Friday, December 22, 2006
I'm not sure how this will effect my blog. During beta, Blogger ate a couple of my templates - So, I'm a little apprehensive how the new Blogger will work.
The new features are described in a PC Magazine article, Blogger Leaves Beta.
If my blog disappears, you"ll know why.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
by Emma Lararus
(On a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Hector Bywater's 1925 novel The Great Pacific War predicted the sneak attack by Japan that would commence a war between the US and Japan. It also accurately predicted many details of the war that would occur.
Though flawed in some of the details, it was immediately translated into Japanese and reportly had a significant influence on the man who would become the supreme commander of Japanese forces in the Pacific and planner of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Fleet Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto.
An excellent account of the details is reported in an article at www.amercianheritage.com .
It is interesting in a time when truth is becoming hard to find, fiction is becoming more truthful than reported news, memoirs, and media that purports veracity.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Michael Crichton's new novel, "Next," contains a seven-page bibliography listing 36 books that Crichton read while researching the book, along with citations for 12 articles published in newspapers or other publications and 12 Internet sources.
As reported in the International Herald Tribune article "Literature: Do novels really need bibliographies?", this seems to be the trend.
In todays litigious society, is this really necessary?
It seems fiction will likely be more true then memoirs, go figure...
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Robin Williams' plan...
"I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for Peace. So, here's one plan."
"The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, Past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those "good ole boys", we will never "interfere" again.
"We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany , South Korea , the Middle East, and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one allowed sneaking through holes in the fence."
"All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave, we'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of whom or where they are. They're illegal!!! France will welcome them."
"All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit!!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers."
"No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home baby."
"The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while."
"Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we'll go someplace else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)"
"If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of us know that what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything."
"Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island someplace. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens."
"All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer."
"The Language we speak is ENGLISH...learn it...or LEAVE..."
"Now, isn't that a winner of a plan? The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying "Give me your tired, your poor, our huddled masses. She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'you want a piece of me?' "
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Blogger beta ate my last last blog teplate so I've return from which I came. I'll be working on a new template but I'm trying to write and submit. So if anyone is getting vertigo from my incessant format changes - sorry.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The US Supreme Court declined to take up and review a federal judge and a federal appeals court panel's dismissal of a lawsuit alleging illegal use of another author's book as a templet for Brown's Da Vinci Code as reported in a Christian Science Monitor article.
There are many things I could say, over 60 millions copies sold, created a genre that didn't exist...yada, yada.
I think he still has to fight the same battle in Brittan.
The trials and tribulations of a bestselling author - I'm jealous.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
All politics aside, 3,125 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many, many more have been wounded physically and psychologically.
I pray for those who serve, their families, and those have served throughout our tortured history. I wish to honor all of our fallen soldiers. They have given the supreme sacrifice for freedoms we hold dear.
Though I am a veteran, I never served during hostilities. For those who have in the past or do, I salute and honor you.
The following portion of John Donne's poem was an epigraph for Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. I hope it is fitting and appropriate.
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind,
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
Friday, November 10, 2006
As Popeye said, "That's all I can stand, I can't standz no more!"
I give up. Spam has infiltrated my posts like locusts. This forced me to abandon the template that I really liked; the K1 Black.
This current template is temporary and I apologize for its Spartan nature.
Sorry for the changes but I recieved 200 spam messages today and I have had enough. I deleted about 5 prior posts infected by over 1000 spam messages.
I will be working on a redesign this coming week.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Artist William Utermohlen chronicles his descent into the dementia of Alzheimers by self portraits painted over the span of nearly forty years as reported in a recent NYT article.
Utermohlen's self portraits, displayed in a multimedia slideshow , are a moving, striking, and saddening evolution of an artist's perception of himself during his slow slide into the depths of this disease.
Mr. Utermohlen, now 73, no longer paints and now lives in a nursing home.
This post was inspired by a post by Austin Kleon.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It's hard. It's fucking hard. To write, to create, well written fiction.
My idols did it and until recently I didn't know how hard it was for them too. I thought they all sat down and wrote brilliant words that ended up in thier novels. How niave I was.
They revised. They massaged. They sculpted the words, sentences, and paragraghs.
Revision, I am learning is the key to good writing.
Revision, revision, revision. It sucks - but there, I believe, is where the gold lies.
The road is tough and the gate is narrow but with revision I hope to plough through it.
I look to the great ones for guidence, inspiration, and a roadmap. I've been told before the ones I admires time has come and gone. I disagree.
Good writing is good writing and it is ageless.
So - ask not for whom the bell tolls...
Monday, October 23, 2006
It seems like I'm just learning to walk. I tried short stories as my labratory with some limited success. It just didn't get me there. I am struggling with plot. I want to tell a good story that is character driven but in the end I want a good story.
I've tried to outline several times and it leads me no where. I'm working on Aristotle's three act structure with plot points at the end of act I & II. I guess I am missing a critical element or component.
The only thing I have figured out is the more I write the better I get. Go figure.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Heart attack. They said. Advanced lung cancer but the heart attack killed her. No real surprise, the lung cancer. She smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for the last fifty-five years. She was a poster child for lung cancer, suffering debilitating coughing fits that would last for increasing durations.
He sat quietly in front of the decaying house of his youth, visited just months before. He lit a cigarette. Now, only one person still lives in this home - his father. The front yard had been cleaned up and the trees, trees that Harry and his mother had planted together in his early teens were trimmed and neat but the house seemed vacant. The smells were familiar and briefly took his thoughts back in time to when she was younger. His heart sank further.
Harry sensed that an integral part of the house and him were lost, never to return. His mother never was a good housekeeper but she kept the house and yard filled exotic smells, sounds, and sights. Fresh spices grew, rare flowers, tropical birds and fish were kept, cooking, religious music and sermons from the radio were pervasive. It was all gone.
He tried to picture her, in his mind’s eye, when she had been happy and alive. It was hard to do. She had had a very hard life, filled with abuse, death, disease, mental illness, addiction, poverty, and abandonment. The first glimpses of happiness Harry witnessed were while he was in his teens but they were few and far between. He moved away at seventeen and rarely visited.
He never thought it would hit him this hard. They weren’t close, their relationship strained and tortured throughout his childhood and young adulthood. But he loved her. And now he missed her. Longed to tell her all the things he did not say and now would never be said. She was likely in a better place. She was a strong believer in God and now had been called home.
He entered the house to the faint remnants of her existence. It was hard to bear. His father sat at the kitchen table smoking an unfiltered Camel. He didn’t look far behind her, health wise. He looked dazed.
