Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maybe I'll Quit

OK, I've heard the name, although I had to check Wikipedia to get the details about her before I posted this. There is a woman known as Snooki, who is apparently a reality TV star on the show Jersey Shore. I've never seen the show and only once do I believe I've seen "Snooki," when I caught something about her on The Soup. She is apparently known primarily for drinking and fighting.

But now, Snooki is going to become a novelist! According to reports, Snooki read her first book in February of this year, at the age of 22, and has now been signed by Simon & Schuster to write a novel called "Shore Thing." It's supposed to have lots of love and fighting in it. And reports indicate that Snooki does have a collaborator.

I try to be happy for new writers when they garner a book deal. I really do. I try. I try. But I have to admit I'm having a hard time with this one. Especially after my most recent figuring up of how much money I've earned this year from my writing. Right now I'm in the black. Just barely.

But then, I guess I haven't spent enough time drinking and fighting in public. And I suppose I could dress a little sluttier too!

Or I could just quit writing and these things wouldn't bother me at all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heavy Metal Quiz

Another quiz for today.

Heavy metal and hard rock music has a long association with horror tropes, from band mascots and pentagrams to lyrics about Satanism, evil, and death. See if you can match the horror related imagery, lyrics, and song titles on the left with the bands on the right. This one may be pretty hard for a lot of you folks from the softer side of the music spectrum. 1 to 3 correct earns you the title of roadie. 4 to 7 and you can play rhythm guitar. 8 to 11 moves you up to lead guitarist. And if you get 12 to 15 right you’re a one man band (sort of like Aldo Nova). If you don’t get any correct, then I’m going to assume you like disco.

1. Living Dead Girl ---------------------- Black Sabbath
2. Eddie -------------------------------- W.A.S.P
3. The Headless Children --------------- AC/ DC
4. Louder than Hell -------------------- Iron Maiden
5. Long Hard Road Out of Hell ------- Metallica
6. Screaming in the Night ------------- Alice Cooper
7. Reign in Blood --------------------- Judas Priest
8. The Black Widow -------------------- Marilyn Manson
9. Devil’s Plaything -------------------- Rob Zombie
10. Screaming for Vengeance ----------- Danzig
11. Satan Laughing Spreads His Wings -- Butlik
12. Playboy Bassist ----------------------- Slayer
13. Wake up Dead ------------------------- Megadeth
14. Enter Sandman ------------------------- Motley Crue
15. Hell’s Bells -------------------------- Krokus

Answers: 1. Rob Zombie, 2. Iron Maiden, 3. W.A.S.P, 4. Motley Crue, 5. Marilyn Manson, 6. Krokus, 7. Slayer, 8. Alice Cooper, 9. Danzig, 10, Judas Priest, 11. Black Sabbath, 12. Butlik, 13. Megadeth, 14, Metallica, 15. AC/DC.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Listening to Talera

I've already mentioned here that I've been letting my Kindle read books to me on my long daily commute. I've been enjoying that process, and feeling less like I'm wasting my time with the driving.

I decided last week to load my Talera trilogy onto the Kindle and let it read those to me. I've finished listening to Swords of Talera so far and am about a third of the way through Wings Over Talera. Witch of Talera is up next. After that I may keep it going by listening to Robert E. Howard's Almuric, which is also a sword and planet work.

I make a habit out of reading my material out loud before I ever submit it, but listening to the 'whole' thing is actually pretty helpful. I noticed in "Swords" that I repeated the word "well" a lot, and I had not picked up on that merely by reading it. I may start doing this for manuscripts before I submit them. The Kindle voice doesn't offer inflections well so you can also get a feeling for how important it is to convey the emotion in the dialogue rather than by attaching tags such as "he shouted," etc. All in all, I think it could make a useful writing tool.

I'm also finding, happily, that I'm really enjoying listening to my own works. It's kind of weird in a way, but you know I really like these stories. I'm proud of them. I'm so glad they are out there.

By the way, if anyone reading this has read Witch of Talera and feels the urge to review it on Amazon, I'd appreciate it. "Swords" and "Wings" both have reviews but "Witch" doesn't. I'm not sure it makes any difference but it couldn't hurt.

Thanks to everyone for listening.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Monsters Quiz

I had time this weekend to work on a blog post, but I didn't have the will. So, here's another quiz for you. This one is on movie monsters instead of villains. I hope you enjoy.

Do you like movie monsters? Hey, everyone does, don’t they? But do you remember your movies and your monsters? Can you look at the phrases or quotes on the left and match them with the famous monster on the right? Now this quiz is easy. Anything less than eleven correct and you surely can’t be trying. Less than six correct and you need to go out and buy yourself a DVD and spend some time catching up on the classics.

