Nighthawk Short Fiction Headline Animator

Please click this banner to Subscribe Nighthawk Short Fiction


This Page is best viewed with Firefox or Google Chrome

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!