“Harry?” A grim smile came across his lips. “How was your trip?”
“I figured. You drive straight through?”
“Yeah. Eleven hours. My butt is sore.”
“Can I fix you something to eat? You want some coffee or iced tea?”
“Na. Just want to come see you before I checked into the hotel. You ok?”
“As well as can be expected. Your brother has been really helpful. I’m not sure what I’d have done without him. You sure I can’t fix you something to eat?”
“No. Any way I can help?”
“Everything is taken care of. All the arrangements have been made. Visitation will be tomorrow from 7 to 8 p.m. at Southern Memorial Funeral Home and there’ll be a graveside service at 11 p.m. the following morning. You know it’s great to see you, I’m just sorry it’s under these circumstances.”
“I’m beat. I’m heading to the hotel to crash for tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow at the visitation.”
“Ok. I’ll see you there.”
Harry attended the visitation but appalled to find out the funeral home had charged his father about ten thousand dollars for a barebones casket, the visitation, and burial. One last fucking by the system on the way out, Harry thought, death, taxes, and funeral charges – all inescapable. They charged a thousand dollars just to dig the hole.
Harry looked with hesitation, into the casket. She looked at peace. More at peace than Harry had seen her in years. Visiting with people he didn’t know or know him left Harry feeling sick. An old friend of his mothers told him that in tenth grade she had been offered a scholarship to the University of North Carolina but turned it down when she got pregnant with Harry. Guilt racked him.
He slipped out of the funeral home early and headed straight for the bar next to the hotel. He proceeded to get drunk. Very drunk. Vodka had been his mother’s drink of choice and in her honor he drank it – excessively.
Hung over, the next morning he arrived late at the gravesite to hear people that didn’t know her speak platitudes and praise about her. He felt he may throw up as he choked back tears. He wanted to speak. He wanted to tell about who she really was. How she tried to live a good life, sacrificed, helped those in need to her detriment. But what we be the point. Harry knew. His father knew. Those helped knew. That’s all that mattered. Harry stood by the casket and put his hand on the cool metal top. He roved his hand and reached down. pulled a red rose from an arrangement of flowers at his feet, and placed it gently on top where his hand was.
"Good bye." Harry walked away from the service, got in his car, and started the long drive back to Detroit.
Regrets came in waves. The farther he got away, the harder the waves hit. For the last twenty-five years he abandoned his mother, as she had been abandoned by most in her life. It seemed to Harry that life was continuing a vicious circle. Harry reviewed his relationships with women. The failures. His relationship with his mother. Its failure.
It was a long ride back. He began to long for Detroit, its blood, loss of life, pain, and suffering that only it can provide.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The summer season comes to an end and the thought of winter heating fuel bills makes me queasy.
Gotta love it. Oil companies in action.
The beauty of fall is on the horizon, leaves change, a chill in the air.
This is suppose to be my year but the months are quickly slipping away. Things are falling into place and the writing is coming back.
So it goes..
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
For those of you who live in a cave, under a rock, or in Canada there's a popular show on MTV called Pimp My Ride. The show takes someones car, usually a less fortunate persons (usually the car is a piece of shit), and fixes it up in maximum style, comfort, and luxury.
I am hijacking this concept for my blog.
I am requesting and hoping that all who stop by drop a suggestion as how to make this blog the best in my chosen genre and corner of the blog universe, i.e. Pimp My Blog.
So please leave any suggestions. They will be greatfully appreciated.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Most say it, "Dee-Troit." A city with curruption, decay, and a faded beauty that duplicates where I think America is heading in coming years if we don't change our ways.
A squandered wealth built on the automobile industry slowly sliding into the abyss.
Detroit is the city I have picked as the location for several short stories and novels. It has everything the mystery and suspense genre requires.
I will be posting some stories soon. Thank you all, those who have continued to follow the antics of The Starving Mystery Writer. I think I may have removed my head from my ass and am back on track.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I have developed a renewed interest in writing and blogging so I am working on a new look for this blog. Please bear with me as I figure out how to migrate all the headings, settings, and links to the new template.
Thanks for stopping by. New substantive content will be posted very soon.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
A man lays prostrate before his God. The man is neither young nor old, fat nor thin, attractive nor ugly. His life is passing him by and he is not fullfiling his life's purpose nor does he realize what his purpose may be.
He cries out to God "I have nothing left, I have nothing to give, to be, to aspire. Please give me talent."
God is silent.
"I look back and my best days of youth are gone, I look forward and all I see is infirmity, old age, and decline. I have yet to accomplish a thing and know not what to do next. Please help me."
God is silent.
"I dispare, I pray, I drink, and still talent eludes me. What must I do?"
God remains silent but stirs and a breeze blows upon the man.
"Dear God, if you will not answer, please at least give me a sign."
The man becomes aware that he is not prostrate but sitting at his desk. His face is down on a crisp piece of white paper. In his hand is a fountain pen. Written on the page in his script is "Write, write, write...you damned fool."
He begins to cry and then to write.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Selling out. I've resisted it my whole life, beat of a different drummer and all that. Path not taken. Yada, yada. Selling out has different levels and each industry has its pinacle. I could mention a few bestselling authors but...
I have never worked for anyone for very long but lately I've been tempted by the Devil. The illusive big money job. Offered. Sike. No deal. But, God how I wanted it.
There seems to be rules to life that I can niether figure out nor adhear to. After months of anticipation I am back to the drawing board.
I think I'm going to write about it...and then drink about it. Maybe not in that order, maybe simultaniously.
"They" say for ever closed door, several open. Is there a selling out window, or do I just get on my knees?
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
This wasn't exactly by design. A few things occured that shifted my focus away from writing and back towards life and the "real job".
Wandering. I guess that's what the last few months have been. As Moses did for 40 years in the dessert, I, between projects always, and I mean always wander the tortures of the damned.
Like a pinball I bounce between conflicting and often diametrically opposed vocations and eventually something pops or smacks me in the head as to the appropriate direction my life is to take.
Well, as of today, I have many balls bouncing - in that pinball machine - with a possible tilt in the offing. I continue, futilely, to pump more and more quarters into the damn machine with little hint of the end game. Life, as I know it, will definitely change...
But, where will it all lead?
Monday, May 01, 2006
Jason Evans had a pretty cool contest last week to write a 250 word story about the below picture. The 250 words that follows was my entry....
