Thursday, 15 October 2009

Romancing the Claddagh, by Ruby Dominguez

Fiction Romance/Mystery Horror/Drama

The breathtaking mystery of the Irish Claddagh unraveled!

On a fire singed wall not so far away from the tragedy, a collage of photographs shaped the heartbreaking desperation of a city in search of missing love ones. A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of hundreds of Irish CLADDAGH rings uncovered from the collapsed World Trade Center at Ground Zero. The legend of the CLADDAGH'S origin entwines with romance of love tales, perilous adventures, mystery and royalty. A distinctively unique, timeless and honoured treasure of Irish heritage that is no stranger to love, tragedy and triumph. FOR IT WAS ONCE UPON A TIME, a sigil painted on an exclusive white sale of the Fisher King Ship marked with a crown, a pair of hands clasping the escutcheon of Nassau, evident of the crest of the royal house to which Liam, the King of CLADDAGH belongs, was recreated into a great spherical gold brooch to adorn the velvet lavender cloak of his future queen: Rowena, a descendant of ancient Ireland's fiery crimson-haired goddess Macha, who wreaked a terrible powerful curse upon the northern kings of Ireland's bloodline. An Irish phenomenon: its famous adage of "Let Love, Loyalty and Friendship Reign," still eloquently resonates to this day.

Ruby Dominguez, creatively inscribes a link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy; capturing the essence of her vision. She also penned, THE PERUKE MAKER -
The Salem Witch Hunt Curse. Both are Fiction Romance/Mystery/or/Drama/Tragedy Screenplays of a CURSE TRILOGY. The Peruke Maker was professionally reviewed by LEJEN Literary Consultants and attained a Good Script Coverage/Analysis. "Visually compelling, provocative, suspenseful, memorable, smooth pace with excellent twists and turns. By LEE LEVINSON


Ruby Dominguez is a brave woman: she is only the second person to have sent me more than one book to review. Her first book, The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse, had little to recommend it; and Romancing the Claddagh: The Curse of Macha, her second, is probably even worse.

I shan't comment in detail about the back cover copy which is quoted in full above: it stands for itself. It's jumbled, confusing, and tells me nothing about the book which would encourage me to buy it. The jacket design is a disaster: it's strangely off-putting, and I wonder if that the girl in the image really is old enough to pose naked (and assuming she is, why does she look quite so sweaty?). I'd have preferred a more legible font for the title, too.

The book gets no better inside. It begins with a prologue which is just as confusing as the back cover copy:


Prologue

Guardedly, I listened to the echoes of my heart, yet fervently chased it down the deep recessions of a dark sacred chamber, where unspoken intimate emotions of agony and ecstasy come to surface.

Like a goldsmith, I creatively hammer down a precious link between fantasy and reality, life and eternity, love and constancy.

Herein pressed between the pages is the essence of my vision.
That's on page i; then on the next page we have a single paragraph (which is repeated in full a few pages later, in a different context) with the title Time Period, which reads:

A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of HUNDREDS of Irish CLADDAGH RINGS recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center, at ground Zero.
Is this part of the setup information or has the screenplay begun? Despite it reading like a scene description, I have to assume that it is part of the setup, because the pages which follow contain character lists and locations. Page numbering then begins again, and we have a montage set before us which includes the following quotes:

An unforgettable stark landscape of inferno, pandemonium and death is broadcasted on TELEVISION and RADIOS across a horrified nation and to the shocked world.

ASH-MOLTEN ROADS are creased with GRIEF-STRICKEN FACES, engulfed with sorrowful CRIES of the CLADDAGH ring as a frame of reference to help find and identify love ones.
On this page alone I found fourteen mistakes. I already had more than enough to base this review upon, but something compelled me to read on. The screenplay continues to page five; then on page six we have this:

V


Time Period

CLADDAGH VILLAGE 17TH CENTURY

Fishermen leave the safety of the stony shores, love of family and comfort of home to set out to sea to make a living, in spite of the danger of abduction by seafaring pirates and treacherous weather.

Hence, to live in Claddagh is to be a fisherman, or starve.

Or to be abducted by treacherous weather, perhaps.

Some of you might notice that the conclusion there does not follow on from the paragraph which precedes it; so this is a fallacious argument. It's not part of the action of the screenplay so what's it doing here? And why is it followed by a list of characters and locations? We have five more pages of such setup before the screenplay begins again.

I'll admit: I've read on through this, to try to make sense of it: but I failed. It's jumbled, confusing, and at times cringingly badly written. All of the segments I've read show a sentimental affection for a non-existent, stereotypical, Hollywood kind of Irish; and what little I've read of the historical sections are very ill-informed. In addition, stage directions are used to fill in the plot’s back story and background: it's bad enough encountering information dumps on the page, but how is this information meant to be conveyed to the audience if this play is ever performed?

I'm very concerned that the Lejen Literary Consultancy has told Ms Dominguez that this book shows promise, because in its current form, it isn't good at all. Based on its judgement of this book, I strongly urge all writers to avoid the Lejen Literary Consultancy and if you're still not convinced, read this thread at Absolute Write. I read four pages out of a possible 130 and if I'd observed my "fifteen strikes and you're out" rule strictly I would have not read even that far.

13 comments:

Barb said...

I had a flash of excitement when I saw the title, thinking this might the sort of book I would like to read. Although, it's a screenplay, not a novel? Yes?

Once again a great basis for an interesting story. But..

Sally Zigmond said...

Oh dear. It upsets me horribly when people are so deluded that they waste what little money they have paying those who are only too happy to exploit them.

