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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where and when do you write

I'm one of those people who is guilty of doing what you are not supposed to do as a writer. I don't write everyday. I write when I feel like it. Perhaps that will change in the future. I think right now I am not writing so much because of some health issues, but I would be curious to know how often other people write? Is there a place you feel more comfortable writing? Does it have to be that cabin in the woods, or can you do it while sitting on the toilet ha ha. When I write, I try to do at least three pages a day. That's actually good for me. I guess I'm more like James Joyce...he didn't write very much a day. Does anyone get ideas from dreams? I had a few of those. You know, wake up and write it down kind of thing. But they are few and far between. I seem to be inspired by just regular situations that I ask "what if" about, and sometimes I get a good idea. I hope whoever reads this might share their writing habits for all who visit this Blog. I think an exchange of ideas always makes us better writers!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sorry I've been away

Hello All,

Sorry I haven't written here in a bit. I woke up about 12 days ago with a sudden dramatic loss of hearing in my left ear. I've been going to the doctors and got Prednisone to treat it. I've got tinnitus in that ear as well so it just makes a bad situation worse! Anyway, starting to read Stephen King's "Under the Dome". Has anyone read it, and if so, would you say it's worth the gigantic amount of pages it has. Hope to hear from you all soon!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Favorite Scary and Suspense Films

Here are some of my favorites. Tell me if you agree:

The Shining
Halloween (the original of course)
A Clockwork Orange (very strange but good)
Coma (very creepy)
Duel (Spielberg's first TV film base on a story by Richard Matheson. GREAT!)
Rear Window
North by Northwest
The Shawshank Redemption
Psycho 2
The Car (cheesy but good)

Those are a few. I'm sure there are many more, but this is a start.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hollywood Today...why is it so BAD?

If you're anything like me, you remember the good old days of the 50's, 60's, 70's and even the 80's. Before the onslaught of the digital age where just about everything can now be done using computers. I remember movies like The Graduate, Jaws, anything Hitchcock, John Hughes, Roman Polanski (personal life aside). Fifties sci-fi like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Forbidden Planet" were great. Sure they didn't have the technical prowess of today's films, but in my opinion, that made them a whole lot better off. They had to RELY on great scripts and good acting. Today the dynamic has totally changed. They rely on the effects at the expense of the story. For example I just went to see Iron Man 2 the other night with my girlfriend. I was dizzy when I left the theater. All I saw was effects...I couldn't make heads or tails of the story...(or lack thereof). It was effects, explosions, ...effects, more explosions and so forth. I hated it. And the same pathetic formula is being used over and over and over. I don't mind comic book movies if they are well done. The ORIGINAL 70s Superman was great! Spiderman comes to mind as one of the FEW that actually has some kind of PLOT to it. But even that franchise is waning. The last installment was very ostensibly showing the cracks in the armor, and it will only get worse from there.

It seems Hollywood does only 4 things nowadays: comic book movies, reboots or remakes (sometimes referred to as retreads...or (Gag) re-imaginings), sequels, and big screen versions of old TV shows. Re-imaginings really is the worst. It's another pathetic way of Hollywood saying, "We don't want to take any chances. We want a sure fire audience! God help us if we should take a RISK!". I mean, if no one ever took a risk, where would all the great movies be today? Another thing, Hollywood....pst. Only REMAKE bad movies ...not Great ones like Psycho. That remake was so bad and so inept that it was literally painful to watch! Although I think what Hollywood does is make the remake, so that people will see how BAD it is and go back and buy or re-rent the original because they are so disappointed in the horrible remake.

So will Hollywood ever get its act together again and start making GOOD movies again? Well...why should they? When the effects laden garbage they churn out makes hundreds of millions. Everyone talks about how "great" Avatar is...uh... isn't it basically "Dances with Wolves" in space with effects. Cameron is famous for ripping off other peoples' work and disguising it as his own. He did the same thing with Terminator. It's basically a rip off of a couple of Outer Limits episodes written by Harlan Ellison. Ellison confirms this himself (search for it on Youtube). I think Ellison even sued for the infringement. I have a lot of respect for a guy like Harlan Ellison, because he sees what people are doing. He might be a little caustic and acerbic, but he tells it like it is. Something a lot of people in the entertainment business don't. Not that I know much about it. But's up there on the screen. If it's a lot of BS, it's obvious.