I lay, gasping for breath, bleeding from a sucking chest wound, face down on the floor, just below my favorite Monet painting. I felt the cold wood floor against my cheek and tasted something bitter and metallic as the puddle of blood reached and surrounded my face and lips. Bathed in the dim light by two antique Victorian lamps, my vision blurred as life began to leave my body.
The painting had been purchased at a Sotheby’s Auction in New York after I had won my biggest divorce case several years ago, my lover’s case. This pleasant memory ebbed and flowed as my breathing became more ragged and I started to loose consciousness; I struggled to take in air but my lungs wouldn’t cooperate. I tried to stand only to feel the icy steel of the blade that had been shoved into my chest only moments before against my neck.
I slumped back to the floor, resting now on my side facing the light, to look up at my attacker. Haloed by light, her golden hair shimmered as her curls gently framed her face, an angry face, and a face I knew very well.
I looked into her eyes as she shoved the knife again into my chest. My gaze fell on the painting, the painting that I loved, killed by the woman I loved, as life left darkness and silence encased me.
With my last breath, I forced out my final word, “Why?”
“Liar!” She whispered.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In the spirit of the Bunions and inspired by Jaye, I will heretofore attempt to create a fictionalized version of that bar populated by the blog characters that I know and love. Hopefully I will not insult anyone to badly.
So there’s this place I go for a drink, conversation, and to ogle the mental musings of some pretty exception folks and the also ogle the asses of beautiful women. Quirky, yes. Opinionated. I’d say so. It’s not the place for the weak of heart. It’s a dirt floor, sock ‘em in the eye, bar where intellectuals, writers, politicians, poets, artists, want-a-be’s, never was’s, never will be’s, the famous, and infamous, all drink from the same trough. The Blog Bar, no place like it on the planet.
It was a firehouse at one time with all the firehouse accoutrements still affixed. On warm summer evenings the roll-up overhead doors are opened to the street and well worn picnic tables are moved out to the sidewalk. The walls and furniture inside is a cross between art deco and late twentieth century house of ill repute. When the wind blows in the right direction, the strong odor of stale beer, urine, and vomit waft through the place and commingle with clove cigarettes and the hint of pot being smoked in the bathrooms. I dig this place though the crowd is rough and fights breakout often.
The regulars are at the oval bar as I take my usual seat facing the opened overheads. I ask for my usual two fingers of Glenlivet on crushed ice as I hear Ivan down at the end of the bar saying something loudly about a Greek God with a large penis. Erik Ivan James nurses an orange juice and looks at Ivan with skepticism.
“Yes, just like the poetry of Dylan and Green Day, there is a Greek God that punished pillagers of fields by sodomizing them.” Ivan says as he sucks down his last gulp of Glenfiddich.
“Seems a bit harsh, don’t you think?”
“He was a God with an enormous penis, he’s just using the tools at hand. Barkeep, another round.”
Sandra enters the conversation but rambles on with a dissertation that goes through the history of Greek Mythology, the average length of an North American man’s penis, comparative anatomy of the New England Newt, and why woman don’t pee standing up and I forgot what Ivan originally was talking about. I guzzled my drink and ordered another.
M.G. long missing from the scene enters the conversation and begins to argue syntax, “ly”, and “was” usage with Sandra. Sandra remains on the penis topic and then implies something about masturbation and bestiality. This peaks Ivan's interest, so he buys Sandra a drink and sits down next to her. To piss M.G. off she starts excessively using adjectives and switch ing POV and tense throughout her lengthy diatribe.
Ms. Snark walks in and is immediately surrounded by writers who hit on her. No, not the trying to get laid “hitting on”, more of a publication mating dance. She is barraged with a thousand unanswerable questions of to seduce an agent, get signed, and get published. She shrugs them off with, “write a damn good book, good query letter, and follow-up. Now get out of my face.”
J.A. sitting at the very end of the bar, having had way too many Scotches, spits a stream of alcohol into the back bar as he cracks up and begins to pontificate about the necessity and benefits of self-promotion and marketing. He ends his tirade with “Fuck SASEs”.
Bernita sits quietly at the bar appart from the others drawing coat hanger cartoons on the bar napkins. I holler across the bar to her , "how's the book coming? Are you putting a lot of sex in it?"
She scowls at me and then smiles, "You men, sex, sex, sex. Is that all you ever think about?"
"Yeah, that and food."
"Well, sex was very prevalent in Medieval times and a time traveling modern woman will have a twenty first century sex drive so I think you"ll like it." She said as she went back to her drawing.
"I'm sure I will."
Microe, Pammy, and 10-8-ious, are all playing pool and talking about having a blog-in that never seems to happen. They are all smoking cigars, drinking cognac, and are in various stages of undress. Wild Bill is sitting in a chair behind it all with a big smile on his face. There conversation turns to hot tubbing.
Jaye walks in with low-rise jeans and a bright midriff shirt. I eye the crack of her ass as she sits down in the open barstool next to me.
“What the hell are you looking at?” She says with a smile.
“A soccer mom wearing low rise jeans? I was looking for your tattoo.”
“Oh, I think you're looking in the wrong place.”
“I couldn’t remember where you said it was.”
“Sorry, men’s eyes are like a magnet to a female butt crack. You expose it and our eyes go right there. We can’t control it. It’s Pavlovian. Are you going to show it to me?”
“Yeah, right. I don't think my husband would approve. When are you going to start blogging and writing again?”
“I don’t know. Life keeps getting in the way. I’m trying to make a living. I have a new love interest. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”
“Don’t we all.” She says as she shakes her head. “Don’t we all. Hey bartender, what’s a gal gotta do to get a drink around here…”
Saturday, April 22, 2006
as prisms reflect unseen hues,
Winds whisper and hint,
that batter shores and shoals,
with a journey beyond conception,
precious reality rests
where the Sun sets
Thoughts of youth subside,
reside and resolve
as tides roll,
and fades. . .
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Once there was a cat in my life and now there is none. The once was a woman in my life and now there is a new one. The cat was one its ninth life when it entered my life, the woman was, well…
Mystery writers seem attracted to cats for what ever reason. Perhaps it’s their independent nature with uncontrollable personalities that border on neurotic.
My cat was originally revived with an oxygen acetylene torch at the manufacturing plant I was running at the time, after a young child had flung the poor kitten from the hayloft at a nearby barn. I thought if it had the spirit to survive it deserved a good home, so I had it for the last seven years.
