On Veterans Day Philadelphia’s ABC News Channel 6 aired a story about Shadow SEAL, including an interview with author John Watts. https://6abc.com/video/embed/?pid=12443363
POSITIVE REVIEWS FOR SHADOW S.E.A.L.
“The author exhibits strength, tenacity, courage and faith in a first hand account of being a Navy SEAL, who happens to be black! Don’t miss reading this book, it’s a moment in history, an example of the human spirit.”
“Be prepared to be whizzed through breathtaking, electrifying experiences in this absorbing thriller. John’s courage and relentless determination to serve with his team, in the face of great perils, advanced him to rise to the highest levels as a Navy Seal. John’s ability to forgive, despite the deep scars of racism encountered even as he navigated the deadliest challenges of battle, demonstrated his commitment to the principles of forgiveness laid out by Christ.”
“This is definitely a must read, even if you’re not interested in the Vietnamese War. Bravo and kudos to the authors for letting the reader in on this amazing real life story of a true American hero!”
International sci fi author Bernd Struben is at it again with his newest novel, Rabbit Wars, a post-apocalyptic vision of a future in which humanity is hunted into extinction by robots originally programmed for population control. A band of Australians of child bearing age must keep one step ahead of an overwhelming automated force as they try to do their part to repopulate the human race.
Strider Nolan Media was commissioned by the Heritage Conservancy of Bucks County, Pennsylvania to reprint Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, originally published in 1908. The text was modernized for easier reading by today’s youth (and adults), while at the same time remaining faithful to the original story and keeping its intrinsic whimsy intact. Original art, including full color paintings and black and white line drawings, was created by renowned impressionist painter Alan Fetterman. Details on how to obtain a copy can be found on the Heritage Conservancy’s website.
A new review from the Midwest Book Review’s Reviewers’ Bookwatch: “Deftly written by a master storyteller, Season of the Crow by Barry D. Yelton is a thoroughly absorbing and solidly entertaining historical novel from beginning to end. Very highly recommended and certain to be a compelling addition to community library Historical Fiction collections….”
The complete review can be found here.
From the Jul. 26, 2015 Daily Courier, by Pam Bunch
Barry Yelton of Mooresboro has written what he describes as his first real novel in Season of the Crow. Yelton has written short stories, essays, poems and a blog. He has also written a fictionalized version of his family history in Scarecrow in Gray, which takes place during the Civil War and is set before his newest book.
Yelton said he hadn’t planned on writing another Civil War story, but he got talked into it.
“One of my friends, the librarian at Henrietta, Deb Womack, said she liked the book but complained about the ending. She wanted to know more,” he said.
Yelton told her the book was about his great-grandfather, Francis Marion Yelton, and about him going to war and coming home; and he came home, so it ended. But that wasn’t enough for Womack and she and other family and friends talked him into doing it.
“So I tried to create a novel in this new one that tells the story of what happened after he came home, which is all fiction,” Yelton said.
The first story, Scarecrow in Gray, is based on Yelton’s great-grandfather, Francis Marion Yelton, who grew up and lived in Rutherfordton, probably around the Camp Creek area, and is buried in the Camp Creek Church Cemetery according to Yelton.
“He got into the war late and was a member of the Rutherford County Confederate Militia. He was a lieutenant in the militia,” he said. “As I looked back through the list of militia men a lot of them were lieutenants, so it wasn’t a big honor.”
According to Yelton, the family legend goes that Francis Yelton was farming and he got tired of people accusing him of dodging the war by serving in the home guards. So he went to Camp Vance in Morganton in August of 1864, and enlisted and joined the 18th NC Volunteer Infantry.
“By that time Lee was backed up into the entrenchments around Petersburg,” said Yelton. “Francis Marion served there until the end of the war which was about April 1865, when Grant’s troops overran the Confederates – they were pretty well starved out – and he was wounded on the retreat and was with Lee when they surrendered at Appotmattox Courthouse. My first novel was a fictionalized version of that.”
In Season of the Crow Yelton says he tried to portray both the good and the bad side of the Confederate Veterans. “My great-grandfather plays the role of the hero and he plays the good side,” he said. “But I have some pretty nasty ex-Confederates that are kind of like the forerunners to the Klan. I call them the Night Riders. So the culmination and really the heart of the story has to do with the battle between the good ex-Confederates and the bad ones. That’s it in a nutshell.”
The story brings former slaves from Charleston, South Carolina up to Rutherford County in search of Francis Marion and the help they’ve heard he can give them. “And the way Francis and his family treated these folks, and another family that the parents were lynched right here in Rutherford County. And what happens to the children and how his wife Harriet … treated them and also some people treated them and [Harriet] because of that, that’s the key part of the story,” Yelton said.
