Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hallowmass on Hold and Ace Sci Fi Doubles

EyesofOdysseus

No Christmas Launch for Hot Horror Book

In case you've been following along this year, there will be no Halloween, Christmas, Christmas eBook out before 2016. Such is life being married to a copy editor/managing editor who is working a a holiday job. I'm still leaning toward pitching a small press. One in particular would put out Hallowmass in eBook form, then see if it sold a hundred copies before releasing it as a soft cover. Fair enough. Strange are the ways of writing. For seven months, all I thought about was Hallowmass. Now it's fading from memory, like a torrid relationship cooling with the seasons.  I will say no more on the book pre-Yule.

Etsy.com

Ace is the Place for Double Sci Fi

For a guy who never finished high school, my Dad was a tremendous reader. He'd be watching the White Sox on TV with a quart of Drewrys beer, a lit Pall Mall, and a book open in his lap, attention on the printed page during commercials. Wide-ranging in his genre tastes, Dad was fond of the science fiction of Andre Norton. And he was a avid lover of the Ace series of double paperbacks.  According to AbeBooks:

"One of Ace’s biggest coups was the Ace Doubles series.  These paperbacks contained two different novels that were bound together in the dos-a-dos style.  Their strategy was to pair a famous writer with a lesser known one and constantly introduce readers to new literary talent.  While Ace did not invent this concept, they did popularize it, and it became a fantastic marketing tool that benefited both the publisher and readers for many years.  Ace published several hundred Ace Doubles in the dos-a-dos format between 1952 and 1973, and many science fiction fans have built collections around these eye-catching paperbacks."

They were basically novellas, but it was really cool to flip one over and see brand new cover art and a different story. That said, I have two novellas from my frenzy of 2013 writing. Since both stories involve hapless travelers set upon by monsters, my wife suggested they'd make a great single edition. I immediately thought of Ace Doubles. These two stories are an Ace Double. But I gather it's a production pain since you have to commission two covers and arrange the text in a just-so manner. 

Maybe I can't swing a double, but the two tales of a mysterious, dangerous, wider world are what I shall write next. 

A most Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Paul Rugg and I Were Hired at Warner Bros.


And I Have the Video to Prove It

Yesterday,  December 16, marked 24 years since Paul Rugg and I were offered jobs at Warner Brothers TV Animation. We were over at Paul's house watching Zontar: Thing From Venus, drinking coffee, eating chocolate donuts, and smoking. We'd just turned in scripts for some new show called Animaniacs. (Mine was "Draculee, Draculaa.") Paul's wife was off earning money as a social worker, while my future wife was still employed at the magazine I'd quit two months earlier. Rugg and I were performing improv and sketch comedy at the Acme Comedy Theatre. (Along with cast member Adam Carolla.) Money was very tight. The payment for one script would really help out my Christmas. 

Then Kathy Page, Tom Ruegger's assistant, called to offer us staff jobs and the trajectory of our lives veered sharply into an unexplored cosmos.

We were amazed, stunned, numb. Walking outside, we smoked more and talked it over. Should we take the jobs or would they pollute our comedy pureness by turning it commercial? We would accept the work immediately. 

Now it all seems opaque. If it weren't for the Web and talking to Paul Rugg yesterday, I'd swear the whole experience never happened. But I'm glad it did. (Paul, too.)  So thanks to Tom and Sherri Stoner. (And her husband, M.D. Sweeney, our Acme director, who recommended us.) In honor of that day, here is "Draculee, Draculaa."


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thoughts on Part One of Childhood's End


Miniseries Opener Fails to Convince

Last night I watched the first installment of Syfy's Childhood's End, commercials and all. Based on a 1953 novel by British author Arthur C. Clarke, it tells the tale of alien Overlords who visit Earth in order to bring us peace and serenity by forcibly changing our ways, smarten us up, as it were. Well, it works and Earth is a better place for them. But there are questions as to their outward benevolence. These queries will be addressed, I'm betting, in parts two and three.

Our protagonist is a Missouri farmer named Ricky Stormgren, played by Mike Vogel. Because of his conciliatory skills, Ricky has been chosen by the Overlords as a go-between betwixt humans and aliens. He is called the "Blue Collar Prophet." Therein lies the rub. The character of Ricky Stormgren is about as blue collar as a Tesla.

Having been raised in a blue collar household in a neighborhood of cops and electricians and post office workers, I have some knowledge of things blue collar. Having worked in Hollywood and earned large in my day, I have some knowledge of the well-to-do lifestyle. (A memory now, believe me.) Was it the writing or the direction or the source material, I can't say. But Vogel comes across like a well-educated, progressive guy cast as a farmer.

I kept waiting for some explanation, like Stormgren was originally from Silver Springs, Maryland, the son of attorneys, but always had a hankering for the land. Even Stormgren's fantasies are upper income, specifically his honeymoon at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City and the playoff tickets for an unnamed sport that he never used. Possible for a blue collar guy? Yes, but unlikely as a characteristic of blue collar life is trying to make ends meet and not always successfully. (My parents were married in Chicago and honeymooned ninety minutes away in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a few days, then went back to their jobs.)