I had a love hate relationship with it. Its name was Dino after Dean Martin, though I mostly called it Honey. A mutt, orange and white, with the temperament of a pit bull. Honey began as an indoor cat until I was held over in China a week and I came back to a very pissed off cat that had torn up parts of the basement where I had left it. So Honey became an outdoor cat from then on, only venturing back inside when I felt sorry for it on brutally cold days or I was good and drunk and it was the only thing on this planet that cared about me.
It fought constantly with anything; raccoons, possums, other cats, me. It would come home bloodied, with shredded ears, fur of unknown animals in its claws. It developed a Elvis sneer. Its tongue stuck out constantly. It developed a flatulence problem that would usually rear its head around the female in my life. It all fit its attitude. It became quite the hunter bringing me all manner of critters and leaving it at my doorstep.
It used to disappear for a couple weeks at a time and I feared each time it would not return. It’s been gone for about two months now and this time I think it has finally gone to the big litter box in the sky. I miss that battered cat. It’s funny how an animal can enter your life and change it. Much has changed for over the time I had it.
Jobs, women, life.
I never really thought of myself as a cat person but that cat filed a void in my life for many years through many relationships and many ups and downs. I hope where ever it is something or someone does the same for it.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I had intended to be well on my way towards completition of my novel, have several short stories submitted for publication, have the business book that I am co-authoring nearing completion, finish a play that I'm in the second act of, etc., etc., etc.
Life interviens. Work. Dating. Career. Pursuit of love. Dissappointments. Triumphs.
The creative flame that was once burning brightly is flickering, the heart still beats, but the hand no long writes. The interest and passion is still there and my mind turns to it briefly during the day but demands for other things sidetrack me. I can see why Raymond Chandler was not too prolific. To live to write, you must live.
The life I wish to live is no longer nine to five, punch the clock, get the pension. Money, for sure, is very important but relationships are more so. The American dream, as advertised, no longer holds any interest.
So, off I go, chasing dragons to slay, damsils to save, and to write.
I am recommiting to writing every day. If it's any good, I'll post some here...
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
"the thought of you sings, smiles,shines, and dances like a joyous fire that gives out a thousand colors. and penetrating warmth."
"...love was just saying ah what the heck and letting go, and accepting,...yes, love was accepting."
-rick bass, the watch
"once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see each other whole against the sky."
-rainer maria rilke
" the greatest weakness of most humans, is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them."
"what is a friend?
a soul dwelling in two bodies."
"silence is holy. it draws people together, because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. this is a great paradox." -nicholas sparks
"the brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love, having no geography, knows no boudries: weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise and find the surface: and why not? any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person's nature; only hypocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of rightious envy, who in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrows pointing to heaven to the ones that leads to hell."
-capote, other voices, other rooms
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.
For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life - the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value. Claude Monet
Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
“Son of a bitch!” Trevor Barrow removed the cold gun muzzle from his temple and let his pistol hand fall and began to sob. “I can’t do anything right.”
He leaned back against his late model, dark blue, Mercedes. His double-breasted suit was rumpled, a silk tie hung loose around his thick neck. He drew a half empty fifth of Glenlivet Scotch to his lips and gulped. Wiping his lips on a shirtsleeve, he smeared Scotch across the raised monogrammed cuff.
Trevor’s car sat under a bridge in a seedy part of downtown Detroit between two abandoned factories. The cars exhaust fumes commingled with the wafting sewer steam to create a toxic fog that enveloped him. The acrid smell of rotting garbage, urine, and sewer gas made him cough as a chill went through him.
Flames licked out of a nearby rusty 55-gallon barrel. He sat the bottle on the roof of the car and steadied it. In a quick movement, he racked the slide to chamber a round. Shadows danced in a semi-circle from the radiant light.
With a grimace, he placed the gun to his head and screamed, “AAAAHHHH” He again pulled the trigger.
Click. As the hammer hit the firing pin the clip slid out of the gun and hit the asphalt with a thud.
“Damn it!” Trevor quickly picked up the clip and slid it back in.
“What the hell you doin’?’” a voice asked. It seemed to come from a pile of newspapers by the burning barrel.
“Huh?” Startled, Trevor pulled the gun from his head and pointed it at the newspapers. “Who’s there?”
“Can’t you find a better place to off yourself than in my house?”
Trevor scanned the area. “Who’s there?”
“God, you dumb ass. Go find somewhere else for your crap. You’re disturbing my peace.”
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” Trevor stumbled over and kicked the newspapers. Underneath, found only garbage and concrete.
“What are going to do, hit me with that thing? Throw it at me? It aint worth a flying... If it were, you’d have been done the first pull. You poor lucky bastard.”
Trevor squinted and peered through the darkness beyond the flames. He could barely make out the silhouette of a tall skinny man leaning against a pylon of the bridge.
“Come out of there. Whoever you are,” Trevor said as he waved his gun, motioning the shadow out.
“You are a little confused, aren’t you buddy?”
“You have no right to order me to do anything, and pointing that piece of junk at me is meaningless. My will to live is less than yours. So piss off.”
“Look, I’m not a murderer. I want to kill myself, not you. I won’t hurt you. Just come out.”
The shadow seemed to ponder the situation for a few seconds, and then said, “Alright, I’ll come out, but put that gun down on the car and bring the bottle over here.”
Trevor backed over to the car, set the gun on the hood, grabbed the bottle off the roof, and walked back toward the voice.
The man stooped to pick something up and then slowly emerged from the shadows. He looked haggard and malnourished with long gray hair and matching beard. His weather beaten face had a hangdog look. A threadbare tweed suit hung lifelessly on his frail frame. It looked as though it had been an expensive suit sometime in the past.
In one hand, balanced against his hip, he held two aluminum lawn chairs with faded floral print webbing. He unfolded each one, set them by the burning drum, and said, “Cop a squat and hand me that bottle.”
Trevor sat down and passed the man the bottle. The man uncorked it, took two big gulps, and choked, “Damn that’s the good, I aint had Glenlivet in years.”
They sat for a few moments unsure of what to say. The man finally broke the silence by saying, “What’s your problem junior? You evidently have money. Nice car. Fine clothes. Looks like a Rolex on your wrist. What gives?”
Trevor stared beyond the barrel flames to the Detroit River. He could hear waves breaking against the bridge’s pylons. Tires thumped on bridge grating as cars entered and left Canada. He muttered, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. ”
“Shakespeare? King Henry the Sixth… What tragedy has befallen you son?”
“I am a lawyer.”
“Ok, that sucks, but it’s not worth killing yourself over.”
“You don’t get it.”
“No, I guess I don’t. But I used to be a lawyer, long ago.”