1. Not so jolly Green Giant __________ King Kong
2. “I’ll be back” ___________________ The Mummy
3. Fava beans _____________________ Dracula
4. Who goes there? _________________ The Wolfman
5. “The Children of the Night.” _____ Godzilla
6. Skull collector __________________ The Terminator
7. The Moon is a harsh mistress _____ The Predator
8. Swim fan ________________________ Cthulhu
9. When electricity came to the castle __ Creature from Black Lagoon
10. Chest burster _____________________ Pinhead
11. No sarcophagus can hold him _______ The Blob
12. The eighth wonder of the world ______ Hannibal Lecter
13. I told you not to open that box ____ Frankenstein’s Monster
14. Amorphous Entity ________________ Alien
15. Elder God _______________________ The Thing

Answers: 1. Godzilla, 2. Terminator, 3. Hannibal Lecter, 4. The Thing, 5. Dracula, 6. Predator, 7. The Wolfman, 8. Creature from the Black Lagoon, 9. Frankenstein’s Monster, 10, Alien, 11. The Mummy, 12. King Kong, 13. Pinhead, 14, The Blob, 15. Cthulhu.


A couple of books I'll soon be getting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Quiz about Villains

I don't seem to have anything to say new today so here is a quiz I wrote for The Illuminata back some years ago now. The answers are at bottom. Hope you enjoy.

They're big. They're bad. Mostly they're ugly. Who are they? They're the movie villains of our nightmares and they're here to...GET YOU!. Can you match the descriptive phrase or quote on the left with the evildoer on the right? Zero to five correct means you may be too innocent for your own good. Six to ten correct and you are exhibiting just the right amount of nastiness. More than ten correct? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

1. Spider hater ---------------------- Jason Voorhies
2. Danger, Will Robinson! ------------- The Joker
3. Dream blade ----------------------- Thulsa Doom
4. Deep Breather --------------------- Leatherface
5. Camp Nightmare -------------------- The Penguin
6. What a big eye you have ------------ Darth Vader
7. Holidays can be killers ------------ Roy Batty
8. Permanent smile ------------------- Randall Flagg
9. Snake magic ----------------------- Lex Luthor
10. Buzz Cut ------------------------- Freddy Krueger
11. Umbrella fella ------------------- Green Goblin
12. The Dark Man --------------------- Khan
13. Kryptonite lover ----------------- Michael Myers
14. I spit my last breath at thee! ---- Dr. Smith
15. Made man ------------------------- Sauron

Answers: 1. Green Goblin, 2. Dr. Smith, 3. Freddy Krueger, 4. Darth Vader, 5. Jason Voorhies, 6. Sauron, 7. Michael Myers, 8. The Joker, 9. Thulsa Doom, 10. Leatherface, 11. The Penguin, 12. Randall Flagg, 13. Lex Luthor, 14. Khan, 15. Roy Batty


Monday, September 13, 2010

My Trouble With Dialogue

I've been listening to some of the old "Shadow" pulps on my Kindle while I commute lately. They're interesting, although there's a lot of sameness about them. One thing did occur to me today on my trip in.

The Shadow stories are 'heavily' dialogue driven, probably because of their close relationship with the old radio serial format. As a result, they work pretty well as audio works. But one thing I've noticed is that there is hardly any "music" to the stories at all. Except for the rare descriptions of "The Shadow," the sentences and paragraphs fall leaden on the ears.

I believe it's largely the dialogue that is to blame, and that this is probably why I typically don't read books that begin with dialogue or are heavy with dialogue. Descriptive prose, or action-driven prose, can develop a rhythm, a kind of poetry in prose form.

"All morning the moon hangs frozen on the sky, and the wind-bell rings unheard on the hard east wind." (Matthiessen)

Dialogue seldom obtains even a fraction of this kind of poetry, and then only in the hands of true masters. And I'm realizing, from listening to the "Shadow" stories, that I need the rhythm. I need beautiful, poetic prose and imagery to fully lose myself in a story.

I understand that dialogue is a necessary evil. I try to write it as well as I can. But it'll always be a weak sister to me. Maybe I really am a poet at heart. Some form of a poet anyway.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Winning the Day at Novel Spaces

I'm posting at Novel Spaces today on the subject of "Winning the Day." It's a term I picked up from Drew Brees's book Coming Back Stronger. Brees, of course, is the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, who on Thursday night beat the Minnesota Vikings in the first game of the 2010 NFL season. I'm enjoying the book quite a bit, and will have a review of it here after I finish it. In the meantime, I'm talking about the book and about writing over on Novel Spaces, so please stop by.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where it Wanders

I haven't had much time to work on a blog post so I thought I'd put up a scene from a work in progress called "Where it Wanders," which will be a horror/thriller. This scene introduces a major character. Hope you enjoy.