Yelton said he read many books on the Civil War, including Shelby Foote’s three-volume set on the subject. … “I tried to make it as true to the period as possible,” he said.
Yelton says he isn’t sure if he’ll write another book, but if he does, he would like to set it in a more modern time.
“I don’t know, to be honest, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “I’ll just have to think about it.”
Season of the Crow is available at most bookstores.
by Michael S. Katz
I’m one of those people who like to read a book before the movie version comes out. I never stopped to wonder why before, but I think I have the answer. Movies are rarely as good as the books, so wouldn’t you want to experience the better version first?
Why are books so tough to adapt to film? Well, to start, a typical novel has way too much material for a 90 minute film. Longer than 90 minutes and you risk turning off your audience, so unless you have a lot of diehards salivating at the chance to see their favorite books come to life, like fans of Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, odds are people will be turned off by three-hour movies.
During the transition from page to screen, something has to go. Subplots and characters are usually the easiest to do away with. Often, you’ll see characters combined for the sake of a film. Other times, you’ll wave goodbye to a lesser character who may have had an interesting storyline that didn’t do anything to advance the rest of the narrative. And then there is the need to change things simply for the sake of movie magic, like adding action scenes to take advantage of the audience’s need for special effects extravaganzas.
Hollywood relies on books more and more these days. Part of the reason is that movie producers are afraid to shell out a lot of money on an unknown project. If a novel has had success, it is more likely to receive word of mouth marketing. People who read the book are going to want to see the movie, and will likely tell other people to read the book themselves or at least see the film. That gives Hollywood some assurance of success, similar to the reasons for sequels and remakes: people with interest in the property are already out there, so there is a baseline of sales that they can depend on.
Heck, these days, many projects that once would have made a single film now are extended into two or more films, like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay or The Hobbit—the latter being a rare situation where a great deal of material is added to a story for the film version.
by Michael S. Katz
Not too long ago, Strider Nolan Media briefly dabbled in comics with the Deadlands miniseries produced by Visionary Comics Studio and published by Image Comics. Years earlier I had started a proposed comic book, but that project had never gotten off the ground. I wrote the first story and a British gent named Stu Bales did the layouts, then the project ended. Armed with a Wacom tablet and the most basic of abilities, I inked, colored and lettered it myself … and realized I should not give up my day job. But because I’ve been asked to post things on the company blog, I figured now was as good a time as any for it to see the light.
Presenting: AND ONE FOR ALL
by Michael S. Katz
I’ve never been much of a fan of espionage fiction. Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler … I’ve always thought the plots were just too convoluted for my more simple tastes, I suppose. So when I started reading my first Daniel Silva novel, I didn’t expect to complete it.
Surprise. A year later and I’ve finished the eleventh Gabriel Allon novel. Maybe some of the entertainment value—for me—is that these read like spycraft procedurals, rather than infinitely looping mysteries. I love to learn about the inner workings of the Mossad, the CIA, and MI5 (among other agencies). According to Silva, much of his writing is based on true facts. I recently read Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal, and can see how much of the background material about the Mossad finds its way into these novels (although modified by Silva for his purposes).
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like historical fiction because I like to learn at the same time I am being entertained. One can never have too much knowledge. Silva sets his stories in the present, but often provides a great deal of history by way of background, and also discusses current events (at least at the time each book is written). I have learned a great deal from reading Silva’s work.
For example, in Portrait of a Spy, not only are connections between Saudi Arabia and terrorist networks delved into, but Silva also describes how oppressive life is for women in Arab countries, inhumane living conditions among the working classes, political snafus caused by the American government’s dependence on Saudi oil, and the growth of jihadist elements in European countries. All this is icing on the cake—the cake being an entertaining story focusing on an interesting character with real human emotions, one who has grown along with the series.
It also interests me to no end that this character—Gabriel Allon, a spy for a fictional version of the Mossad—has been able to anchor a bestselling series in a world where anti-Semitism is still way too prevalent. I don’t want to go off on a tangent here; many of my thoughts on being Jewish are contained within my novel, Shalom on the Range, although I did my best to hide them deep down within the humor and action elements. I may even finish the sequel one of these days. But Daniel Silva’s writing similarly contains action and suspense, but also manages to find time to subtextualize what it is like to be Jewish, or what it is like to be Israeli. Amazingly, Daniel Silva was not born Jewish, he was raised Catholic, but he converted to Judaism after he had started the Gabriel Allon series because he fell in love with a Jewish woman and wanted their children to be brought up Jewish.
Each book in the series is full of fascinating material, on many different levels. Even in a fictional universe, there is room for the reader to learn about the real world around them.