Trevor laughed, shook his head, and looked him over, “Yeah? You must have been a real good one.”
“Twenty years ago, I was. This was a $1,500 suit back then.” He brushed dirt from one of the lapels.
“So, you’re a homeless lawyer, just my luck. Did God send you to be my guardian angel?”
“Right. I’ve been living under this bridge for twenty damn years just waiting for your dumb ass to come down here to kill yourself. Did you inherit your money or what? You can’t be much of an attorney.”
“I am . . . I’m too good of an attorney.”
“Ok, I’ll bite. What kind of an attorney are you?”
The man began to howl with laughter, “Great.”
“What’s so funny?”
“I was a prosecutor.” He said trying to contain himself.
“Look, I’m very good. I have it all. I was educated at Yale. I have a mansion, the summer homes, an apartment in New York, a yacht, sports cars, trophy wife, mistress, and all the money I can spend. I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t take it.”
“No. Getting people off.”
“That’s what defense attorneys do - the good ones anyway.”
“I don’t want it. Look old man you’re not exactly in a position to be giving me advice. You live under a bridge for Christ sake.”
“Ah, taking the Lord’s name in vane and insulting me. Tisk.Tisk.”
“Sorry. I just don’t know what to do.”
“Quit. Sell everything. Move south where it’s warm.”
“It’s not that easy. Something happened. Something I can’t live with.”
“You can live with whatever you want to live with, junior. I walked away from the prosecutor’s job because I couldn’t do it anymore either.”
The man stood and held his hands close to the barrel’s flames. His brow furrowed as he pondered an answer. “That was a long time ago. I try not to think about it, actually do everything I can to forget it.” He paused for a long moment. He started to speak. Stopped and then said, “It was a murder case.”
“So, was mine.” Trevor said.
The man hesitated again, “I sent a guy to Jackson for a murder. He was raped and killed the first week he got there. When it happened, I thought, good riddance.”
“That’s what prosecutors do. You can’t control what happens in prison.”
“Yeah, but during the trial there was something I didn’t like. It didn’t feel right. The defendant didn’t seem to fit the crime.”
“The jury must have thought there was enough evidence to convict.”
“It all turned on the testimony of a cop. A cop we later found to be dirty. He admitted to perjury and planting evidence in my murder case in exchange for a plea agreement. But by then, the defendant was dead.”
“Yeah, an innocent man died, and I lost faith in myself and in the system. The line between good guys and bad had become too blurred.” The man turned to face Trevor; tears glistened in the corners of his eyes. “I’ve been down here ever since.”
“Yeah, you said that.”
“No, I mean, that’s kind of what happened to me, but from the other side. I got a guilty man acquitted two weeks ago. He was accused of Murder in the First, Aggravated First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, and Use of a Firearm during the commission of a felony. The works. He walked…because of me.”
“So, that’s what you do. That’s your job. Don’t beat yourself up over it. How do you know the guy’s guilty?”
“It was on the news a couple hours ago. They caught him burying two naked young girls in his back yard. The news reported evidence of rape…”
They both said nothing for a few moments. Sirens roared in the distance. Trevor’s car ran quietly, waves sloshed against the pylons. Tires thumped above on the bridge grating.
The old man walked over to the car and picked up the gun. He pulled out the clip, looked at it, tapped it against his hip and slid it back into place. He racked the slide, pointed it towards the burning barrel and pulled the trigger.
The gun recoiled, emitted a loud pop, and a muzzle flash as one round pierced the barrel dead center. Embers and ashes plumed into the air as he shook his head and said, “Having nothing, nothing can he loose.”
He flipped the gun around, grasped it by the slide and placed the grip back into Trevor’s hand. The old man slowly returned to his lawn chair, leaned back, and stretched his legs. He appeared to drift off to sleep.
Trevor shook his head and stuck the gun into his waistband. “Shakespeare.” He walked over to the car and opened the door. “Since I’ve got nothing to loose now, I’m thinking North Carolina. You want to go?”
The man didn’t answer. His eyes were closed.
“Hey?” Trevor yelled at the man.
The man didn’t move.
Trevor walked over and touched the man’s shoulder. He still didn’t move. He shook him gently. No response. Taking the man by the wrist, Trevor felt for a pulse. There was none.
“Finally, he has peace.” Trevor walked back over to the car, got in, and drove away. Shaking his head he said to noone, “ Having nothing, nothing can he loose…”
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.
And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
This past week I've returned to court, the art scene, and smoozed past and future clients. I've been out on an excellent date with a beautiful, intelligent, woman and traveled a bit.
These distractions were well needed and long in coming. Writing and blogging are now back on my agenda and you should see a notable difference in the topics I choose to blog about.
Thanks for stopping by...
It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before... to test your limits... to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
As some of you know, I am in a mystery writers critique group. A recent potential new writer came to our last meeting and was so distraught over her recent publishing experience that she had been unable to write since publication. She received no advance, no editting, and no marketing, advertising, or distribution of her book. She did give up the rights to her book and the characters involved thereof. I was wondering why the hell she would want to be published this bad, but really you and I know why.
In the pursuit of publication, authors give up too much, with little in return. Preditors and Editors Website is supposedly a watch dog but I have heard horror stories from writers that have published with houses that receive passing marks or negative marks and authors had an opposite experience.
Where do you draw the line? When is what they offer, not an offer at all?
The horror. The Horror.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
Peter F. Drucker
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Peter F. Drucker
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Why now? Personal resolution? Dark clouds passed? The storm has moved beyond me?
I have no idea why, it just happened.
How do you spur creativity? Go to a special physical or mental place? Is there an exercise?
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The creative writer uses his life as well as being its victim; he can control, in his work, the self-presentation that in actuality is at the mercy of a thousand accidents. John Updike
Thursday, March 02, 2006
A one-eyed black pit bull lay motionless on the floor in front of the kerosene heater. He stepped over it. An older woman slowly breathed oxygen through the airlines fished throughout the door casings of the decaying house from an oxygen machine that wheezed silently with every breath. She sat at the Formica kitchen table in a well-worn nightgown, aged glasses, no teeth and a complacent look. Very pretty at one time, now her hair was black with gray streaks, matted and hung in sweaty stringy clumps. Now she was just old. Beauty remained but very faint, hidden, subdued, and masked by old age and infirmity. Her exhalations came in deep gasps. She still loved life, fast escaping her, but could do nothing about it - despair, boredom, and pain on her face. She sipped iced tea.
Harry sat down at the table with her.