I would like to see a genuine return to QUALITY movie making. Something WORTH the exorbitant prices the theaters charge. In terms of horror, take a movie like Rosemary's Baby (and yeah they were thinking about remaking that one too). Sans the somewhat downbeat ending (I can't agree with an evil triumphs ending...even in a movie). But it's a damn creepy movie. Something Hollywood today couldn't produce on their best day! Polanski...all personal things a genius in the way he makes a movie and puts the horror in the the regular circumstances...and lets it slowly creep in on you. There are no more Hitchcocks, Kubricks, Polanskis, or Spielbergs (who I wish would direct again). No more John Hugheses, John Fords, or Orson Wellses. It's sad. So think about this while you are waiting for Rocky 7 and Indiana Jones 5 to come out. If Hollywood would just visit a bookstore they'd see there are tons of possible ideas for them to explore. If they only had the guts (insert Norman Bates mother voice, "Well, boy! Have you got the GUTS!"

End of Rant! Have a pleasant day!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Web Etiquette

Web Etiquette is very important. I've found that out in the process of creating my page, blog, and promoting my small collection of short stories. There are all sorts of ways to bump your rank up in Google. To get them to notice you. The best ways I have found are content, and "genuine" linking. The process is gruelingly slow and often very frustrating. But I have found that the best results happen if you are straight and honest with people. If you want someone to link to your page... just ask them. Be polite and considerate. Also offer to link to theirs, and take an honest look at whatever they might be publicizing themselves. I've found many fine writers on the web. But don't resort to shortcuts like link generators or traffic generators. Link generators I find offensive. It's just an automation that has no regard for me...or anyone for that matter...or my writing. Basically it's like saying, "I want you to generate traffic for me, but I don't care anything about you." Sure sometimes these generators do generate some traffic. But you will have no real association with real dedicated fan base, and no real social interaction. Traffic generators are largely scams too. Half the time it's not even real traffic. And if you use Google Analytics, they will most likely clutter up your data with a false reporting of just how popular your site is.

So point being, if you are trying to get people's attention whether for profit or not, just do it the old fashioned way and put the elbow grease into it. Most people aren't stupid...and they can see a shortcut slacker a mile off. It's no way to present yourself.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Rejections. Everyone gets them if you are an aspiring writer. Sometimes they are flat, emotionless form letters with a simple, "Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately this does not suit our needs at the current time...etc". Sometimes...and most particularly if it is a smaller publisher who isn't as inundated with will actually get some hand written corrections and comments by the Editor telling you where you went wrong and what needs to be improved. Some editors supply a checklist too and will check off the boxes of things they felt were weak or lacking, i.e. "poor characterization", "weak plot", "stilted dialogue" or other some such points. The natural inclination of the writer is to take offense or be hurt by the criticisms. Trust me when I tell you I have had my share of rejections. Enough to paper a room. I know just how you might feel when you get one of these. As for the form letters, turn them over...they make great scratch paper. But considering the rejections from Editors who actually wrote some advice and comments. View these in a positive light! Take away something beneficial from the rejection. Sure you would have rather have heard, "This is wonderful. Just what we're looking for!" But chances are few and far between. I've had several rejections where the Editor actually said, "Not a bad idea, but needs a lot of tightening up. SHOW don't TELL." SHOW DON'T TELL was always a big one with a lot of editors. They wanted vivid descriptions of what the character might be seeing or how the action was playing out. The reason for this was they wanted the reader to be able to see in their mind's eye, just what was going on. As if they were watching a movie almost. Take what the Editor said and try to make the adjustments. You'll have to use your own judgement as to how to improve it, the Editor doesn't tell you HOW, just that something is broke. So if they say "show don't tell" and in the story the character is describing, let's say, a speeding car. You may have written somethng like, "the silver car sped quickly down the highway". Okay, that TELLS it, but to SHOW it more perhaps you should say something more like, "the metallic road monster streaked down the asphalt with the lightening speed of a bullet out of a gun." In this way, the reader gets a much more detailed VISUAL of the car and just how it moved and even a simile thrown in of what the speed was like. Of couse don't overuse this kind of thing, but if your writing seems flat, descriptive adjectives, adverbs and similes can always spice it up. Also, the Editor is always viewing any work he or she reads with complete, unattached objectivity. When you are a writer, you tend to look at your work subjecively. It's only natural. But an Editor has no bias toward the material, and will often pick up things you don't, because let's face it; a lot of us writers sometimes think of our work as an infallible, sacred text. I've often made that mistake. As is often said, half of writing is re-writing. I don't know how many times I've written something and thought it was fine "as is", only to go back a few days later and see what a mess certain places were. So always be willing to change, and change for the better. Never take criticisms personally. Even if the person sounds like they are being rude (in all honesty, sometimes they are on a power trip and ARE rude, but usually not). Rewrite and rewrite, and if the Editor thought it wasn't too bad the first time around, maybe he or she will be open to a rewrite submission. So look for the "value" in rejections, rather than just tossing them all in the trash bin. You could be tossing out a very valuable piece of advise!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Print On Demand (POD)

