Sunday, August 20, 2017

Story Shifts from Slashing to Psyche

b-maze
That makes the writing sound rather highbrow. It's not. This project is an uphill run wearing leg weights.

For the latest book, I've been inspired by two old outlines for the same supernatural detective story, only in different genres: one graphic novel and the other an animated TV series. As one might gather, both outlines are action-oriented, very visual.

As I struggled to develop the outlines into an ebook, the process felt awkward and forced, like two kitchen magnets with similar poles. Nothing fit together. I stopped trying to develop characters and event sequences and started to research various aspects of urban life, Islam, Vikings, and police procedure. Fortunately, I caught myself before ditching yet another book.

The action is still there, but diminished or unseen. Now I'm unsure what kind of tale I have. A minor character grows into a major player, while the main character's psychological struggles assume a larger dimension.

On I go, watching my subconscious sort out all the elements. I find myself being presented with the characters I need to write this book.

Eventually, I'll have a first draft.

Then I can research.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Waltzing Museum


Autry Museum

Sung to the Tune of Waltzing Matilda

Once an Aussie Tourist stood alone in Griffith Park,
Under the shade of a California Oak,
And he asked an old jogger, shuffling 'long the bridal path,
Will you snap a shot of the Autry and me?

Autry Museum, Autry Museum,
You'll photograph the museum with me,
And he sang to his camera, waiting for the jogger man,
You'll photograph the museum with me.

Basically, that's what happened yesterday. As I finished my modest run in hot weather, a short Aussie man in a large Outback Hat asked me to take a picture of him with the Autry Museum of the American West in the background.

Glad to help out a cobber, I took the photo, but realized he was in shadow. Informing my subject that his face was not visible, I suggested he move closer to me and I would change position, thus capturing both features and museum. He agreed, then glided back into the shade.

I gestured him forward to a spot where there was sufficient light. He stepped where indicated, then backed away. There was something in his mind. Something about the composition of the shot. 
Something as solid and immovable as Ayers Rock. Perhaps he'd thought about the photograph with furious concentration, flying over the darkened Pacific between Oz and LA. In any case, it seemed the man held the museum in greater esteem than himself.

After a few more pictures, I returned the camera to this humble fellow from a land far off and commenced stretching my ancient tendons and ligaments.

A pleasant trip and a safe journey back to your island continent, sir.

Or, as Gene Autry himself might have crooned, 'Happy trails to you.'

Chris Ford@flickr




Saturday, July 22, 2017

Death by Research


Learning in Tandem

A subtle end to any story, garbed in a cloak of righteousness.

By stopping to obtain details that will lend verisimilitude to my tale, I impend momentum, ignore troubling logic woes and character growth, and busy myself with a seeming good that is, done out of turn, a corrosive bad.

Sooner or later, research bores me, and I decide the book's premise was built on sand. From there, it's a short step to a new project. Like various toxic political theories, the next book is always going to be different, better, finally done right.

And, once more, hope will triumph over experience.

So I persevere with the latest book. I hope to release this supernatural mystery as an ebook for Christmas, with a softcover roll out in the first quarter of '18.

And I will succeed, provided I stop premature researching.

Watched San Andreas the other night. You knew where this movie's going from Fade In. But that was the charm. My mind hurt from a long day of researching. I really didn't want to be challenged. I sought visual relaxation and found it. (A few nights later, I watched The Master. And while I loved the acting, I have no idea what that movie was about, other than Scientology.) 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Uber Alles in Motoring Satisfaction

NPR

Visited Chicago for my niece's wedding. Rather than rent a car, I chose to Uber about. Very fast, these Windy City drivers, and I saved myself a lot of headaches, especially since Virgin America delayed my flight for three hours, depositing me in Chicago around 2:30 AM. But an eager Uber wheel man saw me safely to my hotel.