The furnace had broken thirty some years ago when he was a teen, since then hand held kerosene heaters heated only the main three rooms; kitchen, den, living room – all the other rooms remained unheated. Mornings, he awoke during high school with frost on he inside of my windows and sometimes on my bed covers. He slept fully dressed and bolted from the house at first light.
The old man wore a crisp white shirt, ironed black slacks, a skinny black tie, and a full white beard and mustache to cover his severe weight loss. The reason for business dress ended long ago, but he continued. He busied himself. He cooked. He waited on her and Harry. Lovingly - without complaint or hesitation. He looked like he now weighed about ninety pounds.
The old man slid a plate in front of Harry, shrimp, deviled crab, homemade macaroni and cheese, and steaming collard greens with big hunks of fatback dispersed thought. Harry devoured the shrimp first. There is nothing like butterflied pan-fried shrimp.
As Harry sat trying not to weep, he stared at the two people he barely recognized, who gave him life and raised him the best they could.
“You been to the doctor lately Dad?”
“Those bastards? I’m not going to them for minor aches and pains.” He said with a thick southern drawl.
“You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight since I was here last.”
“Dad, you know those ties are way out of style.”
“Harry, they always come back.” He shook his head and sighed, “I’ve been wearing these ties since the 50’s, and they always come back in style.” This was a standard interchange and he was right.
The spring in his step gone, the quick joke, the hearty laugh no more. Even the barbs poked back and forth were gone. Harry’s and his father never spoke of anything of substance. Always Notre Dame football, hats, ties, anything but life. Now, with his life was near its end Harry stumbled for words.
“Can I have some more shrimp?”
“Sure.” He threw six more fist sized butterflied, crab stuffed shrimp in a big black wrought iron pan with a big hunk of Crisco. It sizzled as he stirred with a spatula. “These are prawns, ya know. They’ll be done in a few minutes. You want something to drink? You need cocktail sauce? Hot sauce?”
“Some iced tea.”
His father pulled out a Ball jar, filled it with ice and tea and sat it on the table.
The house, once a good-sized five bedroom, housed and raised four boys years ago, but now it crumbled around them. Yellow nicotine, grease, and thick dust dripped down the walls, paint pealed, the whole house cried for attention. Attention that would never come from it’s current owners.
Death hung in the air, thick and humid. A smell so thick Harry could taste it.
Shrimp, crab, and collards was also thick in the air. Smells of a childhood that had rallied friends and neighbors to this house in droves for many years and still. Any time of the day or night to have Dad pull out pots or pans and cook a meal. The Southern way. No one could be hungery. Feed everyone. They could barely afford to feed themselves but they did not complain. Don’t talk. Eat.
The family was never close. The turbulent 70’s snuffed out any thing that Harry had in common with them. Vietnam. Free love. Hippy culture. His dad was forty, when he was born, and my age now, was and is a complete enigma. They very rarely spoke, and if they did, it was usually because Harry had fucked up in some major way – and he fucked up often in my youth and more in his teen years.
By the time Harry was eighteen, he had totaled the family car, been arrested several times for drunk driving, shoplifting, assault, grand theft, auto theft, and many, many, other crimes. He had joined the Army to cleanse his record and get needed direction and discipline in his life. It had worked but distanced him from his parents.
So now, Harry sat at his table once again. Being fed again near end of his father’s journey, wanting to apologize and ask forgiveness.
“That’s some damn good shrimp. Is the crab from down at the marina.”
“Na. That’s some frozen crap I picked up last week. Fresh is a whole lot better. I”ll get some fresh for you next time you come down. Mom? You want some deviled crab?”
“Please.” She said.
“You want some collards with that?”
“Don’t put yourself out.”
“Na. Just take a minute. It’s frozen though. Grew it last year. I’m not sure I have the energy to put a garden in this year. But I got some fatback to throw in this. You’ll like it.”
A flurry of plastic and pans and the greens were on the stove on high heat. Before long the house emanated the smell of fatback, that bacon-y hog jowl smell that’s fat when rendered gave any green a southern flavor that once acquired was impossible to resist.
Harry looked at his frail father. White shirt, black pants, and that damn skinny tie, his father smiled and whistled as he cooked. He loved this. Serving. This was his life...
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, gal
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
it goes on.
Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
It came at an interesting time in my life –on the very day I was to meet a former love to see if our relationship would be worthy of another try – it wasn’t. She rejected me. Our relationship has been over for several months and this last conversation hammered the total and complete end home. Finality. I know it’s for the best, and in deep in my heart, I know she made the right decision. Though, knowing that doesn’t make the pain any less.
I just got back from a trip to see my parents. They are aged and in frail health. I only get to see them once a year. This year may have been the last time I will see them. I tried in vain to say the things I wanted to say to them but the words would not come out.
For several months, I have been taking a personal inventory, looking hard at actions, motivations, and myself. Specifically, how so I have seemed to ruin good relationships with very good women. I feel lucky to be have been involved in more than my fair share of them.
The last few months have been turbulent for me but good in ways that will bear fruit later this year. My personal reassessment has identified several areas that I need to work on, which I am doing. This time has been very painful but also a particularly fertile time for my personal growth and enrichment. The hurt has been beneficial.
Rejection has caused reflection, improvement, and in the end made me stronger. I feel redeemed, renewed, and ready for the challenges ahead.
The rejected story will polished a little more and will be going out tomorrow afternoon to another magazine. I will be reentering the dating scene this week also. I am working out eating better, drinking less, and ready to continue the journey that this life has for me.
Thank you, everyone in blogland that has supported and given encouragement through my rough patches in the road. I will be blogging full strength tomorrow.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. Peter Ustinov
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Henry David Thoreau
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
True friends stab you in the front.
The true friend stabs you in the chest,
to excise the tumor that is within,
for without its removal,
you shall surely perish.
R.J.Baker (insired by Oscar Wilde)
Monday, February 20, 2006
I finally made it over to Flashing in the Gutters, a flash fiction site by Tribe. Please check them out, if you haven't already, there is a whole lot of really good free short fiction there.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Each morning my characters greet me with misty faces willing, though chilled, to muster for another day's progress through the dazzling quicksand the marsh of blank paper.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Later, I typed it out, edited a few mistakes, and printed it out. I plan on doing revisions in a few days and submitting it. I liked the process.
Several months ago, I spoke briefly with Matthew J. Bruccoli about his edit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. I told him of my budding interest in writing and asked him for advice.
One of his main points of guidance was to write everything out long hand first-pen or pencil and paper. He said writing on a word processor hurt style.
I was skeptical, but after this morning, I think he may be right – at least for me.