Everyone would love to be picked up by Doubleday, or Random House, or Harper Collins. One of the real big boys giving you the time of day would probably be the ultimate thrill to any aspiring writer. Maybe it will happen to YOU? But chances are, unless you have a very good agent and are very lucky (and hopefully very talented), those Publishers aren't going to be hammering down your door. And these days, with the economy the way it is, Publishers, just like anyone else, are looking for products they think have a good chance of succeeding. Does this mean you don't have what it takes to get snapped up by the big guys? Of course not. You very well may. It's just saying: be realistic! An alternative for burgeoning writers has come in the form of POD (print on demand) books. POD yields a lot of good things for beginning authors. First, you can be your own publisher and control your own work. Second you can get your work into the public eye, and with some promotion and hitting the pavement, you can get your name noticed. No, it won't be anything like if Simon and Schuster promoted your work, but at least there is some knowledge of who you are and the genres you cater to. POD Publishers like Lulu will print your book for you and take a cut of all that are sold via the web. Amazon is a huge seller of many POD books. You create the book, choose the artwork etc and create a PDF file of it. Based on specifications given by Lulu (or whoever it may be) you set up the PDF, submit it to Lulu and they then are in charge of creating the final book. I believe they are even the ones who will post it on Amazon. The down side of course is that you do much of the work of setting up the book. Lulu is basically the printer and distributer...although sometimes they are listed as the Publisher, even though you basically are that. Unless you have a situation like I do where you have a small Publisher who works with a company like Lulu, in such case the small Publisher would do most of the work for you, but they'd also take a cut of the profit margin, as they do with me. Another upside to POD is that they don't have to have a physical stock, so you don't have to worry about unsold books languishing around. You can get an ISBN from Lulu and have a "virtual stock". What that means is that your book will ALWAYS be in stock. Everytime Amazon gets an order for your book, Lulu prints the desired amount of books and only that amount of books. They are then shipped. Hence the term "print on demand". It opens up a lot of doors for authors that weren't there before. If people can learn your name from a POD book, and the book does relatively well, then your chances at getting into a larger, traditional Publisher are increased. An agent or publisher may key on your name and give your work a look faster than if you were Joe or Jane Nobody. Make no mistake. There is still a lot of effort that goes into the creation of any book...even a POD book. And not all POD books are great. Some can be mediocre or even poor. Ultimately your getting noticed is a result of your talent and you willingness to promote yourself. If no one knows about you, know one will buy your work. But POD is a good option for new aspiring authors to get a foot in the door, where before they might have just languished in the dreaded slush pile forever.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic!

A great book for TZ philes! If you are a big fan of TZ and want to know what went on behind the scenes, you couldn't ask for more than what is in this book. Tons of information on production, the writing, shooting schedules, sponsors, cost of episodes, etc. A fans dream come true! Highly recommended for all who love this show and the man who made it possible!

Pain, Progress and Perspective

Writing can be excruciatingly arduous work. Some days it will flow easy and sometime it's like getting water from a stone. I've often found myself typing something and it felt like my hands were typing through quick drying cement. I'd be lucky if I got through a few paragraphs...or maybe a page or so. On a good day I write at least three pages. That's actually good for me. I read and write slowly. I try to pound it out at an even pace, but often I agonize over words too much. At the end I often think, "what I've put down is horrible!" But before I go for the delete key, I often give it a day or so to sit and then go back and re-read it. When my mind is clear, and I'm not very tired I often find what I had written and thought was horrible the day before, was actually not bad at all when I am rested and have a fresh perspective. So don't let bad moods, or fatigue send your writing into oblivion just because you were not in the best state of mind when you wrote something. Walk away from it for a little bit and then go back. Sometimes the very best writing is written through a lot of anguish and pain. Look at a guy like Van Gogh. That's a guy with a lot of pain, and yet he painted many masterpieces! Writing is very much the same, but the rewards are great when it works!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Building Plot

