This blog accepts no responsibility for the following cut. The views expressed in the following work of art belong solely to the artists and do not express the views or opinions of this journal.
That said, outside of the lyrics, how can you not put this song on?
I have a strong feeling about 2008. After meeting with Bernadette and Gretchen in Lake Oswego and receiving some great feedback from editors in the latter part of 2007, I'm very hopeful that we'll have success this year. The writing is improving and B's agency is moving and shaking.
I think when it comes to resolutions, I'll keep it simple. I want to keep track of all of the books I read. I'd like to do the same with my fitness by keeping a mileage journal. I'd like to spend more quality time with my wife, and continue to expand my voice on the page. And I think I'd like to become more involved with volunteering in the Jacksonville community.
For this space, I'd like to blog more closely about the publishing process (my fingers are crossed that it will mean some interesting discussion on book production) and get some additional input from those reading on books, movies, markets and stories out there.
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve everyone, and listen to this cut and just try to keep from shaking a leg. I dare you. See, you can't do it.
What do you make of this anthology? Night of the Working Dead sounds like fun and will have solid distribution. The deadline is May of '08 and the floor is 2,000 words. I'm going to get cracking on this one...
Lastly, check out the link titled "Slush Pile Confessions" in the article list on my connections page. Patricia Chui's account of her time as an editorial assistant is simply hilarious. She makes writers out to sound, on the whole, a little unstable. I don't know how she got that idea...
I can't wait to celebrate five amazing years of marriage with my beautiful wife in CB. I can't wait to feel some cool air on my skin. I can't wait to eat meals with my family and play golf with my pop and get a run in with my sister. I can't wait to round a card table with my buddies and maybe get in some snow sports up at Mt. Hood Meadows.
2007 has been a very good year for Jeanne and I. Jeanne has experienced great success in her graduate program at the University of North Florida. She was one of the first in her cohort to land a job (she's a counselor at Forrest High School) and she passed the general knowledge test last Friday. She's doing amazing things for the kids she's working with and really helping some of them with their academics and ultimately getting to a college or university. On a personal level, she's getting lots of yoga in and paddling around Florida's tidal creeks on her kayak.
I'm thankful to have begun working with literary agent Bernadette Baker-Baughman. She read my manuscript back in February and, after accepting me as a client with Baker's Mark, we spent the summer re-writing Wendigo. We did three solid revisions that improved the narrative structure and pacing and I'm very grateful for B's help in that process. We are in our second round of submissions with the project and hoping for some good news in the first part of 2008.
I wrote four pretty good short stories and I'm just about done with my second novel. I also followed a tangent (25,000 words full of tangent) on a piece I'm looking forward to getting back to. I placed a short with Samsara and I'm still trying to find the time to get my stuff out there to magazines.
I thoroughly enjoyed my year at the college and I feel fortunate to have worked with some excellent students this year. I saw some real changes and improvements in the clarity and substance of what they're working on. Our environmental lecture series at the college was a rousing success and we were able to escape the classroom and incorporate Florida's ecology in the writing curriculum.
I'm looking forward to amazing things in 2008 and I wish nothing but success to all of you lurking here at The Byproduct (my google analytics don't lie!). Please introduce yourselves when you get a chance. Let me know where you're submitting and where I can read your work!
My blogging will be infrequent between now and January 02. That said, I hope to post some pictures of the Oregon Coast, the Cascades and Pendleton. Thanks for stopping in and best wishes to you all for a great holiday season!
It's not at all like a usual Leanord romp.
That said, I think each writer probably has a ratio. For Elmore, it's about 6-1. He writes six great ones for every one average novel.
Stephen King: 8-1 (yes, I'm talking to you, From a Buick 8).
Tim Dorsey: 4-1.
Carl Hiaasen: 5-1.
You know who always delivers? Joe Lansdale. The champion mojo storyteller is just about the most bankable talent I can think of.
Speaking of which, I compiled a holiday wish list yesterday of some much-admired books. At the top of the list was High Cotton (to go with collections and novels by Bradbury, King and Paluhniak). Also, I've been looking to grab something by this talented writer.