I think it was Hemingway who said that he wrote everything long hand, then typed it out (or had it typed), reviewed and made changes in draft form.
Do you write first long hand?
What do you think about the effect of the word processor as the point of original entry and your writing style?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Once the book is written the next goal is "the deal" but at what point is a deal a "good deal"?
Advances. From what I understand, advances run from $0 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. With the typical first time author getting an average of between $1,000 to $7,500. J.A. Konrath signed a three book deal with Hyperion in 2003 for "low six figures" for discussion purposes only let's assume the advance was $150k or $50k per book. A good deal? Yeah, probably in the scheme of things. He recently signed another 3 book deal beyond the original.
When is the adance paid? Probably a triggering event, like submission of completed manuscript for edit.
Royalties. I've read that royalties are paid once the advance is recovered. These royalties can run from 5 to 15% of the cover price. I've recently heard $3 a book for hardcover. How are these paid? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?
Hardcover, Paperback, Trade Paperback, and Audio Books. Royalties vary. There may be a different publisher for each. The original publisher may get a significant cut of the royalties. Anyone know how this works?
First Print Run. I think this is very important in determining success. I have heard an average hardcover print run for a first time author is around 7500 though it's a little murky how many are actually printed. If these sell out will there be a second printing? How many then? Over what period of time?
Remainders. What happens with remainders(unsold books)? Can the author buy them at a pre-determined price? This should be in any deal.
Out of Print/Back List. Will the publisher keep your backlist in print? If not can print rights revert to the author? What happens to an authors backlist?
Copyright. Who retains the copyright? Author or publisher?
Subsidiary Rights & Movie/Merchandising. I don't know enough about these to discuss them. I would assume for a realitively popular book they may be more valuable than the royalties but this is only a guess. Anyone know how these work?
Earn Out. This will be a big determining factor of whether an author is published again. The calculation should be part of the deal. There are squishy numbers like overhead that can effect how, when, or if an author will earn out. It should be in the contract.
I am sure I have missed many other aspects of a book deal and would appreciate any insights published authors out there in the blogsphere can add. These are the issues I view as critical to a good deal. Your thoughts?
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
Not the type ruffage will clear.
I haven't even been able to blog, write fiction, write anything for a while now.
It woke me up at 4 a.m. today - I've written 2 paragraghs of fiction in the last couple of weeks.
Personal shit getting me down? Maybe.
Story well run dry? Don't think so.
Soul searching? Yes.
Loathing? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Self doubt? Getting warm.
Fear? Yep, you caught me.
A writer I respect wrote me a long email after I whined to her. She said write 1000 words a day, even if it sucks the big hairy green one.
Today I write. . .
Just get it down on paper, and then we'll see what to do about it.
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
A writer friend of mine says he does the same thing. I am intrigued.
How many other writers do this?
Does it help?
I complete my thoughts, scenes, and words. Maybe this would help when I begin to write in the morning.
Just a thought.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Why is that so hard to write and so much harder to read?
Sex is a major part of the human existence and actually the better part. Is it our puritan roots that cause us to cringe, recoil, or skip reading sex scenes in novels?
A recent panel of well known best selling mystery authors struggled with description of how or if to write compelling sex scenes. They came to very few conclusions other than the sex or love scene must advance the plot and reveal character in one or both of the participants.
Why are we as Americans so afraid of sex? I don’t get it. Sex permeates almost every aspect of our society from all forms of media. We can’t drive past a billboard, pick up a newspaper, magazine, listen to radio, watch any movie or television program without being overwhelmed by it.
Ok, it’s hard for many writers to write and many readers to read. But we can sure kill a lot of people in novels very graphically and most people have no problem with writing or reading it. Are we just immune to violence and still up-tight about sex?
I had a law school professor that wrote a book that’s premise was violence in itself was obscenity.
Do you think sex has a place in novels? If so how graphic, and why or why not?
Don’t you think that as graphically as we kill someone we should just as graphically show a love or sex scene? If not, why not?
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Washington Post reports today that "the writer penning the novels of "JT LeRoy," a purported 25-year-old former male prostitute and drug addict, has been unmasked as a 40-year-old woman who allegedly undertook the ruse to get her work recognized."
From the article posted today:
"LeRoy never existed and Laura Albert authored the books, according to an attorney for her estranged partner, Geoffrey Knoop.
Knoop, 39, who apologized for playing a role in the hoax, said the stress of keeping it secret had become too much to bear. The couple split in December after 16 years and were trying to work out custody of their young son.
"He's wanted to come clean and let JT fade away," attorney Eric Feig said of Knoop late Monday. "He wanted to take the high road."
He has also secured a movie deal to tell his side of the story, Feig said.
The unveiling of LeRoy comes as the literary world is questioning the work and identities of other authors with hard-luck stories. Nasdijj, an award-winning Navajo author, is believed to be a white writer named Timothy Patrick Barrus. James Frey acknowledged fabricating or embellishing parts of his memoir, "A Million Little Pieces." St. Martin's Press recently added a disclaimer to an upcoming book by Augusten Burroughs, another memoirist who has been challenged."
...and the beat goes on.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I will list the Top-Ten significant ideas I took away from the conference.
The Love is Murder Conference was very well executed, rich with information, interactivity, and mingled the published, the unpublished, fans, reviewers, publishers, bookstore owners, magazine publishers, and librarians. I would recommend it to any one who loves mystery. Everyone was open, honest, and approachable, from the most famous to the unknown. A finer group of people, I have never met.
THE TOP TEN
10.) Writing Sex Scenes are Hard
I was surprised how many talented well-known writers had difficulty writing sex scenes. It was unanimous that any sex scene should advance the plot and reveal something about the characters in the scene.
9.) Need for Viral Marketing and a Platform
David Morrell gave the Keynote speech on “viral marketing” and “platform”. This became the buzzword that permeated the conference.
David Morrell’s daughter, Sarie Morrell explains on her blog that is basically the essence of a book in a very few words. For example, "Great white shark terrorizes New England beach community…" or "12-year-old girl possessed by the devil…"
Viral marketing is the use of the defined platform to uniquely market the book- guerilla style. The example used was of a book about a fly fisherman amateur sleuth sold at fly-fishing shows.
While I agree, in principle with these concepts, I disagree that writing specifically for a market is a good thing.
8.) Pitching at Conferences
Conferences are great to polish pitch skills and feel out publishers and agents. I pitched to Bleak House Books. I was very impressed by the comments they made, their love of books, and their commitment to the mystery genre. It reaffirmed that I am on the right track and look forward to the possibility of working with them in the future. If, like me, you write something that is not mainstream, self publishing or small publishers may be the only true viable options.