Why the big fuss? Because the production wants me to believe that alien Overlords have arrived and are interfering with life on earth. In the dramatic story teller - story viewer relationship, that's the one fantastic buy-in the story teller is allowed. I agree to accept this, but the story teller should make everything around the aliens as believable as possible. If they don't, my willing suspension of disbelief refuses to be suspended. In fact, it sits on the floor with both arms wrapped around a table leg.

A yuppie farmer is like a play where you can see past the actors to the stage manager, smoking back stage and reading pornography. That said, the Overlords finally showed themselves. They look, well, different. And we shall see how matters turn out tonight and Wednesday.

I'm hoping the aliens aren't fans of Lena Dunham or read Gawker.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hallowmass Horror Novel Coming Christmas


Far Beyond My Capacity

Name Change for 'Dunwich Diversity Seminar'

I typed out the old title followed by a page of possible replacements. In the end, I settled on the new moniker "Hallowmass." It refers to a black magic ceremony in the book as well as the climactic sorcery clash atop haunted Sentinel Hill in this update of Lovecraft's Dunwich Horror. Hallowmass is one word, evocative of dark doings, and takes up less space on a thumbnail than the old title. (I also came up with titles and story lines for books two and three, but let's not get presumptuous.)

Beta readers finished their tasks and I collated such of their notes as I thought helpful. Cover art is on the way. Alas, my wife and copyeditor/production manager has been swamped with day job work, hence unavailable to provide the final edit. But it appears her schedule will clear enough to allow the Hallowmass eBook version to go live on Amazon right before Christmas. Hopefully, the soft cover version will be out in late January.

After around six weeks of depression, I'm ready to start the next book, chosen from the many drafts I completed in 2013. Something genre, I believe. I'm looking at another horror story set at sea, a sic fi bildungsroman—fancy talk for coming-of-age-story—taking place in a decaying section of our galaxy, and a fantasy comedy-thriller about a forensic, crime-fighting bear from another dimension which was formerly an animated series pitch.

All shine with the high gloss finish of a new project, untested by the fires of story construction. In three months, I'll be complaining about the new book and thinking about dropping it for something easier.

In other words, business as usual.



Saturday, December 05, 2015

My Annual Birthday Post


My lazy man's birthday post.

From December 5, 2011, I repost my birthday thoughts on fame and fortune. What have I learned in three four years? A kind word opens many doors, and that no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a homunculus.

Also, writing a novel is a butt buster. Thank God I'm almost finished . . . with the book, that is.






Thank you very much to all who have, so far, wished me Happy Birthday. In thinking of this day, I am reminded of several famous Americans who share my date of birth. I will list three and examine their accomplishments as compared to mine.

1. Martin Van Buren - b. Dec. 5, 1782

2. George Armstrong Custer - b. Dec. 5, 1839

3. Walt Disney - b. Dec. 5, 1901

4. John P. McCann - b. Dec. 5, 1952

1. Martin Van Buren succeeded greatly in becoming the 8th President of the United States but was hardly remembered even in his own day. He had a large bull frog stuffed and used as an ink well in the White House. However President Taft later sat on it by accident and they had to throw the thing out. That's about it.

2. George Armstrong Custer succeeded greatly as a soldier in the Civil War but had a mixed record fighting Indians. (1-1-2, I think.) He is best remembered for his spectacular fail at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. At first, everything was going well; then it all fell apart under an Indian tsunami. In later years, Custer had a park named after him as well as a monument and a movie where his part was played by Errol Flynn. That's a whole lot more than Van Buren ever got.

3. Walt Disney succeeded greatly in animation, a pioneer in the field, creator of iconic characters—but not the word 'iconic' which has been seized upon by junior execs.—established Disney studios and Disneyland and is fondly remembered to this day. Nonetheless his body is frozen in a vault beneath Disney's Burbank lot and should Walt be reanimated and start making decisions again it could effect his legacy.

4. John P. McCann was greatly successful as a Hollywood atmosphere player. McCann was the ship-board stand-in for a Canadian actor portraying Errol Flynn in My Wicked, Wicked Ways. In addition, he is visible catching Dennis Quaid's jacket at around 1:19 in a clip from Great Balls of Fire.
More successful in animation, McCann created the non-iconic character of The Huntsman. For the next fifteen years, he piggy-backed onto as many successful shows as his friends would allow. While the record is still being written, outsiders agree that McCann will be remembered by Bank of America and several other creditors who might reasonably feel aggrieved should he pass from the scene within the next several months.

Images: whitehouse.gov, Parcbench, fold3

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why You Should Review My Books


An Astoundingly Simple 3-Step Process 

A fair number of you have read my books. I know because you've told me in person or in emails or, in one unusual case, by bonded messenger. But the majority of you have not reviewed my books on Amazon. So far, my books are a waving hand far back in the upper rows of a crowded stadium. But that can change today provided you follow my simple three-step process:

First, visit my Amazon Author Page.