Great moment with one Uber driver on the way out of town. I told him to drop me at Terminal 3, Alaska Airlines. For some reason, he believed I was traveling to Alaska, or else, that Alaska Airlines only made trips to and from our 49th state. He was curious about life in the far north. An attempt to explain that I was returning to Los Angeles, my home, went nowhere. He'd decided I was a true Son of the Tundra, perhaps being coy. Since I'd been to Alaska, I played along and spoke about Fairbanks and Juneau and glaciers and Devil's Club.

He wanted to know if extreme cold harmed partying. I told him there was always a night life. (My instincts tell me this is true.)

We parted on good terms.

Am I writing? Yes. Let's leave it at that and not jinx matters. I'm on Ch. 5 of something that started out as a paranormal comedy and now veers into mystery. Fine. All I require is a first draft. All genre questions will be sorted out at that time.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bookangel Applauds 50ZG


Bookangel

Free UK ebook site Bookangel saluted my western-romance parody over on Goodreads. Among other complimentary remarks, they referred to 50 Shades of Zane Grey as ". . . a hysterically funny and very keenly observed skewering of Fifty Shades of Grey."

Read more here.

A depressing day, surrounded by much sickness and chaos. Very unpleasant time; wearying. I tell myself the classic, "It could be worse." But sometimes the old aphorisms fail to sooth. Humans are built to endure so that's what I'll do on a day when the birds are screeching, chirping, making a stinking racket right outside my window. Why doesn't Raid make anything for birds?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hallow Mass Hailed Again


TV Tropes

Reader and author Hans G. Schantz found my Lovecraftian horror tale "clever, amusing, and fun." Scroll down to Most Recent Customer Reviews and scope out his brief summary.

Still laboring to provide assistance to a very ill family member. Sometimes this very ill family member insists they're healthy as a young mare and that everyone, including cardiologists, are overwrought and misguided. This doesn't help.

I'm writing something. I'm writing almost every day. But I'm not going to say what I'm writing. For the last year, this has been poison to my craft. I'll drop the book or short story collection within six weeks and start on a fresh tale that I'll post about.

 So to keep the words flowing, I'm shutting my mouth. At least until the second draft.

  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Burnett Bids Bye to TV Animation



Nice guy Producer Alan Burnett wrapped it up after 26 years at Warner Bros. Amazing! Unbelievable! Who spends 26 years anywhere other than prison? I knew Alan back in the day and worked with him on a pair of Batman Beyond scripts as well as developing a project or two that never saw daylight. I wish him well in Florida, the land of his birth, where he returns now for grandchildren production, alligator enjoyment, and humidity



Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Today

memorialdayfacts
Not 'happy' Memorial Day. It should be a somber time with ceremonies tied to the theme that freedom isn't free. But we are a people cut off from our history, disconnected from our military whom many seem to view as a heavily armed jobs program in need of social engineering. Can't say the Romans were exactly the same as we, but, at some point, the elites of the western empire stopped serving and starting sub-contracting wars to barbarians who eventually conquered them.  I suppose anything not worth fighting for isn't worth keeping. May our honored dead rest in peace.

My family medical issue is lining up to be long term. I need to readjust my focus to accommodate an elderly relative in need of constant care. It's not pleasant, but a fair number of things in life just plain aren't.

Fractured elbow is healing better than I expected. Sprained wrist is back to around 85%. Ice and immobility are doing the trick.

Not a cheery post today, but my fundamental cheeriness is at low ebb, at least for the moment.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hallow Mass: You Will Be Triggered


keywords suggests.com

Novelist and author of The Risen Adam J. Smith shared a few kind thoughts on my horror novel. Over at Stranger Writings, Smith summarized Hallow Mass thusly:

"With Overtones of William Peter Blatty's Humorous Dialogue Style, Hallow Mass is Irreverent, Self-Deprecating And Amusing — A Paranormal Novel with a Personality."

Where one may peruse a review of Hallow Mass.


More importantly, from a domestic stand-point, Smith saluted the book's editing, courtesy of my wife and her many years of magazine production. 