7.) The Need for a “Ringer” Reader Prior to Submission
Michael Black graciously critiqued a short story of mine. Michael won an award during the conference for his most recent novel. He is a former Chicago Policeman and was both informative and complimentary of my work. From his experience with handguns, he had an issue with a main premise of my story - a gun jam. After I explained my thoughts, he bought it, but said I needed a sentence or two that reflected my thoughts. This proved to me the need for a ringer as a reader to ensure specific issues outside of your expertise are caught prior to submission.
Michael Black has a very good article about short story rules at website, Hardluck Stories.
6.) Get Your Book to Reviewers/Buy Your Remainders
Reviews drive sales. Librarians specifically look to reviewed books for acquisitions. Be nice to reviewers and suck-up as much as possible.
Remainders. Buy as many as you can afford at the publisher's discount. Sign, date and number them. Use these as books sent to reviewers, give to librarians as gifts, use for contests and giveaways, and sell on your website as collectors items. This also assists in keeping your remainders from ending up on Amazon for one penny.
5.) Librarians are Cool
Ok, other then sexual fantasies, I never really thought about librarians. What I didn’t know is they LOVE books and authors. Love them back, it’ll be good for you and your career. Most libraries have events all year round that can get you exposure and sell books.
4.) Nobody Knows the Future of Genre Fiction
There was a panel of publishers, agents, best-selling authors, & reviewers. None of them had a handle on where the publishing and genre fiction is heading. This is scary and exciting. Emerging new technologies confused everyone and many believe there is a renaissance emerging for small niche publishers. Were ever choas resides, so does great opportunities.
3.) Small Niche Publishers are Impressive
There were five small niche publishers represented. What impressed me was their sincere love of mysteries and books, their obvious passion for the genre ,and their openness and accessibility for aspiring authors. The down side is they have limited funding so advances are small, and the viral marketing falls to the author, which actually is happening more and more at the larger publishing houses.
2.) Short Stories, limited market, huge upside for career
There is a very limited market and few paying mystery markets for short stories. However, the exposure and publicity in these markets can create a following and generate buzz. These can be used to build a career and enhance chances for novel publication and success.
They are also a good way to hone the craft, improve writing, and get practice writing complete stories as a training ground for novels.
1.) Write What You Love, What’s Inside You
David Morrell in the Master Writing Class and Judith Guest in her interview reinforced what I knew and believe; good writers use writing to excise internal demons and explore emotions and experiences in a compelling human way. David Morrell said it is similar to “chasing an internal weasel.” Mr. Morrell’s early books, as he described them, were an exploration of his quest for a father figure. His later book’s an attempt to come to terms with the death of his son, from cancer, at age 15. Judith Guest’s books have been an analysis of her family and the dynamics of family.
Because of these, I don’t buy in to the platform premise. Though I can see the marketing need for it, I think it has the possibility to stifle creativity.
I hope out of these you have found one thing that assists you in you career. Let me know if you have a favorite. Thanks for playing along.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.
Monday, February 06, 2006
To reach a port, we must sail - sail, not tie at anchor - sail, not drift.
It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Sunday, February 05, 2006
I just watched the Super Bowl with mild interest.
I wanted to write something, but nothing is making it to the page.
It seems Blogger was constipated yesterday, when I did have something to say.
So tonight, I'll punt.....
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I don't understand the dynamics of Hardcovers for new authors - the economics don't seen right. How can the book buying public be expected to shell out $25+ for an unknown author. Does it have to do with library sales? Why not trade paperbacks. It seems like the new author at least then has a fightling chance for someone to spend $10-$15 and everyone should still be able to make some scratch this way.
John D. MacDonald, an author I admire and respect, put out most of his in mass market paperback. I have read where he made more money this way. Some were eventually published in hardcover, but most came out originally in paperback. What do you think?
An Excerpt of his answer:
Always a worthwhile question, RJ, and I wish I understood it.
I suspect it's part prestige. The rest is probably library sales, which can be considerable, in that there's about 10,000 libraries in the U.S., and they often buy multiple copies of more popular books because they wear out. It's important to remember that, by and large, paperback originals don't get reviewed as much.
This is probably the alligator eating its tail thing. They may not get reviewed as much because the publishers don't send them to reviewers as much, focusing their energies on the hardcovers, because they have more invested in them. There's also a collectibles market in hardcovers, although I really have no idea how big that is. As a book reviewer I do actually review paperback originals if I'm interested, and from time to time even paperback reprints.
My editor reviews romance novels, which are predominantly paperback originals. I see no shame in being a paperback writer. (Gee, and we even have a theme song thanks to the Beatles). The advantage to being in hardcover is if you have the hard/soft deal, so you can get more money. And of course, there's more money in it for writers and publishers if the hardcovers take off.
The royalties tend to be a bit higher on hardcovers versus paperbacks. 12-15%, I believe. On trade paperback 10% is typical and on mass market paperback it's around 6-8%. So, oddly enough, the more the book costs, the higher your percentage, the more money you make. Here's an odd little tidbit and I have to take it at face value. An agent I had a conversation with a few years ago notes that at one time you had hardcover publishers and you had mass market paperback publishers who predominantly bought the rights to reprint the paperbacks from the hardcover publishers.
The deal was often a 50/50 split with the author. In other words, the paperback publisher paid money to the hardcover publisher to reprint the book, and the hardcover publisher gets half that money and the author gets half. Along comes a gentleman writer named Stephen King, says this agent, who writes a novel called "Carrie," which sells to Doubleday for the whopping advance of $2500. (Larger than mine over 30 years later). There is a pre-emptive bidding war by New American Library and NAL offers $400,000 for the paperback rights. Doubleday gets $200,000 and King gets $200,000.
King becomes a bestseller over the next few books, one of Doubleday's top authors, movies, brand name, etc., and he and his agent try to get a bigger cut of the paperback pie because, after all, Doubleday doesn't do a damned thing for that money. It's essentially an agent fee by the publisher. Doubleday says nope and King walks. This agent claims the publishing biz, which was dealing with a lot of huge paperback reprint deals in the '70s and '80s, starts restructuring to solve this problem, essentially offering hard cover and soft cover under the same deals, so they don't lose out money to the reprinters, etc., blah, blah, blah. ....
Check his blog for the full text.
Friday, February 03, 2006
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
Thursday, February 02, 2006