J.J. Strang Writer's Society
Issue No. 10
From Bill Olson wolsonitol.com
It's great to welcome four more to our "flock." Each has sent a biography which you will find below. Our society is about as diverse as possible. Well, I guess there are a few more categories still available.
In July Rebecca Carlson and Bill Cashman came up with what could be an excellent future event. They talked briefly about getting some of the Strang Writer's Club members together in the fall on Beaver for a writers brainstorm/mental support/idea sharing/conference.
We came up with the questionnaire which I sent to all who were on our list in July. About half answered (all in favor of the idea) but only six could make it this fall and even among those able to come there were some date conflicts. So it was decided to hold off for now.
Next question: How do you feel about a spring conference? I won't send out a formal request now, but would like to hear from any and all of you about what the agenda should include, when would be the best time (in spring before tourist season) and general comments.
From Bill Cashman wcashmanbeaverisland.net
“Last year I signed a contract to create the English-language version of a book that had been a best seller in Japan, Toshihide Iguchi's My Confession. I did, and also created associated material (one-paragraph blurb, thousand-word synopsis, ten-page summary, etc) for the agent who promised a major sale. By November, though, the big publishers had all rejected it, and we discovered the agent had made some unauthorized and unmentioned changes, including switching the title from My Billion Dollar Education to Scammed. So we fired her, and began a lengthy discussion about what to do.
“Meanwhile Toshihide published some detective novels in Japan based on the real cases of the FBI agent who arrested him, then became his good friend, and then took to visiting him in Atlanta, when he got out of prison, for a week at a time. Because this new career was taking off, Toshihide decided not to pursue publishing Education. But last week a small press, JonaBooks, offered to bring it out by next January--no advance, but an accelerating percentage of the revenue, starting at 12 and rising through stages to 20 for over $50,000. While the limited distribution and advertising budget renders this an unlikely result, I personally prefer having this book out there to not.
“So as we speak I'm wading through the manuscript one final time (maybe) to correct little things (and trying not to suggest addressing some of the more significant matters.) “
New member Bob Wilson sylynxcomcast.net writes:
“I'd look forward to receiving the e-mail newsletter. I'm just getting to know the island–I've been there twice–so I'm not sure if there's much I can contribute to the on-going historical discussion, but maybe I can jump in with some comments at some point. In the meantime, I'm sure I'd enjoy learning more about Strang and Beaver Island from your membership.”
From another new member John Baldwin JBald51131aol.com
“What a wonderful surprise to find out about the JJ Strang Writers newsletter. Yes, I would like very much to be put on the list to receive the newsletter and if its not a lot of trouble I'd like to have all the previous issues.
“I have forwarded my e-mail to Bill Cashman in case he didn't forwarded it to you. It gives you a very brief history of my work on my play.
“I also have quite a list of Strang's descendants. Many of them came to Michigan State University for the premier of the play. Recently, I adapted it for film and it is now in Hollywood being considered.
“A little bit about myself if you wish to put this e-mail in the newsletter.
“I am a Professor of Theatre Emeritus from Michigan State University where I taught for 30 years – the last eight of which I was head of the Theatre Department there. I earned my undergraduate degree in theatre at Albion College, my master's degree at UCLA and my Ph.D. at MSU. I owned my own summer theatre, The Enchanted Hills Playhouse near Fort Wayne, Indiana and am now a member of the Board of Directors of the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing. I have directed over 200 plays, musicals and operas, am a published playwright of children's plays, and an actor. (I'll be appearing in a production of Our Town at the Boarshead Professional Theatre this fall.)
“The Strang project was one of the highlights of my career.”
The following from our third new member Steve Bayes steve_bayesavid.com
“Let me introduce myself. I have been reading about JJ Strang now for a few years and have been looking for a documentary video subject. I have been in the professional video production world for 25 years, with a film degree from Northwestern U. Focusing mostly on post production, I have worked on long form videos for broadcast and corporations in the New England area since 1983. I have been the principal product designer for the Avid Media Composer for 9 years and before that an Avid certified instructor. Avid Technology has been the industry standard for video editing for the last 10 years or so and is used in Hollywood and just about everywhere else for professional film and video production. I have been teaching seminars around the world on non-linear editing and Avid use in post production and in 1997 I wrote the Avid Handbook currently going into production for the 4th edition with Focal Press.
“I have all the video toys for free at my disposal in order to create projects to help with the development of next generation video systems and since I have been coming to N. MI for over 40 years (I am a Bay View cottager) the Strang story seemed perfect for a full length doco. I am currently collecting graphic support for the narration and interviews. I am also looking for more interview subjects. My first version will be short and designed to procure funding for the final project. I would love to have the script or draft versions reviewed by anyone who has the time and inclination. I just have to finish them!”
Our fourth and final new member this quarter is Jeff Gural northwindvideoearthlink.net
“I've had an interest in Strang and the Beaver Island Mormons for about eight years now. It started with camping trips up on the island and hearing all the legends and rumors of the ‘pirates of the Great Lakes.’
“I was then further exposed to the story while shooting a PBS series called ‘Painting on Location with Bob Fagan.’ We interviewed a few folks on the story and put together a four-minute segment for the program. That really caught my interest and I began to read the books which had been written about Strang and explore his history on the web.
“I realized the tale would make a fascinating documentary and have been working on The King of Beaver Island for the past three years. Unfortunately, funding has been rather hard to come by and I've had to cover the majority of the work out of pocket and through dedication while still doing the corporate work which pays the bills.
“What fascinates me most about James Strang are the strong feelings on both sides of the story. The Islanders like to keep their legends of the pirate King and those who believe in Strang to this day still herald him as a prophet. Somewhere in this is the truth. My documentary is meant to tell James Strang's story without bias from all sides of the story and let the audience form their own opinions.”
From Anne-Marie Oomen Oomenaminterlochen.K12.mi.us
“I should also let you know that my play, Strang! has been slated for production at the Old Town Playhouse studio theater in February 2005. Had a wicked good reading of it in July and have been able to do a strong revision on it.”
That's all for this issue. Keep those cards and letters coming. (and e-mails - especially e-mails)