Jeremy Robert Johnson's story "A Flood of Harriers" was featured in Cemetery Dance #56. They also ran a nice interview with Johnson. The man's a talented writer and an Oregonian to boot. If you get a chance, grab some of his stuff. Very strong.
And finally, I'm pissed off at the Baltimore Orioles. That's my squad and for years, I've been a fan of Brian Roberts. Now I hear he's been jamming his ass full of steroids. I hope the birds get rid of all of the cheaters on this team (and believe me, the Orioles are what the officials are calling a "steroid pocket") and get back to playing baseball the Oriole Way. You have betrayed my trust, Major League Baseball, and I'm not sure how long it will take to win it back.
Number Ten: Live Free or Die Hard is a guilty pleasure. What can I say? I love Bruce Willis and I've always been a huge fan of the series. And I wasn't the least bit put off by McLane surfing an F-15.
Number Nine: Beowulf was better than I thought it would be and I liked the storytelling and effects. If this is the future of films (and it's not) then we could do worse.
Number Eight: Zodiac is an excellent investigation of obsession and depravity. It works well as a slow-building procedural and the chemistry between Gyllenhall and Downey, Jr. makes it a very underrated film.
Number Seven: 28 Weeks Later was a nice little political allegory about segregation and life in times of conflict. A very solid sequel.
Number Six: Fido was just an interesting re-imagining of the brain-hungry zombie trope. I loved the satirical rendering of '50s-style America and the class consciousness of the haves (with lots of zombie servants) and the have-nots.
Number Five: Rescue Dawn just makes you want to cry at times. Someone get those guys a good meal! Herzog's steady hand and the combo of Zahn and Bale make this a must-see.
Number Four: The Host is a feel-good creature feature from South Korea that will warm your heart and make you smile. Excellent film.
Number Three: 300 is both visually stunning and masterfully plotted. I think it's at the top of the blue-screen film list.
Number Two: 3:10 to Yuma is so well written, played and filmed that it should just be called 1A. I put this one up there with The Unforgiven and Lonesome Dove.
Number One: The Lookout was a truly great film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance shines, and the story is both heart-breaking and life-affirming. The caper at the center of this film builds well and the message at the center is one of redemption and hope. Take a look at this movie if you haven't yet.
The flip side is, if it's as good as I think it is, then it'll find a home at a more substantial market. I'm thinking I'll send it to Asimov's, Cemetery Dance, Fantasy and Science Fiction and Weird Tales. I think I'll even take a flier and try Playboy.
Now those are some of the heavies and I understand the competition is stiff, but if the story strikes a chord with an editor--it's a great placement. It gets your name in front of lots of readers and automatically becomes your go-to plug when listing your credits.
Is "The Glimpse Society" good enough to find a home with one of these? I sure hope so. It was a hell of a ride writing it.
That said, some of these magazines will also run a piece longer than mine--say 25,000 words--in a series. This was common practice (and profitable) in the publishing world about a century ago. But I wonder how audiences would respond in '07. I'd subscribe to a magazine solely on the merits of the one story if I knew they'd run a three-four edition tale penned by King or Lansdale. But there aren't many writers out there that have this kind of influence, which makes the 25,000-word short story a very difficult placement.
And I ask this partly because The Golden Compass is getting heavy criticism now, it seems, for its cliffhanger ending. I know it's likely part of a trilogy, but I wonder if this practice isn't seriously damaging some of the films that are out there. I could accept it with the second in the LOTR series, but Pirates of the Caribbean is tiiiirrrrreeeeddddd with their open conclusions.
Why can't these guys seem to write a fully actualized narrative while still leaving the window cracked for the next series (and maybe the best we've seen in the film industry recently in doing this is the Harry Potter series)?
So I guess my take is: serialized films, not so good (lately); stories and novels, willing to give them a try.
What do you think?
Parade of Phantoms is an interesting market offering up a pair of short stories every Monday. They are looking for suspense and mystery with a haunting element to the narrative.
Also, get a look over at The Horror Mall. I'm pretty excited about that anthology listed in the left-hand margin (Fried! Fast Food Slow Deaths). I've always enjoyed horror fiction set in the restaurant industry, so this might be pretty solid.