Scroll down the page and read the paragraph. Then swing by Cultured Vultures for Smith's full review. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sizzle Reel Update


Medical-actu.com



Family medical problems command my attention these last several weeks. But, lo, gaze upon my updated sizzle reel, containing samples of my work not yet removed from You Tube for copyright violations.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Where Have All the Old Ones Gone?


pixabay.com via Snappy Goat

Video Views Lack of Lovecraft Films


A serious illness in the family continues to absorb much of my time, but I found a few moments to watch a pretty cool short film delving into the paucity of big budget movies based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. 

(Colour Out of Space? Come on, someone green light that baby. And don't forget the funky English spelling on 'color.' Oh, and what's wrong with pumping cash into Blight, making that a feature length film?)

Lovecraft was an atheist, so settings such as Hell, or story elements involving the threat or Hell, or villains such as creatures from Hell, found no traction in his dream-soaked imagination. So he invented a fictional mythos about the nature of the universe—our cosmos is neither benign nor neutral, but intensely hostile.


H.P. cancels the future. 


In Lovecraft's mythos, caring, rational human beings, working in the best interests of humanity, would not be solving economic disparities and creating a just society. Eventually, humans would be ground underfoot like beetles under a boot—the clever with the dim—or consumed by monstrous beings called Great Old Ones, summoned from eerie dimensions to claim the Earth. (Or else people would go screaming mad and then be crushed or devoured, which is, arguably, a slim difference.) 

Rossatron explores the difficulty in capturing the mythos on film, but offers examples of select elements successfully rendered by various directors such as John Carpenter. Explore his take here:


In other news:


Horror author Samantha Gregory Salutes Hallow Mass


Also going by the handle of S.K. Gregory, the author of After and Daemon Persuasion left fine reviews of my Lovecraftian horror novel on Amazon and Goodreads, seeing within the text an "evil dead vibe . . . with "comedy/horror elements." I'll accept such praise. I surely will.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jennly Reads Writes Hallow Mass Review


Jennly Reads
A solid assessment of my Lovecraftian story on this fine Sunday morning. The reviewer found the book less a horror tale and "more a dark satirical comedy with a bit of the occult thrown in." Learn more over at Jennly Reads. I'm going now to microwave some bacon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Reviews Anonymous Discovers Hallow Mass

Book Reviews Anonymous

Many thanks to Loretta Lynn for her fine take on my horror novel. She noted that my Lovecraftian story device—the book of dark unholy magic, the Necronomiconhas been mal employed by other writers.

 " . . . Imagine my delight and surprise, then, in Hallow Mass, to find that the book's used as intended. And what a narrative built around it."

Protagonist Mercy O'Connor dodges a number of female tropes to "stand out" as "her own personality,"

Read more over at Book Reviews Anonymous.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!


Buildingontheword.org

A Sunday of religious services, family, and canned ham (surrounded in gelatin that we smother in whipped cream for dessert.) The movie this evening will be Hidden Figuresor an old mystery my wife digs out from her vast collection of old mysteries. A suitable genre on this day.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review: Your Money or Your Faith in Islamic Spain

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval SpainThe Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Darío Fernández-Morera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Muslims once conquered most of Spain. What was life like for non-Muslims under their control? Christian and Jewish status in the period 711 to 1492 A.D. is the subject of this book. Contemporary accounts often allude to these centuries as a Golden Era of art, science and inter-faith tolerance, presided over by enlightened Muslims.

Professor Fernández-Morera offers an opposing view.

Using various accounts from Muslim, Christian and Jewish sources, we are presented with a Spain twisted by religious tension and marked by periodic uprisings, mass exportation of Christians to North Africa, and subordinate dhimmi status for Jews and Christians living under Muslim rule, forced to pay a tax for “protection.”

Some Jews, at certain times, did hold responsible positions, but their advancement relied less on tolerance and more on an individual Caliph’s distrust of fellow Muslims and the ulama—the religious council that enforced the Maliki version of Sharia law governing Spain at that time.