Second, select the book you have read, or perhaps, you would like to read. You may choose from:

A. Jury Doody - An excellent JP Mac starter essay detailing my experiences as a juror on a strange case of spousal abuse. Short and inexpensive; only in eBook.

B. The Little Book of Big Enlightenment - A fine fictional shredding of New Age religion and aggressive marketing as a guru and a Viagra salesman quarrel over the best way to sell "Condensed Enlightenment." Only in eBook.

C. Fifty Shades of Zane Grey - A parody of E.L. James mawkish tome set in the Old West. Young Anna Ironhead seeks love from railroad tycoon Lash Grey, but will she succumb
to Grey's bizarre eroticism that often acts involves rubber mittens and a cake. The sex is mostly implied, hardly any bad language, and the violence is cartoonish enough to take the sting out. Available in eBook and softcover.

Third, review the correct book.

Ah, but how? You've never reviewed anything. You're not an English major. Words escape you.

You could start by watching Yaasha Moriah's short video presentation on book reviewing for beginners:



Yassha writes speculative fiction, sci-fi, fantasy. Her video is well-lit and she speaks lucidly. In short order you'll learn how you need to identify the main character(s) and the conflict such as Jack and Jill needing to get up a hill, then leave the reader with a question on the main dramatic action. (Will Jack and Jill get up the hill?)

There are tips on listing pros and cons, alerting readers to potentially offensive content, and other simple-to-understand methods that'll have you first timers writing like pros in a heartbeat.

Why review my books? Well, once a book accrues over 50 reviews,  the algorithms kick in and your text shows up in all the right places on Amazon. Sales increase and I'll be able to afford a trainer to whip my big ass back into shape and avoid the heart attack that, by rights, should be parking out front of my life right now.

So give a watch. Review a book. Help make an overweight man healthy.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Blogging Ten Years at Write Enough!


(Image: prweb)

 Writing, Running, Medical Woes, TV Animation and Books

(And lately, quite a bit on H.P. Lovecraft.)

Last Saturday, November 14, marked my decade anniversary. Back then I was training to run my first marathon with Team in Training. To add links, italics, etc. to your posts, you had to enter html code. 
Now I'm a fat blob with more medical conditions that a small hospital and have trouble shagging my big butt anywhere but the refrigerator. But no more html. 

In 2005, I really thought blogs were a fad and didn't want to piss away my work on an electronic screen that no one, beyond my wife and a few friends, would ever read. 

I was mostly right. This blog wandered from place to place, event to event, much like me. Often it went through long periods of neglect, months without even a comment to mark its webly presence.  I've only recently cracked 200k unique views. Regular posters have come and gone while blogs themselves today carry the whiff of a 56k modem. But I'm glad I started. 

Knowing that whatever I write may well be read instantly has made me more conscious of what and how I compose, more aware of what can be left out. In short, it's improved my craft and for that I am grateful.

So happy anniversary Write Enough!

One day, I'll type the last post.

And I'm hoping it has nothing to do with medical woes.

 

 

Woodrow Wilson: Future PC Non-Person


Going, going, gone from the public eye. (Image: Indigogo)

Ex-Pres May Join Lovecraft as Historically Scrubbed

This happened faster than I predicted.

According to NBC News, protesters have finally discovered Woodrow Wilson's racism. After a sit-in:

"President Eisgruber and two other Princeton leaders . . . agreed to a number of actions including a request to Princeton's board of trustees about removing Wilson's name from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as to survey students about removing the name.

The university leader[s] also agreed to initiate a request for the removal of a mural of Wilson from a school dining hall, to enhance cultural sensitivity training for faculty, and to establish rooms on campus for "cultural affinity groups.

The students also secured immunity for those who occupied the president's office."

Of course, no one is saying you can't study Woodrow Wilson, or Lovecraft, without a trigger warning.

Just yet.
"Begone, foul, unclean reporter of news." (Image: Shot in the Dark)
And while evidence runs against me, I'll venture that we are witnessing the high water mark of pc bludgeoning. Maybe it's wishful thinking. But I believe we are destined to be decent to one another and communicate without indexing discourse to the feelings of the most hypersensitive and intolerant.

It's folly to judge historic figures from a century ago by early 21st Century politically correct standards. PC will fade. In time, all the ist and phobic words will appear as clunky and obtuse as cyclopean lawn gnomes.

Speaking of discredited Lovecraft, I eagerly await a book by French author Michel Houellebecq. Entitled H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, this work examines H.P.'s writing and influences. According to Amazon reviewer Tom Rogers:

"Houellebecq focuses on the sources of inspiration for Lovecraft and their impact on his creations and his narrative style. He seeks to show that Lovecraft's distinct voice derives from his psychology and biography. Dreams, racism, a minimalist personality and a crippling bonanza of paranoias, delusions, and depression are the raw material for the analysis . . . ."

