The Twilight Samurai

When I was doing research for my book, I'd read books on Vikings, Native American Indians and Samurais. There was also a lifetime of Chinese period soap operas lurking in my head that made its way on paper. My brother pointed out a common theme that I used without knowing it in my episodes.

Then I ventured down to individuals such as Miyamoto Musashi, Geronimo, and Ibn Fadlan.  I've also used Sun Tzu's Art of War and Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War.  I then obsessed over movies such as Braveheart, the events at the Battle for Thermopile and the History Channel.

The Samurai culture has always interested me.  In my research there was a movie I came across called The Twilight Samurai.  I immediately fell in love with it.  So much so that I bought a copy of it.  Not download it!  Bought.  It stars Hiroyuki Sanada.  If you've seen Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, then you've seen Sanada.  He was the one who taught Cruise's character how to sword fight.

Twilight won a dozen Japanese awards and was nominated best foreign language film in the 2002 Academy Awards.

Despite the fact that Sanada plays a low ranking Samurai, I fell in love with the character.  The character is widowed, humble to a fault, works a low paying job, loves raising his two daughters, one of the best Samurais, cares nothing for advancement, and dreams of working on his own farm.  Empathy techniques at work?

The romance in the movie works so well, tons of chemistry, and no sex scenes.  I like sex scenes, don't get me wrong, like in a porno.  But it seems a lot of movies use sex to get the movie goer to come--ahem--instead of using it as a tool to forward the romantic story.

Take The Matrix as an example.  Look at the special effects, which the movie required.  Most of it, if not all, wasn't terribly advanced or over done for it's time.  Special effects was used as a tool to forward the plot, never used to get the movie goer to come.

One thing that really caught me about Twilight is there seems to be no real antagonist.  Where's Darth Samurai?  Then it occurred to me.  The antagonist was society.  The hero struggles with money, raising his daughters, living with his senile mother and the disrespect the other Samurai.  He's constantly badgered to remarry, to advance, to succumb to everyday standards.

His response?

"I'm too cool for ya'll."

Not really.  But he does resist it all.  Then comes his childhood love.  She is the monkey wrench to his well oiled machine.  From there, the story develops well, the romance progresses with all its angst, using the sign of the times to present obstacles, and there's enough action to help the story along.  Though the sword fighting is not central to the movie.

If you like Samurai movies, rent this.  You'll love it.

Richard Paul Evans Key Note

Richard Paul Evans is a New York Times Bestselling author.  His first book is called The Christmas Box. His subsequent books - Grace:  A Novel, The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth, The Last Promise - just to name a few, have also gone on the best seller list.  His keynote speech at the San Francisco Writer's Conference was awesome. He discusses what he did to get his book out to the world.  Richard was cool enough to tell a few other stories.  Some were touching and others funny.  He also  gave some inspiring advice to us authors.  I highly recommend listening him.

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Tell me what you think.  Please forgive the poor recording.  All three hundred of us were having lunch.

Tomorrow, I'll upload a lecture about branding.

San Francisco Writer's Conference

The San Francisco Writer's Conference was my first writer's conference. I didn't know how things worked, but the conference was held over three days full of lectures. The crappy thing about it was several lectures were going on within each hour session. So I had to make a decision on which lecture to attend. Because this was my first conference, I really wanted to focus on the business aspect of publishing. Over the next week or so, I'm going to post a lecture for you to listen everyday. So come back and check on what I've uploaded. Each one is about 45 minutes long, giving the attendees enough time to go to the next lecture.

The first one I'm going to upload is a lecture by best selling suspense romance novelist Brenda Novak. Her trilogy, The Last Stand: Trust Me, Stop Me, Watch Me, has become New York Time Bestsellers. She talks about strategies she's used to make her more visible and credible before her first book was published.

Please feel free to download these. I apologize for the quality of the audio, but there was a lot of ambient noise. The format of the file is .caf, but you should be able to play them using Windows Media Player or Quicktime. Tell me what you think, and come back as I will upload others.

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What you can expect in future audio uploads from the conference:

Key Note speeches from best selling authors

Body Language

How to write plot summaries

Self-publishing

Branding tactics

Q&A with Agent panels for both fiction and non-fiction

Lecture from a top agent, Donal Maass