Given each faith’s exclusionary practices, the subsequent invasion of Spain by even more religiously strict North Africans, and the unrelenting pressure of the Christian reconquest, there seemed little inclination for interfaith dialogue. In Fernández-Morera's work, peace only descended after one faith or the other had been subsumed by the victors.

While readable, the book carries almost a hundred pages of endnotes and bibliography, basically a third of the overall text. I’m glad the author did his homework, but this imbalance left one feeling the main body might be a bit thin.


View all my reviews

Monday, April 10, 2017

High Like a Rock Star on Social Media


theodysseyonline.com

"Constant novelty at a click can cause addiction."

(Unease over what to write next. Wanted to go out to the kitchen for a cinnamon roll, but didn't.)

I just saw a video explaining why I spend so much time hopscotching around social media. That's because Twitter, Reddit, etc. are designed that way. Say I'm sitting at the computer and experience a negative emotion such as anxiety. A neurochemical called dopamine is released in anticipation of surfing for a reward, such as a funny video or interesting post. The notion of finding something cool on social media will lead me to click-scroll-swipe away, often to the exclusion of doing something productive such as write-exercise-interact in person with other human beings.

Internet addiction isn't new, but this made sense to me as I recalled my cigarette smoking years. The anticipation of lighting up released the dopamine. I feel the same way when logging on. And I escape into social media whenever I've hit another writing roadblock just as I used to fire up a smoke.

On the video, the addiction portion begins around 2:15. As a side note, I watched this on Saturday afternoon. Then I turned off my computer and left it dark through Sunday. I was very uneasy all that day. But I did finish reading a book and scribbled out notes for a review. I also thought of an idea for a short story, cycled, and watched TV with my wife.

Today, I logged back in, more aware of how I feel when I experience the urge to bolt from a vexing task and surf around. Fascinating.



h/t: What I've Learned

UPDATE:

Here's a darker, more global view of where dopamine addiction can lead:


h/t: Summer Rayne Oakes

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Pruning the Sidebar and My Lying Head


MVDIT Tech Blog
Yes, I know, blogging is sooo last decade. But on I trudge. Of course, I've neglected to trim the sidebar verge. So many promising blogs abandoned, without even a "Bank Sale" sign out front. But now tidiness reigns.

More writing today about the sidebar than I've done the last week on the book. Family crisis, problems with another neighbor—not that one—household projects, and a general lack of pep.

I blame my wife.

If she hadn't gotten a decent paying job last year that eased our financial pressures, I'd be cranking out copy like it was 2015 when I wrote 50 Shades of Zane Grey and Hallow Mass back-to-back while recovering from cancer surgery.

Already, the allure of a new project croons to me in quiet moments:

"It'll be easy to write. Hardly any research. The metaphors will blossom like desert flowers. You'll be finished in no time. This new book will be a big hit." 

Oh, devious, sinister cranium.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Desk Fever


designboom

I must sit down at my desk again, with surface of particle board,
And all I ask is a working Mac with power strip and cord,
And pencil drawer and file drawer with drafts aligned and waiting,
And a picture, you see, of my wife and me, both smiling, neither faking. 

I must sit down at my desk again, and scribble, feeling swell,
Waxing bold, if it must be told, because of the new desk smell,
And all I ask is a cup of joe and a YouTube playlist long,
And a run of words, no culls or turds; woven prose like merry song,

I must sit down at my desk again, to a solitary author's life,
To pages of mold, soon to be gold, once slashed with my editor's knife,
And all I ask is a sale or two, upon my journey's end,
And as I wait, in financial straits, I'll start to write again. 

(With apologies to John Masefield.)

Yes, I do have a new desk.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mystery Author Salutes Hallow Mass

(Where the psychopaths grow.)

Under the Florida sun, Barbara Goodheart taps out her eclectic writing, penning thrillers such as The Wild Place, as well as medical books—co-authored with her scientist husband—dealing with diabetes control.