In addition, Rogers observes that:

"Houellebecq makes the point pretty thoroughly that images of racial pollution and degeneration power a lot of HPL's stories, but it's worth nothing that while the horror writer talked a good racial game, he didn't really walk the walk. He married a Jewish Ukrainian and worked briefly on a propaganda book for the Italian government. These represent three races he claimed to despise."

Ah, a complex human being. A shame the World Fantasy Award was uncomfortable with nuance.

Click on the book link above and scroll down to read all of Rogers' review. It's the top one.

h/t for NBC NEWS: Brietbart.com










Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beta Reader Blues


Dan in a mysterious mood.    Image: Newstrack.ng

Why Can't They All Be Like Dan?

Dan is a speedy zephyr. Dan is a molecule of light, knifing through dark matter. Dan embodies all that is noble and fair in beta readers. Dan absorbs a 200 + page draft in a week—and provides notes. Are the other beta readers sluggish, poky? No. They are generous helpful souls aiding me in making my book better.

But there is only one Dan.

My health has been off-kilter the last three weeks, with minor colds, headaches, coupled with inertia and a drooping ennui, all garnished with mundane depression. I eat and sleep way too much. Since April, I've been focused on this novel. I've done paying work as necessary, but this horror-comedy text has commanded my passion in a way no other writing project has done in many a year.

When I finished on Nov. 2, I swore I would never attempt another novel.

I am outlining the next one now. This upcoming venture will be sci-fi and requires more research as it tells the tale of a resolute young man attempting to complete a simple task while avoiding death at the hands of scummy aliens and monstrous kaiju.

As to the Dunwich Diversity Seminar, I wrestle with a new title. Ideally, it would incorporate comedy, horror, H.P. Lovecraft, and pc professors. But that may be too much. I'll settle for unadorned horror as long as the image is compelling enough. So far, I've got:

Dunwich, Diversity and Death
The Lurker at the Faculty Meeting
Clash on Sentinel Hill
Hallowmass
Miskatonic Masscre

More will follow, or be suggested.

Have a robust weekend!




Friday, November 13, 2015

Radical Islam Strikes Paris


158 dead and counting.

"This is Hell"

On the subject of offending actions, I find myself sadly blogging once again about innocent people  slaughtered by Islamic terrorists. Here are a few thoughts:

Similarities between the massacre at the Bataclan Theater and Beslan. In both cases, killers shot innocent people while wearing suicide vests, then blew themselves up when security forces arrived, butchering additional victims. (A lot of children at Beslan.)

The war in Syria and Iraq is brutal, creating battle-hardened cadres who don't mind blood and aren't unafraid to die, thanks to their religious doctrine promising paradise to jihadis. They are trained in weapons, small-unit tactics, and won't do stupid things like the '93 World Trade Center truck bomber who was captured after returning to the rental company for his deposit. We're not gonna be that lucky with these guys.

We may have to alter American police procedure. Normally, cops seal off a hostage scene and attempt to negotiate. These Islamic goons seem down for a big body count. Cops need to be ready for dynamic entry into a very fluid, dangerous situation with many innocents present.

This kind of attack is more scary—to me—than 9/11 which was linked to airplanes and specific buildings. Something similar to these Paris attacks could erupt in any mall, movie theater, concert, sporting event. It's much more direct and personal.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations should not be interviewed after incidents like this. CAIR are Islamic boosters. If the University of Alabama football team went on a rampage and shot up a mall, the person to interview on the news would not be the guy with the Crimson Tide"bumper stickers who deplores the violence, then cries, "Roll Tide!"

Radical Islam is our foe, not "violent extremism."

My prayers to the families of the victims.







Lovecraft Out as Award Image

 

Easter Island statue in formal attire or ex-World Fantasy Award?

H.P. Banished by PC into Stygian Darkness 

Weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft's image will no longer grace the statues presented at the World Fantasy Award. According to organizers, authors and readers lobbied to have Howard Phillips likeness removed because he was an "avowed racist" with "hideous opinions." As reported in The Guardian:

"Last year's winner, Sofia Samara, who took the best novel prize in 2014 for A Stranger in Olondria, raised the issue in her acceptance speech, saying that "I can't sit down without addressing the elephant in the room, which is the controversy surrounding the image that represents this award." She told her audience that it was "awkward to accept the award as a writer of colour," [but not out of space] and thanked the board for taking the issue seriously."

I always thought Woodrow Wilson was a fairly big racist. U.S. President during Lovecraft's life, Wilson re-segregated the civil service and informed blacks that "segregation was a blessing." But he never wrote weird fiction and there are no award statues named after him, just high schools and bridges and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the hundred thousand dollar bill.

In time, he will offend and his name will be removed.

Perhaps by the light of a gibbous moon. 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Lovecraft Horror Book Draft Done


Image: Arctic-Andy

Dunwich Diversity Seminar Ready for Beta Buddies

Since my last update back in August, I have trimmed the manuscript to a more manageable size, suitable for the eyes of discerning readers. This tale of a party girl grad student who realizes she's the only one capable of saving earth from Lovecraftian monstrosities has fastened onto my subconscious with lamprey-like tenacity. For the last nine days, I've done little but edit pages. (I did eat meals and washed periodically.) But enough fiddling with this update of Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror. Away with this clash between the politically correct and a sinister warlock; off to the discerning toward the end of the week.

