Saturday, June 30, 2007

You Kill Me

Except it didn't. I fully expected to like this movie, much like I enjoyed Sexy Beast a few years ago. The elements were in place-good cast, quirky protagonist, a bit of gunplay, Buffalo in winter and yet it didn't work for us. Too much of its time was spent in AA meetings and how many times have we been there? That might have even been okay if they had a new take on it but they didn't. We needed more or less humor, more or less violence, more or less pathos. And Ben was as flat as a well-you know what. I don't know if the accent made him seem flat or if he was playing it like that.
And can you just stroll into a funeral home and start prepping corpses? And what was Tea Leoni's backstory. Seemed like that had been cut. Ah well, I've seen four good movies this summer: Waitress, Once, Away from Her and After the Wedding. How much can I expect? It is summer, right?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Priest Walks Into the Room

And what do you do with him. No kidding, this happens to me a lot in this novel. Do you trust this sort of occurence in your writing? Does it usually work out? So far he's a hectoring sort of guy and he might be dragging the book down in his need to discuss priests with AIDs. What do you think? Does my subconscious know best? Or when your conscious mind has to deal with the fancies of your subconscious, does it make mistakes?

Watched Thunderfoot and Lightfoot last night and I didn't quite get it. It was so meandering and it seemed like CE had phoned his part in. Jeff was good and I liked the George Kennedy performance but it was awfully lethargic. Again, perhaps the post 9/11 world has spoiled movies like this for me. I wonder if I had seen in ten years ago if I would have thought differently.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is it ever too early to be a baseball fan?

The TC stands for Traverse City. Don't think my grandson is brave. He never saw what was behind him. Sunburn was amazingly subtle.
We don't know who won the game but it won't be his last. Next on my son's schedule is the Grand Rapids team and Lansing. Kevin better like baseball or he will have a difficult row to hoe.
Is there a prize for the most games attended by a six-month old?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Attention all writers

Do I need to solve all murders that occur in my novel in an meaningful way? What if I am just throwing it out there and it doesn't actually figure into the eventual ending? I mean, I can come up withy a tepid solution but I hate to spend a lot of time in being clever if it doesn't actually matter. What is your preference as a reader or writer?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


In general, I am not a horror movie fan and 1408 left me somewhat cold except for the very fine performance of John Cusak, who seems able to take on the "everyman" role better than anyone. "Everyman" but with a small questionmark. I don't want to give much of the plot away, but it is one of those horror films that put you inside the horror early on and you never can escape.
I prefer those movies that allow retreats when you/protagonist gets to mull over the circumstances and investigate them.

What are you five favorite horror films? Mine are 1) The Shining (although it breaks my rule) 2) The Exorcist 3) Jaws 4)Don't Look Now 5)Alien

I could think of many more but in general, it's not my favorite genre because of the startling factor in most of them.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Here's where I've been

In the northwestern part of Michigan's lower peninsula, which is seriously gorgeous although has two flaws. The food is universally midwestern blah food. You might believe you can outthink it, but your order is always foiled by soft bread, too much cheese, too much mayo.
From restaurant to restaurant, the same dull menu. Secondly, where the heck are the movies. You have to drive 45 minutes to one. But for sheer beauty, nice beaches, sand dunes, great sunsets, good air, it's tops.

Read On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Terrific. He never lets me down. Who is your favorite author in terms of consistency? Your favorite director on the same terms (Kubrick) Or is consistency important?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Ralph Nase

I won't be around on Sunday to post this so here it is a bit early. My father, now 92, was the 16th of 19 children born to a man who supported the family working in a cigar factor. My father worked from the age of 6 to the age of 89, never for much money or esteem. He served in WW II and was at Nordmandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He received his draft notice on his weddding day and came home four years later to find his father-in-law had replaced him in his job. He never hit me, never yelled at me but we also have never had a really meaningful conversation. He made sure toys were under the Christmas tree, that I never went to bed hungry, that we went to Ocean City, N.J. for a week every summer. When I was getting in with the wrong crowd in high school, he took out loans and sent me to a private school that made me march for Jesus but also provided a good education. It was the only school he could afford. He has never said he loves me, but I know he does.

When I used to write poetry, I wrote one for him. You'll see why I turned to fiction but I'll probaby never write a story about him so this will have to do. (My father never learned to swim.)

