Monday, November 4, 2013

Actors Anonymous by James Franco; NaNoWriMo

Actors Anonymous by James Franco

After posting about Actors Anonymous by James Franco almost a month ago, I did buy it (on Kindle for iPad in digital) and I finally had some spare time (in between reading for the Rainbow Awards as juror) to get halfway through it. So this is only a partial review of sorts, and only because I think it's worth discussing from a literary POV.

I'm not going to get into a full review halfway through the book because I think that would be an injustice to any author, however, I do think that readers in this case should pay close attention to the Amazon reviews. There are several one star reviews and if you read between the lines of those one star reviews you'll see they are actually helping sell the book if you're looking for something different to read. In other words, some of the actual qualities I prefer in novels like this are discussed in the one star reviews. And that's because not everyone is qualified to read every single book out there. I'm not being snarky about this; I'm being pragmatic. To put this in a different context, there are people who know the bread plate is on the left at formal dinner parties, there are people who don't know but want to learn as much as they can, and there are people who don't care and don't want to know. I don't think this falls under subjectivity and personal opinion as much as it does knowledge and education. And while knowledge is by no means a measure of intelligence or ability, it is a measure by which certain standards are set in the world. I personally know nothing about little children, don't want to know anything about them, and I don't think I'm qualified to review a kid's book. So I don't review kid's books.

What I found most interesting so far is that each chapter in Actors Anonymous is focused on a different character with a different POV...all revolve around acting. In chapter one, the voice is more cynical and some of the statements made can also be related to life in any of the arts. But it's the quality of the writing that drew me into this book from page one and has kept me reading this far. Franco has that rare gift of word economy, which lends a more literary appeal to any book. Whether or not he does this on purpose is anyone's guess, but the book is neat, nothing is every overwritten, and so far I haven't seen even one of the more horrible aspects of the romance genre like too many adverbs, too much description, and said bookisms like "he mumbled, grumbled, and stumbled," in the dialogue. So far none of the characters have barked, and no one has climbed the stairs with his/her feet.

In any event, there's plenty of information out there to decide whether or not this book is for you, but I couldn't recommend it more at this point and I will follow up with a longer review soon.

You can check it out here on Amazon. I would imagine it's being sold in old fashioned brick and mortar bookshops as well, but don't quote me on that.


NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month, and every year in November millions of writers jump into this with a vengeance. I posted about it last year, here. And so I don't repeat myself and wind up accused of self-plagiarism I wrote this last year.

Basically, it's an event that challenges writers to write a novel in one month. I've never actually done NaNoWriMo, but I did once write a hetero pg romance novel in three weeks for a special home shopping TV event...with a pen name.

The novel I wrote in three weeks was titled, Loving Daylight, with a pen name, and you can read more about it here. I'm not hiding pen names anymore. I don't see the least not right now. This novel was never supposed to be a novel I promoted heavily because it was part of a group of romance novels the publisher contracted me to write for the Home Shopping Network's "Escape to Romance." You can read more about this here.

The “Escape With Romance Collection” will be the first time that Ravenous is selling printed books to consumers, and there’s another major content shift as well—although the company is best known for its erotic fiction (to the point that some observers complain there’s too much sex in the books for them to be classified as “romance”), editorial director Lori Perkins promises none of the books sold on HSN will include explicit sex scenes. “They are steamy and sexy,” she says in a press release, “but leave a bit more to the imagination in the bedroom.”

I didn't have to tone my book down because it was original to the collection and I wrote it to be pg rated. The font sizes weren't altered to make the book look longer. I really did write a 200 page book in two three weeks, from scratch. It wasn't meant to be promoted heavily because I was paid a flat fee up front to write it in three weeks and it nearly killed me. I'm not joking about that, and I'm not veering off course from the topic of NaNoWriMo. Because that's what NaNoWriMo is all about: testing yourself as an author/writer to see if you can write a good book in one month's time. And although I will NEVER agree to write a 60,000 word book from scratch in three weeks again because it severed my last gay nerve at the time, I do look back on this as a positive challenge and I'm glad I did agree to do it. At the time, I tried to back out a day after I agreed, but the publisher talked me into it. No regrets. At least I know I can do it if I have to do it.

And this year when I started seeing NaNoWriMo mentioned again all over social media, it brought back all those memories. I even saw one author friend I've known for a while, Jill Elaine Hughes, post this on facebook yesterday. I asked for her permission to use it:

Those of you doing NaNoWriMo, good luck. FYI, I've been doing NaNoWriMo every month for the past ten years. And finishing novels on average of every 2.5 months. Just so you know it will often trigger an incurable addiction. Don't say you weren't warned.

That part about triggering an addiction is true, I usually write a novel every two months, too. But I think the addiction part is only true if you are a true writer, not just an author. And by that I mean your life has to revolve around writing, not authoring. Being an author is a big part of being a career writer, but it's not everything. And I'm talking about writing anything, from a romance novel to non-fic book that covers the color blue. Because that's what writers do: they sit down and write...anything they can write and anything they think people will be willing to read. And they love doing this.

So if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this year don't even think for one second you're wasting your time. You'll get a chance to test yourself and to see how much you can accomplish in one month. But in the same respect, don't beat yourself up if you don't finish. We all work at our own pace and that's not something we can change.



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