For the detail-minded, I cut 20 chapters down to 16; 304 pages to 216; and 99,386 words to 69,986. (I lopped off my funny, Lovecraft allusion-filled epilogue because it was anti-climatic.) This latest count doesn't include the, as yet, unwritten front and back matter.

And, as some may note, no Halloween release. As it stands now, I'll release the eBook version by Christmas and the soft cover shortly thereafter.

But for today, I will merely say, "Boy, am I happy to be finished."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Military Sci Fi Star Wars Flaws

Wookieepedia

This is my At-At, This is my Gun.

Ah, Star Wars hardware. Those big, tall, dinosaur-looking tanks from the Empire Strikes Back always fascinated me. But I could never get my head around them as weapons. They seemed designed as enormous, expensive and impractical behemoths. (I'm surprised the Untied Stated hasn't developed one for fighting ISIS.) Joe Pappalardo also ponders the military flaws in the Empire's weaponry. For instance, regarding the above mentioned dino tank, officially known as an At-At:

". . . they are not well suited for front-line action. Scaling up a 4-legged design to mammoth AT-AT walkers brings few advantages, and numerous disadvantages. Sure, the AT-AT could step over many obstructions, like trees and boulders. But steeper inclines and the inability to roll upright—its awfully boxy for such a maneuver; a barrel shape would help—makes this a dangerous ride."

Some guy with heart and a FGM-48 Javelin could knock one out. The Riders of Stinking Rohan could topple these big boys. There's more on SW military tech in Pappalardo's Popular Mechanics piece. If it were possible to speak with Emperor Palpatine, I'd have to say: Keep it simple and buy Russian, dog.

Happy Halloween!

h/t: Instapundit


Friday, October 23, 2015

H.P. Lovecraft Tips on Weird Fiction


Lovecraft is top left. His agent is bottom right.

Five Ways to Structure Your Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy Story

Who would know better? In addition to gracing the pages of Weird Tales with weird tales, Howard Phillip Lovecraft was a letter-crafting dynamo and would expound at length on the process of writing. For instance, H.P. opines on what elements go into fantastic fiction:

"The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space."

Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones lays out a quintet of Lovecraftian tips that will aid in your outre scribblings. May all your moons be gibbous.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thomas Edison's Secret Lab Surfaces

Lo, a secret lab.

Animated TV Series Now on Netflix, Other Venues

Thomas Edison bequeathed to humanity a clandestine laboratory. According to Genius Brands International, "the secret lab, Edison's virtual ego, and his prototype robot remained hidden until a 12-year old prodigy cracked the secret coded message that Edison left behind. The young genius and her science club move into the lab and the fun begins."

One of these fine episodes is mine. (Or more properly, my name is on a script that story editor Grant Moran rewrote—but such is the nature of the business.) Kids, a lab, a robot, a virtual dead guy, but a very, very smart dead guy. These elements await you. Check out 13 action-filled tales on Netflix or your local PBS station.





Thursday, October 08, 2015

Indie Comics Want In on Hollywood Dough

Dark Circle Comics



Small Publishers Push Properties for Films, Series

D.C. and Marvel went big with their characters and it's paid off. Now, according to a New York Times article, the little guys crave passage on that royalty gravy train. But as Gregory Schmidt writes:

". . . the publishing model of smaller houses differs from that of their larger counterparts. Instead of having a monthly series that can run for years, they publish shorter series, usually about five issues. If a series is a hit, the publishers can order a second short series or make it ongoing. To bolster revenue, the series can be repackaged and sold in collections."

Comics into live-action are another venue for writers and artists to earn an honest buck. Read the rest as time and fortune dictate in your busy day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wabbit Airs on Cartoon Network

Newcomer Squeaks the Squirrel antics with Bugs in an episode of "Wabbit."

Set to Air on Boomerang in October

Roger Eschbacher reminded me that brand shiny new Bugs Bunny episodes have begun showing on Cartoon Network. Basic info is here, and I've included the tropes you may expect to view, including Denser and Wackier and Vitriolic Best Buds.

As a note, Roger's episode "Now and Zen" aired in the first show. I wrote a pair of these back in 2014, but have yet to see the series due to book fever as well as assorted paying employment. However, I shall remedy that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Quarter Century of Tiny Toon Adventures

The cast puts on their best Hollywood Happy Face.

Tom Ruegger Has the Visuals to Prove It

Over at Cartoonatics, Producer Tom Ruegger posts back-in-the-day images related to TV animation hit Tiny Toon Adventures, now 25 years old.

Two months after its September debut, I started writing for Warner Bros. on a spin-off that would feature Elmyra. Our little crew consisted of Peter Hastings, Deanna Oliver, M.D. Sweeney and myself working free-lance, plus Nick Hollander who was on the Tiny Toons' staff. TT story editor Sherri Stoner headed up the project.