And now Barbara opines most delightfully on my Lovecraftian horror novel, Hallow Mass:

"Devotees of this type of book will . . . find . . . wonderful writing you
 don't typically [see] in this genre.

'. . . unkempt children who watch you like coyotes from trash-littered yards . . . '

'. . . the campus dozed like a drunk in a hammock . . . '

'As the stars rose above, a young prisoner kneeling between Frye and Hutchins commenced to shake like a dog passing a coconut.'

And many other examples of great writing that are too long to include in a brief review . . . "

Scroll down and read Barbara's Amazon review in its entirety, then peek at a few pages

In softcover and durable ebook.

It's Saturday. Indulge. 







Thursday, March 09, 2017

Poem to a Noisy Neighbor

Bossip

Shut up on this good night,
Pearl Jam thunders into day,
Raves with strangers liquored-up tight.

Balcony pot smoke dims sight.
Your duh-huh laugh is pretty gay,
Please take Ambien this good night.

Requests for quiet—go fly a kite,
Cops summoned June to May,
Feckless mother flounces away on another flight.

Ah, but you're young and light,
A teenage dunce with brains of hay,
Cotton in my ears at the coming of the night.

(Apologies to Dylan Thomas.)
poets.org 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Desk, Be Not Proud

What the heck is going on here?

Apologies to John Donne

For those following my furniture saga, here and here, I finally bought a desk—30x by 60x with two grommet holes, drawers on both sides plus a pencil drawer. The color is mahogany. The delivery date is next week. Now what excuse will I have not to write? In the meantime, after some thought, I say:

Desk, be thou proud, though some have called thee
Useless and fey, but thou art not so;
For those who write at Starbucks know,
To cry out, at cell phoned customers on a yakking spree,
Had you but a desk, in peace, you might pen poetry.

 Actually, writing has picked up lately as I begin the third draft of my sci-fi-fantasy-YA-military sci-fi-keyword stuffed novel. Is intelligence enough to rule? Can arrogant, self-centered teenagers find happiness and companionship? Who is Uncle Rockwell and why does he steal everything?

Nonetheless, no one's going to read this for, maybe, eight more drafts, so why not keep writing the darn thing. Fie upon perfectionism! Well, a few corrections, here and there.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Attack on Titan Take and More on Office Madness

"Yummy new office chair."
These subjects have nothing in common, unless creepy giants arrive and eat my furniture.

First, Titan.

Hajime Isayama's popular work on strange, idiot giants devouring most of humanity has caught the interest of Hollywood. Warner Bros. wants a crack at the franchise. According to a January article in Deadline Hollywood:

"The feature would be a remake of the Japanese film that was done in two parts. In 2015, Part 1 ended up as the seventh-highest-grossing locally produced film. Part II did not do as well."

Having watched the 2015 film, I can tell you why I rocked and II didn't: eat-'em-count. In the first movie, people are eaten by the long ton. In the second film, there's a great deal of yelling between characters, but no set-piece Titan eat-'em-ups.

Having never read the mangas, I admit to, perhaps, missing some subtleties. But this is my considered opinion. Tinsel Town take note.

On to my office.

Since my last post on the subject, I've bought a very comfortable chair at a cool used office furniture store near my house. Great desks on sale as well but the rub will be getting one into my office, through the maze of boxes around the front door, down a narrow hallway to the appropriate spot. If the desk needs to be assembled here, it could be tricky. Move the boxes? Splendid! But there's the issue of where to stage them during the process. But these are First World obstacles. I want a new—or used in good shape—desk and will obtain one shortly.

Now back to wasting time instead of writing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Fifty Shades Parody Attacked By SJW Neighbor


The book that caused the fuss.

I mentioned my Old West send-up of Fifty Shades of Grey. She called me 'cis transheebic' and a 'white male wampooger.' I'm not an academic, so I can't tell you what the phrases mean, but they sure sounded bad.

What set her off? I can't say. We were discussing a broken parking gate on our building, then I said something about a new 'Fifty Shades' movie and plugged my book. Boom! Out comes the verbal artillery.