Any news from any of you on the submissions front? Please use the comments section below to plug your stories that find homes...
Laymon's writing is filled with awkward sexual tension and gruesome plotting. His protagonists, on the whole, are decidedly immoral. Laymon enjoys goading the audience into rooting for a character to get out of a horrific situation, only to then push that character into committing an act of depravity (often unprovoked). If there is a common thread in these stories, it's that people do bad things to each other.
If you liked The Collection, by Bentley Little, you'll enjoy this book. While not in the category of King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes or Lansdale's Mad Dog Summer and Other Stories, this is a set of stories that will compel you to hit the word processor and generate some of your own dark work.
Now we have The Golden Compass, a film that's garnering it's fair share of criticism from religious groups calling it a "stealth atheism campaign." The film looks stunning and is being released by New Line Cinema (same house as LOTR). I have to say this looks excellent! Take a look at the first five minutes and let me know what you think. It definitely has the same feel as Jackson's pictures.
It will be interesting to see if the same groups that made The Passion of the Christ such a phenomenal success will doom this one to failure. The Passion was unique in that mega-churches and religious organizations rented whole movie houses. Many saw the film three or four times while it was in the theater. If there is a backlash, and I've heard the Christian talk shows have been calling for a boycott for a month or more, it'll be a real shame for what has proven to be a magical series of books for children.
I think there will be audiences that stay away, but the negative discussion will catalyze folks like myself, that might not have looked at the film otherwise, to go and take a look. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig work together again on this one (they made the critically panned Invasion earlier in the year), and I now have high hopes for it.
I think, like the books that get banned in the libraries, The Golden Compass will have enough controversy-based interest to make up for the lack of patronage by the conservative religious audience.
Will you folks take a look?
Agent Nathan Bransford wrote a very honest post yesterday on some of the heart-breaking rejections he must make on all manner of non-fiction projects. He concludes by delivering a hard truth--not every person is wired to write a book. And on the other side of that coin, not every person has a compelling story to tell about himself or herself.
Or even a factually accurate one (ie. James Frey).
It's a simple truth that not everyone has lived a life (or been raised in a family) that would make a story New York publishers salivate over. For some, this might be a sad realization. For others, it might be a validation that their experiences (those things that shape our perspective) were, on the whole, happy and healthy.
I fall into this second camp. I have a wonderfully supportive family filled with creative, talented people. But not a one of us has worked for the circus. My parents never smacked each other around. Neither of my sisters dropped out of school to follow, respectively, the New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys on their world tours.
I spent my childhood in amazing places (Colorado and Oregon) and grew up in the long shadow of a very loving marriage. My parents, in a lot of respects, are my heroes. The things I enjoyed growing up--movies, the outdoors, books, folklore, food, sports and time with friends and family--are the things I enjoy now.
Would New York buy that story? Hell no. Will I one day write it? Hell yes, because I want my kids to know about me and I want my folks and sisters to see how thankful I am for them.
I think each of our lives represents a tremendous narrative--a miracle synthesis of choice and fate; personality and biology. Just because New York won't come calling doesn't mean that the story shouldn't be told.
And about my background? None of it amounts to a hill of beans when it comes to the type of fiction I write. Thankfully we live in a place where our ideas govern our content, and we are free to write whatever we please.
And on that note, I think it's time to return to my short story on "thinnies."
Oh, yeah. Writing post: I think it's difficult to write fiction in the second person perspective.
Stephen King wiped out the population in The Stand and then did it again in Cell (not to mention "The End of the Whole Mess," "The Mist" and "Night Surf"). As I've made abundantly clear in this space, the best book I've read in years is the post-apocalyptic The Road. In two weeks we'll get the film adaptation of Richard Matheson's excellent I Am Legend. And that will precede years of offerings from Justin Cronin (a.k.a. Jordan Ainsley) in the form of a post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy.
So what is it about the end of the world and popular culture? Why are we so fascinated by the prospects of it?