And while Elmyra would have to wait eight years for a break-out show, I wrote my first animated TV script, "Take Elmyra, Please," (along with Sweeney and Hollander) which ended up airing on "Tiny Toons."

Today I write animated educational videos and horror novels. Also Wanted Posters when money runs short.

Elmyra escaping from a large, colorful hot plate. 


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Recalling 9/11

K called from Florida, "Planes crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers just fell." Unemployed in Los Angeles and half asleep at 7:30 AM, I shuffled downstairs to the TV, past Joy as she prepared for work. At first, all I saw was a dirty cloud obscuring southern Manhattan. Then a stunned announcer said the second tower had just collapsed. Joy joined me, work forgotten as we learned of the attack.

Other friends phoned throughout the day. Paul Rugg speculated about the pilots of the doomed aircraft, certain they weren't Americans forced to crash. TJ, a Vietnam vet, was incensed at the footage of jubilant Palestinians with their candy and AK-47s. He wished he could gift them with a nice buttering of napalm. In a grim mood, I agreed.

Watching TV and power-chewing Nicorette, I mostly felt numb — except when the subject was jumpers. Then I felt horror. Go to work, sip coffee, joke with your pals, then decide whether you'll suffocate, burn alive, or leap a quarter mile to certain death. Questions of etiquette arise: jump solo or hold hands with a co-worker? Perhaps several of you link arms and form a chain, finding courage in numbers. Or do you clutch a table cloth and step into the air, desperately hoping it slows your fall?



The journey takes ten seconds.


Air velocity rips away your shoes.


You explode on impact.


I will always be haunted by the jumpers of 9/11.


Oceans of paper were blasted from the towers, filling the New York sky like the Devil's ticker tape. Invoices and wedding invitations floated down to gray sidewalks.

My friend Cathy, who worked in D.C., reported chaos as the government sent everyone home at once following the Pentagon attack. One jammed intersection turned scary as a man leaped out of an SUV brandishing a pistol and attempting to direct traffic.

Being murdered is not a heroic act, though it can be. Flight 93 passengers fought back and died, saving many more in their sacrifice. North Tower Port Authority employees rescued over 70 people before perishing.


There were many heroes that day.

My sister Mary Pat and I had dinner at a coffee shop. She was passing through town, leaving a job in Mountain View, CA to return to Phoenix. Depressed by the day's events, our meal was not jolly.

Later, Joy tried to give blood, but the hospital was overwhelmed with donations and refused.

Vulnerability, grief, dismay, anger.

Such a beautiful morning with a sky so blue.

(Photos from: Little Green Footballs.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2008

Update: Strange to reread this. TJ died in 2009 and K passed away just over a year ago. My wife, Joy, and I are doing well, as is Paul Rugg who now rides the train

Repost: Sept. 11, 2013

Update: I had cancer surgery last year, but recovered. My wife is doing well and my sister battles her own health woes. I have not heard from my friend Cathy in a few years.  Paul Rugg continues riding the train in addition to being a voice over machine.

Tom Ruegger Remembers Pinky and the Brain

Pinky and the Brain attempt to find the State Department.
A generation ago . . . 

Yes, a crisp twenty years have passed since Pinky and the Brain took to the airwaves in their own Sunday night show. Producer Tom Ruegger recalls it well over at Cartoonatics.

My own contribution was Episode 6, "Brainania" where P&B hoped to build a colossal clothes dryer and render the world helpless with static cling. But to fund the project, they must first create their own nation, then bilk the United States out of foreign aid. This plan, by all accounts, should have worked.




Monday, September 07, 2015

Building Author Platforms

ILTWMT: Above is a Swedish author platform that also pumps substantial amounts of oil. 

What Makes a Good Indi Author Platform?

In the shifting world of publishing, independent authors must bust through the great wall of choices consumers face and discover ways to connect with their readers. Emmanuel Nataf breaks down indi author obstacles:

"There are a handful of sites that might help a new author get discovered, but none of these options is without significant flaws. Wattled is great if you're a hobbyist publishing non-edited fiction, but it doesn't do much to distinguish or reward quality.

Is Goodreads the answer? It could be, but there's no easy way to transform commenters into fans who will follow your progress, read your newsletters and, most importantly, buy your books.

Is it Tablo, Inkitt or any other social discovery platform for books? Unfortunately, those aren't the solution either, since Wattled copycats don't have the community strength to bring you quality readers in your genre."

But then Nataf offers solutions based on what has been working as of late. Read on and find out all the things I'm either not doing, or doing haphazardly.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Books From the Future

Lightless by C.A. Higgins (Del Rey)
Courtesy of i09, who have compiled a list of sci-fi and fantasy books for your fall reading enjoyment. Choose among an autobiography of James T. Kirk, or peruse the fictional musings of authors such as Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood. Plenty to occupy your non on-line time including hard science fiction (where some element of real science must be integral to the plot), dystopian realms, and dragons. A couple of dragons, actually. They're a real evergreen in the fantasy genre. Read on.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Write to the Limit

Groggy, weary, punchy, zapped. Since April I have written 304 pages and 99,386 words on the Dunwich Diversity Seminar. As mentioned, I have floundered in the horse latitudes on this book, abandoning my failed outline, and compelled to write fresh new chapters where the old ones no longer held purchase. Now I find I must add gleaming new chapters to the opening to make the later new chapters sing.