In a service road motel, near the I-10/I-35 merge in San Antonio, Layne Gabriel snapped awake. Listening intently, he heard only the groaning whisper of the cheap window heating unit and a faint snick of breathing from his most recent bed companion. But he knew there had been another sound here a moment ago. A sound, or maybe an absence of sound. The air tingled with it.

Sliding from the worn and rumpled sheets, he padded naked to the small motel table where his laptop stood open and on. The screen was black and it took him a moment to discern the message he’d been left. In places the normal flat slate of the computer face had grown depth, had taken on three dimensional form. He made out a phrase in the black on black. It said: “Ozark Mountains.” There was nothing else.

Layne shrugged, padded to the bathroom to do his business and then dressed in jeans and a navy blue T-shirt with faded white letters across the front that read “Hell Dog.” He turned off his laptop and packed it away in its weatherproof carrying case, then moved over to study the woman in the bed. She slept on, the sleep of the exhausted, with her short bottle-blond hair ratted around her head from where his hands had tangled during sex.

He leaned a little closer and sniffed her, and the combination of scents and sights brought a slice of poem driving hard into his awareness.

For the whiskey-breathed.
For the faint-beating heart.
Sweat-stained in the memory of love.

He smiled. The woman hadn’t been a very good lay but at least she’d been enthusiastic. That was worth something, he decided. He’d leave her a gift.

He turned away, slipped on his motorcycle jacket, lowered the laptop into his saddle bags, and quietly left the room. He had slept away the afternoon and evening. It was dark outside, the moon sailing black waters above him. He figured it for about 11:00 o’clock.

His bike waited, purple in the shadows, and he strapped the bags on it, then unlocked his full-face helmet and slid it over his head after tying up his hair. The night was chilly, and though he had a high tolerance for cold, he slipped on a pair of leather gloves. He didn’t want his hands to stiffen up on the ride.

Straddling the bike, he punched the starter and listened to the low growl of the modified Honda Magna 750 engine, the sound so different from the raw-throated chuckle of a Harley. The woman was probably waking up to the sound now, and he pulled from the motel’s parking lot and onto the street before she could come looking. He didn’t want to see her as he left; that might change his mind about giving her his gift.

He chuckled to himself as he thrust his boots up on the highway pegs and leaned back into the customized seat. Of course, the woman probably wouldn’t even realize he’d left her anything. But he’d left her alive, hadn’t he?

The road unfolded in a silver ribbon as he headed north in the wind.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Rip Through Time

Some breaking news. I revealed something about the secret project I worked on this past summer in a previous post. It was a serial time travel story conceived by David Cranmer and executed by several guest writers, including me. The first installment of “A Rip Through Time” is now up online at Beat to a Pulp. This opening segment is by Chris F. Holm, so I hope you’ll check it out. My piece follows Chris’s in the story sequence. I had a lot of fun with my part, and from what Chris says here he had a lot of fun as well.

In other news, I’ve been kindlizing some old pulp stories, Doc Savage and The Shadow, for listening to on my Kindle while I make my commute to school. A problem was that the Kindle’s volume output was not enough to overcome the travel noise at much above 40 MPH. I first hooked up a set of speakers to the Kindle and used a cigarette lighter plug-in to power the whole thing, but this was pretty awkward and still didn’t produce enough volume to cover all contingencies. I finally bit the bullet and went to Mobile One on Saturday and had them put in a new radio/CD player for me with an auxiliary port, which I can plug the Kindle into directly so that it plays through my radio speakers. This is working out well. My 2005 Scion didn’t come with an auxiliary port, and I was needing a new CD player anyway so I killed two birds with one stone.

And speaking of Kindle and ebooks, sales have fallen off dramatically, (shall I say, precipitously), on my western collection, Killing Trail, so if you are hungry for some shoot outs and shoot-em-ups, please give the collection a try.

And for a final note for today, The Lovely Lana is running a contest over at her blog where you can pick up one of her great photos. Check it out.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Withholding Information

I'm in a critique group that meets once a week and I enjoy it. I often find it very helpful. Right now I'm submitting chapters of a novel in progress to the group, and a couple of comments I got at our last meeting on that chapter started me to thinking about the power of information in writing.

One group member wanted me to reveal more about a character when we first meet her. Another wanted to know what role the "wind" was playing in the book because I'd featured the breeze in each of the previous chapters we'd looked at.

I appreciated the questions but they're not going to get what they want. Not right now, at least. The wind will be important. The character will be seen again. But for writers, "information" is the currency we buy and spend with. And we dare not give any information away for free. We are buying our readers' attention and emotional involvement, and we have to milk every last bit of purchasing power out of our information.

I don't remember where I heard it, but somewhere along the line I picked up a guideline for writing that I think is very important. "Never give the reader any more information than they absolutely have to have to understand what is happening in the story. Tell them only what they "have" to know and keep every other bit of information under wraps until it, too, has to be revealed.

That's a rule I can live with.