Saturday, October 14, 2017

Caustic, Funny Supernatural Tales

Dreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough ChroniclesDreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough Chronicles by D. G. Heckman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Consider this "Our Town" if written by Dante.

With apologies to Thornton Wilder, D.G. Heckman has penned a hilarious sardonic, 21st century version of small town life. In this supernatural anthology centered around fictional Wickesborough, Pennsylvania, we encounter characters most greedy, evil, self-centered, and unwary who run afoul of zombies, psychopaths, and demonic furniture in a region marinating in dangerous legends that still pack a punch.

Driven by strong ironic narration, the offerings include a band of sensitive cannibals who hate being confused with zombies; police attempting to deal with a wendigo outbreak; and weekend wiccans who discover themselves in deep with a cat-worshipping cult.

But not all outcomes are dreadful as a funeral whisperer learns the consequences of his calling, and a young man pursues his crush on a melancholy spirit.

An indie gem, this Wickesborough collection reminds one of Stephen King's Castle Rock, only with a mordant sense of humor. A dark, funny, absurdist read.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Blogging History Repeats Itself Again


December deadline approaches.          Image: All HD Wallpaper

Great broiling head chaos.

Let me explain: excellent progress on my Viking detective novel since early September, despite an eventful journey to Seattle. As the story accelerates, I've ridden the changes, chasing the narrative, but guiding the process away from the guardrails so as not to crash into a rewrite canyon, research gulch, or dull character canal. However, time is not my amigo.

I want to publish an ebook by Christmas. (The viking ebook will not be ready.) In 2013, I blogged about a similar publishing dilemma. A few weeks later, I blogged again. Finally, I stopped blogging about this particular conundrum . . . temporarily, you understand.

Four years have passed and I'm blogging about it once more. In order to meet my self-imposed deadline, I must postpone one project and return to the very project I abandoned in 2013. (As a side note, 2013 was the last full year of my life with a prostate.) Now the clock is ticking, the sands are diminishing, the digital read-out approaches zero. I've got around two months to polish a crude manuscript, score some cover art, and launch it on Amazon.

Who needs NaNoWriMo?

Crazy world out there. Mind yourselves and those close to you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Zombie Novel with a Bite


A Place Outside The WildA Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are more zombie novels out there than the shambling dead they contain.

However Humphreys' take on a popular genre held my attention for its focus on survivors, their psychological strain, PTSD and myriad other woes besetting a handful of humans and the simple life they've built in a small compound, eight years after the rise of zombies.

Like circling sharks, the undead wander the compound's perimeter, hungering for human flesh, patient, omnipresent. At the same time, interior conflicts such as murder and drug addiction combine to erode the community's survival odds.

Good action and plenty of it keep this tale moving along.

Definitely worth a read.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 08, 2017

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.

Repost: Sept. 11, 2015

Update: Paul Rugg's daughter was not quite two years old on 9/11/01. Now she is a freshmen in college. I have retired from TV animation writing, though, as stated elsewhere, I find retirement to be indistinguishable from unemployment. (Save for a small annuity.) And very soon, I shall ride the train to see my sister. (Explanatory post t/k.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2017


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