But the toughest section is complete. I sense story cuts in my future, but it's all fine tuning from here on out. Will I reach a Halloween release? Tough to say. My paying job demands my full attention now and much more in the coming weeks.

That said, I'd rather have the story right, then meet a deadline with less than my best.

Weekend guests arrive at the Innsmouth Quality Inn. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft

Photo from Lovecraft's Arkham driver's license

A Cthulhu-shaped cake in honor of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, born August 20, 1890. A writer of strange, outre fiction, his works featured gibbous moons, antediluvian architecture, cyclopean structures erected with strange geometry, and monstrous entities that caused poets to go barking mad. This iconoclastic author cut his own trail when it came to horror and fantasy. I aim to glom onto his success with my upcoming fiction book, The Dunwich Diversity Seminar.

DDS tells the story of a modern day, party-girl grad student, related to one of the Miskatonic University professors who turned back the "Dunwich Horror." She finds herself the only one capable of saving humanity from frightening creatures aiming to scour earth of all life and drag it into another dimension. But will our heroine decline the Mojitos long enough to stop these diabolical plans?

So happy birthday, H.P. You would've been 125 years old today. Not quite eldritch, but getting there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

50ZG Now in Diesel, A Bookstore

No typo. Singular. Bookstore. One. For Now. The insightful crew at Diesel, A Bookstore has on hand two copies of Fifty Shades of Zane Grey. Located in oft-filmed Brentwood, Diesel is an independent bookseller, one of the few remaining. You don't last in that business unless you know what your customers crave print wise. They've been around since 1989. How many of you can say the same?  Below are the store particulars, lifted directly from the Brentwood Country Mart (small mall) website:



So if you're out and about in Brentwood (or Santa Monica, California), do consider stopping by and picking up at least one of my durable soft cover books lampooning the work of Fifty Shades author E.L. James.  Enjoy romance, laughs, and learn what it's like to live with an Inner Canadian Goose. Or browse the shelves for works by Diesel favorites such as Don Winslow, author of The Cartel.

If nothing else, do mention the presence of my book to your Southern California friends and relatives. In between surfing sets, they might seek the comfort of the written word before returning to the mighty Pacific.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Story Prompt: Art Helping Art

Here's a tool I've used in the past to help generate story ideas. I fill a sheet of paper with whatever thoughts arise, using different colored pencils, starting at various spots on the page and not censoring anything. This prompts my subconscious to cough up helpful story facets. There is, however, a tendency to fill the page with "redrum," but therapy and an ankle bracelet help keep that in check.

A repost from April 26, 2009. Haven't used this in awhile. I'm keen to give it another try.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hiroshima and I

August 6 separated by 69 years.

In 1945, August 6 witnessed the detonation of the first atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. I was always fascinated by the shadows of people left on walls. I'd always heard they were vaporized by the blast, but could never figure out why the wall wasn't vaporized as well.

Wall to Wall
And while a terrible event in a terrible war, more Japanese were killed by a conventional firebombing of Tokyo that March. And who needed bombers? The Japanese army in Nanking, China in 1937 killed around a quarter million Chinese using rifles, bayonets, and swords. (The Japanese used the bombers to sink the gunboat U.S.S. Panay, killing and wounding American sailors, but  later apologized and paid us some money.)

Enough of this grim Second World War stream-of-consciousness.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Just me. Not an entire city. But tragedy involving my life becomes all-consuming. ('But it's ME! How can this happen to ME?')

A year has passed and I'm a man without a prostate, but cancer free. (At a physical examination yesterday, I told the doctor he didn't have to check my prostate anymore—unless he wanted to. He took it in the correct spirit.)

For all my physical gyrations the last twelve months, I'm grateful to be mending and married, as I can't imagine going through this event without the help of my darling wife, as well as family and friends.

And so today some remember a large tragedy and I remember a small one. Life advances inexorably. As for this August 6, say what you will, but both Hiroshima and I are doing better than Detroit.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Eulogy for a Mac Classic

Sweeney talking to a salesman at the Honda dealership.
Cleaning out a storage facility last week, I found a box containing my old Mac Classic, just in time for the passing of Steve Jobs. Back in 1991, M.D. Sweeney accompanied me to the Westwood Mac store and negotiated on my behalf for the computer and a printer. Sweeney is a phenomenal dealer with a deadpan expression like an Olmec mask. Sales reps flash their easy smiles, grow uncomfortable and sometimes offer things at a lower price. (They didn't this time, but even A-Rod strikes out occasionally.) On that computer I wrote many Acme Comedy Theatre sketches as well as my first Animaniacs script, "Dracu-lee, Dracu-la." But it's doing no one any good anymore and is destined for the green waste facility. Farewell, Mac Classic and rest in piece, Mr. Jobs. And if you're ever in Los Angeles, stop by Amalfi Restaurant and see if you can talk the owner (Sweeney) into a free dessert. Let me know how it goes.
Image: antique trader

A repost from Oct, 7, 2011 only with links.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

DreamWorks: Fine Animated Features and Real Estate Flips


Diversify is sound business advice and, according to Cartoon Brew, DreamWorks Animation has done just that:

"After announcing a quarterly loss of $263 million last February, DreamWorks sold its campus to SunTrust, and as Cartoon Brew reported in March, SunTrust began the process of flipping the property immediately after buying it, initially listing it for $250 million."

