketing Plan.” It goes over everything from selling your work, protecting your work, preparing your script for the market, creating a marketing plan, how to find an agent, “How to pitch without striking out,” and even “How to sell your script without an agent,” and so much more. The last part, Book VI is, “Resources and Index,” with a link to updates on the Bible’s latest editions, industry organizations, writers’ organizations, schools, software, directories and more. The index is thoroughly organized, so if you’re looking for something specific, it’s easy to find.

If you’re serious about scriptwriting and breaking into Hollywood, this is your guide to getting your screenplay or TV script past the front door. Read it, follow the guidelines, do the workbook and you’ll have a knock-out story concept and correctly formatted script that with luck and perseverance will get your script seen where others don’t get past the front door.

(As mentioned, I read the 5th edition, so if there are later additions, they can only have even more helpful information for you, staying on top of an ever-changing industry.)

Jackie Cannon

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9012567482?profile=RESIZE_710xWakanda forever! What an amazing collection of short stories about the technologically advanced, spiritually laden land of Wakanda. Award-winning authors from the African diaspora contribute their own visionary tales of the Black Panther and his homeland. Eighteen short stories touch on various aspects of the marvelous country: from tales of past kings/Black Panthers to the regal, warrior-class of the Dora Milaje; from the technological genius sister of the latest Black Panther to the troubled upbringing of Killmonger. There is something for everyone in this heavy, wonder-filled volume.

A few of my favorites are And I Shall See the Sun Rise, Ukubamba, and The Underside of Darkness. Survival tales of the queen of Wakanda, child-kidnapping tales even in this hidden country, spies and traitors, as well as visits to a burgeoning country called America and its days of slavery, all are here in this one magnificent volume. Each tale grabs hold of you, mind, body and spirit and sets you down deep in the rich history of Wakanda.

Grab your copy of this ground-breaking anthology by Marvel—Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda, edited by Jesse J. Holland. You won’t be disappointed.

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BOOK REVIEW: Kurzhon The Life-Taker

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A plot-driven tale, Kurzhon The Life-Taker is about a lone warrior who doesn’t bat an eye at taking a life, if it pleases him and his warrior god. Kurzhon resides in a land with elves, sorcery and plenty of sword-and-axe action. A cold-hearted person with a cold and hard past childhood, Kurzhon cares for only one thing—well, two things, but you’ll have to read the tale to find out—battle, with plenty of bloodshed. Traveling the continental land of Straifa, he has a goal to rule the land entirely and bring back the warrior ways he was trained in. But first, he must find a wizard named Zakariah, who has somehow placed a mark on Kurzhon, which our warrior does not like one bit. He is at no one’s beck-and-call and desires to kill this wizard for marking him, once the mark is removed, of course.

Kurzhon’s travels take him through several stops before getting to the land of Resslayke, where the wizard resides, and to the king who wants to strike a deal with Kurzhon, the last warrior of Vultaika. Along the way, the Life-Taker fulfills his title, killing those who challenge him, get in his way without cause or do wrong in his eyes.

Although the characters don’t have much depth, the story moves along at a good pace. If you’re into battles and bloodshed, this story will suit your tastes well. Be aware, it is for mature readers. The ending lacked closure for me, but the Epilogue promises a future tale in this warrior’s story. I feel we haven’t heard the last of Kurzhon The Life-Taker.

I read an advanced copy, so the cover is not final. Check your favorite online bookstores to see when Kurzhon The Life-Taker is available for sale.

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