I can't say for sure, but I do remember that in high school I used to lifeguard at the city aquatic center in Pendleton. About ten miles west of town the U.S. military has created a storage facility for all of their unspent (and past expiration, no doubt) munitions from the various wars. As you drive along I-84 you see row after row of hideous bumps rising up from the prairie--they're bunkers, all of them stuffed with mustard and nerve gas.
It's some scary shit.
I used to sit in my lifeguard chair and wonder what I'd do if we had an earthquake (not uncommon in that part of the country) and a cloud of life-altering gas started heading toward Pendleton on a stiff easterly wind. How would I react? Where would I go? Who would I ally with?
I watched the pool also, but an awful lot of my idle time in that chair was spent wondering what if. And I think that's the real draw. Humanity is curious about its mettle. We wonder if we're hearty enough to be the survivors. And it wouldn't be just natural or chemical or nuclear catastrophe we'd have to deal with. It would be social manipulation and group-think and misplaced belief that would foul the machinery as well.
For an excellent view of those principles at work, I recommend the 1964 Twilight Zone episode "The Shelter" to your consideration.
So why do we dig the idea of the apocalypse so much, guys? What is it about the most horrible of horribles that so captivates our culture?
And which of these stories is the best, in your opinion?
The Association of American Publishers released its latest figures on book sales: an increase of 5.7 percent for the month of September, and yearly sales maintaining their climb with an increase of 9.9 percent. The Harry Potter bubble is slowly receding; children's/YA hardcover was down 12.8 percent over August's numbers. But don't shed a tear just yet: The category still produced $87.1 million in sales, over $15 million more than adult mass market paperbacks, which are in decline 7.5 percent for the month and 6.3 percent for the year to date.
Also, I read today that the Great Cowboy Hat is back on the air at WABC-AM in New York. Imus put his foot in his mouth with his racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, but his influence on book sales can't be disputed and I think his eight months off the air was satisfactory compensation for his comments. The true measure of his contrition will come in the months and years to follow as he and his new co-hosts tread into racially sensitive territory in discussing American culture.
And we have another venue through which to discuss books--one that many of the bibliophiles I know at the college sorely missed.
And finally, what do you guys make of the Kindle? I collect books and I love them. I enjoy having stacks of them around my office and at my home. I love to curl up with a paperback in bed or take a copy on an airplane. That said, I will eventually get an e-book reader. Maybe not a Kindle ($400!?), but when the price comes down and competition perfects the design and utility, I could see myself taking a portable media center with me just about everywhere.
I think it will have a solid impact, years down the road, on the price of college textbooks, and with some of the design I've noticed out there in the world of e-books I can't see much of a difference in the quality of the product. There will always be books, and for that I'm thankful, but I'm excited about where we are going with technology. I'm eager to see how this will impact the future of publishing, and I think most new and emerging authors should probably look at this as a positive for exposure.
What do you think? Will you buy a Kindle, and if so, why?
I linked to about half a dozen new fiction markets at www.danielwpowell.com/page05.html, including a promising market (Shroud) that is seeking content for its first issue in January. I also added some new photographs on the photo journal page.
PORTLAND -- Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20 for a man from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation who unintentionally killed a friend who had served him a beer can filled with urine as a joke. In a deal with prosecutors, David C. Shippentower, 46, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in November in federal court to punching Leonard Strong in the head on July 29, 2004, a blow that ultimately led to his death two days later.
Section: Local news
Copyright, 2005, East Oregonian (Pendleton, OR). All Rights Reserved.
Record Number: 34894
The only thing I dislike is trying to slink away to pound away on the word processor. I find the best time to get a few words in is after everyone has hit the hay. The house is quiet and you can fortify yourself with a late-night sandwich (turkey and mayo on sourdough is pretty sweet). I plan on using Jeanne's lap-top when we fly out to Oregon--that's a solid block of time to get some work done. And there's always the journal in which to record your brain droppings.
But the work suffers during that time, make no mistake about it.
That said, I can't wait to catch up with friends and family. I'm very thankful for the hardy group of loyal readers that pop by these parts. I hope you all have success in the next year and that your creative passions lead to great art, whatever your mediums.