Still, you do your best, Jane, to lead horses to water. It's such a shame so many won't drink.

Anonymous said...

The question is, is it better to grind someone's dream into paste beneath your boot heel in one painful stomp, or to let the dream fester and rot over the months and years until finally dissolving into an infected sludge?

I just feel so -badly- for so many of these writers.

Willem

Jane Smith said...

Barb, this is a screenplay--but when it was submitted to me, it was described as a novel.

Sally, I know. I just wish people would research properly, join writers' groups, find good advice--and then take it. Sadly, so many don't.

And Willem, you've missed a very important point. I've not actively solicited review copies of any of these books, apart from posting a few messages here and there, all of which lead to this blog: I've never asked for specific titles in order to review them here. All the writers who have submitted their books to me have seen this blog and know exactly what they're up against. I make no secret of my methods, and am very clear in my expectations. If I make the writers think a little more carefully about their writing, then perhaps that's a good thing.

And you're forgetting a whole group of people who we, as writers, depend on: the readers. Why shouldn't they be told the truth about books? Let them spend their cash on the good ones, and not the bad.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm not blaming you, Jane. You're entirely up-front about what you do; as you say, every animal subjected to vivisection is a volunteer; and, hell, I read your blog religiously, so it's not like I don't actually enjoy it!

I'm more of a 'crush them in a single blow' then 'let if fester' guy, myself. Brutal criticism, in my experience at least, is necessary.

But I still cringe. It's like watching The Office.

And I misused the semi-colons above, didn't I? Please don't hurt me!

Willem

Sally Zigmond said...

"as you say, every animal subjected to vivisection is a volunteer"

I don't get this. If they don't understand the raison d'etre of this blog that's their problem.


These writers have a choice whether they parcel up and send their book to Jane or decide they'd rather save their pennies. Nobody does it on their behalf, forcefully or otherwise, sedates them, tortures them or even offers them sweeties.

Most of them, I'm sure, believe they are the exception and that Jane will be amazed and delighted with their book.

wealhtheow said...

Isn't the cover art for this one just the same image as on the previous book/screenplay, but from a different angle? Since (on the evidence of the excerpts and OBC copy posted here) the two works don't share any characters, this seems an odd choice. (Of course, commercially published books often feature what I think of as the WTF? variety of cover art -- the scantily clad blonde bombshell on the cover of a book about a no-nonsense woman warrior of colour is a classic example -- but surely the whole point of self-publishing is to give the author more control over such matters and thus, presumably, ensure that the cover art accurately reflects the content.

Or not.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Sally. That's what I meant by 'volunteers.'

Willem

Sally Zigmond said...

Sorry, Willem. I thought you were referring to 'real' animals and 'real' vivisection--hence my confusion.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my fault, then! For a writer, I'm really crappy at communication.

Willem

stephen cashmore said...

Writing a script is tough. Like it or not, the formatting has to be just so. And the "show" not "tell" mantra drives every word - at the end of the day, the audience will be watching a screen, not reading a script.

I thoroughly recommend Dave Trottier's Screenwriting Bible for any aspiring scriptwriters. In fact, I recommend it for anyone with any interest in writing - it's a fascinating read even if you have no intention of trying to write a script.

stephen cashmore

Bethany said...

I, too, have strong feelings about the agency who accepted her money and then gave her such a ridiculous review. I have stronger feelings about the "writer", herself. I refuse to believe she can live in the same world as I and be so deluded unless she willfully avoids reality. And yet, she's sending you her work. I AM CONFUSED!

Anonymous said...

I found this page when doing research for my own book. Yikes! I'm not sure whether to be encouraged or discouraged. Surely my own writing could not be that bad. But if it were that bad, how would I know?

There is a curious stew of Irish mythological and history here. If anyone is interested:

- "A rescue recovery centre is deluged with a cascade of hundreds of Irish CLADDAGH rings uncovered from the collapsed World Trade Center at Ground Zero" Apparently there were a lot of Claddagh rings found in the WTC ruins, and some bodies were identified by intials inscribed in them. Not really a "cascade" though (why am I picturing some unfortunate rescue worker fighting his way out of a heap of gold rings?)

- The "legend of the CLADDAGH'S origin" dates to the 17th century. The story goes that a man from Galway, Ireland, was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Algiers. He was bought by a goldsmith who taught him his trade. Years later, according to the legend, he returned to his homeland with the pattern for the Claddagh ring (hands, heart, and crown as seen on Buffy).

- "The escutcheon of Nassau": according to Google, this is the shield of Orange-Nassau. It refers to William of Orange, a Dutch monarch who became King William III of England. In the 17th century there was a vicious war on Irish soil opposing him. The Catholics were on the side of his rival, his uncle-in-law James. William won. The Orangemen of Ulster take their name from his title.

- "The King of CLADDAGH" The Claddagh was a fishing village (now a suburb) outside Galway on the Irish west coast. The famous ring was traditionally used as a wedding ring in the area. They used to have a "king" who would settle disputes. He wasn't really a regal type, more a local head honcho. His wife would be unlikely to wear a gold brooch or a "velvet lavender cloak" (would have gotten wet on the boat).

- "ancient Ireland's fiery crimson-haired goddess Macha, who wreaked a terrible powerful curse upon the northern kings of Ireland's bloodline" Macha is a character from Irish legend. She's described as a supernatural woman who married a mortal man. Her husband boasted that she could run faster than the king's horses, and she was forced to race them even though she was heavily pregnant. She won, but gave birth at the finish line and cursed the men of Ulster to suffer labour pains at their hour of most need.

A skilled writer might be able to tie these disparate strands of story together, but ....

- Fiona