To me plot is a hugely important thing. Without using this device correctly, I believe you can't really put together an engaging story, novel, novella, etc. If you're taking a trip to someplace, you get out the map, (or nowadays the GPS) and make sure you have pinpointed your destination. If you don't you are very liable to get lost. It is the very same thing with get in the car (in this case the car is the story or book you are reading) and you meet people and take in sites. I can't tell you how many times I have read a story or novel (and often by some big name authors) where you get to the end and you keep thinking, ok...they're going to rap this up on the next few pages or so. Then you get to the end and you find that all those loose ends weren't tied up at all. In effect, the author simply deserted you. It's kind of like being driven out into a desert and just abandoned! What's up with this? There is nothing quite so frustrating...and yet a lot of authors do it. Now I'm not talking about making flow charts and detailed diagrams of stories. But at least have a mental picture of where you COULD end up. A lot of times you will find that if you write something, and you are really into it and the characters grow, you end up with an even better ending sometimes if you had at least a general idea of where you were going and where you would end up. Don't totally rely on the growth of your characters to have them know suddenly how things are going to end. They don't really know either. That's your job as the author. You're the God of this world. So you need to have some order when you are writing. Don't build a house of cards and have it all fall to pieces at the end. Build from bricks, and if you do it right, the project will be solid when you finally reach the end. That's my two cents anyway.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where do story ideas come from?

Many people ask this question of people who write. They ask all the hugely popular authors, they ask all the little authors, they even ask the novices like me. It seems like one of those amorphous questions that you can't really get a handle on. I think the answer isn't "where" you get your ideas, it's HOW you get them. I think it really is a matter of training your mind to think in a certain fashion. I read a great book one time, a book called "What if". I think that those two words pretty much sum it up. Writers tend to look at the world different than other people. They are more sensitive to things than other people are. Just put "what if" in front of a lot of things and I think you can generate a lot of possibilities. For example, what if the moon began to fall from the sky, or what if the earth stopped revolving. These of course are outlandish examples, but surely I am not going to post my "good" ideas, I'm not crazy! :) Yet. Feel free to post any methods you might use to stir your imagination. If you've ever gone to a writer's conference, they have all kinds of exercises to invigorate your imagination. Some are good and some are crazy. I'd like to know what you think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Linking to Blogs

To All Visitors

Feel free to request me to link to your blog or website. I will evaluate your blog/website and if it looks well done and has no questionable content (i.e. no adult sites please) I will link to it via adding your link to my Blog. I will also be adding a page to my homepage dedicated entirely to blog and webpage links, so your link would appear there as well. The only thing that I ask in return is that you add a link to my blog/website to your blog or website. Building traffic for our blogs is a tough job, so it helps if we each help each other. The only other time I will NOT add a blog is if it very sloppy and amateurishly constructed. Who wants to link to a sloppy uncared for blog? Nice, neat, up to date blogs, however, will have no problems with me. Also, if you use Delicious Social Bookmarking, let me know your user ID (in private email if you like, my email address is on my webpage-check my COMPLETE PROFILE on the blog, in the right hand sidebar) and I will add you there as well.

Stay tuned. More to come!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My First Book

This is my first published book. It is available on

Nighthawk Short Fiction for Science fiction, Fantasy, and Suspense


This is my first BLOG. The purpose of this blog is to share my ideas in the areas of short fiction. I am a writer in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Suspense. I have recently published my first collection of short stories entitled, "Twilight Ruminations". It is 6 short stories in the tradition of The Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, and Weird Tales. If you like stories like that of the ZONE or Stephen King, you might consider giving my site a look if you like. Point your browser to to view my webpage. This is a "work in progress" and I will likely blog here to announce new features of the site as they become available. You will find information regarding both the book and myself. I also intend to eventually add snippets or "samples" of short stories I have written on a separate page of the site, and would like to include some sort of voting applet so that visitors who read these samples of short stories can vote on whether they like them or not. That way I can get an idea of what people are interested in, and in turn present it to my publisher for review if he should allow me to write another book. So please stay tuned. There is much more to come! Comments and ideas are always welcome!