Antaeus in the Swimming Pool

Like the figure of Poseidon
in a Woolworth's goldfish bowl,
you stand, legs planted firmly
in the three-foot end of Fisher's pool.
Really you're more of an Antaeus
among the bobbing toys, Never mind,

I'll be no Hercules. Neither of us sees
something foolish in our circumstance.
Instead, I swim, stomach scraping
concrete (for I'm too big here too)
between your pillared legs.
Executing figure eights, eyes splayed,

treading carefully so as not to knock
you down or even skim your surfaces.
Neither of us could bear to find you
helpless in such shallow water, tumbling
frantically, screamine strings of bubbles
among the tiny bodies of your peers.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Saving Grace

I have a new story on The Thrilling Detective. Thanks to Gerald and Kevin for their suggestions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lessons from a former Detroit Police Officer

Mostly I wanted to know the dynamics of an interview in a homicide case. But one of the cop's observations about cop protocol wreaks havoic with how I want a scene to play out. How authentic to an actual interview does it have to be if it's not a police procedural? I guess at this point I would call it a suspense novel. Anyway the nice Police Guy is taking the relevant chapter home and going over it with a red pencil. Here I go again, letting someone read it before I'm done. Only my husband should read it because he always says, "Great job, honey." He's such an enabler.

Re: The Sopranos. I commented on it on a million blogs. I loved the ending. I love ambiquity though. I will miss that show even though I never completely got all the mob machinations. I have no instinct for it, I guess.

My troll story is sailing along. I think it's way too complicated for a five-year old though. Maybe my husband will like it.

Please go see "Once" if it comes your way. What a lovely movie.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Trouble With Trolls (the real kind)

Yesterday I met a five year old who immediately informed me that he had heard that I had written a story about trolls and he would like to read it. This very precocious boy insisted that he could read the scariest stuff I could come up with and go away unscathed, that, in fact, he was ready to take on Night of the Living Dead and Scream should his parents come to their senses. He shared with me several books featuring pretty scary stuff including versions of the mask here.

In my story in Thuglit, the trolls were dully human and barely suitable reading for adults so I promised the child I would write a story about trolls just for him. I know nothing about trolls. Are there any troll experts out there trolling by. Are trolls usually short or am I confusing them with dwarves? I have an idea if shortness is involved. Are they always evil? Maybe this story will turn out to be scarier than the Thuglit one.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Summer Picks from The Boston Herald

Maybe someone with blog traffic bigger than mine will pick up this list. Check out #7. Forgive me for promoting, but she doesn't have a blog.

BOOKS : Bask in the Glow of These Hot Summer Reads
Friday June 01 Boston Herald

Whether you're baking in the sun or lolling in a lounge chair - summer's sublime supine moments were made for a good, or good 'n' dishy, book. Here are 10 eclectic picks for the beach bag.

1. "Diary of a South Beach Party Girl"
By Gwen Cooper

2. "An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene's Journey from Prejudice to Privilege"
By Heidi Ardizzone

3. "Free Food for Millionaires"
By Min Jin Lee
Warner Books, $24.99

4. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
By J.K. Rowling
5. "The Gravedigger's Daughter"
By Joyce Carol Oates
Ecco, $26.95

6. "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton"
By Carl Bernstein
Knopf, $27.95
Available Tuesday

7. "Queenpin"
By Megan Abbott

Simon & Schuster, $13
Available Tuesday
Maybe it's the sultry heat of a Saturday afternoon - but there's something about summer that cries out for noir. In the sly and stylish "Queenpin," Megan Abbott gives a feminine spin to hard- boiled crime, crafting a tale of grifters and their marks. Master of the game: Gloria Denton, a former beauty who still has "the legs of a 20-year-old Vegas showgirl, a hundred feet long and with just enough curve and give and promise."