The think I'm most impressed with is Faust's final assertion that the story itself needs to be original. Not your platform (though that's very important for different reasons) or your games with language, but your story. She writes:
Essentially, though, your query has to have two things to make me ask to see more. It has to have an interesting and different concept and it has to be well written. It has to give me a sense that when I get the book I already know the writing is going to be solid.
So in this case, we see that the story needs to be unique and it needs to be well told. Duh, right? But I think putting the story first is sometimes lost in the discussion. We've discussed writing to trends and discussed the classic themes and types of conflict, but at the center of the issue is whether the story holds up. And for horror writers, that includes whether it blends the elements of fear, fright and anxiety with a unique plot or cast of characters.
I've talked a little about my drafting process, and I do feel comfortable that I'm taking this WIP in a direction that will set it apart from other works of supernatural suspense. My target for first draft is 80,000 words, and I expect it'll end up around that number when I'm through revising.
Where are you guys on your writing? Where will it go, and how are you getting there? Shoot me some insights on process, if you get a chance...
Also, a brief note on programming. I'll be out of the loop for holiday merry-making between November 22 and November 29. Oh, I might pop in on the weekend to chat Ducks and review a movie (The Mist) but that's about it.
Dennis has persevered through huge adversity in his time at the U of O. He's done an amazing job of keeping his head in the proper place to ensure a long and productive career with Oregon. I think he's been one of the best we've had (Maas, Musgrave, Fife, Clemens, Harrington, Smith) and that is saying an awful lot, since we've had so many great quarterbacks in our system.
Dan Fouts, by the way, is maybe the most underrated QB of all time, and at all levels of football. For Fouts not to be up there with the best is a travesty.
So now what? Our defense is stout. Our back-up is accomplished. Brady Leaf, you need to seize this opportunity, young man. We can do our thing, and we can move forward.
I’m really not too interested in the Beowulf movie. I hate Angelina Jolie, regardless of what country she adopts; and I’m annoyed that Zemeckis didn’t just make a real movie with real people instead of a video game movie with dead-eyed, plastic skin dolls. I wish he could forgo a little control for a little more verisimilitude.
Dead-eyed, plastic skin dolls you say? I'm in.
I'll try to see it Saturday afternoon, likely by myself. Jeanne has already said she's not on board. But I'm interested, if for no other reason than that the scream on the trailer is pretty haunting (definitely not the Wilhelm scream). The film features Ray Winstone (spectacular as the voice of Mr. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia), Anthony Hopkins, Haddock's favorite actress and John Malkovich. Part of me wants to see this in live action, but another part is wholly interested in what could either be great, or an utter train wreck.
300 and Sin City were unique and beautiful films. I enjoyed the narrative on both, and this tale pulls from one of the hallmark stories in the world of literature. Despite how it looks in the previews, I'm actually thinking it has a lot of promise. I'll report back after I see it.
I saw Spiderman 3 this week. Bleh! C-. The character development was scant (the real strength of the first in the series) and the special effects were nothing to write home about (the real strength of the second in the series). Right now I could take or leave this Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson romance, and that's not a comfortable place to be in for such a great story. If you make another, Raimi (and the threat looms on the horizon, as I understand it), then get back to developing the narrative and imbuing the characters with life.
The Ducks get Arizona tonight on ESPN. Worried? Yeah, actually, I'm really worried. Too many teams have fallen from that #2 spot to give me any sense of comfort as we head down to Arizona...
My take remains relatively sunny. I think about the stuff I read, chronicled in this space last week, and it seems that emerging voices are penetrating the marketplace fairly regularly. Although I mainly read novels, I am apt to purchase a collection of short stories or three in a calendar year. And I think the expansion of quality, paying zines has streamlined (positively, I might add) the process of getting fresh work in front of discerning eyes.
I have to add that I feel fortunate to write in the age of such inclusive technology. I think that, while there will always be a select minority that avoid digital publishing like MRSA, the platform will continue to evolve, allowing for both profitability and exposure in time. Will there be growing pains? Of course! Maybe a lot of what's out there right now in the world of E-books has been grossly undervalued and is waiting for the market to catch up and correct itself. And who is to say when that will be?