According to the article, DreamWorks has a profit-sharing deal that allows them to dine upon the proceeds of the resale.

Possibly Netflix hired all the 500 laid off employees.

My last time at the Glendale studio was in 2014 for a preview of Peabody and Sherman, which may've been the fat straw that broke the studios back. i09 combs through the film's wake.

Anyway, DreamWorks Glendale had a great breakfast buffet set up for the film with all these great little Danishes and coffee in cups.

And the free lunches were outstanding.

But now there's no longer any such thing as a free lunch.









Monday, July 27, 2015

Dunwich Almost Done and Webless Sunday

Azathoth: lucias faustus

Earth's saviour?     Image: Tara Bliss 

Three chapters remain in the seventh draft of the Dunwich Diversity Seminar. My first novel follows the adventures of a party girl grad student who must choose between saving the world from Lovecraftian horrors or knocking back mojitos at an Arkham Happy Hour. In June May, the project was stuck in neutral and seemed destined for The Great Pile of Semi-Finished Books. But perseverance paid off. And while various marketing projects require my attention this week—they do pay promptly—I hope to wrap up this Dunwich version by early August.

As a note, yesterday I spent a second Sunday without going online. I felt nervous, ill-at-ease, edgy, but managed to occupy myself on household projects, reading, and things I usually did for most of my life pre-Internet. Today, I feel refreshed and ready to write things pleasant and otherwise.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Amazon Follow Button Aids Authors




Busy Amazon.com has a new button on the left hand side of my Amazon Author Page. (And all author pages, for that matter.) Click upon this rectangular box and you will be notified when my next book, The Dunwich Diversity Seminar is available for sale in the world largest bookstore. Can a party girl grad student learn the information necessary to save the world from Lovecraftian horrors? Those who click the Follow button will find out first just in time for Halloween 2015.

For a bit more on Amazon publishing, including additional info on the Follow button, read this brief article from Digital Book World. In making a Follow Button available, Amazon has:

". . . increased the control they have of the book marketplace and highlighted once again that part of the ground they take is ground the publishers simply cede to them. Any publishers that is not helping authors engage with their readers and actively create their own email lists to alert the interested to new books is put on notice now that they are quite late."

How helpful? I will learn more in the next few months.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fifty Shades of Zane Grey Snags Another 5-Star Review

Thanks go out to reader Roger E. for the following:

"Didn't read the original "50," didn't have to. "Fifty Shades of Zane Grey" stands on its own and delivers a prairie schooner full of chuckles, clever asides, and truly off-beat and funny wild west characters. Author JP Mac makes good use of western imagery and, as in his other books, his wordplay is masterful. This story is a quick, easy read and is well-worth checking out."

No doubt, Roger E. stopped by my Amazon Page or went directly to Fifty Shades of Zane Grey, now available in ebook or environmentally friendly paper formats. (I'm not sure about that last part, but green sells, so here's hoping.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Anne Toole Writing Away

This is not Anne Toole. This is a Marvel character called Scribe. But it seemed to tie-in.
While at a Comic-con party my agency throws every year, I ran into a young lady looking for an outlet to recharge her phone. Anne Toole writes comics, TV animation, video games, articles and, if necessary, Wanted Posters. Check out her blog Anne Toole, Writer. Subscribe to her blog. Leave a comment. I'll bet she writes something back. Such is her way.
Image: ianniehil

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Little Book Cracks Amazon Top 100

The Little Book of Big Enlightenment has surged into the top one hundred mash-ups on the world's largest online bookseller. For those curious, a "mash-up" is a work written in . . . oh, heck, here's the Google definition:
 In the case of Little Book, we have the treacly musings of a New Age guru who is forced to share authorship of his book with a brash marketing copy writer. They swap snark, barbs and privileged information about one another as they inform you about the hottest thing to hit the New Age market since Deepak Chopra thongs: "condensed enlightenment."

But in the course of their squabbles something extraordinary happens that forces the guru to question his own beliefs.

A fun, fast, fictional read, The Little Book of Big Enlightenment will, my production manager wife willing, soon be out in durable SOFT COVER. That means a physical book suitable for killing moths or reading, though I would prefer reading. Nevertheless, I'm not going to dictate my methods for disposing of annoying insects. You chose. But if you must use a book, use the Little Book of Big Enlightenment.
Click here for mirth.