8. "Michael Tolliver Lives,"
By Armistead Maupin
Harper Collins, $25.95

9, By Ann Brashares
Riverhead Books, $24.95
Available Tuesday

10. "Waking with Enemies"
By Eric Jerome Dickey

On that long drive, we talked about

The spouses of series' detectives. First of all, there aren't that many. Most of the men and nearly all of the women detectives are single. And if there is a spouse, they are usually little more than a domestic diversion. Or get killed off or divorced (Wexford). Or the gymast that was married to one of the Dutch detectives.
Can you think of any examples of spouses that are interesting, developed characters? Nora Charles, of course, to start the ball rolling.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Book Launch for Voices of the Lost and Found

Last night we went to a book launch that Wayne State University Press
held for my friend Dorene O'Brien's new collection of short stories Voice of the Lost and Found. Another short story collection by Andy Mozina was also making its debut (The Women Were Leaving the Men). It was a lovely evening at the Detroit Historical Society with champagne and pastries.

The room was filled with WSU people. friends, family and of course, writers.
Mitch Bartoy (The Devil's Only Friend) had one piece of good news--that his first book was being translated into French. But other than that, we were a pretty dour group. Michael Zadoorian (Second Hand) had lost his publisher and agent, after having a first novel that was well reviewed everywhere including in the New York Times. He and other writers are bitter about unrealistic expectations of how books should do, what sort of investment should be made by the author, how much time should be spent traveling to bookstores to sell a few copies of the book. One wonderful writer has had every book go out of print and can't really see the point of writing a sixth book. It is doubtful that bookstores outside of Michigan will carry Dorene's book unless it gets reviewed in newspapers and we know how likely that is to happen with decreasing reviewing space. Anca Vlasopolos, (with a book of poetry and an historical novel this year) is bearing all the expenses of publicizing each despite receiving no advance. Her expenses also include trips to Japan and Hawaii to do research.

This discussion is taking place on Crimespace too, of course, and other blogs. What can be done to make people read more and to make publishers satisfied with smaller sales? How can we get bookstores to stock writers other than Patterson and Evanovich. A smaller Barnes and Noble near us is shockingly exclusive in what they stock. They give no room to noir writers at all, for instance. No Ken Bruen, I couldn't believe it. And yet, bookstores are on the edge of disaster too, so the problem probably rests finally with the decline in reading.

I wish I believed that blog reviews really helped writers much. But the general public still thinks of them as bogus. When I talk about seeing a book reviewed on a blog, people look at me like I'm talking about the one-page newspaper I used to put out in elementary school with my trusty printing press.

Sorry to go on for this long. But it keeps me up nights. Does anyone have any ideas? PLEASE!

Monday, June 04, 2007

A real live Detroit cop is having lunch with me

Or an ex Detroit cop at least. He's agreed to meet with me to help me get it right. Although I am knee-deep in those books that explain police procedural, something tells me that Detroit may do it differently. I tried to go to their website to see how the Department is organized, but it always claims it's being rebuilt. I guess that's appropos of everything here. Or at least that's what we're always told. If you think of any good questions to ask a cop investigating a homicide, let me know.

Saw the movie Knocked Up on Saturday night. I'd put the picture up but it crowds everything else out. It was funny and had some moments that rang true, but boy, was the plot generic. And boy, as my daughter said, when the director can make a movie about female geeks who find love with gorgeuous men, maybe we can take him seriously. His movies are every teenage geeky boy's wet dream.

Re: Megan. Jim Winter has a nice review of Queenpin in January Magazine. I'm not supposed to mention her here, so shhhhhhhhhhhh.

Oh, those Sopranos. I am biting my nails until the finale.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is it ever too creepy for even you?

I'm wondering if you ever find yourself writing stuff that is too creepy for even you. I mean if you saw it in a book, would you skip over it? Obviously this would differ from person to person, but I find myself in that situation and wonder if I'm going too far.

After spending his morning writing an article on sixties feminism, my husband and I went to a garage sale where he found something he wanted to buy for a $1.00. He paid the man standing near him who was wearing an apron. The man told my husband that the woman at the cash box would give him a bag. Husband walked over and said, "The boss said you would give me a bag." Now I ask you, if the two people had been reversed would he have said the same thing. He claims yes, but we know better.

Two films on DVD in two nights. Both dealt with trying to solve a crime of some type but how differently they did it. One used atmosphere and mood to keep your attention while the "detective" poked around.. The other seemed tedious because it had no atmosphere or mood even though it was set in Paris. We can learn a lot from the movies of the forties/fifites in that regard. Also all female detectives seem like they're doing a poor imitation of Helen Mirren now.