But as I've said here previously, I support the magazines that I support, but I read most of my short fiction online. That's a new paradigm for me in comparison to three years ago.
And Galleycat today linked to Fictionwise, a web-source offering a couple of free short stories while offering others for sale at $1.49 a pop. Score one for the health of the short story, in my opinion.
Also, for those in the Jacksonville area looking for further discussion of Duval County's growing green movement, please try to stop by the Deerwood Center tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Dave McLintock, a representative of the Al Gore Foundation, will provide an enlightening presentation called An Inconvenient Truth. Maybe you've heard of it?
It should make for an interesting discussion.
But Bug is something else. Something in between.
I didn't like it much on first glance. Nor did I dislike it. I was a bit...well, perplexed by it.
On the surface it's an atmospheric thriller about paranoia and government surveillance. But beneath it's the story of a sad pair of damaged drifters that find themselves drawn to each other to experience human contact and interaction. You might not recognize Ashley Judd (playing Agnes White) in this one. She's a chain smoking, coke snorting bi-sexual serving wench that allows the creepy Peter Evans (played capably by Michael Shannon) to shack up with her. We haven't seen such a used-up character since Charlize Theron played Aileen Wornos in Monster. We also get a great performance by Harry Connick Jr. (underrated actor) who plays a menacing scumbag of an ex-husband that drops by White's apartment to snarl at her and smack her around. He's not a very nice guy, but in the end, you find yourself rooting for him to put two and two together and save Agnes from herself.
It's about co-dependency and isolation and while it's not a perfect film, or even a very good one, it's an interesting and memorable descent into madness. The final scene is heart-breaking, and on second thought, I don't think it could have ended any other way.
Lions for Lambs is out this weekend, but it's been getting hammered by the critics. I'm intrigued by the story, but I'll wait to look at it on DVD. The Horrorfest '07 phenomenon has reached Jacksonville, and I'm gearing up to see Borderland, Tooth and Nail and Mulberry Street this week.
My apologies for the delayed writing this week. I graded better than 100 papers and piled up a couple of thousand words on my WIP. There's a lot to discuss in the world of publishing next week, starting with the purported death knell of the short story...
The Ducks start the hoop season tonight against Pepperdine. With all of the upsets this week (Gardner-Webb over Kentucky? Are you kidding me?), I'm going to watch this one with a lot of interest...
Stop by www.danielwpowell.com tomorrow afternoon for updated photographs, markets and writing links (waiting on the batteries to charge for the camera)...
There's a lot to recommend this literary form (Poe was the first champion of the serious study of short fiction, and to my thinking, this qualifies it as a uniquely American art form)--not the least of which is practicality. You can sit at the computer and have a finished narrative (rough form) in a matter of hours. Even shorter if you write flash fiction.
And there are lots of markets out there, making it perhaps the most democratic (term used loosely) literary form in which to work.
So which collections are the best?
Writer of the Purple Rage, by Joe Lansdale
The October Country, by Ray Bradbury
Dark Carnival, Bradbury
Best Sellers Guaranteed, by Lansdale
The Stories of John Cheever, by John Cheever
Stories, by Richard Bausch
Where I'm Calling From, by Ray Carver
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Carver
Skeleton Crew and Night Shift, by Stephen King
And the gold standard:
Nightmares and Dreamscapes, by Stephen King
I read N&D once or twice a year. I love the tone of the stories. I love the diversity in content. I love the study in size and complexity.
I write about a half-dozen short stories a year, and my output usually corresponds with picking up this collection. I tend to write in the short form in cycles, and despite the fact that I'm cooking along on my work in progress, I'm feeling the need to write another short before Christmas. I've got a dilly of an idea percolating. I'll probably bring my copy of N&D home tonight and read "Rainy Season" and "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band." Those two usually get me in the mood. Maybe I'll save some space for "Crouch End."
Gotta have dessert.
So let me ask you. Which literary works fuel your fire to get to the keyboard?
Heliotrope is one of the purveyors of quality online fiction that I referenced in yesterday's post. Give the magazine a look and drop them a submission for the Winter 2008 edition...