Here's a trailer for my tale about a murmuring woman, a railroad tycoon, and a secret place where dreams come true provided you dream real different. Is it worth calling a fellow, 'transheebic?' You decide.


Cornerstone Media

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Room to Write

Newstatesman

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

While not a woman, once I had no money but a room to write. Now I have money—or my wife does, but California is a community property state—but no longer a room. Since I began my office reorganization, output on my latest book has fallen sharply. I never needed much of an excuse to procrastinate, but this has gotten silly. Last month, in order to compel me to complete the reorganization, I threw out my old desk first. Such a deed rendered me a prose orphan, with no comfortable spot to type.

I am a creature of place. Where I write is important. I'm not a coffee shop author, or one of the muttering territorial playwrights at the public library. I live somewhere. In that place is a space where I wrote two books, countless short stories, animation series pitches, TV animation scripts, acres of marketing copy, jokes for a stand-up comic, essays, and over a thousand blog posts. Since my self-imposed disruption, I'm not writing as much. I'm not happy at day's end for overcoming inertia and cranking out some pages. I can't find a stinking place where I'm comfortable sitting for hours on end and writing.

Yes, the answer screams out: buy your damned desk and be silent!

But a part of me really enjoys cursing the darkness as opposed to lighting a candle which is a fire hazard with all these papers lying about.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Call of Cthulhu VG Shambling Toward You

Concept World/Ronan Le Fur

 'Old Ones, New Values'

Pardon my use of a line from my Lovecraftian novel, Hallow Mass. But TrueAchievements tells us that dark, video game Call of Cthulhu will be stepping into our dimension sometime this year. Developer Cyanide's trailer teases us with a tale of a detective entering shadowy realms as he attempts to solve the murder of an artist and her family. For consoles and PC, Call of Cthulhu is an RPG-investigation game slated for release in Xbox. Dry ice not included.

Cthulhu Mythos

While we're on the subject of spooky old H.P., know there's an art book from Fantasy Flight's Call of Cthulhu collectible card game. The Art of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos showcases the finest in gibbous-moon-themed horrors including such eldritch evergreens as Yog-Sothoth and the Crawling Chaos.

Remember—as H.P. might've said—"Life sucks, then you're devoured screaming."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Standing Tall on the Yellow Footprints


USMC League

MCRD San Diego Back in the Day

Everything must begin somewhere. And in the United States Marine Corps, my enlisted tour commenced with yellow footprints. Drawn on the asphalt of the recruit depot with heels close together and toes angled out to 45 degrees, they are where I, along with seven other guys from our suburban Chicago neighborhood, stood to begin military service. Then we marched somewhere, boxed up our clothes and mailed them home, coming to the realization that our new life would be different from drinking beer behind a bowling alley.

The Vietnam War was winding down, at least for the United States, though the North Vietnamese would launch a huge attack against South Vietnam toward the end of March as we conducted infantry training at Camp Pendlelton. (In September, now a Private First Class, I would find myself in an Army hospital called Camp Kue on Okinawa, sharing  a ward with American advisors who'd been wounded helping the South Vietnamese forces stop the communists.)

In 1991, I visited the footprints on a vacation to San Diego with my girlfriend. (Now My Fine Wife or MFW.)

In 2002, I stood on a hill in Vietnam called Con Thien with a Vietnamese guide who told me about the obliteration of his village by B52s, bombing the NVA advance.

In 2008, I was back at MCRD finishing up a marathon with Team in Training.

But on a Friday night, January 14, 1972, I stood on yellow footprints. Oh, right before we boxed up our clothes, this happened:
(The following scene is rather accurate, except there's no C&W music. Just buzzzzzzz.)

h/t: amp1776


   


Saturday, January 07, 2017

Book Horde: What to Read in 2017

Great lead-off choice, I think.

Book Horde: What to Read in 2017: January Buddy Read Book Horde's To-Read Pile It looks like snow is headed my way but that's perfectly fine with me because I ...