But I've found that I'm reading more and more works of short fiction online. I think the quality of the content found on the net has only improved over the years, and with all of the solid paying markets out there (I've been linking to them on Tuesdays, and will continue to do so) now, well...there's less reason to get out there to the bookstores.
Don't get me wrong, I love to hold the hard copy in my hand. I received my copy of Samsara in the mail over the weekend and it was a thrill to see my work in there. But I think at one time there was a stigma attached to the zines. I think authors avoided them because they often didn't pay well and the design was less than professional.
No longer, though. There are some beautiful sites out there.
So I'm curious. Do you have a set of zines you read regularly? Are you willing to purchase a subscription for online content? Do you print the PDF versions and read them in hard copy?
Fire away, if you have an opinion, and let me know about your favorite markets so we can link to them on speculative Tuesdays...
I finished Walter Mosley's tenth Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins mystery this week. Blonde Faith is another fine literary thriller. I love Mosley's ability to convey emotion. Rawlins is truly a round character, a complex individual working through the deep wound of losing the love of his life to another man (Where I came from — Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas — another man sleeping with your woman was more than reason enough for justifiable double homicide. Every time I thought of her in his arms my vision sputtered and I had to close my eyes...) and trying to find his place in a racist, early '60s Los Angeles. Mosley is a wordsmith--one of this country's finest. His ability to pace the chapters (short--five to ten pages max) and touch on characterization and setting in spare, succinct declarative sentences is admirable. The only qualm I have with the writing is a very small one, and likely a bit misplaced.
Mosley's characters all have crazy names. Easter Dawn. Christmas Black. Chevette. Tourmaline. Pericles. I understand that these characters populate a colorful L.A. in a time when nicknames are prevalent. But it gets a bit tiresome as the novel unfolds.
That said, it's a fast, interesting read and if it is the end of Easy, well...I think the final page was beautifully, tragically written. I can live with it if it's the end.
I hope it's not, though.
I've been hanging with Easy for all of the second half of my life, and I can't imagine a literary world where I can't depend on an honest man like him to try to set things square.
Radio address broadcast on KKID 1430 A.M., Jacksonville, Florida, October 31, 2007 at 12:34 p.m.:
Tonight's the night, folks. The zombie revolution starts right here in northern Duval County (and you said we never made the news) when the sun goes down over Florida this evening. Officials from the World Health Organization have predicted a global epidemic of senseless hunger and unchecked decay.
The city of Jacksonville is converting a number of hurricane shelters into ZPZs, or Zombie Preparedness Zones.
Citizens have been advised to remain indoors after sundown, but you know how Floridians respond to evacuation warnings. If Star Wormwood enters our atmosphere, as astronomers predict, at 5:39 p.m.EST and parents don't advise their children to be wary of the lurching, stumbling undead, a catastrophe of epic proportions awaits us when the sun comes up in the morning.
Our advice? Lay in some provisions and throw on a couple of creature features folks. And make sure you don't sit next to any windows...
I spent a couple of years in graduate school looking at the work of Poe, Lovecraft, Collins, Le Fanu, Broughton, Blackwood, Bierce and the like. The writing is superb; the stories are genuinely creepy.
Take a look at The Willows and what they're publishing before you saddle up to your next short story. You might surprise yourself.
But what about the resources for the writer just starting out? I highly recommend Stephen King's On Writing, a conversational, engaging and encouraging tome that is filled with biographical information and also some excellent practical advice on topics such as dialogue attribution, use of adverbs and pacing.
E.B. White and William Stunk Jr.'s indispensable The Elements of Style is a must-have for any fledgling writer. Read it cover to back before you set out to type the first line of your short story. The work will thank you for it.
And I like the links to Chuck Paluhniuk's tips and Richard Laymon's rules. Both are in the Writer's Links section of my website www.danielwpowell.com.
I've heard Donald Maas' text Writing the Break-out Novel is solid. And your local library will have a wall of books devoted to the subject, including How to Write a Novel for Dummies.
Any I'm missing? Please list in the comments section...
I was even passed on the road by a middle-aged man in a Kia Sedona minivan drinking a tall-boy of malt liquor (Steele Reserve 211--eeeewwww!) at 12:30 p.m. What a town.
I hit the gym today and busted out some mileage on the treadmill. I have to say it was a great session, as I was able to pass a mental kidney stone I've had over the last month on outlining the final segments of my WIP. That should make for some strong writing in the upcoming weeks now that I'm confident of where to take this project.
The Oregon Ducks get the men of Troy toady at home in the biggest game in the history of the program. It's the first time in six years that USC isn't favored. It's also the first time in the history of Autzen Stadium that a pair of teams in the top ten tangle. I can't wait! I'm starting the queso dip at 3:00 and making ribs for dinner. We have the World Series tonight, as well as the CAL/ASU game at 10:00.
Saturdays in the fall are really something else. If you're reading this post in Jacksonville today, be careful and take care of yourself and those around you. We can't afford a repeat of last year's hostilities in the downtown area...
I finished Tim Dorsey's ninth Serge Storms romp Hurricane Punch this week. I recommend it to fans of the series--Serge and Coleman are in top murderous form--but I'm starting to hunger for something else from the talented Dorsey. I have to compliment him on his style. He's a phenomenal humor writer and Hurricane Punch is packed with comedic treatments of common Florida chicanery (hurricane looters, punks in low-riders with throbbing bass music, price gougers). The pacing is crisp (forty + chapters) and the narrative is very cinematic.
But I'd love to see Dorsey write a stand-alone thriller or a straight crime story. I think there's a lot of territory he can cover, but the Serge series is taking up most of his energy. This isn't the best in the series (Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Florida Roadkill and Triggerfish Twist are my favorites), and I hate to admit it but I'm growing a bit weary of Serge and Coleman. Dorsey's got the writing chops, but I've had (until Atomic Lobster, I suppose) it with the hysterics.
Ron Goulart's Things Fell Apart is a nice little diversion. Published in the late '70s, it's a short, satirical look at a dystopic future in which the U.S. government has been dissolved and California is governed by territorial warlords. It's not unlike The Warriors in that respect. It's the story of a private detective (Jim Haley) trailing a group of feminist assassins. His investigation takes him to the Nixon Institute, a kind of retirment facility for aging rock stars, San Rafael, a sin-filled city run by the Amateur Mafia (no Italians allowed), and Vienna West, a sprawling psychiatirc facility. Goulart's cynical sense of humor and sharp dialogue make this a fun read. Recommended for fans of science fiction.
Mike Bellotti will be the featured guest today on Rome is Burning on ESPN and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead appears in theaters today. With a great cast (love Albert Finney!) and an interesting story I'm intrigued, but there's not much out there in terms of publicity.
Enjoy the weekend.
I want to also thank the faculty, staff and community members that made it out to this important discussion. These are both individual and community issues we need to negotiate together, and I was impressed by the questions and spirit in the room.
We looked at Psycho this week in our film class, and I think it left a solid impression on those who hadn't seen it previously. I do really enjoy this film. Hitchcock does a fine job of establishing tone early, employing a creepy approach to the credits accompanied by Bernard Herrman's unsettling score. The early portion of the film is a taut little game of cat and mouse as Marion Crane (the fantastic Janet Leigh) endeavors to make a new life for herself in California's Inland Empire. Hitchcock paces the opening dozen scenes nicely before transitioning to the second act at the motel. Here we get the conflicted, sad Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins nailed it and few performances have been so closely scrutinized in the canon of American film as his) and the imposing house on the hill.
The shower scene. The swamp out behind the hotel. The murder of Arbogast and the tension Hitchcok creates when Lila goes looking after her sister. All of it's very well done.
Oh, and there's a pretty creative little scene that takes place in the basement at the arc of the story's climax.
It's a classic and completely appropriate for this time of the year.
What do you make of this project? I like video games as much as the next guy, but do you think this style of animation will hit home with audiences? It's like a cross between Shrek and Tomb Raider with an A-list cast, a solid director, a classic myth at its center and a big budget. It certainly will be interesting to see the reaction in November.
Let me know your thoughts on Psycho, what your expectations are for Beowulf and whether or not you'll pay nine rocks to see this drivel...
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